As Peder and I cleaned up the apartment and prepped ourselves for our one and only Saturday night in Belgrade, we vowed that we would not let it end early. Unlike Friday, we’d both had ample sleep – and with a clear weather forecast, experimenting with multiple destinations would surely prove easier than in Friday’s pouring rain.
Our first stop: Freestyler, the #1 splav on my list.
…Or so we thought, until we reached the door and were promptly told that nobody not on the guestlist would be allowed inside.
Feeling a bit discouraged, we turned around and started making our way to splav #2. That is, until the Serbian guys behind us – who’d overheard the little encounter – pulled us aside. “You haven’t been in Belgrade very long, have you? That’s what they say to everybody. Just hang around for a few minutes; you’ll get in.”
Sure enough, we did.
Inside I was surprised by two things:
First, the average height. Most of the people there – including the women – seemed massively tall. And this doesn’t just come from a guy who’s 5’8″ – even Peder, who’s a respectable 6″, mentioned having to crane his neck to speak to anyone. I felt like a little shrimp among towering giants.
Second, the expressions.
I’m fairly convinced that the main reason Peder and I have so much fun whenever we go out is because of our energy: tired or not, we strive to appear as friendly and approachable as possible; smiling, high-fiving, and greeting whomever we see. But here at Freestyler, everyone just felt so…stoic. Their faces were straight to the point of appearing angry. We’d smile and they’d reply with a scour. Had we just picked the wrong spot? Was there some sort of Angry People’s convention in town?
Yet in a stroke of total luck, I happened to run into the owner of Sun Hostel (where I’d stayed a few nights earlier). He was out with his buddies and a couple travelers – including the Canadian who was with me when I got pickpocketed in Sarajevo several days earlier. After just a minute or two of chatting they all agreed that the crowd here felt uninviting, suggesting that we join them at another splav a few stops down the river.
“Sound” had an immediately better vibe. This is where we remained, making friends and collecting phone numbers until everyone was hoisted out around 6am. Then we started making our way to the afterparty spot, a famous bar called Brodarac.
If any of you’ve spent any amount of time in Belgrade, you’ve undoubtedly heard of Brodarac. Every single person we asked for afterparty advice mentioned its name – followed by a warning. Apparently it’s a notoriously rowdy spot, featuring a more traditional Eastern European flavor and lots of Serbian hardasses…who just love to fight.
So after investing a solid 20 minutes trying to find our way there in the thick morning fog – and receiving the same warning from half a dozen locals along the way – we decided to succumb to our fatigue and sensibility, calling it an evening.
I figured getting home at 7am would satisfy our vow of “not ending the night early” anyway. Wouldn’t you agree? 🙂