I have a bounce to my step this morning. I'm not prone to bouncing but I've been suffering from a bad back for two weeks and that has reduced me to a horizontal and quite un-bouncy state. It's getting better, thankfully, and yesterday helped a great deal.
One of the good things was a plod to the shop to buy some coffee. I took a circuitous route in order to get a little more exercise and I saw a friend of mine sitting in her garden. Alenka is a lady of a certain age who owns and runs a set of holiday apartments in a tidy and well-maintained house up a road near the Bistrica river. She has just had a new roof put on the house. The old one seemed fine to me, but this is Slovenia. These people don't let things fester.
Alenka is a prime example of glowing Slovenian health. Referring yet again to my youthful TV offerings, she reminds me of The Champions, a marvellous tale of secret agents who, lost in the Himalayas, were rescued by mysterious Himalayan types and imbued with super-human powers. She looks far younger than she should be (based on the size and robustness of her visiting grandson) but might for all I know be 2000 years old, like the also mysterious Himalayan types in Lost Horizon. She certainly climbs mountains with an ease that puts us mere mortals to shame. She also does the plant thing, you know, gathering Alpine flowers and other attractive wonders and turning them into stuff that's probably magical.
She's also stopped eating sugar, which is some other evidence that she's part of the next phase of human evolution.
Anyway, fending off her insistence that I should climb mountains, I told her of my bad back and how, for the past couple of weeks I've been feeling a bit, you know, uuggh. And as I told her, I started to feel somewhat better. She is, I'm sure, related to the mysterious Himalayan types and able to heal with a smile.
I gave her a hug. She gave me a hug. This isn't surprising because hugging isn't really a solo exercise, but I was, for a moment, feeling much improved. I left, shopwards, realising that a simple hug is a powerful thing when you don't actually have any physical contact with anyone. Try going months and months without ever actually touching the skin of another human being. It's not healthy. One hug felt like in-flight refuelling; a much-needed top up of something fundamentally necessary. I didn't skip to the shop, but there was a bit of bounce.
In the evening the man upstairs, who has a name but I don't know what it is, knocked on my door just as I was doing the egg/cream/bacon/tagliatelli do-it-while-it's-hot sloshy part of my carbonara. His is the family that's here for the weekend. His English is perfect, his wife is blonde, slim and always ready to shout Hello, and the kids get excited about stuff in a way that makes me smile. He wanted to know if I wanted to climb a mountain with him today. I didn't let on about the slight bounce, but pointed out that my recent lack of movement made it unlikely that I'd be climbing anything any time soon. Next time, he said, and went off to play with his kids.
Good people one and all.
Yesterday I began the task of sorting out the Greek writing, and making a start is always good. I read passages that I'd previously reworked and sold. I was reminded of other good people in other countries.
This morning I found a comment on my last blog post.
Jean posts comments, and they are always welcome and always encouraging. I have replied to it Jean, in case the mysteries of technology never furnish you with a notification. She too added a boost to my increasingly bouncy state. She wondered if perhaps writing articles would be a better approach than trying to make money from a blog. I agree, though my style of slim chit-chat doesn't fit with your typical travel piece. I'd have to learn the trade.
One example of how my writing flies in the face of orthodox travel pieces (apart from never actually telling you anything useful) is my determination to report on things that seem funny, rather than helpful. In Greece for example, during a prolonged bout of house-hunting, I encountered a man who looked almost exactly like Joseph Stalin who said I could live in his house for free if I gave him two million drachma. To my way of thinking this is a joke, no matter what the currency. The piece was bought by Drexel University in Philadelphia, long before I even knew where Philadelphia was. During the publication process they said I had to convert drachma to dollars.
"Finally the message got through to Stalin, whose parting shot was this: I could have the place free for a year if I gave him 2 million drachmas (about $6000 USD) - I still have trouble working that one out."
See? It's not funny any more.
I also said that road signs in Corfu look like they were tampered with by the resistance movement.
"What resistance movement?" Drexel asked.
"There isn't one," I said.
I was told not to mention a resistance movement that doesn't exist.
And so, dear reader, all bounced up after a magical hug, an interrupted carbonara and a comment from Jean, I'm going to try my hand at writing a real travel piece about Slovenia. I'll try to be sensible and throw in all sorts of useful information. I shall not pretend there is a resistance movement and shall dutifully convert all prices to dollars. No mention shall be made of mysterious Himalayan types or that my lovely neighbour might be an escapee from Lost Horizon. I'll stick to the facts.
A trip to Ljubljana perhaps? I could report on the price of coffee of how old the castle is. The price of hotel rooms. How to get there. Dear God, I'm losing my bounce.
OK, there's lake Bohinj, the biggest lake in Slovenia and just down the road. There are fish in it, I've seen them. I could even find out their names and if you can eat them. The frequency of the buses. Hotel rooms. Dear me.
Clearly there is much to learn. Cheer me on. A cracking article would only cost the price of the bus fare to Ljubljana -- 7.20 Euros each way ($7.85) -- leaves every hour from the Obcina (council office building), takes 1 hour 37 minutes. Alpetour web site for timetables (http://www.alpetour.si/avtobusni-vozni-redi).
[ps...Have you tried the Armchair Detective Challenge yet?]
Slovenia, writing, other things