Thursday, July 27, 2006 search of cooler temps..

Hello … it’s been a few days and you guys (and this blog) are all a bit behind on our travels. It’s late but I thought I should write before I forget everything.

After our underwhelming experience at Velenje (and those pictures are posted to FlickR now – if you have access to our account you can see them labeled as such) we decided to go someplace better the next day. The tried and true, undeniably gorgeous area for scenery is the drive from Lake Bled to/through the Bohinj Valley, so we went there. We were not disappointed. I am not going to do it justice, but I’ll try my best. Other than ours, there are some lovely photos here:

Lake Bohinj is on the southern end of Triglav National Park (Triglav is the highest peak in Slovenia) and is part of the Slovene Julian and Kamnik Alps. First of all, you should know that the lake, and the entire valley, was carved by a glacier. All around this area there is forest littered with these fantastically huge, white, moss-covered boulders that were left behind by the glacier. They are everywhere: in the woods with trees growing on top of them, in the river with water rushing around and over them..

Once we got to the park, which is west of the lake itself, we stopped at one of the gostilnas there and had some lunch. All of the rivers in this area are known for trout (see previous post about fish-bashing) and so I had some for lunch, along with some potatoes. The trout is always served with this olive oil and garlic and parsley mixture on the side that you slather over the top of the fish. This love of garlic may explain the popularity of chewing gum here in Slovenia (did I tell you that gum is even on some menus? More gum per capita is chewed here than anywhere else in the world.) Anyway, my trout was super-yummy; Joe had a brat and some kraut, also yummy but somewhat heavy and regrettable on the hike up to the waterfall. After lunch we hiked up to the waterfall. It is not a terribly strenuous walk, about 20 minutes’ walk straight uphill, but I must say it is a bit of a disappointment when you get up there. It’s a lovely view and all that, but you are not actually that close to the falls, and the falls are not really that big or remarkable…so, it was pretty and a fine way to work off some of our lunch calories but don’t feel too badly if you’ve never seen it (other than the picture posted here). And I’m not being a grouch – I’ve heard Niagara Falls described as a let-down as well. Then we walked down and Lucy and I dipped our toes in the glacial river – brrr!

We left the park and drove back towards Lake Bohinj with the idea that we might find a good place for a swim. Given the fact that it is high tourist season and there was not a lot of parking, this turned out to be a challenge. We did eventually find one place and we parked, but the lake bottom was a bit too filled with leaf litter and branches so we decided to press on and look for a better place. We found another place, a rocky beach across from a small hotel, and hung out there for a while. Joe went fully in for a swim, but for me it was…while not bone-chilling or teeth-chattering…it was a good bit more than goose-bump-eliciting COLD so I only went in part-way. Lucy was not digging it very much – I don’t think it’s so much the cold in her case, but rather that she has not figured out how to swim yet (and she doesn’t seem too keen on learning). She goes in up to her shoulders and then once she cannot touch bottom she jumps out again – it’s funny how she picks up and places her feet very carefully until she get to that point. Equally funny was her giant fluffy body (dry) and her skinny wet legs!

After we left there we headed home, driving through Lake Bled along the way. We did not stop because it was very crowded and also we have seen it before (without the crowds). We will go back in the Fall once everyone else has gone. It is absolutely stunning and it has it all: the lake itself, the white mountains framing the background, the castle on the hill, the church on the island in the middle of the lake…you just can’t beat it. Here is a fantastic picture here:

I would like to go back to Bohinj/Triglav Park and do some more extensive hiking once the weather is cooler, and once my better shoes arrive. Hiking in sandals is okay, but not the best thing.

Speaking of cooler, now we will talk about the weather for a few minutes. In Ljubljana the past week it has been well into the nineties every day. Since we don’t have A/C, we have been heading into the hills to try and cool off. Invariably, Joe will say, “Where do you want to go today?” and I will say, “Up!” On Monday we had some errands to run so we stayed sort of local and went to some stores and lingered in their air-conditioned splendor. Then we had a thunderstorm in the afternoon that gave us some relief for a few hours and into the evening. That was the only day recently where we haven't really gone anywhere so I guess we were due for a rest.

The next day we again headed “Up!” and went well north, just a few trees shy of the Austrian border. Unfortunately, you will have to wait to hear all about those adventures, because it is just too late now and I would have to wake up Joe by turning on the bedroom light while I look for the camera cord in order to upload the pictures. So, sorry, you will have to wait until tomorrow, but it is worth it.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


Originally uploaded by 2Americans.
Hello again! It’s Sunday night here and not much is going on. Today was not a good day for activities involving movement of limbs…., no, we’re not hung over or injured -- it’s extremely warm outside and as a result we’re not motivated to do much of anything. It’s been increasingly warm throughout the week, and today it finally got the better of us. We tried to make the most of the evening’s necessary exertions (walking the dog), and so we rented a video along the way. Unfortunately the box for the movie was somewhat incorrect -- there are no English subtitles (Slovene and Croatian only) so we cannot watch it; well, technically we CAN watch it, but I think we will miss some of the key bits such as when the characters are speaking to one another. We’d go back to the store except there’s a thunderstorm brewing so we don’t want to walk, and it doesn’t make sense to give up our great parking spot to walk six blocks. So, I guess you get another blog entry.

“Parking spot”, you might ask? Yes, I said, “parking spot”! These past few days we have had some wheels, so we are travelin’ and we are happy!

Earlier in the week we went to a town called ‘Kamnik’, which scores VERY high on the ‘quaintness’ scale – I’d give it eight or possibly even nine ‘Q’s on a scale of one to ten. It’s rural, but not in a “boy, it sure does smell like cows around here” kind of way, and it’s in a valley so it’s very pretty. The town itself is well kept and looks fairly busy, it’s got some galleries and of course the compulsory café/bar scene is well-represented. It is about a 35 minute train ride from the center of Ljubljana so it’s got a good location.

In mid-June they have a medieval festival of sorts in Kamnik. The towns of both Kamnik and nearby Skofja Loka are a part of an international project called ‘the Path of Venus’. According to website Matkurja, a professor at Klagenfurt University (Austria) was inspired some years ago to organize a reenactment of the poem "Path of Venus," written by Styrian knight Ulrich von Liechtenstein in the 13th century. The poem tells the story of von Liechtenstein's travels through 52 towns in Central Europe, dressed as the goddess Venus, fighting in tournaments all along the way. Was this the very first Gay Pride parade? Who can say?…But today, towns in Austria, the Czech Republic, Italy, and Slovenia are all involved. Von Liechtenstein traveled through six towns in what is today Slovenia: Brestanica, Stanjel, Postojna, Ljubljana, Kamnik and Skofja Loka. Kamnik, a town with a medieval core around Stari and Mali grad (these are two small castles, “Old Castle” and “Little Castle” are literal translations of their names -- I think..) has participated in the Path of Venus since 1997 and it includes a medieval market, complete with wandering minstrels and craftsmen. Traditional crafts associated with Kamnik, including blacksmithing, leatherwork, and iron working are also on display. Knights come from all over Slovenia and sometimes from abroad to participate in knights' games (presumably jousting, and the ever-popular pushing each other down, running away and laughing as the knight cannot get up because of all of that armor). The program is rounded off with medieval song and dance performances. This takes place in June, so we missed it this year, but I’m sure it probably raises the Q-factor up to that desirable ‘10’.

Anyway, on account of a late start – the pressure of our first Completely Unfettered Day (read: first day with a car!) and a whole country to visit caused some overloading of the synapses – by the time we got all of the directions sorted out on the map and discovered what there was to do in the area we had only time enough for lunch, to go to the small castle “Mali Grad” and also to wander around the town itself for the afternoon. General gaping and snapping pictures also took up a good portion of the day. If you have access to our Flickr account you can look at all of the pictures tagged 'KAMNIK" and see all of them from this day.

That night we walked up to one of the cafes on the corner for some ice cream . Joe placed his order (some sort of fruit sherbet-thing – I understood what he wanted) and they brought him a bottle of Coca Cola
This happens fairly often so we have taken to ordering verbally and also pointing to the item on the menu. I don’t think our Slovene pronunciation is THAT bad, but then again, how would I know? One guy we know has been here for more than ten years (I have it on good authority that he speaks Slovene passably well) and when he orders a pizza they still have him repeat it in English.


The next day we headed out a bit earlier and set our sights a bit further on the map. We went to a town called Velenje where there is also (surprise) a castle. This castle was a bit of a disappointment. Firstly, it must have stood unconquered for a long time simply because it is nearly impossible to find. You could see it easily from down at the bottom of the hill, but “Tourism Be Damned – mwah ha ha ha!!!” must be the motto of the Velenje Chamber of Commerce, as the castle and anything else of interest was astonishingly difficult to get to, and the town map was printed in letters so incredibly minute, the street names were just a blur. Or maybe they were just in Slovene. But I digress…

We persevered. (read “I pestered Joe so he kept driving until we found it, even though that vein bulging in his forehead would have told a sane person who values her happy home life to shut the hell up”) and eventually we found our way to the castle. From the exterior, the castle is built like a basic military/residential fortress, and is accessed via a wooden bridge which replaced the drawbridge (removed in the 19th century).

The castle of Velenje bills itself as the best-preserved castle in Slovenia. Well, it is still standing, and is indeed in remarkable condition, but what they fail to tell you is that it has been continuously inhabited since its construction (circa 1270), right up until the time it was turned into a museum (late 1970s). Since 1270 it has undergone a series of poor add-ons, reconstruction, and suffered other general blights to the interior, essentially rendering it charmless and stripped clean of most of its character. Sadly, I think that throughout most of its life the castle was defended well and withstood damage by invading Turks and angry peasants. Surely the worst of it was done after the State took it over after WWII, at which time it was turned into apartments for families connected with the local (flourishing) coal-mining industry. In case anyone is wondering, let me just say it here: linoleum floors do not belong in a medieval castle.

Various rooms in the castle have been turned into galleries of the museum (which are well done, and our tour guide did a fantastic job) but they might as well be in any modern building – there is no point to most of them even being IN the castle as nine out of the eleven galleries have nothing at all to do with the history of the castle itself… But, as I said, as a museum it was well done. There is a wonderfully extensive collection there of African Art collected over a period of 20+ years by local artist/sculptor Frantisek Foit. Unfortunately Mr. Foit was killed in a car accident just a few weeks after his return, so he never had a chance to give anyone the history or significance of any of the pieces, so nothing is labeled.

(Ed. Note: a lot of the “s” letters in these few paragraphs are supposed to have the little inverted roof symbol over them , meaning it is pronounced like “sh” instead of “s”. I am having some trouble with my Slovene fonts at the moment so in case you are someone who would notice that they are missing, you’ll just have to pretend they are there. Thanks.)

There is also a lovely collection of baroque church art from the 8th century to the 16th century — these items were rescued from a church in the nearby area of Skale. Much like our hopes for the town of Velenje, the church and most of the surrounding village of Skale were quickly sunk – in both cases, the result of extensive coal excavation. In the event of Skale's fate however, the Chamber of Commerce was on the ball! At that lake (and several others which occurred in much the same manner) you can enjoy a great holiday including boating, fishing, water skiing, horse-back riding…you name it. Just don’t attempt an outing from there to the castle unless you pack a lunch. I’m willing to bet the Rosetta Stone you need in order to read the COC map of Velenje is somewhere at the bottom of one of those lakes as well.

We would have attempted to locate a small waterfall in the area but the girl at the Tourist Office, when she gave us the inscrutable map, pointed in the general area on the map where the waterfall is supposed to be and said, “You won’t find it”. Given her broken English, we thought she mean we would not find it on the map. After our castle excursion we of course realized she actually meant “You will not find it.” and decided to leave the town.

We headed for the old section of town in nearby Celje, where we wandered the streets (Q factor? About a 5, maybe even a 6) and thankfully quaffed some refreshing beverages at a café/bar.

Later that night we went out to walk the dog and sat down outside at a local place for ice cream, and I ordered a bowl of water for the dog (yes, in Slovene) AND…she brought a bowl of water! Woo hoo!

That’s all for now. It’s getting late (I actually typed “getting latte” and had to go back and fix it – that must mean it’s time to head for the café/bar!) hahahaha

The next day we made a fantastic trip to the Bohinj Valley that I’ll tell you about next time.

Ciao and hugs,

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Sorry, we were on Naklo Time

road from Kranj to Naklo.JPG
Originally uploaded by 2Americans.
Sorry “tomorrow” took so long to get here – we were on Naklo time.

Our big joke when we go to visit our friends just outside of Kranj is that we are then on “Naklo time”. First off I should say that – in general – things just seem to take us a LOT longer here. This is not just because we don’t have a car so we have to walk or bike everywhere in the city. I mean that no matter how hard we try, we can only get one thing done each day. If we can get two things done we feel we should be nominated for some sort of Slovene Hall of Fame award.

But then we go to Naklo.

This is going one step further into the apparent rip in the fabric of the time-space continuum here on this side of the Alps. Whole days go by in the blink of an eye – on this past Sunday I’m sure that somewhere in America someone built an entire house, raised a family and sent them off to college just in the time it took us to have a little lunch and decide what we were going to do with our afternoon (we did not end up doing much – just going for a drive up into the mountains and then to a park with the kids with Jozi and some of her friends)

During that afternoon I had Slovene spoken at me and around me for something like eight hours straight. When your vocabulary is limited to about 50 words (most of them useless nouns) you don’t really know enough to participate, or even understand a conversation. My eyes were probably crossed by the end of that evening! It was intensely frustrating, and despite the nice weather it’s not a day I’d care to repeat. When I got home today I made some flash cards – this time in addition to some more Useless Nouns I added some easy verbs and possessive pronouns. In a few days I will be ready to talk about objects (referring to my mental list of Mostly Useless Nouns) that I have or don’t have, or perhaps you might have. I can hardly wait to run across someone in the park and perhaps ask, “Is that your dog?” and then run off immediately after hearing “Ja” or “Ne” -- before they can ask me a follow-up question.

I’ll tell you a bit about our neighborhood. We have quite a few buildings in our neighborhood – most of them between four and eight stories high. Many have small balconies, and if you are lucky enough to have a ground floor apartment you may also have a small terrace/yard/patio and outside entrance. While we do not have either, at least we can look at other people’s – this is good because out here people will cram flowers and plants into every square cm possible so we got to enjoy lots of other people’s gardens. If there’s a window (“okno”), there’s probably a flower box (“zabojcek za rože”) attached to it, spilling over with geraniums or lobelia or something. The building I look out at from the writing desk in the bedroom is a reddish brown brick building with arched windows. I think you might be able to see it in one of our pictures. It’s about three stories high and it’s a very pretty building. Inside one of the apartments there lives a parrot, or some other bird with similar vocal talents. He can sing the theme from the Woody Woodpecker show and he also whistles a lot. He does a very good imitation of a car alarm being set (“boop!”) When it rains he gets excited and makes a lot of sounds. Most of the apartment buildings are made of concrete, which means you cannot hear your neighbor’s apartment noises, but everything from the ground echoes upwards so you hear a fair amount of street noise.

In between all of the apartment buildings are small courtyards and playgrounds, and lots of walking paths (called the “POT”) that go all throughout the city. We have a very large park, Tivoli, nearby in which there is a small mountain called Rožnik (or large hill depending on your viewpoint) where you can go hiking. In that park there is also a zoo and some other stuff we haven’t seen yet; it’s pretty big.

Most of the time here it has been about 62-66 degrees at night and about 75-80 during the day. It is not very humid. Sometimes we will have a streak of a few days of warm weather (85 or 90) and then we will get thunderstorms in the afternoon -- these usually cool it down for the overnight. Mosquitoes are virtually non-existent here (yay!)

There are lots of stores nearby and a farm market where we do our grocery shopping. We usually go every day or two and get whatever looks good and is in season. Food prices are comparable to the US, and maybe a little lower in some cases, especially for things like dairy. Contact lens solution is absurdly expensive – about $13-15 a bottle!! You cannot get Advil without a prescription. There are cafes/bars everywhere. Lots of people smoke, although you probably already guessed that. We don’t have squirrels; instead we have pigeons. Lucy enjoys chasing them just the same.

The workday starts early here – people think nothing of starting at 6:00 or so. An unfortunate side of this industriousness is that the city workers are trimming trees outside of your window at this early hour. Thankfully the parrot has not begun reproducing THOSE sounds.

Have you ever seen a cat – for no apparent reason at all – suddenly decide, “HOLY CRAP!!!!! I’m supposed to be IN THE LIVING ROOM!!!!!!!” and go tearing off at breakneck speed? Well, that’s how a lot of people here drive. “What the hell street am I on? Oh my GOD, I’m supposed to be on VODNIKOVA CESTA!!!!!!! And they go squealing off in that direction without regard or concern for anyone who might be in the way. Just WAIT until I learn how to express myself better in Slovene – I’m going to give some of these crazies a piece of my mind! Yes, I think some verbs are in order, and especially commands. Commands and prepositions. And reflexive pronouns.

Slovenia is experiencing the same slow death of the small town that has happened in the U.S. There are still small shops and har salons, etc., but you can see it happening: people are flocking to giant outdoor shopping malls with enormous stores. We went to one the other night called Planet Tuš. Inside this HUGE mall was a bowling alley, bars, restaurants, lounges, pool tables, darts, a mechanical bull(!), a movie theater, and then a whole separate side of the mall with just shopping (grocery, clothing, and who-knows-what-else). What was perhaps even more astonishing is that it is privately owned by one Slovene couple. Although I am generally against this type of large-scale experience, I have to give them credit for a job very well done.

On Saturday we went fishing and then went on a picnic. We go fishing at a stocked trout pond in Kranj. This place is a gold mine! It is a lot of fun and there are always people there. You pay a little bit of an entrance fee (about $6.00 for a family or group) and then you rent a fishing pole (also a modest amount – I think it is about $2.25 or so). You also pay a small amount per kilo (about 75 cents?) for what you catch. You clean it right there and then you go home and grill up some delicious fish! They believe that allowing the fish to die a slow death by suffocation in your bucket is cruel, so along with your bucket you are supplied with a small club – really just a heavy stick about a foot long and about an inch and a half thick. After you catch the fish you give him a good “thwack!” on the top of the head to finish him off. I did not think I could do it but you get used to it. Even little Carolina has no compunction about getting in there with her little cudgel firmly in hand! They also have tables there and a bar (of course) so in case you are not having such a lucky day fishing you always order yourself up some of their own grilled fish and wash down your disappointment with a nice,cold beer (“pivo”).

In other local news, but falling more into the “charming” category, we arrived home one day last week and there were Gypsies (from Hungary, we learned) in the parking lot playing the accordion; people would throw down some money from their windows or balcony if they liked a song, or wanted to request a song. It was a great surprise! And speaking of coming to the house, the potato man also comes once a week. He comes in a small truck and rings each doorbell. “Krompir!” he calls, and if you want to buy a bag of potatoes you can go down and get some.

Tomorrow our friends are going back to America for a visit . They won’t be back here until September and they are lending us their car while they are away. Yay! This means we can do some not-so-local sightseeing to places far off the rail lines. Maybe we will also do some camping.

Hopefully our boxes o’stuff will arrive during the next month. It’s a good thing most of it is cool-weather clothing – we’ll be lucky if it is here by September! What we miss most that is not here yet are some key kitchen utensils and also some warm-weather items of clothing and shoes. I could also really, really use some of my English-teaching materials that are not here yet either.

Well, that’s all for now – back to my CNN viewing. It’s been a crazy week between the bombings in Mumbai, the attacks in Lebanon and Israel, the tidal wave in Indonesia – we hardly hear any news from the U.S.

Hugs~ S.

PS: We added a few new pics to Flickr.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

We're here!

Cool building and cafe.JPG
Originally uploaded by hfrstanjel.
No, this is not our building -- that would be too much for my poor brain to handle. But we are finally here, living in Ljubljana, and here is the place where you can read all about our new adventures (as well as see pictures via our Flickr account).
To see our pictures, simply click on this picture (or the description below it) and it will take you to our account. I have pictures loaded there from our trip, captions, etc., and you can leave your comments there for others to read -- they will be attached to each individual photo. Or (this is preferable) you can leave comments here on this blog for everyone to read and reply to further.

Well, tonight I am staying up late to tell y’all about our adventures here so far. For those of you with whom we haven’t had much of a chance to speak, or maybe just read my blog, I’ll start at the beginning (but spare you TOO many excruciating details..)

We left MN shortly after our closing; we had to wait for the new homeowner to meet us at the house to give us a check for some of the furniture that was staying with the house (we’re glad some of it is staying since it’s like leaving a little piece of us there) but we were on the road by 1:00 or so. We drove through flat landscapes and other visual and cerebral monotony for the next God-knows-how-many hours. The wrist-slitting boredom was finally relieved by some jaw-dropping traffic somewhere east of Chicago and west of Urine Streams, Indiana --- we sat in traffic, in darkness, for about 90 minutes with only the soothing inhalation of carbon monoxide and other exhaust fumes to steady our nerves. And then, zip-zip, the traffic suddenly eased up and we were at our crap-bag of a hotel. Lucy slept better on the floor than I did in our bed. "Nuff said about THAT evening.

However, I should mention the critters at this point: they did VERY well on Day One. We shacked up Izzy in Lucy’s crate along with his litter box, with the idea that should he feel the call of nature while we were on the road, he was all set. Evidently nature called him into the box just to sleep, so he spent the entire Day One asleep in his litter box. Yes, it was clean, and he never did use it – he just sort of shut down (after he stopped yowling, that was..). Lucy mostly slept and looked out the window., and we took her out a few times to stretch her legs, snack, etc – pretty much what we were doing.

Oh, and thanks (sarcastic and genuine) to our friends who gave us some things to listen to on the road – some of you made us get a bit tear-y more than once.

There’s something about driving away from a place as opposed to flying. Flying is a quite abrupt departure --*SNAP*-- and you’re off the ground and away, and before you can say "I miss...", all of your friends and their houses and the parks and roads are the size of Monopoly pieces…

...but when you drive, it’s another thing entirely.

It’s as though you are pulling on this looooong rubber band (not the short, thick ones like the ones that come on the broccoli, but a really long skinny one like maybe would come around a large bunch of mail after you’ve been on vacation for a week). And this rubber band keeps trying to pull you back and finally you get far enough away that it cannot stretch any farther and finally it breaks but it doesn’t go *twang* all the way back home – it more just lays there like an old rubber band that maybe you left on a package or a book for a few years and no longer has any elasticity. It lies there in the road like a strand of unraveled yarn, making you feel guilty for a few more miles yet. Yeah, Day One was tough in a lot of ways.

On Day Two we woke up early (thanks, Lucy – at least SOMEONE got a good night’s sleep) and were on the road by 8:00 or so. Before we left I gave Izzy a natural ‘soothing agent’ – some sort of Triptophan or however you spell it (it’s that substance that is produced in turkey that makes you sleepy after you’ve eaten it) Anyway, he snoozed (outside the litter box) for most of the trip. Lucy was a good dog and did not get whiney until somewhere in the middle of Pennsylvania, at which point we were pretty whiney ourselves. We thought she needed to go to pee, etc and had to pull over on the edge of Route 80 with the 18-wheelers screaming past, but she did nothing but run around and look for field mice.


It turned out she just wanted to crawl into my lap and go to sleep. This is no small trick for a 60-pound dog but it made her happy, and once my left arm finally fell asleep I thought it was very cute, too. Not to mention thankful that I was not driving at the time.

Day Two also sucked, by the way, but in a more conventional road-weary sense. We drove for about seventeen gumptillion hours before we even saw a hill. Then the scenery started to change and we FINALLY got to Pennsylvania, but our happiness was soon squashed under the heel of the realization that we still had another fourteen frazillion hours to go. Onward, gritting our teeth and blinking our bleary eyes in determination (much as I am doing right now, come to mention it - JEEZ, this is a long post), we finally crossed the Ben Franklin Bridge, and about an hour later we arrived at Mom and Dad’s in Barnegat


We had some peppers and eggs and went to sleep. At least that’s what I think we had – it’s still foggy.


The next week was a bit of a blur. too. We did not DO a heck of a lot, but somehow the week absolutely FLEW by -- we did some visiting (actually, most people visited us) and also blew two days taking the beasties to the vet and getting their USDA paperwork done. Most of that time, unfortunately, was also spent driving around, with an extra round-trip across the state thrown in for fun and variety because the vet filled out the paperwork incorrectly (!!!!) We also went to the beach one day and went to M’s house in western NJ (and Philly in the evening to see a band) and then back to Mom and Dad’s the next day. Oh, in case you are wondering, please only use first names or initials on this blog – this will keep everyone’s privacy (we hope).

The drive to JFK took three-plus hours (another cause for “!!!!”) and also we were a couple of Nervous Nellies about Lucy and her travel arrangements, which were slightly less plush than ours. NB: This is probably the only time you will see a reference to coach airline travel as “plush” so it’s worth noting.

We were told to stay with her until the last possible second before check-in ; this did not help with our nervousness, let me assure you! But we did it, the flight was fine, it went quickly, I dozed for an hour or so, and before we knew it we were picking up our bags in Vienna. We had a brief moment of panic when Lucy was not waiting where she was supposed to be, but they unloaded her after the luggage -- we were very, very happy to see her being wheeled down the ramp, and she was very happy to see us, too! Izzy had traveled in the cabin (drugged, asleep) and so he was fairly ignorant of any goings-on.

Zip-zip through customs and we were on our way to get our rental car. Holy cow -- it was 90-something degrees outside!!!! We loaded up the car. We spent another few profanity-laden minutes trying to figure out the trick to get the car into reverse gear (FYI on a Renault: lift up the ring on the gear shift knob) and finally we were off! You can check out the photos on Flickr to see some snaps but I didn’t post that many of the early part of the drive They are not that spectacular until you start getting closer to the Slovene border, although I must say I saw the TALLEST pine trees in my entire life (sorry, could not get them on film) When you looked down from the road, I swear they reached up hundreds of feet – I’m not kidding! Did you ever wonder where telephone poles come from? Well, these trees could make several each and have some left over to whittle a canoe or two.

Our friends picked us up in Klagenfurt -- after another few minutes of consternation when we could not find the street for the rental car drop-off; it’s amazing when you are tired, you make these odd mistakes (and BTW a big THANK YOU to the makers of Red Bull, for making the last leg of our journey possible) but it was very good to see them and a huge relief! E & J took us to our new home, which they had decorated and supplied with some Slovene basics (cheese, prosciutto, bread, beer, milk, cereal, Commie Cola “Cockta” and this funny little snack puff-thing that tastes like peanuts instead of cheese, like we are used to) and we had a beer and kicked them out so we could go to sleep – ha ha.

Much like I am kicking you out now. Let me get the light for you. No --thanks -- Just leave everything - I'll clear it away tomorrow.

Oh. About tomorrow: more then on the apartment and Ljubljana Life. Right now I think I’m too tired to do any of it justice.

Good night ~ Hugs