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?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Smarna gora snafu


As you might know, I like rock climbing, so I tried to find climbing opportunities here. I asked the streetwise owner of our language school, Primoz, where there might be climbing gyms for me. He suggested two places - one halfway to the coast, the other relatively close to Ljubljana. I was ecstatic.

The experience turned out to be eerily reminiscent of the other time we tried to find rock climbing.

It was an hour long bus ride out there. After leaving Ljubljana far behind, the bus dropped us off in a small country town. As sunday is considered a sabbath (even the law school where dad works is locked sunday) we saw no one around. We headed in the direction of the mountain, where we saw a building perched on the tiptop of the peak. This must be Smarna gora. The S in the name has an accent on it, it is pronounced Shmarna gora.

Mom, of course, took the name and turned it to Snorragora. "Are we at Snorragora?" she asked as we disembarked and the bus, our ticket back home, back to food and water and heat, trundled away.

We started walking in the direction of the mountain. We wound through a quaint village, asking directions from the only person we saw around. We were on the right course. He said that this hike would take about one hour. This was not good, as we had no supplies. We thought we would only go partway to scope out the lay of the land.

Ten minutes up and we met some fellow hikers going down. They, however said thirty minutes. This was good. Maybe we could go to the top after all. That must be where the rock climbing is.

After a while we came to a crossing of paths, asked directions, and found we only had twenty minutes left. Good, but we were getting cold. We also got on the right path.

After fifteen more minutes we came to a large plantation-like house with a tilled garden. This might be the restaurant we were promised. but there wasn't anyone at the house but the hikers. Then we knew we had more hiking to go.

On we went. There was a last steep slope and then we were there. There were people eating and drinking. Hooray!

Of course, all meat.

we got juice and some really good bread. I got some energy bars and we ate. Good.

Then, on the way back from a quick look at the view, we saw an indoor cafe. And there we had been freezing all the time.

A knee-jarring hike back down and we made it to the bus stop. Same line, different stop. This one was right next to the river sava, which is known for its sky-blue water. And it was - very very blue.

I was admiring the water quality when I heard a frantic "GARRETT! GARRETT!" I looked over in alarm and saw that the bus was there and trying to leave and I wasn't on it.

I rushed over and hopped on the bus. The kind bus driver waited but he seemed annoyed about it.

But the bus bumbles weren't over. As went, Avery and I noticed some bus police coming down the aisles looking like secret service arrestors. They had handcuffs and were making sure that everyone had paid to ride.

I was scared. Mom had charged here card for all of us. She had paid four fares with her card for the whole family to ride. So the card I carried had not been charged for me, and the inspectors would think I had busjumped!

They came, but as I was desparedly getting out my bus card dad caught up with them and told them that mom had paid for all of us. Phew. they got off at the next stop, but then two large men in impeccably tailored suits got on. We thought they were the slovenian FBI until dad saw two nameplates that said "Mormonski" we all breathed another sige of relief. No fraudulent investors or murderers on this bus.

at the next stop, ours to chang buses, the five bus line was right behind us so we jumped out. Correction - dad, mom, and jia jumped out and I was left with avery int he back of the bus and the doors wouldn't open.

I frantically jumped for the open doors button. The doors slid open and we made it home safely.

So still no rock climbing. Sigh. But at least when we get another tip-off of a climbing gym, we won't listen.

But then, third time pays for all, so who knows?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Hello all!

New developments, more posts!

The latest poll slightly differs from the last one - this is not a picture, its a


Oh, sorry. Well, for all you linguists out there, here's a riddle! Please only vote twice.

Today we met with another fulbright scholar, and with him was a man who had a contact who could provide us with musical intruments.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

And the votes are...

And the votes are...

Air Conditioner: zero

Radiator: zero

Shower: two

Hot water tank: zero

Toilet bowl: five

Man, you guys are getting too good at this!

Hi now, I am back AGAIN!

I will be back every time I post, don't I? (I am running out of greetings.)

Slovenia apparently shuts down on sunday. Fewer buses, shops closed, and NO
KROFI! A disaster I'm sure, but instead I got baklava so moist
I bit it and water squirted over me. It tasted really good, though.

Slovenia's flags take a different approach than most of the European flags. True, they have three colors - red, white, and blue in horizontal bars - but on the inside edge their is the Slovenian coat of arms, which is three mountains on a cobalt field with three stars (three is a magic number, isn't it?) The flag of Ljubljana is white and green with a grey castle surmounted by a green, roaring dragon on a red field. Talk about cool.

The flag of Slovenia.

The flag of Ljubljana

And what about the EU?

Call me and ex-patriot, but this flag is BORING!

We got our olympic coverage from a british channel called Eurosport, which broadcasts replays of the cross-country skiing all day except when other events actually happen.

For the commercials, there's "See if Andrew Lange takes his third gold in boblsedding, live on February THIRD! Then there's a commercial for Something with a woman who had so much fat injected into her lips that they take up more space that her eyes.

But we saw the olympics well enough, and are happy with Tina Maze taking home two silvers. We are expecting a large celebration in Preseren Square when she gets back.



Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pokljuka part two

Hello! I bring tidings of MORE adventures at the ski camp.

The resort we stayed at had one large slope, like the main slope at Cataloochee for those in asheville, from which a part was roped off as a bunny slope. The slope did not have a chairlift to get up, it had something that in slovene was called a sidro, which translates as anchor. And that was what it looked like. You hooked one spar of the anchor or the other under your bottom and it pulled you up the hill on your skis.

The class tried to speak as much as english as possible so that the slovene children could learn english. The instructor, Ziga, asked me to tell him what the english name for the Sidro was (I didn't know that it translated as anchor then.)

It looked like a bent T, so I offered, "T-lift?"

"T-lift?" he responed, confused that I would name a ski lift after a beverage.

"Um....well, actually, I've never seen one of these in the United States so I don't know what the name is. We used "Sidro" for the rest of the week.

We had several mishaps on the sidro. I tried to pick up a dropped pole, failed, fell, and as the sidro slipped off of me it came over and bashed me on the head. I was lucky that I had a helmet on, it saved me from a nasty head bonk. If you fall, it's good, because you don't plummet twenty feed in ski boots (which is like having dumbells tied to your feet in terms of mobility.) The bad side is that you have to ski back down to the line or walk the rest of the way up.

Several times on the first day, I wove back and forth over the Sidro track. At the top, there was an irate lift operator, standing steaming next to Ziga. Ziga told me that there was a sign that said "Do not swerve on the track", and only the fact that I didn't read slovene saved me from a chew-out. Sure enough, at the boarding point on the lift, I finally noticed a yellow sign that had a cross-out of a swervy track. Oops.

Whenever I tried to spell a word with the letter Y in it, no one knew the letter because it doesn't exist in the Slovene alphabet. Avery and my teacher, Mojca, told us that "Ipsilon" was Y in slovene, so whenever I needed to spell a Y I would put on a knowing expression and say, "Oh, right. Ipsilon."

Of course, I just got the same blank expressions as before.

On the second night, there was a disco, with an old guy spinning tracks and brain-damage music. The music was ALL in slovene, so I couldn't understand. Just as well, it seemed, when the other fourteen-year (shtirinayst) boy there told me that all the music was bad. So apparently no loss, though I couldn't judge that for myself.

Then the two rowdy twelve-year-olds went and PUT THEIR EARS right next to the two-foot speakers. I was astounded.

The party ended before I could get a drink, sadly.

That morning, our floor instructor (Blaz, said Blazh) came and woke us up wearing a rubber mask of an old scottish gent. Creepy. Then, the second-in-command (Edie, said Eedie) came in wearing a Transformers mask, saying things like "I am OPTIMUS PRIME." and "We must protect the Allspark Cube." Then, right as we were leaving to ski, "Autobots, transform, and roll out!" That elicited some laughs.

Before the disco that night there was a masquerade party. I wrapped a striped fleece blanket around me like a toga (pant pant) and put on sandals with no socks and went as a roman. There were two girls as clowns, with fake orange juice-color and shartruce-color hair. A kid had his entire hands and face covered in red face paint, and there were red marks on his chair the rest of the week. One young boy, as a bandit, had his hat stolen by an older boy and spent ten minutes chasing him around whacking him with the butt of his plastic pistol.

The instructors would video the day's performances and then replay them. Aside from the main track there was a narrow one shielded by some trees that had jumps on it. On the free runs, me, avery, and the other advanced boy named Mark would steer towards the jumps. Of course, everyone followed, and for the next five minutes it would be Jump, splat, Jump, splat. So Ziga said that there would be no more jumping on the free runs.

However, on the last day, he let all of us go off the jumps once. And he videoed it, all three successful jumps and seven falls. Then they replayed in slo-mo that night. It was hilarious.

Then the last night, spin the bottle. Everyone wanted me to play but I politely refused, as if you were hit it was either kiss the spinner or play truth or dare. All in slovene. So I politely refused.

That's all for now. Look out for the next post for ever MORE adventures of Pokljuka


Saturday, February 20, 2010


I'm FINALLY back, and boy, do I have a lot to tell!

How to start? Chronologically?


Well, I got an eleven-year-old and a nine-year-old for room mates. And there were only two beds. The eleven-year-old named Mark immediately plunked down on the single bed. This annoyed me but wasn't too bad as the single bed was a rollaway and I couldn't fit on it.

So, sleeping in the same bed with someone else. Well, the bed was actually two mattresses on one frame, each with it's own sheets and blankets. That was fine.

What do you do with room mates?, who speak Slovene? Well, I brought some playing cards, and taught them Speed and Slamwich. Lowrie (the other mate) loved Slamwich. At seven-thirty (when we got up), and after we dressed...

"Garrett, do you want to play Slap?"

At lunch,

"Garrett, let's play Slap!"

And at ten at night...

"Garrett, I want to play Slap. Will your seester play Slap?"

At night, though, I wanted to read The Hobbit to relax, so I would purposely lose the game. So Lowrie thought he was a champion. But all the playing did make him really good, so the last day when I really tried to beat him, I couldn't.

In Slovene, "J" is pronounced "Y", and Lowrie thought that Jacks were Jokers, and he pronounced them "Yoker." "A"s are also prounounced differently. Aces were "Ass"

A game of slamwich.

"Ass!" Slap.

In speed, whenever a Jack was played, Lowrie would put an unrelated card, like a five on it. Mark, when he watched, would speak in slovene and correct Lowrie, "Blah blah blah. Slovene, Slovene, then,
Ne, Yoker, Ne Yoker!"

The food was AWFUL. For breakfast we had bread, with choices of single-serve foil packets of jam, honey, meat paste. butter, and chocolate spread. No fruit, no yogurt, no cereal, nothing. There was cereal and yogurt, actually, but it was for "private guests only', whoever they were. Lunch and dinner were always some meat-based meal. Lunch was a slab of meat with starch and a vegetable, dinner was a form of meat stew. For the first three lunches, Avery (who has changed her name to Hippolyta {see my mom's blog} therefore was called HEEEEPY, the Slovene way of saying it, so there was a lot of "Day, Heepy, Day, Heepy" (ie Go Hippie, Go Hippie)) and I had vegetarian-burger-type patties that were decent enough. Thursday and friday they ran out and we had saurkraut and pasta one lunch and mashed potatoes and veggies in cream sauce for the other.
You had hot tea to drink every meal, and that was all.

Dessert was alright. The night we had fruit salad. everyone took one bite and pushed the bowls away. Hippolyta and I each had three.

Skiing was the main focus. As we were being sorted by ability, the director (Primoz, pronounced Primaushe) asked me to spell Hippolyta.


Well, they don't have Y in the slovenian alphabet, so





- yes, I"

Our group instructor was named Ziga, the Z, as in Jia, with an accent on J, and he and the rest of the instructors called Avery "Hippi" and they said it "Heepy."

We must have been crazy, going to a slovene camp. Most of the children there knew "Hello' and "Thank you" in slovene, and that was it. So the announcments were all in slovene, the conversation at the dinner table was slovene, and instructions were in slovene. We were lucky that all the camp instructors spoke fluent english. But every time someone talked to us, half of the time we didn't know we were being spoken to, and the other half we didn't know a word, even if we were listening.

At one point, Heepy was being asked about the Tic Tacs she was buying She, at that moment, as we were at every moment, was clueless and thought the woman was saying "Do you want these. " She kept saying Ja, and the woman kept saying blah blah blah,
"Ja", blah, blah, blah, and on and on it went until her friends started cracking up and it became clear that the woman was asking her "spearmint or peppermint, NOT "Do you want these"?"

So That's embarrassed in Slovenia for this week as well, having to repeat over and over that I didn't understand slovene. In english, I might add, so the other person didn't understand me either.

All in all, though, it was a really fun camp. And we skied enough to last me a day!


As for the poll...

Cabinet; no one

Shoe closet: one

Oven: no one

Refrigerator: five

Soap and Shampoo cabinet: two.

Total votes: eight

Winner: Refrigerator.

ABSOLUTELY RIGHT! The next one needs to be a little harder, don't you think...


Sunday, February 14, 2010

How did you get to be a stick player?


To celebrate a current holiday (and the opening of the Olympics) Preseren Square (the center of Ljubljana) has been transformed into a carnival. A large stage has been set up, with brain-damage music blasting, people in crazy costumes, and lots of little food kiosks.

We started in a market for cheese, meat, and wine underneath a large building. There was a funny band playing. One was in a medeivalish costume with an accordion, one was in a full batman costume collecting money, and the third was dressed like a woman (no need for specifics.) And he was playing a stick.

No kidding, he had a large staff about one and a quarter inches thick, and another seven-inch long stick of the same staff, and he was banging it to the beat. Pretty funny.

Then we exited the market and went to the river, where we could hear the chicken dance from the square. Then another music started playing and a boat came up the Ljubljanica with twenty people dancing on the roof with no railings. That was funny. We enjoyed slices of Burek - pastry dough with apples or cheese or ham pizza. It was really good.

Mom and I then went of to get things for Valentines day, and dad and Avery went home.


Tomorrow we leave on a skiing trip, so I don't know if I will blog again for a while.

Good bye, good luck, good eating.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi!

What's been going on here? Well...

We've gotten a load of snow. It snowed all yesterday and most of today's morning. We have started construction of a triple igloo with a wall for snowball wars. I hope we don't run out of snow!

As we were building some twenty-year olds started attacking us with snowballs. Avery and I retaliated, but it wasn't really a war because they left after a few balls to catch the bus.

I hope our new igloo is actually finished.

On a higher note, we went by the Ljubljana's library yesterday. They had a decent english section, and we got some books. FINALLY!

On the blog, we now have a new WHAT was THAT? Here's a hint...

"The drinks were too big to fit"

On monday we leave for a skiing trip hosted by the language school we take from. We hope to see Bled as well, as it is close. I do not know if I will have access to a computer, so I may not blog for a while either.


Monday, February 8, 2010

The votes have been counted

The votes from the poll is in, and they are counted! Though mirror got the most votes, more people voted for other things! They are;

Window: no one

Cabinet: one vote

Mirror: five votes

Picture: one vote

Slovenian art: four votes.

Total votes: eleven.

Winner: Mirror

That's how it should be! Sorry other voters, the answer is MIRROR! Look tomorrow for the next WHAT was THAT?
Pic. one
pic. two
Pic three

Pic. four

Pic. five Pic six

Today we visited the Castle Ljubljana. A very impressive structure - located on top of what is aptly called castle hill, it is the highest elevation in Ljubljana. You can either walk up an almost impossible path (iced over) or take the funicular railcar up the side. I walked up (or climbed) and took the railcar down.

The castle itself is a mixture of architecure, from middle ages stone-and-mortar,

Then some more recent buildings.

That's the clock tower, where the flag of Slovenia flies. An impressive view from up there. Sadly, dad's fear of heights made sure he didn't visit.

See also Pics six and five and four - this computer makes it a devil's game to get pictures to the right places. The stairwell down was a long way down.

A 3-D reconstruction of Ljubljana in a multimedia show was next. Pic three. Then a visit to the chapel of Saint George. With me as best man, Jia as flower girl, and Avery as the pastor mom and dad renewned their marriage vows (sort of - there was alot more giggling and wisecracking than in the original version of events I'm sure.) Pic two.
Then we ate in the little cafe. Dad ordered a latte and found that the spoon had a little curlycue so that it would hook on the edge of a mug. Pic. one
Then the railride down. A much better ride than the museum of national history yesterday.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Closing in


We have two days to go until our poll of the oddities of Slovenia finishes! What is it?

As the wise man Confuciousness once said;

You will see yourself in the answer

For those who haven't voted, take that into consideration!


Ironing euros while shirtless.

How many steps are there on this blogger's staircase?

Five and one half months...thirty days to a step for each day...

That leads to about 165 steps. Today is step twelve, and I've missed two, so, I have a 16.6% chance of not blogging each day. Not the best odds, huh?

Anyway, Slovenenia joined the European Union not long after achieving independance. The official currency is the Euro (which makes it so much easier to travel from france to germany to slovenia without changing money). The euro is structured a little differently from the dollar. There are still one hundred cents to the euro, and denominations fall out like this: for coins, 1 cent, 2 cents, 5 cents (all copper) 10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents (a goldish metal) 1 euro, 2 euro. The one euro coin is silver on the inside, gold on the outside, the two euro the opposite. Then bills; blueish fives, pinkish tens, brighter blue twenties, brown-red fifties, and green hundreds, each with several distinguishing features. Alot prettier than US dollars, I'd say,

Our little apartment is lacking in several things, (I'm not complaining, it's the truth.) Cutting boards, painted walls (bare white) pictures, to name a few. It does have an iron, though, The nice landlord, Gorazd, obviously felt worried that we had an iron and no ironing board and left a large ironing board, brand new, outside our door. Just the thing we didn't need.

Embarrassed in Slovenia is bad today. A few days ago, when I was photographing the apartment for the blog, I walked out to take pictures of the elevator with no shirt on (I would only take a second). I get in the elevator to go down, and then realize that the elevator was already going down when I called it, and there was someone waiting at the bottom.

I was not disappointed. as the doors opened there was an old woman in a fake fur coat with a small four year old girl holding her hand. I said excuse me and bolted for the staircase.

I guess I'm lucky that the landlord hasn't had complaints yet.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Well hi there!

Who're you? Blog readers? Really?


Anyway, bad intros regarding, Slovenia is much more concious about languages than we are. They are so small and so ringed by other countries that to know three or four languages is a must. I feel quite small when I here someone speak slovene, english, and german.

So we all trooped to a language school. After hellos, the owner brought in a woman who was the english, spanish, italian, french, slovene, AND arabic teacher. That's a wow. I was amazed.

Slovenia, in accordance with the languages of it's populace, is a very diverse country. It has mountains, forests, coasts, and plains, apparently with some nuclear skiing sites that I'm dying to try. The main soil type is Karst, a limestone mix that is perfect for caves. Much of North carolina and Tennessee are Karst too. When rain water with even the slightest bit of acid rains, it eats away the limestone, leaving some truly spectacular cave formations (some are so big in Slovenia that there is a CASTLE inside one.

There's also the mediterranean on the south-west side of the country, with all it's charms (no surfing, sadly.) Italy is only a short drive (or sail) away, and Germany and Austria are too the north.

We're hoping to visit some of the sights in these areas as well.

Adijo (goodbye)\


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Lost in the sewer


Today's Embarrassed in Slovenia mixes with the post. A more accurate title would be Lost in Slovenia.

But let's let the writing speak for itself.

After a very productive trip to a language school, we mounted a bus to take us to our other destination - a potential rock-climbing wall. The No. 5 bus would take us there.

We rode the bus for ten or fifteen minutes, a long time on a bus. Then we dismounted at a forsaken turnaround at the end of the line. As we walked in the direction I thought we needed to go in, waves of a stink from the sewer plant washed over us.

We ended up in a park between a bunch of concrete block apartment buildings. We embarassedly asked a local which way to Litijska street, which is where the wall was located. After traveling through more dingy buildings we located Litijska cesta and found a bus station right next to the wall.

Then we go in, and it turns out that the wall is in the badminton courts and schools rent it, and one family cannot use it, it is not a public wall.

So we rod the bus home. Total time elapsed: one hour

Well, other than that, not much that is interesting happened.

TTFN, toodles, toodle-oo, ta-ta, (any other T goodbyes?)


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Yikes, Bikes, and Ice

Oy there,

Here's today's Embarrassed in Slovenia: Yikes with Bikes.

Ljubljana is a very bicycle-friendly city, and I wanted one badly. It would help me get around, see the city, and drain the euros from my wallet. So we headed to the bike shop conveniently located right behind our apartment building. Too conveniently, as I was to find out.

It turned our that the shop behind us was the new shop, and the secondhand shop was around the corner. No problem.

We arrived there, and a nice looking man met us with a stream of slovene. He pulled out two nice bikes - 60 and 75 euros. He was obviously very proud of them, and he wanted me to try one out. We politely declined. He insisted, all with an unintelligable commentary in slovene.

So I hopped on one - inside. I rode a meter and hit the door. That made me feel like a dork.

The poor man was so disappointed that we didn't want to buy a bike just then, and I was so red we could have touched up the red paint on the 60 euro bike.

Ah well.

Then we were to try another pastime - music. This time the whole family loaded onto a bus and headed out to the music school. Slovenians do things differently here, and it seems nearly impossible to jump into the music system except in august and january. Same for schools.

Nothing much else happened except that I never could find ice skates that fit well.

What's going on in the US? I want to know.

Oh, another thing to add to my list,

B- (biker) man

Monday, February 1, 2010

Hello there!

Missing a day of blogging is like missing a step. If you're not careful, you'll miss another, then another, then another, then - CRASH!

I'm back with a vengeance, though.

We have two new feature on Ziveti Slovenija - the first being WHAT was THAT?, the game show where contestants try to decide what that thing we passed on the way to the posts was! Vote now to win an awsome prize!
The second is a periodical called Embarrassed in Slovenia, where your host feels the effects of being a foreigner in a country!
What happened this time?
Who uses basil while cooking? Well, Slovenians don't. I didn't find the basil, so I cornered an employee and asked, "Ali goverite Angleski?" Do you speak english?
Nope, she didn't. Then I asked a woman at the bakery.
"I want some basil."
"Yes, basil. You know?"
"Aaaah, Pesto"
"Yes," I said, thinking that was Slovene for Basil.
"How much you want?"
I looked down and the woman was scooping pesto from the deli bar.
"No no," I said hurriedly.
She looked confused, and went to get the head of the bakery.
He spoke better english, but I still couldn't get him to understand Basil or what is the word for Basil in slovene. My face was so red it must have looked like I had face paint on.
I later learned that slovene for basil is Basilika. Thought i might have found that, but in was in a section for American spices
Well, other than the Basil Battle, nothing much interesting happened today, so you will now be invited to Slovenetour, the only tour guide that never leaves the house!
First, here's the building itself!

Functional, and somewhat comfortable.

Then to get to the floor. Here they don't go B, 1,2,3,4,5...etc. The floors go -1,0,1,2,3,4. Kind of funny.

To get to our floor (two or three, depending on your outlook) you can take steps or an elevator. But here we meet a conundrum.

Here is our floor.

But then, one floor down, it switches!


On the ground floor, the plot thickens!

But finally, the solution reveals itself in the elevator.

Take a close look at the buttons in Fig. one...

Now look again in Fig. two!

The answer happens to be that the elevator on the left services odd-numbered floors, while the elevator on the right services evern-numbered floors!

Then, the doorbell (which I thought was the fire alarm)

Then, in the apartment, at the computer, the keyboard is different. Z and Y are switched, and accented letters are on the right side.

Typing looked like this.

"Sadlz, the bookz were dripping wetlz"

So, those are our living quarters, and a glimpse at slovene culture.

Garrett, otherwise known as Basil.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The snow has reached Ljubljana! Is it there yet? Comment if it isn't (if you don't I'll assume the internet is out.)
Jia and I worked and built an igloo. Pretty rough, but cozy. Here are some pics!

Once again, tell me what's happened!


Hollo there!

Annoucing the...(drumroll) (cymbals) (brass band)

German dude! That's right folks, I am now officially GERMAN! Besides, now G-man now has two meanings!

We finally made it to the open market yesterday, and all the local vendors were saying hello in german when we walked past! Something in our looks (mom told me it was my haircut and glasses) made the vendors think I was german! (I mistaked this though - half the time the vendors would say "Dober dan", which means good afternoon.)

And Jia? She must be the only aisian in Ljubljana! We get stares, looks, and glances everywhere. Like I said, the entire city are as white as mushrooms.

After the market yesterday, we watched the Ljubljanica river while dad inquired about an ice show at the nearest tourist office. I frantically dashed to stop Jia from jumping in the river, and we gasped at the ten-foot icicles hanging of the bridge. Then a man walked by who must have had the mother of all frogs in his throat, because as soon as he passed us - HOOAARGGGGH!

Then, because we had slept till noon, Avery and I didn't fall asleep until one in the morning. Now we are enduring self-inflicted torture as we get up and nine so we can go to bed on time tonight.

Good (yawn) bye from the G-(yaaaaawn) man.

(loud snoring)

Friday, January 29, 2010


Our first question today was - What's the public transportation situation here? Our legs are great but they can't get us everywhere.

After a long walk we made it to the central bus station. After almost passing out from the exhaust fumes we entered the tourist office and acquired alot of useful information. Then we got another look at slovenian culture.

There were a couple vending machines in the lobby. One was what you'd typically see in a train station - chips, chocolate, cookies, and gum. Another was a drink dispenser. And the third was an apple dispenser. After putting in 0,30 euro (about $0.45 cents) you pushed a button and slid open the door of the apple type you wanted and pulled out an apple. I almost got one to try the machine out.

Our initial plan was to go to a supermarket (probably just a giant Mercator), but the lady at the tourist office told us that a conglomeration of Broadway shows were on nearby in english. Nearby insn't correct, a ways might be more accurate. After a lenthly walk that left us footsore we arrived a Tivoli hall. We asked around, and heard the concert was tomorrow. Mom didn't really listen. Two more accounts of no and she still sent dad and me off on a scouting mission. Nope, the show is on tomorrow.

The buildings around Tivoli were really grungy. No design at all. Mom told me that was the result of the communist era. After WWII, the leader of the Slav resistence party, a man named Josep Tito, came to power as a communist leader under the shadow of the Russians, half his own leader and half a puppet. Under him, lots and lots of dingy apartment buildings were built for people to move into.

Many ethnic peoples were pushed into the new county Tito built, called Yugoslavia. And they all hated each other. After Tito's death, war broke out as each ethnic group tried to split and form their own country.

Slovenia ceceded just as the war started. Walled by mountains from the rest of Yugoslavia, and not very big, no one tried to fight for it. Slovenia was not much affected by the war, and so it is a rich and prosperous county today. The indoor swimming pool at Tivoli reflected that.

Today was pretty much the same. Mom gets up at noon, and we walk around, get some more information, and come home. The jetlag is getting annoying, so we are going to force ourselves to get up at nine tomorrow so we conk our at seven tomorrow night.

Good luck to all!


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hello, I'm back!

Did you really expect me to stay gone forever? Honestly.

Now, time for a little lesson. Don't worry, it will make your brain grow!

Slovenia is nestled to the right of Italy, below Austria, and on the top tip of the former Yugoslavia. It's population is 2,053,400 approximately. It is a very biodiverse land, with coasts, plains, mountains, and forests. It covers 7827 square miles.

The main ethnic group of Slovenia are the slovenes (I don't put the italics to insult your intelligence, however). They have lived in Slovenia it's whole history, and they have been relatively un-diluted, as Slovenia is boardered by mountains and sea. The native language is - you guessed it - Slovene. It is the most difficult language in the world to learn.

Bored yet? Well, if I must...

Hurrah, Hurrah, Hurrah! The luggage came yesterday, with nothing stolen (I was really afraid my pocketknife might kick the bucket). We had all our clothes back and all the other things that had been there, including the power adaptor. We found a european - to - american adaptor in the flat to, and with a three-to-two converter we now had two functioning outlets for our computers. Batteries fully charged!

This was our first day here! Think of the opportunities! We could tour, see the sights, visit the castle, eat, shop!


9:00 - all awake and moving around.

9:30 - breakfast.

10:00 - getting going

11:00 - asleep (???)

14:00 - waking up.

15:30 - almost there

16:00 - Finally! We're out! That jetlag is powerful stuff! Not to mention that because of the time change Monday ended six hours to soon for me. I thought yestreday was tuesday!

Ljubljana is a beautiful city. The leading architect .lived a hundred years ago, and died in 1957. His name was Jose Plecnik. I don't have the proper accents on this computer, but his name is pronounced Joshay Plechnik. He traveled all over Europe, incorporated all the architecural styles into his head, and designed his own bridges and buildings for Ljubljana. The city is literally his city.

We unfortunately missed the open market (we still hadn't found green veggies). We saw the castle from a distance (something to see) admired buildings with extravagant molding on the outside. We then ate at a pizzeria recommended by the apartment owners.

The pizza was fine, but there wasn't much else on the menu, and I'm sure that was in the book for americans who want their pizza. And coke, don't forget coke. They had that too.

We needed more food for home, and this store was even smaller than the first one. The stores are called Mercator. And if you think that Mcdonalds are prolific, then you should see these. They are literally on every block.

Weirdly enough, the food in the Mercators have better tasting food then the nonorganics at home. That being said, most of the inhabitants of Ljubljana are pale as mushrooms and alot of them smoke. It is kind of the opposite of the US - Slovenians have better food for sale and a better health care system, but Americans actually seem to be healthier and eat better (more fruit and vegetables). Funny, huh?

Well, I think that's all I have to say.

Wait! I forgot.

Slovenia is the largest producer of wheat, stained glass and -

No, I'm just kidding. That's for tomorrow!

Log on tomorrow for the next post (if you dare). Good luck, and good night, and good eating, and etc. etc.

The Sloven dude.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Heeeeeeeeeeellloo, I'm back.


well, I'm back to the blog anyway.

Where did I leave off? Oh yes...

NEVER expect international travel to go smoothly. We did alright, but - in charlotte they held us up about a visa that we didn't have because we would get held up in Germany. Weirdly enough,

the SLOVENIAN GOVERNMENT said that we didn't need one until we actually got to slovenia. So we had to change our connecting flight and go through a big rigamarole just to board the plane.

Thats a german trash bin, by the way.

The Germans really like their beer. That quart mug was next to an already emptied one. Quite alot, huh, for ten in the morning german time!

Frankfurt went pretty smoothy. For smaller flights, you take a bus to your plane. That was cool because we saw the whole airport (it was HUGE). Then we boarded and saw all six checked bags on the same luggage cart forty feet away.

Then the Ljubljana airport. It was quite funny - there were little five by three glass boxes for smoking dotted around. Similar divided trash cans, too.

But then, not ONE of our checked bags came around on the baggage claim belt. At least our mom had told us to put toothbrushes and spare clothes in our carry-ons.

The connecting flight

Ljubljana was covered in snow. After a short drive into the city we came to our apartment. the landlord, Gorazd (mom calls him Gorashki in private) showed us the flat. It's nice, with bunk beds and a computer.

The view

We had a bit of trouble. Europe uses difference power plugs than we do, and we had only one adaptor in our checked luggage that wasn't here yet. The old computer here was not able do much, as I said, and all ours ran out of battery fairly quickly.

Our first slovenian food came from the dinky little market accross the square. Not that good - the US equivalent of a gas station store. but we were sick of airplane food.

The courtyard...

...the minimarket on the other side

The room had a pleasant air, and we were all so exhausted that we slept well.

The adventures continue in the next post! Will the luggage be found? Will better food be eaten? Will they even survive? The adventures continue on the next post of Living Slovenia!!

Until then,

the G-man
Hello to all!

Hope SOMEBODY'S reading this.

From the pertness of my writing you should gather that I am still able to think, access a computer, and type. So I made the journey safely.

Charlotte to Frankfurt was on SMALLEST international airplane I've ever ridden on. Now I'm convinced that you should ALWAYS fly a non-domestic airline.

The flight was eight to four, so what did we do? SLEEP. And for those who don't know, that's really really hard on an airplane. They provide a pillow and a blanket, but it does little to ease the ride. But then, if you can't sleep, all international flights have a good selection of movies and games. So I was well occupied.

So, after a VERY uncomfortable flight of eight hours we landed in Frankfurt, Germany (is that where frankfurters come from?)

That was a nice airport. Instead of garbage cans, they had cans divided into papers, packaging, glass, and unavoidable waste. Bet THAT cuts down on massive airport trash output. AND it was kid-friendly. There were huge lines in customs, but they took one look at three kids and led us to a special line for families. There was only one other family in that line. So we didn't miss our connecitng flight.

The Slovenian Airway company is called Adria, which (to me) is alot cooler than US Air. Talk about comfortable seats! Sadly, that flight was only an hour long. If you get a chance like that, sleep. I did, so now I can stay awake long enought to write and post.

Good luck to all back in the US!

Good-bye from the Slovenian Dude, the G- (or S- and G-) man, Garrett.