Serbia. What comes to mind when you hear about Serbia as a travel destination? Before I’ve actually been on my very first trip to Serbia, not much I have to admit. I did see the beautiful video, sure, “Serbia: Land of New Beginnings”, which was done by my international travel writer & video producer peers, and which you can see below. It did get me interested in Serbia as a culture as well as a destination, and I have been looking for an opportunity to go since:
The following questions, however, do remain: Who are the people of Serbia? Where and how do they live? And what can you learn from and with them?
See the small green dot, pointed to the northern edge of Fruška Gora national park, about an hour’s drive south of Novi Sad? This is where Dobro Prase Ranch is located, literally meaning “Good Pig”, or Happy Pig. And happiness is what you’ll find there: Dragan and Sanja are the perfectly warm and welcoming, generous hosts you’ve been waiting for, particularly out here in this beautiful forest and hill country that is Serbia’s Fruška Gora.
“I have always wanted to spend more time with horses. When our children were still little, I said to my wife, Let’s go back out to the countryside. We can, we will do it”, says Dragan during a morning horse trek from his farm.
It’s touching to listen to Dragan’s story, unlike that of many other Serbs who have either left the country or gone back from the countryside to live in the city. “We have never been really happy in the city”, he says, talking to us about the early days when moving back out into the countryside everybody thought they were crazy. “But you know, living out here has taught us something far more valuable. And that is simplicity, modesty, happiness with what you have. It really is all down to your own attitude. And if you really want something, you will be able to get it, too.” This, for him, involves renouncing costly worldly goods but rather spending time on the farm, with his family, his wife, children and grandchildren, his horses and his guests, who come from near and far: “Dobro Prase Ranch” has made itself known far across the borders, “even people from Norway have already stayed here with us”, Dragan muses. And slowly, little by little, rocked in the gentle speed of the sturdy horses, we get to see and feel the magic the family has chosen to live and create. Check this out.
Still while we were out, the “country’s fairy tale” has continued to evolve. Sanja, the lady of the house, meanwhile has taken to preparing a typical, Serbian meal for us – complete without meat, partly even entirely vegan! “Ever since we’ve moved here”, she explains, “we have gradually adapted to a full vegetarian / vegan diet. It has made a real difference in our lives, besides the move out from the city.” And the “happy pig” on her T-Shirt, which defiantly pulls up its “arms” in a “Don’t mess with me” kind of gesture?! “I’m a piglet, but not for you to eat”, the speech bubble on it reads, according to Sanja’s smiling explanations. Besides feeding their guests, Sanja and Dragan have also set up a small studio apartment, with room enough for one family to stay. “We want our guests to find comfort in a small, modest retreat here, to experience nature with us, to escape the busy and often stressful city life. Many of them come after finding us on the Internet. And thus, little by little, I get to speak more and better English with my guests”, she replies, blushing, encouraging us to help ourselves to even more of her delicious food. I love her in an instant.
Want to know even more? I have two more blog posts about travelling to Novi Sad, as well as the Serbian capital city Belgrade, including their history, their coolest neighbourhoods as well as delicious foodie fun tips to experience Serbia through your palate. Stay tuned!
Christina and Maria, by the way, have also written and shared about their experiences in Serbia:
- Christina (CitySeaCountry.com): “Vegan Essen in Serbien: Tipps für Belgrad, Novi Sad und Fruška Gora“
- Maria (Kofferpacken.at): “Belgrad: Eine Stadt im Wandel” & “Novi Sad: Ziemlich gechillt und Europäische Kulturhauptstadt 2021“
Disclaimer: We have been invited by Serbia Tourism on this trip to Belgrade, Novi Sad & Fruška Gora. All opinions are my own.