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My aunt and I recognised each other straight away on the very small station at Sremski Karlovci. Anka is a very warm caring individual and we both felt welcome straight away. Her and I talked flat out all the 3 days we were there about everything imaginable while Rick tried to understand, amused himself as best as he could. Anka has a lot of wise sayings such as; a a wise man doesn’t need to be given money and a fool doesn’t know what to do with it! Anka also is a very generous cook, so we ate up hearty meals of mostly home grown fruit and vegetables and meat. We went to the cemetry which has her husband Stevo and my grandmother Boja buried there. It was good to go there and see the site but sad to see that Ankas face and birth date is already etched next to her husband on the granite stone , all that is necessary is her casket and her date of death which hopefully will be a long time as she’s only 68! The town is one of the cultural centres of Serbia and has just been made the official legal centre with the main court of Serbia moving here in Belgrade’s process of decentralisation. The has been part of several different dynasties starting off as a Roman fort , passing over to the House of Hasbbourg , the Ottoman Empire and back to the House of Hasbourg(later the Austrian-Hungarian Empire) following the treaty of Karlovitz- which was signed here and ended hostilities between the two. The solid stone buildings of its streets are heritage listed. The population is largely Serbian in origin. At the end of Ulica Mitripolita Stratimirovica (Anka’s street ) is a mineral spring which runs continuously and has people coming from far and wide to collect the water. The town is situated on the Danube river 8 km from Novi Sad . During a walk along the banks of the Danube there were many frogs hopping into the water when I disturbed then and I also happened across a metre long black coloured snake which no doubt preys on them .
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It was an early start catching the bus from Sarajevo at 6 am , with our packed breakfast from the hotel. The countryside out of Sarajevo was again spectacular with us climbing out of Sarajevo over the mountain range and finally down onto the flats near the Serbian border. There was a brief stop for coffe/breakfast at the top.After the border formalities , which didn’t take too long , there was a distinct change in the quality of the roads for the worse – explaining why the last 150km to Belgrade would take over 3 hours. The land in this area is dead flat and full of corn fields. They must use the corn to feed livestock because it was rare to ever see it on a menu anywhere in the Balkans . Finallly we arrived at Belgrade which is really just a typical big city – the train station however when we found it suffered from a distinct lack of trains! We bought tickets for the train to Sremski Karlovci which is on the line to Novi Sad . The platfroms have no signs indicating where the train is going on the platform and you will almost certainly not understand the Serbian announcement – as the locals have trouble getting it , but there is a screen in the ticket area which we were able to work out. There was a conductor on the platform whom we asked whether this train was to Novi Sad as did 90% of the locals that walked past him. The train was appalling and crowded , much worse than Melbourne. There were no announcements about where the train was stopping ( in Switzerland they announce it in about 6 languages) , at some of the stops you couldn’t make out the signs on the platform , at many of the stops there was no platform! Somehow between a combination of smart phone technology , asking locals who possibly might know , we got out at the correct place. There was another lone Australian travelling in our carriage , as we were about to get out I said ” Hey mate , this will make the trains back home look really good .” He said “I’m glad my stop is at the end of the line ” .When we got off onto the very narrow platfrom Lily’s aunt Anka was there to greet us and a friend drove us the short distance to her house in the town of Sremski Karlovci.
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