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An Estonian in Slovenia

Who else loves when a date is going so well that they move from sitting opposite of you to sitting next to you?

Loni James
Loni James
9 min read
An Estonian in Slovenia
Ljubljana and the picturesque river canal running right through downtown. 

A Date in Every Country: A Series
Date #15
Location: Ljubljana, Slovenia
Nationality: Estonian
Activity: coffee, a walk, drinks, more walking…
Time: so many hours
Will see again? Not sure.
Connected via: Tinder

Slovenia proved to be an unexpected delight. Quietly unassuming, I found the smaller country to have beautiful mountains and kind people - two of my favorite things. This is two stories in one so hang in there, the first being a hilarious travel mishap and the other, the much anticipated date story. After Date #14 and with a sudden and unexpected opportunity to be interviewed by local media regarding my thoughts on the future of dating, I headed back to Ljubljana. For anyone that’s been on the road long term, you know that fancy clothing options fly out the window. When space is at a premium, things must be used frequently to justify their spot on the packing list. This means that fancy/professional attire is non-existent. With a matter of hours before a video interview, I did a panic shop at H&M and walked into a salon to get my hair sorted. I’m pretty basic with my beauty routine but lord knows if something goes on the internet it lives forever so I was doing my best to make an effort. If I had only known how it would all be in vain.

I paid $15 for a blowout and curl with the stylist being so sweet and encouraging as I nervously chatted her ear off. I had about an hour before the interview so I stopped at one of those cute street cafes to snag a glass of wine to calm my nerves. As I’m enjoying my wine I notice the wind started to pick up and the clouds turned ominous. I’m only a 10 minute walk from the news station so I decided to head out early just in case it rains and ruins my fresh curls. I’d walked 1 block with maybe 3 more to go when like a bat out of hell, the winds came barreling down the street. And I mean BARRELING like a goddamn runaway train. I heard a crash and a scream as something shattered a window. Chaos ensued as people ran for cover. Leaves and debris start being tossed about and my hair quickly turned into its own twisted tornado. People scattered in all directions and I started running down the street when flower pots start FALLING FROM THE SKY. The planters from the windows on the 3rd story were being blown off the windowsills and shattering on the sidewalks below. Myself and a few others are literally covering our heads and trying not to step on the million pieces that have exploded in front of us. I frantically ducked into a doorway, beckoning a women to join me who was also trying to find safety. We watched a  poor guy on a bike trying to make it down the street as giant objects flew at him like an obstacle course. With a break in the pottery storm, I made a mad dash from doorway to doorway, slowly working my way up the street. I was somehow still set on arriving on time despite Mother Earth planning otherwise. I passed restaurant employees frantically trying to grab at umbrellas and tables that were quickly littering the streets.

I had two block to go and I’m running with only one eye open as dust has me weeping out of the other. My hair is in my lipgloss and I can taste dirt. I think it’s the first time I’d worn lipgloss in months haha. ONE. BLOCK. TO. GO. I can do this! With one final push I’m running up the last street and start to hear all of these men yelling at me over the sound of the wind. I realize in horror that I’m running past a construction site and metal and wood debris have overtaken the sidewalk like a scene in Final Destination. I dart into the street towards the cars who were dodging incoming debris including me, a crazed blonde who was unidentifiable in her tornado like state. This was somehow safer and I charged the last few yards to the building where a group of employees were watching this strange weather phenomenon from the protection of the entryway. This kind woman looked at me as I ducked into the entrance, introducing herself as my journalist contact. How she recognized me I'll never know. With a mix of sweat and dirt and leaves plastered on my face, I gasped in relief and burst out laughing. WHAT THE HELL HAD JUST HAPPENED?!

Despite running through a scene from Twister I had made it and I was on time no less! I had the pleasure of using their fancy makeup room to attempt to clean myself up. While sitting at one of those glamorous mirrors surround by 100 lightbulbs, I picked a pile of leaves from my hair piece by piece and attempted to powder my nose. It was a small improvement as my salon efforts were literally lost in the wind. I couldn’t stop laughing as this was seriously my luck.  You all know I love a good story and this was indeed a memorable start to my very first interview. The interview went well and I shared some stories and what I’d learned in my journey so far. Of course they wanted to hear about all the ghosting and bad dates and I was happy to share a few highlights, from wild pigs crashing my date to disappearing men.

Before I headed to Scandinavia, I managed to squeeze in one more date. As I wasn’t planning on being back in Ljubljana, I hadn’t made any plans or arrangements. I ended up changing hostel locations twice and spent my last days walking along the river, exploring markets and castles and even met up with a local GLT gal who follows my stories! Always makes me so happy to grab drinks and swap stories in person. She is a delight and was such an encouragement regarding my dating adventures. With several outdoorsy pics, swiping on Date #15 was easy. We chatted a bit on Tinder then he asked to meet up for coffee before I left. He was not a local but was living here for several months and working remotely. We met up the next day, grabbing our coffee to go as we decided to walk along the river as we chatted. I don’t know what it is about wandering along a river or canal but it’s inherently romantic. Highly recommend for a first date.

He was shy but well spoken. He travels a fair bit as running his own company gives him freedom. He shared with me about his family back in Estonia and how he had made the decision to travel and how he specifically sought adventurous locations. I had no idea prior to this trip that Slovenia was such an adventure destination but wow! If you like that sort of travel, definitely add it to your list. He was spending time in Slovenia for a few months before heading back to Estonia. Do you ever just chat with someone and maybe you can’t remember all that you talked about but it was literally hours and hours of chatting?! That’s exactly what happened with us. I asked how his dating experience was and he was honest in saying that as a shy man who’s often on the road, it’s quite challenging. As he’s gotten older, he’s gotten pickier in who he goes out with. He’s not willing to just go out with anyone and because of that he can often have bouts of loneliness. I definitely resonated with this.

While I may be dating more frequently now, that was definitely not the case when I was in the US and we all know that terrible cycle. That infamous dating cycle that starts with the "I dont want to deal with the bullshit so absolutely no dating." A few months go by. Ready to tackle it again? Download the apps. Swipe away….maybe go on a date or two then get fed up only to delete the apps again. I swear I’ve done this a million times. I’ll finally feel ready to put in some effort to find someone only to be disgusted and/or disappointed and just give up. Sometimes this entire cycle is all in one day! Re-download and delete in a matter of 5 minutes. That has absolutely happened. Oh how swiftly the optimism fades when accosted by gross messages or the same faces you’ve seen a million times. This #adateineverycountry has been such a change from my US experience. It’s not perfect by any means and does come with its own frustrations and challenges. The Swiss-Suation ring a bell?!

Date #15 and I were having such a lovely time that when our coffee ran out we just kept walking, what could often be the ideal excuse for an exit was hardly even noticed. We were strolling past all these cute bars and cafes so I suggested we grab a beer. He mentioned he drinks very rarely but one sounded nice. I quickly assured him it was unnecessary but he was excited to have just one as the day was so perfect. Well we all know how just one beer goes. We sat at this  sidewalk bar and somehow ended up crashing a biker party?! A heavily tattooed group that were drinking buckets of beer and clearly living their best life. They were dancing and laughing and their mood was utterly contagious. It couldn’t help but rub off on us.

Who else loves when a date is going so well that they move from sitting opposite of you to sitting next to you? I think it’s adorable when you can see what they want but they are trying to find a logical excuse so they blame the sun in their eyes or the noise being too loud to hear you. They could suddenly say their chair is lumpy and I wouldn’t mind. I will always love that moment when they gather the courage to slide around to my side of the table.

I think it’s beyond adorable and with a few beers, he did just that. So there we sat, same side of the table, drinking beers on a sunny day, listening to some very random music and watching people pass by. It was delightful.

We decided to head back into town and enough hours had passed so it was somehow dinner time. This date just kept continuing and I was here for it. Our after dinner stroll was only interrupted by a beautiful rainbow that showed up at golden hour. While his guard was let down after our many hours together, it still took him that long to gather the courage for a kiss. It was sweet and earnest. He walked me back to my hotel as I was taking a bus to Italy the next morning to catch a flight to Norway. (It was significantly cheaper to fly out of Italy so a few hour bus ride was worth it.)  We have texted a few times since then but I’m not sure our paths will ever cross again. It was a lovely end to my time in this often overlooked country. The morning of my departure was the morning the articles and video were published so my inbox blew up with local men asking me on a date and sending me flower emojis. It wasn’t meant to be but proved to be a glorious send off from this charming country. Slovenia should definitely be added to your list if it isn't already.

For those that were asking from the last story, I ordered new hiking boots while in the middle of that hike up Mt. Triglav. I paid way too much to get the exact same ones as I loved them so much and had my family rush ship them to Norway so they’d arrive before my big hikes there. Unfortunately, they would never arrive but that’s another story. Travel keeps you on your toes even when they are missing tread.

Teaser: Next stop Norway! Where I broke all my rules, made new friends, did some epic ass hikes and met not one, not two but THREE dates!

Loni JamestinderSloveniadating

Loni James

As I collect and record these stories, I hope they make you laugh, curse and dream of far off places. May they inspire you to cross oceans and meet plenty of interesting people along the way.