We got off late today, but we were riding in the van as we had to travel through busy Novi Sad and some other non-bike-friendly places. But I think we were all ready for a break. Our first stop was in the picturesque town of Sremski Karlovci. We did a lightning quick walk through town, but our destination was the Zivanovic Family Museum of Beekeeping. Seven generations of this family have kept bees; the first guy was responsible for figuring out how to build a hive that would allow you to harvest the honey without destroying the hive. He also studied the curative properties of bee stings and believed bees to be responsible for healing his chronic illness. Our guide, Zarko, was passionate about his vocation and it was really very interesting–lots of old photos and old bee-keeping equipment.
We did a formal honey-tasting (“gustatory”); it was so delicious I had to buy some. (Unfortunately one of the jars leaked all over my suitcase. What a lovely surprise I had upon arriving home!) There is also a 300-year-
old wine cellar on the property, and we enjoyed a wine-tasting as well. The cellar features merlot,chardonnay, Cabernet, and an award-winning, herb-infused Bermet dessert wine that was served on the Titanic. The wine is kept in oak barrels at a constant temperature of 12C. I was very glad we weren’t riding bikes that day, as we all had quite a buzz (pun intended) by the time we left the place.
The old tree in the photo was on this property as well. I wish I had taken more pictures.
Our next stop was a traditional Serbian family farm, where they served us lunch under a huge tree with bales of hay set around for taking a siesta. We had very strong plum brandy (kind of like schnapps), chicken soup, noodles, bread, salad, and the most awesome dessert, a plum wrapped in dough, baked, then coated with sugar and fried breadcrumbs, served warm. It was orgasmic.
This farm was the most lush place I’ve ever seen. Everything grew there–squashes, grapes, tomatoes, plums, walnuts, corn, pears and more. There was a giant pile of hay bales and a little shelter carved into it where workers can sneak off to have a nap.
The owners showed us their home; it was a tiny two-room house with a packed dirt floor, crowded with their beautiful belongings but very neat and organized. There was an antique wardrobe just filled with antique linens, which we all enjoyed but especially Amelia, as she has a special interest in antique textiles.
The boys got to wear various interesting headgear. Then there was music and a bit of folk dancing, and the owner danced with me which was a great deal of fun. All in all, this tour has been very well planned with a nice mix of activities. I love visiting with people and seeing what their lives are like.
During the afternoon we drove through picturesque villages. We stopped at another monastery, about 300 years old with some beautiful mosaics and paintings of flowers on the walls (rather than saints–seemed odd). I bought a kitschy souvenir bracelet there with tiny pictures of Jesus, Mary, St. Nikolai, Archangel Michael, and St. Petka.
It started raining as we drove into Belgrade. The traffic was terrible, and the van got very quiet as several people napped. We drove through “the most polluted city in Serbia” (what a distinction) and ended up in a town with a Hungarian population. Had dinner in a restaurant, where we ate goulash (what else could we eat?) and the best dumplings in the world. Salad, cognac, then peaches for dessert. We are staying in a guest house with a tiny bed and shared bathrooms, and teenagers shrieking and fighting outside our window.
At one point we became a bit concerned that the young girl might be in trouble, but apparently it was all horseplay.