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However, the folks I saw and met were not in hiding either.
My first night I Ljubljana I went to an ‘old world’ restaurant, the Sokol (Eagle) that served a delicious prix fixe menu of duck with sweet red cabbage and baked noodles—a once a year specialty served in honor of St Mark, so claimed the cheerful handsome waiter dressed in his traditional embroidered vest.
The pastures seemed greener and the tractors newer. (Many rural Croatian villages were abandoned, burned, bombed and bullet-ridden when the ethnic Serbs were driven out by the native Croats during the wars of the 1990’s.) After breaking with the former Yugoslavia and a brief ten-day war of independence the new government of Slovenia got down to business of putting the country on track to join the EU, which they did in 2004.
Not that it will make a huge difference (except for an increase in prices and taxes): Slovenia has lived as close neighbors to Austria and Italy since ages past and the influence of the west is readily evident in the architecture and relative economic prosperity here (although still considerably less than in western Europe).
Five minutes after leaving high tech I was in the old town square with it densely charming mix of baroque, neo-classical and art deco buildings huddled around a cobblestone plaza named after a famous Croatian—not a great military hero set astride a bronze horse and brandishing a sword.
Rather, this square is named after a 19th century poet whose visage faces across the storybook plaza toward a carved bust of his beloved fifty meters away. As the train snaked along the Sava River among forested mountains and verdant rural villages of farmers drying their hay and corn on kozolecs (hay racks with small roofs, found only in Slovenia) I felt I was passing through Austria.
Another ten minutes brought me to the chic and speedy Xplorer Cyber Café on the river for a couple of hours.Despite the uproar about Sestre and the daunting news reports, as early as 1990 Slovenia approved constitutionally guaranteed rights and protections for minorities, including gays and lesbians.But abstract laws are one thing; the actions and attitudes of people in the street and in the media, as we have see, are quite another.As I sat there reading and watching hetero couples and foursomes dining, four young men arrived and took a table near me.Within a couple of minutes it was apparent to me they were gay.
The houses were more polished and polite with colored stucco exteriors and tile roofs, as distinct from the more rustic and crude farmsteads in Croatia and Hungary.