SloveniAgain

The most colorful building in Ljubljana, and I still don't know what it is. (click to see larger)Do you ever have a feeling of déjà vu?  You know, where you just feel like you’ve already experienced whatever’s happening right now.  I’m sure you have, I think everyone has.  I, however, managed to take it one step further.  I actually did experience something awesome – twice.

It all revolves around Halloween.  Of course it does, I can’t seem to get off that topic.

Pop quiz time.  Do you remember what I did for Halloween last year?  Sure you do, I went to Slovenia (read that here and here).  Now it’s time for some logical guessing, where do you think I went this year?  Slovenia, right.  This is why I’m a teacher, I have a talent for leading people to the answers.

I guess it’s sort of a tradition.  You might think I’m crazy to do the same trip a year later when I have so many other place I want to go, but it was more of an accident.  I had such a great time last year, that it made it onto my parents to-do list.  Since I had a week off of school at the end of October for fall break, I convinced them that it was the perfect time to visit.

Therefore, they came to Hungary, and we went to Slovenia.  2 + 2 = 4.

The "Dragon Bridge" of Ljubljana. (click to see larger)That was why we rented a car - the train from Budapest to Slovenia is a grueling 9 hour trip.  The trusty old internet told us that the drive was about 4 ½ hours on nice, new roads.  Seeing as how we’d just spent a 2 ½ train ride in a hot compartment with a very smelly person, the car sounded a lot more promising than a similar experience that was more than 3 times as long.  When realizing that it was – surprisingly – cheaper to rent the car for the extra time than to buy the three train tickets, we were sold.

The city is full of graffiti, and this particular one fits my Halloween theme. (click to see larger)The drive was different than the train ride I remember.  Last year’s train took us through winding canyons in the dark.  The only things I could make out were floodlit churches, factories (or some sort of industrial plants), and cemeteries glowing with the little candles that people leave to honor their ancestors this time of year.

That was spooky.  That was Halloweeny (tell me this isn’t a real word, and I’ll tell you that I don’t care).

One of the biggest downsides to that train ride (aside from the fact that I only had one beer) was that it was dark.  The churches and cemeteries looked magnificent in the night, but I couldn’t get the feel of the countryside.  Fortunately, riding in a car changed that.

This year, we were able to make it most of the way to Ljubljana before sunset.  It was very different, and much less spooky (take that as you will, I say it’s a negative point).  But, I was able to appreciate that Slovenia has a lot of pretty mountains and quaint farmland.

They even have a traditional object called a “kozolec” (don’t ask me how to pronounce it because I don’t know).  They’re a sort of covered hay storage thing that can be one of two ways.  The first looks like a big wooden fence – just a few meters long – with a roof.  Others are two of them combined, with a big roof, so they resemble a small, two or three-sided barn.  My excitement for them would’ve been a lot more if I hadn’t first heard about them in a story that told of a famous Slovenian hanging himself from one.

A Kozolec near Bled. (click to see larger)These particular structures are supposed to protect the food for the animals so it can dry.  That seems to be something that’s important because it rained nearly the entire time we were there.  I take that back.  It only rained a little bit.  It was just foggy and wet most of the time.  It added to the spooky atmosphere, but it made me feel cold the whole time.  I feel sorry for Slovenian cows.

Back to my initial point, I did nearly the same trip – twice.  This doesn’t sound unusual.  After all, who hasn’t gone back to somewhere nearby that they liked?  It was strange for me because of the timing.  I was there exactly one year later.

Slovenia is beautiful. Lake Bled is picturesque. You can't disagree. (click to see larger)When was the last time that you thought, “Wow, I bought a mug of mulled wine from that guy exactly 365 days ago!”?  Or asked, “I’d like to go to this restaurant because it was closed for a holiday last time I was here. Oh look, it’s closed for a holiday again! Wait, that’s because it was the same holiday last year.”?  That’s why it was so strange.

The good news is that I got to spend some more time in Slovenia – a really nice country.  The bad news is that I forgot to drink the Human Fish beer that I only tried once the previous time and really wanted a second shot at.  At least there was no internet obsessed Indian guy asking for my e-mail address like last year.  I have that going for me.

So, um, same time next year?

And, of course, I found a spooky castle. (click to see larger) 

Slovenian word of the day:

Hvala

This important word means “thank you”.  As far as I can tell, it’s pretty much pronounced like an English speaker would guess.  Say it a lot, it means more people will be nice to you.