While we’re still staying Aleksinac had the opportunity to visit the spa town, Sokobanja. This is one of Serbia’s most popular tourist destinations. It’s located in the southeast of the country, between the Ozren and Rtanj mountains and is 400 m above sea-level.
Sokobanja has been famous for the therapeutic qualities of its thermal springs since Ancient Roman times. People travel to bath in the thermal mineral springs (28-45.5°C) and inhalation the fresh air, which has a high concentration of oxygen, ozone and negative ions and no pollution. There are even specialised hospitals that treat a variety of conditions, such as bronchial asthma and chronic hepatitis.
Sokobanja is such a beautiful and tranquil place. I found this amazing video which illustrates what a truly special place it is: Sokobanja Green Heart of Serbia (produced by Dusan Stojancevic).
This was my second time visiting Sokobanja. This time we were invited to brunch by Marco’s sister’s lovely in-laws. They recently bought a weekend apartment near the Ozren Hospital. It is quite higher altitude than the city centre and the air is very crisp and cool. You can see the amazing view that they enjoy from their balcony window.
We first received a traditional Serbian welcoming of slatko, which is a sweet preserve (homemade) with water. After some conversation, we were served a delicious vegetarian brunch, which included ajvar, fresh cut vegetables, cheese, fried peppers and zucchini and a casserole made of buckwheat noodles, spinach, mushrooms, eggs and cheese. This was the healthiest meal I had had so far on my travels in Serbian and I think the casserole was the first vegetable Octavia had touched. She also tried some wild strawberries and enjoyed the plum and berry jams that our hosts had made.
After we left the apartment by foot and walked down to Grudno resort (Izletištu Grudno). It features a pond with trout, a small waterfall, tables and chairs to sit and parkland to do sport. There were a fair few people around, some I think came on buses. But really it was nowhere near as populated as cites in western Europe.
The Ripaljka waterfall is a short walk from Grudno resort (Izletištu Grudno). This waterfall is one of the highest in Serbia. It was also one of the first natural sites in Serbia protected by the law (1948). The waterfall is made up of 11 sections, which is about 40 metres high. The fall from where we took photos was about 15 meters and it has a very loud roar sound, which makes it a very popular tourist spot.
Our last stop for the day was visiting the town centre Sokobanja. It is a peaceful little town and was just as green as everywhere else we had visited so far. We walked around Gradski Park, wandered through the markets and got some refreshments in one of the kafanas. Although it was not a really exciting, busy town centre, it certainly the slow pace made it a very relaxing end to our visit.
As I mentioned this is not the first time I visited Sokobanja. In future posts, I will share with you some of the other sites in Sokobanja and nearby, such as Soko Grad Lake Bovan Ribarska Banja and Lipovac. Stay tuned for our next stop, Belgrade.