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Game 61: Šuštarski Most (Shoe Makers Bridge) , Ljubljana, Slovenia

A game with a band on a bridge !

After a brilliant game in the morning at the day centre , me and Alexis (from Malaysia , staying at the same hostel ), took a walk around Ljubljana looking for our next spot to play .

Ljubljana is a stunning, fairytale city with the River Ljubljanica running through the heart of it, with bespoke shops , cafes and bars on either side in its medieval streets .

17 bridges span it’s waters, each unique and adding to the storybook feel of this atmospheric, special place that’s made all the more romantic by its association with dragons. Known as Dragon City, the origins of its dragons, which you see everywhere from stuffed toys and bumper stickers to those protecting Dragon Bridge itself , can be found in Ljubljana’s involvement in the tale of Jason and the Argonauts .

We came to a wide pedestrianised bridge “ Shoe Makers Bridge “ where some musicians were sat to one side having a break between sets .A quick chat and soon Uros Jezdie (accordion) and Klemen Braćko ( violin ) has joined us for a game . Eva Jurgel (oboe) and her friend Manca Biber watched on .

I was a bit wary of setting up a game on a bridge in such a popular tourist spot, but I needn’t have worried. Everytime the ball ran to a pedestrian they showed off their own skills, adding to the vibrancy of the game with their flicks and tricks before passing the ball back into play to the sound of “Olay!” from the musicians .

At one point , the ball dropped to an older Italian bloke, Pietro, who curled one in with his left, then his wife showed me a photo of the younger Pietro looking all proud lined up in an old team photo from his village footy team. On the pitch, Uros and Klemen were having a running battle, literally wrestling with each other at times and loving the craic. I was on Uros’s side but had little to do as he took us into an early 3-0 lead. The determined Klemen brought the scores level before Uris powered home a couple more past the helpless Alexis.

Fantastic game! When it was over, Eva remarked about how “happy and childlike” the game had seemed to make people feel as they passed by or had a touch of the ball.

The band, known as Autento- The Folk Embassy Band, then played a beautiful rendition of a Slovenian folk-song to cap off a great, unique experience.

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