Monday, 27 June 2011

A Little Jolly To Europe.

So. A few weeks ago one of my favourite people rang me up to invite me on a random holiday across Europe. I rang my mum to check it was OK and then started planning.
17ish days later, on Sunday 12th June 2011, it all began with a bus journey. The bus took me to the train station, where I met with three of my favourite people; Amycakes, Gman and Mr. Matt,and boarded a train from Sheffield to Birmingham New Street. Another train and a weird tram-monorail thing and we were finally at the airport and ready to board the plane! But the public transport was not over yet, even as we arrived in Italy and were hit instantly by a wave of heat. The original plan was to take another two buses and end up in Slovenia, but the best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry and all. We ended up at Trieste bus station peering at the time table, only to discover that the bus we had intended to be on left over an hour earlier. After some walking and grumbling, and frantic texts and phone calls, we finally had a place to stay for the evening* - a lovely apartment near the city centre.
Mine and Mr. Matt's room-heaven after all that public transport!
With our rucksacks off our backs and a weight off our minds, we went out into the night to find some food-and even though this was Italy at 10pm on a Sunday, we found a quaint little restaurant that sold delicious (proper Italian) Pizza/Lasagne and a Gelato parlour selling amazing ice-creamy goodness. To say that we weren't even in the country where we were supposed to be, it could have been a LOT more of an unpleasant evening.

The next morning after buying (and eating) brunch at the best Spar shop you will ever visit, wandering the streets and playing a few games of outdoor Uno**, we boarded the bus to Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia. I spent the bus journey becoming acquainted with Mr. Matt's music collection and 'trying to use my boobs as a pillow but failing'. I woke up somewhere in the countryside of Slovenia with about half an hour of journey left to go. And oh my, it's such a pretty country! We were all a little awestruck just walking from the bus to the hostel, which was also a pretty decent little room! Had everything we wanted (except for a dehumidifier, but that's no big complaint.) and was all cosy.
What you can't see is the gorgeous brick ceiling...or the terrifyingly saggy bunk bed...
We spent that first night just being in Slovenia, laughing at the humorous foodstuffs*** and just enjoying being genuinely properly relaxed since leaving. Me and Amycakes managed to cook a truly revolting meal, but the evening was none the worse for it.

The next day dawned bright and...not exceptionally early, although we awoke to my second favourite alarm clock ever..."Umm...Chaps...It's 10 past 10..." Today was our day of being proper tourists, so we headed out and up towards Ljubljana Castle. We managed to avoid the tiny smattering of rain as we looked around every crook and nanny, before heading up the (many-staired!!) staircase to the top of the tower. I complained all the way up, but by 'eck the view from the top was SO worth it! You could see for miles!
Beautiful, Beautiful Slovenia!

That afternoon we went on a boat trip down the Ljubljana River+ which was the most relaxing thing ever. As a bit of a history nerd, it was nice to learn a bit about the old buildings and bridges, and just being on the water was so tranquil and peaceful. I would have happily stayed on that boat forever. During our afternoon wanderings we were accosted by crazy Slovenian clown people. We had NO idea what was going on, and I am not sure the actual Slovenians did either, but they did leave us with a confused expression and the most catchy-get-in-your-head melody, to be sung for the rest of the holiday.  The evening meal was a much more successful affair than the night before, as it's hard to get a baked potato wrong even in Slovenian.

The final day of our stay in this beautiful city was spent wandering in the sunshine through the town, with my shoulders getting gradually burned in a stupid stripy pattern, eating the most gorgeous lemon sorbet I have ever tasted and generally just enjoying our last day in a lazy sort of fashion. My best memory from that day was this:
Forever Friends.
In Ljubljana, there is a (fairly new) tradition whereby couples purchase a padlock, write their initials on it, and lock it to the Butcher's Bridge, running through (near enough) the centre of the city. They then throw the keys in the river, to symbolise their ever-lasting love. We all thought this was a fairly beautiful metaphor++, and after much searching (and possibly being mistaken for lesbians!) Amy and I found and purchased a padlock. That photo was taken just after we attached it to the bridge-you can see it in the middle of the group. It's my favourite memory because it is such a feeling of hope and friendship, and it summed up a wonderful (albeit at times incredibly bizarre) trip. I have made some memories and friends to last me a lifetime. Would I go back? In a heartbeat.
We dined that evening at a traditional Slovenian restaurant-seated at tables in the centre of the street, followed by what might have been the nicest ice-cream I have ever eaten in my life. I can't even describe what flavour it was, but it was GOOD!

The next day we sadly bade goodbye to Ljubljana, and hopped on a bus back to Trieste, where we spent our time dangling our feet in the Mediterranean and revisiting the awesome DeSpar for supplies. Then it was a short hop back to the airport, and a slightly longer one back to Blighty. And no matter how awesome the trip, I still got that lovely feeling of being home the minute we stepped off the plane. What can I say, I just love this rainy little isle.

So my first adventure draws to a close. And as they go, it was pretty amazing.

Until next time then,
Jenni x x

*Thankyou Mr. Matt's missus Becky, and the lovely Italian lady who came to help us out
**You know we're friggin cool
*** "The lady at the front desk wants to know if you would like some free Cocaine?" (It's an energy drink, but still)
+Not very imaginative with their nomenclature these Slovenians. But you can't hold it against them really.
++ Except Amy; "It's like marriage...but with padlocks!"