Contributed by Elena Lokman. Check out more of their posts from this summer here.
On the 10th of June, Aleks, Jelena and our entire DukeEngage Serbia group left Belgrade to go to Vojvodina for the weekend. First, we went to Novi Sad, the second largest city in Serbia.
Novi Sad, which translates to “new plant,” is a lot quieter than Belgrade, but the history is just as rich. Novi Sad is really interesting because it’s a very diverse city, with dozens of recognized ethnicities — Serbs, Hungarians, Slovaks and Croats making up the majority. Fun fact: this is the city where famous Yugoslav tennis player Monica Seleš is from! Our tour guide even told us that she’s often seen back in Novi Sad to visit friends and family. There is a lot of interesting architecture in Novi Sad, but I found the neo-gothic Name of Mary Church and Novi Sad Synagogue (Albert Einstein went there!) most appealing. However, the must-see attraction in Novi Sad would have to be the Petrovaradin fortress, where the Exit Festival in July is held. Located at the right bank of the Danube river, the fortress has a 16km underground countermine system — so you probably won’t find your way back if you attempt to go underground. We went around the fortress to familiarize ourselves with the area before the festival, and we had a lovely group dinner at Terasa, overlooking the Danube river and the beautiful skyline of Novi Sad.
The next day, we went to Subotica, a city which borders Hungary and has Serbian, Hungarian and Croatian as its official languages. We were taken on a city tour, where we saw religious buildings, a memorial, theater and the townhouse (which is said to be the most beautiful building in Subotica, and was only built within 2 years). Interestingly, the people in Subotica love the color yellow, and would often paint their houses and sidewalks yellow. After the city tour in the city, we continued our tour to a beautiful lake just 10 minutes away.
We then had late lunch at Salaš 137, a restaurant within a farm, with local music, authentic Yugoslav cuisine and Serbian and Hungarian influence because of its location. The food was absolutely delicious, and the ambiance was great — there were horses and there was even a wedding going on while we were there!
Our last city visit in Vojvodina was Sremski Karlovci — a city of 8,000 inhabitants and where the roundtable discussion was pioneered. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to stay there for long. We managed to walk around for a bit, and had our second reflection session over coffee, but we had to make our way back to Belgrade. It was an overall really nice weekend away from bustling Belgrade, and it definitely gave me a better perspective on the culture and history of Serbia.