We are in the twighlight zone. Or more specifically we are in a beautiful and quaint coffee shop, in the beautiful and quaint old historic part of Ljubljana, Slovenia.
You’ve never heard of LJ, I know, neither had I. And if it weren’t for fate, and total embrace of randomness, trust me, we’d never have ended up here. But because we were hitchhiking, and having a nice long conversation with the driver, we allowed the suggestions of a stranger to get us into this country, and then because where he took us was so nice, and the people were so nice, we stayed. And then another day, in another part, we stayed. And then the next day and the next day, and now we’re here, in misc. Europe. A city anyone would love, but there are no crowds, there aren’t forty water color painters on the river painting the same view 200 tourists just snapped with their camera and selfie stick to boot.
It’s Thursday afternoon, we’re in the center of the center, in the city that is the center of this country, the country you never heard of, and if you have you never thought about coming here, not in 100 trips had the thought even dawned on you. Here, in a hip coffee shop, with 1€ espresso, the barristas are nice and making small talk. The music is different. EDM, and I like it. Outside it’s a hot sunny summer day, a few people are drinking beers at the cafes and sausage restaurants, but mostly, we have this city to ourselves. After 11pm it will come alive, as most of these eastern cities do. By then we’ll be asleep, or near ready to sleep. The nightlife isn’t what we came for, but for sure a whole other city will come to life then, a whole other experience and lens to see through, you know – if one totally off the radar city wasn’t enough for your day.
Tomorrow it will happen again, we’ll go to the freeway onramp, as the hitchhiking wiki suggests. It’s an odd spot but a crowdsourced recommedation. Besides, did you expect us to find serendipity at a convenient and safe spot?
In this country we think we could get a ride anywhere, at least as far as a Slovenian is likely to go. Once we leave the friendly embrace of the country all bets are off, a new different culture and attitude towards hitchhikers awaits. But to be sure, we won’t go to the ramp with a specific city, campsite, park or hostel in mind. We might write “IT” for italy, or “AU” for Austria, that’s about it, we’ll let one of our rides determine where we go next. It’s a far better way to travel. The alternative, selecting your destination, then going allows any number of disappointments to occur. Why would you go somewhere you’ve never been, based on a tourism sponsored recommendation from someone else who probably doesn’t know much about the spot, only to find yourself in a crowd of tourists making selfies, with tourist prices for the food, transport and museums, with workers who serve tourists and hate it and make little effort to cover up this sentiment?
You probably don’t want to try this random travel thing, too many variables, not good for families, seems dangerous, possible waste of time or money, I know all the reasons. But let me encourge you to try some random travel in whatever way you would be comfortable. You will feel the chains fall off, and the joy of discovery one gains from travel will be amplified ten fold, at the least.