Off to see the Loobies

Trip Start Aug 15, 2006
Trip End Sep 19, 2006

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Jane and I finally get in touch after a series of near-misses and messages. She wakes up at 4am Canadian time to call me at 10am my time. We are both missing each other a lot after two weeks apart and are looking forward to our reunion in Bratislava on September 5.

As I am waiting at the open-air bus stop, contemplating the Piran panorama for the last time, a middle-aged Slovene lady with a lot of luggage struggles up and asks me something in Slovene. "Uh, no Slovene" I offer, shrugging my shoulders. "Ah, English! Are you going to Ljubljana?" She is a slightly eccentric-looking lady with black lipstick and hauling three large and overflowing shopping bags, but she doesn't seem to be a nutjob. Her first subject of conversation is her husband: "I call him and tell him to pick me up in Ljubljana. He say 'no'. I give him the finger but he no see because we on telephone."

I'm happy to have some conversation for the first time in a couple of days but I don't really want her latching on to me. She proceeds to tell me about her job as a positive-energy-healer or some other kind of new age shit. I've yet to meet or see a new ager, or whatever they're called, who is normal - they are all weird in some way or another. She spots my greenstone necklace and insists on funnelling some positive energy to me through it. She holds it in her hands and closes her eyes for a few seconds. "There!" she announces with a triumphant smile, "it is done".

"I will now listen to music", she tells me, reaching for some earphones. "Is this okay?"
"Of course", I reply, thinking this might distract her.
"Do you know Tupac?" she asks.
"Um, the rapper?"
"Yes, I listen to Tupac to calm me down. And Eminem."
"That calms you down?"
"Oh yes. Do you see this diamond in my tooth?" She smiles and points to her front tooth which, sure enough, has a small diamond in it. "Tupac would say I have a diamond in my tooth like a nigger from Harlem." From anyone (except Tupac himself, I guess) this would be an odd thing to say, but from a fifty-something Slovene bio-energy healer it is especially surreal.

Once in Ljubljana, I find my way down to the 'Vila Veselova' hostel. I would describe it as 'somewhat central' rather than the 'very central' description it gives itself. It is in a big old building at the end of a dead end street containing a bunch of embassies. The first two floors appear very much in a state of disrepair and hte hostel is actually only a portion of the third floor. The guy shows me to my dorm - the 'Pink Room'. Although it is 2.30pm, all of the other three beds have guys lying in them, either asleep or in a state of heightened boredom. Hanging out with them doesn't seem like a lot of fun, so I lock up my pack and head back out straight away to the old part of town.

The main focal point of Ljubljana is the Peseron Square and the adjacent Triple Bridge. Neither is overwhelming but then again this is a relatively small town, of only around 300,000. The prime tourist attraction is the castle, but I don't want to spend all of my tourist energy straight away, particularly considering there doesn't look to be all that much else to do here. It's not that Ljubljana is dull (and it is too soon for me to be making any judgment anyway), on the contrary it has a youthful, energetic vibe. It's just that it is not radically different from other European capitals except for the absence of any defining focal point.

Having said that, perhaps my slightly gloomy outlook is influenced by my increasing loneliness. When I first travelled around Europe, I was more predisposed to spend time alone but was also more adept at meeting people and finding drinking companions in the evening. Now I really just want ot be with Jane and can't be bothered trying to make new friends. It's not a great attitude to have but it is the one I'm stuck with right now.

I wallow in my own self-pity over a big glass of beer at a sidewalk bar overlooking the Ljubljanica River, watching the young Loobies (I can't be bothered writing Ljubljanians) glide back and forth and try to soak up the Europeanness of the moment.

It gets a little chilly so I decide to walk back to the hostel, take stock, get a jumper then go out for dinner. On my way to find some food, I find a large bookshop in which about 80% of the books are in English. I guess Slovene is such a small market (only 2 million people) that it's not worth translating everything from English (most young people speak English anyway). So I buy a little paperback book to keep me company.
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