Further ruminations on my current home.
More interesting foodstuffs have been consumed. Added to the roster of fast foods here (which is pretty similar to those you would find at home) is something called burek. It's essentially a pasty, which when filled with meat (mesni burek) is fairly indistinguishable from something you might buy from Greggs. They also have a cheese version, though (sirov burek) which is filled with the local equivalent of Wensleydale cheese, and is wonderful beyond measure. It also allowed for a beautiful moment of international bonding:
SS: This burek is brilliant.
DJ: You like the cheese. It is a special kind of cheese.
SS: We have something like it at home.
DJ: They do something strange with the cheese, but I don't know what.
SS: Something to do with vats. I'm not really a cheese expert.
DJ: Me neither. But the cheese is good.
SS: The cheese is good.
DJ: We are not so different.
Also, these guys can grill a sea bass like motherfuckers.
Speaking of the sea, I finally got to swim around in the Adriatic yesterday. I kicked myself for not bringing a face mask, but in truth the sea was so still and so clear you could still see the fishes just by slowly treading water. The view from the fishing town of Piran was beautiful, and Slovenia's coastline so tiny that I could see Croatia and Italy from the same point (DJ tells me that Slovenia is arguing with Croatia about how to define their territorial waters, because if Croatia takes the internationally accepted width of sea, it will reach Italy's and Slovenia will become technically land-locked). On the other hand, the sea didn't quite have its usual calming influence on me. At present the working theory is that the lack of tide and wind made the Adriatic too quiet for me. I hope that's what it is. I'd hate to think the sea itself no longer soothes my addled nerves. That will only leave booze and quattro formaggi pizzas. I guess I shall see what happens when I reach the Isles of Scilly on the 27th.
Aside from the sea, Piran's main attraction is the Church of Saint George. Say what you like about the Catholics (and DJ and I had a fierce discussion on Catholicism vs Anglican over our wine and fish soup), but they know how to build a church. Having spent my youth being dragged to Methodist churches (a sect that thought the CoE was a bit too swanky, so you can imagine how spartan their places of worship tend to be), it was almost breathtaking to see how much effort went into to tarting up even a fairly small Catholic chapel. Of course, in an ideal world one would have hoped they would have sunk that money into clothing the poor, or something, but it still looks spiffy.
On the other hand, the sculpture they had of St. George himself was a little shoddy. Not only does it make explicitly clear that the maiden in the tale secured his help by uncovering her ample bosom to him, but the dragon he defeated was significantly smaller than his own horse. Basically, it was an overgrown gecko with a box of matches. All of which suggests a rather smut-driven man with a habit of proving his worth against defenceless lizards.
Also of interest: the largest cave system in Slovenia. Limestone caverns of white and red (iron oxide) with splashes of green (copper oxide, maybe?) and black (from when Yugoslavian partisans detonated the ammo dump the Germans hid inside there during the Second World War), almost all of which were naturally formed, though apparently various bridges and interconnecting tunnels had been built/hollowed out by Russian POWS during The Great War. One would think there would have been more pressing labour, but the Balkan's war effort loss was the Slovenian tourist industry's gain. Tragically we were denied the opportunity to see the famous "human fish" (actually salamanders) since they've all been carted away by UNESCO. All that remains is a lonely tank of shallow water, scattered with coins. It is not clear at this point whether the coins were thrown in after the removal of the salamanders, or whether tourists attempted to pay the amphibians at the conclusion of the tour. "Oi, human fish! Go buy yourself something nice!"
Also of interest: the traditional faintly reminiscent shape tour, including a parrot (which one particularly dense American tourist went off to find, believing it to be an actual species of Slovenian cave macaw), a rooster, the before-and-after boob job (not even slightly kidding) and finally, the Bill Clinton & Monica Lewinsky (and never before have I seen a blow-job so convincingly rendered in sedimentary rock).
Right, that will do for this chapter. More amazing revelations as they occur.