NYE in Novi Sad – True Balkan Experience

No party in the Netherlands because of the lockdown? Bored with (illegal) New Year’s fireworks? Why not celebrate in Serbia instead? That’s what AEGEE member Niek did this New Year’s.

Our friends in AEGEE Novi Sad wrote quite a description, promising the “New Year’s Eve of our life.” For Niek and his friends, it didn’t disappoint. The fun began the day after arrival since everyone came at different times. The day began with a city tour and scavenger hunt through the old streets of Novi Sad, but the highlight was ice skating in a frozen forest. The Groningers had a blast. Not so much the southern Europeans, who spent the whole afternoon clinging to the railings, scared for their lives. It was pretty funny, no doubt all the more so due to the copious amounts of Rakija available in Serbia.

Rakija, for the uninformed, is an eastern European fruit brandy that’s especially popular in Serbia. For AEGEE members, Rakija proved to be a wonder drink, since it’s a great party starter, cures hangovers, tastes great and protects people against corona. Its medicinal benefits were proved on the trip because the only people who got sick didn’t drink enough of it! If Rakija alone wasn’t enough, there was ample beer and wine for AEGEE members doing karaoke that night, so everyone could sing their hearts out whilst singing to Eurovision songs.

The next day began with a visit to a fortress and, after tramping around the underground tunnels, Niek and his friends found their way to a brewery where the owners let everyone tap the beer barrels. That evening was the European night, where twelve participants represented the Dutch ghetto. And of course, the Gold Strike was very popular with the others. Great trip, right?

Well, the next morning showed us that New Year’s is not for the faint of heart or the faint of liver. It was sometimes a battle. That morning Niek visited three (!) wineries for tasting. This meant everyone had finished a bottle before lunch.

Day five was New Year’s and my source’s memory is very shaky about what happened that night. As far as he can remember, it was amazing. The day and night were filled with two different parties where there was an overabundance of glitter, alcohol and weird challenges thanks to the Grinch game. In the evening there was a buffet which continued until everyone went to the city’s old bridge to watch the fireworks.

New Year’s Day was understandably more relaxed. A secret Santa, a movie at the hostel, and a big dinner that evening. This meant a very traditional meal, a Slava that’s eaten on special holidays in Serbia. After that, a cozy pub where AEGEE members made friends with the locals. The next day, everyone flew home and a few people got sick; it turned out, they didn’t drink enough Rakija!

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