Somewhere in Slovenia en route to Hungary
Last night I wandered the streets of Ljubljana for the final time. As versed as I am by now, it never seems to get easier to part ways with a place that has made a memorable impression on you. It is perhaps one of the only drawbacks to seeing the world, at least as far as I can tell.
Nina and Ines invited me to join them at Ljubljana Castle at 9:30 pm for, "Film Under the Stars," an annual outdoor screening of films from all over the world held each July. Unfortunately, as it has been for much of the journey, communication with my new friends posed a challenge. I suppose the fact that neither of the girls owned a smart phone didn’t make matters easier; a reality I found frustrating but mostly refreshing. It just wasn’t their style.
I headed up the now familiar hill towards Ljubljana Castle around 7:45 pm. I bought my ticket for the evening’s feature, “Captain Fantastic,” starring Viggo Mortensen. It was a story about a father who refuses to conform to an American society he believes has gone to hell, courtesy of an overweight and overmedicated country living in a hierarchical corporate and consumer culture. As a result, he takes his six children to live with him in a type of utopia he and his wife have created in the Pacific Northwest. The movie seemed to really resonate with the audience, the themes and ideas striking a nerve as good films do. It was for this very reason I wanted to be an actor in the first place.
I hoped somehow I could find the girls if I arrived early. Maybe I’d see their bright white Vespa pull up in the small parking lot near the ticket booth, or hear Ines’s loud laugh off by the café.
Before the movie started, I walked around the vast and green landscape that surrounded the castle, made up of trails, forests, and a stunning panoramic view of the city below. Despite the fair share of people milling around it was strangely quiet as if all had agreed beforehand to some oath of silence.
Half and hour before the film, I took a seat stage right of the large makeshift screen. I watched and waited for the sisters to arrive knowing now it would be a long shot as hundreds of people slowly began making their way inside the castle, creating a bottleneck at the entrance where free ice cream was being handed out.
As the minutes ticked away and the movie’s opening credits were suiting up, there was still no sign of Ines and Nina. It didn’t look like it was going to happen.
By the time the picture started the patio and café were packed. I was half-convinced all of Ljubljana was in attendance. The opening scene made me weary I’d chosen the right movie, but it was not hard to justify a unique new experience for a mere $5, at a castle no less.
Within ten minutes I was invested in the story, no longer worried about the missed opportunity to meet up with new friends. It was enough to know we were somewhere together underneath the same bright Slovenian sky.
This morning on my train to Hungary, I met two college students from Stratford-Upon Avon traveling through Europe during their gap year. I asked each of them for the best advice they’d ever received. Pippa, said: “Aim to be happy. Not just to follow the money.” And her friend Annabelle told me, “There’s no downside to traveling.”