We arrived early evening with slight mist and eager anticipation: we were staying in Hostel Celica, former prison turned art gallery/creative living quarters. We weren't disappointed. Apparently, some 800 Slovenian artists have contributed into the building's transformation giving 20 something individual cells unique character and layout. You should check it out for yourself: http://www.souhostel.com/
the window comes down as a table...yes, very cool
I thought the entire concept of this hostel was a beautiful shadow of the gospel. To take something that bred death, darkness, loneliness, and hopelessness and turn its confines into a building that supports exploration, safety, economic sustainability, and, of course, partying is an idea that we should practice more often. Death to life, darkness to laughter, toxic to restorative. Now I'm not saying that we should go ahead and close all our active prisons to open alternative businesses such as hotels, restaurants, museums, allthewhile training the former inmates in professional skills...okay, maybe I am... (: Maybe I'm just scared that our culture/world has forgotten how to use their imaginations...or perhaps it's that we never knew how.
Truman, a 21-year-old American stationed in a German Airforce base, had just returned from Iraq and was on a mini-vacation to regain his sanity. He was in search of community and proved to be a great tour guide of the town from his 4-day stay in Ljubljana. 20% of the population is university students, so needless to say, the town was humming with activity. We ate falafels and had a good conversation with a Bangladeshi man studying economics in Slovenia...of course his English was perfect and he wanted to peacefully converse over the economic state of affairs and America's next president. He was brilliant and made us some darn good falafels. The next morning thunderstorms boomed in the surrounding mountains to suggest that we move on to the coast of Piran which meant an inadequate stay in Ljub, but there's not much you can truly savor in one weekend's worth of jumping through two countries.
And it turns out that we made a great choice. Our hurricane winds off the coast of Piran offered a rather entertaining afternoon and subsided just in time for a crystal clear evening. The entertainment came when we all decided to change into our bathing suits, run through the small alleyways around our hostel and jump into the Adriatic Sea. Bernard, a Canadian visitor at our hostel saw us in the lobby, asked where we were from, and responded by, "Of course, Americans." We're representing our nation well in Slovenia, no worries. I'm pretty sure I laughed for an hour straight, and shivered simultaneously.
After warming up, we hiked up to their local church and further to the quaint castle with its grand panorama.
We spent a riveting night in our hostel's warm lobby resting and chatting it up with Bernard and his wife, Patricia. I would guess they are in their 50s/60s and come from Banff National Park, Canada. We bonded over a common love for mountains and the close proximity between Glacier and Banff, and realized that we were both headed toward Pula the following day. Following that conversation, the four of us decided that the Travel Channel should start airing a show entitled, "Patty in Pula"- one, because it sounds fabulous, and because Patricia would inevitably do a darn good job representin' Pula. Catchy, isn't it?
We awoke to glorious blue skies and had a good chunk of time before our afternoon bus to Croatia, so we walked to the nearby town of Portoroz, drank cappuccinos, and laid out on one of the ports. I highly recommend this lifestyle. It was a pretty unanimous declaration that Slovenia is a splash of heaven on this earth, and what we saw of Croatia wasn't too bad either. All bus rides should be as pretty as the one we took that afternoon. Seriously, if Greyhound guaranteed Croatian coasts, I wouldn't even think of any other form of transportation.
And so we arrived in time for a sunset over a horizon of water, and gave ourselves a quick tour of Pula (Patricia had already headed on to the hostel, so we were lacking our guide, unfortunately).
Post-dusk we checked into Pula Youth Hostel located on the beach, went out to get oven-baked pizzas, slept, and woke up to a chilly sunrise. Then we left. An entire day of travel was performed without a glitch, except for the fact that the Slovenian train men couldn't get it through their heads that they weren't supposed to stamp our Eurail Passes. Just shake your heads along with me on that one.
After such a weekend, I am rethinking whether or not God wants me to spend the rest of my life renting out motorbikes in Piran, writing Slovenian poetry, and continuing my addiction to coffee and suntans. I wouldn't exactly be opposed.
And tonight it's Wednesday, October 22, 2008. I picked my mom up from the airport this morning, and we have quite an exciting 2 weeks planned together. We leave for fall break this weekend: Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and, of course, Osterreich.
Ciao ciao for now.