Today was supposed to be a sort of relaxing day, but ended up being pretty busy anyway. I took my clothes to a dry-cleaners, so the only thing I have to worry about now will be showering. Feel a little guilty for the people at the cleaners who folded and ironed everything, knowing that the first thing I did was to cram and crumple everything into my bag.
I didn’t go into any museums, just walked around all day. Returning to Liberty Square, here’s the statue of Svetozar Miletić.
According to a plaque nearby, he was a recognised leader of the Serbs under the Habsburg Empire, and he also served as the mayor of Novi Sad.
Walked through some cute little streets.
Nearby here is the Matika Srpska library, founded in 1826 it’s the oldest public library in Serbia.
I tried to go inside, feigned interest in an art exhibition but was informed that it was being held elsewhere. Drat. So here’s a picture of the interior entrance.
On my way down to the river I took a detour through this exhibition centre complex.
It contains offices, a conference space (+ theatre stage?), a gym, some shops, some restaurants, a mini-golf court, and there’s a full-size stadium adjacent to it. The only suitable comparison I can think of is what in France you’d call a ‘salle polyvalante’ - a multifunction hall. Or it’s what a shopping mall could be if they weren’t all exclusively focused on providing retail space for the same 10 generic chain stores.
Adding to the curious nature of the building are these doors.
Those circular handles are a bold design choice.
Carrying on down to the river there was nothing else interesting, just housing towers, small shops, and the university. I saw this relief on one of the apartment blocks.
At the river I visited the monument to the January raids.
This one might need some explanation. In 1942 this part of Serbia was under occupation by Hungary. The Hungarian fascists decided to mount an anti-partisan operation in Novi Sad. So Hungarian troops came and placed the town under curfew, and then went street to street picking out anyone they didn’t like the look of (Jews, Gypsies, Serbs). These suspects were then taken down to the river to be killed. After a few days the killing stopped, and in the end all the partisans in the area had evaded capture.
The base of the monument is inscribed with ‘victims of fascism’ in all the languages of Yugoslavia.
Novi Sad seems to have had a significant Jewish population. There’s a large synagogue near the centre.
Here’s the front as seen from the street.
It looked closed, I didn’t try to go inside.
Further on up the Danube there’s a series of bridges, and these bridges have a history.
This is the Varadin bridge.
The ancestor of these bridges was the Prince Tomislav bridge, built in 1928, which was destroyed in 1941 by the Yugoslav Army. In 1946 a new bridge was opened on the ruins of the old one. This new bridge was named after Tito, and it was destroyed in 1999 by an airstrike. In 2000 the current Varadin bridge was again built over the top of the ruins of the old one.
Here’s the bridge I went over on the train yesterday, and the metal structure running close to it is the Perošević Bridge. These were both also destroyed with multiple airstrikes in 1999 and had to be rebuilt. The railway bridge is really new and was only opened in April of this year, previously both trains and cars used the Perošević Bridge, it’s now been reallocated for pedestrian/cyclist use.
Novi Sad was hit particularly badly by the NATO intervention in 1999. Over the course of around 2 months, NATO missiles hit an oil refinery, government offices, a television station, various residential areas, electricity infrastructure, and factories. The residents lost electricity and water supply, the city was covered with smoke from the burning oil refinery, and they were cut off from travelling across the Danube. Anti-war activists at the time questioned the military justification for all this, as Novi Sad was far away from where most of the fighting was actually taking place.
There’s something unsettling about NATO’s approach here. British and US pilots were happy to carpet-bomb the city with cluster bombs, but by the grotesque logic of ‘humanitarian intervention’, they were careful not to damage the historic buildings in the centre.
In this way I think NATO’s attitude reflects a liberal perspective from which the actual objective victims of imperialism are invisible.
There was some interesting graffiti up from the river.
It reads ‘say no to the triple EU-IMF-NATO pact, long live sovereign Serbia’.
The train onwards to Budapest didn’t arrive until 23:30, so I spent a long while waiting on the platform. The waiting room was locked for some reason.
The station lights cast these long, sharp shadows across the plaform.
Here’s my ticket - the reservation was unnecessary as there were loads of empty seats. See the price for the base ticket though - €12. The cost of rail travel here continues to amaze me.
Another night, another train.
Feeling tired, but more awake than I’d like to be.
Sometime during the night we reached the Subotica border crossing. A Serbian border guard woke me up and stamped my passport, and we were off to Hungary.