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New Europe

Day Sixty-seven: Belgrade

The Zemun Yacht Club 
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After a cold afternoon crewing for Rambo Amadeus, the Zemun Yacht Club give me something to remember them by.
Michael Palin - New EuropeSpend much of the middle of the day crewing for a sailing boat out in the middle of the Danube, whilst the coldest wind of the coldest day of the journey held my head in a vice-like grip. We are racing other boats from the Zemun Yacht Club, named after a nearby Danube-side town even older than Belgrade. They're a nice laid-back group of people, mostly from the media, whose clubhouse is the steamy, bustling upper deck of a moored barge.

My captain calls himself Rambo Amadeus. Big man, big name. He looms over me, shades obscuring his eyes so I can never quite tell what to believe and what not to believe. He claims to have invented the term Turbo-Folk, a noisy, kitschy dance music that my Bradt guide describes as 'Balkan gangster rap, without the rap'. He has the physical presence of a gangland heavy and some of the opinions too.

'Television is stupid. Internet is cool.' In short, not the sort of person you associate with yacht clubs.

But he's funny and bright and a good enough sailor to have won this race had I not been crewing and asking him damn-fool questions at the same time.

His view of the war of the 1990s, and of war generally, is that it is a remorseless and inevitable process given that such large parts of national economies are tied up in preparations for, or defence against, war.

He says it got very bad in Belgrade in the late 1990s.

'If you threw your television through the window, nobody noticed.'

No sooner has he said that than he reconsiders.

'Actually no-one threw their TV out of the window.'

'Too precious?'

Belgrade nightlife 
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There are so many nightclubs in Belgrade, they can't fit them all on land.
Choose another day from New Europe


  • Series: New Europe
  • Chapter: Day Sixty-seven: Belgrade
  • Country/sea: Serbia
  • Place: Belgrade
  • Book page no: 163

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  • Around the World in 80 Days
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