I am in Ljubljana, Slovenia at the moment for an academic conference, and I am falling in love! Why? Because much like my visit to (and subsequent love affair with) Zadar, Croatia in 2016, a couple of years ago, I have found myself drawn to the countless graffiti hearts littered around the city.
I have long been drawn to heart-shaped things – especially random hearts that aren’t really hearts, like rocks or leaves that just happen to resemble the amorous shape. But I am also drawn to random hearts that appear where they’re not expected. So, a heart on a Valentine’s card isn’t of (whimsical) interest to me. But a heart-shaped eraser found on the pavement or a heart-shaped trinket in the gutter bring a smile to my face and joy to my soul.
And so, you can imagine the joy I have found walking around the streets of Ljubljana where there are graffiti hearts at (nearly) every turn.
The hearts, of course, are a bit bitter-sweet in a way. As are many of the “oh, look at that!” moments that I experience when travelling. Because whilst I do (begrudgingly) enjoy solo travel, solo travel isn’t completely a choice. It quite often starts off rather lovely and exciting, but there is always a point in time when I yearn for someone to share it with. Not just any someone, but my favourite travel partner, Paul. Although I suppose that if I had a travelling partner (romantic or otherwise) I would probably not miss him as much.
Of course, I am quite blessed that my academic life provides me with these opportunities to travel as it means I can do a bit of sightseeing along the way. It makes it easier to visit new places without feeling alone, because I am here for a purpose other than travel. That means that I don’t feel as if I am “stuck” travelling this world alone. Instead, I am left feeling that I have a bit of spare time for a fun adventure in between my professional obligations. And that tiny distinction helps more than you might imagine.
Without someone to share the hearts with in real time, I found myself capturing as many as I could as photographs. That way, I can reflect on them later, or share them with others after the fact. Which is why I’m sharing several of them with you here. I hope that they bring a wee smile to your face, as they did to mine.