Lovely Jubly

Trip Start Jul 23, 2007
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Trip End Aug 23, 2007


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Saturday, August 18, 2007

When I arrived in Zagreb, I bought a ticket for the next train to Ljubliana, Slovenia, as I didn't really have much interest in seeing Croatia's capital city. Despite that though, I thought I'd see how far I could get in the 45 minutes I had, so walked with my rucksack up into the centre. I just about had time to go into the magnificant cathedral and take a quick photo (no time to look around though, so I felt like a proper photo-crazed tourist) and then pratically run back to the train station as fast as my legs would carry me. Which with a heavy rucksack and two bags, is not very fast. I just about managed to spend my last few Kuna, and fill up my water bottle before wandering to the platform- no need to hurry, I thought, the train was only just approaching. However, when I got closer, I realised I was looking at the wrong platform, and the train I needed was sitting waiting, and by the looks of it, just about to go. I managed to leap on just before it pulled out, only to find it full, standing room only. Well, I managed to find a little square of carpet that hopefully wasn't too much in the way. For the second time that day, I got out my passport as we crossed the border into Slovenia. II don't know why but I always feel nervous around border control, perhaps having seen that man being chucked off the bus in Montenegro. They were quite friendly though. I noticed they gave everyone else a stamp but not me, so I asked if I needed one. "No, but you can have one, if you like" was the reply, to which I gladly accepted :D

I arrived in Ljubliana and, finally freed of my heavy load, was delighted to find that the tourist information had mapped out a route to ensure you saw all the main sights of the city. The city itself (from what I saw of it, mainly the older parts) is beautiful. After Sarajevo, it seemed so young and fresh, despite having distinctly baroque designs mingled in amongst art deco buildings. It was like I had suddenly gone from the East to the West, or at least from a distinctly poorer country into one much more like Austria and Switzerland. There were signs up saying 'thankyou for visiting', tourist trains, and everywhere was clean and immaculately well kept. I started off in the market. No disrespect to Loughborough, but this was the best market I'd ever been to. Not only was it huge, but it had souveniers, delicatessans, a row of flower stalls, an enormous fruit and veg section, and some clothes stall at the far end too. Probably what swung it for me was the free samples. That's lunch sorted then. I walked up the steep climb to Ljubliana castle, which has now been renovated and converted into conference and reception rooms, a restaurant and cafe, and a few museums. It was really attractively done up, and there were 2 weddings while I was there. I realised with my bookwormish geekiness, that Ljubliana was one of the towns mentioned in my book: she called in by it's Roman name, Emona, but the resonance of the dragon within the city plays a big part in the book. I didn't really follow what the link between the dragon and Ljubliana is, but I think it's a national symbol, having the dragon on top of the castle, looking over the land, and there is a bridge flagged by 4 green dragons further down in the city.

There was an interesting 3D (with the glasses and all) film about the history of Ljubliana but unfortunately sitting in a warm dark room was more than my sleep-deprived self could take, and I dozed off a bit. I felt a bit too tired to appreciate the city properly, but was still breathtaken(?) by the cathedral and managed to wander the streets some more, seeing the sights set out for me, as a horse drawn cart pulled a newly married couple along the streets, who obligingly waved at everyone taking photos of them.

I think I was in serious need of energy as I started craving some of the cake I had seen in so many cafe windows (although as is always the case, when you want something, you can never find it!) I eventually sat down in a cafe, and when the waitress came over, I ordered a capaccino, but was dismayed to find out they too were lacking in the cake department. I felt I couldnt really take back my capaccino order, but later changed my mind. So (and I felt really bad about this) when she went back inside to make it, I stood up and walked off in search of another cafe. I was getting desperate! Hopefully she was able to give the drink to someone else...I kept walking, trying to follow the tourist route and appreciate the sights of the city, but couldn't really be bothered any more. I had just had 2 days of intensive sightseeing and after a distinct lack of sleep the night before, couldn't take much more!

In the end I found a cafe called 'Le Petit Cafe' (OK so probably not traditional Slovenian) but would highly recommend it- my coffee was practically served in a bowl, and the cake was perfect. I still was finding it hard to muster up enthusiasm though, as I worked out how much I still had left to see, and just thought- this is crazy! I decided to leave Ljubliana and get the 4pm bus to Bled, which was a shame as it is a beautiful city, but perhaps I'll be back one day. So for the second time that day, I speedwalk back to the station, manage to retrieve my bags, buy a ticket a board the bus just before it pulls out of the station.
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