Due to cheap train tickets, Haley, Michael, and I decided to take a weekend trip to the capital of Slovenia: Ljubljana. The downside to this lack of cost was the fact the train Thursday night left at 1:30 in the morning. Being young and wanting to see the world, we decided this would give us the most time in the city (two full days as we would leave Sunday morning). This was my first overnight train and I have to say I might have slept only an hour at most that night. The whole weekend was characterized by a lack of sleep, but we still managed to have fun and make the most of each day. We arrived in the city around 6am, checked into our Airbnb, and then rested for a few hours before going out to explore the old town.
Downtown Ljubljana provides a mix of cultures and historical periods, from the Habsburg monarchy to the Soviet Yugoslavia. A smaller city like Salzburg, it exudes charm on every street. It is definitely worth simply wandering the streets and crossing the many bridges over the Ljubjanica River.
Along with the many bridges, there is also a lot of art work adorning the sides of the river, many of which are related to dragons. Making up a part of the city’s coat of arms, the dragon symbolizes strength, courage, and might. Along with these sculptures, there is also, of course, the obligatory lock bridge; I found this one to be the most beautiful and varied of the ones I’ve seen, however.
Due to two day trips (to Lake Bled and the Škojcan Caves), we did not eat a lot of food in the actual city of Ljubljana. What we did eat, however, was quite good, the best being at a Le Petit Cafe. Built in a square named after the French Revolution, we went to this French cafe for breakfast, eating a mix of egg dishes.
After breakfast, we hit the biggest site in Ljubljana: Ljubljana Castle (Ljubljanski Grad) located on Castle Hill. Likely to have originally built in the 11th century, it was renovated many times with the one we see today mostly from the 15th century. There are preserved frescoes underneath the main castle square along with various archaeological sites and a puppet museum. Also located on Castle Hill is a swing set and a 1973 monument by the sculptor Stojan Batič to the Slovene peasant revolts of the 1500s.
A more traditional food we tried was at the Slaščičarna Olimpija stand, a few streets away from the main train station. Here you could get a burek, pastry made from layers of phyllo dough alternating with layers of filling in a circular baking tray. Haley and Michael both tried the Mesni Burek, made with minced meat while I had the plainer cottage cheese one. Though a little greasy, as with most fast-food, they proved to be both tasty and filling.
The train on the way back left on Sunday at 7:50am, getting us back to Salzburg around noon, giving us plenty of time to finish homework. While on the train, after crossing the Austrian border, we had our first passport check since arriving in Europe. Besides this quick stop, the train journey was smooth and provided beautiful views of the mountains in Southern Austria.
Ljubljana was a huge step up from Prague; Haley called it her second-favourite city in Europe after Salzburg. It is beautiful and small, but not very touristy, giving you a more “real” experience. I would definitely go back to see more of the city and maybe go on a few more day trips.