Aug 27:  Novi Sad

I still couldn't sleep, except for when I had this dream:  At a gas station a guy was doing some science demo (probably inspired by Gorana's suggestion to visit the Tesla museum in Belgrade--by the way, Tesla is on the 100-dinar note) and blew up two propane tanks.  Eveidently I was with my family, and my mom complained about having to be there, so we left via a tunnel.  In the tunnel people injured by the explosions were lining up and medics were assembling.  I called 0 (not 911 for some reason) to report the incident and said we were at Orange & Sunset "next to Hollywood & Highland", which clearly we were not at because there was a rocky cliff right there.  I don't know where we really were.  I woke up at 8am, sometime after the dream.

I had Jersey Girl stuck in my head, probably because I'd told someone yesterday about my Brazil-Paraguay crossings, or maybe I was thinking the Chain Bridge.  'Cross the river, to the Buda side.

We started an orientation walk of the town at 9:30am, followed by a stroll across the Danube (over one of three bridges destroyed by NATO in 1999---this bridge had a plaque dedicated to a Novi Sad civilian who died) and up to Petrovaradin Fortress.

Fortress from the bridge, closer to the new side of the city (Novi Sad = "new plantation").

Parts of the fortress have been converted into useful things like museums, restaurants and a hotel.  But all the museums were closed because it was Monday--even the one Gorana thought was open had switched to its "winter" schedule.  So all we could do was explore the fortress, which isn't unenjoyable.  If I had my druthers, whatever those are, I'd live in a fortress.

City and Danube from the fortress.

Old town.

Interior of the fortress.

More interior.

I'd forgotten that there was a tunnel system in the fortress.  I think Gorana said 1 km of it was accessible to tourists.  This appears to be an inaccessible portion that people access anyway.  The entire fortress was strewn with bottles and other refuse--I'm guessing they don't close it at night--but surprisingly I didn't see any condoms.

More interior and exterior.  The fortress extended out farther than I'd realized.  But you can only do so much exploring.  So a bunch of us left the fortress to head back across the river.  But first we took a detour to this floating bar, although I felt like we were inconveniencing the waiter who had to keep walking from the main bar on land over to the boat.  So we had one drink each and left.

Charles, Jung (his mom), Jen, Jeremy, Cristy, Hiedi.  In conversation here, somebody wondered why so many people were out and about, shopping and strolling, on a work day.  I responded by quoting from Lee Elia's tirade against the Wrigley fans:  "85% of the fucking world's working...the other 15 come out here."

We went back across the bridge and to the hotel.  Most (all?) of this group was going to the beach a bit down the river, but I was more in the mood for people-watching, so I rested in the room and had half a bag of popcorn, then headed out to Zmaj Jovina.  I wanted to check out the Red Cow pub cited in Lonely Planet, but on my way I saw Buz & Mary Tod at a cafe, so I sat with them and people-watched.  I forget how this came up, but Buz mentioned Fat Guy in a Little Coat, marking its second appearance in this travelogue.  Not many more passersby were checking me out, but a lot of the nearby seated girls were.  Maybe I looked like a tourist.  I got to thinking how it sucks that the hottest girls in the world are stuck with poor Serbian guys, whereas in the US guys like me have little to choose from.  I say, let the Serbs come to the US visa-free, and let Darwinism run its course.

Observation:  In every country in the world, boys love chasing pigeons.

After Buz and Mary Tod left, I stayed at the cafe for one more beer and to look for the others coming back from the beach.  I became aware that I was getting intensely checked out from numerous tables.  This confused me.

I was supposed to meet Buz and Mary Tod at 6:30pm for dinner, but at the hotel we found out that others had made dinner plans, so we merged groups, and 6 of us went out.  It was supposed to be 9 people but we couldn't wait for Jeremy, Hiedi and Cristy--Gorana was leading an outing to a dance recital later (one of those Intrepid Gives Back things) and two in our party had to eat quickly and hurry back.  There were a couple places we considered eating at, but the hotel receptionist recommended one, so we went there.

At dinner (which for me consisted of 10 cevapi and 2 beers) I declared that the average female in Novi Sad would be a 9 or 10 in LA.  There was agreement with my assessment of the local quality.  Very strange--we were sitting at a table in an alley, and EVERY girl who walked by made eye contact with me.  Even the ones with boyfriends.  Maybe it's because I was sitting with the older half of the group, not that they were offensive-looking.  I can't figure out these behavior patterns.

It came out the Buz is involved in politics (recently as a campaign manager for a Republican, even though he's on the dark side).  Sue stayed on that theme and asked Buz what he though of "the war against Iraq".  Huh?  I quickly questioned her terminology.  Later I recalled that MJ in China used the same phrasing.  It's mind-bottling how many people don't have a basic understanding of who's fighting whom over there.

After dinner, we walked back out to Zmaj Jovina, I saw a small artsy sculpture thing in a store window.  It consisted of figurines of three obese females in bikinis lounging around.  I entitled it "American Teenagers at the Beach".  Sorry to harp on this topic, but I was constantly reminded of it in Serbia (or I guess anywhere I go outside of LA).  And Peter agreed that these tirades should be in here.  Oh yeah, I'm tired of "curvy" (which usually means convex) girls blaming their condition on genetics--if such a gene existed, it would barely survive one generation.  Think about it.

After dinner I looked around for the other 3 who were supposed to join us, with no luck.  Veronica and I checked the Red Cow--our people weren't there so Veronica left, but I stayed for a beer.  But it was extremely dead so I left after that.  Back at the hotel most of the group was hanging out on the patio, so I joined them.  Gorana and 4 girls still hadn't returned from the dance thing.  Usually I go to those--like in Cambodia, that dance thing was nice to see, but there was dinner involved (the infamous "fried" clams) and that was the main draw.  And dancing with retards in China illustrated the risk involved in such excursions.

I went to bed at 11pm, vowing to party tomorrow night in Belgrade.  Too many early nights so far.