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.

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.