We drove on dreadful roads south to Novi Sad, an old Danube town famous for a riotous annual music festival and a laid back style. However it was not to be.
The six lanes of wild and unpredictable traffic which seemed to collectively ignore the traffic light system and the lack of clear signage into the town, together with a precarious crossing of a railway bridge shook us both and sent us further south.
In Sremski Karlovci we aimed to find an eco-camp and a monastery, two things which are widely promoted about the small riverside village. We found the camp at the end of a very rough track a few miles higher up in the hillsides of the Fruska Gora national park. Doubtless the setting was beautiful but it was also lonely, dank and buggy.
We went back down to river level and were kindly offered a free night at Hotel Dunav, in its vast empty car park. Back in the village on foot it proved nigh on impossible to get to see the monastery, some several miles away, and not accessible by public transport.
Instead we went to a family vintner to try some of the renowned Bermet dessert wine, which was served on board the Titanic. It was spicy and sweet and tasted of Christmas so we got a bottle stored in Bertha’s cellar and walked around the centre admiring the pretty town square, Serbian Orthodox cathedral and four lions fountain.
It was getting late so we treated ourselves to dinner out behind Hotel Dunav alongside the river. The fish stew was thick, paprika-laden and tasty and we learned later that the fish meat we had chewed on was from catfish heads.
The evening was punctuated by the noisy arrival of a travelling fairground which, like us, pitched up in the hotel’s car park. By 10pm we were hemmed in. Still the strange home conversions of lorries and transit vans arrived. However after midnight all was quiet and we had a peaceful, safe night’s sleep in the midst of the travellers.
In the morning we were shooed off at 8am by the bossy head honcho, who had an eye on Bertha’s space for his own overly large, homebuilt ‘caravan’. The first time, to date, we’ve been evicted… and by travellers!