12 August, 2012

Into the looking glass

Photo thanks to Radol'ca
This morning S, M and I walked into Radovljica and had coffee in the old town square.  S and M ducked into a shop and I was waiting outside with D when I heard someone say:  “Hey!  Do you speak English?”  Not wanting / needing contact with any strangers I shook my head.  “What?!  No English?! Where are you from?”  “Holland” “Holland!?  And you don’t speak English?”  He looked at me with a smile.  “Nevermind. Why don’t you go have a look in my gallery while you’re waiting?  It’s over there” and he gestured to a doorway in an ancient building.  I have to admit that my curiosity was piqued.  There were chicken noises being played very loudly over small speakers set up near the door.  A poster in the doorway said “CHICKENS” in Slovenian in all caps and I saw a long row of tiny ceramic chickens glued to a shelf on the wall in the hall leading into the house.
I pointed to the dog and looked at the owner quizzically.  He just shrugged his shoulders and said:  “Of course!  Go on inside!”
The house was *amazing* .  The hall opened up into a courtyard with old terrazzo tiles and 3 stories of balconies with vines growing on them and hanging plants that hung from almost every surface.  Here and there were random ceramic sculptures:  a bust of a woman, a tiny yellow horse, a square tile covered in at least 100 miniature green frogs.  It was so strange and magical, I was instantly charmed.  Suddenly I felt someone staring at me and I looked up to see a tortoiseshell cat perched on a railing and peering down disdainfully.
I climbed up a flight of ancient wooden steps.  Came upon a sofa, a small table with a book on it, and a beautiful view down into the courtyard.  It was also obvious that someone lived on this floor, so I beat a hasty retreat. 
M and S arrived and we heard someone come noisily down the steps and suddenly a large woman burst into the courtyard.  “Oh, you’re here for the gallery?”  We nodded, gave up all pretenses about not speaking English and asked about the house which it turns out,  is more than 500 years old and has been in her husband’s family since his grandfather bought it in 1910.  She led us into the cellar— still not sure if this is what they were calling a “gallery”?  There were a couple of shelves with various plates and bowls, none of them having anything remotely to do with chickens.
I kept waiting for a hard sell or some kind of trick, but it never came.  This woman was just genuinely friendly—she gave us a handful of postcards with pictures of the house in various eras and then said that if we didn’t mind that she’d like to close up and go join her husband outside in the cafĂ© for coffee...

1 comment:

Goofball said...

Makes me think for a setting of a book