December is a time for Christmas Markets. In 2007 I was in Ljubljana in Slovenia…
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December is a time for Christmas Markets. In 2007 I was in Ljubljana in Slovenia…
While the current travel restrictions are in place I have no new stories to post so what I thought that I would do is to go through my picture archives and see where I was on this day at any time in the last few travelling years.
On 24th May 2007 I was rowing a boat on Lake Bled in Slovenia…
Rowing I find is one of those things that can be quite a lot more difficult than it looks and I had some early problems coordinating the actions of left and right hand oars to keep us progressing in a straight line and with Kim in charge of plotting the course I had to make frequent adjustments to maintain the right direction. I found it most helpful however when she began to beat out the rowing tempo in the manner of a Roman galley slave-master but I was worried that I might not be able to cope physically if she decided to up the pace to Ben Hur ramming speed.
We left the island and as Kim was convinced that rowing a boat was a straightforward process and that I was simply an incompetent oarsman she decided to take responsibility for the return journey. She was no better than me of course but I didn’t complain because I was enjoying sitting back in boat enjoying the warm sunshine and the slightly curious meandering route back to the shore. I will concede however that she did make a perfect docking procedure and we completed our walk around the lake stopping on route for a pizza and a beer at a bar with a raised terrace and a good view over the lake.
There was a lovely blue sky and once again the bus arrived exactly on time and we enjoyed the forty-minute journey through the picturesque countryside and arrived at an untidy little terminus at our destination.
The bus station may not have been very exciting but the little town was quite spectacular. It is a European cultural heritage site and although there is evidence of fifty years or so of neglect there was a lot of restoration work taking place and when all of this is finished it will once again be a seriously attractive town.
March 20th is the festival day of St John Nepomuk. I saw him once when visiting the village of Škofja Loka in Slovenia.
On the way to the village we crossed a six hundred year old stone bridge across the Selška Sora and in the middle is a statue of St John Nepomuk who is supposed to be the bringer of good luck. Well the sort of luck that old St John brings I can happily do without. The man, who built the bridge, a certain bishop Leopold, fell off it shortly after completion and he drowned in the river below. Where was St John on that particular day I wondered?
Actually I found this statue a bit surprising because poor old John Nepomuk didn’t seem to have a great deal of luck himself in his lifetime as he was a Jesuit priest who was tortured and killed by King Wenceslas in 1393 and his body was thrown into the river Vltava in Prague.
Because of his aquatic final resting place he is regarded as a protector from floods but he must have been off duty in August 2003 when the city endured its worst deluge for two hundred years and forty thousand people were evacuated and the cost of repairing the damage ran into billions. Where was St John on that particular day I wondered?
About this time of the year I start to look back over my posts to review what has been going on. One of the things that I like to do is to take a look at the search questions that seem to bring web-surfers by the site and take a look at some of the more bizarre and unusual.
One of my most successful posts is about the day I attended a Buckingham Palace Garden Party and I get lots of odd Google referrals about this one. This year my favourite just has to be – “do I get expenses to attend royal garden party?”
Let me take a moment here to explain. Just to be invited to a Buckingham Palace Garden party is a bit special in itself and believe me there is going to be a lot of expense involved – new suit, new outfit, overnight stay in London, taxi fares etc. and most people would gladly deal with this just to be part of the occasion so I have to say that expecting the Queen to pick up the bill sounds rather republican to me and whoever asked this should not have had an invite in the first place.
Next up, I really like this one – “what did the captain wear on the Titanic?”
I visited Belfast recently and went to see the Titanic Exhibition and Museum. It was a super place and I recommend anyone to go there and I think what I learned on that visit may just well help here.
Around the exhibition there are lots of pictures of Captain Smith in his White Star Line uniform so I am forced to conclude that except when he went to bed and most likely put on a pair of pyjamas that this was his favourite form of dress. Another thing that I can be certain of is that Captain Smith didn’t wear a lifebelt because after the Titanic struck the iceberg he went down with his ship and drowned!
This being a Travel Blog I often get advice requests and this year I have picked out these two related topics – “What to do in Croatia if it rains?” and “Will I need my umbrella in Burgos?” I am not a weather expert of course but then neither are most of the people who claim to be – has anyone ever seen an accurate TV weather forecast? Bearing this in mind my answer to both these questions is find somewhere to shelter and then let me remind everyone – it doesn’t rain in bars.
When I travel to Europe I rather like hiring cars but what I don’t like is the hassle of arranging car insurance. I have had a lot of trouble getting past the car rental clerk and taking possession of the keys so I am well able to answer this next one – “how much is gravel protection and sand and ash protection in Iceland” and the answer is quite a lot, probably more than the daily hire rate for the vehicle.
Sixt in Iceland have come up with a brilliant wheeze. I thought that I had purchased fully comprehensive insurance but the desk clerk told me that cars suffered so many stone chips because of the gravel roads in Iceland that this had now been excluded and could be purchased at an additional cost of €9 a day under the description ‘gravel damage’ and just to be safe I agreed to buy it.
Then it became almost surreal when he explained that further cover was available at €10 a day for volcano damage. Volcano damage – WTF?
Upon enquiry he told me that if a volcano explodes it can generate enough heat to strip the paint off the car and that this was not covered either. Well, I considered this for a moment and came to the conclusion that if I was close enough to an exploding volcano for it to strip the paint off the car then it was almost certain that I was likely to be in a lot of trouble and great personal danger and the last thing that I was going to be worried about as my flesh melted into a puddle of grease was the condition of the paintwork on the hire car (gravel chipped or not) so I sensibly declined the offer to purchase the additional cover and quickly paid up just in case he next tried to sell me snow or rain insurance in case the car got wet!
I can always guarantee something cropping up about Ryanair and cheap flights.
I first wrote on this subject in 2009 and it immediately started getting hundreds of hits and then in 2011 it just stopped completely. I reviewed and reposted it and changed the title from the specific ‘Travel Tips when Flying Ryanair’ to the more general title that it has now and hey presto the hits started coming again. – Travel Tips when Flying Budget Airlines.
My favourite this year is “Ryanair seat 08f” which, to be honest is way to specific a request for me to be able to deal with and provide a satisfactory response.
Sex always crops up of course because it is estimated that well over half of all web searches are about this subject. This is an odd one though – “penis shaped door knob”, who for goodness sake is likely to type that enquiry into a search engine? Interestingly however I once worked with someone who used the office internet to make the enquiry ‘knobs and knockers’. She was restoring an old Welsh Dresser at the time and although her enquiry was completely innocent she had some explaining to do to the IT section when she received the unexpected results of her search.
Not being an anatomist I am not an authority on penises and not being a manager of a Home Depot I am not an expert on door furniture of any shape but I did visit the Penis Museum in Reykjavik and this is probably close enough to have recorded the visit to the blog.
I am going to finish with this one and because I simply do not have the answer I am going to ask you all out there if you can help – “Does a dog die if it doesn’t have sex?”
Here are the previous posts in this series of weird internet searches…
The island, according to legend, was created as a punishment by God. He stopped by one day on a surprise inspection and was annoyed to find his church full of cattle because the villages had become too lazy to watch over them and had left the church door open. To punish them he made the lake so that in future the animals couldn’t get across to it and get inside. A nice story but without a shred of truth of course because in actual fact the lake is glacial and was formed at the end of the last ice age when water poured in behind the retreating ice.
The church is popular for weddings and there are ninety-nine steps to the top and there is a tradition that if a bridegroom can carry his bride to the church without either stopping for breath or complaining then the couple will enjoy a happy marriage. If you are tempted to try this super-human feat my then my advice would be that you get engaged to a skinny girlfriend because just getting to the top sounds like seriously hard work to me without any unnecessary additional burden. Or perhaps this is simply designed to get you ready for the harsh realities of married life.
To be fair to Wales and to set the record straight, it isn’t the only place that we have visited where it has rained a lot…
Ten points for each country that you can identify in the pictures!
About half way around the lake we came across a man with rowing boats for hire who was taking care of a party of nuns who were negotiating a rental agreement and were making hard work of getting their seating arrangements organised inside the craft.
This looked like fun and I was certain that they had little chance of making it to the island in the middle of the lake without capsizing the boat on the way and we watched in anticipation but were disappointed when they were joined by a burly man who clearly knew what he was doing and had the job of transporting them across.
On the return from Lake Bled we walked back through the streets of the city that in the daylight we could see were regrettably extensively disfigured by graffiti. This is a real problem in Ljubljana where every building provides a canvas and an opportunity for the so-called artists. Every year there is a city spring clean organised by the Ljubljana City Authorities as part of the annual activity “Za lepso Ljubljano” (For a Prettier Ljubljana). The operation cleans up three hundred and eighty square metres of river walls and also tidies city streets, passageways and parks as well as cleaning two kilometres of riverbed by divers.
There was another dreary start to the day but at least it wasn’t raining and after another excellent breakfast where I was even tempted to sample the bottled beetroot juice (and promptly wished I hadn’t) we decided to take another bus journey out of the city and to Slovenia’s most popular tourist destination, Lake Bled.