Ljubljana would have to be our favourite city stop yet. It is the big-smoke of Slovenia, being the Capital, but it didn’t feel like a big city at all. In-fact when we arrived we thought there had been a bomb threat or something as it was hard to spot another person. We later discovered the reason behind such minimal morning human activity. This I will explain a little later.
We employed our trusty friend (google maps) and made our way to our apartment in a street just back from the river. Lauren and I were warmly greeted by a man named Jozef who gave us a full run down on Ljubljana; it’s sights, history and events which even included a very peculiar off the topic story of how his Uncle just disappeared during a trip to South America… With all this local information about Ljubljana at the forefront of our mind, and a slightly disturbing story, we set off to discover what the Capital of Slovenia had to offer.
Now it is a little embarrassing to mention but I must confess a quick story about driving into Ljubljana. When we were about 2kms out I saw a very “fancy” looking building upon a hill and I did think to myself, “I wish we could stay there. I wonder who owns that”. Needless to say I later found out that this is the absolute main attraction in Ljubljana, an epic 11th Century Castle. From that point it became fondly known in my own head as “Hotel Castle”. I guess it would be the equivalent to seeing the Opera House and saying to your self, “I wish I could stay there”. I guess it pays to read up on a city before arriving. Lesson Number 1 for Joel. Any way, back to the Capital and it’s sights.
We did venture up to the “Hotel Castle” and had a peek around. From the top of the castle walls you get the most amazing view over the whole of the city and beyond. We also quickly saw that the Ljubljan’s are a creative breed, so any chance to slip in a quick art gallery in an 11th Century castle gets taken. Pity about the art-work though. It was weird to say the very least. From here we went next door to the old Chapel for some cleansing from what we had just seen in the art-gallery and I took the opportunity to sing a quick song as I have never heard such amazing acoustics. You could be tone-deaf and sound like an angel if you sang in this chapel. Quite extraordinary! Within the castle walls there was much more to offer like little bars and cafes, more museums, no doubt more amazing art-galleries with crappy art, but we decided to venture down to the streets to see if more people were about. From the vantage point of the castle walls we planned out our next move of what to see and conquer like we were the original rulers – King and Queen of Ljubljana.
Next stop, the fresh fruit and veggie market. Ahhh, so good! We picked up here the best strawberries that we have ever tasted in our lives. It was quite a lot of fun walking through with all the vendors shouting out their specials in a language that we couldn’t understand. A lot of the time it worked in our favour as you didn’t have to feel bad about not stopping to listen to their run-down of specials. The only main thing that came through was simply their passion about Fruit and Veg! That is what we bought into. Cherries and peaches for Lauren, Strawberries and apples for me. These we did not regret.
As mentioned at the start, you would be glad to know that there was not a bomb threat on Ljubljana but simply the people in Slovenia don’t really get moving until around lunch-time or even just a little later, on a good week-day. On a Sunday, forget about any other human contact, we don’t know where everyone goes… However, as the dusk fell over the bridges and the river we started to understand why everyone “sleeps in”. The night-life is responsible. You lose count of the number of bars and places to eat along the river that cuts through the city. They come alive after about 10pm. We found ourselves enjoying some delicious Slovenian wine and beers and doing some people watching of the locals. People were flying around on their bicycles saying “ciao” and stopping to have drinks with people that they ran into, only to see them stop another 50m down the river to have some more drinks with friends that they “ran into”. Everyone knows everyone in Ljubljana. Oh and that is another thing that we so loved about the city… There are no cars aloud within the most central parts. Either hop on a bike or get walking. So, that is what we did. As we arose from our sleep we adopted the spirit of the locals our 2nd day. We rented some bikes and we were gone on an adventure that lasted the whole day.
As it has affectionately become know to us, Lubi was our sort of town. Unlike our stops in Croatia (although so so beautiful, they are stuck in the dark ages) Lubi was a town for young adults. In fact, at one point on our bike adventure we had to escape from a MASSIVE down pouring of rain and a local (Alex) came to our rescue showing us a spot to take cover. He told us about the free events that go on in the city centre every night, the place to go for night-life and what a day in the life of a Slovenian Uni student looks like. Lubi is certainly the most cruisy capital city we have ever visited and it’s hard to find a flaw in this great city!
Both Lauren and I enjoyed this change of pace as it marked the start of our fourth week of travelling and living out of a suitcase. Bohinj was our next scheduled stop and that would be full of hiking and long walks. So with each sip of wine in Lubi we knew we would be burning it off in Bohinj.
Well, Ljubljana, I think it is safe to say that we may visit you again some time soon.