Alriiight, hope everyone’s been good for the short 4 months since my last blog post! Some of you might think, “Hey Steve, isn’t that too long between posts? Who really gives a fuck about following your blog if your posts are a million fuckin days apart?” But what you don’t realize is that this is actually a master’s class (#MasterClass) in keeping readers’ interest – you gotta keeping people wanting more. Paradoxically, less…is more. That’s a free life tidbit. Feel free to comment how it’s affected your life below.
I left Budapest on a bus to meet up with my Scottish friend Laura “Big Ginge” Smith and her English boyfriend, Chris, who were embarked on a 3-month journey in a converted van across Europe that happened to sync up pretty well with my trip. The plan was to meet in Slovenia and then travel down the coast of Croatia together, the two of them a happy couple, and me the single American pussy-slayer to bring a little pizazz!!
We met up at Lake Bled, Slovenia, which attracts tourists from all over for its fairy-tail like beauty.
I left Budapest at 1030, changed buses at the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana (pronounced, L-jubl-jim-job), and finally got to Bled around 8 pm. My phone was nearly dead, and I didn’t have any international data, but luckily, Laura had said she would meet me at the bus station, so I wouldn’t just be floundering about late at night trying to figure out how to get to the hostel from the bus station..
I got off the bus, took a look around, and – big surprise – no Laura! Ok, well, she must have been held up. I managed to find my way to the hostel on my own – mostly through guesswork/being a fuckin’ twice-deployed Army veteran, I can find my way around Kandahar, I can find my way to a fuckin’ hostel in fairy-tale bullshitland, Europe – and was able to describe the two of them sufficiently to the host (one big stupid loud crass redhead, and her English boyfriend, probably talking about, I don’t know, the Queen, or MI6), and found them drinking wine in the hostel room. Hey guys, great to see you! Ah no, no trouble at all, don’t worry about me!
We went out that night to the one bar and one club in the town, which were clearly supported entirely by under-25 English-speaking tourists staying at the only two hostels there. Not much happened of note until we were on the way home – that’s when SHIT got REAL.
This little beat-up sedan drove past Chris and suddenly stopped, and these 4 dudes piled out and surrounded Chris, going “What’s up!? What’s up!?” Ready to kick his ass.
Chris, who was hammered, smiled and went “Hey, what’s up? I’m Chris,” in the friendliest, most benign way possible, and started shaking their hands going “I’m Chris. I’m Chris,” and this seemed to take them so off guard that they went from getting ready to beat the shit out of him to just…introducing themselves. The wind completely went out of their sails in the span of about 10 seconds. I introduced myself as well (I had been about to start yelling “Yeah rip his fucking head off!!), and we ended up talking to them for a bit, and learned that they were from Serbia.
After a couple minutes of very friendly chitchat, they just apologized for the whole thing and sort of sheepishly pile back into their shitty 4-door sedan. Right before they left, one stuck his head out the window and said, I shit you not, “Have a good night…WE’RE GOING TO GET SOME PUSSY!!!” and they drove off into the night.
This was the only interaction I’ve ever had with Serbians, and it went about exactly as I would have guessed an interaction with Serbians would go. Sometimes, your ignorant and outdated conclusions about a country based on little to no evidence just turn out right.
Side note: One of the biggest lessons I learned traveling is that not everyone speaks great English, but EVERYONE I knows what “pussy” means. Many times at bars I’d say to random foreign guys “What’s up, you guys getting some pussy tonight?” And 100% of the time, they would be like “Fuck yeah!” Literally never failed. It’s part of the international language, like music, or mathematics.
The next morning we got up late and hung over and went to check out the lake, but it was thunder-storming, so we ducked into this dinky little schwarma place, which appeared to be the only restaurant in town. The food there turned out to be the absolute worst schwarma I’ve ever had. Normally I can’t get enough, but this was awful – old, rubbery, shit-grade Slovenian mystery meat sandwiches, is what that was.
Around the time we all realized how shitty the food was, Chris discovered that his new Google Pixel, which he’d just bought a week ago, had been subjected to water damage as a result of being kept in the same backpack pocket as a half-eaten peach that Laura had stuck in there. You know, how sometimes when you’re eating a really juicy peach, and you’re like, “This peach is really filling! I can’t finish it right now – I’ll just stick it in this backpack pocket here! Not wrapped or anything, so that it gets covered in backpack lint and little crumbs and all that nasty shit that accumulates at the bottom of backpack pouches!” Well, Laura found herself in this perfectly relatable situation and did just what any reasonable person would do.
Chris’ phone no longer made sound, and this put him in a really sour state that seemed likely to last all day. The rain didn’t show any sign of letting up, our sandwiches sucked, Chris’ new phone had irreparable peach juice damage – people weren’t having a good time. I decided we might as well have a round of beers (what else were we gonna do) to lighten the mood. After 2 more rounds, things did start to lighten up quite a bit.
This ended up turning out to be a real “careful-what-you-wish-for” type scenario.
Around the end of the third round, the weather started to clear up, so we decided this would be our last round. Perfect – just a quick trip to the loo for ol’ Stevie and then it would be Lake Bled central, with most of the day ahead of us to truly enjoy it! As I relieved myself, I filled my head with blissful thoughts of the scenic panoramas I’d soon be capturing on my Nikon intro-level DSLR camera.
Imagine my dismay upon my return when I found that Laura and Chris had decided, nah, fuck it, let’s just go ahead and order another round. Why not? Not like we can drink shitty beer from the world’s worst meat sandwich shop just any day! So we finished that round – by this time it was like 3 pm – and then, somehow, they two fucking Brexit fucks managed to order like no joke three more rounds every time I wasn’t looking. I guess it wasn’t too hard to distract me after a while. I literally told our waitress “Don’t bring us any more, ok?” But she didn’t listen. Slovenians.
You can’t tell from the pictures, but I was having a bad time.
We entered that schwarma shop around noon, and didn’t get out till probably 6, after about 7 or 8 pints each. This is, by the way, the only day I had in Bled, and I hadn’t even laid eyes on the fucking lake yet.
This was my first indication of something that would become very evident throughout our trip: Chris and Laura, seasoned travelers with all the time in the world to do whatever they felt like wherever they went, had less of a “make the most of it” attitude and more of a “eh fuck it lets just get drunk and kind of hang out, it’ll still be there” attitude.
We finally got out of there and shambled down to the lake in the remaining hour or so of daylight. It was beautiful – would have been great to get a chance to hike around the lake, see some of the famous vistas from the other side, like the one from google images above, but I guess I’d have to content myself, for the rest of my life, with just the one, most pedestrian, easily accessible viewpoint, in the waning hours of the day. Really glad I came all the way out here. Traveling for the next 10 days with these two is sure to be a blast. But hey, at least I got to drink a bunch of shitty beer at the worlds most back alley trash dump of a schwarma shop!
Later that night, Laura and I went to the bar and talked to these Norwegian speech therapist girls who were absolutely enamored with Laura and her travel stories. I learned that Laura, who’s basically just traveled since graduating college (uh cool but how’s her blog), was just absolutely idolized by young women travelers. They saw her as everything they wanted to be, this free-spirit woman who’d been all over the world and had an endless supply of travel stories. I may as well have not been there. I’d sit there sipping my beer and periodically interject; “hey yeah actually I’ve been to Australia too, just with my family in 8th grade oh ok yeah Laura no you go ahead.” After we hung out with them for several hours, we learned they both had boyfriends, so that therefore the time we spent talking to these people from different places and learning about other countries had been a COMPLETE FUCKING WASTE OF TIME.
And that was it for Bled! Day 1 with the UK fuks, and so far its going GREAT.