Ljubljana

Trip Start May 15, 2006
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56
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Trip End Sep 29, 2006


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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Ryan and I both agree that Ljubljana is the most beautiful city we have been to so far. Nobody has ever heard of this place but it is simply stunningly beautiful. There is an old town that is filled with cafes, cobblestone streets, trees everywhere, and a river that runs right through the middle of it all. The pictures simply wont do it justice.

We got in yesterday morning after another hellacious train trip. It is hard to take these overnight train rides but it just makes the most sense, so we have to do them. You can either spend all day traveling for 9 hours and then get to a city at night and have to pay for accommodations or you can travel at night, not pay for a place to stay and get to a new city in the morning. With that said, I have about had my fill of night trains. I spent this one crammed into a tiny compartment with 6 seats that I shared with a woman, her dog, and two smelly Serbians. I spent the night attempting to sleep sitting up while one of the dudes next to me slept on my shoulder and the other one snored. I also had the pleasure of being "woken" up(if you can call what I was doing sleeping) about 6 times by people either checking my passport or tickets. When you have been sleeping every other night either on a train or on a ferry, you get to appreciate how nice a bed really is.

We got to this town at about 11, which meant our train was only about 3 hours late. We immediately found a place to stay in a hostel suggested to us by a nice couple back in Nice. It is hard going back to hostel living after staying in hotel rooms where you have your own shower and bathroom. With that said, the hostel isn't too bad and we met some really nice people, so the place does have its benefits.

On the walk to the hostel, we were blown away by how beautiful this city is. You never hear of Ljubljana but we were both amazed why that is. Maybe in a couple of years it will be the new tourist hot spot and it is nice to think that we have a chance to see it before it is overrun with people. That is kind of the story of our trip for the last week. We have been visiting towns that most people dont go to and have been loving every minute of it. After just spending 15 minutes in this town, I could tell we were going to love it.

After walking around town for a little while, we had to sit down and have a couple of drinks at one of the many cafes that line the river in the old town. There is just no beating the atmosphere(and the price) in the old town. We had to go back after the cafes and take a nap. We just couldn't keep going after that night on the train and I dont know if a nap has ever felt better. Once we woke up, we met some nice Americans and a bunch of other people from England and Ireland and we all went out together. We spent the night at the different bars and outdoor cafes that are all over the town. It was nice to once again speak English to people who fully understand us. We usually like to meet locals and attempt to talk to them but after a week of not meeting a single native English speaker, it was so nice to just talk freely without having to ask "do you understand me?"

Today we are going to check out the old castle on the hill and then probably take a day trip out to some caves that people just rave about. I have seen pictures and it looks like something out of the Lord of the Rings. We might just be forced to stay another couple of days in this town exploring Slovenia and Ljubljana. Jeez, life is tough.

Part Two

We spent the last two days in Ljubljana traveling around the countryside on day trips to the major sights. Our second day in Slovenia, we checked out the castle in the morning and then decided to take a bus to the famous caves about an hour outside of the city. We heard they are the largest underground limestone caves in the world, whatever that means. So we took the bus to Postojna and to see these crazy caves.

We got their in time for the final tour of the day at 6pm. We came a bit underdressed for the occasion considering that we all had shorts and t-shirts on and the caves were only 45 degrees. They had cloaks to rent for 3 euros each and after imagining an hour and a half tour in 45 degree weather, we all agreed that renting the cloaks was a good idea. Boy were we right. These things were awesome. They are the sickest little cloaks you will ever see and we all ran around like Frodo from Lord of the Rings. They provided with as much fun as the caves.

We donned our cloaks and ventured down beneath the earth to tour these caves. They were pretty impressive. Stalactites and Stalagmites and crazy little cave critters made for an experience that I have never had before. The people were definitely right about the temperature, even with the cloaks it was still damn cold. After the tour, we took the late bus back to Ljubljana and spent another night hanging out at our favorite skeleton bar.

I have to speak more of this skeleton bar because it was one of my favorite places so far on the trip. Called the Skeletor, it is decorated with skeletons of dead people(both fake and real) as well as animals(again, both fake and real). It has portraits on the wall with the eyes removed so people can go behind and look at you from their hidden vantage point. Finally, the bathroom is located behind a sliding bookcase that you have to push in the right location to get it to open. All this combine to give the Skeletor a haunted house kind of feel that is much more fun than morbid. We spent all three nights in Ljubljana here just hanging out with the dead people and enjoying the zany atmosphere.

The next day we decided to take a day trip out to Lake Bled and it turned into one of my favorite days of the trip. We took the bus out to the pristine green/blue lake which is famous for its church built on an island in the middle and a castle that overlooks the town from the cliff face above. It was stunningly beautiful. So what do you do with your first? Do you tour the castle? Do you row a boat out to the church? No, you go summer land bobsledding! Something that I have heard about in Europe but never seen, Lake Bled had a summer bobsledding course. For summer bobsledding, you jump in a little cart with a stick that allows you to control the speed and then you go racing down this track as fast as you can. It was so cool. You are going about 33 miles an hour down a hill used for skiing in the winter and all you have is a tiny plastic sled and a thin rail of metal to keep you from flying of the track and killing yourself. It was so much fun. It made me with that Matt and Tyler were with me because they would have loved it. The best part about the whole thing, it was cheap. Eight dollars for 2 trips up on the chair lift and then down on the sled. It was just a total blast.

Our next move was to go up to the castle and grab a bite to eat. The castle is all the way up the hill and so we decided to take a taxi. It was well worth the 2 bucks each and I pity the people who walk up there because that would be a rough hike. We all wanted to go out for a nice dinner and we had heard the castle restaurant had the best food in town. After we got up there and saw the view, we decided we didn't care how good the food was, eating a meal looking down on the lake was worth anything they could charge you. With that said, the meal the best I have had in Europe.

We sat outside looking over the edge of the castle down upon the lake, we had the best service of our trip(possibly the best I have ever had), and the food was fantastic. Our waiter was a Slovenian who spoke 5 languages, knew everything there was to know about the food and wine, and worked his butt off for us. I had a beef boullion soup, Stag Saddle(the tenderloin of the stag), and a 3 dessert sampler along with a glass of wine for 35 bucks. You couldn't get a soup, steak, dessert, and wine at the Keg in Alderwood for 35 bucks and we are in the Slovenian Alps. After the meal, we walked around the castle a bit and then hiked down the hill to the bus station to go back to Ljubljana. That night we went back to the Skeletor and just hung out for a while before calling it an early night to one of the coolest days of the trip.

The next morning, we had to get up early for a 9 hour train to Budapest. As you can imagine, I was excited for that one.
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