Ending a great trip with “a few”
Editor’s Note: Photos taken with various SmartPhones as can be expected on such a night. To set the scene, listen to Paddy Reilly’s ‘Rocky Road to Dublin’ whilst reading this article
There is an air of contentment and, at the same time, depression in the car; 10 days of chasing trout in the Slovenian outback has come to an end and though we all knew it would culminate to this, we were all grossly unprepared. The inside of the 320 BMW still felt familiar, but with the rods broken down there were no longer tip-tops tapping against the windscreen and the risk of flies impaling us when leaning into sharp corners…I miss the risk.
The road back through the Soča valley crosses numerous creeks and ‘thin blue lines’ as if to add salt to the wounds and I find myself staring out the window not so much to peer at these, but to hide the tears I feel welling up – joy should never be contained or tamed. We speed through several small towns and villages christened after the rivers that slice through them. The road is dark, with few cars heading in the opposite direction and the only view we have is what is illuminated by our headlights.
We speed through several small towns and villages christened after the rivers that slice through them.
There is not much of a shoulder either side, road works at regular intervals and because of the towering mountains the moon’s presence is but a silver lining on the escarpment. Then, as if sent, nay ordained, a bright oversized Laško sign (the local beer we consumed in bulk on this trip) floats by overhead as we pass ‘Party Pub’ – a watering hole in a two-horse-town. “Whoopa!” we scream in unison as John reaches for his iPhone and selects ‘Irish Pub Music Classics’.
On a Rocky Road To Dublin by Paddy Reilly comes flying in with an Irish riff and even more distinct Irish accent. We sing (okay I have no idea what the lyrics are but man can I hum!), dent the floor of the rental with our foot stomping and Björn discovers that the ceiling does not sound unlike a drum if thumped hard enough. We veer onto the highway like it is the autobahn for at the end of this concrete river lays the village of Bela and a pub we have become unusually fond of. The 3-hour journey is fuelled by Snickers, Bounty Bars & Red Bulls – yip, it was going to be one of those nights.
John does a Bond-style swerve into the B&B’s parking lot and within 10 minutes wet wading gear and essentials are unpacked and we are ready, humming Irish Pub/War Songs, and dressed to kill. Dressed to kill = John in a cap, t-shirt and tights (normally hidden under waders); Björn managed to slip into a pair of jeans to take attention away from his sunburnt complexion and myself in technical longs, t-shirt, FlyReligion Cap and the brightest blue slops this side of Germany. We make a pact to not overdo it as we are joining another close friend, Markus, at 11h00 the next day in Munich for Oktoberfest – we have to leave Slovenia latest 06h30.
John and I tried this a few days earlier and agreed that it tastes what we imagine those bright blue fragrant pebbles found at the bottom of a public toilet urinal must taste like – what are good friends for?
“Three Beef and Noodle Soups, we don’t drink on empty stomachs,” John instructs our waitress come bar-lady as we stumble into Gostilna Rot. As a fire starter we order three accompanying Slivovitz’s (a clear plumb brandy) and send these home in swift succession. Björn gets a double on the first round but one of these is distilled from pear; John and I tried this a few days earlier and agreed that it tastes what we imagine those bright blue fragrant pebbles found at the bottom of a public toilet urinal must taste like – what are good friends for? As the flow of Slivovitz is maintained at a predictable pace, the DTL (distance to Laško) is never allowed to drop below 1m as we need something to offset the ‘kick in the face’ feeling these shooters provide.
AT 22h55 George, the owner of Gostilna Rot and whom we aptly dubbed “The Hulk”, meanders over to usher us out the door (once again) – the village Grinch lives across the road and at exactly 23h00 he calls the local police should unruly pub-goers still be floating about. Not to fret, powered by Irish Music, 10 days of EPIC fishing and Slivovitz we turn on the charms and convince our bar-lady, Maša (pronounced Marsha), and a local friend, Jure, to head into Bled for a nightcap. The five of us literally squeeze into Maša’s 2-door Ford Fiesta; the vibe is tangible and pulsating until Maša announces her licences was revoked two years ago for reasons she would prefer not to divulge. From thereon in we watch the road ahead like hawks (read drunken parrots) in stunned silence; our chariot has just transformed into a coffin.
Club Devil (uhm…now I am worried) could not come quickly enough and as we ooze out of the car we instantly realize our outfits of choice are not even befitting of the cleaning staff; fitted designer suits and cocktail dresses with price tags exceeding the GDP of small countries are not out of place here. Hell, with the amount of Slivovitz coursing through our systems what we lack in attire will be made up in personality heeheeheee. After the first of many rounds of double vodkas and Red Bull I have to confess the night turns into a spiralling blur of River Dancing, high-fiving and selfies with strangers.
The morning after… and after again
I abruptly awaken to the buzzing of a screeching iPhone wake-up call in our B&B back in Bela. I start contemplating what to fear the most; the brooding babbelas (hangover for our international readers) or the wrath of Markus after he finds out we only awoke at 09h00! I shave off the 10 day growth as if to accept the fishing side of the trip has now officially ended (in a 12 hour long toasting session), John stumbles into his Lederhosen (see photos) and bulletproof Björn is standing around with a fat grin on his mug and volunteers to drive. Oh great! He does not suffer from hangovers. We have breakfast out of necessity and are off to Munich just before 10h00.
The drive in I can only equate to being rammed in the gut by a cactus; I am convinced that John has stopped breathing and I wish exactly the same swift death for myself. Slivovitz does not leave the body swiftly, rather it crawls out of each pore and kicks you in the head as it evaporates into the ether – based on the amount we consumed I guess the feeling will subside at the turn of 2025.
Markus greets us outside the hotel in Munich with a look of insanity and I already visualise a sequel to ‘Silence of the lambs’ playing off on this day, but dressed in Lederhosen it is hard to take any man seriously and we simply send a cloud of Slivovitz fumes his way to lighten the mood.
What happens at Oktoberfest stays at Oktoberfest but it was the perfect way to end off a life-changing trip with close friends. As a hint of what went down, our group had the makings of a stereotypical joke, “A Boer and three Swedes walk into a bar…”. Rinse, repeat.