You know how you tell someone you are going somewhere and they just happen to know someone who lives there that you should meet? Well, that is what happened to me and then us. I know this woman Agnes from the Budapest Creativity Group, who I met with to do some coaching. She knew someone here in the city who she thought we should hook up with. I was hoping my grunting an acceptance with an almost inconsequential nod of the head would have made her forget the offer by the time she reached home. Well, she didn’t and within 2 days, had the two of us e-mailing each other with plans to meet. I hate knowing I am now feeling obligated to meet some stranger on my holiday, but now not only are we meeting with Melita, we are bringing her her birthday present from Agnes.
The usual scenario ensued. Melita wanted to meet on the day we arrived, until she found out our arrival was not until 9:30 pm if the train was on time, but that was not counting time to find the hostel and check in either. Then she wanted to meet the next day, which would have worked out well, but her time was 2 pm, which really cut into our day depending on what we chose to do. The next day, we had the entire day tour, so that let out Saturday. We finally agreed on coffee at 10 am today meeting at the hostel and going from there. We stowed the luggage in the luggage room and waited for Melita. She was truly delightful and certainly very chipper. She offered to drive us to the next inn where we were to be for our last two nights. Super! We each only have a carry-on suitcase and I have backpack for computer, camera equipment, chargers, etc, but still it was a great help. She has a BMW convertible and is divorced. Times are not to shabby here. She did tell us that our hostel as well as the alternative community behind it, keeping us up every night, was all once a military complex with the hostel being the prison; we knew that. What we did not know was that the alternative community has been in existence for the last twenty years. There are a number of artists who have studios there as well as the pubs that only open at 10pm and stay open until 6am.
We wander to our new home, ring the bell, and wait. There are reasonable waits and unreasonable waits when you have reservations; this was the un kind. We were finally told to come up, so we carted our things up to the second floor (American, first floor European) to be greeted by a very attractive woman in her bathrobe. It is never a good sign when greeted with “Hi, come in. We have a problem.” Well, it seems there was no room at the inn. Our potential hostess could not remember my ever writing, however, she had the requirement when booking that you write to reconfirm every three days, 4 hours, 43 minutes, since she cannot take credit cards for deposits. I sent so many e-mails, we could be having an affair by now, yet being forgettable, she forgot me. There was no room at the inn, but she asked if we could return in an hour and she would resolve the situation. We had coffee with Melita and wondered where we would stay in a city that was sold out.
Upon returning, we were told that our hostess-not-to-be had a mother who became suddenly ill, causing hostess to tend to her for two weeks in another city. When hostess returned, she was mentally scattered or discombobulated and starting messing up the calendar. Having done this once or twice myself, I certainly understand how it can happen. She offered two solutions. We could have her room and she would sleep at her daughters or she had called a local hotel that happened to have 1 room open for our 2 nights. The hotel charges 77 Euros a night, she charges 60 Euros a night, but she offered to pay the difference since it was her fault. She too is a university instructor, teaches private art lessons, and runs the B and B. She insisted we go look at the hotel to make sure the room was acceptable, otherwise we would have her room. Since we never had a room to compare, the hotel room is clean, has a fan, two skylights and no alternative community behind it. It was fine. We said our good-byes to Melita before coming to the hotel, so we were on our own for schlepping the stuff. No biggie.
Settled into the hotel, we went to Tivoli Gardens, but on the way, we discovered this fabulous house, needing to photograph it, but we were stopped. It is now the US Embassy and not only is there a guard within the grounds, but one lurks across the street in the shade. They gave us a postcard instead. We checked out a Serbian church, the Modern Museum of Art, and then the gardens itself. There are so many stairs it continually makes me sorry for those who are wheelchair bound. The gardens are humungous and green. Luscious greens everywhere that there are no flower beds, with fountains people can go into to cool off and they are. The last days have been 89-93 degrees with no break in sight. On the way back, a guy came up asking for a coin. We refused and he retorted with “Sorry, but you see this is my job, to ask for money. It is the only work I have so I have to do it efficiently.”
Suffering from the heat, we returned to the hotel for a rest. I wrote, Ron read. Afterward, we ventured over to a pub where they had a 2 for 1 special on a number of cocktails. Neither of us had had a Cosmopolitan before and martinis were not on the list; we each had 2. I am certaint there wasn’t an ounce of liquor in the drinks. Generally I am a lightweight drinker so 2 drinks would hit me between the eyes, but I didn’t feel a thing. For dinner we went to Cobbler’s Bridge dining at a restaurant on one side of the bridge. A young couple sang and played music on the bridge drawing quite a crowd, but we had great seats enjoying the serenade while eating.
Tomorrow we will go to Bled, necessitating a trip to the tourism office. Ron generally has a quota to fill for how many times he needs to visit the tourism offices when we travel. He asks dozens of questions, they give him dozens of answers and brochures for all his supposed needs. As soon as we leave the office, he drops the brochures somewhere because he doesn’t want to carry all of that stuff. On our way out, we met Dennis. Dennis is a university student studying journalism who is doing some research studies for the tourism office. Dennis had great English, but still had those annoying errors. I asked if he had had any native speakers teaching him. His only native instructors were people who came for a few months at a time in high school. He did share with us that all of his university textbooks were in English since the Slovenian market is so small, they couldn’t afford the translations. He also told us all movies and television shows are in the native language. He had to start learning English from 6th grade and it is mandatory throughout the country, but some start with 1st grade. By the time they finish high school, they have to speak English, Italian, and German. Slovenia borders Austria and Italy and both are extremely important to their tourism economy.
Just two doors down from this hotel is a bookstore that has English books. I could not believe that had a new book by Jostein Gaarder, the Norwegian author that must have just come out. I have a list of all of his books, with those that I don’t have marked. This title was not on either list. Tomorrow Bled, but first a shopping trip to the bookstore. Tonight, there is no loud music, no one shouting, no one howling at the moon, nobody screaming in any language, just a quiet hotel room next to a Catholic church that rings its bells every quarter of an hour without any rhyme or reason as to how many times it tolls. They go on forever.