More questions from a foreigner.

I'm looking to send some documents quickly to Ottawa. If these documents get lost, I'm completely screwed. As much as I love the Slovenian Posta, I have a somewhat shaky confidence in it. So far one letter has gone missing in transit and one got ripped open before delivery.

I'm looking into courrier companies, but they mostly seem to be located in Celje and Maribor. Does anyone know of any places in Ljubljana that could send documents safely, quickly, but without too great an expense? I just looked at the price of express posting an envelope from Canada and it was $90, which made my heart stop beating.

Alternatively, is there a class of mail I can get from the Posta that would be insured, guaranteed and quick? So far, asking for "Priority" has meant ten days to a month, and possibly the vanishing of the envelope into the ether.

Updated to add: Well, it looks like this year, my Christmas present to myself will be...drum roll please...sending six sheets of paper over the Atlantic for 42 euros via DHL (TNT only does business post, apparently).

Mind you, I should count my blessings. Last week, after a dismal visit to a certain government office, I was contemplating possibly having to hand courrier the documents to Canada myself, which would have cost a bit more than that. So, bright side and all that. Thanks for the advice!


A little translation help?

Hey y'all,

Yes I am indeed here and I'll be back to posting soon. The jetlag kicked my ass for a good week and I've been running between offices with forms and photocopies, so I've been feeling a little uninspired in the blog department. But on to practical things:

How do you say "Sorry, wrong number?" in Slovenian? I've got the "sorry" and the "number" part of the equation, but I'm having a little bit of trouble putting it together.

Some old dude keeps calling, wondering if this is Spar. He's got the general geographic coordinates right, but I can't quite seem to transfer his call to the grocery department.


Would you care for a Dickmann?

No? Then perhaps a Super Dickmann?


Oh, man. That never gets old.


It's that time of year again.

No, not Christmas, although that is fast approaching as well. I'm referring to the slew of term papers I have to write. Five in total, rather than the six I originally thought. They are all manageable and I will make time to enjoy Ljubljana while it's shrouded in winter. However, my posting will be irregular once again.

One interesting observation, though. Just as soon as the dishes are washed and the leftover turkey is entombed in cellophane after Thanksgiving dinner, businesses begin to bombard the public with Christmas ads. The Canadian Thanksgiving is in October, people. OCTOBER! That means for two months the Canadian public is forced to listen to Bing Crosby rattling in their ears and corny commercials guilting them into buying gifts for their loved ones.

This is why I don't watch that much television.

Anyway, we're well into November and I have yet to see a massive ad campaign for Christmas crap in Ljubljana. I don't watch television here so I'm not sure if there's holiday commercials playing in rotation. The local supermarket has some decorations but I had to double-check to make sure. It's quite . . . peaceful. I like it. The quiet reminds me of when I came home from work and savouring the silence after being swamped with invasive ear-piercing noises all day.

Thank you, Ljubljana.


Well, look who's here.

I , for one, couldn't believe it, but our cat Salvador actually made it across the Atlantic Ocean with the minimum of fuss. He is the bravest cat I know. Lisa did an incredible job bringing him here, but she tells the story far better than me. Once the jet lag wears off I'm sure she'll enlighten us. Salvador, on the other hand, doesn't seem affected by the whole ordeal. He's already found his favourite perch, which is pictured on the right, and he comfortably wanders around the flat like he already owns the place.

Oh, and today he had burek for the first time - he liked it. No surprise there.

Gandalf in Slovenian politics.

BoingBoing has blogged about Janez Drnovesk's profile in the London Times:
"Slovenia’s President is a recluse. Told he had cancer, Janez Drnovsek moved alone to the woods and embraced his inner spirituality. His Government despises him but he is a hero to his people."


Canadian punk rock in Slovenia.

Nomeansno, one of my favourite punk bands from Victoria (they now reside in Vancouver) played in Ljubljana on Tuesday. I'm saving money at the moment and I've already seen them play dozens of times, so I didn't completely miss out. Did anyone go? Do you have pictures or anecdotes to share?

More wine! More wine! More wine!

That's right, you heard me.
From November 22nd to the 24th over 500 wines from 150 winemakers will be presenting their latest harvest at Hotel Slon. Event information is here. Tickets are a whopping 20€, but participants get to drink more wine than old Bacchus himself can handle. Maybe I'll see you there?

Slovenia is known for its wine, producing more than enough to satisfy the locals but not quite enough to justify a massive export venture. To be fair, I'm not a wine expert but I'm slowly learning as much as I can before my next cocktail party. I can't always talk about Foucault at those things*. That would be redundant.

Anyway, I found some excellent online resources for Slovenian wine. This is a comprehensive article on Slovenian wine in general. Here is a complete webpage dedicated to Slovenia's wine culture. For the history buff, check out this short article on Slovenian viniculture through the ages.

Time to hit the books - I'll catch you guys later.

* Maybe I should mention Proust?


Festival Break 2.4

If you have some time I recommend attending Festival Break: 9th International Festival of Independent Artists. I missed most of the events but I'll try to make it for the rest. With school and the imminent and highly anticipated arrival of two very important visitors I'm currently swamped with errands.

PS: Travel insurance sucks.

Intellectual freedom at FDV.

As I was walking on campus yesterday, two petitioners intercepted me and began talking to me in Slovene. After I explained that I only spoke English I received the full story: Apparently, a political science professor at FDV is being either harassed or something worse for conducting research on the church. The complaint comes directly from the church, accusing the researcher for "snooping."

Unfortunately, that's all I know at the moment. Anyone with more information is welcome to contribute their insights.


Happy St. Martin's Day!

Today is St. Martin's Day, celebrated in both Slovenia and Croatia. November 11th is when mošt, which is prefermented wine, finally turns into true wine. Last night Iva and I checked out a small celebration held at Vinakoper, one of the large wine producers in Slovenia. It was pretty low-key. Live Slovenian music was playing under tents while roasted goose, the traditional fare served on St. Martin's Day, was being served to the patrons. We sampled a few glasses and left shortly after. The muscat was extraordinary, very light and fruity with a clean finish that's reminiscent of tart strawberries and melon.

Usually the celebration is much larger in towns that actually have vineyards, like in Koper or Maribor, but just being around in Ljubljana was fine enough.


My shameless plug.

I have a new blog. Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird is my online notebook for social and literary theory. My goal is to spare readers of my other blogs the drudgery of having to endure my theoretical ramblings.

The difference between Slovenian and Canadian universities.

Yesterday I had a one-on-one consultation with the professor for my Information Culture and Subcultures class. The course focuses on how subcultures use technology for aesthetic or political purposes. Unfortunately, this class conflicts with another class, Sociology of the Arts, which I'm obligated to take, since it's kind of my "speciality" and I traveled 9,000 kilometers just so I can register for it.

In Canada, students only visit their professors' office if they have a question or a grading problem. If students cannot take a class because of a scheduling conflict, well, then that's too bad: you just don't register for that class. However, my faculty (and presumably the other faculties) in Ljubljana allows students to meet with the professor if just such an occasion arises.

So what does this all entail? I arranged a time and date with the prof, and then I met him in his office. We basically sat and talked about photography, lomography, Barthes, Benjamin, various subcultures (skinheads, post-Glasnost Russian art, Japanese sex clubs), the distributive power of the Internet and the low-tech movement.

This was such a unique opportunity, I have to say. Or write, in this case. I was treated like an equal rather than a subordinate. The prof assumed I had something interesting to say and I actually possessed knowledge in my subject. We discussed my final paper and some possible topics for it. In conclusion, this is what graduate students in Canada experience, not undergraduates. Now why do you think that is?


Wine makes everything better.

In light of my recent visa troubles, what better way to remedy this grievous situation then by sampling some local wine and listening to accordion music? This Friday and Saturday, Wine Celebration Day will be held at Cesta dveh cesarjev 170 in Vič! Here is the schedule:

  • 18.00 - exhibition of tuned cars
  • 19.00 - acordion players meeting
  • 20.00 - concert (Roxie and Platana)
  • 19.00 - concert (Kalamari and Slavko Ivančić, Roxie)
I might be attending if I can get enough schoolwork done. If anyone is interested and would like to join me (or to meet me there) just let me know! I'm in the mood to be immersed in Slovenian culture again, since I've just been clubbing lately. Besides, I'm curious to see what the 2007 wine season has to offer.


My student visa continues to elude me.

I just got back from the Foreigner's Office. Apparently, the documents I submitted to prove I possess sufficient funds were not accepted. This sucks. I'm a student so they require documents that will show what "scholarships" I have earned or whatever. I'm living off a student loan, which is clearly not a scholarship. I just hope they'll accept those, or else or I'm royally screwed.

Looks like another mad scramble to hunt down more paper so I can keep the big bureaucratic monster fed. I have to admit, this whole process is confusing and frustrating. I had no problems last semester, so what's the deal?

Addendum: My previous student visa has expired, what's going to happen if I can't renew it before my tourist permit also expires? Yes, now this situation has doubled in suckage.


Oh, Fredi Miler.

This is wonderful. Made in, what, 2005? And somehow, he made a career out of being a laughing stock for shooting this video. Yes, he is indeed singing in Maribor.


Belated Halloween report.

Candles were placed on every grave, and this cemetery was huge.

The cemetery's front entrance, designed by Jože Plečnik.

The fabled Lamp Horse, a rare Slovenian breed.

Photos courtesy of the lovely and talented Iva, who posted a summary of our Halloween outing.