A Weekend in Ljubljana
Chocolate Cocktail! Team Swiss, brought together under the leadership of Martin Reed (our Brit in Zurich), included representation from the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK, Argentina, the US, and Italy at the annual fall tournament in Ljubljana, Slovenia (27 November 2010). A good balance of youth, treachery, age, and skill allowed our goal to remain unsullied through most of the tournament. Only Serrasalmus 1 from Czech Republic and the division winners, Ljubljana’s own B-division team, managed to penetrate the Swiss 2-3-1 line-up to score. The fast young Belgians in the midfield, flanking the wily Brits holding down the center, earned their wages both feeding the forwards and backing up the stopper when things got a little hairy. As last man back, it was a pleasure to watch the midfield working together so well and making my job easy. Visibility decreased throughout the day, but the forwards must have been up there doing their jobs as the bell continued to sound and the squad kept on returning to our wall. When all was played and done, the beautiful B-Division 2nd Place Trophy went home to Zurich, well-earned.
As for out-of-pool features, the Ljubljana tourny has still more to offer. The aquatic facility is wonderful: the natatorium is warm, clean, and terrarium-like with plants and a fully glass wall on the western side, even if the pool itself is a bit chilly; the showers remained hot to the end of the day; each team was given a keyed changing room and optional use of lockers; and despite feeling new or at least very well maintained, there is a new complex under construction next door. While not booming, Ljubljana is definitely growing. The old military prison has been reborn as Hostel Celica, its cells redecorated by artists and designers, bars intact. Celica’s other bar is also fun in a more traditional way. Nightly specials and events are scheduled to encourage socializing amongst the
inmates guests. But it escapes this non-smoker just how partaking of the hookahs on offer in the Oriental Lounge does not fall under the illegal activity of smoking indoors. Yet, evidently, it does not, and truly wasn’t offensive while we sat around the low tables with shoes off, enjoying a variety of beverages. The Slovenian cola, Cockta, is a good quench for those with a sweet tooth. The whole area, previously the sort of neighborhood one finds around a prison, has been squatted and uplifted by artists, grafitti and otherwise.
So, to sum up, we found Ljubljana a town worth visiting, Slovenians fun and welcoming people, and a well-run tournament to boot. Hup Schwitz!