All the World’s a Stage


New Kolizej in Ljubljana
The new Ljubljana Opera House project presented at Ljubljana City Hall
(Novi Kolizej)

As the Bluff was called and all the main players took the stage on national TV last night, I couldn’t help but think of the Immortal Bard. The dethroned Lord of Bluff remains Slovenia’s Prime Minister. May he and his entourage serve the country well in the year that remains of their term.

All the World’s a Stage
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

Let Them Play Golf


Golf Course at Cap Cana
Golf Course at Donald Trump’s project in the Dominican Republic
(disclaimer: probably not a recipient of EU subsidies)
(photo source)

Financial Times reported on the findings of the European Court of Auditors that found EU aid for the poor had been misspent on golf clubs. Around 4 billion euros or at least 12% assigned to the European Union’s poorer regions were not properly accounted for last year, with some funds earmarked for agriculture ending up in the coffers of golf and riding clubs and railway companies.

The auditors identified unsatisfactory procedures in aid projects in England’s Merseyside, the Midi-Pyrénées region of southern France, the southern Italian region of Campania and Valencia in eastern Spain, as well as in Poland and Slovenia.

Thankfully (?), suspected fraud cases were rare with only four out of hundreds of investigated cases handed over to the anti-fraud office and only two of those being pursued further. Apparently, according to Hubert Weber, the court’s President, the usual reasons for error are due to neglect, poor knowledge of the often complex rules and… presumed attempts to defraud the EU budget.

The court said one effect of the EU’s switch from production-based subsidies to direct payments was to redistribute aid from farmers to landowners, some of whom performed no agricultural activities at all. Among the new beneficiaries are English railway companies, German and Swedish horse riding and breeding clubs, and golf clubs, leisure facilities and city councils in Denmark and England, the auditors said.

If we can secure some funds for Lipica, somebody please make sure they are spent on the horses and not the golf course? 😉

Where Have All the Bread Loaves Gone?


Photo of the Week in Mladina by Binula
Photo of the Week in Mladina magazine; visit the author’s blog: Binula

While the Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša struggles to discipline his coalition partners, people still find it difficult to forget some of the recent statements considered to be in rather poor taste.

In our office‘s backyard, my dear colleague (meet Sabina) took a photo of a question posed by an annonymous voter or voter-to-be who apparently dug through the trash container for loaves of bread in vain. He or she most probably came across no milk and honey, either.

Today, Sabina’s photo of the container with the sign: “Janša, where are the bread loaves?” was published in Mladina magazine as the “photo of the week”. Incidentally, Barbara Brezigar, featured to the left of the photo used to share Sabina’s last name. And possibly a drop of blood or two. Hey, it’s a small country 😉

Bravo to Binula the blogger on becoming a published photographer!

Luka Luncheonette, Ljubljana

Luka Cafe in Ljubljana

This one’s for Luka 😉

The Bluff Continues


On National TV, the Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša just stated that the Government will propose a motion of confidence (“vote of confidence”). You can read more on what that means here.

(If the Government does not receive the support of a majority vote of all deputies, the National Assembly must elect within thirty days a new President of the Government or in a new vote express its confidence in the incumbent President of the Government, or failing this, the President of the Republic dissolves the National Assembly and calls new elections.)

And so, the Lord of Bluff continues his rule…

Real Slovenia: What is Fuelling the Prices?

Planned Real Estate Development in Ljubljana
Some of the planned real estate development in Ljubljana as presented at the Ljubljana Townhouse

As prices of real estate in Slovenia continue to rise, even in the already not-so-cheap Ljubljana, you, like Adriaan, may be wondering whether the prices have been affected by foreign investment or are they fuelled by local demand and how people can afford these places.

In Ljubljana, the rising prices have traditionally been fuelled predominantly by local (Slovenian, that is) demand as to us, Ljubljana natives, it sometimes seems as if the entire rest of the country wanted to move here.

Since joining the EU along with major Eastern European countries in May 2004, Slovenia has consistently stayed a step ahead of the other “new kids from the bloc” by being the only new entrant so far to join the Eurozone, having been admitted on 1 January 2007 and by becoming the first of the newbie countries to hold the Presidency of the European Union scheduled for the first half of 2008.

With Slovenian business traditionally firmly embedded in the international environment and for example just the export to the 25 EU members in 2006 reaching 69% of the country’s GDP with the total export gaining 17% in the first nine months of this year compared to 2006, and considering an almost equal flow in the opposite direction, an increasing number of foreign businesses are seeking facilities in the country and their employees renting or buying real estate as well.

On the other hand, growing exposure of the country in foreign media, interesting travel packages and low budget airlines are bringing in many visiting tourists who fall in love with the country and decide to purchase a dream home away from home, which considering the continuously rising prices, also makes for an attractive investment.

Potočnik's Galaxy
Potočnik’s Galaxy

Sky’s the limit in the country whose member on the EU Commission Janez Potočnik (Commissioner for Science and Research) visits an astronomical observatory and identifies and names his very own galaxy in passing. advises: If you are an ultra-cautious investor who is likely to lie awake at night sweating even if there is the teeniest-tiniest element of risk to your investment, then perhaps Slovenia is the right country for you to be putting your money into.

If you do, you will not be alone. Slovenia was tipped by Channel 4’s ‘A Place in the Sun’ programme as the 8th best place to invest over the next 10 years, with predicted increases of 250% over that period. Knight Frank are similarly bullish about Slovenia, putting it in their joint number two position along with Latvia for 2007 with a predicted growth of 17.5%.

To conclude, it is both local demand that the supply has not been able to meet the demand and foreign investments that keep the prices on the rise. Perhaps the most notable difference between the two factors being the territorial factor. Whereas local demand pushes the prices up primarily in the large city areas (close to workplaces) and the posh touristic places, foreign investors are quite likely to go for the cheap properties in regions not interesting to Slovenians as places of permanent residence due to their remoteness and absence of available jobs and other infrastructure.

This brings us to another real issue: How does one handle all the local and imported real estate fuel and finances the purchase of real estate in Slovenia?

Ideally, you have money readily available and pay in cash you pull from under the pillow (do share which Starwood hotel you usually stay at when at a European city served by a low budget airline from Ljubljana). If not, several types of loans are available.

In Slovenia, you can choose between regular loans secured by insurance, guarantor or the property itself (mortgage), financial products that combine loans with life insurance or investment in mutual funds, or so-called leasing.

The information I found on the net in English, claiming that the loan-to-value mortgages only goes as high as 50%, is out of date as the market has become far more flexible than that although thankfully not going into the sub-prime mortgage area quite as yet. So next in the series coming from this couch will be: details on the types of available financing.

Venison w spaetzle and skuta cheese roll


Phenomenal venison in a creamy carrot-base sauce with spaetzle noodles, a piece of ‘sirov strukelj’ (skuta cheese roll) and pear (cooked in white wine and topped with cranberry jam.
Prepared by Poldka at the renowned Jelen restaurant in Kocevje.

Kocevje orchard

Cold but cool 🙂

The Lord of Bluff

Janez Janša
Janez Janša, Slovenian Prime Minister; (photo source)

I may be notoriously recalcitrant (hey, I just learned a new word 🙂 ) but I think just about everyone can see that yesterday’s statement by the Slovenian Prime Minister that the option of the entire Government stepping down is not out of the question is nothing short of a brilliant bluff.

By giving this statement, the Strategist who functions best at times of duress effectively stopped the down-with-the-government campaign before it could begin. He will be turning from a villain to a victim in no time, blaming the EU Presidency (supported by everyone) for any and all problems that may arise. The poor-me/conspiracy card works like a charm.

I am doing a great job and if you think you can do better, go for it! A year before the elections and with the EU Presidency adventure inbetween? We all remember what happened 7 years ago with the player roles reversed, right?

One has to admire the way JJ is playing his hand. He has placed the opponents into a no-win position. Call his bluff and lose the elections or don’t call it and silently admit that he is needed and adequate at his job.

Ljubljana SunSet


Ljubljana Sunset

Ljubljana Sunset

Ljubljana Sunset

Good morning, starshine 😉

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