I always got Slovenia and Slovakia mixed up as a young lad. Later, as my geographical knowledge extended beyond that of a six-year-old, I began to crave a visit to Nikola Tesla’s homeland, that lad an awe-inspiring pioneer who I for some time thought hailed from Slovenia until I realised that Croatia was a country and not the capital of Slovenia.
Anyway, Ljubljana – which I couldn’t pronounce until three weeks ago – was quietly electric. A charming hideaway a mere two-hours drive from the Julian Alps, its tri-polar weather, the warm embrace of its restaurants, and the cheap fags and booze had me at “zdravo”.
Hotel Emonec (with gym).
I check in at a hotel with a gym – a first for me. Flabbergasted by the equipment on display, I tried mastering the Transformeresque weight machine but gave up after ten minutes. I instead picked up the dumbbells and vainly stared at myself in the mirror, reciting Hail Marys Don Jon-style as the improbable choice of Abba’s ‘The Winner Takes It All’ blared through my mobile phone speaker.
That first evening was productively spent posting photos of my drink purchases on
I sat in a park the morning after, necking a manky bottle of Malibu Rum and chomping on a chorizo sausage. This gargantuan slobbering hound went for my spicy Spanish piece. I artfully hid the pork in my imported Lidl carrier bag. The beast then went full-on puppy-dog eyed, so too its incredulous owner. I’m sorry, pal. I’m a business, not a charity.
The Skyscraper (Nebotičnik).
A rooftop drinks venue, club below, and restaurant beneath that, I sat atop the 231-foot-tall building – which is not high by any standards, but we’re vertically talking about the Verne Troyer of cities here – and sipped my Guinness, watching the shifting clouds descend upon Ljubljana Castle. It then began pouring down, and a hailstone hit me on the nose, but I didn’t mind.
On my way to Ljubljana Castle the snow attacked me. I therefore hid in a pub for the next eight hours. Returning to Hotel Emonec I slipped on a snow-concealed grid. I considered this a premonition that no more arduous walking would recommence until the roads were kosher. The snow melted the next day, but so had I, so I sat in bed until dark watching Peaky Blinders with a bottle of Havana Club. A winning day.
National Geographic exhibition.
I find a gallery in the street. I take photos of photos, fully aware that my photos were amateur hour and the photos I was photographing weren’t. I looked at my photos of the photos and thought of ways to trump the photographed with a daring new set of photos.
It was all a bit postmodern. I couldn’t think of anything to better the Ansel Adams snaps with, but he was a maestro using large-format film, and I merely a consumer clutching a £30 Huawei smartphone purchased off eBay.
It was football week, and bars love their sports. Even the Europa League, that Ford Fiesta of cups, was made all the more thrilling by the intake of ethanol. Unfortunately, I caught a brief, bitterly coarse glimpse of a mirror image in the Cutty Sark Pub – drunken Brits abroad. I was vexed at them for their loutish behaviour, and also because they reminded me of … myself. Self-awareness isn’t conducive to having a good time. It’s better to be the pissed ingenu than the self-conscious one. It was time to leave.
I saw this bad boy on the outskirts. I didn’t go in. It’s at the top of my list when I return.