You Might Be In Serbia If…
I’ve been saying this every day at each new place throughout our trip, but this time I really mean it: Novi Sad is my favorite new city! It’s dynamic and modern but still looks like something out of an 18th century fairy tale.
According to myhusband, who went to highschool here, every day feels like Saturday, and it’s true: Sunday night and Monday morning find th esame crowds of people in the main square across from our hotel. Cobblestone side streets are pedestrian-only and filled with cafe tables that inspire journal writing over an early-morning espresso (or, mad scribbling while your kids scarf down some pastries).
Which brings me to my thesis: You Might Be In Serbia If…
A family of four can eat like royalty for the price of some happy meals. We stumbled upon the most exclusive restaurant in the city (I never would’ve subjected them to my kids had I known) and had an outstanding meal that included wine, dessert and the kids both devouring their trout and vegetables for only $50.00. I’m constantly amazed at how far our dollar goes here – if gelato were this cheap (and good) at home, I’d need to get my stomach stapled.
Whether they’re drinking on a patio, taking their kids to the park or going to work, everyone here looks sharp. The women wear form-fitting clothes and high heels to mail a letter. If someone wore pajamas to grab a coffee, like they do on TLC’s What Not To Wear, my husband claims they’d be arrested on the spot. This is not to say that everything is perfect, sartorially-speaking: you might also be in Serbia if, when shopping, you find a large assortment of Speedos in the boys’ department. Apparently, they like to start ’em young.
Another thing they start young over here is smoking. I live in a province where smoking is illegal pretty much everywhere. I’m also that person who smells someone light up three blocks away and gets cranky about it, so my husband was concerned with how I’d react to everyone smoking over here. Smokers in restaurants, airports, pharmacies and relatives’ houses surround us, but surprisingly it hasn’t bothered me. I suspect it has something to do with the cheese/bread coma I’ve been in since we arrived.
With the exception of my father-in-law, who drives so slowly he might as well go backwards, here is the technique employed by most Serbian drivers on dual-lane highways: position body in order to face passenger; gesture wildly with both hands while talking non-stop; disregard ‘no passing allowed’ signs and swerve onto opposing traffic’s lane to pass a sputtering Yugo; note th eoncoming 18-wheeler that is passing a tour bus; cringe as the two vehicles being passed move towards the shoulder just in time to allow all four vehicles to go by each other at the same, terrifying moment; change your pants.
A lot of the men here look kind of like…my husband. I’ve started noticing that Serbian men have similar noses – they’re prominent and have the same shape. A cousin tells me that the size of a Serbian fella’s nose reflects his virility, an adage to which my bulbous-beaked husband fully ascribes.