1578-1582: Not Going Hungry in Hungary

1578: Nothing Sad in Novi Sad 

 Wednesday 1st July 2020

A relatively short drive to Novi Sad … undecided if we would stay here or go onto Subotica, but I’d struggled to find a parking there and here had a fab parking!

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The landscape north of Belgrade was flat, flat and flat.  Sunflowers not yet out and wheat harvesting.

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We moved Jez to one of the fortress platforms once we knew how accessible it was … too accessible at night as music blared from a car until 3.30 am!  But a lovely view for our breakfast the following morning.

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Nothing like the busy Rhein, but we did see one barge.

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We found a restaurant on the edge of the fortress and splashed out on supper …watching the sun set.  Worth every penny for the location.

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The food was better quality than most places we’ve eaten in Serbia, but still pretty uninspiring.  

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This was the first wine we’d had on arriving in Serbia and only fitting that we had it on our last night!

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And the sun sun was fabulous …

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This plane did a few circles and then flew at us!

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The bridge had multicoloured lights.

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 A fitting end to our 13 day Serbian stay.

 

1579: Back to the EU 

 Thursday 2nd July

Leisurely breakfast on our Nov Sad terrace.  I sorted the online purchase of the Hungarian motorway vignette – £25 gives us a month, not that we plan to stay this long, but just in case … with so many border restriction changes, best to play safe!

A shortish drive to the Hungarian border.  We were through in about 15 minutes.  The Serbian border wanted to know if we had visited Kosovo or Montenegro (conflict countries) and then stamped us out.  The Hungarians were very quick … a check inside and under the bed for illegal immigrants and on our way.  I don’t think we’d realised how tense were had been … we gave several whoops and ‘welcome to the EU’ shouts!

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Glad we were not in a truck, reckon the 5 mile queue denoted a day’s wait.  Clear for us.

We stopped close to the border in Szeged.  We wandered into town along the Tisza River with lots of signs of flooding here too with the main objective of finding a bank for HUF – Hungarian Florints.  Another country with monopoly money.  Serbia was bad enough with £1=126 Dinar.  Here is is £1=391 Florints or HUF’s!

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Flooding at our camperstop too.

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A distended head!  Not my cup of tea …

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… but this was.  Yummy.

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Really attractive town, and given it is the 3rd largest in Hungary, it has a great mid town feel.  Being a University town often helps with a relaxed vibe.

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Just the one, before we headed back to the camperstop to eat at the floating restaurant.  Wrong!  All they could offer us was a beef fat smeared bun with pork … Yuk.

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So I did a quick Vietnamese salad … yummy!

1580: Chores and Szegrad

 Friday 3rd July 

Weather forecast was not wrong … showers, but thank goodness cooler!  J on his tax return and various bills paid and some planning for our return to the UK.  Lots of admin done, including a bit of planning for touring Hungary.

About 4.00, it looked a bit brighter so we set off on a tour of the town proper.  A brownie with ice cream as our reward for all that admin and to fortify us during our tour!  It’s main claim to fame is the Art Nouveau architecture that sprung up from 1880 after flooding destroyed the town.  Plenty of green areas and every other building had something to remark on it.

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Ungar-Mayer Palace with it “capriciously animated facades”!

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Szeged National theatre 1883. The stone statues either side of the entrance were usually carved in situ … just as well his scalpel didn’t slip!

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Roek palace, one of the most outstanding buildings 1907. 

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Arch with painting depicting the dead of WW2 underneath.  Lots of trams and trolley busses.  And we’ve seen tram tracks being built in another town.

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Young men supporting the butterfly of independence to commemorate the revolution in 1956.

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Brick built cathedral with mews houses and arches all round the large square.

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So many statues.

Back to Jez for supper and fighting off the mosses!!!  Would recommend this town to anyone coming to Hungary.


1581: A Change of Plan … Again!

Saturday 4th July 

First stop was Hodmezovasarhely … I defy anyone to pronounce this … far too many syllables!  

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The main reason for coming here was that it was billed as pottery centre, but the only sign was the sign by the closed ateliers door!

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A consolation ice cream as we couldn’t find a coffee shop for breakfast.  Good prices for ice cream here … £2.35 for 2. 

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And then we saw this amazing building  so we finally had brunch.

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A healthy omelette after our ice cream!

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Another super tidy town with green spaces and I read it is on the world list of relaxed chilled places to live

The father of two small girls asked if CO2 could be stroked … he spoke good English and made a suggestion for a town different to our destination … sounded good so we headed that way, after a big supermarket shop in InterSpar.  We’ve seen Tesco here too.  And Lidl and a few Aldi.

Off to Szarvas.  No parking overnight spots on the apps we use, so we headed to the camping symbol on maps.me.  Now I really like this app and use it loads, but it let us down this time. I suppose it was a camping, but not for travellers … a few cabins and permanent tents in a very small area with no car access.  So we started inspecting all the car parks.  Luck was then with us, as we found a small car park with shade.  And someone was kindly leaving, so we nabbed his space.  A perfect location as there was a river side picnic spot and at night it was super quiet.  The only downside … more mosquitoes!  We now have an electric mossie repeller, heavy duty room spray, citronella candle and body spray … yet every morning we compare bites!

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Riverside picnic spot; we carried over the pressure cooker.  Lovely until the mosquitoes defeated us and we retreated to the van.

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Just by us was the Millenium Statue with its changing colours.   More retrospective glory … the Crown at the top represents a Hungarian legend when archangels Michael and Gabriel brought the crown to the Hungarian King   

 

1582: Swatting in Szarvas

 Sunday 5th July 

Bikes and Os-car deployed we went to the the Arboretum.  Nice, but I’ve been spoilt by RHS Wisley and the main entertainment for us was seeing how many of the other people were swatting away the mossies more than us!  We’d brought the body spray with us and re-applied copiously, so we swatted a lot less than everyone else.  If you stopped, the buggers dive bombed you in force.

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This resident wasn’t bothered by mossies or CO2.

Our combined ticket included the Mini Hungary (Mini Magyaroszag).  We’d thought this would be a good explanation of the geography and main sights and industry in Hungary and would thus aid our Hungary tour planning.  We’d seen an amazing model Russia, a real scale model of all 9 time zones in St Petersburg and hoped for something similar.  No .. just a series of castles and churches randomly placed with a few model railways for the kids to activate by pressing a button!  And most of the buildings seemed to now be in Romania, Serbia, Slovakia etc.  Full sun, so we didn’t stay long.

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The town really did seem to hark back to past empire glories … the next stop was the windmill placed in the geographic centre of the pre WW1 Hungary, when it lost 2/3rds of its territory. 

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The centre of the universe!  A school trip destination.

Lunch was an omelette for J and salad for me.  The lovely waitress wanted to practice her English and suggested a restaurant really close to our parking.  We popped in to book for tonight, thinking that you can’t beat a local recommendation.  No dogs allowed, not even in the garden.  Ho hum!  So we packed up the van and drove a couple of hours to our original destination … Gyula.  

We agreed to try one of the city campsites but with a limit of EUR20.  The first one we came to is charging EUR15 and we have the whole place to ourselves.  The only other person here is the elderly lady owner, clad in her swimming costume and knee supports … quite a look BUT she is a poppet … even if I don’t fully understand her German.

Supper was a BBQ .  Super quiet and peaceful … this we’ll stay a few days.

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A gate from our camping leads straight to the castle park, where we can walk CO2 off lead.

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1575-77: Bimbling around Belgrade

1575:  Three Degrees of Separation!

 Sunday 28th June 2020

David and Karen left Zip Camping first to head off to Greece.  Danny and Lisa stayed on another day at the campsite.  Quite emotional as we have spent so much time with particularly Karen and David.  After a few jobettes (and a slow start) we headed off for the wheel arch repair in Belgrade, or Beograd, as it is known in Serbia.

We stopped off in Uzice, as Michail had told us about a cheap shoe shop … I forced myself to buy a couple of pairs … J didn’t!  Think that now makes 14 pairs, I think … oops.  In my defence, my lord, I do need shoes for all seasons!

 

1576:  Biking in Belgrade

 Monday 29th June 

Given that dogs are not allowed on public transport, busses were not an option.  So we used bikes to travel the 4.5km into the city centre.  Not pleasant.  Begrade drivers are just soo impatient.  Beeping horns at each other even when the car in front cannot move.  Busy.  No cycle tracks; we used the pavements a lot.  And it was HOT … 38C.  We started out following a GPSmyCity sight seeing tour, but aborted about half way through and headed to the fortress park for a lunch … which we slept off in the shade!

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Cathedral of Saint Sava: The largest Orthadox Serbian church and dedicated to the Medieval saint who is the founder of the Serbian church.  It is modern … started just before WW2 and was only completed in the ‘70s.  And one has to question the workmanship, as the main church was undergoing serious renovation ….

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… only the Crypt was open.

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The Skupstina: the Serbian parliament building.  With the changes of rulership, it has had various names  The National Assembly of Serbia 1945-46, The National Assembly of the Peoples Republic of Serbia 1946-63, The Assembly of the Socialist Republic of Serbia 1963-1990 etc.

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The lovely Kalemegdan fortress complex … we ate, slept and admired the views of the Danube.

And when we returned, the wheel arch crack had been glued and re-sprayed and the glue off the van cleaned up … it would be affixed tomorrow.


1577:  Taxi to Zemun

 Tuesday 30th June 

The info sheet we’d been given a the camper stop offered to book us a taxi … not happy to cycle again, we booked it.  It turned out to be the camper stop / garage / furniture shop owner … happy for dogs as he brought a different car with a big boot for CO2.  He told us that Belgrade had been destroyed 15 times!

Zemun is the other side of the Sava river which flows into the Danube and is one of the oldest parts of Belgrade.  Narrow streets, low rise attractive buildings, a street market and a relaxed vibe.  We liked it a lot and did another GPSmyCity walking tour … I’ve paid for the full app and it is getting used!

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The Zemun Gymnasium1858,  undergoing some refurbishment – renowned for its academic record.  But with initially only 21 students, that should have been a fairly easy achievement.

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Zemun Post Office 1896.

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The sun dial to the left of the window still works … not sure why it wouldn’t with no mechanical parts!

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Wide boulevard along the river … CO2 had a good run.

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Gardos Tower 1896: built to celebrate 1000 years of hungarian settlement.

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View over Zemun and the Danube.

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And lunch … a lovely wine suggested by the people at the neighbouring table.

 

Another Route Decision!

And when we got back, the wheel arch was on … good to go tomorrow.  BUT where???  It transpired that the Hungarian border is fully open from Serbia.  It would mean we could tour in Hungary and not have to quarantine in the house we’d booked in Croatia … rules could all change on 1st July ,,,, but Croatia is not good for wild camping … we have been all along the coast … Hungary was our intended route back after this trip and we have the guide book!!!  So a change of plan.  Hungary it is.  Danny and Lisa will use the Croatia house for a few days …  it was not enough money for us to worry about …. and should we be refused at the Hungarian border, we can about turn for Croatia!

 


1573-1574: Tara Tourism

1573:  Sargen 8 Railway

Friday 26th June

Camping Zip in the Tara National Park is just great, so we stayed 3 days.  Water and EHU on the pitch, super clean facilities and great views.  Oh, and the company weren’t bad!  CO2 were delighted to see K and D, the dog parents … it is being written into our wills.  When a storm came over, Corrie was found to be seeking comfort with K and D!  

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Construction of the Sargan 8 railway started during WW1 and it connected Serbia (partly Bosnia and Herzegovina now) with Austro Hungary.  Italian and Russia POWs had a tough time digging into the rock and snake infested land.  Work resumed under Yugoslavia in 1921.  The ascent of 300m is dealt with by the figure of 8 (hence the name) and the track actually crosses itself!  It connected Belgrade with Sarajevo and closed in 1974.  The section here was repaired and is now a major Serbian tourist attraction.

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Glimpses of the track snaking around.

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They could do with removing some of the trees for photos!  But they did stop a few times on the descent for photo opportunities.

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We didn’t fancy lunch at the Mokra Gora station … the lady serving coffee had been a little surly, but a hot trek into the small village revealed no other choice.  A quick glass at a bar and back to the station for a late lunch.  This was pork rolled around ham and cheese … am finding Serbian food too meaty and not enough sauce.

1574:  Lake and Gorge

 Saturday 27th June

David offered to drive, so we piled into Buster.  Destination Lake Zaovine up in the Tara National Park.  D and K had previously cycled a good chunk of it until their batteries (bike and own!) were close to exhaustion!  So driving all the way it was.  

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Woods on the drive up and then opening up to the valley with the reservoir.  After so much rain the murky waters were released from the dam.

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Karen wedging the fridge door after it threw a tantrum on a bend!

IMG 5913We tried the only restaurant for lunch, but no dogs!  Hurumpf!   We backtracked to a small village cafe and had buns!  The only choice was filled baps.  A local dish!  Some lovely English speaking ladies helped us with the menu and suggested the fillings … egg and cheese or ham egg and cheese.  Surprisingly delicious … and given how busy it was, obviously known for its baps!

A few KM away was the Drina gorge … K and D had been told about it.  Some steep sides off the road … and then a fab view point.

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Just had to climb that for the view!

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Look!  No hands!

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Drina Gorge.

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We were parting ways tomorrow so a ceremonial handing over of the bread knife wed lent K&D all those months ago!

There was a Russian called Michail on the campsite.  In conversation with David, it transpired that he’d spent time with Danny and Lisa on a site in Belgrade.  His home is Montenegro, where his wife and 2 children are.  And he couldn’t get home. Danny and Lisa had spent a few days in Kosovo and had just come back to Serbia.  Crossing at the same border point is OK, but the guard wanted ‘paper’.  Danny translated this as a bribe, but played dumb.  But you have my papers in your hand!  You have our passports!  They did a long drive but arrived that evening at Camping Zip.  A BBQ and far too much to drink … again.

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Sundance Camping Reunion, just missing Anetta and Geo.

Route Decisions!

Due to the spike in Covid cases, Croatia had just closed its borders with Serbia … except for transit or a 14 day rental / quarantine.  Transit is 24 hours with resting at motorway services and then only 12 hours to cross Slovenia.  Probably quarantine in Italy.  So what to do?

D and K elected to transit back through Bulgaria and enter Greece.  We’d heard of people that had done it.  We reluctantly decided against Greece:  W

e have to be back in the UK for mid August, ferries are not yet running and prices have shot up.  If we have to quarantine somewhere, let it be in a rental in Croatia.  I found the cheapest I could find … very basic and only £279 for 2 weeks.  If is truly awful we can still live in Jez and just use the shower, wifi and fridge.  if quarantine is lifted, we can leave early … at that price we weren’t going to worry about it.  But first we would go to Belgrade as we’d booked a camper repair / hire / camper stop to re-affix the wheel trim.

 

 

1569-1572: Flood Damage and Miracles

1569:  Devil Town

Monday 22nd June 2020

A Lidl bit of shopping … managed to nearly spend £100 … £36 of that on booze.  Karen and I had been pining for Aperol and found it in the Turkish duty free shop, just between the border with Bulgaria. We bought a bottle each and I bought 4 different sparking wines in Lidl to sample … purely in the interest of research, of course!  Sadly our bottle remains unopened!  It carried on raining stair rods and we’ve had to resort to long trousers … not Aperol weather at all.  How ‘sod’s law’ is that … finally lay our hands on some and then not the weather to drink it!  We’ll have to stick to the duty free Gordons and then the Lidl version!

I’d planned a run, but too wet.  CO2 have been in and out of their doggy dry bags!  I promise never to moan that it is too hot again … today where we ended up was all of 9C and the UK is starting a heat wave.  For once we are in the wrong place!

Hey ho, we set off after a coffee and a tasty sauted onion filled pastry and headed SW.  But progress was so slow!  The roads are truly the worst we’ve ever experienced … and that included Italy!  The patching has obviously changed colour over the decades. We arrived in rain down a windy narrow tarmac road in the rain.  D&K, ahead of us, were already exploring.  In the rain we walked up to the Devil’s Town pinnacles.  We’ve seen this phenomenon before (Forget where!), but these were by far better.  Even in the rain!  After our walk, we slept at the car park …and listened to the rain get heavier!

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The Well:  So much iron ore in the soil.

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We don’t have any torments, so no hankies left!

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Either they are tall aliens with hats or phallic symbols!

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Looks a mess, but tasted fab … Turkish Menemen and paprika roasted potatoes … apparently corn flower is the key to crispiness!

1570:  Devil’s Flooding

Tuesday 23rd June 

It rained all night and morning.  Like the 40 days and nights.  We had to drive out with rushing torrents crossing our single track road.  Rock fall and churned up brown rivers, that had been mere streams the day before.  What’s that noise we said?  J nobly got out and checked the tyres and underneath … we had not caught any of the flood water detritus.  As we got to the main road the noise was louder.  He investigated again … the force of the water had pulled the steel arch trim off.  Strangely when we did set off again, there was no warning noise … the noise altered us before we got too far away to retrieve it!  My turn to get wet … a walk back along the lane to find the wheel trim a couple of KM back.  Shoes wet through from wading the torrents and soaked down to my knickers!

But we had the wheel trim!  Slightly battered as a car had driven over it.  I reckon having the part has saved us about £600 as the front bumper part alone was £2600! 

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Bear in mind, I waded thorough the like.

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It seems to have just been attached by glue!

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A little damaged!

The drive only marginally improved.  As we approached the National Park by Kaoponik, fog lamps were deployed!  The view (apparently) are stunning, but we could only see a few metres in front of us and it was still raining.  We aborted sightseeing on the basis we would not want to get wet again and parked up off road up high in the mist!  Day done.  Tomorrow has to be better.

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David and Karen missed out on slow cooked pulled pork as we agreed to part company for 2 nights.

 

1571:  Oldest Church and Divine Sopocani

Wednesday 24th June 

It rained all night … didn’t yesterday start like this?  About 10.30, it stopped but not early enough for us to enjoy the views.  We were later told these were the worst floods since 1965.  We decided not to stop at Kaoponik … a very large ski resort and busy.  Good to see walkers out … a lot of nationalities don’t walk for pleasure.  

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Ski hotel just outside Kaoponik … looks spooky.

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As the mists cleared we had glimpses of the hills.

Today’s journey was not incident free either.  J was looking for a space to pull over to let a lorry pass … he was super impatient and clipped our wing mirror.  He did the decent thing and stopped to make sure it was OK … fortunately it was.  Lucky or divine protection?

First destination was the Church of St Peter just outside Novi Pazar.

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St Peter’s stone church is the oldest in Serbia.  

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Apparently these shaped grave stones were fashionable in C18.

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Able to climb the tower.

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Family likeness:  father and son Priests.

The lady showing me around (we went in singly cos of CO2), said she was surprised to see us. Visiting each other in groups during a festival had resulted in a huge spike of Covid cases and Novi Pazar was the epicentre.  The infected were being shipped of the Belgrade as the local hospitals couldn’t cope.  Shame for us, but we decided not to visit the town with its old Turkish centre and copper ware products.

Sopocani monastery next.  Lunch in the car park first.  We had the place pretty much to ourselves.  A sole monk with some English converted the Euro entrance fee into Serbian Dinar … seen a lot of this.  Of the same tone, seen a number of EU funded projects … last I looked Serbia was not part of the EU.

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Built mid C13 by King Uros, who is buried here.  Destroyed by the Turks end C17. 

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This divine rose is three colours on one root stock.

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More divine protection … these Medieval frescoes survived exposure to the elements.

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The drive to our over night by the Studentica Monastery was lovely … scenery pix for the Aged P’s as Serbia was their 4th holiday to have been cancelled.  And for once, we have visited a country before them!!!

 

1572:  Studentica Monastery

 Thursday 25th June 

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A peaceful night in the carpark of an abandoned hotel and CO2 were able to be off lead.  We were joined by a surly Serbian motorhomer … try as I might I could not get a Dobar Dan (hello) from him.  And check out that blue sky.

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One of the most sacred sites in Serbia.  

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Continuous monastic life since 1190.  The old cells were ruins, these were built in 1900’s.  The Curator took us into the Church of Our Lady, which is undergoing restoration.

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The massive local white marble blocks had survived intact.

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Some monasteries have a really peaceful atmosphere.  We liked it a lot.

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Logging area near Studentica  and my shoes still drying out!

Leaving Studentica, we had planned to do some more sightseeing before meeting up with Karen and David at a campsite in the Tara Mountains, but the roads were just awful.  There were SO MANY traffic lights, queues and bumpy bits, as most of the road structure seemed to be under repair.  And it was getting hot, not good when you switch off the engine as stationary.  When we arrived at the campsite, the Aperol was finally opened!

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Pretty scenery, not majestic but pretty. 

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Flooding.

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A few perilous castles en route.

1566-1568: Transit to Nice-Nis & Nasty-Nis

1566 cont.-:   Edirne

Friday 20th June 2020

Lunch after the Gallipoli tour was a pretty revolting doner kebab but it had to be done!  A few hours driving saw us in Edirne.  The main reason for coming here was that it is very close to the Bulgarian border, which we will cross tomorrow.   We met up with K and D at the famous mosque and eventually found somewhere to have a final glass of wine and something to eat in Turkey.  

It is a university town and close to the border, so we expected it to be quite Western … not!  Lots of places serving Cay (tea) but really hard to find a bar.  I asked in the Vodafone shop, thinking the staff there were quite young and would speak English … they had to phone a friend! Do they have Who Wants To Be A Millionaire here?  I got the name of the Patio bar, but imperfect directions.  We asked in a shop …. the next door show shop owner also owns the Patio Bar … really???!!  But we had a personal guide to its doors. 

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Karen and David elected to stay over night in the town centre, we elected to stay by the river as it was better walking for the dogs.  We slept pretty well as it had been a long day starting with the Gallipoli tour at 8.00.

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All, and I mean all, the streets had been dug up.  Piles of bricks and abandoned spades.  Quite why it was all a mess at the same time?

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The main attraction of Edirne is the Selimiye Mosque.  Built around 1570, it is considered to be Turkeys finest with a dome that it marginally larger than Istanbuls Aya Sofya mosque.   It had very clean lines and lots of light. 

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The marble sadirvan, ablution fountain.  Obviously not use enough as inside still smelt of stinky feet!

 

1567:  How Not to Tour Bulgaria

Saturday 21st June 

Turkey had imposed a countrywide curfew from 9.00 so students could get to their national examinations safely … although I presume they were all in big halls to sit the exams … would keeping people indoors make that much difference?  Consequently we set off at 8.06, slightly behind the scheduled departure of 8.00 as we had to clear up Corrie’s regurgitation of bones she’d snaffled the night before on her walk!

Although Danny and Lisa had crossed from Turkey to Bulgaria a few weeks before, we all had a slight sense of trepidation, so we met K and D at a petrol station and approached the border in convoy.  A complete lack of signage, so we led them down the bus / pedestrian route necessitating a convoy several hundred metre reverse!  Exit stamps for Turkey, only after the border control had made phone calls to confirm no penalty for overstaying our visas.  We had to sign a form to state that we agreed to 24 hrs to cross Bulgaria, and this is what we’d paid for on line motorway toll system … it even prescribes the route.

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Trucks stacked all over the place at both ends of Bulgaria  freight drivers must have to allow a day to cross the border alone.

We really only had a retina impression of Bulgaria … motorway across a wide valley and some ugly Communist housing blocks.  But our encounters with the people were a lot more encouraging … both at the coffee and lunch stop.  Fortunately both took Euros as we’d no Lev.  Welcome Break could really learn from the Bulgarians … we were given a huge choice of meat kebabs and it was freshly cooked; served with a huge munch crunchy salad … we shared a dish!  Super tasty and 19 Euro fed 4 of us!

The border to Serbia was similar … several stops and staff looking in the van, passports gaining new stamps.  At the moment Serbia is OPEN and we could stay 3 months … we won’t.  The plan is be tourist for up to 2 weeks, keeping an eye on the borders for the route home … likely to be transit through Croatia and Slovenia.

Our destination was Nis (pronounced Nish) sports grounds … lots of parking over the weekend, but it was chocker come Monday morning. We had a brief wander, mainly to find and ATM for cash and a Serbian Sim card.  The cash is going to take a lot of getting used to … Dinar 125 = £1.  There seems to be a huge number of 0’s on some of the notes and I’m back to counting them, like I used to count spots on playing cards as a child!  Should I confess that to David and Karen as I’m now the kitty holder!!!  Supper was close to the vans … a lot of restaurant choice.  Given our good lunch, we were guided by the lovely young English speaking waiter to select half portions.  He also helped with sorting out the Sim cards.  I wanted to adopt him, but Karen wanted to marry him … would that make me her mother in law!?!?

1568:  Nice-Nis and Nasty-Nis 

Sunday 22nd June 

I made use of the park by us, doing a couple of circuits for a run.  Corrie only did one circuit as she is now VERY nervous of other dogs, having had her bum nipped by Turkish canines.  J started, but stopped due to a calf pain.  And David is still off running due to shin splints.  That makes me the only runner … there’s a shock!

Over coffee we had a planning meeting … we pretty much want to see the main things and Serbia is not that large, so we will dip in and out of each other’s company.  We did a quick shop and then set off to be tourists.  With rain jackets  … it felt cold and rain threatened.  We are not used to this … please bring back the sunshine! 

Nis has a lot to offer and a good vibe.  Constantine (Constantinople) came from here, but little evidence remains.  The main sights can be visited in a day … and we did!  Fortress, Concentration Camp and Skull Tower.

The fortress is a large area of small museums and restaurants … CO2 had another run.  We continued up to the Concentration Camp … it was in the not so nice area of Nis … taking a short cut two big black dogs attempted to take their owners fence down in their attempt to attack us … resulting in the owner shouting at us to take our F…ing dogs away.  Nasty-Nis!

At the Concentration Camp, I chatted to a school teacher … his 14 yr olds were on a trip postponed from April.  He made the comment that this generation does not have relatives that remember the war and therefore it has little meaning for them. I didn’t like to draw his attention to the Serbian ethnic cleansing.  It has crossed our minds that anyone over about 45 here may well have been involved.

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The Red Cross Concentration Camp got its name from the nearby rail station … it was a German transit camp. 

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Every time a German was killed by the resistance, 100 prisoners or locals were slaughtered.  The penalty for a German being wounded was 50 deaths. 

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A monument a few km away was erected for the mass killings by the Germans.  Most of the people deported from here ended up either in gas chambers or dying from the conditions of forced labour.

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Researchers have used some documents and personal accounts to attempt to verify all the names of the people that passed through here.

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David ‘dragged’ us to the Irish bar … a light lunch … pumpkin soup with the Serbian yogurt, a little like clotted cream.  J’s paprika chips were so good, he needed help!

 

After lunch David and I had a swim … I wanted a shower without having to empty the store cupboard that is our on board shower.  Only £1.55 with an olympic sized pool.  Think it must’ve been built in the 80’s and not had any work done on it since,  The showers seemed to be communal, given the lack of signage and the chap that stayed in the shower block I was in.  No stripping off here then!  The changing cubicles had most panels bashed in, so a peeping Tom’s heaven … potentially, depending on who they were spying on!  Oh. and I was the ONLY female swimmer.  Had it not been for a mixed group of teens on the poolside, I would have thought it was a male only swim session.  And don’t get me started on the state of the ladies toilets!

 

The Skull Tower was visited early evening … the heavy rain had stopped and David brought a brolly … a sure talisman to keep the rain away.    The Tower of Skulls is another revered testament to Serbian grit.  An uprising against the Ottoman occupation 1809 resulted in 4000 Serbian deaths.  The Serbs managed to wipe out 10,000 Turks by blowing up an ammunition store.  Retribution was the decapitation of the Serbs …. their skulls were embedded in a tower left to instil fear and subservience in the Serbs.  Of the 952 skulls, only 58 skulls remain.  Some Serbs took a skull to bury as a symbol of their own lost family.  The chapel likes building was erected some years later to protect the Tower.

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The chapel likes building was erected some years later to protect the Tower.

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