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Wien → Ljubljana
This girl will grow up to be an actress. Every word is enunciated. Every emotion laid bare. Reading from a book, playing rhyming games, hamming up the enjoyment of her Austrian Railways ham sandwich.

My brain is not working so well. I have a throat ache. Don't really like it up here in the mountains. Too many trees. Too claustrophobic.


This is what a train should sound like. The pitter-patter of the wheels on steel. An open window and a compartment in faux-wood. Creaking and crawling up the pass between the snow-capped mountains.

And when it pulls away from a station - the music! Like an ambient intro, building...



I have never seen so much neo-nazi graffiti. It's shocking. I thought as i walked in toward the city it might decrease, but here i am in the middle of the tourist area with swastikas and sun crosses and scratched out antifa tags. I know most people i meet here are unlikely to be nationalists, but letting this stuff stay up is chilling.

It's also chilly. This place is up in the mountains... i guess? It was pissing down with rain when i arrived after nightfall. Easter Sunday too, so nothing was open. I made a bee-line for my guest house but, given it's a few km from the station, i arrived sodden. I should probably have marched back to Klub K4 to dance to the Techno Oldies Goldies anyway, but i was zonked. In the daylight turns out this is a charming little town. Tons of trees. It's cold. And wet. But at least the sun is out now.

Weather report says it will be gone by lunch, so i'm getting an early start. I was considering hiking up a mountain that is apparently nearby, but after the rain i'm giving that idea a pass too. I love walks, but i hate muddy forests. Rain should only fall on concrete and neon. The countryside should be dry and barren, like my non-existent womb. Otherwise it just gets dirty and distressing.

Usually graffiti makes me feel safe. It makes a place feel lived-in. It shows the youth aren't oppressed. Maybe some of them are artists. Hopefully they are politically active. To me the amount of graffiti in a town is an indication of its freedom. Here there is a ridiculous amount of graffiti, but the neo-nazi scrawls have left me feeling very unsettled.


I had to sit down to watch some kids playing to regain my faith.

I did stumble across a squatted warehouse that appeared to be a little anarchist commune. I will have to look that up later. And i ate a reasonable Chinese meal. They made me red bean cakes! That was my Easter treat.

Anyway, in general i couldn't shake the neo-nazi imagery that greeted me when i left my guest house this morning. It's colored the whole experience of this city for me, though i know it shouldn't. Is that skinhead a nazi? Is that guy in the black hoodie a nazi? Are those dudes cruising past on their motorcycles nazis?

Are these kids going to grow up to be nazis? They are zooming round and round on BMXes while their moms and dads drink coffee, smoke cigarettes and nurse beers. They all look like nice people. But how can you tell?


Now i am back at my hotel, typing in these notes of the last 24 hours.

I've had a few beers and i am a bit calmer. I did a bit of research on that squat. It's about 10 years old, and of course they are shining happy antifa crusaders. Go team. Turns out a large piece i took a photo of is by Blu, a fairly famous Italian street artist who has work up in a lot of cities all over the world.

Speaking of blue, i think i am in the midst of first-day blues. Some cities instantly capture me, but most need some time. And when you're passing through, well, you never really understand a place anyway. You just capture some moments and move on. I follow a few blogs of people who dive deep into the places they visit - they are historians, passionate about learning the stories. I guess i am a bit more of a haphazard wanderer - sometimes i wander into something great, sometimes i don't, and that's all i'll ever know. I'm okay with that. Wandering lets me feel free.

So, Ljubljana, how do you make me feel on day one? A little suspicious that you are all a bunch of racists. Which i am quite sure you aren't. But Easter Monday there is not much going on. This is a small town, and today it really feels like one. It's cold. All the trees and the moss and the snails and the damp, depressing, oppressiveness of trees and mountains doesn't make me want to stick around. But there sure is a lot of nice graffiti, if you ignore the swastikas. And the doors are great. I really like the doors here.

I also like the Slovenian lady this morning who fussed over my breakfast. When i refused eggs she sliced and put a huge hunk of rye bread on my plate, presumably thinking this sad vegan would surely starve to death eating only an apple and 4 slices of white bread with olive oil. She also gave me a special Easter cake made by her mother - some kind of rolled pastry with tarragon. Wiki makes me think it is štruklji. I guess she got that egg into me after all.

Next to my guest house there is a meadow full of dandelions and one white cock. No pun intended. It's delightfully rural, despite being walking distance from the train station. If i had a bit longer here - and if it was hot and dry - perhaps i would go climb that hill behind the Tivoli gardens. Perhaps i will tomorrow. My bus to Venice only leaves at 11am.

I should probably write more about mountain people vs plains people. And my discomfort in forests. No doubt i will bump into both again over the next few weeks, so there should be plenty of opportunity. Instead, i will leave you with some gender non-binary political graffiti, which warms my cockles to see popping up all over Europe over the past couple years.

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Just wanted to say that I'm really enjoying this travelogue.

I spent a day in Ljubljana maybe a dozen years ago, coming in by train from Trieste and then leaving on other trains for Bosnia. Both of those rides were lovely, and I remember rather liking Ljubljana. The day I was there, the town was hosting an outdoor festival for pot smokers!

Interestingly, there is no train directly from Trieste to Ljubljana any more. From what i understand it has to do with a disagreement between the Italians and Hungarians. Most people i talked to in Slovenia did emphasize that they are a small country, i guess they get caught in the middle a lot.

that last graffiti is pretty fab. all the swastikas and neo-nazi graffiti would freak me out too, tho. it sounds very disconcerting.

that slovenian lady probably did think you'd starve without eggs! her easter pastry sounds intriguing, tho. was it good?

I should probably clarify that it wasn't like the whole city was covered in swastikas 😊 There was definitely an antifa movement in town too, and i think i was just (un)lucky enough to be staying in a neighborhood where the nazi youth outnumbered the antifa youth. It was just a shock, i guess, coming from the district i lived in Berlin which was radically anti-racist/leftist/inclusive.

Oh, and yes - the pastry was good! I don't eat a lot of sweets so perhaps i'm not a great judge, but it was very moist and the tarragon (which is something i normally associate with savory dishes) was an interesting mix with the sugar. Here are some recipes, if you'd like to try it out: http://www.recipecottage.com/dumplings/struklji.html

Rain should only fall on concrete and neon.

I'm stealing that for my next cyberpunk epic.

I've seen pieces by Blu in Melbourne. I don't pay as much attention to graffiti culture as I should, but I always give the kids in the underpasses on my bike trail a heartfelt thumbs up when I pass them.

I am also loving this travelogue. I like your writing style and admire your honesty and insight.

I, too am creeped out by all the Nazi symbols, and the more there is the more scared I feel. I think this neo nazi thing is world wide, and the USA version comes in the form of some Trump supporters, and Trump, himself is catering to them. (imo - other supporters of Trump are not necessarily neo-Nazis, but they don't have the savvy to see that there is an alliance Trump has with them, and they are getting sucked into it. I don't think Trump is actually a Neo-Nazi, per se -- he 's simply narcissistic, and he sways whichever way gives him the attention he seeks, so he could get sucked down that hole.
My opinion only)

However, I remember being in Vienna in 1995, and we saw a few graffiti symbols here and there. I think it's coming out from the closet now, and more "ordinary" people are embracing it, but it was mainly the fringes of society. That's what's so scary. Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it. But -- what is even more scary is that they DO know, and still want it.

I can't remember who i was talking to recently, but i made the point that my generation (cusp of X and Millenial) is the last one that will have family members who lived through WW2. My grandfather wrote a book about his experiences before he died - it was a piece of his youth that he wanted to make sure to pass on to all of his grandchildren. But, without living family members to personalize the suffering, i am not sure if younger Millenials or the new "Generation Z" will understand the horror.

Though, as you say, i can't understand how people who are old enough to know better can still celebrate nationalism.

Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.

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