Wednesday! Wednesday was a very big day: we rented a car and drove across Slovenia to see our family’s ancestral village! Mom did the driving since she’s the one who got the international license, and I give her big props for that. She didn’t crash us even a little bit, and we got to listen to music along the way. Not pictured: the looks on our faces when this song came on the radio.
Podsreda is near the Croatian border on the other side of the country from Ljubljana, but it only took about an hour and a half of driving to get there. I’m glad we rented a GPS unit along with the car, though–some of those dirt roads might have been a little tough to navigate without the soothing voice of Gerta. (Mom named the GPS. No, you’re weird.)
When we got there, Podsreda–aka Hörberg if you speak German–looked a lot like any of the other small towns we’d passed along the way, but we pulled up and talked to some gents hanging out at the local bar. Lucky for us, the proprietor spoke some English, and confirmed that the documents we had (great-grandma’s birth certificate and great-grandpa’s passport application) indicated Podsreda as their place of birth. He also offered to call the parish priest for us, but, sadly, the priest was in Maribor for the day so we couldn’t meet him to see the town records. Next time!
Regardless, they were extremely welcoming, and the proprietor even brought us each a tiny glass of schnapps that’s locally produced from some red berry. It tasted like cough syrup, but it’s the thought that counts.
Hvala and tausend dank, gentlemen.
We also paid our respects at the cemetery, and I gotta say–if you ever go back to the place your family’s from, be prepared to see lots of headstones with family names on ’em. To all the Kunejs and the Kostanjšeks buried there, I’m glad I could have met you, even if only after the fact.
Even without the priest around, the church was something to admire. Podsreda, too. It’s small–only a couple hundred people–but lovely, and I’m proud to say it’s where part of me comes from.
We also drove up the hill a bit to take a look at Podsreda Castle. We thought about going all the way, but you know what? Some of those back roads are pretty damn narrow and drivers coming the opposite way tend to barrel along at full speed, so we decided to save our nerves and just check it out from afar. Yup, sure is a castle, all right!
The drive back was also gorgeous, and the rain very generously refrained from falling until we were almost back in Ljubljana. I’d love to see more of Slovenia at some point–we drove through Krško and along the Sava River, and we passed a sign for a town called Borovnica, which I’m pretty sure means “blueberry.”
Back at the ranch, we got some döner kebab for dinner and listened to some nearby buskers play a hearty rendition of “Strangers in the Night.”
Then, of course, we got some ice cream. (See? Borovnica! For the record, it tasted almost exactly like Nerds candy.)
I’m not sure why Slovenes seem to like salmon-colored buildings so much, not that I’m complaining. It’s a good look.
It’s not quite Weird European Graffiti, but Weird European Fat Horse Fountain will have to do for today.