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Maria and Gerry’s Travel Diary

Friday, 23 Jun 2006

Location: Belgrade, Yugoslavia

This country was once part of Yugoslavia but it all began to unravel with the death of Tito in 1980.Then the age old emnities between the Catholics, the Orthodox and the Muslims rose to the top like an ugly scum.The rest as they say is a sorry history of senseless killing and "ethnic cleansing"
In the end Nato bombed the Serbs into submission as they were reluctant under the war criminal Slobodan Milosevic who died recently while on trial in the Hague to lay down their arms.
All this was obvious as soon as we crossed the border,shocking roads,poverty,bad housing,the lot.
Our first stop was the city of Novi Sad.Fortunately the bombing had only targetted indutry and the briges across the Danube so we were able to see the beautiful Hapsburg archtecture in the old town.Many European cities are turning their centres into pedestrian malls and Novi Sad is no exception.It was lovely to walk on the shady side of the streets as the sun was firerce.
On the outskirts of town we saw a huge Austro-Hungarian fortress still standing after hundreds of years on the banks of the Danube.We walked to the very top to get full appreciation of the enomous size of the structure.They tunnelled under the ground to create a maze so as to confuse the enemy.Officers were only familiar with part of the maze so should they be captured could only under torture reveal part of the set up.It was never taken.
We spent the night in the Hotel Inter-Continental a beacon of luxury for from our room we could see the utter squalor of a gypsy slum which had to be seen to be believed.That night we went out to eat at a picturesque restaurant in the old cobble stoned city and were entertained by musicians and singgers and our excellent meal was accompanied by a very good local red wine.
Headed south the next day and past the city of Nis had to take a 25k detour through the backblocks as tunnels on the main road were being heightened for the big tourist busses.The road our tour guide told us had been repaired since last time she passed through,even so it was vet rough and as all traffic between Sofia in Bulgaria and Belgrade fhad to negotiate this track it was little hairy at times and our driver was more than once forsed ro react quickly as locals in their horse and cart came from farm tracks without bothering to check for traffic,after all in normal cicumstances ther is hardly any traffic.
And so to Bulgaria