Traveling East to Slovenia - Shrimp Burgers, Raki, Snoring in Hostels, Pregnant Balkan Men

  
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Here, I head East, taking a train from Paris through Germany and Austria and all the way down to Ljubljana, Slovenia for my first new adventure on this trip.

I visited 3 cities in Slovenia (Ljubljana, Bled, and Maribor) and met many interesting people, tried new foods, went crazy in a hostel, had lots of fun in a hostel, and everything in-between.

This was a good all around adventure and it felt great to go explore a new place :)

I hope you enjoy this episode and feel free to ask me any questions in the comments below.

Transcript

Hello. Hello and welcome back to no fairy tale travels. Here, we're going to change it up a bit. Leave the girl behind and head east, and we're going to go to Slovenia first, stop a city called ljubljana. Now, if you have any questions, comments, or thoughts, go to nofairytaletravels.substack.com and leave a message there. Now onto the traveling. I took a train from Paris going through Germany and down through Austria, all the way to Slovenia, which is a part of former Yugoslavia. So I was a little bit concerned about where I was going as I had done absolutely zero research. I simply said, what's the farthest. I've been so far all the way down to Vienna and then brought us lava. And what's the next stop. Let's find another big city with a kind of funny name, ljubljana.

So it turns out that's the capital of Slovenia, a cool, beautiful little country. I'm going to call it baby Austria, because that's kind of what it feels like when you're down there. And I very quickly learned when I arrived that it's not called lah jubel jana. It's loobliana. It sounds so beautiful. Doesn't it? Loobliana like a beautiful Ukrainian woman. Here's Natasha Tatiana and a ljubljana. So I really don't know where I'm going, but it seems interesting because I haven't been there and that's kind of the spirit of travel that I think is fun. If you have too many expectations, you can really only be disappointed. All I knew is that I was kind of nervous about going there and it's a new place. So I arrive at night only to realize that the only scary thing in the city was the moment I opened the door to my hostel room and was just hit with a blast of thick, disgusting mold.

The rich socks deem filled air from the man in the room who had put his dirty or wet smelly socks on the freaking heater with the windows shut. And that right there, by the way, is one of the worst. Maybe the worst thing you can experience in a hostel. So many people ask me, well, tell me the craziest hostel story, tell me the worst things that have happened. And they usually want you to talk about sex or someone using drugs or something like that. The worst thing in a hostel is when somebody puts their dirty, wet, smelly socks on the heater with the window shut, it should be a criminal offense. But after that, I realized that the city I was in was actually very, very safe. One of the safest in all of Europe, except for the week that I had arrived. When someone killed a grocery store, clerk just shot him.

But walking around lube Liana, it's a beautiful, lovely, easy to walk around little city where everything is just like a perfect, cute little version of something in Austria, kind of. And it makes sense with the Austro-Hungarian empire. And if you look at the history, you can understand why and you look at the map, it's very, very close to Austria. And so the city has a lovely kind of Germanic architecture and slightly dramatic field, but with more color and more vibrant and more energy, and I'm going to say more love because dramatic types can be a little bit cold and Louisiana's not cold. You're walking through the streets, underneath the trees as they change colors. And next to the river with restaurant after restaurant, after restaurant, where you can spend hours, feasting and drinking, beautiful regional wines, it's a great place to go. If I ever write a book, I'm going to go there for a summer and write it there.

While sitting along the river, listening to the water flow and the wine pour, they have a cute little square. They have a lots of restaurants. They have university students. The city has a lovely energy to it. They have a beautiful castle on the hill. They have lots of nature nearby. It's really a great little mix of so many things going on with it. And it does not at all have the feel of former Yugoslavia. So it really is like a baby cute Austria with more energy, more love, more passion, more color. But when you're there, you'll quickly see everything and then head on to a city called bled. Bled is a lake with a little island in the middle of it. And it looks like something out of a movie with Arnold. Schwartzenegger where there's a wizard in the middle of the island. And he has to go out there and slay the wizard.

But I have to advise against rowing out to the island, pay someone to do it for you because it turns out that rowing a big, heavy wooden boat is not easy. And in fact, it's horrible, but it's a cute little church. You row out there, you get inside. You wait behind a ton of Chinese tourists that you didn't even know were there. And then you ring a bell and then you wrote painfully home. It's totally not worth it to rope, but it's a cute little city. It's got a castle on the hill that overlooks everything. You can hike up behind it and get a beautiful view that all the cool backpackers do. And you can eat some sort of cream filled cake that everyone who's cool and does what they're supposed to do does. And it just tastes like every other cream filled cake.

But I have to say my most interesting culinary treat here in bled was that this was the first place where I had had a pizza with a runny egg on it. Now it's not from here. It's just the first place where I had had that. And I have to say, I still remember it to this day where I sat, what I saw and the entire meal that I ate. That's how earth shattering, groundbreaking. Amazing it was. And if you're a bit of a drinker and you need some help the next day, putting a pizza in the oven, and then a few minutes before it's finished cracking some eggs on that pizza. So you get a nice or runny egg on the pizza when you cut it open, oh, there is almost nothing better than that. Now, if you do it while you've been drinking, you're gonna burn yourself all over the place, but it's completely worth it.

So egg on pizza. Number one, there's another culinary thing, which I forgot to mention from lube Leon. So Louisiana, you want to go there and have all the beautiful meals next to the river with wine and more local traditional food. But, but this is also the first place and only place where I have seen a shrimp burger and it was in McDonald's where they got little baby shrimps and they fried them together. Were not fried them. They seared them together. So it wasn't breaded. It didn't have a bunch of extra stuff on it. They just seared them together in a shrimp, Patty, they didn't mince the shrimp, just little baby shrimps seared together in a Patty. That is one of my top dishes, one of the top things that I have ever eaten. Hmm. Top 25, top 50. It's up there. So shrimp burger, hell yeah.

Egg on pizza. Hell yeah. But now let's get back to bled because we're not going to talk too much about food in this story. So back in bled, it is a beautiful little place and you go and you see the church and all the scenery and it's very nice, but what's interesting. Here is a person I met while hiking. So when I was there, I stayed in a hostel and this was also the first hostel where I had a welcome shot. It's the first time you encounter it. You don't know what to expect. You'll arrive at the hostel at 10 in the morning. And in order to get the key to your room, you have to drink a Tabasco laced shot. So it totally makes you sick for like an hour until you get other food after it. But it's usually a sign of a good fun hostel.

And this was no exception. So later that night, the hostel bar was full of people from all over the place and not just people from that hostel. And it was a beautiful, fun experience of drinks and culture sharing and the laughing and making new friends. And at one point I kind of got adopted by a group of med students from a city called Maura bore. And the funny thing is, I don't know, what's up with girls when they want to teach guys something from their language. They always end up teaching me the most inappropriate things. So the one phrase that I remember that these girls taught me is Kate Dobra peach. I have no idea how you say it with an accent, maybe K Dover up each guy. I'll let you figure out what that means. But yeah, girls tend to teach me the most inappropriate phrases of any language. And guys always teach me the nice, lovely ones like, hi, how are you? Yes, I would like this. I'd like 1, 2, 3, 4 or five. So they teach you to count girls, always the fun words. So lots of drinks, lots of laughter. lots of Iraqi, Rocky Rakia. However they say it where you are many different names, all meaning horrible,

Horrible, strong, beautiful,

Amazing moonshine liquor. So the hostel experience was great. The city was cute. Then my roommates were a great couple from Australia. And later on, we went hiking. So not that day, the next day or the day after we go hiking through a little village next to bled and through a Gorge called vintner Gorge, really boring in my opinion, but a very interesting thing. We noticed there, a group of old Germans, men and women, just to zooming past, you asked us on the path zooming right by. They had their little poles. They had their shoes and their little backpacks and their hats. They had everything they needed. They were really good at marching must've practice quite a lot in their youth. No forest is going to stop them. The most interesting thing though, was what happened when we came back, walking through this little village and lots of farms and open area, a man almost hits us with his car and then he parks in his house. And as we walk by, he gets out and he's yelling and screaming and smiling and waving his hands. And he runs up to us and we end up getting invited into his home. Now it's a big open grassy area, surrounded by mountains. And it looks like some sort of postcard from Switzerland or something like that. But with slightly different homes and big farmhouses, kind of in the middle of each plot. And we get invited into his house and we sit down at his kitchen table where he's breaking bread and doling out lard and meat.

And he goes, mama

Mama, and this old little hunched over babushka,

Just sort of hobbled Linda into the kitchen and looks at him. And he goes, rock

Mama Rocky.

And she gets an unmarked bottle of liquor and four shot glasses and pours a shot. And she stands at the end of the table. As we're eating continually refilling our shots. As we're talking with this guy in broken German and English, and he tells us about his life. Now this is a man and a big home and a big piece of property. And he's drunk off his arse in the afternoon. During the week, probably some kind of retired doesn't really want for many things as in he doesn't need money. Cause he's got all of his stuff. He needs probably has some sort of residual income or savings, but he's in a big, big, big home with just he and his mother. His wife had passed away and he hadn't seen his daughter in years and years and years and years after she got married, it had nothing to do nothing.

It felt like he had nothing to live for almost. And he was talking to us about how he wished he could see his family more. He lacked a big part of his life. The part that makes you happy and fulfilled the part that makes you want to wake up in the morning and he's not working. And it reminds me of a phrase that I recently learned due to COVID lockdowns. Thank you very much time. Without purpose is a prison. He wasn't in a real prison. He had freedom, felt like he was floating around unable to grasp on to anything like an astronaut whose cable had been severed. And he can't find his way back home, no matter what he does, time without purpose is a prison. I never want to end up alone in life. Never, never, never. You don't realize how important that is when you're younger.

At least as a man. I don't know. Girls probably realize much, much sooner than we men do, but let's move on. So I finished exploring bled and I head over to a city called Mara bore. It's the second largest city. It's got a big university in it. And that's where the med students were. And they had invited me to come and hang out with them for a couple of days. So I go there and we tour the city. We have a great time. They show me [inaudible], it's basically just sort of a skinless type of sausage thing. And you're going to eat it with a raw chopped onions three months in the Balkans, or how about this three weeks in the Balkans? And you're going to like raw onions because half the meals that you get are just going to be meat and raw onions. So if you want anything other than meat, you're going to eat the raw onions.

And it's funny because I hated onions. I hated onions before this time, but a few weeks down here, I love them and I can eat them like apples now. So onions, meat, what a rock Rocky everywhere. Rocky Rocky here, Rocky there, Rocky for lunch. If you're an old man Rocky for breakfast, they, they, some of these countries in former Yugoslavia and in the Balkans actually have big problems with Rocky. Uh, but, uh, it's kind of funny the first time that you experienced the rockier culture, because you can go almost anywhere and you can talk to someone and say, Hey, do you have any Rocky? And those pull up an unmarked plastic bottle from behind the counter and they'll give you a shot or they'll sell you a bottle. I remember I was in the shop, not that long ago where I am right now in Albania.

And I was looking at some liquor to buy and go chill on the beach. And I'm looking at some Rocky and a little kid who was maybe 10. He's tending the family shop. He goes, oh, Hey, if you're going to get some Rocky, I just, you know, here, I've got some and he pulls out some plastic bottles, unmarked plastic bottles, half liter. And he says, here you go, have a taste of this and see, this is great and times, uh, but Rocky, it kills everything, including the soul. So, uh, I have a little taste from the unmarked bottle and I say, okay, I'll have that. So he sells me the family, homemade Rocky from the plastic bottle instead of the stuff on the shelf. And it definitely pasted, like it could send you into space, but that's perfect. That's perfect. I was happy to get at least halfway to space while on the beach.

So Rocky is a big, big part of the culture and this part of the world, moonshine, Brandy, homemade liquor, and my first experience with it was in Slovenia. It's always fun to get drunk with med students because you associate med students with health and then you just get completely obliterated with them and all their other med student friends. And we spent a whole day together. We went to uni party after uni party. We had chestnuts roasted on an open fire and filled with alive worms. We saw students stealing bikes, but nobody actually even cared. It was just like they assumed his bike had been stolen. So he was going to steal another person's bike. And then that person would steal another person's bike when they had to get home. It's just a cycle of stealing bikes, just completely normal right next to everyone in public, right at one of the uni parties.

And I have to say, I much prefer the going out to experience of European universities and American ones. House parties are fun. I like a house party. Okay. But you get stuck in one place. The dynamic nature of going out with university students in Europe is that you end up in 20 different places in a night and you're walking down the street with beers or bottles of whatever you want to drink in this case were Rocky. And it's okay. You're not going to get in trouble and everyone's going to be friendly and having a good time. And you're safe. It's so much fun. I love it. So I had a little, a lot of fun in Mara bar and I really enjoyed hanging out with the people who invited me there all because I stayed in a hostel and I went up to a group of strangers and I said, Hey, where are you guys from? And they said, Hey, let's teach you some bad words. And have you tried, have you try and say other words in our language and laugh at how you say them and let's have a good time with that.

And so then I ended up in Mara bar hanging out with them and, um, I'm staying in a hostel as well in Mara bore, but this was the bad experience there. So the hostel owner tries to get me to pay back the deposit that she had to give to the hostel booking website or the fee or whatever she had to pay them. She tried to get me to pay. And this hostel, by the way, is the second bedroom in her personal apartment in which she lives and sleeps and eats and does everything. So it was already a weird atmosphere. And then in our room it's oh, it was so perfect. It was my first experience with not just a single I'd already had that in Florence, but an orchestra of snores. So in Florence, the evil hostile with Mike Tyson, that snorer was actually the cutest most petite little blonde girl you've ever seen, who just snored like a tractor trailer without an exhaust system.

But here we had eight fine gentlemen ranging in size from bone skinny to pregnant Balkan pregnant because every man here after he hits 35 or 30 starts to become pregnant. And every year after that, he becomes more pregnant and more pregnant until they get to be about 100 months pregnant. And that's where they max out. So he had maxed out his pregnancy capacity. I think it was some sort of, I don't know, I wanted to say sports team, but they weren't fit enough to do sports. So anyway, it's me and these guys and every single one of them had a different way of snoring. You had a flute section for nice light snorers. You had to snare drums, you had brass instruments. You had all sorts of little noises coming together, which could all by themselves be tolerated. But then Mr. 100 months pregnant had a noise coming from his mouth.

It must have resembled the exploding cacophony that Dresden residents in world war II felt. I mean, it was a surprise attack on the ears and the central nervous system. The likes of which I truly was not prepared for at this point in my travels, no earplugs, no headphones, no eye covers nothing and no heat in the room. So freezing, freezing cold. So it was not only a bad, hostile experience because there was nobody to meet. It was a horrific sleeping experience, which actually led me to end up getting sick because I'm partying all the time and I'm staying in hostels and I'm not able to sleep very well. And it's cold. And I have some which that's running the hostel, trying to get extra money from you. It's just not conducive to being healthy. So if you're a hostile goer, you just die after six months or you can handle pretty much anything.

And so this was my, my, uh, breaking my health system in moment, kind of, and they get terrifically sick. I finished hanging out with the students in Mara bore. And then I go back to a logistical Gianna. I love saying that it's such a fun place. I'm going to go back there at some time with some of my friends and just feast and feast and feast for a week. And the best part is you can walk everywhere. You don't have to take public transit. You don't have to drive or take taxis. You can just walk. You can stumble home. It's safe and nice. I really love it. It's a great place. When I got there this time though, I was really, really, really sick. And I ended up in a hotel room alone, sick for a week. And when you don't speak the language, you have no friends.

You don't know anyone there, there's no one that you are meeting or talking with her socializing during the day, except for the front desk person. You really feel a special sense of loneliness. I mean, if you die there, there's no one who's going to help you. There's no one who's going to no, until the day after you're supposed to check out you're nothing or nobody, nobody cares what happens to you and going to the pharmacy, getting every bit of energy so that you can walk there without falling over and then realizing that you can't read a single freaking label and that the person who works there doesn't speak any English. So you have no idea what the hell you're buying or going off of images on packages and mining, how you feel. It's a very disconcerting feeling. So at this point in your travels, you're either going to learn how to handle it on your own, or you're going to freak out and go home, which a lot of people do.

And I have to be honest with you. It's understandable because it is really, really scary. There was one thing that actually helped me to keep going though. And I still remember it to this day. It was a single, simple message from my girl in Paris. So I'm telling her about everything that's going on and she writes back, you're not alone. You have me and my friends are your friends. It seems so simple. And so basic now, and I talk about it, but that immediately made me feel better. I knew that someone was thinking about me, someone was caring about me. I had a rock, I had a center. I don't know why that felt so good then. But if you haven't ever been floating in space lonely like that, man, and bled, then maybe you can't appreciate the importance of having something, having someone that can center you to something interestingly enough.

And that probably also describes a lot of belief systems and why people find comfort in them. But that discussion is definitely not for today. So that was the end of my experience in Slovenia. And it really was a fun, little adventure over a couple of weeks going between these three cities, having dynamic experiences, meeting people, doing different things every day, having a great time, tasting new foods and new drinks and seeing new sites. It was a lot of fun. And to be honest with you, I cannot wait to go back to Louisiana again, but that's all for this episode. So if you have any questions or thoughts or comments, go to no fairy tale, travels dot sub stack calm, and you can find the post for this podcast and leave a little comment at the bottom of it.