One thing I remember from my last visit to Maribor was the cafe at the train station, the Koala Cafe. The sign is still there across the underpass, but shuttered, abandoned. I didn’t notice this on arrival. I thought it closed for the night. The taxi driver was quiet, efficient, used the GPS to get me to the address displayed on my Airbnb app. His face was swollen and scarred. So were his hands, none of the swelling or scarrings was fresh, he looked as if he had been born with them. The radio played bright Slovene Europop for the whole ten-minute journey. The AirBnB proxy host lets me in and gave me the keys and returned to her apartment. My hostess was away traveling. All I cared about was the bed. There it was, in a room with a desk, quite dark although it was still light outside. Asleep by 7:30 pm, 34 hours after closing my front door in Kensington, with six hours sleep on two flights.
Wandering the apartment at two in the morning, I discovered where I was living in for the next few days. Two rooms, a galley kitchen, an entrance lobby, and a bathroom a balcony. Sparse furnishing. I read another chapter of Simon Winder’s wonderful Danubia until I was snoring again.
When I woke at five, the weather had changed completely. It had been pleasant spring weather in Maribor for weeks. Now it was five degrees outside and a chill north wind blowing in from the Alps. I looked at my weather app, a week of this to come. I already knew I needed to buy good walking boots for the hiking days of the film shoot. Now I would need some serious warming and waterproofing. Time to go shopping after breakfast.
Breakfast! I could not organise to put on toast. Off for a walk and explore. First, raise the shutters on the lounge window to see the day.
Lilacs! Filling the window, filtering the view. Outside is a small triangular park shaded by towering trees, bright spring leaves. On each side of the park’s triangle were five story apartment identical to mine. Built in the late sixties, I imagine. I dressed warmly (as I could), stepped out into the street.
Of course, the first thing to negotiate when walking with peak hour traffic is which way to look. All the habits of looking left first to have to reverse. It’s Europe for god’s sake. I almost killed myself at the first two roundabouts. Only the alertness and courtesy of Maribor drivers saved me.