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I was grumpy. A four-day head cold will do that to you. Mind you, this was an improved version of me. Two days earlier, saw me reduced to a gibbering idiot, staring owl eyed at the wall.

The situation in the train station did not seem very promising. The place appeared to be cast in cold, grey stone. The design of the place seemed functional, but only just so. Only one or two shops were open, one a bar and the other a mobile phone shop of some sort. The coloured signs of the shops seemed almost reluctant in the way they shone, barely adequate in piercing the gloom of the place. The Babe (TB) went to the phone shop to try to get some directions to our hostel. After a protracted discussion, it emerged that we had to take a bus from some bus stop.

We emerged from the Ljubljana station into a cold drizzle. TB stopped a passer-by who amazingly, did speak English. We were given directions to a bus stop around the corner, where a mystical bus would take us somewhere near the hostel where we were supposed to be staying. The walk to the afore-mentioned bus stop did nothing much to change my mood, the buildings looked stark and military. I started to wonder if I had somehow made a mistake in wanting to visit there.

On the way, TB stopped another passer-by who confirmed what bus we should take. The contrast in things seemed quite odd. The buildings seemed cold and pedestrian, but the people seemed warm. After a fair amount of rigmarole, it emerged that we had to take a certain bus number 14 to a certain obscure road. The first bus that appeared came with a grumpy bus driver who did not speak a word of English and was more interested in driving off than saying very much. Fortunately, TB yelled at him to stop and we got off the bus. Amazingly, the same woman who told us about the bus appeared again at the bus stop and told us that that was indeed the correct bus. She explained that bus drivers in Ljubljana are usually unable to speak English. Asking for a pen, she proceeded to give us a list of roads to ask the bus driver about. With her help we were able to fumble our way through the journey of the next number 14 that arrived. Ljubljana seemed to be a different animal from what its gruff, military surroundings portrayed initially.

Upon arriving at what seemed to be the right bus stop, we were left staring in the dark at a somewhat distant highway road that dipped underground. With this somewhat ominous spectre, we somehow managed to stagger our way into a side road, which when we got to the end, turned out to be the very road where the hostel was located. We had help from a woman who walked out of the street and confirmed that this was where the hostel was located. Another odd pairing of cold and warmth.

The hostel itself turned out to be a cheery sort of place in bright colours. It screamed “student budget” in every way, and was practically an Ikea budget showroom. Upon checking in, we found that we were upgraded from a 4-bed room to a 2-bed room, a very nice touch, the only alarming thing being that the ceiling in one corner had a huge piece of paint that looked like it was about to fall off at any moment. It was very livable, once you got past the fact that nearly everything seemed to come from Ikea.

Tags : Eastern EuropeEuropeHostelsLjubljanaSloveniaThe Balkanstrain journeys

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