Thursday, July 24, 2008

Greetings from: LJUBLJANA

I spoke about “roughing it” too lightly, and then I’m actually doing it. We’ve moved one step down from a hotel to a hostel, where the extra “s” stands for “savings.” It could also stand for “shared bathroom.” But irrational need for maid service and 400-thread count sheets will eventually be my undoing. Luckily, the Aladin Hostel isn’t strictly for youths, so there are a fair number of older folks here. And as long as it isn’t run by an international cartel of sadists who pay for the pleasure of dismembering you, I’m fine with it. (Damn you, Eli Roth!)

I’ve actually stayed in a hostel once, when I was in my early twenties and couldn’t afford a hotel room in Boston for a writers’ conference. I recall a pleasant enough experience, if not particularly a memorable one, since I only spent one night in the hostel before shacking up with various conference-goers after that. Please keep in mind: this is when I lived in D.C. and my #1 requirement for a boyfriend was that he have air conditioning.

The halls smell of disinfectant—off-putting, although it does imply that the toilets are cleaned on a regular basis. Still, I like to limit my Pine-Sol exposure as much as possible. The lobby looks like the interior of a strip club: padded benches with M&M-colored cushions, ceiling fan, colored lights in the windows. The reception desk could be the DJ booth. It’s actually peaceful here (signs posted around the hostel ask guests to keep their partying to a minimum, by request of the police), and residents drift in and out, speaking French, English, other unidentifiable Indo-European languages. On the whole, I've seen fewer mullets here than in the Czech Republic, but the fauxhawk is still in full-force. Particularly annoying are the fauxhawks with the pointy parts bleached or dyed a different color.

Late night in the hostel lobby: one of the two overhead TVs has a test pattern. The station has gone off the air and says nothing but “TV Koper. Capodistria.” The other plays a grainy Slovenian film. It looks to be from the 60s or 70s, judging from the clothes and the general demeanor of the actors. The odd thing—the Slovenian subtitles are on as the characters speak those self-same words. It’s a crash course in pronunciation—if only I knew what the police inspector was saying to the guy who refuses to button up his shirt.

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