I can’t believe I’m saying these words but November has been lovely. The weather has been unusually warm and surprisingly sunny for my standards, it’s not my normal November that is full of darkness, sleet and sadness.
This month, I barely stayed at home. I managed to go to Ljubljana and travel a bit around Slovenia, I went to Dublin, discovered more of Bratislava, visited three Christmas markets in the same weekend – Bratislava, Vienna and Budapest –, and the last weekend of the month was reserved for revisiting Banská Štiavnica. I met some old friends and made some new, distracted the underlying dread of uncertainty with joyous moments, put a lot of effort into being present and cherishing every moment.
I’d been thinking of doing a week-long trip to Slovenia for a couple of months, perhaps since September. I asked around for suggestions and did my research but I didn’t have anyone to go with. After some hesitation, Elena finally agreed to join me on this adventure. It turned out to be only four days long instead of a week but it doesn’t matter, it was still the best trip this year. Let me tell you why.
We arrived in the afternoon of October 31st. In previous years, I’ve boycotted the imported American holiday since in Estonia, we already have two very similar ones in November (mardipäev and kadripäev). However, this time I didn’t care. I was abroad and I was going to enjoy it and have fun with Halloween. Elena and I met two girls in the hostel from Spain and Slovakia and invited them with us to explore the spooky streets of Ljubljana. There was a zombie walking down the main shopping street, I was indeed spooked by it. We went to Metelkova, an alternative artsy part of the city. I wasn’t enjoying it too much, the company there was kind of random and it was cold so around 23, Elena and I decided to head to a retro disco at the Orto Bar. Well, that was the best decision of the night! We had so much fun just dancing nonstop for three hours to the beat of the best tunes until we were exhausted and went back to sleep at the hostel.
The next morning, we went on a free walking tour. Our guide was super cute and told us interesting stories about the city. 🙂 I learned how dragons became the symbol of Slovenia and how Ljubljana got its name.
In the afternoon, after devouring a couple of delicious dumplings, we headed up to the hill to take a peek of the castle. It was cloudy and a little bit windy yet we managed to capture a few nice photos.
It was around 5-ish when we decided to go and rest a little bit in the hostel after spending the whole day outdoors. We were sitting in the common room, saw again the Spanish girl who was waiting for her evening train, and made some tea for ourselves. There were exactly three teabags left for us to use.
Why is this detail so important? Well, once we’d been brewing our teas for a couple of minutes, two young men approached us and asked if they could reuse our teabags. The initiation sparked a conversation which led to them joining us at our table which led to some jokes which led to, unexpectedly, Elena and I ditching our plan to visit lake Bled the next day and instead deciding to go on a road trip with the guys. Two P(i)eters, one from the Netherlands and one from Slovenia. Some would say it’s not the smartest move but we had each other and the guys seemed decent so I felt rather safe to join them on the adventure.
The next morning, we looked around at the market while the Slovenian Peter, the mastermind behind the whole trip, juggled between delivering bread and organising transportation for the trip.
I still don’t know where exactly the place we went to was. We were six people in a car made for five. The Dutch Pieter was laying on top of Elena, Hugo (from France) and I in the back. Our driver was Sanja from Slovenia and next to her sat Peter.
We were going to visit a man who has two medieval churches and the ruins of a castle in his backyard. He brews his own beer and plans to make the place a centre for medieval practices and lifestyle. He showed us the weapons and clothes, fed us, gave us drinks – really welcomed us warmly.
I was sitting there in the cottage, cosy, well fed, happy, so grateful for everything that had led my life to that moment. Full of gratitude. ♥♥♥
In the evening, most people wanted to go swimming in the hot springs and then spend the night at the cottage. I hesitated but after a little bit of thinking, went along with the plan. I didn’t dip into the water myself but I did join the rest of the crazy group on the drive. A part of me wishes I had joined them in the water yet another part knows that it just wasn’t the right moment and state of mind for me. It is okay not to be okay.
The night was
fun interesting. I woke up 4 in the morning to a bitter smell and loud blowing. Apparently, Slovenian Peter was trying to revive the fire in the fireplace as it had started dying. The whole house was full of smoke. We had to open all of the windows. I had to relocate my sleeping place because it was right next to a window. Elena was cold. I gave my blanket to her and grabbed a very thick one for myself.
In the morning, we were supposed to check out from the hostel at 10. We were one and a half hours late. But hey, they were super nice and even allowed us to take a shower before checking out. Thank you AdHoc Hostel!
Before we had to leave for the bus, we had lunch together, and Peter was super sweet and bought us ice cream. 🙂 Maybe he was bribing us with food, maybe he was just being nice. One or the other, I’m sold. 😀
Back in Bratislava… One day I made a quiche and Ivan approved it. I’m proud of myself! 😛
There is a viewing tower and a cafe on top of the SNP bridge which looks like a UFO. Elena’s friend was visiting and they wanted to go so Ivan and I tagged along. I never went before because it costs quite a bit. But the company was lovely so it didn’t matter. And the view was great!
This is a destination that I’d been thinking about for quite a while. I have a Slovenian friend there, Ernest. And in spring, another friend from Croatia, Jelena, moved to Dublin. I actually bought the plane ticket in the bus on the way to Ljubljana, and booked the hostel on the way back. I knew it was going to be expensive but here’s my thought process – next year I will probably find a stable job. I will not have such freedom to go just anywhere. I would have to postpone this dream for a few years. Maybe something unexpected will happen and I don’t get to go for longer than I hope. I do have the time now and I have some backup money that I can earn back. I’ve never been careless with money. Besides, money comes and goes but the memories stay.
The first morning in the hostel, I was having breakfast and discussing my plans for the weekend with some people from my room. One German girl agreed to join me at the zoo since the weather was super nice. Incredibly, it barely rained during the whole trip.
There were sooooo many animals and it took us 3.5 hours (including half an hour at the gift shop) to see everything. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
In the evening, though only briefly, I met Ernest. Last time we met it was summer and I was visiting him in Ljubljana. It was 3.5 years ago, wow. But it doesn’t feel so long at all. We have Skype and snail mail to thank for it. 🙂
The next morning, again at breakfast, I met two guys from Switzerland and France. I was planning to go on the free walking tour and invited them to join me. They did!
After the tour, I hung around with them for a bit, peeked in the national gallery and then went shopping on my own for a bit. I hadn’t booked a bed at the hostel for the last night so my plan was to chill at the hostel until the last transfer bus to the airport and spend the night at the airport. It was actually quite fun, the guys came back to the hostel and we were just chilling in the kitchen listening to retro music until about 23. Then they went to a party and I tried to catch my bus.
The thing was, my bus didn’t arrive. Nor did the next one. I was panicking a little bit and sent everyone messages about being stranded with my bags in the middle of Dublin. I tried to refresh good old Google Maps and luckily it showed me an alternative connection to the airport. I ran. Probably was almost run over a car. Not sure. But I made it to the bus. I think it was the last one that was going before morning.
So yeah, by midnight I was “happily” in the airport and tried to make myself as comfortable as possible to survive the night.
I made it.
Christmas Market Tour
What does the end of November approaching mean? It means that it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and that Christmas markets are opening one by one. Or maybe all at the same time, not sure. Anyway. I wanted to see as many as possible and somehow I managed to fit visiting three of them into one weekend.
We went after Morgane’s workshop to see the opening and lighting the tree. On the picture there’s Olga, Morgane, Elena and me.
Elenka came with me as a last minute plan. The reusable cups we sooooo cute!
This one was a two-day trip. We went to Budapest in spring but the weather was awful. I didn’t see everything I wanted to in May so I decided I’ll go again.
I’ve never travelled alone like this. Usually there’s someone waiting for me at the destination or I have a companion. This time it was just me. I was the only one responsible for my entertainment. And you know what, even though I was out of my comfort zone, I realised that it’s really true what Yeats said: “There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.” Again, I met people at the hostel. I met people just walking into a bar and listening to a live band. I met people at a party. It was great! The only thing I sometimes missed was someone taking photos of me. 😀 And again, I was so lucky with the weather.
The time of saying goodbye is slowly approaching. My calendar is rapidly filling up with final meetings, last shows, last parties. Also with reunions back in Estonia. Last Tuesday we said byebye to Morgane. It didn’t feel like a sad goodbye, I think I’m still not realising that I’m leaving in two weeks. It’s going to be a busy end, I will not have time for any tears until the last days, haha.
Last weekend I also went to Banská Štiavnica for MikiViki. But this is a story for the next blog. It’s way too long already.
I will write again soon.
Until the next time!