Yesterday I said my goodbyes to Budapest before hopping on a bus to Novi Sad, Serbia. Novi Sad is the second largest city in Serbia, and is the capital of the Serbian autonomous region of Vojvodina. The drive itself was only about 3 hours, but the border crossing added about an hour to that. Leaving Hungary - part of the Schengen Area - we all had to get off the bus to get the leaving stamp. I had read on one blog that at the border crossing they didn't give you a leaving stamp, which worried me since with my current itinerary I will be using close to my maximum amount of days allowed in the Schengen Area visa-free. So I was glad when we did get one. Once we got to the Serbian border, the bus attendant collected our passports to be stamped by border control, which seemed weird that we didn't even have to see any kind of Serbian passport control agent.
When we arrived in Novi Sad, I was a bit shocked at how deserted it seemed to be. The train station (which is adjacent to the bus terminal), where I was looking for an ATM, didn't seem to have a living soul. I managed to get on the right bus (and the buses here are old and very questionable looking) and was at my hostel - Varadinn - by about 6:30 PM, where I spent the evening eating and watching Shameless because it was too hot and I was too tired to do anything else. Thank god for air conditioning and good wifi.
This morning I went into the city centre to explore. I had to cross over the Danube to get there, and along the way I noticed two political pieces of street art.
My first stop was Danube Park, the largest park in Novi Sad. It was no Central Park, but it was nice.
I made my way to the Novi Sad Synagogue. It is the fifth synagogue to be erected in this location since the 18th century. The current building was finished in 1909 by Lipot Baumhorn, a Hungarian architect.
Upong arrival, I discovered it was locked, despite having read online that it would be open. I began to walk around the building just to look at the outside, when I ran into someone who spoke no English, but he gathered I wanted to go inside. He pulled out his keys and led me to the front. When I walked in - with the man following close behind - I noticed a ticket sign in the vestibule. I wasn't sure if I needed to buy a ticket, but the man didn't say anything so I kept walking into the synagogue. It was very simple in design, until you looked up at the beautiful stain glass dome.
I started walking down the main road towards Trg Slobode, the main square in Novi Sad. It was less than five minutes, and most of that was waiting for the light to change so I could cross the road. Along the way I passed the Serbian National Theatre.
Upon arrival in the square, the first thing I noticed was a photo project by the Photo Association of Vojvodina to commemorate the 22nd anniversary of "Operation Storm," a military action by the Croatian army against the region of Krajina, resulting in the deaths of more than 2,300 Serbs and displacement of over 250,000 Serbs from their home in Krajina.
Within the square is Novi Sad's City Hall...
...and The Name of Mary Church, or, as it's known by locals, "the cathedral."
Close by is Vladicanski Dvor, or the Bishop's Palace.
Next to that is The Orthodox Cathedral of Saint George.
Everything within the city is extremely close together, and it was only about 2:00 PM by the time I had finished site-seeing on the west side of the river. So I made my way back to my hostel on the east side for a cat nap. When I woke up I walked to the Petrovaradin Fortress, the steps for which are literally 30 seconds from my hostel. It's a short walk, and has pretty good views of the city and the surrounding areas. (I may have a little bit too much fun with my tripod and self-portraits, but I guess that's part of the solo traveller territory.)
The real magic came when the sun started to set. I set up my GoPro on my tripod for some time-lapse videos, and I'm so glad I did.
You can't really tell in the sped-up version, but the time-lapse caught a few good shots of the lightening storm. I also managed to get a pretty good shot with my DSLR.
The sunset was absolutely stunning, and while my GoPro did a decent job capturing it, it didn't do it justice. But this photos did (mostly).
And that's a wrap on Novi Sad. It's a beautiful little city, and I'm glad I decided to spend some time here. Tomorrow I'm off to Belgrade to meet up with The Monsoon Diaries for two weeks in the Balkans.