Day one-Stansted, Graz, Maribor Thursday 7th

8 Oct

Today I have done a number of things. These include spinning around repeatedly on some chairs at Stansted, and almost falling into a businessman. He was not impressed. I’ve also been in three countries, in less than twelve hours. Here are some initial thoughts.

Arrived in Graz, Austria. Getting off the bus into the main square I was not surprised to find a Subway and a McDonalds. I grabbed some food from a place called Back Werkz, whose USP was the fact you got to use tongs to pick your food out of warming counters and put them in a bag, like a claw game you know you will win. Trying to get something Austrian looking, I ended up with a giant pretzel. It was pleasantly surprising, having a sort of soft chewy inside and a very “pretzelly” crust.

Giant Pretzel

Then I hoped on the tram to the train station, and got the train to Maribor.

As the train snaked through the Slovenian Countryside, first impressions are one of a definite rural bent. Small brightly coloured houses dotted in the hills. The contrast to England was obvious. Maribor is a major Slovenian City, yet the outskirts were mainly devoid of the massive warehouses and depots that greet you as you roll into Manchester. It suggests less a lack of sophistication, more a contentedness with the current way of life.

Once I got past the incongruous nature of a lady from Wigan running a hostel in northern Slovenia, I set out into Maribor proper, armed with a map. The map was swiftly lost, so wandering aimlessly commenced.

Deciding that the landlady’s recommendation of a Kebab was, whilst tempting, not an auspicious start, I walked to her recommended restaurant. It didn’t look hugely promising, with the word Pizza fairly prominent on the menu. Too tired and hungry to care, I went in.

The inside was best described as bastard Italian meets hunting lodge. It was a bit depressing, to come all the way to the other end of Slovenia, and be confronted with spaghetti carbonara.

What was interesting were the references to `Parisian style` dishes, such as fried calamari, hinting at a lack of pride in Slovenian style Food. It could also just been the age old reputation of French food being used to make a quick buck. Ordering the only thing that seemed non Italian, what arrived was a huge fillet of hake, and some spinach and potatoes. Whilst nice it wasn’t niether fancy nor unique.
It seems that either the restaurant was not a brilliant example of Slovenian restaurants in general, or Slovenes just love Italian food.

A visit to the super market confirmed this. It was packed with wall to wall gnocchi, fresh tortellini, all claiming to have achieved the impressive feat of being both traditional and genuine, despite being made in a factory in Düsseldorf. It was very similar to a British supermarket, and other than the wall to wall sausages, it was hard to pick out anything that was obviously Slovenian.

Hopefully tomorrow I will get a better sense of what’s going on.

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One Response to “Day one-Stansted, Graz, Maribor Thursday 7th”

  1. Jan October 8, 2010 at 9:36 pm #

    Sounds like an amazing example of how brilliant the Italiens are at marketing thier food and lifestyle over any other country and how we all buy into it regardless of the fact the reality is ‘Made in Germany’.

    Be interesting to know why the Slovenians believe this like the English do. We brought into Italien sunshine, romance and style – the Mediterranean lifestyle. What do the Solvenians perceive to be the attraction over thier own food history? Who influenced them as we had cookery writers like Elizabeth David pioneering the way.

    Looking forward to finding out!

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