After 122 Months, a Return to Film

This wall is near the Cobbler’s Bridge in Ljubljana’s old town center, the first picture I shot on film in ten years and two months. I intend to make many more.

This journey ‘back’ began innocently last fall when on a whim at a flea market I dropped €22 on a Zenit EM and a roll of Ilford 50 ASA black and white film that was two years beyond its expiration date. My edition of the Soviet workhorse SLR was released in 1979 for the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games, but the brand dates back to 1952.

Soviet workhorse

Soviet workhorse. Heavier than a Macbook Pro.

It came with a Helios-44, a fixed 58mm lens with a f/2 – f/16 aperture range. Combined, the camera and lens weigh about as much as my MacBook Pro. And is much louder, too. I like the smell of the leather case.

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In Slovenia, Protest Over Proposed Higher Education Reform Law – A Dozen Photos


An estimated 2,000 people gathered in Kongresni Trg square in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana on Wednesday to protest a proposed sweeping higher education reform law. The law, known as ZViS, would introduce tuition fees for the first time, essentially ending free universal higher education. Here are a dozen photos.


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Flash Gallery: 34 Pics From the 2014 Collecta Fair in Ljubljana

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Here’s another Flash Gallery, this time from today’s opening day of the 2014 Collecta Collectors Fair in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Seriously – what Kiss fan wouldn’t want this limited edition Pez dispenser quartet?

The fair, this year celebrating its eight edition, features all the usual suspects in the world of collecting and collectibles: coins, stamps (my weakness), post cards, postal history, books, military memorabilia and LPs. Like this one I found in a ex-YU punk bin by Electric Orgasm. The guy on the left looks like he just had one.

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Rounding out today’s Pics du Jour is this one illustrating banknotes from the late Yugoslav Federation years, money ruined by hyperinflation, criminality and war.  Trying to count all those zeros almost ruined my eyes. From top: 50 billion dinars, 5 billion dinars, and highest denomination ever printed in the former Yugoslavia, 500 billion dinars. It was worthless two weeks after it left the printing press.

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All 34 photos are in the my Google + album linked to below. I’ll be returning, either tomorrow or Saturday to spend some time with a few stamp dealers. Want me to pick anything up for you? Some Pez dispensers perhaps? Let me know and enjoy the pics!


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Ljubljana central market

Ljubljana’s Central Market

Today’s Pic du Jour is this snap taken late yesterday morning of Ljubljana’s central market where I proudly reign and rule as Mayor. On Foursquare, anyway. When I’m in town, I visit six days a week and keep a regularly-updated market-related photo album on Google+ here.

I’m not at all a fan of filters on mobile phone cameras but will admit that I like how this treatment works with this shot. Thoughts?


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Tarkovsky Nostalghia 11

Photo Exhibit Chronicling Tarkovsky Masterpiece ‘Nostalghia’ Makes World Premiere in Ljubljana

Tarkovsky’s Nostalghia – The Journey Within, an evocative and entrancing photo exhibit that chronicles the making of Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1983 classic ‘Nostalghia’, made its world premiere in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on January 30.

Nearly 100 images by English photographer Deborah Beer, never before seen, make up the exhibit which will be on display on the Jakopič Promenade in Ljubljana’s central Tivoli Park through April 30. If you’re in Ljubljana this winter or early spring, don’t miss it.

The outdoor setting and the winter/spring timing will fit nicely with the mood of an exhibit which curator Riccardo Costantini describes thusly:

A journey in still images through the soul of a poet of the cinema leading to a deeper understanding of the incredible art of Andrei Tarkovsky: the fascinating mist and fog, the road and the fire, the abandoned places and intimate rooms… one of the most evocative films in the history of cinema revealed by the sharp eye of a great photographer.

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Googlemaps Car in Ljubljana

Google Maps Car-spotting in Ljubljana (Pic du Jour)

Are there any Google Maps car-spotting contests? If so, here’s one that was parked here in Ljubljana yesterday afternoon. What do I win?

I’d think and hope that they hire locally. The car has a German registration (Hamburg) but that doesn’t necessarily mean that Slovenians weren’t mapping Slovenian streets. Does anyone know?

Ljubljana, Slovenia, 29-Jan-2014

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Crossing Borders from Ljubljana – Slovenia Rail Deals for January 2014

After too much time away from it, I’m excited to get back into the groove of hunting down deals on rail fares and finding new (to me) interesting routes. I’m coming across lots of useful info so I thought I’d share some of the better discoveries here as well.

This is an overview of some of the deals that are available now through December via Slovenian Railways aka Slovenske Zeleznice. If you’re planning to pass through Slovenia overland this winter, spring, summer or fall, this is for you.

The good news: Slovenian Railways has lots of great cross border deals at the moment, starting for as little as 25 EUR.

The bad news: tickets can’t be purchased on line, and won’t be available via the internets until the beginning of 2015. For non-residents, that’s a major downer. Down yes, but not necessarily out. At least not on all routes. Read on.

To begin, a list of special fares that link Ljubljana to four of the five nearest capital cities:

- Ljubljana-Belgrade: 25 EUR one way via the Beograd Spezial. Daily departure from Ljubljana at 08:25, arrives Belgrade 17:32. Return departs the Serbian capital at 11:00, arrives Ljubljana 20:53. Nine fares per route available at this price daily. Regular fares: one-way 54.80, 87.60 return.

- Ljubljana-Budapest: 39 EUR one-way, 49 return. At the moment, that’s the standard fare for EN 499/205 which departs Ljubljana daily at 06:35, arrives in Budapest at 16:29. Return (EN 204/498) departs at 14:45, arrives 23:37.

- Ljubljana-Prague: 49 EUR one-way on the EC 212, which departs Ljubljana at 09:22 and arrives at 21:21. Only four tickets available daily at this fare via the Praga Spezial per route but note that this train goes via Villach, Austria, and then onwards Vienna. Another shorter Prague connection, that goes directly to Vienna, is 132 EUR one-way.

- Ljubljana-Vienna (Meidling): 29 EUR with two daily options (departure 08:05 and 16:00, arrival 13:57 and 21:57) with 12 tickets available at that fare per departure via the SparSchiene special.

Other points north:

- Ljubljana-Zurich: 29 EUR one-way, with four tickets available at that price through the SparSchiene Zurich special. Sleeper in a six-berth compartment as low as 39 EUR, four-berth at 49 EUR. Departs at 21:10, arrives Zurich at 09:20. Return: departs 20:40, arrives 08:11. This can be purchased three months in advance.

- Ljubljana-Munich: 29 EUR one-way via the Munchen Spar or Smart Night specials. Six tickets available on both. Regular price in 77 EUR.

The EC 212/213 departs Ljubljana 09:22, arrives 15:41; return departs 12:18, arrives 18:31.
The 498/499 departs 23:55, arrives 06:10.  Return departs Munich 23:40, arrives Ljubljana 05:59. Sleeper in a six-berth compartment as low as 39 EUR.

- Ljubljana-Frankfurt: 49 EUR one-way, six tickets available via the Frankfurt Smart special. One departure daily: 09:22, arrives 19:49. Return: leaves Frankfurt at 08:22, arrives 18:31.

Other capitals?

These aren’t special fares but are worth noting beginning with Zagreb, the cheapest of the capital-to-capital connections.

- Ljubljana-Zagreb: 16.40 EUR one-way, 26.20 EUR return, with four departures daily: 06:35, 08:25, 14.45 and 18:35; return 06:50, 12:35, 18:37 and 21:20. Roughly two-and-a-half hours.

- Ljubljana-Sarajevo: 49.20 EUR one-way. Daily departure at 06:35, arrive 18:13. Return 10:46, arrive 23:37.

- Ljubljana-Bratislava: 87.20 EUR one-way. Depending on the connection times and the Vienna-Bratislava price, this might be cheaper if you can get one of one the SparSchiene specials to Vienna listed above.

- Ljubljana-Skopje: 88.40 EUR one-way. Daily departures at 08:25, arrive 07:22 the following day. Return; 20:10, arrive 20:53 the following day. Both require layovers in Belgrade of four-and-a-half and six-and-a-half hours respectively.

And to round things out, two more destinations of interest in Croatia, more specifically, Istria:

- Ljubljana-Pula (Pulj in Slovenian): 25 EUR one-way standard fare. Daily departure at 13:12, arrival at 17:51. Return: departs 13:20, arrives 18:40 (or 19:29 on Sat/Sun/holidays). Requires a chance in Buzet, Croatia.

- Rijeka-Ljubljana: 17 EUR one-way, 27.20 return. Departures at 06:35 and 15:10, arrivals 09:20 and 17:55. Return: Departures at 11:55 and 20:40, arrivals 14:53 and 23:30.

Where to buy? Station ticket offices and authorized agencies. The list is here.

With the exception of the Budapest run, I’ve been on all of these routes, many of them several times.  The quality of the trains varies wildly; quality-wise there is still a wide bridge between the trains operated by the countries of the former Yugoslavia and eastern Europe and those of their western and northern Europe counterparts. That said, the gap isn’t nearly as wide as it was a decade ago when I moved to the continent permanently.

And finally: all tickets listed are for 2nd class travel. If you manage to get the cheaper fare, you cannot upgrade to 1st class from those specially-priced tickets. All can be purchased up to two months prior to departure, three months for the Zurich route. Timetables, routes, and prices valid through 14 December 2014. But we all know that it’s always best to double check, right?

In closing I leave you with this, a 35-second video shot aboard MV 482, the Rijeka-Ljubljana line. The soundtrack is Chrome Weels by Asian Women on the Telephone and it rocks.