I’m on the run, fleeing Montenegro before rising COVID-19 cases result in another lockdown. Nearly a year into the pandemic crisis, it has become easier to guess when the tide will turn. As nowhere in the Balkans is safe, I’m making my way to Kopaonik, Serbia’s largest ski area which is tucked away in the southern part of the country. But first, I’m stuck in Novi Pazar for two days as it’s the Sovereignty Day of Serbia holiday weekend.

Novi Pazar is the sixth largest city in Serbia, and as I’ll come to learn, one of the hardest hit by COVID-19. This will not be a surprise as I’m nearly the only person wearing a mask here. Even two months later after my visit, the population of 100,000 will remain far below the average vaccination rate with only 6% getting the jab.

On the good news front, I’m finally treated to the first snowfall of the season, the latest I’ve ever gone in my life without seeing snow. Twenty-four hours later later the sun comes out and melts everything, so I get one sunny day while I’m here.

My hotel is extremely interesting. Built in 1977 by Tomislav Milovanović, the Hotel Vrbak has recently been restored to its original modernist state. It straddles the tiny Ljudska River and just around the corner is the bazaar. Novi Pazar actually translates to “New Baazar.”

Behind my hotel are a couple of art pieces. This car is dreaming about hitting the open road.

It’s difficult to track down information on the rest of the buildings. There’s an apartment complex that dominates the center of the city that’s very interesting. It’s a curved block of what feels like never ending slab of concrete.

A few other interesting buildings around the area.

I hope you enjoyed this very short tour of Novi Pazar. I’m off to the mountains where I’ll stay until Serbia throws me out (update: they threw me out).

More stories about Balkan architecture below!