I’ve finally “sorted out” enough life admin to think about leaving the UK until September/October (all depending on if I get into the right LLM, fingers crossed for October!) and am now paralysed by the choice. I remember leaving Athens and hoping I wouldn’t forget how easy it would be (logistically, emotionally) to go back. It feels a bit frightening and uncertain now, like returning will destroy the memories I have. This feels like overthinking. I worry that I am over thinking. I worry that not to go somewhere new will prove that I am not spontaneous or adventurous. I worry that not to go back to the Community Centre will prove that I am unproductive and useless. I call various friends, receive various pieces of news, dramatic and banal, and cry a fair amount at the uncertainty and the feeling of letting myself get stuck, wading into the quicksand so that later I can say that I was “unable” to move.
I hedge my bets, book the cheapest flights to somewhere between me and Greece, and decide to make my way in that direction- the road will form in front of me and it will either lead there or I’ll direct it elsewhere. I start to feel more like a dynamic and powerful person, and two days later I am up at 6am, finishing some work, I go spinning with my Mum, we sit down with my Dad for proper-coffee and croissants (I have loved living with my so thoughtful parents, and am a little sad at how my anxiety and impatience has made it look otherwise), Anila comes over for quiche and last minute packing advice, and then I am on the way to the station. At the airport, I am aware of how unemotional this flight is compared to others, and think that’s a good thing. I buy a cookie and flapjack at Pret and decide not to worry about them.
Hours later, checked into a very forgettable hostel and eating a “veggie burger” (there is no pattie, just the salad that would have come with a meat burger) in a bar by the river, I start to feel excited about where I am and how I will spend tomorrow. I walk around the busy yet relaxed old town and enjoy a Black Sesame ice cream- this is something to try to recreate-
NEW RECIPE PLAN! Try out Tahini Ice cream. On the to-do list.
High! I decide to go out to breakfast, and happily find Gostilna Dela– I sit in a bright window seat (as you can see, and the bad set up of this is just a testament to the fact I had only recently woken up), and choose granola with yogurt and seasonal fruit, though there’s more “adventurous” things like various omelettes on the menu.
What’s amazing about Gostilna Dela isn’t only the fact that the smell of cinnamon, the shining pieces of strawberry with porous apple create a dish that tastes sweet and strengthening, it’s that there’s a real focus on “slow food” and local ingredients (like in much of Ljubljana, the European Green Capital 2016), it’s that the place is socially conscious, part of a network of enterprises that re-use items, understand food, and develop skills and employment opportunities for young people out of education and with disabilities.
PLAN! To remember the joy that cinnamon brings to fruit and yogurt.
HIGH! Walking down from the castle, where I was particularly hangry at having to pay for the loo when it already cost 7.50 Eur to get in, I find Bistro Biró, with what is evidently “healthy” and delicious food. The lovely local wine and my oh-so-recreatable green shakshuka make my sad burger from last night seem funny- in the Green Capital of Europe I should probably have held out for something with a bit more to it.
to make a Green Shakshuka recipe, including:
The almost fruity feta that has melted into the leaves like goat’s cheese
Watch this space.
In a low mood moment that evening, in the dead quiet “common room” of this would-be-amusingly socially sterile hostel, I resent the fascination with backpacking. Anywhere is better than “wasting” time at home, and oh, what a lot I have learnt today (an afternoon’s overview of an entire people’s history), but ultimately I was driven by achievement and by contributing time, energy and growing expertise (and gaining oh so much of all three) and, shamelessly, etching away at a niche for myself. I feel like I could barely relate to the lovely, expert guide with such similar interests to mine on my feminist tour of Athens (which was incredible, and actually taught me much more than the Castle museum about more “Mainstream” history as it was so much more relatable to current events), and have already fallen into retreating from greetings, rather than leaping at them. This is followed the next morning by a very uninspiring breakfast, LOW.
Later on, at the sea and out of my shell, I finally manage to articulate to myself that, while I’m enjoying and pushing myself, I was still learning so much in Athens. The advice from a few very trusted friends there was that with all this time I should explore more, go somewhere “crazy”. That probably is what they should do, older than me and always more “teachers” than students of others. For me, though, it’s no bad thing to recognise that going back to a place where I was still constantly surprised by the creativity, patience and joy of the people around me would allow me to explore and grow just as much for now.
Green Shakshuka recipe
Tahini Ice cream recipe (less certain, more exciting)