I particularly wanted to go to Nis, my penultimate stop in Serbia, because it is clearly documented that the 1st Crusade of 1096 passed through here. What I find in 2014, is a vibrant city with appalling memories of the destructive exploits of the Ottoman Turks in the 19th century, and more recently the murderous attentions of the Nazis during WW2.
Never before have I stepped inside the precincts of a Nazi death camp
and I caught this one just minutes before closing time. And on a hill outside the town, you will find these three ‘fists of defiance’, commemorating the 10,000 inhabitants of Nis who were cold bloodedly shot by the SS. “They may have shot us, but they never killed us” reads an inscription
All chilling stuff, but maybe not as chilling as seeing The Tower of Skulls
When the Ottoman Turks finally took the city, they beheaded the Serbian soldiers, and inserted their skulls into the fabric of the tower walls…..obviously as a deterrent to future insurgents.
But….when I arrived today, it seemed as if the whole town was having a fiesta….there was loud music, shouting and clapping…..but it was no more than the final year high school students celebrating the end of their school careers
so I decided to join them quietly by sampling my first ever glass of Serbian wine.
Now tell me honestly, did you know that Serbia has a wine industry? I was nearly distracted completely from my route by signs like this
…but the resolve of the hardened adventure traveller kicked in and saved the day….
Oh yes, and today’s ride? I had the wind behind me the whole day……could it get any better than that?