Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Europe Vacation, Part 6: Ljubljana

When we arrived in Ljubljana, we had so much trouble finding the hotel. We didn’t have a very detailed map of the city so we were relying solely on street signs (many of which were missing or too small to read).

The reason that we were not able to find the hotel while driving is that the hotel was located in a pedestrian zone. Eventually Chris was able to temporarily park in a construction area while I ran into the hotel to get information about parking.

We checked into the hotel and went to get dinner. We had a mincemeat and asparagus pizza with capers – not exactly something you find around here. Of course after dinner we had to get some gelato!

The next morning, after breakfast, we tried to return the rental car. We first had to go to the gas station – it was nearly $8 a gallon – and we thought gas here was expensive! Then we had to circle around and around to finally get to the rental car return. It was located in a hotel and in the small driveway area there was a big tour bus, a large truck and several cars. There was nowhere to put the car out of the way so we just parked it where it was (completely in the way of everyone) and turned in the keys.

We then walked over to the City Hall to start our walking tour of Ljubljana with Simona (“like Simon with an A”). She was a student at the university studying tourism. She was a great tour guide and showed us a lot of the sites. There was a woman who had some trouble walking in our group so it was a little slower than we would have liked.

We got a good history of the city while in city hall. The city used to be divided into three sections with high walls. Remnants of the fortress walls still remain in spots.

St. Nicholas church had some interesting areas – the doors were cast with heads of important religious figures. One of the doors had Pope John Paul II face – they put the doors in prior to his visit to the city.

We rode the funicular to the top of the castle – it was less than spectacular but it had a great view of the city.

We walked through the large Riverside Market. It is very busy on Saturday mornings but even when we were there it was quite busy.

We also spent a lot of time walking to the different bridges in the old town area. There was the Cobbler’s bridge, the Butcher’s bridge (very new), and the Triple bridge.

For a quick lunch, we took Simona’s recommendation and tried a cheese burek with yogurt. A burek is a very greasy pastry wrapped around a filling and then coiled into an oval shape. We liked it but after eating it we felt like a heart attack was eminent.

A lot of the architecture in the city was designed by Jože Plečnik. He was born in the city and was a professor at the university. He was commissioned to design many buildings for the city and was responsible for its idyllic appearance. We went on a tour of his house and Kaja (another student) showed us around the residence and learned about his strict lifestyle. He worked all the time and some of the furniture he designed looked very uncomfortable.

We bought some food at the market for our long upcoming train ride and then went to get lunch number 2 (more pizza). We did what Slovenians do best – sit at a café and eat, drink, and people watch. All along the river, every restaurant had a ton of tables outside and they always seemed to be full. We started to wonder if anyone works in the city.

We picked up our luggage at the hotel and then headed to the train station to catch our ride to Innsbruck.

Up next…Innsbruck!

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