After a very long delay at London-Stansted, my mom, sister, and I were finally off to Ljubljana!
Slovenia is immediately charming. The mountains and valleys, approachable people, lovely traditional-style houses, and perfect summer weather (not too hot, not too cold) make the country so welcoming! We moved in to our hotel, the Pri Mraku (“at dusk”) in the center of the old town. There was a pride event going on that weekend and ABBA was echoing through the stone streets– it was like heaven. ❤ Unfortunately we missed the town’s production of Mamma Mia that was happening the week before.
Ljubljana is very walkable, with bars, restaurants, and shopping all in close range. The beautiful blue Ljubljanica river runs through the middle, and is crossed by many bridges, the most famous being Tromostovje, the triple bridge. Ljubljana’s beer is Union; It struck me as very Heineken-smelling (you know that distinct smell! 😉). Later our tour guide Barbara told us Union is now owned by Heineken. I wonder if they share hops… is that a thing!?
There aren’t many must-see attractions in the city, which is why I liked it. The whole place is easygoing. Ljubljana seems like a very livable city, and (if I can one day imagine myself learning Slovenian😳) I can very easily see myself living there. The Slovenian people struck me as progressive, friendly, and excellent masters of language. Almost everyone I met spoke at least three language including perfect English.
I had a bit of anxiety about the language actually… not because no one could understand me, to the contrary– I had American princess guilt for not knowing their language! It’s embarrassing for me to travel the world and expect people to understand my language. With 4 meagre months of Russian under my belt I could decipher some of the more related slavic nouns, but everything else is completely indiscernible to me. After Barbara helped us master “please, thank you, good day, and good evening,” I relaxed a bit.
Everywhere we traveled the locals seemed tickled with our attempts at Slovenian, Croatian, and Bosnian. In contrast, i’d had similar feelings of language anxiety in France on my past trips, but the attitude of the people you’re trying to communicate with makes a big difference; the Eastern Europeans I encountered had more positive and gregarious energy when dealing with Americans!
Ljubjanski Grad “Ljubljana Castle” is a beautiful place to spend the afternoon. You can see all across the city, and across the whole country it would seem (Slovenia is smaller than New Hampshire)! There’s a lovely restaurant Na Gradu “within the castle” which served a delicious vegan dinner, complete with dessert: apple strudel sorbet! 😍 A perfect welcome to the country. To get to the castle you can ride the funicular or hike (it’s not too strenuous). The zmajski “dragon” is the symbol of Ljubljana; it’s featured on the city’s flag and on the beautiful art nouveau Zmajski Most “bridge.” There are many legends about Jason and the argonauts and Ljubljana’s dragon; you’ll hear them from tour guides all over the city.
My family and I also enjoyed a little boat cruise up and down the river. The city is really very small, and it’s amazing that just a couple miles upriver will bring you to the countryside! We even saw some wildlife from the boat.