Saturday 03 August
After an uneventful night in Tirana, Albania’s capital, we decide to move on to Kotor, Montenegro. Upon arriving we’re met with some wonderful news. Today there will be a street carnival that only happens once a year, followed by large screen showings of the water polo world cup final, featuring Hungary and Montenegro. After this, we can only imagine, will be some serious all night partying.
“This is going to be an awesome night, I’m really excited” exclaims Mike. The two of us are in a jovial mood. Masks are being bought, people are dressing up and getting into the spirit of things. I’ve always wanted to time my travel with local festivals, but it’s not always easy to do. I was super stoked for an epic night of new experiences and cultural immersion.
Apart from a couple of ridiculously hot women in ridiculously hot outfits, the parade is something of a damp squib. Unperturbed, we’ve made new friends and wander the streets in numbers. The town is alive. It’s like Glasgow on Halloween. Without the heroin. Drums can be heard down every tiny ally. Beer is flowing freely. I’ve a confident kilt swish in my step. Everyone is interested in what I’m doing and where I’m going. Cheering on Montenegro in the water polo final is a blast. Being the only dancer on the big stage for the closing band was outstanding.
Everyone disappears. The girl I like is kissing some German dude, and another option tells me she’s old enough to be my mother. She’s three years younger than me. Off she dances into the crowd, and I decide to wander the streets alone.
I’m enjoying my own company, singing away to myself and sobering up. I turn a random corner to see Mike’s curly hair, and I decide to join him for a beer. I count myself lucky I managed to bump into him.
“Everyone in here is a cunt” he says.
“Why what’s going on?” I respond.
Next thing I know some huge Montenegran has bullied his way over and is shoving and attempting to punch Mike into a corner. I don’t think twice, and leap for him to haul him off. One punch slams into the back of my head and I’m grounded. The second connects perfectly with my nose. You have to give him props for accuracy. Then the blows stop and the bleeding starts. It’s literally gushing out of a nostril. My hands and arms look like I’ve cut my wrists. My glasses are broken and missing. The pavement is covered in my blood.
The remainder of the night is spent sitting on a step with a kind girl trying to help me stem the flow. As dawn approaches, I walk back to the enticing prospect of sleeping in the van. I discover Mike sitting on a step. We grab a beer. Mike leans in:
“The guy behind the bar overcharged me nine euros”. He was being an arse about it, so I poured my drink over him. Then when his mates approached, I poured my drink over them too.”
It’s the second time I’ve needed to replace my glasses on this trip, but I’ve never broken my nose before; so that’s new. New experiences and cultural immersion remember? Tonight certainly didn’t go according to plan.