CBB*: isolacinema 7 | Izola, Slovenia

I was sad to miss this year’s edition of Kino Otok/Isola Cinema film festival on Slovenia’s Adriatic Coast. Happily, one of the fine2meline was there again and brought back some memories from last September, as part of our Cross Balkan Blogging Project.* (Coincidentally, in the last couple of days, I have been constantly reminded of Izola, where I was for last year’s Kino Otok, as I am now at another film festival taking place on the coast of another sea. But more on that coming up later.)

from 8th till 12th of june -isolacinema- film festival was the place to be.

here we were drawing an animation. it was a part of the film workshop.

* More about the Cross Balkan Blogging project and all posts from it.

CBB*: friday after lunch walk with a friend | ljubljana, slovenia

A new post and two beautiful photos from the fine2meline, as part of our on-going Cross Balkan Blogging project*. My latest guest posts, both from India, are here – on drinking Bulgarian wine, and here – on a typical Tamil breakfast. Happy viewing!

on this nice day in ljubljana, a friend
invited us for a lunch. very good pumpkin soup
followed by rice and salad. all really healthy and tasty.
and as she is living next to the pond,
we made a little walk after.

* More about the Cross Balkan Blogging project and all posts from it.

CBB*: all “equal”, some different | mali vrh and ljubljana, slovenia

The fine 2 Melinas and I have been a little sparse with our Cross Balkan Blogging* posts lately, but I am happy to report that a new one just reached me from Slovenia. As usual, it has some beautiful, and subtly funny photos, as well as a commentary that I bet a few of us out there can relate to. I know I do.

My latest post, on an entirely different topic, is also up. Enjoy!

looking at this photo, we come back to the theme that is around us a lot these days. we called it  “the martians, pretending to belong to this world”. trying to fit in somehow, in general, but not managing good. it happened often lately. when searching for a job, listening to the people on the street, reading about things around, … what the hell? are people serious by saying this? they mean it? how can it be, that the major opinion and the values are so different? when observing a bit how things work, how people function with each other … you really ask yourself who is crazy here: the ones that are prepared to take the job where not wearing jeans is more important then your skills and where blond girls named petra are in a better position or a few who say fuck this and go away. we sure know who is having better chances to get through “normal” life, but for what price? thanks, but no thanks.

The colors in ljubljana, however, were really nice last thursday.

* More about the Cross Balkan Blogging project and all posts from it.

2:1 ratio, upstairs/downstairs* | Here, there and everywhere

The bad news is that I have returned to Bulgaria and the 2 Melinas stayed in Slovenia, so we find ourselves separated by much of the Balkans once again.

The good news is that we are continuing with our Cross Balkan Blogging project.

One joint post and some inspired (if not contest-winning) photos are already up on fine2meline, containing some important lessons on the perfect ratio for mixing wine with water and on why you should wait to catch the fish before putting the pan on the stove.

Also newly published is a guest post with a photo that one of the Melinas graciously contributed.

In addition, in case you’ve missed it, I posted a new story about getting a second chance to visit and walk through Ljubljana.

upstairs/downstairs is a direct and creative translation of the Bulgarian expression for ‘more or less’, which I find not only continuously hilarious, but also consistently useful to describe how things often have both a positive and a negative side.

Take 2, or getting unexpected second chances | Ljubljana, Slovenia

Although the second trip I took to Slovenia, just two weeks after coming back from the first one, was quite different, there were some parallels between the two.

Just like the first time around, I again spent most of my time elsewhere and only went to Ljubljana on the day before leaving, which now felt both familiar and new. Some spots, like the small-scale model of the city above, I was seeing for the first time. Others, like the Butchers’ Bridge, I had already seen and even taken pictures of.

But – apart from seeing familiar sites, walking along the same streets and having coffee in the same bars – all with the people I had sadly said good bye to a few weeks earlier, what struck me was the strangeness of coming back to a place that I didn’t know if I would ever return to, let alone so soon.

Another time I felt similarly was several years ago. One summer, on our way to see my closest friend in Bhutan, a few of us had a two-day layover in Kathmandu. There, we were lucky to have been put in touch with a friend of another friend, who very graciously took us around the city’s sites, wined and dined us and entertained us to no end. We all fell head over heels with him. I remember being in Kathmandu, wanting and trying to see as much as possible, as I didn’t think I would come back to it ever, and surely not soon. As planned, we then continued our trip to Bhutan and eventually returned home.

Next spring, the Nepali friend who had put us in touch with our gracious Kathmandu host e-mailed out of the blue to invite us to her wedding in Kathmandu that coming summer. She was marrying him – the guy who had taken us around Kathmandu the previous summer! So, not even a full year later, I found myself back in the Himalayas, to a place that I thought I would never visit again.

So, of course Ljubljana is no Kathmandu, if for no other reason than the distance between the two and Sofia (although, judging from the length of my journey home this time, I may as well have been coming back from the Himalayas), but it still brought about the same pleasant, albeit strange, feeling of unexpectedly getting a second chance to return to a place that I thought was a one-off.

If I keep coming back to Slovenia at this rate, I’ll be able to put together the whole mosaic in no time.

Attention: Déjà vu | Ljubljana, Slovenia

Exactly two weeks after leaving Slovenia (complete with almost teary goodbyes, as I was not making any plans to come back any time soon), I found myself at the Ljubljana airport again.

I had the strangest kind of déjà vu – both expected and surprising, homely and unsettling, exciting and serene.

I couldn’t stay away, apparently.

So, I am now reunited with my favorite Trška Gora crew and ready for new sparks, outdoor adventures, joint projects, language misunderstandings, film screenings, sleeping, waking, eating and working in close quarters. This time, I’m heading to Izola, on the Adriatic coast, for the Kino Otok film festival.

At the airport, another meaning of the word pozor – which has proven to be a source of continuous entertainment with its multiple related, yet contrasting meanings in different Slavic languages, caught up with me again. The Bulgarian ‘disgrace’, apparently, is the Slovenian ‘attention’.

One-on-two: Launch of Cross Balkan Blogging (CBB) project | Here, there and everywhere

camper twins

In an effort to stay in touch and somehow continue our joint explosion from Slovenia, Tina, Nina and I decided to start the Cross Balkan Blogging project. In it, we will occasionally guest post on each others’ blogs while keeping to their overall idea. The project will hopefully become an ongoing conversation between the three of us – between Ljubljana and Sofia, across the Balkans, and wherever else we may end up.

My first post on the twins’ blog is already up.

Theirs is here.

All the following posts written as part of the project are here.

Love* on the Butchers’ Bridge over Ljubljanica River | Ljubljana, Slovenia

Having officially opened in July, the Butchers’ Bridge is Ljubljana’s newest bridge over the Ljubljanica River. Although the bridge looks very modern, it’s design is in fact an interpretation of a plan from nearly a century ago by the iconic Slovene architect Joze Plečnik, who transformed the city in the 1920s and 1930s. Some law prevented the exact design to be used after Plečnik’s death, but – as far as I’m concerned, the result isn’t at all shabby.

The footbridge’s surface is divided into three parts: a light gray granite runs along its middle, while two glass sections stretch along the railings on both sides, on which one can stand and look at the river flowing below (a little eerie).

On the bridge, there are several large standing statues of figures from Ancient Greek and Christian mythology, including Adam and Eve, banished from Paradise; Satyr, startled by the Serpent; and Prometheus, running and disemboweled, in punishment for having given the knowledge of fire to mankind.

Lined atop the bridge’s wide railing, there are also some smaller bronze sculptures, slightly grotesque but at the same time nice to look at, of animal skulls, shellfish and frogs. Here and there, padlocks are latched onto the beams connecting the sculptures. Initially, I was perplexed that they didn’t come up with a more subtle way of ensuring the sculptures weren’t stolen, but when I took a closer look at one of them, I noticed it was engraved: “Vesna + Tomaž,”** it read, and in fact, it was simply latched on and not actually keeping anything in place.

Then, I realized that love padlocks were clamped not only to the smaller sculptures but they also hung from the steel wires of the bridge’s railing.

This practice of latching padlocks engraved with the names of couples in love isn’t unique to the Butchers’ Bridge in Ljubljana. It’s already been done in the Hungarian town of Pécs, where lovers have been clamping padlocks to a fence in a street that links the mosque in the main square with the city’s medieval cathedral since the 1980s as a sign of commitment; in Florence, where love padlocks were latched on the railing at the center of the Ponte Vecchio; in China’s Mount Huang, where love-struck couples “lock their souls” together and throw the key over the edge of the cliff; and in downtown Moscow, where newlyweds latched padlocks onto the Luzhkov Bridge until authorities installed iron bars to prevent them. Most famously, perhaps, this is practiced in Paris, where almost 2,000 cadenas d’amour adorn the railings of the Pont des Arts Bridge and the Passerelle Léopold-Senghor over the Seine. Better than tattooing messages of undying love on your arm, I suppose.

Despite the cheesiness potential, I thought the padlocks on the Butcher’s Bridge were rather charming. Since they haven’t yet had time to get rusty, I found their shimmering brass blended quite well with the bronze sculptures, and created a cool combination of intentional art with a more incidental, and unpredictable, participation by the public. And since Ljubljana is no Paris, these declarations of love didn’t seem overwhelmingly tacky.

Plus, I rather like the contrast between the implied brutality of the bridge’s name and the romantic notion of the padlocks. Another instance, in which the word ‘butcher’ for me is divorced from its original meaning and stands for something light-hearted instead.

* In another case of the same word having a different meaning in two Slavic languages (is there a term for that?): ljubezen in Slovene means ‘love’ (noun); in Bulgarian, it means ‘polite’, ‘courteous’, ‘amiable’ (adjective).

**Thanks to Tomaž for the impromptu tour of Ljubljana and for only half-heartedly denying he is the one from the padlock inscription.