Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Wed 8 Jun 2016. Fruska Gora NP to Belgrade

Wed 8 Jun 2016. Fruska Gora NP to Belgrade
Air VERY fresh in pre-dawn. Sun took awhile to reach our clearing, but by time GirlRob had washed hair, and BoyRob had made baked beans on toast for breakfast, the day was definitely starting to warm up. The camp caretaker came with her little grandson for her fee, and told us through single words, guesses, and charades that her parents had come from Croatia, she was Serbian, other family fled during Milosevic era to Australia and Canada. Drove to fenced campsite north of Belgrade on Danube and booked in. Got instructions to catch 704 or 706 bus to its final stop in centre of town, driver didn't care about collecting fare, bus so dilapidated didn't think it would make the half-hour trip. 
Marked all the stops on iPad because it was a dark, towering, falling-down kind of city, blockwork so black they looked like they'd been in a fire storm. The city of Belgrade was so appalling we almost turned around to go back to camp. Info centre said we'd missed the 1pm open-top bus, and next wasn't until 4pm! What to do?? Map of sights was spread out and very hard to follow, even had difficulty translating it to Pocket Earth. Figured enough out eventually to walk through seedy lanes with beggars and street sellers everywhere. Pedestrian underpasses so filthy, GirlRob careful not to touch handrails. Grimy, graffitied, and with buildings in disrepair everywhere, we immediately dubbed it "worst city we'd ever been to".

Serbian Historical Museum

National Museum was closed...

Prince Michael -Republic Square

Fortunately things looked up and we found Pioneer Park, some better streets and some grand buildings: National Assembly (although not sure what the man and horse statue was about), Hotel Moscow (heard you couldn't afford to eat there), Post Office (grandness suggests a strong belief in snail mail...), Civic Assembly, then beautiful St Marks Orthodox Church, which holds the marble tomb of Emperor Dusan. 

Old Royal Palace

The pioneers of Pioneer Park

Hotel Moscow

National Assembly

St Mark's Orthodox Church


Bus finally arrived, and we were really glad we'd stayed in town for the tour; covered war-torn areas vs brash new side of town, restored buildings and tottering ones, new foreign investment and new parks where whole quarters had been razed. Gave us better picture of a city coming to grips with its new identity. 

Dokovic advertising Australian wine!

Met proud young Serb: "love this city - best food, best girls!" Let a waiter choose local wine and beer for us (he did a good job) checked and sent emails, and caught up with little videos of our babies. Ate mushroom portage and chicken saltimbocca for dinner before chancing the bus back to camp. Sun was going down over the wheat field as we practically jogged the 1km back to camp from the bus stop. Mosquitoes made the last 10 minutes miserable and even though it was still quite warm, we were glad to escape indoors with our cuppa. Lulled to sleep by sound of barge pumping silt on the riverbank.

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