Balkan Honeymoon – Part Four: Ljubljana

[Continued; see parts one, two, and three.]

We finished in the hills of Istria, and took the expressway back to Ljubljana (“lyoo-blee-ah-nah”). After a construction delay and some confusion with parking, we met up with our lovely Airbnb host, and found our super-modern accomodations. We tiredly scatter our belongings about and  shamble downtown to find something to eat. The city has apparently shut down, and all the places recommended to us are closed. We end up at a bar, eating fried things.

The next morning we decided to try again, and headed into the downtown core. The park across the street had this statue of an angry Slovenian man (apparently the flowers weren’t flowery enough, or something).

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We also run across old friend; a remnant of the Roman city wall!

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We find apparently the best tea house in Ljubljana, Čajna Hisa (“china hee-sah”), and inexplicably order coffee and an omelet. The lady sitting behind Becky is dressed flawlessly in her best red coat, black hat, and black gloves. No idea what the occasion is.

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The pedestrians-only core of Ljubljana is charming and quiet. Most of the cities we’ve visited have a no-cars zone, and it’s dependably the most comfortable and enjoyable parts of our visit.

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We returned to our lodgings to reorganize, tidy up, and plan the rest of our stay. The outside looks like a Soviet-era KGB stronghold straight out of a James Bond movie, but the inside is Ikea wall-to-wall.

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We return our rental car and buy train tickets for the following day, and decide the rest of our day is best spent visiting Ljubljanski Grad, the castle in the center of the city. It’s situated on a hill, so the hike there is brisk.

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But worth it. We enjoy a delicious, traditional Slovenian lunch at the excellent cafe – pâté and fresh cheese, tiny pumpkin gnocchi with butter and sage, lamb with fennel and potatoes, and a 3-cheese plate with local honey for dessert.

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Turns out you can climb to the top of this clock tower.

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So we did.

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With predictable photographic results.

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In the cellars below the castle there’s something that’s sort of like an art museum. We couldn’t make sense of parts of it. Maybe we’re not Slovenian enough. What does it mean?

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Also, you can visit the old cistern.

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Thoroughly confused, we descend the hill back to the city proper. Ljubljana’s mascot is the dragon, it’s in their coat of arms (even in the favicon!), and they have an entire bridge for them.

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We visit apparently the best coffee shop in Ljubljana, sip on some Jamaica Blue Mountain, and watch the people.

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The river has long been tamed by concrete, but it’s scenic nonetheless.

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The love padlock is apparently a thing in many places. Here, they regularly patrol with bolt cutters; if the locks were allowed to accumulate, the bridge would collapse.

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When we found this salt shop that sells nothing but salt, we did a little dance of joy. We tried very hard not to buy everything inside, but did come home with some salted chocolate. No, there isn’t any left.

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Not pictured: hiking half a mile in pouring rain to Gostilna As (“ace”). the best and fanciest dinner of our visit. Mmmm.

Bright and early the next morning, we packed up all the gear and set out for the train station. It turns out we’ve misread the schedule, and missed the 8:15 to Zagreb! Now we have six hours to kill. Back to Cajna Hisa, this time for tea!

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We also managed to find some landmarks we hadn’t run across yet, like this shot of Prešeren Square.

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We made sure to be on time to this train. Maybe even a bit early. An hour early.

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