Friday, June 4, 2010

Biggest Surprise Thus Far

So, Linz had its moments, but I did not feel the least bit sad departing today.  Neither did Spargle (the German word for asparagus?), Jeanine’s toy dog that goes with us everywhere.  This is him at that local place where I had the sausage wrapped with cheese and bacon and deep fried:

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Literally, when we got to the hotel in Slovenia 6 hours after departing our Austrian Port o’ Call, all of us were screaming up and down the halls with joy.  These rooms are AMAZING and after the military style cots (my hip remains bruised) and dorm-like living, we all really needed some luxury.  Here’s a few from my balcony and a quick tour through my room:

I wish I had done some voice commentary, but I was too excited to think about it! 

We got here around 1:30, and I didn’t do a single thing until, oh, 4:30.  I plopped my rear end on the super comfy yellow sofa and watched that flat screen TV, reading the hotel dossier, dreaming of the long bath I would eventually take.  I really didn’t even think I would go into the city.  I watched a little CNN and BBC news until all the oil spill coverage and that awful shooting spree in the UK made it to depressing, then I switched over to a little MTV and some of the French Open, all in German.  Jeannine and Krissy came by after spending the entire afternoon in the hotel spa (after hearing how amazing it was, I regret not going!), and my belly prompted me to go with them to the town center for dinner.

But, we wandered and shopped and explored first.  I found this church of St. Nicholas (Krissy’s son’s name) with statutes of St. Bonaventure (don’t know if I’ve ever seen him referenced outside of Savannah) and St. Thomas Aquinas (one of the men responsible for me being Catholic – love love love his philosophical teachings!)

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A service was going on, so I couldn’t really explore the church, but it was gorgeous.  Some sort of political debate was going on the square beside it – after some prodding we discovered – you’ll never guess – that Slovenia and Croatia (where we go tomorrow) are having a border dispute and there’s a referendum put to the people to decide if the dispute can go to arbitration (the subject matter we’ve been studying exclusively since we got here.)  And the guy we got this information from was an Austrian.  So very full circle kind of moment.

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It’s hard to describe why I love Ljubljana so much.  It’s the capital city and very tourist friendly, but it’s a small town (230,000 people only) and it’s not GEARED towards tourists.  There aren’t cheesy souvenir stores and overpriced menus on every corner.  It actually feels like people live here instead of show put on for out-of-towners.  Everyone was super friendly, helpful, and jovial.  Music was everywhere and the sun was actually shining.  Magical.

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When we finally got around to dinner, we found this back alley place called Allegria.  I voted to go there because there’s a Cirque du Soleil show called Allegria (I’ve seen it twice….)  We actually got food that wasn’t deep fried or covered in bread.  It was the first place in Europe that I have found that had TOFU on the menu, so naturally, that’s what I’ve ordered.  Vegetables never tasted so good.  I’m pretty sure my body is going to go into shock.

Then, we explored the city at night [a well-lit town on the water at night is one of my favorite things!], got a few drinks and some ice cream, danced to some of the live music, and fell in love with a city we’d never heard of before.  We want to petition Lanier to let us stay another day!  We even found Free Willy (sorta):

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Then, I came home, resisted the urge to go out partying with another group, leaving as we were walking up, and fulfilled that dream of an hour-long bath.  It was worth it and I don’t regret the decision one bit!

I do dread tomorrow, for many reasons, not least of which is leaving this town way before I should.  Mostly, though, I dread the 14 hour bus ride.  I’ve been told that a great autobahn (interstate) is being built all the way down to Croatia, but, unfortunately, it’s not quite down.  Thus, at some point on the trip, the interstate stops and our bus will maneuver through winding, hilly roads, some of them dirt.  I have a bottle of Dramamine.  I may take the whole thing.

Just to let everyone know a couple of things: 1) I’m pretty sure I’ll have a roommate in Dubrovnik for the first time.  I don’t know if that will affect my blogging routine or not, but I thought I would let everyone know.  2) We don’t think we’re going to have internet access in our rooms.  Apparently, there is free internet in the hotel common rooms, the lobby, coffee bar, etc, but not in our rooms themselves.  This may or may not affect my posting as well.  I’ll see what I can do!

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