I can see why Nikola Jokic loves Sombor so much. It’s quiet and calm. It has a unique charm to it. It kind of feels like your favorite college town when you’re moving through its main areas. People keep to themselves. If Jokic walked around Belgrade, he’d get swarmed on the street. In Sombor, he can walk the streets undisturbed because it’s his city.
We checked out of the Old Brick Pub (where we stayed overnight) early and met up with our Sombor tour guide Srdjan Vlaskalic at a local breakfast spot. Allegedly, it’s one that Jokic frequents often. We enjoyed a Serbian breakfast with eggs, sausage, cheese and fried pork fat (think kind of like chicharrones) on the side. I’m quickly learning here that bread is served with every Serbian meal. I’ll also be going on a diet immediately upon arriving back in the states on Saturday.
Srdjan is a Nuggets fan and someone we’ve known for a while, but meeting him for the first time in person was a treat. I’m convinced that he runs Sombor. First off, he knows everyone. We walked around downtown Sombor after breakfast for a few hours, and Srdjan stopped every five minutes to say hi to someone different. Former teachers, friends, colleagues, whoever, he knows that city. Srdjan, and his cousins who had joined us by then and actually works in the government, then brought us to Sombor’s main square and its city hall. We got the royal treatment there and were able to take one of the most iconic pictures in DNVR history.
That picture behind us is a depiction of the Battle of Zenta from September 11 1697 between the Ottoman Empire and The Holy League (Austria–Poland–Venice–Russia) during the Great Turkish War. The painting was commissioned in 1896 and is 7 x 4 meters. It’s the largest oil canvas painting in Serbia. To get it into City Hall, one of the walls of the building had to be torn down and then rebuilt once the painting was inside.
From there, Srdjan gave us a tour of Sombor and a history lesson at the same time. Srdjan is like royalty in the city partly because his family has lived there for so long. I’m talking hundreds of years. I know I said this a lot in the Day 3 blog, but Sombor has an incredible charm to it. It’s clean and is well kept. The streets were full of life. Kids and families were out and about. Fountains are on multiple corners. You look right and there’s a gelato stand. You look left and there’s a cafe. Once again, it almost feels like this perfect faraway land.
After experiencing Sombor for two days, I definitely have more of an understanding of why Jokic is the way he is. He’s so Sombor in every way. He’s private, just like Sombor is private. He’s quaint, just like the city. Life moves a little slower in Sombor — Srdjan even says people from Sombor talk a little slower than those that are from other parts of the country — and that’s how Jokic likes it. He moves at his own pace. So does Sombor.
We were back in Belgrade that night and hit dinner at El Toro along the Belgrade Waterfront. I learned later that evening that Jokic was eating just next door to us around the same time that we were there. Only two days until Serbia-Greece and Jokic vs. Giannis in Belgrade. I have chills just thinking about it.
Our second day in Sombor was the slowest day of our trip so far, but that changes tomorrow. Adam, Miroslav and I are going on The Morning Show on Serbia RTS in the AM. Then, we have an interview with the head of Serbia’s Basketball Coaches Federation, and then the Red Star soccer match at night.
We’re about to speed up again.