Exploring Fruška Gora

Fruška Gora (pronounced Frushka Ghora), more commonly known as the Frankish mountain outside of Serbia, is a beautiful forest-covered mountain in Serbia. A small part of it also extends into Croatia, but mostly it’s a Serbian thing. It’s also referred to as the “jewel of Serbia” due to the amazing landscape.

From Belgrade we traveled by car to a small and picturesque town called Vrdnik, just on the edge of the park. It vaguely reminded me of the small Swiss towns on the edge of the Alps and was filled with lush greenery, sweet little homes and local establishments. Here we rented two apartments for a few nights and I was genuinely impressed with the low cost.

From Vrdnik we proceeded to explore the beauty that is Fruška Gora. There are tons of old Serbian Orthodox monasteries in and around the park which are a delight to visit. The forests are incredibly beautiful and lush and there are hidden treasures everywhere you look. The Gypsy’s family also owns a plot of land inside the park and we had fun finding it and having a look around. Sadly the little cabin had long since suffered massive damage due to disuse and general decay, but we have dreams of building a little cabin on it one day:)

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This was probably one of my favourite spots. If I had my way i would be getting married right there! Unfortunately things haven’t worked out quite that way…but it is spectacularly beautiful. This spot is just a short walk into the forest behind one of the little monasteries..and boy was it worth every meter walked.
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More or less where the family plot is…it’s truly beautiful!
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Just one of the many beautiful Serbian Orthodox Monasteries nestled inside the park we explored.

 

 

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Inside one of the many churches. Photos couldn’t possibly do the art inside these buildings any justice, and out of respect I did not take close-ups.
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Another beautifully hidden one. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to go inside as I wasn’t wearing appropriate clothing…neither was the Gypsy as he was wearing a pair of shorts 😉
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This was probably one of my most favourite signs outside one of the churches. No hand holding No smoking No cameras No make-up No dogs I had to take this picture hiding behind the Gypsy and keeping a wary eye out for the rather stern Nun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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All throughout the forest we found these sweet little hearts painted on trees. To this day I still have no idea why they are there or who put them there and none of the locals I was able to converse with could give me a reason, but they did make for some really cool photos:)

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One of many selfies taken during the course of our trip. This specific one was outside one of the churches where we weren’t allowed to explore the inside due to lack of appropriate dress. In our defense it was really boiling and i was wearing a spaghetti top dress and he was wearing a pair of shorts. Neither were considered appropriate. So we soaked up a bit of sun and explored the outside of the monastery instead.

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The bee population in the park is doing exceptionally well:) All across the park there are thousands upon thousands of multi-coloured beehives and if you asked me what sound i would associate with the park it would definitely be the sound of bees. In some cases old trucks or buses had been converted to house these hives in order to move them around more easily. The bees are MASSIVE and slightly scary looking. Those smudges in the pic are due to bees buzzing outside the car window:)

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This is probably one of my favourite signs in the whole wide world. Literally every town has them. “You are now entering a town”, “You are now exiting a town”. Hours of entertainment during our long drives at spotting them…..because sometimes it doesn’t exactly LOOK like a town….

 

 

On one of the days we traveled to the City of Novi Sad, explored the old fortress and the old part of town and had an amazing meal on the banks of the Danube.

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With The Gypsy’s parents on top of the wall of the old fort in Novi Sad
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“Old Town” Novi Sad with just a dash of the modern city on the left hand side.

img_7119Lunch started with fish soup….which to be honest I wasn’t sure i’d like. I’ve never been a fan. but it was delicious! Served with a bowl small pieces of raw dough, cheese and bacon pieces which you add to your hot soup (the finely chopped pieces of dough quickly cooks through) it was SUPER delicious and I could easily have eaten only that! This was followed by fresh fish…now let me tell you…in SA we are spoiled. Fish is processed and provided to you sans head and fins and STUFF. Not here. As you can see the Smooch is quite literally cooked as is with head and tail and fins and EVERYTHING. It freaked me out a bit at first, but it was delicious and I enjoyed every single bite (once I stopped looking at what i was eating:P )

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All in all Fruška Gora is a spectacular place and if you ever find yourself in Serbia or even just in the general area I would SERIOUSLY recommend a visit. VERY affordable, absolutely beautiful and a place that will steal your heart over and over and over again:)

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Dear 2017…

I feel like a walking, talking cliché whenever I write posts like these. Currently everyone is furiously writing (or wrote, if you’re an over achiever) a post about the year that was. But the fact is: I enjoy writing them. They remind me of what I’ve been through this year and what I’ve achieved. Sometimes I even remember about things that were significant which I completely forgot about…and it’s nice to spend some time thinking bout what I’ve done the last 12 months and to start the year on a clean slate.

So here is a summary of the year that was 2017:

  • Firstly, and I think most importantly as it was definitely the highlight of my year, I GOT ENGAGED! I can’t even begin to tell you how happy this made me and how excited I am to spend the rest of my life with my Gypsy. Wedding planning is currently in full swing in this house and everyone is getting in on the highly animated discussions about it.
  • During the past 12 months I spent more time out of the country than in it (literally). Countries visited and passed through this year include: USA, England (passed through), Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Kenya, Serbia, Croatia and the UAE (stop overs). My travels also included a few weeks in CT, but this is obviously not a different country (even though it feels like it sometimes).
  • I had the most amazing holiday traveling in Serbia and Croatia with my Gypsy. I explored so much and got to experience so much in his home countries…I can’t WAIT to go back. That place is incredible.
  • I had endless trouble with my MINI this year and had to fork out in excess of R50k in total in repairs and services….this was NOT so much fun.
  • As a result of the above I sold my darling little MINI after 6 wonderful years and bought a new car.
  • My darling nephews turned 2 and 5 respectively and my darling godson also turned 2.
  • I lost some friends (by choice) and made some amazing new ones.
  • Professionally I kicked ass (sadly there is very little I can elaborate here as a result of the nature of my job).
  • A bad guy got away (through no fault of ours) through public sector uselessness. I HATE it when the bad guys get away.
  • I saw Kilimanjaro (from an airplane…but still!)
  • I continued on my cycling journey (although not as much as I would have liked as constantly being out of the country was a bit of a challenge)
  • My dad’s best friend of 41 years passed away…he was pretty much family.
  • Mostly being out of the country meant that I didn’t get to spend as much time as I would have liked with family and friends.
  • I bought a pastamaker and started making my own pasta. This might sound like something small and insignificant, but I’m pretty obsessed with the whole thing right now.
  • Got to see in the new year (2017) with my American tribe and my parents.
  • I started sewing again and made some beautiful things to wear.
  • Did I mention that I got engaged?

The list isn’t spectacularly long this year. Mostly because traveling so much for work made it hard. I know a lot of people had a really rough 2017 and honestly it wasn’t the easiest year. I faced a lot of professional and personal down times and being away from my people so much due to work related travel was hard. But overall it was a GOOD year and am unable to find any reasons to hold a grudge against 2017.

For those of you who had a rough 2017 I sincerely hope and pray that 2018 will be better. That you will be overwhelmed by blessings and adventures. For those of you that had a good 2017, I pray that you will have an even better 2018 and that the year will be filled with amazing things. Love and blessings and adventure. But most of all I hope that 2018 will be filled laughter and acceptance and people who bring out the best in each of you. Because we all deserve a little laughter.

Happy 2018 my lovelies!

Dear Belgrade, Serbia

As promised, I am finally getting around to writing about our amazing holiday earlier this year. I posted a ton of photos on instagram and twitter (#RAGISAC) and tried to send a message to my family at the end of each day with a little summary of what we did and a few photos to show them.

We traveled from Jozitown to Belgrade, Serbia via Abu Dhabi, explored Serbia and then proceeded to drive to Croatia. We spent the first few days in Rovinj and then took a ferry through to the island of Rab, where The Gypsy’s mother lives. In this post I’ll be focusing on my experience of Belgrade.

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On the plane and on our way! #RAGISAC

We arrived in Belgrade on a Saturday morning and was greeted at the airport by The Gypsy’s parents as a surprise. We were only supposed to meet up with them a bit later in the day, but they took a bus to the airport to surprise us instead. His father awaited me with a bunch of flowers and a big bear hug and his mom wouldn’t let me touch my own suitcase once we showed our faces in arrivals. And this behaviour continued throughout our trip. Whenever we spent any time with them we were spoiled rotten! And it was glorious:)

Belgrade is an incredible city. We spent a day or so exploring before heading off to Fruška Gora (more on this in another post) and then did some more exploring in-between returning from Fruška Gora and heading off to Croatia. It is a city of absolute contradictions. In one block you will see the most beautiful houses right next to a building that looks like something that should be condemned. But even the buildings that are falling apart are beautiful in their own way. It was later explained to me that in some cases the people let the buildings deteriorate on the outside in order to avoid paying property taxes, but i was assured that on the inside they are quite beautiful. In addition, due to the suspicious nature of the people, you may be labelled as an associate of the “mafioso” if you flaunt any sort of money, and not beautifying the homes on the outside is one way of avoiding such flaunting. I have no idea if this is true or one of those “jokes with a hint of truth” or complete fabrication, but honestly it kind of makes sense.

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I’m not sure what I was expecting exactly, considering that they were in civil war like only 20 years ago, but let’s just say Belgrade won my heart. The little shops hidden away in holes in the wall (literally), the friendly (yet slightly suspicious) people and the food was an amazing experience and i would definitely recommend people to visit.

 

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On the bus tour with The Gypsy’s parentals

On the day of our arrival we decided to do a hop-on-hop-off bus tour of the city and then proceeded to explore the forts, city wall and the spot where the Sava and the Danube rivers meet. It is SPECTACULARLY beautiful! Most of the city has recovered from the bombings but there are still a few buildings that carry the scars of a civil war less than two decades ago.

We discovered the cutest little pub, lemon beer (which, let’s face it, is the best thing in that heat) and the most amazing food…seriously…the food! Three of my absolute favourite food related Serbian things are Börek (The cheese one to be specific), kajmak (it’s a cheese) and Cevapi.

It’s hard to only choose a few random shots as there were so many amazing things, but if i had to post ALL my photos this post would be miles long. So instead I’ve picked a few pictures below which I think sums up most of the highlights of this spectacular city:)