A case of mistaken identity – Part Two – Novi Sad Nightlife

25 12 2013

Novi Sad, Serbia. In English it seems like a pretty strange name for a town. Almost like a tropical medical condition. I can imagine a Doctor coming into the surgery, eyebrows furrowed deep whilst studying the clipboard in front of him. ‘Mr Jones brace yourself, we have the test results back. I can confirm that you have Novi Sad. It’s a terminal condition. I’m sorry!‘.

After somewhat of a strange diversion in my mind, Marko took us from Belgrade to Novi Sad. The road in darkness, cars and trucks zipping past at speed. Part of the route took us through the mountainous ‘Fruska Gora National Park‘. In darkness it caused my spidey senses to become more than alive. Hairpin bends greeted us, whilst we jostled for position with cars and trucks. However Marko deftly weaved us safely through the traffic. We drove through the Serbian wine country, which frankly I was surprised to find out existed. There were some very impressive wineries that we passed, but alas they were closed.

Arriving into the families apartment in Petrovaradin, Marko’s wife Marija greeted me. Rakija was placed on the table (family recipe) along with some excellent food. Maria had made some cheese and mushroom savory pastries. The mushroom ones in particular were fantastic. I was genuinely made to feel part of the family. After talking for about an hour, Mirjana said…’Now we go party‘!

So each nations version of partying is slightly different. Actually that might be a bit of an understatement, completely different. Actually, I would like you to comment underneath this blog on what a typical party in your country entails?

Marko & Mirjana described the destination as a traditional bar/cafe called ‘Biblioteka‘. I sauntered alongside my host family, arriving at a huge anonymous looking wooden door with two bouncers outside. There is no way that I would have expected what was inside. Imagine the contents of several double decker buses had arrived into this small place at once. Literally squeezing my way though the crowd, we made our way to the bar. I have never experienced a wall of people like this before, and it was a little intimidating to say the least. Music was being played at maximum volume, with a definite Slavic feel to the lyrics.

Reaching the bar, drinks were ordered. We met up with a couple of Marko’s ex naval colleagues. Chinking glasses together, we proudly said ‘Živeli’ to each other, looking into the eyes. If you don’t look at each other in the eyes whilst proclaiming this, you will never have sex again. That seems like a fate worse then death!

The bar was thick with smoke which is something that I am not used to. It’s intensity was cloying and suffocating. Girls were dancing and men were drinking, all with approximately 2mm of personal space. However I did not detect any anger between the patrons at all. They seemed to be having a great time. It became apparent that I appeared to be one of the smallest people in the bar! I am 1.75m tall, however I was tiny compared to the Slavic giants surrounding me (male & female).

Conversation was pretty much impossible, especially when it turned out that the voice singing was a middle aged lady winging her way through the crowd. Mirjana explained to me that the songs were traditional Serbian songs, albeit with a faster dance beat over the top.  The beats were infectious, combined with the alluring and foreign lyrics that invaded my ears. Again another moment when I felt very far away from Liverpool. It was also strangely affecting my feet too. Rather than looking like a dancing diva, I looked like an epileptic suffering an attack of Grand Mal!

The collective ‘we’ were listening to lyrics that were from traditional songs. Traditional lyrics in a nightclub, rammed with people all probably younger than 40. Each one of them singing their heart out and dancing. With no personal space whatsoever and strong booze being consumed in vast quantities. Regular readers of my blog will know that I always pay attention to national pride. In Serbia it was fierce, and this bar was living proof of that. It was fantastic to observe too. Young and old, united in the traditional songs of their heritage and goddam enjoying them too.

Jeven and Rakija was beginning to affect my head plus my ability to stand. Therefore we beat a hasty retreat back to the apartment in Petrovaradin. Resting my spinning head on the sofa bed, I came to a single conclusion…

Serbian’s really know how to party.

Going Native

19 05 2012

Firstly, if there are spelling mistakes in this post that even a moribund frog would be ashamed of…let me apologize in advance. I am writing this from my phone, and this is the first post from said phone. So, if the phone makes it through this in one piece…its a good day indeed.

My location is a little different from my last series of entries. In fact, I would say a world away. I am sat in a busy bar in Palm Bay, Florida. Two week ago I was in Vietnam, also sat in a bar. Well, several as I recall…I think !

The difference between the locations is light years apart…

I come out to my employers HQ here roughly every two months. Each time I try to think of something to blog about here. Each time I draw a blank. It just isn’t very inspiring here. I started a blog entry called “A Cliché On Every Corner”, and that’s what America represents to me.

Let me explain my rationale some more. If I blindfolded you and took you to a busy road in the US. Removed the blindfold and let you observe the vista, then replaced it. Transported you 500 miles away and repeated the experiment…you would believe that you were in the same town. This is due to the proliferation of the same brands and corporate logos everywhere. I know that this is similar to the rest of the world..but it is sensory overload here.

Walk/drive/meander down any road and your senses are bombarded with neon signs, billboards or even people spinning sale signs. After the low key adverts in ‘Nam, it leaves me breathless.

So, sitting in a generic bar drinking generic beer..anywhere in America I ponder upon a question. Why do I find America so endearing ? Why do I enjoy coming here, and then wonder why I enjoy it ?

It’s the people.

The world views American’s in a unique way. Almost like the petulant spolit child stamping it’s feet to get it’s own way. However I think you need to dig a little deeper, scratch beneath the brash exterior to discover the soft underbelly of the populace.

We all have the same worries, we all care for our families and worry about where the next pound, dollar, sheckle is coming from. American’s just do it in a different way to everyone else. Admittedly in a much more noisy ‘high fiving’ kind of way.

They are brash, they are childish and by God they are noisy…but I enjoy the company of American’s.

Incidentally, I think my next motorcycle tour will be Route 66.


PS I can really recommend The Broken Barrel Tavern in Palm Bay. They are ‘educated’ in quality beers. A rare breed indeed !

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