MAY 12, Thursday: The First International Festival of Laughing Without Reason (Maribor, Slovenia) (Day Six)
Our program today doesn’t start until the afternoon, so we can sleep in! At breakfast we reconnect with Thomas Topolanek and Anton (Austrians who were at Interlaken). Tomas returns to me a jacket I’d left behind in Switzerland, a mere four days earlier. Despite some mixed messages about available forms of laundering, several of us do use the “Fluff and Fold” service from a cleaner adjacent to our rooms (they will wash clothes in water with soap - not dry clean – and we’ll have ‘em back by 9am the next day).
The taxi to our event destination will cost only 5.40 Euros (about US$ 8 --- Hooray for Slovenia the affordable!) so we splurge and get driven to the Snow Stadium for Day Two of the International Festival of Laughter for No Reason. There’s no “snow” at the Snow Stadium at this time of year, although a Ski Lift (chairs) hovers over a sloping plain of green grass. The Busriders frolic in a children’s play area while I go inside the building and meet our hostess Simona Krebs and set up a table for T-shirts and merchandise (here, almost nothing sold – hahahahaha). Interviews occur with several TV and radio journalists.
Simona has arranged a festival which is ambitious and comprehensive. About 200 people attend throughout the day. There are Powerpoint-illustrated lectures by doctors and psychologists (all in Slovenian, although one speaker prepared a printed re-write in awkward English); spiritual music by a troupe named “Shamballah” (like Dances of Universal Peace, with electric guitars and bass), and we (the visiting dignitaries) lead Laughter Exercises, of course. A folkloric dance troupe is musically and terpsichorally quaint. Celeste and Ruthe participate in the “Happy Fashion” Show with great gusto and playfulness. Anne and Simona enact characters from my Musical Melodrama (a bit stuttery, as I spoke English and Andreja, along with and another wanna-be translator, had a hard time translating into Slovenian).
A fabulous buffet food spread was offered with numerous salads, three hot pastas (including my favorite: Gnocchi), chicken and sautéed veggies – awesome! The “Ski Lift”: was activated; you can go up in the chairlift, and descend on a little cart-on-tracks (you control the brakes). A small mob of the Laffers decide to do this, but just as we get to the ticket window – they’d shut the ride down! (Intended for children, it “closed” at 7:00pm. And it stays light until nearly 10:00pm these days.) Ah well; you can be sure that if we come back here (perhaps for the 2nd Annual Festival), we’ll hop on the lift earlier in the day.
Some of us (after enjoying gelati) ride with Thomas back to the hotel, while others get a ride from Simona to the central old town of Maribor. The downtowners dine at what Simona says is “the best fish restaurant in all the city.” The rest of us indulge in going online for e-mails and connecting, and then all enjoy some much-appreciated sleep.