After a morning of wine-tasting and car-failing we installed ourselves for the first weekend of our summer road trip, in Salaš Stojšić. A pleasant Salaš (a traditional type of farm in this area - my favourite being Salas 137), its stencilled walls and intentionally old-fashioned charm is typical of these rural farmhouses. Outside there is a wide spread of gingham-clad tables, fruit trees, a braying donkey and the mandatory charcoal perfume of grilling meat that seems to impregnate the hot, still air on a summer weekend in Vojvodina.
Tables are filled, from early afternoon to the wee hours. A tamburasi band astonishingly seems to keep up the music most of the day. On Saturday night they went through until after 1 am.
Sunday night was a slightly quieter affair but my wife and I sat sipping Rakija and reminiscing until around 11 and we weren’t the last to turn in for the night.
What a contrast the next day! Not much can rival the peace and quiet of a salas on a Monday morning when the world is back at work; birds chirping in the higher branches, the wind swaying the plum and apple-ladened branches and the odd screech and groan of tables, reluctantly being moved around by a crew of waiters, seemingly lost in a world without patrons, but wishing to appear busy.
A vast breakfast was brought to the fortunate few of us who didn’t need to turn up to the office; fried eggs, prženica, proja, gibanica, slanina, kulen, prosciutto, ajvar, fresh cheeses…
I spent Sunday morning walking the wooded hills of Fruska Gora National Park. The beech trees provided a cooling canopy on a roasting hot day although the walking was little close to the roads, but the impact of humans is never far in Vojvodina, a region full of weekend houses, dirt tracks, impromptu barbecue areas and one horse towns and villages. Even the high point of the region; Crveni Cot has a top it a huge communications mast.
I had downloaded the GPS route for a walk I liked the look of but half way our path was barred by signs of a military building warning us to go no further. We took a detour to visit an old hotel, that my walking companion, Sloba, knew from childhood days. Thirty-five years ago was his last visit, as a seven year old. Now it lies gradually decaying; a mausoleum of flies, loose papers, even a rotting cat in one corner; a sign of a reduced economy and the endless, destructive march of time.
I stuffed my pockets with the plums still growing in the un-tamed hotel garden and we wandered on. After quenching my desire for a good tramp we both felt the ice-cold beers we sank, in the restaurant of the recently built Etno Village of Vrdnička Kula, were earned.