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Yesterday I had the pleasure of spending a day in Novi Pazar and it was solid times. We had arrived in this city which is located in southwest Serbia the night before but it seemed like the type of place worth further exploring. As a result, the next day part of the group went kayaking and a few of us stayed back for a more urban adventure. I’m glad I stayed back to get to know a city I knew next to nothing about and now quite like.
Novi Pazar means “new marketplace” and during the Ottoman rule it was known as Yeni Pazar which means “new market” in Turkish. Clearly this was an area where lots of trading took place and today it’s a beautiful city with lots going on if you dig a little deeper. There is a main walking street that is lined with cafes and on the Saturday night we visited, the place was packed. The next morning the vibe was considerably slower but we really started getting involved with the city when we left the main drag.
We walked across a bridge and found ourselves in the older part of town. There we strolled into a bakery after following our noses to the smell of fresh bread being made. The staff at this bakery were all quite friendly and after shooting some video and taking some photos, we purchased some of their finished product and were on our way. Not long after that is where the day took its most unexpected and memorable turn.
We were strolling the streets as tourists do when we came across an old door, yes an old door. We started to photograph the door when I noticed there were two women who were probably in their mid 4o’s sitting on a second floor balcony not far from us. I said good morning which is one of the only sayings I know in Serbian and they responded. Soon they were giving me the signal that if we wished, we could open the door and explore the courtyard behind. After some fiddling with the door we were in the courtyard and not long after were joined by the ladies.
They didn’t speak any English besides a handful of words and we didn’t speak any Serbian but we managed to understand each other. Fast forward ten minutes and we’re sitting in front of their house drinking some strong Serbian coffee with a side of cola. One of the ladies went into her garden and brought back apples which we ate while conversing with our new friends over the coffee. There were lots of hand movements and smiles, it was one of those experiences which stand out from any trip, completely unexpected and much appreciated hospitality; one of my favourite things about travel.
Not long after the coffee we made our way into a market place which had everything I was looking for and more. We also met some incredibly friendly vendors and everyone seemed quite interested to hear about where we were from and what we were doing there. About half the merchants spoke a little bit of English and one kind gentleman gave us several pieces of fruit. I left the market tour with a new pair of shorts, countless pairs of socks and a smile.
It’s easy to look at the attractions a destination holds and plan your itinerary around it. That said, I do urge you to also spend some of your time simply getting to know what it’s like living in the destination you’re visiting. You’ll most surely have some unexpected experiences and often times, they are the ones that you’ll remember the most long after the adrenaline rush from the activities is gone and you’ve returned home.
Thanks for the good times Novi Pazar, it was a pleasure getting to know you.
In closing, the #MySerbia trip was created and managed by iambassador in association with the Serbian Tourism Board. That said, obviously all thoughts are my own as they always have been and always will be. For more images and insights from Serbia, visit My.Serbia.Travel/#smw for a stream of what’s happening on social media across most popular networks.