Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Greetings from: a bicycle trip around the city

After being forced aside by a mad bicyclist one too many times, it’s now my turn for revenge. I rented a bike from the hostel, and I was off like the wind. While I respected the existence of the bike lane, at times, it seemed to merge into the sidewalk (or else took a path which I couldn’t locate). And only once did I come close to a collision: two women, walking side by side. I rode up behind them, ninja-like, and eased by them on the left. Had I stretched out my right hand, I would have smacked one of them squarely on the ass.

Unsurprisingly, I got myself thoroughly lost several times. When the roads take a slight change in direction or angle off, they also change names, and with the tiny font on the map I had to guide myself, it was next to impossible to relocate myself. Many of the buildings in Ljubljana were unmarked as well (the National Gallery has to be one of these pink rectangles, but which one?), so I had to orient myself by unmistakable landmarks: the bus station, the beer factory, the river, the castle. Luckily, there isn’t much of Ljubljana to get lost in, so all problems mostly solved themselves.

In Tivoli Park, I stopped by the Hot Horse stall, apparently a local favorite. I ordered the house specialty, the horse burger, and at first, I suspected that the name had more to do with the size of the burger than the contents of the patty. As it turns it, it was both. You can pile on as many toppings onto the volleyball-diameter patty as you want, and the server wraps it neatly in a foil package. And while I can’t say that the taste was objectionable (either on my tongue or my conscience), if someone offers me horse meat again, I think that the neighs have it.

While eating, a small black-and-white kitten emerged from underneath the Hot Horse stall, squeezing its little body out from a hole in the ground. In a few weeks, it wouldn’t be able to do that anymore. Of course, being the sucker that I am, I immediately felt sorry for it. It hadn’t yet learned to fear humans—just a matter of time, I suspect; even though I carefully pulled off un-mustarded parts of my horseburger for it, other benches shooed it away thoughtlessly—and I was able to pick it up and hold it. So light, so fragile. He swatted good-naturedly at my fingers; no claws yet, but I imagined that they’d soon be sharp and ready to fend off the world. I named him Žižek and wished him godspeed.

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