Balkan Travel Destination:Serbia
A few years ago, I took my first trip to Serbia. At that time, I couldn't even tell you where it was on the map. All I knew was that I had friends there that begged me to come visit. They were so anxious to show me the beauty of their country, it's people and it's rich culture. By the end of my ten day stay, I decided that this small country in Eastern Europe was one of the world's best kept secrets.
Flying In: Nikola Tesla Airport
Serbia has one airport and it is Nikola Tesla Airport in Belgrade, the country's capital city. This international airport has undergone many upgrades and renovations in recent years and is quite an impressive airport. It is a modern facility with coffee shops, gift shops and limited free Wi-Fi. The signage is in both Serbian and English to make navigating easy.
Located on airport grounds is the Aeronautical Museum-Belgrade which houses hundreds of the country's historical aircraft. The museum is hard to miss because of it's futuristic dome shape of glass and is beautiful for photographing.
Aeronautical Museum/Belgrade Aviation Museum
A City Experience: Novi Sad
Just 30 minutes from the airport is the second largest city in Belgrade, Novi Sad. This bustling city offers a variety of things to do and see. The town center,Liberty Square, is loaded with coffee shops, cafes and stores, some tucked down quiet little alleys of cobblestone paths. Street musicians often set up around the center which adds to the ambiance.The Name of Mary Church is located here. It is the largest church in Novi Sad. Built in 1892, It's Gothic revival architecture is breathtaking.
Novi Sad also has a beautiful beach and park called The Strand. During summer months the park is filled with those enjoying the outdoors in it's lush grounds and to swim in the cool waters of the Danube River. Plenty of room along the shore is available to set out a towel and umbrella for a day of sunning and swimming. A walking and bicycle path meanders through the park and along the river with benches for rest or contemplation. Bicycle rentals are available for a reasonable price. The Strand is open year round.
The Freedom Bridge
Petrovaradin Fortress is another interesting site to explore while in Novi Sad. Sitting on the banks of the Danube River and offering fantastic views of the city, the fortress was built in 1692. On it's grounds, a Paleolithic settlement was discovered and many artifacts from this and the early Bronze Age have been found. Strolling around the grounds of the fortress is relaxing and serene and admission is free.
A Village Experience: Novi Becej
About 45 minutes north of Novi Sad is the picturesque village of Novi Becej. It is situated in the agricultural heart of the province of Vojvodina. During the summer, there are vast expanses of seemingly never-ending fields of bright sunflowers and rows of corn that separate these little rural hideaways. Serbia is peppered with small,rural villages and these villages are where most of the country's deep traditions and culture truly live on. Generations of families have lived in these villages for hundreds of years and pride is great but humble. Novi Becej is one such village.
Novi Becej is situated on the banks of the Tisa River. The Tisa River provides for much of the recreation of the village. Fishing and boating are popular recreations here. There is a swimming area available that is nicely appointed with covered tables for picnics, reed umbrellas, playground equipment and a couple of restaurants for dining or enjoying a cool drink or hot coffee. A bi-level, riverside boardwalk winds it's way from the swimming area all the way to the marina, providing for leisurely walks. The town center is just a few steps away where a shaded park is located. It is a great place for people watching or sitting to eat an ice cream on a hot day.
You Have to Experience It to Get It
More than anything from my travels in Serbia, it is the sense of stepping back in time that grabs my soul and keeps me coming back. The perfume from the abundance of flowering trees, the taste of rich but simple cuisine, the grandmothers in their kerchiefs and the friendly exchanges over Serbian(Turkish)coffee force some ancient recall within you that is somehow familiar. One easily feels at home here.