Monday, February 11, 2008

Serbian Celebrations- Guri's 40th

Coordinating 16 guys from all corners of Europe (plus some intrepid travellers from NY) for a 3-day weekend in Belgrade, Serbia, was never going to be easy- the fact that we were going there to celebrate Guri's 40th birthday would make it even crazier. Why Belgrade? Seemed like an interesting place, and it has a wild (and well-deserved) nightlife reputation!

The 4-day extravaganza kicked off with a civilised dinner (accompanied by 2 bottles of vodka) at Galereya, followed by a wake-like bottle of champagne over the still-glowing embers of nightclub Dyagilev, which had burned down earlier that day. The coincidence of the passing of Dyagilev, (where so many memories have been shared), and Guri's 40th, (where so many blackouts have been shared) so moved James that he felt compelled to pour champagne (French, not Soviet) on Guri's head. Thus began the wild partying which moved on to Soho Rooms and Club Opera, leaving a trail of empty glasses, wallets, and devushki in our wake.

Following a debaucherous evening, where Alex perfected the "quick followup" technique, which would land him in trouble later in the weekend, we headed straight to the airport from Opera for our flight to Belgrade, Serbia. Upon arrival, we filled our stomachs, ascertained there was nothing to see, and prepared ourselves for the evening ahead. Having done careful homework, Cruise Director Cam had booked the hottest nightclub in Belgrade for the evening's post-dinner partying. Unfortunately, someone had forgot to mention that Belgrade is dead on Friday nights, so although it was a spectacular venue and all 3 of the women in attendance were gorgeous, this left the other 13 members of the group a little dispirited, and several promptly sought other forms of paid entertainment. Unfortunately, the chosen venue consisted of one stripper of somewhat generous proportions (estimated at 3x a regular stripper's weight, apportioned to all the wrong places), who was more intent at removing one of our group member's clothing than (maybe thankfully) her own. Upon trying to leave, the group was relieved of significant sums of cash and sent on their way.

In the meantime in another part of town, a smaller contingent had found our way to a barge in a remote stretch of the Danube packed with locals and the reknown Serbian "Turbofolk" music, which was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, the wild dancing set up a rocking motion, which sent Ariel scurrying for dry land, and both Cam & Ariel discovered that Russian sponsorship traditions are alive & well in Serbia (why us?).

We departed the barge and made out way gingerly through the toxic wastelands of outer Belgrade to try and find another venue. Unfortunately, while in Moscow at 4am things are really only getting into the swing of things, Belgrade pretty much shuts down (or at least stops entry) after 3.30, leaving us despondently headed home.

The next day dawned cloudy and cold (as always) and we determinedly set out to see Belgrade's only sight, the Citadel. Admittedly, it's pretty cool & has a great restaurant. Earlier that day Steve & Myles had been spotted jogging in some of the spiffiest (and certainly tightest) running gear ever seen in the history of Yugoslavia.

More afternoon wandering and a stop at a bar or too (including Mama's Biscuit House- wtf?), we found ourselves at a traditional Serbian restaurant, consuming copious amounts of grilled meat, vodka, and watching Guri dance to somewhat authentic Serbian music, which made some of our grill a little indigestible.

Thankfully, Cam's research was on the money for our nightclub venue, and the crew ran amok, meeting all sorts of new friends and thankfully avoiding most confrontations. The most significant altercation was when Alex's patented "quick followup" strategy encountered Guri's patented "Privet- it's GURI!!" strategy, but Peacemaker Leo was able to defuse the situation. Steve even ended up on a pizza date, but apparently the cold light of day (or the harsh fluorescents of the pizza parlour) put an end to any further festivities.

A small group made an early exit to revisit some of the other notable venues in Belgrade, and headed back to Magacin (MUCH better than the night before), Teatro (why do they have tables throughout the dance floor?), Plastique/Mint (thanks to Cam's fluent Serbian), before staggering home, at which point Cam & James played cupid to a couple of otherwise shy lovebirds, and then Cam & Guri sat on the stairs and watched and listened to the havoc of the evening, including the hotel chasing a missing bed from one of our rooms, people coming & going (and coming again), including a couple to one room- (Guri, your friends are sick puppies), before finally falling asleep for at least 2-3 hours and then hauling ass to the airport.

Usually, the flight home is uneventful (although occasionally productive), but Alex's perserverence finally won through when a drunken, worldly girl from Bashkirkistan passed out in his lap, and the two spent the flight blissfully intertwined in the back of the Aeroflot TU-128...

The photos are here.


Anonymous said...

You left out night 4 when you hauled my back end to Simachev for dinner and drinks and then to Garage till 4AM! No wonder i spent the week under the clout of a flu and am unable to go to Opera tonight to follow up with my encounters from last weekend :))

Anonymous said...

while the previous comment is "anonymous", the writer didnt leave any clues to his identity... GURI !!!!