Published: May 26th 2008May 19th 2008
So, we're in Slovenia right now. Ooooooooooooo, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!
This is really the first part of the uncharted territory of this trip.
We left Munich at the crack of dawn and hopped on the train to Slovenia. The seats were all reserved so we made good use of the available space in the luggage compartment. We hadn't left Bavaria before a random guy approached us and asked to see our passports. Now, we've heard about people stealing passports or looking for bribes, so both of us were a little worried by now. We asked why, and then he showed us his ideantification (id card and handgun) and said he was with the bavarian police and he was looking for drugs. We reluctantly handed over our passports and waited. He was then joined by his three buddies. Things did not appear to be going well. You have to understand; these guys all looked hungover and if they had just rolled out of a dumpster. They weren't very authoritarian in appearance at all. One of them seemed to speak a little english and asked if we had any drugs of any description with us what-so-ever. He wanted to search our bags, but we looked so innocent and kept protesting our innocence that they finally gave us back our passports and left us alone.
That wasn't the last indcident on the train either. We were on our way through Villach (southern Austria) when we were told that everyone had to get off the train there. We met a Croatian formal ferry captain who had been to Vancouver who spoke english and germand and he informed us about the costruction on the rail-line. Everyone got off in Villach looking very confused (even the locals). We waited in the rain for 30 minutes for a bus to come and pick us up and drive us south to a place where we could pick up a train heading to Slovenia. We bussed through little narrow country roads and arrived at the world's smallest train station and the world's smallest train (one engine and two carriages).
After that point, it was relatively painless. We got off at Lesce-Bled and got a taxi with a friendly driver named Darko. He took us to the hostel which is located above a George Best bar (former Northern Irish soccer player). We asked the friendly barmaid what we should do and she asked if we had a reservation. We did, so she took us up to our room and told us that the manager would be in soon. Robert is the manager. He is really friendly. He told us about Bled and all the things we could do, gave us a map and then asked if we had any questions. We asked if we should pay now or later and he told us that it didn't matter but we should probably relax after our long journey. He then asked us if we were going to watch the game tonight. "What game would that be?" "Canada vs. Russia gold medal game of course." "Hockey!!!!!!" We hadn't seen it in a month so we were so excited. Apparently, hockey is huge in Slovenia and everyone loves it!
We walked around town and up to the Castle which is perched on a hill overlooking the town. The town is located in the middle of a valley. In the middle of the valley, there is a lake. In the middle of the lake, there is an island. In the middle of the island, there is a friendly little church. Enough nursery rhymes. The view of the town and the lake was spectacular from the catsle. it was cloudy and it rained periodically, but it didn't seem to matter. Bled is gorgeous! We met a Swede, Marko, up there (by this time Kif was starved for Swedish) who had just flown over from Jerusalem on his was to Amsterdam. He was probably the coolest Swede we met all trip (we're up to one so far, but he set the bar very high). He's a freelance journalist/elections observer/NATO peacekeepers/paragliding and scuba diving magazine editor/awesomness personified. We had lunch with him in town, in a friendly restaurant. He regaled us with his tails, and we attempted to reciprocated, but we only had our drug search to go on so we didn't have that much to work with. The restaraunt was really cool and the bar had license plates from all over the world, including BC! We watched the hockey game in the bar with three American girls (Veronica, Mariah and Jena) who knew very little about hockey, but appreciated the atmosphere. There were a many Russian fans, but also a lot of Canadian fans (all of whom were Slovenian except for us). We were quite dissapointed with the outcome. Damn Russkies!!! Oh well, next year... What made it a little bit better too was that here we were, in Bled Slovenia watching Canada play in the finals while our friends back home were watching the exact same thing.
The next day, we went white-water rafting down the Sava River. It was us two, two of the Americans, and our friendly Slovenian river guide named Mika. The river was class 3, so it wasn't ridiculously challenging, except for a couple of whirpools and small waterfalls. It was a lot of fun though and we saw a lot of wildlife including ducks and herons. We also got to go swimming in the warm water (9 degrees)! It was a lot of fun and we would recommend the rafting here to anyone else who wanted to learn or didn't want to break their foot in something that was too challenging. We had lunch afterwards, and we stuffed oursleves with goulash soup!
After Bled was Ljubljana. It's the capital of the country, despite the fact that only 250,000 people live there. The area around the train station is pretty bleak, but the old two is really pretty. All of the buildings are Art-Nouveau, and there is a castle on top of the hill above town. There were a couple of cool bridges there as well. One was a triple bridge, with three paths side by side. The other one was a dragon bridge which had dragon statues on each end of the bridge. They are there, legend has it, because Jason and the Argonauts tried to get the golden fleece from around Ljubljana, and vanquished a dragon there while doing it. Vivienne, a girl we met in Hamburg, flew in to meet us there as well. She will also travel through Croatia with us. The hostel in Ljubljana was really cool because it was a former prison with bars on the windows and everything. You could even stay in a cell!
What we learned in Munich (because we forgot to tell you),
-When the dryer sounds like it' going to explode or take-off, it dries your clothes particularly well!
-BMW Welt is the male version of Disneyland.
-The Oompa band show no emotion when they play their music. Since they were German, the lack of emotion seemed odd to us...
-Random run-ins with people rule
What we learned in Slovenia:
-Everyone is friendly!!!
-Even in the rain, Bled is a beautiful town.
-White water rafting is fun
-Dragons are cool!