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Michael’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 26 Dec 2007

Location: Ljubljana, Slovakia

MapHey guys, it's been a while, and I do appologise for that. In fact, this diary entry is over a week in the making, and I can't even really say that I have been busy writing it for a long time, I just haven't had the desire to write it... In all honesty, it was the first time that I have felt that I have visited somewhere and haven't had anything to write; well, that isn't gonna make me look like a drunken fool the whole time I was there anyway. I guess I have to get it on paper - and there are two main reasons I can pinpoint (well 3) for the way the weekend went down in an inebriated mess. Those will be explained pretty quickly as I start getting into the story.

Anyway, Friday night on the Isle of Wight, nothing to do, so head to the pub some time just after 10 pm. There are half a dozen pubs on the main high street of Cowes, probably more, and that’s a 7-8 minute walk from my place. Plus they all shut at midnight, so I am pretty confident that in the less than 2 hours I am there, the night can't go too far. Well, for some reason, this is the first night that I have been on the island that I have heard about an after party at someone’s house once the pubs had shut. Well, it would be rude to turn down an invite, especially as my two housemates were going along. Anyway, what should have been a 1230-1am bedtime turned into some time after 4 am, and a whole lot more drinking than would have happened if I'd gone home after the pub.

Saturday morning, I managed to get up and drag myself to the ferry, head pounding, disproportionate to what I remember drinking the night before. Move on, get through it. Standing in line at the ferry terminal for tickets, and there are so many people heading to the mainland to do their Christmas shopping, I miss the ferry just waiting to buy my ticket. I call Bradford and let him know I'll be half an hour late and that's cool.

When I finally got across to the mainland, Potter is waiting in the car with Bradford and we head off to pick up Benny - who kindly brings 4 cans for the 2.5 hour drive to Stanstead airport. Yeah, long drive, but we did get the flights for 40 pounds. I reluctantly accepted a can, figuring a little hair of the dog might get rid of the pounding headache; this would prove to the recurring theme of the weekend. Not so much the headache, nor the reluctant part, but the accepting of alcohol.

We arrive at Stanstead with all the time in the world to spare, so immediately checked in, all with carry on luggage (of which Potter never even opened his) went through security (where we gave Benny grief about carrying on liquids in his clear plastic bag, but then proceeded to use his deodorant and toothpaste once in Slovenia) and headed straight for the bar; Bradford having driven for the full 150 minutes wanted a beer.

A couple cheeky pints there and we start moving quickly towards the gate for fear of missing our flight. Of course, upon rocking up at the departure gate we found the flight had been delayed and thankfully there was a lounge right near the gate and we managed to squeeze in another. Not much later we boarded, and split up into 2 pairs to find seats near one another. Benny and I dozed off almost immediately, myself still feeling the affects of the previous night’s house party. Not too far into the flight, some time just after the plane had leveled out and the seat belt sign dimmed, I felt a gentle tap on the shoulder and looked up to see an air hostess apologising and holding out a pair of Heineken’s for us, saying that she was told by the guys 6 rows back to wake us up for our drinks. That’s pretty much how the flight went, cans of Heineken being sent from row 21 to row 15 and vice versa until we started descending. Aside from being told off for using my camera AFTER the warning to turn off all electrical devices had been given, the rest of the flight was rather uneventful. As we left the terminal after shooting through customers and baggage claim having only taken carry on we walked, we were welcomed with some snow falling and a full rank of eager taxi drivers willing to take out 40 odd Euros for catching a cab into the city.

We were dropped off near the Triple Bridge instead of the hostel, purely because we had to go to a cash machine to grab some money to pay the cabbie. Again, we were thrown straight into the snow, and to be walking along the streets, snow underfoot and the beautiful lights strung across the square that the Triple Bridge leads out of was quite impressive. The hostel, being right on the river next to the second most famous of the bridges, Dragon Bridge, was easy to find, even if it wasn’t very well sign posted out the front. Quickly we checked in, dumped our bags and headed out onto the town, eager to make the most of the 48 hours we had there.

The first place we hit was the start of the Christmas market and stopped for some hot dogs and beers. In fact, Potter and I stopped there while Bradford and Benny continued their search for and ATM that would actually dispense money to them. After stocking up on food, and a local Union beer, we continued into the heart of the market, which were conveniently set along the side the river – the same place as all the bars. Along the way though, it was deemed at some point that it would be a great idea if we all wore ear muffs with fluffy kittens and bears on them. We bargained the lady down from 7 a piece to 5 euro a piece and wandered around looking like fools.

The first place we entered was busy, and unfriendly, and Bradford ordered some mulled wine that tasted awful. After fighting that stuff down we started heading to the next establishment, but were accosted by 5 English girls who wanted to try on our ‘muffs’. Evidently, they knew of a better place to go for a drink so we willingly followed them. The bar, called Fetiche, was nice the inside and out with a chandelier hanging over the bar and plush sofas along the wall for lounging on… it looked pricey and the drinks were priced to match. We stayed there for a couple drinks, chatting with the girls before they said they were headed to Bacchus Club, a lounge, club, restaurant that kicks off around midnight.

Instead we found another smaller bar, admittedly somewhat along the way to Bacchus, and met some young Croatian blokes. We had a very quick couple of drinks with them (Gin and Cola was their drink of choice) and then they dragged us to Bacchus just before 1 am, saying something about any later and it would get to busy. As it was there was a significant line when we arrived at the club, and I suggested greasing the bouncers hand with some of my Euros, but the Croatian lads said that would mean we’d just wait longer, or not get in at all, and they’d probably take my money anyway. Thanks for the advice, but I was keen not to line up in the snow for half an hour.

In any case, I figured looking at some of the talent in the line, there could be worse places to be waiting. After the wait, which was a bit shorter than the estimated half hour, I grabbed the coats and headed for the cloak room. By the time I get back up the stairs, the lads have their tongues half way to the ground, and the Croatians have bought a round of some sort of flaming shot. I get straight back in with a round of Jagerbombs, and from that point on the night gets blurry.

I do remember two things: 1. Buying a bottle of Vodka and 6 cans of Red Bull, ice and a liter of OJ and sitting at the table drinking that for a bit. I was very curious as to why there was so much OJ and Red Bull left over at the time, but looking back at the photos and seeing Benny swilling out of the bottle, I am not so surprised anymore. 2. Deciding it was a great idea to buy 4 cigars for the boys. What possesses me sometimes I don’t know?

Anyway, we partied the night away, us four blokes, the 3 Croatian blokes we met and all their friends, a bunch of random locals and the 5 English chicks we’d met earlier in the night. At some stage after 5 when the club started kicking people out, Potter, Bradford and I met some locals and decided to start singing some classic karaoke songs for the best part of an hour in the snow. It was 630 by the time we made it back to the hostel, stumbled into bed, woke everyone up, and then went into an alcohol induced slumber – not one of my proudest moments… but given Potter was up at 930 am and keen to head out and do touristy stuff, I managed to wake up without a hang over. In fact, I am sure I was still drunk… and the weekend only got worse.

As we rose and started getting ready for the day ahead, we noticed it had stopped snowing. In fact it was clear blue skies. That ultimately meant that it was even colder and we weren’t sure what we were in for. First on the agenda was grabbing some food, and we left Benny to catch up with us, following the directions that the guy at the hostel had given us to his cousins restaurant – or something like that. Unfortunately, when we got there, it was still closed, so we headed back to the Christmas markets where it all started and grabbed some hot dogs and hamburgers again, along with some Jagerbombs to get the body warmed up. Eventually, without having seen Benny, we headed back to the hostel and expected to find him there – no joy.

Finally we get a call from Benny, on one of the English chicks phones, asking where we are – somehow he’d gotten lost, but found them. We met up with Benny and ended up on a river cruise for an hour. I think it was the cruise the driver, a young college student, had even done, and he probably regretted inviting us. We were just, again, eating a hot dog when we started talking to him, well, more his girlfriend, when we found out they were doing a tour cruise. Anyway, after Bradford finished asking the most inane questions of all time, all somehow reverting back to the English’s involvement in the former Yugoslavia, the tour finally ended and we actually convinced the tour guide to come for a drink with us.

So we went and caught up with the English chicks from the night before in some lounge and had a few drinks there. They were probably the second group of people for the day that regretted asking for our company. Eventually Bradford needed to go home and headed outside. Potter was arguing that Benny who wasn’t drinking should take him back, and I was gladly offering to take him back, keen for some fresh air, and another hot dog. In any case, in the minute we were arguing, Bradford disappeared. I walked all the way back to the hostel expecting to find him along the way, but no good. Turns out Benny did the same, and we both missed Bradford as he went the wrong way along the river when he came out of the lounge. By the time I got back to the bar (after the hot dog) Potter was in there by himself and we slowly wandered back round the town and ended up in the Irish pub near the hostel.

A drink there, and some brief directions later and we were headed to Metelkova – an old army garrison that was taken over by squatters after the independence. And I tell you what, it looked like it too. There are supposedly some popular, if out of the way and some what alternative clubs in the area, however, the only thing open on the Sunday night when we were there was the bar in the nearby hostel. It was at that point in time, I realised how much I had drunk when the idea of catching a train, at 1030pm on a Sunday, to Zagreb in Croatia to look for a club seemed like a great idea. Thankfully, I wasn’t too drunk to follow through with the idea, and kindly declined to finish the drinks in front of me.

After wandering back to the hostel, arguing weather to go out to the casino or another bar, we all called it a night, happy that Bradford had somehow managed to find his way back to the hostel, even if he hadn’t managed to sober up.

On the Monday morning, we checked out and had a hearty breakfast of hot dog – minus the beers and Jagerbombs this time. After that we wandered to the top of the Ljubljana Castle Tower, overlooking the castle court yard, the river and the town. Aside from feeling sorry for ourselves due to the liver punishment, it was blowing a gale and snowing again, and really not a very comfortable place to be. Though seeing the snow on the roofs of this tiny capital city was pretty nice.

We wandered further around town, trying to kill time till we had to head to the airport. In the end was passed the University, and went back for a second look (did I forget to mention that the women in this city are most attractive?) and wandered back through the Christmas market and main town square taking photos. Eventually we grabbed our bags, hopping in a taxi as the sun set (around 430pm) and headed to the airport. A much more uneventful flight home and a long drive back to Southampton.

Unfortunately, arriving well after the last ferry, I had to crash on the couch at Potters place and headed straight to work the next day, via bus, ferry, ferry and another bus. By the time I arrived I was ready to go home, but I did manage to stick it out somehow and went home for a nice long sleep.

And that was Ljubljana… I know have to wake up in 7 hours and jump on a ferry, then a bus and eventually end up on a plane to Budapest. Given that I am traveling solo this time, without the football guys, I plan on seeing a lot more sights, and a bit less of the bottom of an empty beer glass.

Stay posted, updates will be regular.