At dawn, the gloomy sky was threatened by rain, but not enough to shake travel lovers. Determined and optimistic, we got in the car and headed towards Palić. It is believed that the lake was once salty and that it was created, according to tradition, from the strong tears of the shepherd Pavle who grazed there and lost his flock, and according to another story, from the disappeared Pannonian sea. Whatever the truth about the origin of this protected area, Palić is the largest natural lake in Serbia and there are a handful of reasons to experience it in person.
1. Because Vojvodina plain saves your time
The popular corner of nature can be reached in less than two hours by highway from the Serbian capital. To complete the pleasure, we drive lightly. Up to halfway, a colourful landscape, and from Novi Sad, flat Bačka, green, golden and flower fields that stretch indefinitely.
2. Because you can discover a rocket that has never taken off
Here it is – a water tower, a symbol of Palić, in the shape of a real straight rocket. The tower, erected on the eve of the Great War, with a carved arched gate of a pronounced ethno style, in the spirit of Hungarian Art Nouveau, leads to the Great park and the Great terrace. It was never used for space exploration, but it has been for a long time as a water supply facility, but also a tram station.
3. Because he had his games before the Olympics
We bet in five liters of fuel that you didn’t know that Palić had his own, before the first modern Olympic games. And that 16 years earlier! All thanks to the rich landowner and passionate and versatile athlete, Lajoš Vermeđ. Back in 1880, this place was proud of its fitness equipment, athletic tracks and a kind of Olympic village. The games were held in summer and winter until the First World War.
When you are in Palić, be an ‘Olympian’! Be active and mobile. To tour the lake, rent a boat, kayak, pedal boat or boat. On land, bicycle or rickshaw, two-seater and four-seater, but they are not pulled by “little squints”, but are driven on their own. The coast, 17 kilometers long, is arranged along its entire length, so we warmly recommend a detour or at least an easy walk from the sandy beach and the men’s beach on one side, to the sailing club on the other side of the lake. Great conditions for rollerblading and jogging, and anglers, locals claim, have “business” progress here.
We are looking for refreshment and respite on the women’s beach (bathing area), an unusual wooden building on the docks, built at a time when the ladies were hiding from the view of passers-by.
4. Because beef perkelt is a sufficient reason to live
Whichever of the many Palić-specific “čardas” (inns) you choose, you will not do wrong. The gastronomic offer is rich, but we definitely recommend beef perkelt with dough and cheese or “salašar” mixed meat, and gourmets homemade strudel or apple pie. Lick your fingers! Do not take this literally, at least not until we completely banish the annoying crown.
5. Because you don’t have to go to Africa to experience a Safari
Ah, those wonderful creatures! Most of the inhabitants of the Palić zoo walk freely inside the fenced parts of the park, in a kind of small safari. Along with great family gatherings, you will get to know rare and exotic plants.
6. Because Subotica is beautiful on Saturday, but also on all other days (“subota” means Saturday)
A lively, but unobtrusive and relaxed town, only seven kilometers away from Palić. It is mentioned in manuscripts at the end of the 14th century under the name Zabatka. It had also been the capital of the short-lived Serbian state of the self-proclaimed emperor Jovan Nenad, after whose treasurer, Subota Vrlić, it was named, some sources claim. Today it is a city of peace, inscribed on one of the many landmarks. It bears the title of pearl of the north. Here is why. We start the tour on Freedom square, which is ruled by the renovated National theatre, which rests on six mighty Corinthian pillars.
7. Because the city house is actually the largest planter of tulips
A step further is the widely known City hall, impressive for its traditional decorations of Hungarian folk art. We carefully explore the unusual facade and compete to discover more patterns of stylized tulip flowers. And we are all winners, because there are so many of them. Across the street in the park, a fountain, nothing unusual, except that this one is blue, lined with Zholnai ceramics. Since we painted in the manner of real tourists, we are attracted by the nearby promenade with cafes under the shade of the canopy, and we would like to taste the famous Shomloi galuške, but we hurry on.
8. Because you might think you are in Barcelona
Here we are in front of the Reichl Palace, playful and colourful. We look in amazement and wonder if Antonio Gaudi at some point came to the north of Serbia and gave him a piece of his magnificent talent. No, it is not the work of a famous Catalan, but a local architect who created in the spirit of Art Nouveau or Art Nouveau. The Reichl palace, today home to the Contemporary gallery, is considered one of the most beautiful buildings in Serbia.
9. Because the Subotica synagogue is the second largest in Europe
Many locals will still give their vote to the Synagogue, and not without reason. Magnificent, even ornate, with many stained glass windows and motifs of Hungarian folklore, it is a deservedly inevitable detail of almost all postcards of the city. We wandered imperceptibly through the side streets, many of which are covered with a dense canopy, revealing some more “Gaudí” creations, the architecture of Art Nouveau and buildings with the recognizable charm of Pest.
10. Because at the petrol station Palić you can stay in the car and do everything
If you run out of fuel or just have an unusual hobby to visit gas stations around the world, don’t miss BS Palić. First of all, because it is one of the stations in Serbia where you can refuel without having to go to the cash register at all. Using the great Drive.Go app, you can refuel, pay and leave right away without leaving the car at all. If you are a fan of innovation, you can download the application here (Google Play – Android or Apple Store) , and find more details here: Drive.Go aplikacija.
11. Because 15 days of experience may easily fit in 7
If you have packed a seven-day vacation in a suitcase, the possibilities for entertainment, recreation and getting to know the homeland are great. There may be too many, but since everything is close and easily accessible, you just need to plan well and you will get everything. Encourage yourself and enrol in sailing school. The extremely cordial and talkative host of the club will explain everything to you in detail, but also reveal why a dark-coloured swimsuit is obligatory and, of course, wish you a good wind. In the surroundings, everything to experience and taste – Vojvodina farms, stables for horseback riding and socializing with horses, Subotica sandpit, Ludaško lake with high reeds and a small Youth (bloody) lake, as well as wineries with their indigenous varieties and brandies. Remember, good organization guarantees a great time.
12. Because mother in Vojvodina means grandma
It was difficult, we admit, and we resorted to a coin that turned on Majka’s (in Serbian: Mother’s) farm, a few kilometres from Palić. An oasis of untouched nature, a pond with an island and a self-propelled scaffolding (be careful not to be a “pumpkin”), and dining areas under a roof, eaves and vines. Pure rustic.
Everything is homemade and prepared here, on the property, fresh. That is probably why the food doesn’t really arrive. And where are you in a hurry? You are in Bačka, to talk slowly. While we wait, we explore various “junk” distributed everywhere, wondering what they once served while their mother (and that, “in Vojvodina”, grandmother) used them.
And when night falls and the company gathers, the real dwelling on “salaš“ begins, with, of course, tambourine players. Just relaxed and cheerful, because if you get bored, don’t worry, there’s a place to sleep. The next day, after we had coffee and breakfast, we harnessed two horses and rode in a carriage.
13. Because 13 is obviously a lucky number for Palić
Number 13 is not unlucky for many, but it is mysterious to everyone, so it needs to be grasped and explored, just like Palić, its surroundings and the “Serbian Barca”. After the “Palić campaign”, it is certain that you will discover at least one more, reason no. 14, why return to him.