And the rain returns. . .

Trip Start Apr 08, 2007
Trip End Oct 01, 2007

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Flag of Serbia and Montenegro  ,
Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I made it a long time with nothing but sunny skies, but it had to come back eventually. After a pretty toasty day in Subotica yesterday, I woke up this morning to mostly cloudy skies and that familiar smell of coming precipitation. The plus is that it's cooled down considerably. The minus is that I have to walk around in this crap, which puts a pretty big damper on things (pun intended).

The morning fast train leaving Subotica was a wee bit too early for me (like 6am!), so I took a local one out of town at about 10:30. As the most basic level commuter rail transport, the train itself was more than a little grotty and went at a pretty leisurely. For me personally, that was fine, as it allowed me to catch another hour or two of sleep (stupid Adam Sandler movies on late night cable). But then for some reason the train went on an extended rest stop at Vrbas station, about half-way between Subotica and Novi Sad. Thanks to that, I didn't get into town until about 1:40 - some 45 minutes later than I should have. Annoying, but what can you do?

First impressions weren't entirely positive - the 20-minute walk from the station is mostly through ugly post-WWII development - but Novi Sad has turned out to be a very pretty city. The conditions could have been better, but there's enough color in the old town to make up for the overwhelmingly grey skies. Like Subotica, it's a distinctly Austro-Hungarian place, with fewer specific must-sees, but a larger historic core to wander through. Oddly, it's split up into a 19th century town on the west bank of the Danube and an older, medieval one on the east bank below the castle. Surrounding the 19th century section - and lining the riverbank - are more modern constructions, most of which are of no interest to the visitor and pretty bland aesthetically. It's a little unusual that they chose to build concrete apartment blocks along the river, detracting from a potentially gorgeous view by way of the castle proper, but it's still a scenic place overall. A couple road bridges cross the river, but further down you can still see the remnants of another bridge evidently destroyed by NATO bombing in 1999.

I decided to splurge on lunch a bit, stopping in at a quaint little restaurant in the old town serving primarily Vojvodina specialities. The portions were predictably huge, but the stuffed chicken breast I ordered was really nice. For the rest of the afternoon, I explored the bright streets of the old town and then wandered across the Danube to Petrovaradin Citadel. The latter is in the middle of preparations for the upcoming Exit Festival, which starts from the 12th of this month (just days away). That fact is what prevented me from staying in Novi Sad in the first place, hence the night in Subotica yesterday evening. It's supposed to be quite a good concert festival, but frankly few of the artists performing this year interest me, apart from Robert Plant. And one performer isn't enough to justify shelling out for the tickets and dealing with the crowds. The rest of the line-up - Snoop Dogg, Wu-Tang Clan, the Prodigy, Basement Jazz and so on - don't float my boat. Call me a square, but I'll pass.

Anyhow, it's been a nice, if wet, diversion. I've got a train then onwards to Belgrade in about an hour, where I'll be staying for about three nights. It's supposed to be quite an interesting, lively place, so I'm looking forward to checking it out.
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