Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Further Thoughts From A Tiny Nation

With over a week of experience under my belt, I feel sufficiently qualified to unleash another round of penetrating cultural insights regarding my current home.

1. These people drive like lunatics. A red light here is less of an order to stop, and more a helpful suggestion. To make matters worse, a green man at a crossing doesn't mean cars won't still be driving past you, it just means they will probably stop if you end up directly in front of them. DJ is very proud that his countrymen are trusted to use their judgment whereas the British are ordered around. Of course, sometimes he sees someone driving so badly it contravenes even Slovenian motorist protocols, and the miscreant in question is derided as being so bad a driver he could be from Turkey.

Remind me never to go to Turkey.

2. Many interesting options exist here as regards food. One of today's options in the cafeteria DJ and I sometimes frequent was battered shark (or “sea-dog”, as my hosts would have it). More bizarre was the discovery last night that, after a few beers in the pub, tradition has it that one retires to a roadside fast food van. So far, so normal. Rather than eat a badly-packed kebab, though, as would be our way, however, the Slovenians munch their way through a horse-burger.

Always happy to experience new delicacies (and quite drunk in the case of the burger), I tried both horse and shark. Shark, unsurprisingly, is very much like skate, although with significantly less cartilage getting in the way (whether this is due to fundamental biological differences or just that my mother is rubbish at boning fish is currently a mystery). The closest analogue I can think of for horse is kangaroo, which probably is further proof that my taste-buds are puny and worthy of ridicule.

Whilst on the subject, it is ridiculously hard to find anywhere to eat out in Ljubljana on a weekend. Not just on a Sunday, Saturdays too. I had to go to the same restaurant two nights in a row, which admittedly wouldn't have been so bad had I not temporarily forgotten that I've developed an allergy to pesto. I still can't believe I made it to another country unaided.

3. The local shop has a wonderful system whereby if you arrive clutching an empty bottle of wine (and those who know me well can confirm that I arrive at most places clutching an empty bottle of wine) you can exchange it for a full bottle and only pay the price for the wine itself. This, combined with the comparative cheapness of Slovenian plonk (it's not as marked a difference as in, say, Prague, but it is still noticeably cheaper) means that one can by a bottle of reasonable wine for around the same price that it would take back home to get a can of budget lager. One more reason I may decide never to return to Blighty.

4. One thing I do really miss about home is the gym. The one we have here is terrible. Most of the instructions are in Slovenian, of course, so it may be partially my fault, but not a single damn button on any of the treadmills will actually make them go, which pretty much just makes them tremendously crappy look-out posts. On the other hand, it's free, it's in my building, and it's always empty, so I guess I shouldn't complain too much.

Right, that's all I can think of for now. I'm going to the sea-side on Thursday, so doubtless that will spark off many new observations and/or lead to me being eaten by a tiger shark. Which I guess would make karmic sense, at least.


jamie said...

Wow. I had no idea you'd ever entered a gym in this country.

I hate gyms. They're sooooo dull. However, I really ought to get some exercise at the moment besides my walks to and from the bus-stop and work though; haven't played squash for almost three months :-/

SpaceSquid said...

I started going in the Spring. I got fed up of looking like I was seven months pregnant.