04 August, 2012

Lovely Ljubljana

We visited one of my favorite cities today. At first we were worried we’d picked the wrong day—it was sweltering and many of the shops are apparently closed on Saturday afternoon. The whole place was a ghost town so we ducked into an outdoor jazz bar to escape the 35 degree heat. Enjoyed cool drinks in the shade of large trees to the strains of Billie Holiday and and chatted with a local guy who was cradling his infant son whom he’d named after a Formula 1 driver.

We asked the waiter where we could get some good local food and he directed us to Sarajevo, a Serbian restaurant down the street. It was one of the most bizarre meals we’ve had in a long time. The restaurant was in a somewhat sinister dungeon-like basement with strange, random memorabilia on the walls: the top of a trunk from an old Zastava, a jacket from the 1984 Olympics, signed photos of Yugoslavian celebrities, twinkling fairy lights and a large video screen that flashed bizarre, subversive Yugoslavian (and post Communist era) propaganda between music videos and Zastava advertisements. The food was solid Balkan fare—M and S got their fill of meat and B and I ate roasted peppers, beans, flatbread and shopska salad until we thought we might burst.

After that we wandered along the river and enjoyed the street musicians and performance artists. Ljubliana is lively and friendly and we probably enjoyed people-watching as much as the live music and acrobatics.

At one point S shouted: MOM! LOOK! And pointed down at the grass next to the bridge where we were standing. There was a HUGE rat-like creature serenely munching away at leftover flatbread and other debris. This thing was at least a half meter long, (without his tail!) (and for those of you who know how bad I am at guesstimating size / weight / volume / etc, I can tell you that it was M with his accurate carpenter’s eye who sized him up.) This thing was so big that you could see every individual whisker moving as he nonchalantly finished a pizza crust and then slipped into the river and swam away!!! ??? I am wondering if this thing could have been a Nutria? I know the Russians make fur coats out of them but am not sure if they hang out in cities eating flatbread? In any case, I got a bunch of pictures of him and am now sorry I wasn’t taking pictures of S and M’s faces instead because their expressions of shock and awe were PRICELESS!

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