Mary, Peter, Sam and I went to ask Jarkof about the underground tour and he was able to contact the guide and said we could go at 1pm. As it was 10am we decided to go get some breakfast and ended up at eating at a café that is in an old train car, but we sat outside as it was a gorgeous day. We had some really great Nutella and banana crepes and then walked around the old town (this was Mary, Peter and Sam’s first day in Novi Sad so I played mini tour guide). We went into St Mary’s Church and the Orthodox church and then walked to the river. Inside St Mary’s Church (those are my roommates Mary, Peter and Sam)Stain glass in St Mary’s ChurchInside the Orthodox Church
Then we headed back to the hostel to meet up with our guide, Nannut. As we left the hostel one of the first things Nannut told us was that he didn’t speak English. I was thinking, “oh shit! I’ve convinced these 3 nice strangers to do this tour with me and our guide doesn’t even speak English!” but fortunately he just meant that he has a hard time remembering English at first because he very rarely uses it. But he could, in fact, speak English and the tour was very easy to understand. And it turns out, the tour was AWESOME! Nannut was very knowledgeable and passionate about the fortress which was really cool. There is nothing prohibiting anyone from going into the underground tunnels so technically you could do it on your own, but you’d a) have to find one of the openings into the tunnels (not easy), and b) have to find your way around the tunnels (also not easy). Animals come into the tunnels for shelter and end up getting lost and die from lack of food/water so it shows just how easy it would be to get lost. Within 5 minutes of being in the tunnels two bats flew very close to Mary and I’s heads so they’ve somehow figured out how to survive. Luckily we didn’t see any more bats though!
The Austrian-Hungarian Empire built the fortress and designed the tunnels to help protect the fortress from enemies. There are two types of tunnels: some dead ends that have earth (as opposed to bricks) on at least one side so that they could hear if an enemy was trying to dig under the fortress to attack. [There are also two ways to try to take over a fortress- dig under the walls and surprise the enemy or attack straight on. Usually digging under had a better success rate.] Nannut knocked on the earth and it echoed so you would definitely be able to hear the enemy digging. The other type of tunnel is one with little holes so that the defenders could shoot at the attackers. The only light was the flashlights on our phone and at some places we had to duck down and do a kind of shimmy walk.
Overall it was fascinating! We walked for about an hour in the tunnels and Nannut explained how to figure out which way the exit was, but I definitely don’t think I would have been able to successfully get out if I was alone. There are signs along the tunnels that explain which tunnel you’re at and which level you’re on (there’s at least 3 levels). These are original from the building of the fortress so it’s hard to read them and a lot of them are graffitied over. There is a lot of graffiti in the tunnels as there is no real law against destroying or marking the fortress. The only law that’s in place regarding the fortress is quite old and the fine for destroying the fortress in any way is less than 100 Euros- even for blowing up the fortress. Of course, the graffiti “artists” are never fined.
Nannut’s passion about the fortress definitely made the tour exciting. He says that he hates Novi Sad, but when asked why he stays, he says it’s because of the fortress. He’s been studying the fortress for over 10 years and says he still doesn’t know everything there is to know!
After the tour we stopped for a drink in a hostel café in lower town and then decided it was time to eat. Nannut recommended the place I went to the first night in Novi Sad and said that it was popular with the locals and served traditional food. It may serve traditional food, but I can’t say I think its popular among the locals. I think it’s very touristy and isn’t really that good of food overall. But we did want traditional food so we went. I don’t think anyone was thrilled with their dishes, but they were ok and we were starving. Nannut wanted us to go get dessert after dinner, but we decided that he was just taking us around to his friends places so we decided to go back to the hostel so we could ditch him (in the nicest way possible). Plus, I was still technically supposed to go to Belgrade today, but had decided to try to stay another night as it was already 7pm. Luckily my bed was still free, so I just moved back in. The four of us decided we would go back out for a drink sans Nannut and we ended up at a bar called “Lager and Wine”. About 15 minutes after we sat down outside at the bar, it started to POUR. Luckily we were under a big umbrella, but as the day had been so beautiful Mary, Peter and I didn’t bring a rain coat or umbrella. We had another beer while we tried to wait for the rain to stop. When it had subsided we decided to chance it and walked to another bar. We closed the place down (the bars close at 11pm) and of course when we left it was raining again. Although not pouring, so we didn’t get as wet as we could have. We then just headed back to the hostel and packed as we were all leaving the next day.
Following Nannut down the tunnelsOne of the exits, where we came up at one point.The signs that tell you what floor and what tunnel you’re in This tunnel was like 3 feet highWe walked through this old railway tunnel. It went under the tunnel and across the Danube, but the NATO bombings in 1999 destroyed the bridge and it was never rebuilt. The only surviving elements of the bridge are the posts in the water.