Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Couple First Impressions

As I try to remember our first couple weeks here, a couple memories stick out.  When we arrived in February, it was still gray, overcast and foggy.  Ljubljana (there seems to be little consensus even among locals how it is pronounced) is know for being gray and a bit depressing from roughly ~mid-Nov to the end of Feb; it's in a valley and the fog just seems to sit for days on end.  However, through some internet searching I found a guy that rents out a two-room apartment on Gradaška Ulica, which really we really grew to love (aside from the "Wild West Saloon" which kept live music going until 2 AM on Thursdays).  It borders a stream which dumps into the Ljubljanica (main river through Ljubljana) and is a very "normal" neighborhood for the city - schools, a nice church, bakery, alleys filled with restaurants, etc.  Also, I remember from my morning jogs on how small Ljubljana really is (Slovenes often refer to it merely as a big village) with around 270k people, and how it just seems to peter out in certain directions.  Coming from the states, cities seem to dissolve in suburbs, and finally into highway rings or countryside.  On some of my jogs, I would find that some neighborhoods would start to thin out a bit (there also seems to be an "unfinished/destroyed" house ratio that would increase from 1 in 20, to 1 in 8 or 10) and then abruptly end in back roads or farm fields

Close, but far away

Greetings Friends and Family!

We finally have a blog up and running to chronicle our times here in Slovenia and share our experiences with everyone.  If you don't know already, we are finally settled in Ljubljana for the next 2 years and Scott will begin his master's program (probably in Balkan history) in the fall.  Right now we are enjoying our summer and exploring as much of Slovenia and the surrounding area as we can.  I figured the best place to start sharing our experiences is with some more recent trips.  As I sit here writing this, we are in a small town in the southeast corner of Slovenia called Vinica, in the region of Bela Krajna.  We are here visiting our friend Primoz, his parents and hometown for "Schengenfest," a big rock concert here every year on the border of Croatia and Slovenia.  It highlights a lot of the bands that made their name during the former Yugoslavia years - bands like "Prljavo Kazalište" (Dirty Theater) which is roughly equivalent to burnt-out 80's band whose ballads everybody knows, and "Vlado Kreslin" who is the Slovene Bob Dylan.  We have also been soaking up the vibrant green scenery here in what I call "Heidi country."  For the most part, Slovenia was under Austro-Hungarian rule the longest and that time is reflected in the house styles and way of life.  All the fruits and vegetables taste much sweeter and fresher than I am used to.  A lot is to be said about growing your own garden out here - everybody seems to have a garden, even in the most downtown areas of Ljubljana.  It has grown in us a new appreciation for the work ethic that goes into everyday living.  Anyway, we hope that through sharing some of our experiences this way it will help everyone see a different part of the world you may normally get to see and maybe help change some perspectives.  This will also just help our parents & family keep track of us:)  We are also throwing out an open invitation to come visit and we'll be sure to have a warm place for you to stay and some yummy soups and local foods to satisfy the palate.  Please come and join us, we'd love to have you!

Carolynn & Scott