An Illustrated History of Slavic Misery: Pivoblivion 2013

Posted on August 19, 2013


It’s been ten days since anything was posted on here, and for good reason. As with tradition, the Balkan portion of my year ends in a haze of pivo-influenced ridiculousness, in the company of my good buddy Eric Wiedemann, a chap is doing much better at life than most humans in this world. We were joined this year by the glorious Casey Gillespie, who despite being from San Francisco is as good as they come. I met them both in Mostar in 2009, so this was to be something of a reunion. I’d of course seen them both in Zagreb in May, but that’s not important. We would meet up again in Sarajevo for a four day sojourn before heading back here for Belgrade Beer Festival. On my way to Sarajevo, I set myself a personal goal for the next 10 days, one that will signal the end of ridiculousness. The aim was to drink 100 pivos in the 10 days. Pivoblivion was upon us.

Day one was nice enough. We were all pretty exhausted, so we sank into things nice and easily. The fantastic Hannah Coleman was also in Sarajevo, so we decided to take a few cans up to the fortress for the sunset. We missed the sunset, but the view from up there is fantastic, so all was not lost. By the end of night one the pivo count was 11. Day two had a quiet start, and not much was done at all really. We walked a lot, hung about a lot, ate food, drank pivos. Importantly though, I was introduced to the show ‘Intervention’. Basically, this show is exactly what you would expect from a show titled as such. A documentary about addicts, ending in an intervention. Because we are TERRIBLE TERRIBLE PEOPLE, the decision was made to create a drinking game, which would be played on day three.

After a quick run around the flea market near Stup, where I purchased a pair of shorts that were way too big for me and a peasant festival cow fighting DVD for Una (I hope you enjoy it), the intervention game was played and the pivo count got right back on track. The ten a day average was being hit, and being hit consistently. Day four saw the fun move to East Sarajevo, which has a reputation for being a bit of a dunghole really. To our shock and surprise, we actually had a really nice time there. Thankfully they had Serbian pivo, which meant a brief lull in the steady stream of awful awful Sarajevkso, definitely the worst beer in former Yugo land. Awful stuff. They also had some of the friendliest service industry people I’ve ever come across in the Balkans. East Sarajevo, I like you. Kino Bosna, yadda yadda yadda.

We headed to Belgrade the next day in high spirits. These spirits were dampened a little by GEA Tours not picking us up, so we headed back to East Sarajevo to pick up the peasant bus. We had a few hours to kill, so we pooled our KMs together to get coffee and whatnot. We had about 10 between us, so everything had to be rationed. We survived, thankfully, even getting in an ill advised pivo along the way. The seven hour journey to Belgrade went by rather quickly, with the scenery along the road being of constant jaw dropping yes. Myself and Eric also made tentative plans for a Slavic Misery Bingo. Watch this space.

It felt good to be back in Beograd. I’ve genuinely grown to love this place over the years, and I feel pretty comfortable here. I know where I’m going, even if I can’t name the streets or speak the language. We headed for a pivo at Brod before moving on to where we would sleep for the next seven days, the beautiful apartment of one Una Ciric. A wonderful host with a wonderful cat. She left us to our own devices, we headed to get some hilariously awful Chinese food (not really that bad) and headed back for a quiet night in. The beer festival would begin tomorrow, and the road to 100 would get serious. Here’s Pivo Fest in a bunch of words.

Pivo. Dust. Two t-shirts in the first night. Still no t-shirt that fits me. Excitement at bumper cars. Being recognised by the man on the bumper cars from last year. Free rides. Getting slapped on the back of the neck by an old woman on said bumper cars, for targeting their car. So many free rides. So many pivos. Yellow Wednesday. Sausage Thursday. More pivo. Dust. A night in the Black Turtle tent. Hilarity. Pivo. Dust. Day Three Misery. Bowling. Winning bowling. More bumper cars. Being targeted by everyone on the bumper cars. YES! NO! YES! NO! YES! NO! Yes. Not seeing a single band. Bumper cars with Una. Huge Baltika can. Loud Loud Beer Pong against meatheads. Going into the last day on 87 pivos. Pivos 94-98 were a struggle. More bumper cars, more being targeted on bumper cars. LAV CAN! FUN ZONE! There was no Lav Can Fun Zone. Pivo 99 was a Lav Can (Fun Zone) though.

Pivo 100 arrived, and with it came a sense of sadness. It was a Jelen, as it always should be. We said our pieces for the final time, and the pivo was done. A century of pivos (along with 11 rakijas and a couple of apple wines), and Pivoblivion was done. It has left me a much weaker human being, and one that should probably avoid the stuff for a while. It’s been a really fun 10 days though, and I’ll be sad to not see Eric and Casey for what will unfortunately be a long time one would suspect.

And that’s it. I’m going home soon. I’ll do a big summer review at some point, however sad it will make me. For the first time I don’t want to go home, there’s no sense of excitement at the prospect. I think this is going to feel incredibly unfinished when I do leave, which is terrible really. But there we go, I best make the most of these last few days.