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Look at the following pages, and you may notice parallels with skate spots in your locality. So why this article when you could go down the road and skate the rail next to them stairs? Well, let's just say most of us don't live in post-Yugoslavia (now Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia), nor Bulgaria. Yeah, Popwar central ain't exactly located there either, but we had the tour itch. Avoiding Spring Break 2004, the Popwar gang--myself, Kenny Reed, Rob Gonzalez, Chad Tim Tim, Raymond Molinar, Jon Newport, Paul Sharpe, Yogi Proctor, and Thrasher photographer Luke Ogden--chose to go to Eastern Europe. They got the spots you see in the videos, that's for sure (especially that Cliche flick. Those guys are onto something).

SLOVENIA CAN BE SUMMED UP by our tour guide's quote that seems to be a skateboard mantra for so many: "You don't get famous doing pussy shit." I think it was a joke, but many a true word is said in jest. Get your gnar on. You'll just have to wait and see those after-blacks in the video, though.

Slovenia became an EU affiliate as of May 2004, and is well developed like most countries deemed worthy of EU participation. It's got everything you could ask for including electricity, cable television, and skate spots galore. But the spots in Slovenia weren't like those in Croatia. The amount of marble that we came across in Croatia was overwhelming. Even the highways were made of marble. (Not quite, but almost.) The marble the US built the White House with comes from the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia. Jon Newport's sole agenda was to skate some marble, and we all lucked out in this sense with the time we spent in Croatia.

Passing through Karlovac (a little town in Croatia) towards Serbia, we got a glimpse of what independence from Yugoslavia can cost. If not bombed out, buildings looked like life-size connect-the-dot puzzles from all the gunfire. This is recent history too--but Desert Storm dominated US media in the early '90s, diverting the public's attention from anything not US-related.

IN SERBIA we were able to keep true to the war theme, with frequent reminders of NATO's past presence in Belgrade. Seventy-eight days of bombing left the place tattered, to say the least. Without government funds to rebuild all the devastation, Serbians are constantly reminded of what they underwent on the brink of the new millennium. And counting Belgrade's two million-plus population proves that the big cities flourish in the East, even though this did not mean the skate spots flourished as well. To us, the streets were better known as the "mean streets of Belgrade" due to their unnecessary ruggedness.

Luke's time with Popwar was nearing its end as we left Serbia to enter Bulgaria. As with all tours, things come to a stand still at one point or another. And with the rain in Bulgaria clearing war out of our minds, we were left hopeful for more moments of sunshine and marble, In between it all, we lived out of our suitcases and saw what Western European skate tours often overlook--the Eastern Bloc sisters.
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Author:Foster, Cairo
Date:Oct 1, 2004
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