Friday, June 24, 2005


European Gothic

A man carrying a large metal crucifix at a funeral procession near Ljubljana on Wednesday was killed when lighting struck the cross.

The funeral procession was taking place just as a severe summer storm moved across the area around Ljubljana on Wednesday afternoon.

According to Slovenian police, a 62-year-old man died in hospital from the injuries he sustained from the lighting strike to the cross he was carrying.

Another man was slightly injured and a number of people attending the funeral procession at Brezovica, some 10km south of Ljubljana, were thrown to the ground by the lighting, the report said.

Man Carrying Cross at Funeral Killed by Lightning
Slovene Press Agency, Friday, June 24, 2005

That's dark.

It reminds me partly of one of the highlights of my post-graduation European tour: Transylvania.

James and I, having been to Bucharest and had a fantastic view of the 1999 solar eclipse which passed across Europe, returned to our digs in the Transylvanian town of Brasov to find ourselves locked out along with the dog. (If this doesn't make sense to you, I should explain that we were staying in a downstairs apartment owned by a very sweet old lady for the princely sum of $5 each per night.)

A little put out by this, we made our way down to the Medieval-looking town square and enjoyed some pizza, while hordes of grubby-looking children hovered nearby, hopeful of a bite to eat. We told them to bugger off. Afterwards, we tracked down a pub and got into conversation with a couple of locals. I was talking to a guy who'd perfected his English in Dublin and kept saying "for crying out loud," at the end of every sentence. James spoke to the guy's girlfriend and, with a flourish of diplomacy that made even me blush, announced that he didn't like Hungarians. The girl, inevitably, was half Hungarian.

Having bade farewell to our new-found friends, we returned to the house to find we were still locked out along with the dog. With a thunderstorm now in full swing outside, we bedded down stoically in the hallway. The dog, not being too big or brave, crawled onto my chest and lay there shivering with fear. James started snoring.

A short while later, the dog suddenly sat bolt upright on my chest and started growling at the door. A dramatic flash of lightning outlined the silhouette of a figure coming into the hall towards the two recumbent travellers. I did an instant bit of schoolboy arithmetic (Transylvania + thunderstorm + shadowy figure emerging from the night = VAMPIRE) freaked out and THREW THE DOG.

I just had time enough to figure out that the shadowy figure had to be our weirdo guide Dorian before his surprised yell told me that my improvised canine projectile had hit him in the legs. He helped James and I break into the apartment, then we went to bed and pushed the chest of drawers in front of the door. We didn't really trust Dorian not to murder us in our sleep; he was that kind of guy.

It's one of those experiences I wouldn't exchange for anything.


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