Live Slovenia!
Welcome to the blog! Živeti Slovenija is a Blog for those interested in the workings of another country - in this case, the quirky and exciting Slovenia.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Chinotto, Chin OH NO!


That was embarrassing.

I mean, a month without blogging? I think I broke my record for last time - two months sans posting.

But wait, I've still got a month to go to smash that record.

Well, guess I'd better sign off then.

But wait, I've already posted. So you're in luck, I've got something for you to read.

As you might know there are only 2 million Slovenes. So learning slovene and nothing else really isn't an option for slovenes. So everyone speaks Slovene, english, a european language (german, french, italian) and a balkan language (croatian, serbian, macedonian). And the labels on foods are in four or five languages as well.

So we never really know exactly what we're buying until we bite it. (Not a recommended practice).

Or drink it, for that matter.

There is one large organic (or EKO, as the slovenes say) store in Ljubljana. It's called Kalcek, said Kalchek. Nice selection, but nothing on earth fare. Still, it's the best we can do.

Mom's fancy for fizzy drinks has led us on a quest accross ljubljana's grocery stores, and the latest acquisition was a darkish-brown liquid in a liter bottle that strongly resembled Coke. the emblem was an artists rendition of a lime cut in half. It was called CHINOTTO.

At dinner, everyone was eager to try out the new drink. I poured a glass and took a sip.

Yum! It was nice and sweet until I swallowed, then
YUCK! Sweet no longer, a strong better aftertaste rolled into my mouth. I almost choked.

"Don't dri - "

Too late. Avery suffered the same fate.

"What's wrong?" asked mom.

"You're new soda is bitter."

"Let me try. No its no - ug, what is that? I know I know that taste!"

What does it taste like?

"Oh no - that's what that drink campari tastes like. Myrtle lemon extract. Highly alcoholic."

Mom sprinted to the computer and feverishly typed CHINOTTO MYRTLE LEMON EXTRACT

"Oh S***, it is campari." Uh oh. I had already drunk a whole glass.

"Garrett, go make yourself throw up."
"WHAT? I'm not going to do that!"

"Yes you are, unless you want to get alcohol poisoning!"

"It's worth it, not to have to vomit!"
"You don't have to do that, son," interjected my sympathetic dad.

"YES HE DOES! You could die from alcohol poisoning!"

I adamantly refused.

Mom stormed off to the computer, typed some more, then said, "Oh, thank goodness, it's NOT campari."

"Oh, you could have told me that a bit sooner! You didn't have to get me all worked up over 'go make yourself vomit'"

"I never said that."

And so it went.

BUT remember, folks, always translate the label to english.... you don't have to suffer our fate.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Dipo Diving

Hello there!

Well, that was embarrasing!

NINE DAYS without blogging?

Well, it happens.

SO, in the last post, I described to you the niceties and problems of our apartment. A very large problem was the sparcity of furnishings.

Well, in Slovenia, where 8% of your monthly income is spent on cafe drinks, shopping seems to be a fad. Boy, is it ever.

There are two major shopping centers; one called BTC city (it really is a city, this shopping center probably is the size of downtown Asheville.) The other main shopping center is called Rudnik (said Rude-neek). It's not quite as big as BTC city, but it's the hotspot for furniture and furnishings.

Driving out there, we were confronted with large warehouse-like buildings the size of the average walmart, with all sorts of Slovenian names on them, like "Obi" and "Merkur" and "Hipermarket"

The main furniture stores were named Rutar. and Dipo! (puncuation marks part of name). Excuse me, did I say store? I meant indoor football field. Where the linebackers are rugs and quarterbacks are desks. We wandered rather dazedly through a field of stacked Rutar. rugs, trying to find something for under fifty euros. Really, if 8% of income is spent on coffee, 80% must be spent on rugs.

Dipo! wasn't much better. The store was an odd mix of plush multicolored sofas, desks made of (as dad put it) "glued together fake stuff" and other furnishings. In contrast were rows upon rows of yellow posters hanging from the ceiling sporting the creepy Dipo! mascot; a strange, elfish creature with a mohawk.

The path through the forest of "glued together fake stuff" was marked clearly by yellow tape. Arriving at the desks, Dipo! followed the trend set by Rutar.; there were two desks in affordable rage - 25 and 30 euros. For comparison, the next cheapest one was fifty euros (about sixty-five dollars).

BUT - several Slovenians had been price-comparing in the same way we had. Proof? The good desk was out of stock.

After making some other purchases, we were fated to return to Rudnik and Dipo! again and again trying to find something worth buying. Now, after a week of Dipo! diving and Rutar. rummaging, we may finally be done. But let me warn you - if a Dipo! appears in Asheville, DON'T GO! The exclamation mark after Dipo! is not about excitement.

It's a hidden warning.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Paradise...or is it?

Hi there!

Guess who it is? ME!

Oh wait, you knew that already?

JUST SO YOU KNOW, I haven't blogged the past few days because the internet was out.

So I'm not faltering on the first step.

Anyway, who remembers the description of the apartment we stayed in last time? It was maybe fifty by forty feet, or 66 square meters, if you can understand that. There were two rooms, a kitchen, a bathroom, and a toilet room. Avery, Jia, and I were all jammed with our things in one room.

So when we first saw the apartment we are staying in now, we were ecstatic. The main room plus dining room and kitchen was as big as our old apartment. We all had (have) a room and there were two toilets. Anyone with four or more people in their family knows that one toilet for four people is not fun. So this apartment was glittering gold.

But that was just on the outside. As the faulty internet may show, some things were not as they seemed on the outside. After saying up thirty-six hours (see last post) and riding on three airplanes, a nice hot shower is definitely something you want. A nice warm shower would be good too. Or even a nice lukewarm shower.

But no, we got a nice freezing cold shower. Something (don't ask me what, I don't know even if I should) was wrong with the water heater. Freeze the dirt and grime off or just ignore it? I picked ignore, as did everyone else.

The one other major problem was, where do you sleep when you don't have a bed? True, we all had a room, but they were rooms brez postelja, as the Slovenes would say. Two completely empty rooms. And the floors, while very pretty, are hardwood. They weren't even soft wood.

Luckily, we had scheduled beds to be delivered, so we would not have to sleep on our hardwood floors...
...that is, if the beds ever got here.

We got a phone call, and since Dad was out, it was my duty to answer. I put on my slovene-speaking-english accent.

"Halo, we hav beds, but we are lost."
Uh-oh. Beds are on the way, but they're lost.
"You don't know where Presernova (said preshernova) is?"
We were lucky that it was Slovenians delivering the beds. At least they knew some local landmarks, and we got to sleep in beds.

Frankly, I was so exhausted at that point I could have slept like a log on the hardwood floors.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

We're baaa-ack

Hi there!

I'm back! We're back! Lets have a party!

Well...then again we may just sleep.

Tell me, who's ever dreamed of staying up all night?

There are many ways of doing it. You can drink coffee. You can dance and have fun. You can tie lit matches to your fingers.

You can also decide to fly American Airlines to Slovenia.

It's not the most pleasant way. Here's how to do it, though, if you feel like trying.
Materials needed beforehand:

Lots of frequent flyer miles.

Frequent flyer tickets from charlotte to Dallas to frankfurt to ljubljana.

Neck pillows

6:00 (start) - GET UP! We've got to make the twelve o'clock flight! We need to leave at seven sharp!

7:30 (awake +1.5 hours) we leave. Come on, you don't expect to leave on time for an international flight with two connections, do you?

10:00 +4 hours: we're at charlotte.

12:00 +6 hours: takeoff!

4:00 +10 hours: we leave dallas with high hopes for a fun international flight.

6:00 +12 hours: after eating a meal with NO VEGETARIAN OPTION (can you believe it? If you fly american air you have to order vegetarian meals beforehand!) Jia gets a glass of apple juice. She happily sets it on her tray to drink but the full glass starts to slide off the tray!

"Jia, look at your apple jui -"

Too late. The full cup fell straight onto her seat, and those who've ridden airplanes before can tell you that a wet airplane seat is a hellish experience. But Jia's seat is not wet. Not a drop. How did that happen?

"EEEWWW, what's this dripping all over my shoe?"


It turns out that the apple juice had hit the exact center between Jia's seat and mine, and had dumped itself all over the feet of the woman behind us.

She stared daggers through the crack in the seats, and caught me with her piercing gaze.

"Young man, did you spill this juice all on my feet?"
"No, no, of course not.

"Well, isn't anyone up there going to apologize? Isn't anyone going to say something?"

Mom wanted to apologize, but she really couldn't because she was so happy that Jia wasn't wet. She finally had her mirth far enough under control to say, "I'm so (heehee) sorry."


By the way, it's officially the night now.

1:00 (AM) +19 hours: we land in Frankfurt. We cheated a bit - that picture up at the top was in Frankfurt

3:00 +21 hours: We sleep a little bit on the Adria flight. Ironic, we don't sleep on the overnight. Tells you a bit about the relative seat comfort of the airlines. (That can be seen in the first picture from the top.)

6:00 +24 hours. We get in a cab in Ljubljana. Congratulations! You have just stayed up the whole night!

We stayed up until eleven o'clock slovenian time. (about 36 hours total from the time we woke up in asheville until then) and I just woke up an hour ago. An hour ago it was one in the afternoon.

So, if you've wanted to sleep fourteen hours too, just stay up the extra twelve.
And that's all there is to it!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Ziveti Avstrija

Hello to all!

So very sorry about my continued silence on the airwaves!

But I'm back... Austria!

Yes, the title of this post is Ziveti Avstrija!

I am on vacation in austria, and it is different!

We arrived after an exhausting car drive (three and a quarter hours) and some beautiful mountains. Sharp, jagged peaks rising up, more often snow-covered than not. We drove tunnels under these mountains. Some incredible feats of engineering - The longest was 8480 meters, or eight and a half kilometers, about 5.3 miles. No kidding, a behemoth tunnel. We couldn't roll down windows because of all the fumes.

We arrived in Salzburg for a lovely view of their trian station, undergoing extensive work. After adjusting slightly from slovene to german, we found the hotel. Living in the US, it is weird for a different country to be only a car drive away - different countries for us were usually separated by a grueling plane ride. All the slovene is useless, as everyone here is german!

We found our hotel, and had unloaded our baggage and entered the room complex. There were three doors, and we assumed one must be the elevators. Dad pulled one door open and prepared to walk in, only to find an electrical panel. Oops. So we tried the second. Locked. The third was a trash bin storage area. So we lugged our large, international-sized suitcased up a impeccably polished marble stair case.

We met our grandfather and grandmother - they are visiting - at the train station after a hopeless search to find the platforms in all the construction. Then we dined a dinner, and after tasting their hotel's original sacher-torte, I decided that all my time in Austria was for desserts.

The Austrian flag.

The restaurants and cafes have been troublesome because, out of habit, we all say "Dober dan" and "Hvala," and we expect the poor waiters to understand. They never do, but they speak perfecdt english, so no matter.

Today, we took the sound of music tour. Interesting enough - the movie differs incredibly from the real story. We learned other fun facts - the captain's villa was filmed in two pieces. Explaination? The front of the house, where Maria sings "Confidence" and the back where the lake is are acutally two different houses. And the inside is all stage - in hollywood. The Gazebo where two pairs of lovers meet is in the palace of an archbishop, who had his guests sit on fountains and spray them, and the inside of the gazebo is in hollywood. Haha.

We next visited Mozart's house, and learned all about the composer. He apparently hated Salzburg, and so did his father. One third of his life he spent traveling in horse-drawn carriage all around Europe, performing and composing.

Well, that's all I have time for now. We are going to Vienna tomorrow, and I will have new material.



Sunday, March 14, 2010

You never know...

You never do know.

Ljubljana comes alive in good weather. Blue skies and warmish temperatures bring out all the people that we haven't seen through the grey. Trees even decide to come out of their barky houses and bud.

The nice weather merits an unofficial flea market to be set up on the banks of the Ljubljanica river. Stalls and tables line the concrete and stone walls.

We were strolling by on our way to a riverside cafe for a late lunch when we walked past a table and mom points out to me a SWORD.

Yes, lying there was a short stabbing sword, the handle and hilt painted gold but etched with letters and patterns, with a very sharp blade made of burnished steel.

The vendor noticed our interest withen a millisecond and rushed over. "Yes, thees ees a, rrowman sword. Thurteenth centurey. All one, very solid."

I was hooked. I asked the price.

"Feefty uros."

That was tough, it took a very large chunk out of my savings. I hesitated, picked up the sword. It was indeed solid steel. It reminded me of the sword Sting for those of you who have read or watched Tolkien. I hesitated some more.

"Fourty-five uros.

Better. I decided to bargain for forty, but then, as Avery and dad and Jia gathered...

"Fourty uros."

Mom, like me, wanted to do more bargaining, so she kept asking, "Do you have that much, Garrett?" to which I dim-wittedly said, "Yes, yes, I do."

They were packing up. I decided to try for thirty five.

Mom once again nudged me to make a desicion. I winked at her, then said, "Thirty-five?

Unfortunately, the vendor's assistant saw me, and when I said 'Thirty-five," he spoke rapidly in slovene to the vendor, who shook his head and said, "Forty, last offer."

Well, I coughed up forty euros and paid for the sword. We wrapped in in plastic bags the man gave us (tough ones, not grocery quality) and was getting out of the way of the truck that came through collecting tables (that had apparently been lent) when I saw a rotund man in a stripey suit and sunglasses nudging a companian and gesturing towards me and looking at the sword. I hastily turned away.

But Avery, sharpeyed as always, saw the man, as he walked past dad, peer into the back of dad's backpack. If they were trying to thieve from us, or were just collectors I don't know. But both two wallets and a sword made it home safely.

So, really, at a flea market in Ljubljana, well...

... you really never do know.

Votes counted

Alright then, evidently the next poem needs to be in Chinese.

for those who voted french poem about violence, good job!

for those who voted a passage from a textbook, well done as well! that poem came from a french textbook.

For those who voted otherwise...well, there's always the next poll, isn't there?