Trying to explain and write down last weekend feels like I’m supposed to explain something magical that doesn’t exist for most people of this earth. That’s what it really is, magic. Magic of people who “shouldn’t” get together and loving the crap out of each other. That’s what Bridge The Gap Belgrade was. We were making a connection where there is a great difference.
I knew last Fall that I wanted to travel to Serbia as soon as I knew that there will be a BTG event, it’s not your everyday travel destination, and the idea of being able to get to know the people and the city better sounded amazing! I also made a decision before the trip that I didn’t want to do any research and go there with complete blank page. That ended up being one of the best decisions, as with that mindset you see the city and it’s people in a total new and open way. You’re not afraid of something you shouldn’t be in the first place, you trust yourself more and are more open to whatever comes your way.
I’m not sure if I’m able to do justice to the best BTG weekend I’ve been part of, apologies to others, but this is the truth. For me at least, and I know that to many many more that attended. The amount of love that we shared was insane!
Before my trip I was a bit worried how it all will go, as I wasn’t sure who from my friends before are going to be there and was afraid that I would feel like an outsider for some reason. Well how wrong was I going to be…
From Finland the best way is to travel through Sweden, which I did and to my joy I met first new friend at the check in line and soon was surrounded by close to 20 local crewmembers from Ssideline Stockholm. My trip could not been starting any better. Straight up I felt welcome and my worries were just vanished and soon we were on our way to Belgrade!
And what a way to arrive… There was a group of runners a bit from all over the place at the airport waiting for us, taking us to the party that others were waiting or more like enjoying themselves :). I have to say that it was the best to see some people that I only knew through Instagram but still felt like friends or those friends who traveled all the way from US. The first night went on and in the middle of it I found my way to my hosts place, who was the best, amazing Emelie <3.
In the middle of the night, Belgrade felt almost a bit scary with no idea of anything in the darkness. But once I opened the curtains on Friday morning, oh my how surprised I was of it’s beauty, old and new next to each other in this weird harmony. And that sunshine that blessed us the whole weekend. Felt like I was on some vacation that I had been needing for the last 6 months, which was not far from the truth at all.
Friday was all about seeing people and hugging and having a shake out run and get together and pasta party. The amount of love again, was overwhelming. The thing is that when you find your tribe, you know it, and these people are my tribe. The ones who I can be and always feel like me, exactly who I am, without needing to think anything. And that’s what I love the most. There’s no judgement, no one will think differently of you whether you do this or that, the unity between us all is so amazing, and something that the world should have more.
To feel that way is special in that big of a group of people, which spans around the world.
And then came Saturday and the race! I knew early on that I will be cheering with my broken wrist and with the degrees all the way up to +30 C I wasn’t too sad about my choice. 🙂 Which only made me respect my friends who did run so much more!
I don’t think I’ve ever cheered as much I did, and with so many amazing people. We had the best group of people doing what we did best. The rule is “if you don’t run, you must cheer”, and we took that rule seriously. So seriously that the sunburns and lost voices were not few but common between us. I don’t know why but these days I love cheering way more than running, or let me clear this, running a road race :). There’s just something amazing about seeing your friends and running next to them, hugging them, cheering them on with all you got. Sharing the love you have in you is the best thing I know! And to everyone, not just your friends obviously. Were were cheering on full blast since the race started to the last runner, and that’s how it’s supposed to be! The last runner is the bravest in my heart, the amount of courage you need to push on when all you want to do is stop and still keep moving, inspirational is an understatement. And I really loved how those runners who had finished came to the cheer point and cheered with us and shared the love that they had gotten earlier. That is #crewlove!
After little naps and mending those sunburns it was time for the after party!
And what a party it was! Those parties are something I always wait, they make your heart sing with happiness. There’s so many friends, you get to dance with the best people to the best music and I doubt that there’s ever been anyone who has been able to leave without a massive smile on their face. But as with all the best parties, I keep our “secrets” secrets haha. These are things that you just have to experience for yourself, just like our cheerpoints. 😉
Sunday came, maybe little too fast after Saturdays happenings, but damn it started good. Our organizing crew, BURT – Belgrade Urban Running Team, had done something so beautiful. They planted trees in a park for all the crews attending, and we had this amazing ceremony to open the park. And there was also this amazing surprise to all the crews and to myself too. During the race, at our cheerpoint, we had a graffiti painter doing a massive piece. And at the ceremony the guys cut it in equal pieces and gave to the crews attending as a thank you. And then I got the biggest surprise, that humbled me and still does, to the core and everywhere else too, Nikola all of sudden said my whole name and I didn’t understand why at all. He then said words so nice and loving that I don’t remember at all anymore as the whole situation felt so surreal to me :). He gave me piece of the graffiti as a thank you for my support and love to them. This still brings almost tears to my eyes, to feel that loved is a privilege and I wish that every damn one could feel like I did on that moment and weekend. Thank you! ❤
Still a day and a half left, what to do? Wondering around the city with your friends without a plan, best! Again, Belgrade is just amazing. It’s so warm and open and the people are the same. Food is just amazing and so cheap for us coming from the euro area. The city is filled with greenery, beautiful old buildings everywhere next to brand new modern mirror boxes. The history and future are in balanced contrast next to each other. And with the weather we had, it was hard to do anything else than wonder around with friends til the late night.
And like with any amazing, mindblowing trip this one ended with a last memory. In this case, with two people getting inked memory of the movement on them… I might have been the other one :D. There’s something about this Bridge The Gap of ours. It changes your life, if you let it, in a way that you could never ever even dream of. And how it has changed mine is so huge that it’s hard to put down. But I didn’t even need to really think why I would want to have it tattooed on me. With the handwriting of my dear dear friend Nikola, from the local crew, part of my international family. To his surprise of course, but sometimes you show your love in funny ways. And I have to give big shoutout to Grisha, for getting as amazing tattoo as he did! And massive thank you to Nemo from Karavampir Tattoo Club.
Monday ended at the new indoor running center with loads of fun with the rest of us that was still there. There were goodbyes, hugs, photos, smiles, and all the love.
I had to leave super early on Tuesday morning, which I would’ve rather moved weeks if not months further. It’s not easy to explain why or what it is about Belgade and it’s people that makes you feel as good as I feel still. But what I can say is that it’s the love we share. The openness of it all. The camaraderie that we have around the globe. And again it’s the love, sharing it with the ones you don’t even know that well but they are part of something bigger than we all are. I feel very very blessed to have friends and family around the world like I do. Without running and Bridge The Gap I wouldn’t.
I wish I could thank each and everyone but there would be way over 400 names to write down and I don’t want to forget any, so I send this to you. Thank you for taking me in to your lives and sharing what you love the way you do. My life is so much richer with you all. I wish you all know how much you mean to me. LoveLoveLove. And I will hug you when we see again, because one way or another we will see soon again! This is not a goodbye this is see you in a bit. ❤