2:30am, I get off at the Ljubljana train station in the bitter cold and fog. Nobody is on the streets, and only a few people got off at the station. I try to navigate my way to the hostel, and finally find it. Walking into the door, I notice a mysterious odor.
There is the Romainian from behind me on the train. Ick. Backpacking is full of interesting smells.
I check in to Celica Hostel, and the guy is nice enough to give me a double room for the price of a single, and I get it to myself for the time being. Nice place, very modern. Actually, this place is immaculate and outstanding. It is a former prison, renovated into a youth hostel. Honestly, it looks like Ikea decided to design a hostel.
Each cell was converted and handed over to a local artist to renovate. Honestly, this place is more of a modern art museum than a hostel or jail. The first floor is a cafe/restaurant/bar/hooka lounge that is surprisingly hopping and busy with locals all day, and packed at night. The upstairs has the converted rooms with a jail door and refrigerator looking door for privacy. I am in room 112. You can look up a 360 degree view on their website of each cell.
On top of that, they have free breakfast and free Internet. Oh, and their computers run Linux! Seriously, this place couldn’t get more perfect if I asked.
I walked around Ljubljana a while, shopped, ate, went to the castle yesterday, etc. It turns out that practically everybody here speaks fluent English, which makes touristing very very easy and relieving. If I had to learn Slovene I’d be lost, because I still can’t remember how to say “hello” and “do you speak English”, though I’ve read and repeated the phrases many, many times in my head. It seems like every time I walk into a place, I am first greeted in Slovene, then after a short delay they realize I have no idea what they said and they just say “Hi” and we go from there. I don’t even bother to ask “do you speak English” because the typical response to that is “Of COURSE!” followed by a jesting laugh. Oh, of course you speak English! What was I thinking? Perhaps I was thinking this is Eastern Europe. I’m realizing pretty quickly how wrong I may be about that.
I ended up going to this wine bar called Movia on accident. My Uncle Dik had recommended me the place, but I wasn’t actually looking for it when I saw it. I just saw the word “Vinoteka” and stopped in. It turned out that the place was very cool, though the pricing was kind of high. By high, I mean pricing was similar to the States. I tried a very acidic red wine which I liked, then a Pinot Noir which was equally good.
I have been looking pretty hard in Italy and Slovenia for a good corkscrew and hadn’t had any luck. All of the corkscrews were either way too expensive ($25), or German. I inquired the guy at Movia about where to get one, and the guy just goes behind the counter and grabs one and says “here, its a souvenir”. This opener is fantastic. It is 2-stage levered, which is nice, and says Movia right on it. I couldn’t have asked for something nicer.
I think that so far this is my favorite city, even though it is pretty cold. The people are awesome, it is completely navigable, and from any point in the city you are being overlooked by this huge castle on a hill. What a little treasure.
I came back to my room after some dinner at a Falafel restaurant (yes, falafel in Slovenia… but very good!). By the way, they seem very multi-cultured here, with quite the variety in restaurants and stores. I am very impressed. Anyways, I came back and there was somebody in my room. I woke her up, and probably scared her because I was fiddeling with the door so much to get in. Her name is Anya, and she’s from Vancouver, Canada. I seem to be meeting quite a few people from there, as well as Australia. We end up talking for like an hour or something just up on the bunk beds (see 360 view) and decide it is time to go out, since it’s Friday night. She had just arrived in Ljublijana, and will be studying here for 8 months. At this point, she hasn’t even left the hostel to go see the city, so it was an exciting trip.
We went to this club called Global after first grabbing some drinks at our hostel. I mean, why not, this place is trendy and popular. Who goes to a hostel to party, seriously? I mean, its a cool place, but its so surreal. Sidetracked. So at Global we are told “I am going to have to ask you your age because here we have an age minimum of 25 for men and 23 for women” Great, I am 22 and she is 21, so this isn’t going to work. So we are about to say “oh, we are both under that so…” and a guy comes up to the cashier ticket girl and says “let them in” so we’re in. It pays to be foreign, sometimes.
We ride the elevator to the penthouse floor where the club resides, and it is semi-full. The dance floor is covered by a large retractable golden curtain, and lighting in the place is superb. We get drinks, decide that if dancing doesn’t happen then we’re going elsewhere. After a while, the curtain goes up and people jump immediately to the dance floor. None of that intermediate insecure nobody wants to dance stuff like in the States or Canada.
Eventually, we go dancing out there and have a ball. I’m sure our dancing style looked pretty weird, but as far as we’re concerned, we were dancing pretty well last night.
After dancing forever, we left at around 4am and went to a little food shop that was packed with people leaving bars/clubs. It was cool, and we ended up talking to some guys. I love having to defend my country against Bush. The whole world hates him, and I end up being an ambassador to the residents, explaining that yes, a large amount of the population thinks that he should not have been elected, it was a close election. Most people don’t support the war. No, we don’t all like Bush. No, there’s nothing we can do about it. And then I get to defend vegetarianism. Eh, it makes me stroger, eh?
It was good to get back to the hostel. This morning, though, it was rather noisy with lots of music playing around the hostel at 8am. Neither of us could sleep very well, and I’m pretty tired myself. I’m finally caught up on blogging, so that is a relief. I plan on staying here for a few more days. Anya is going to have a great time here. We picked good cities to study in, and to that we toasted… or high-fived, I don’t remember.