Around Ljubljana, Beers, and a Movie
This morning I was up at 6:30, greeted by the old lady en route to the bathroom. It was dark, cold, and rainy outside, and I didn’t have anything I really felt like doing, so I slept in. I left the room at around 11:00, at which hour it was sunny outside, though cold. I wandered toward center, casually shopping around for outer wear, which I could not find for less than twice the price of my nightly lodging.
I started feeling pretty euphoric about the weather, because it felt just like Chicago ought to feel like at this time of year – cold and rainy, with mushy, wet, golden leaves smooshing underfoot. The country feels less like a former communist republic on its surface, but more like one of the northern countries, filled with hot, blond and dark-haired women, and bike paths. Everyone waits for the walk signal before crossing the street.
I wandered around looking for lunch. I settled for a doner kebap, which is like gyros, only without so much meat. I wandered in to the edge of Tivoli Park via viaducts under the roadway and railway. The viaducts were decorated with some excellent graffiti. I had a brief conversation with a lonely reception clerk who was standing outside his museum of contemporary Slovenian history. I found a little stand selling good, greasy-smelling horse burgers, which I might have preferred for lunch. I pet a black cat who was looking forward to what seems to be a regular meal from the horse burger stand staff. I checked out the modern art museum, which sucked, though it was inexpensive.
I felt lonely and homesick, and found the adjacent American Embassy, guarded by some local cop. I asked did I need a reason to visit, or could I just drop in for the hell of it? “You’re an American citizen? Sure, just follow the walkway there – Route 66!” I walked up to the front, peered in the window, which had a small lobby and a teller window. It seemed uninviting. I went back to the steps and admired the Eagle, with its shield, and the head pointed towards the talon holding the olive branch. I considered taking a picture of the American Embassy sign, with its eagle, but then figured maybe they would just as soon not have people walking up to the embassy and taking pictures and leaving. On the way out, I remarked to the guide that however nice it was to step on American soil, for a moment, it was fantastically boring.
I dropped by the Cybercafe I had spotted the day before. The guy explained that the Internet had been broken there since yesterday, and I explained that maybe I’d brought bad luck to town, I’d leave tomorrow. I had a beer, instead, accompanied by the loud techno music the guy likes to play. I wrote in my journal, and then I drew a few pictures, concentrating on stuff like perspective and curved lines. The beer left me feeling really good – half a liter for about $1.50.
I decided that two things I needed to do were consult my Lonely Planet book to figure out my next move, and drop by the train station to figure out where I could go and when. The train station and my room were both North of the center area where I was. I picked a new route to wander that way, and ended up in narrow streets bordered by tall buildings and a construction project. I saw some guys sitting around on the corner, drinking beers, with a bull-dog. Another beer struck me as a good idea, so when I found a corner store a block away, I got one, and some breakfast / travel provisions. I’d met what amounted to a dead end on my route, so I headed back around. The dog saw my grocery bag and figured I’d make a good friend. I asked the guys was he hungry, but no, he was The People’s Dog, he gets fed all the time, and he eats any time he can.
I spent some time petting the dog, enjoying my beer, and talking to Tom, and his other friends, who were mostly named Tom, except for Matthew. They were all about my age. The story seemed to be that they were a crowd of unemployed, recovering drug addicts. One guy complained about his methadone addiction, another guy told me about the MBA he was wasting and the lovely girlfriend in France he had lost to his own dirty habits. Tom seemed surprised that I hadn’t had a joint since Amsterdam, and rolled a weak one that was passed around. Tom later bought two more beers, one for himself, and one for The People. I gave him some gum. It was a good way to spend the afternoon.
Around 1900 I walked over to the movie theater, where they were showing “Red Dragon” in English with Slovenian subtitles. Not bad. At one point Lecter mouths the words “thank you” and I totally understood the lip movements and the “Hvala” of the subtitles, as “hvala” and “dober dan” are the two Slovenian expressions I use whenever I get the chance.
It was dark and cold when the movie let out. I hustled home at a brisk pace to keep warm. Along the way I passed some giggly teenage boys who were casually vandalizing the antenna and windshield wipers of a Volkswagen Jetta.