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Tito - A modern history

SLOVENIA | Wednesday, 27 May 2015 | Views [86] | Scholarship Entry

We decided to go because “Ljubljana” sounds like a Slavic Rumpelstiltskin.

And I insisted we stay because, scrawled on the wall of Halo Pinki pizza restaurant, was graffiti of succinctly lewd genius.

“Who the fuck is Tito?”

We crossed the border after a hellish night in Laguna Village campsite near Caorle, east of Venice. Bitten to near-delirium by mosquitos during a game of drunken, naked beach Frisbee (why naked? Because drunken), Laguna Village was a broiling quagmire that broke our camping resolve after two weeks on the road. As sole driver and car owner, I insisted on a night in a city to rejuvenate.

We decided on Zagreb, but thrumming hangovers, a minuscule fuel tank and the hilarity the capital’s name caused when first sighted on road signs forced a hasty rethink.

Drivers in Ljubljana were far more amenable to our inability to negotiate the road system than Italians had been. We took this as a good sign.

Without satnav or a smart phone, we pootled the streets, from Austro-Hungarian cobbled stones and picturesque old town to Soviet-era boulevards. We parked at the central station to find a map and wandered into town, where my friend Paddy bought a litre of milk from an outdoor vending machine in a market square. That piqued our interest.

We shunned McDonalds (proper travellers etc.) but turned to Halo Pinki (self-loathing students) for sustenance. There we found that simple daub.

We spent a long lunch at Pinki’s. The owner came to speak to us and was appalled we had driven all the way from London to end up in Slovenia. “Have you tried Italy?”, he asked. We told him his country was our favourite so far, and we’d only been there two hours. He left our table with a dubious smirk.

The waiter told us about a hostel round the corner with parking, and we ended up making plans to go for a drink with him that night. By that time I had clamped down on any dissent. We were staying here. Why, they asked? “Because who the fuck is Tito. Do you need another reason?”

Concise and puerile. But more than that, it summed up the country - our favourite of the trip even two weeks later when we headed off home. Slovenia doesn’t hide its past. The national museum in the castle was open and comprehensive about the Communist era and the 1990s. But it isn’t afraid of it either - and in Europe, that is a refreshing thing.

Tags: 2015 Writing Scholarship

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