Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Lubljana, Slovenia

On May 5-8, I met up with the boys in Slovakia again. It was great to see them! Charles, Michael, and I trained it down to Slovenia early on Saturday morning. But first, on the Friday, I was in Bratislava where I saw Srdjan and Mike L., who were supposed to come to Slovenia with us, but had more pressing issues and technical difficulties which prevented them. While in Blava, I also saw Marc, Emma, and Calla as we ALL met up for dinner at the great Indian Restaurant I mentioned on my first trip to Bratislava. Ummmm. =)

Big "party" Friday night and then the three Muskateers headed off to Lubljana.

And I am starting to form the same impression of any and every major (or semi-major) Central European town:










There are SQUARES...
The squares are NICE--often the nicest part of the town (See Banska Bystrica, March).


Events take place in the squares.

AND THERE ARE Churches...


So, when all the towns start to run together, at the very least in physical character, we have to start asking for--and seeking out-- the things that make one town special, unique. Well, we at least start to TRY. What I am really asking myself is why was Lubljana a good trip? And it was a good trip, despite Lubljana's not being strikingly different from other cities (dare I call it a city?) in Central Europe. I believe I know the answer, but first, let's look at Lubljana and how it does manage to put a twist on the Central European standard...Shall we?

University of Lubljana--probably the prettiest University building I have seen so far in Central Europe.

Fountain in from of UofL

River too
I am not going to claim that Lubljana is as exciting as, say, Berlin (or London or Paris), but it mananges to change things up a bit. On the first day we arrived there was a big open market in a square by the river.

At night, the bridge and many, many cafes and bars along the river are illuminated by street and candle light and become a beautiful place to chill with a beer or..whatever one fancies. On this particular weekend, we were able to sit and listen to the live music coming from the "event" at the square. Very nice.


Another type of River Experience...
I can't remember his name, but he was our waiter and seemed to develop a bit of a crush and eventually enough nerve to ask me out!! In the nicest possible way I could, I had to say no (in a way)--I invited him to join my friends and me in a gay bar. I didn't want to separate from them. I just didn't really see the point in going out (ALONE) with someone I would see for exactly one night of my life. He chickened out of the gay bar (--I think. I didn't exactly wait around for him to get there). Oh well! IIIIIII wasn't the one with the crush! He was nice though.

So we managed to put our own spin on Lubljana....

At the castle


We heard there was a free-living, alternative lifestyle commune in town, so we had to go check it out. We missed the BIG night at the commune because we fell asleep, but it was worth a walk-through, even in the daylight. I was a little apprehensive about going into a "commune." I cannot say I have ever wanted to see the inside of one, but it was an experience. We really didn't see anybody, but we could see some of the things they had created there. Take a look.

The Commune--into art, maybe?

Michael kept singing the new Madonna song that was stuck in his head and soon to be stuck in mine as well.




We also heard about a Roman Wall, so we went down to have a look at it, and found this pyramid as well! It was a nice little find!
Charles and Pyramid

The river mutated yet again. The day before we left, it became a giant, snake-shaped flea market, with people selling all manner of things--even old, obsolete money! Here is an example of the merchandise:
I don't know what the asking price was. =)

DSCN3474.JPG about SLO??? My random observations:

ONE thing I have to say is: being so close to Italy has done great things for Slovenia. We went to a Slovenian restaurant to have Typical Slovenian food...OUTSTANDING!!! With obvious Italian influence. My dish was a pasta with truffle sauce. Yum! I even had carpaccio! Yum yum. Polenta, and oh I don't remember the rest, but you get the picture. Good pizza too. More like New York than Italy.

After Lubljana (and Bratislava, incidentally) I feel I have made the circuit of gay clubs in central Europe (thanks guys)--well I have certainly seen all that Bratislva has to offer!! =) And now I feel qualified to say clubs...are... just as lame as straight clubs. Slovenia, despite its pro-gay graffiti (OH There is graffiti EVERYWHERE, not uncommon in Europe), which we noticed immediately upon entering the city, is no gay mecca. In LA, I used to feel that the people in West Hollywood were having more fun than we straight people were (and hell, maybe they are!), but after hanging with the boys in Slovakia (and now Slovenia), I can say (with some certainty) that it just ain't so! The grass is NOT greener. For all of you out there who were you know.

If you're passing through--if you're in the area--I'd say go on and give Lubljana a day or two. Be warned though. The hotels are expensive. We got what we think was the least expensive hotel (Park Hotel)--a Soviet style panelac--with bare minimums, and it was 100 Euro per night. Granted it was a triple, with a small kitchen, and it had enough space for 3 people, but it was really nothing fancy. And I mean nothing. The TV didn't work, but normally I wouldn't have noticed that since I never turn on the TV on vacation. The furnishings were what you might expect at camp. Decor was from 60's? 70's?? But it was comfortable, nothing crawled on me, and there was plenty of hot water. They even brought us full-sized towels on the second day! =)

OVERALL, Lubljana was charming, quaint, sleepy--and Euro (Michael and Charles' observation). What is Euro? It's a certain sophistication that even some European towns don't have.

But to answer my own question, it was a good trip because I went with fun people. Let's face it--quaint, charming, and sleepy can easily drift right on into DULL if we aren't careful!! We can enjoy the features of a place, its sights, attractions, etc. We can feel satisfied; we can even like it and find it interesting, but to have a visit that is special and long lasting (in our hearts and minds), we have to be with the right people. People with whom you can develop a rhythm...people who know the importance of a NAP! Among other things. =)

This is no real SHOCKER here! People make the experience. Think about some of YOUR most memorable or beloved trips--a few hours at a groovy landmark, a one day jaunt to a tiny beach town, a weekend trip to the mountains, or a 10 day journey to world-class wherever. What will you remember most? What will make it stick? What will be the difference between a good trip and a spectacular one? The people, right? OK, the food is probably up there too, but come on! What turns plain sightseeing into a COMPLETE experience? It's who you do it with! It's the people.



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