Kate’s birthday weekends are a highlight of our European travel calendar and this years flights and accommodation were a present so it was cheap as well.
Slovenia wasn’t high on the list of countires to visit but when Lauren rang and asked if Kate would be keen on a weekend in Slovenia as a birthday present I said I’m sure she would love it. The added bonus of Kate getting these sort of presents is I get to go along as well.
Lubijana, the capital of Slovenia vies with Wellington for the “coolest little capital in the world” title and the combination of old world, communist and post independence architechture make it feel like a combination of multiple larger cities we have visited.
We arrived in Lubijana in time for the Friday night food market, where people were sitting on the steps of the nearby church eating all manner of food and having a beer. We wandered around for a while trying to make a decision on what to have and settled on something local. Kate’s was similar to a stroganoff and I had some crumbed pork and garlic potatoes.The local dishes seem to be a combination of food from the nearby German and Hungarian cuisines. The local beers and wines are always well worth investigating so we spent the next couple of hour sitting at a bar by the river people watching and sipping a drink or two.
Lubijana is about an hours bus ride from the coast and the mountains. We couldn’t do both so we chose to head towards the mountains and visit Lake Bled. They have packed a lot of interest into a small area, castles, churches on islands, picturesque scenery and lovely trails all within an easy walk of the Lake Bled village.
We wandered up to the Lake Bled castle to check out the views of the village, lake and mountains. The view looking down on St Michaels church and the island with the many row boats heading to and from it was especially cool.
There is a local cake that we had to try while there. Bled cakes are similar to a custard square but the locals add a layer of cream to it as well. Having fueled up with coffee and cake we decided to wander down to the lake for a closer look. The walk around the lake takes about two hours and you walk through forested areas past rather large holiday homes, a rowing centre and the occasional hotel. All the while I was taking pictures of St Michaels and the island.
Our day at Lake Bled ended with a beer and a wine at a local bar overlooking the lake. I’m not sure you could get much better.
Sunday dawned bright and sunny after a night of torrentail rain, the first stop was Stow for a coffee. It’s always nice to find a good coffee to start the day well. Lauren put us on to the European Coffee Trip site which has all the information needed to get a good coffee on this side of the world.
Lubijana Castle dominates the city and you can see it from most places when you are walking around. The walk up to the castle certainly got the lungs working but view was definitely worth it. For those that aren’t interested in the exercise you can get a Funicular railway or a bus up to the castle. As with anything European, the history is fascinating and Slovenia’s geographical position in Europe makes it a little more interesting than most. The walk down from the castle to the “Old town” was less taxing on the lungs but was equally enjoyable with the old stone walls twisting down through the forest.
The centre of Lubijana is a pedestrian only zone. The old and new towns are connected by the Triple Bridge, the initial span was built in the 1800’s and an additional two pedestrian spans were built in the 1930’s to ease conjection in this part of town. It makes for a rather unique river crossing in the centre of Lubijana. This area seems to be the focal point for tourists visiting Lubijana with lots of restaurants and bars along the river, shopping close by and it is an easy walk to most of the attractions.
Kate and I headed along the river to have a look at an area of Lubijana called Metelkova, it is described by the Guardian Newspaper as “autonomous but not anarchistic, liberal but not lawless” and had some of the best graffiti I’ve seen. Lubijana architechture is best described as eclectic, with old buildings that are perfectly perserved, some that haven’t been touched since they were built, communist era boxes built beside late 19th century architechtural masterpieces. All this diversity made it a very interesting walk.
Slovenia is a lovely country, the atmosphere seems very relaxed, the people were friendly and by European standards it is cheap to visit. The scenery is stunning, the history is fascinating and food was very good. It is pretty much everything you want in a weekend away and next time we visit it will be for a little longer.