Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Novi Sad

Vojvodina is a semi-autonomous region in northern Serbia, known for its ethnic diversity (Hungarians, Slovaks, Croats, Vlachs, Roma and of course Serbs populate the region). The capital is Novi Sad, is set on the Danube, overlooked by a stone fort on the opposite shore of the river. Vojvodina is rather flat, and the town is full of cyclists and bike paths, and on my impression was notable for its cleanliness and the obvious attention of politicians to urban landscaping, such as flower beds in public spaces, a well-kept public beach and an under-construction parallel series of pedestrian, cycling and jogging trails along the river. It also has great architecture and of course a large, pedestrian only area in the center of town full of shops, bars and cafes to entertain the locals and visitors. It is also only lightly touristed, which is hard to understand but helps keep the place very pleasant, even in July.

Also, as I mentioned earlier, Serbia right now (even moreso than Bosnia or Croatia) is bursting with wildly-inexpensive, largely organic, insanely delicious fruits and vegetables, especially tomatoes, peaches, apples, plums, pears and apricots. Definitely a highlight of the trip thus far.

One last point of interest in Vojvodina is the relics of the now-essentially-gone Jewish community (Albert Einstein used to live here; his first wife was from Novi Sad, although she was not Jewish.) Fortunately, Novi Sad has turned the tremendous old synagogue into a performing arts center, so at least this landmark remains in use and relevant.

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