Getting to the Exit Festival

Up bright and early the next day…oh come off it, who am I kidding…right? In all honesty, we actually get up around midday to encounter our first full day in Novi Sad.

One of our group of five goes to the bakery down the road from our flat to get some pastries for breakfast. It is this which starts off a “food surprise” joke that stays with us over the next few days. Essentially, countless times in Novi Sad we come across some piece of food that surprisingly has something else contained inside it. Case in point – for breakfast, what looks like an ordinary croissant actually has frankfurter inside. Bonus, I’d say!

Considering our options for what we’re going to do that day, we decide on something rather leisurely: the beach. And why not, we’re on holiday – it’s very appropriate! The Strand Beach in Novi Sad is easily reachable in the downtown area of Novi Sad and is on the Danube River, right by the Liberty Bridge. Costing only 40 Dinars to enter (that’s only 40p), Strand is a great find: the beach itself is lovely and sandy, and there’s areas of grass and under trees to also sit and lie on.

Strand Beach, Novi Sad
Strand Beach, with the Liberty Bridge in the distance

There’s plenty of little cafes, bars and restaurants to enjoy, and everything’s kept rather neat and tidy. The day we went – Friday – was unsurprisingly busy, but it was nice to see all the locals there enjoying themselves. Strand Beach was a pleasant surprise and definitely recommended; now, if only they could do something about the freezing Danube waters. (The record amongst our party was a 30-second dip – I think I ran into the water and ran straight back out again.)

Novi Sad, Serbia
More of Novi Sad (above and below)
Novi Sad

After the exertions of the beach, we consult our little Novi Sad guide for the next step of our day – dinner. Deciding we want to try some local cuisine, we pick a local restaurant called Sokace (Zitni Trg 5).

As we’re seated, the waiter asks us (in English) what we would like to eat. Not being used to this manner of ordering food without actually knowing what’s available, we ask for menus. Five menus arrive, all in Cyrillic script. “Have you got any menus in English?” “Sorry, no.” “Oh…what would you recommend?” “Mixed grill.” Unsure of what the mixed grill would actually consist of and worrying slightly that it may be something expensive always offered to tourists, we umm and ahh for a while. Hovering over the possibility of just pointing to random entry on the menu, for another “food surprise”, we eventually decide to play it safe, and opt for the mixed grill after all.

We need not have worried. We first get served a huge bowl of tomato salad (tomatoes are huge in these parts – both in size and popularity), along with four flavoured, soft cheeses and one of our favourite dishes – roasted peppers in cheese and oil. Scooping all of this up with delicious bread proves and excellent starter to our meal.

Then our giant mixed grill platter arrives with, unsurprisingly, various bits and types of meat. No room for vegetarians here. The majority of it is quite tasty, with the except of a few mysterious sausage-like items.

Post-dinner, a quick stop at home to change into our party gear then sees us heading out for Exit Festival Day 2. Tonight, the headline act on the Main Stage is Korn. We miss Manic Street Preachers who played earlier on the night – there’s something about a nighttime festival that means it’s hard to get the party started til late at night!

Friday is the one night that we suffer poor weather conditions; it’s already drizzling by the time we set off for the Petrovaradin Fortress and as we stand watching Korn we slowly get quite drenched, with hardly any of us wearing appropriate wet weather clothing. (Hey, we’re on a summer holiday…you don’t tend to think about things such as wet weather clothing.) As Korn progress through their set (at this stage, I must admit I’m not their biggest fan…barely even knowing any of their songs) the rain starts to ease up a little and is barely raining at all by the time they play one of their last songs, a great cover of Pink Floyd’s Another Brick In The Wall .

Post-Korn we decide to make a proper explorative walk of the whole Exit Festival site. It’s a big site – much bigger than we thought originally – and there’s lots of different paths to all the various stages and areas. We just about make it round the majority of the Fortress pausing at some of the other acts on the different stages. We also make it to the Dance Arena part of the Festival. The Exit Festival itself originated as a dance event, so it’s an important part of the event. The Arena is incredibly impressive, occupying a huge space at the most eastern part of the Fortress; the approach to the Arena in itself is visually stunning as those heading there walk on the paths high up whilst the masses go crazy in the depths of the Fortress down below.

Exit Festival Dance Area - Day 2
The Dance Area at Exit Festival

As we leave the festival for the night, we revisit Korn – or, more accurately, corn. (Do you see what I did there?) Corn-on-the-cob “kukuruza” seems to be sold at little stalls around Novi Sad, as “kuhana” (“cooked”– i.e. boiled) or “pecena” (“roasted”– like the kind you would find at a barbeque). Myself and my fellow female friend in our group proceed to have corn-on-the-cob almost every single day for the remainder of our trip – it’s a tasty snack.

By the time we’re done for the day and back at our flat, it’s the very early hours and the sun is coming up.

Next: Exit Festival Day 3