At the time this past issue dropped, we were still putting the finishing touches on our video project "Flute", which is live now. With the help of our loyal supporting brands, we assembled our dream squad of Euro riders, namely Filip Almqvist, Schianta Lepori, Joscha Aicher, Jorge Simões, Amélien Foures, and Tania Cruz (whom I hereby pronounce European by association). In order to stress test the wild bunch, we took them to the melting pot that is midsummer, near 40 °C [104 °F] Serbia. The trip started off strong with a few days of skating in Belgrade until we hit road again to the final destination of Skopje, North Macedonia. After spending a few days in smaller cities, enjoying the local food, swimming in backcountry rivers, kayaking on artificial lakes, and exploring caves, we took one special stop along the way. Our local spot guide David Soda’s “Baba” (“Grandmother,” in Serbian) took us in for an amazing self-made traditional dinner, mostly consisting of kale and meat with a whole lot more meat on the side. With our bellies full and our minds a little tipsy from self-made liquor, we drove off deciding to leave Jorge behind as a sign of our gratitude. (We did get him back eventually.) Still smelling like the meat-heavy local cuisine (sorry to the vegetarians on the trip), we remembered the initial mission to stack clips for the video and drove through the night to arrive in Skopje, which has a lot more to offer than we managed to see in our brief encounter, for one more productive day of skating.
"Managing everyone’s interests and spot wishes with a crew of six skaters, two filmers, a photographer, a spot guide, and a driver is challenging. We found ourselves at this schoolyard two days in a row to go back for a trick that got away the first day, but we didn't have nearly enough time to hit all the spots worth skating or come back to fight everyone’s battles to an end."
"The Balkans have a lot to offer beyond barely touched skate spots. In between skate days, we kayaked on an artificial lake, checked out caves on the way, dared cliff diving, and revived our sore bodies in small backcountry rivers where not even cell service could reach you."
"“Hvala Baba!” The only thing friendlier than local spot guide David’s grandma, who presented us with a self-made traditional meal, must have been her dog, who made sure to get some exclusive cuddles in with every single person on the trip. If there was competition on who pet the most stray dogs overall, it would probably be a close call between Jorge and Filip. However, our hearts were not only melted by the friendly stray dogs along the way but also by a couple of kids who we ended up giving our skateboards to."