Closing time

Train ride at late hour. Tom Waits is singing a melancholy closing time, putting me in the right mood to roam in between thoughts.

Slowly, the train crawls though the grey suburbia of some German town. No housing. Just fields. The odd factory building, at hazy night light assuming an almost portly stature. Around it there’s empty space. Anywhere, yet nowhere. Can’t see what’s in front of me or what I’ve left behind.

… and a lazy old tomcat on a midnight spree, all that you left me was a melody …

It is dark outside. Wafts of mist close in on the autumnal surroundings. Funnel-shaped, they billow in warm, orangey street lantern light. The atmosphere is spectral. Serene. Shapes born from my thoughts gently roam in rhythm with the train’s rattling.

Tom is replaced by Bruce whose words speak my telltale heart.

… may your precious blood bind me, Lord as I stand before your fiery light …

There’s always been darkness.

As well as all exceeding, joyful light. Noone‘s ever known my fantasy world. Of imagination, peace and trust. Of love and rhythm. Of pictures and stories, of playfulness and blinking awe before the vast knowledge to be gathered in this boundless universe. Of an all embracing love for the natural world and the possibilities of human imagination and creativity.

… may I feel your arms around me. May I feel your blood mix with mine.
A dream of life comes to me; like a catfish dancing on the end of my line …

Long gone.

Bruce again. Ol‘ boss always finds the right words to save a life within 180 seconds.

There‘s a way to come to terms with one’s own melancholia. I’m sure. Must be.
Maybe you would understand. Would I?

Aren‘t our ways of being haunted – our beliefs in calmer times, equally vast?

Your demons sure are different from mine. Could you share yours with me? Would you be prepared for mine? In a world we create of our own?

… sky of blackness and sorrow. Sky of love, sky of tears
sky of glory and sadness. Sky of mercy, sky of fear
sky of memory and shadow. Your burning wind fills my arms tonight
sky of longing and emptiness. Sky of fullness, sky of blessed life …

A fooled heart, beating fast in search of new dreams.

​Fear and loathing in Venice Or, No Grandi Navi

Some might say they had warned me and they were right. However, I wanted to take a look at Venice on my way from Trieste to Munich, although I had a foreboding that I might not be alone there on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

Indeed, I was not! 🙂

Lemmings of tourists from all over the place crowded the alleys. Vendors had plenty of “all original” glass beads, Venetian masks, magnets, postcards, ice cream, puppets in robes etc. on display. No alley that doesn’t go without the capitalistic promise of an everlasting memory attached to a fridge or lamp or cupboard or what not… or so the delighted lemmings thought and made me stumble over them in their abrupt group stoppings in front of kitsch shops.

Seriously, how overrated can a place be? Of course, I took most of the nice pictures that every virtuous tourist does. I used my elbows to punch my way to the first row on Ponte dell’Accademia. I waited patiently until I was in line for a quick shot at the Canal Grande, down at Campo Salute. I even waited in line until it was my time to cross the Rialto bridge with a multitude of other people. All more or less happy to be there, it seemed.

What a pity, I thought, that all this once grandeurish town is being subjected to decay and capitalistic exploitation. What  a beautiful backdrop it once must have been to stories like Romeo and Juliet. Or Voltaire’s Candide. Or Byron’s „Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage“: „She looks like a sea Cybele, fresh from ocean, / Rising with her tiara of proud towers / At airy distance, with majestic motion / A ruler of the waters and their powers.“

Of course, it’s difficult, maybe even impossible to maintain the “tiara of proud towers” over centuries. And standing in water. Hoards of tourists, however, will only add to the quick and fierce decay, which has only a fading memory of patina and elegance. It’s sadly rotting. Its soul being sold to the multitude of people that are being swamped over the city with each cruise ship harbouring there. To the city itself and to those who adore the “sea Cybele” I wish from my heart that the citizen’s campaigns I saw in the streets will be successful: No grandi navi.

Hospitality or, A country to cuddle

Slovenia is lovely. Like they say here, it even has love in its name. 

Talk to the people and you get an idea of what unpretentiousness can be like in its best version. I encountered a wealth of hospitality on all sides. And most people here seem to be very laid back. Relaxed. Not to be shaken. Proud of their country in a shy and delightfully ironically distanced way. I find them cuddly with their Slavic rolling ‚r‘ in their accent.

It started with my host’s mother with whom I drank orange juice and ate cookies while she told me everything about what to visit in Ljubljana. 

It continued with the tour guide who helped me find someone to take me in their car to Piran. It never worked out because the guys never replied to my messages. But how nice of Tevz to remember my plans even after days and to send me screenshots of several options to call.

Then there was the guy in the tourist information. I asked for alternative ways to get to Piran and Trieste on the same day. He shared his cookies with me and recommendations of where to get the best coffee in town. Maybe I’ll send him a postcard from Piran. 

And finally I need to mention Sandi, the most versatile advisor on balkan craft beers. THANK YOU!

​Life in the streets or, When does the outdoors close?

Life in Ljubljana seems to be happening mostly outdoors. Even the tiniest café, bistro or restaurant seems to have a terrace. There are also benches to sit on all over town. Just so. People sit on them. Just so. With the inevitable ice cream or without. People use the benches. People enjoy being outside. There are even blankets and toys for children in some cafés and nobody seems to mind the children’s laughter and playing. People gather. Friends meet. Strangers talk in cafés over shared tables. Place is too crowded? Doesn’t happen. 
Sounds like a dream. Unreal. Laid back. Until the open public space becomes awkward. Like tonight. 

I was served my nachos with various dips when a woman approached my table. A pedestrian. Mid fourties. Clad in unobtrusive beige and mud tones. 

Woman (speaking Slovenian, I assume): Przlkavoskoleinkjbibjhebrjt? 

Me: What?!

Woman (pointing to my nachos): What is this?

Me (completely caught by surprise): Nachos. Like crackers.

Woman (a bit daft): What?

Me (something between unnerved and unfriendly in my wish to start eating): Mexican wheat crackers. 

Woman (mumbling): I want to try them…

And then she reaches out to my bowl of nachos!! 

Like a shadowy thin arm that reaches through the window into a children’s room by night. And before she can grabble at my food, I hold on to my bowl of nachos for dear life – half crouching over it – in fear of germs, reaching out a single one for her to take. 

She eats it, mumbles something in a foreign tongue and vanishes. 

The couple sitting next to me are rolling on the floor laughing. They apologise, saying that this was not a common Slovenian habit to great strangers. We giggle for a while and clink glasses over the absurdity of the moment.

Guess I’ll go back to the place with the mischievous advisor on the assorted craft beer.