An Entry By Alex Derry in Slovenia - August 24th
The Hajji's Journey from August 17th to 24th
Alex Derry, a true scholar and a gentlemen, studied with Ben in Maastricht for the last year and we were lucky enough to have him join the Hajji crew for a couple of weeks. We met him (after some trouble) at Sziget Festival and he traveled with us through Austria to Slovenia where he departed. Given his gift of gab, we hired him to write up his experiences in the Hajji (his payment being the liquor we served him for weeks on end). Here is what he had to say about his time in the Hajji, and this portion of our trip....
Alex Derry Ladies and Gentlemen
˝My first encounter with this red-hued diesel-fueled sex chariot was way back in April, when Ben brought it to Maastricht from Utrecht, as a farmer brings his livestock to market - to present its robust figure and tender features to drooling, moneyed merchants. But this Arab Charger was not for sale. Rather, it was to house, transport, feed, and entertain a vibrtant cast of roaming expatriates who sought exotic new environs for spiritual inspiration, or, in my case, to delay the inevitable reeducation camps of real life. Those early trips within Dutch borders were litmus tests for the Hajjis sheer power - it could hold large crowds, climb hills at a steady pace, blast fresh beats across a field, and, most important of all, stow away vast quantities of jar-burr. The International Gypsy Fest quest (a strange but wonderful turr that brought Taraf De Haidouks to my ears) was a strong indicator of its rhino spirit.
I had hoped to join the mysterious Hajji caravan for their sojourn at Exit Festival in Novi Sad, but circumstances brought me to London, and a meet up was uncertain. So, I booked a flight to Warsaw, spent some time in the Polish countryside spotting bison and dodging Lushenko's border guards, sojourned in Krakow, bought a ticket to Sziget and relied on the harmony of the spheres to bring me and the Hajji crew together in Budapest, via the night train which was full of mysterious romance.
As readers are already well aware, Sziget was a gas. A flurry of sounds and sights and suds and nutritious slop. But I will supplement the reader's digest with some personal perspective. Following a particularly disastrous tear on my part, some enterprising little shit stole my all-access wristband while I was passed out on the grass in only my bathing suit (sometime after Calexico I believe, but I'm sure my fellow pilgrims have more details on that particular fiasco). As such, I was a refugee on Obudai, stripped of my inherent rights and freedoms as a festivalier, and constantly on the look-out for the roaming ticket authorities. As such, I was unable to shower, and therefore had to supplement the already reduced level of festival hygene with infrequent dips in the polluted Danube. But we all made it through, (somewhat) unscathed, in need of the cleansing Turkish-style baths.
Hajji Boys Sorted By Height
And thencewards to Vienna. via the Hungarian town of Gyor, where we camped for one night out back of a 24-hour Tesco, camping like ghosts in the night in order to avoid security forces and the odd roaming trucker perv. Fogut brought us across the border and into Vienna via the scenic industrial route. After dispelling the rumours of Sting's death, we set up a beer picnic in the park, near the Hilton. Ben, Cous and Fogut, being the budding, thieving entrepreneurs they are, managed to scam the Hilton out of some ice by convincing the concierge they were a band on tour. What the name of the band was I can't quite recall, but I do know that I joined them as their manager when it was decided that we would extend this ruse to obtain a couple of long island iced teas. Great Success!! Reunions all around with Conrad Schmidt-Bens and Johannes Braune (our guide and host, fresh from his work at the International Atomic Energy Agency). Drinks by the river, schnitzel served in a subway stations by a drunken waiter, and a night in the city park. In the morrow, we break up to see the sights, thereby losing our companions Neala and Fogut, (who were returning to Canuckia), more drinks by the Danube, and then a quest to find Daniel's friend Alex, recent owner of Angie's Movie Cafe.
Hajji Crew (at a record high of 11!) out for dinner in Vienna
And then we set Slovenia in our sights. Cruising through the Julein Alps towards Lake Bled, we are wowed by Austro-Slovene landscapes. We roll into the resort town of Bled in the early evening, and are excited by what we see: a stunning deep blue emerald lake surrounding a small island whereupon is perched a church. Beautiful, robust Slovenes sunning themselves by the water. We found a field to camp in (like ghosts, again, must avoid the state), and after pizza and kebaps, we run naked into the lake, with a tipsy walk back to our campsite. The next day is spend in much the same way, sunning, eating and killing vast quantities of wasps, before we warm ourselves up for a race to the island and back. Explored Dali's biblical period at the local gallery just in time for dinner at the best pizzeria in Slovenia. Ben, Conrad and I decide to hit the town with some innocent Irish girls, and we end up drinking red bull and vodka with some racist Slovenes, who lash out at the mention of Bosnian interlocutors. Nice to see that things have changed.
Cous at Bled Island
Bled Island Beauty
Bled was wonderful, but the Hajji purrs for more mileage. So we round up the crew and gear, and after another pizzeria jaunt, we head to the capital, Ljubljana, described by the Lonely Planet as having the atmosphere and culture of Prague or Paris, but with less attitude. I am inclined to agree, to a certain extent. While it is a small city, Ljubljana boasts a vibrant atmosphere with warm inhabitants eager to show us around. Upon arrival, we ascend to the castle, which provided us with a view of the city as well as of some absurdly hip prettyboy/girl Australians that were met with Brett's Kiwi ire. Perhaps so much so that he needed some alone time, because as we prepared our plans for the night as a massive storm loomed in the sky, our friend Brett had disappeared. "Where was he?" you ask? Good question, because as we were racking our brains as to the possibilities of his movements, with Ben cruising the streets with an umbrella and a worried soul, Brett was sitting pretty drinking jar in the Metalkova squat. All is well.
For my last day with the Hajji crew, we enjoyed a traditional Slovenian meal and more beers in the park, at which time we meet up with Conrad's new friend who was to show us about the city's nightlife. It was a night of punks, specifically Canadian punks, called the Flatliners. I bumped my head. And then I had to leave.
Walking Home from a Punk Concert in Ljubljana
Alex Derrys Crowd Surfing Head Wound
Brett, Ben, Cous and Rens Sleeping Spot in Ljubljana
Heading to the Ljubjana train station, not much time, so much love, thank you for saving me, and if you dont know, now you know.˝
Thanks for the write up Derry! We miss you so!
Much love from the Hajji crew to you and yours.
Goodbye Alex John Jackson Derry Photo Shoot