Ljubljana, Slovenia

Tricky to say, trickier to spell, but easy to love-Ljubljana, Slovenia is our new home for the next six days. After settling in to our apartment and making a quick trip to the nearest market for breakfast supplies, we went for dinner at TaBar, a tapas restaurant. When our waiter told me they were making the butter as we ordered, I knew I was in for a treat. The food was beautifully presented and incredibly tasty.

Orange wine is popular here. So popular that more orange wines were listed on the menu than red or white. Having only read about orange wine, I had to try it. Our waiter instructed me to smell it first and told me the taste would be nothing like the bouquet. He was right.  It was an interesting experience to smell a light, fruity wine and taste a fuller, dryer wine.

Our dessert was beautiful, but I had to laugh at the foot-long spoons they brought us  to share our tiny little dumpling.

The next day we went on a Ljubljana walking tour with Ana, our amazing guide. We loved how knowledgeable and passionate she was about the history and culture of her country. Both our airb&b host, Ales and tour guide, Ana are impressive examples of the  young adults shaping Slovenia’s exciting future.

We met at the statue of France Preseren, Slovenia’s most famous poet. The Slovenian language had been considered an unsophisticated language until his poetry became famous throughout Europe in the 19th century. When Slovenia became independent from Yugoslavia in 1991, the country used one of his poems for their national anthem.

In 2007 Ljubljana closed the main streets in the historic district, creating a beautiful pedestrian-only city center.

Metelkova, an alternative arts colony in the middle of the city, was one of my favorite stops.  A few years after Slovenia’s independence, squatters moved into the former army barracks to prevent developers from tearing down the buildings. Now it is a vibrant arts and nightlife center.

Ljubljana is a city of independent and creative citizens. Graffiti and murals adorn many of the buildings. One that I especially liked was on the side of a home for older adults. A rough translation is “Into every life some rain must fall, but the sun will shine.”

We visited the market and learned about traditional Slovenian food. Ana bought potica, the traditional cake of Slovenia from the best baker at the market, and we took a break to enjoy the wonderful treat.

The dragon is a symbol for Ljubljana, and four large dragons adorn the beautiful Dragon Bridge.

A banner celebrating Ljubljana’s designation as European Green Capital in 2016 hung outside the Town Hall.

We ended our walking tour with the steep walk up to the 900-year-old castle. The hike and the great view of the city from the castle were a great way to end our wonderful walking tour.

There was lots of excitement in front of our apartment last night. The Slovenian men’s volleyball team played Poland last night in the semi-final game of the European championships. When Slovenia beat Russia the week before, tickets for the next game were gone in a few minutes.  A giant screen was set up in the square below our apartment to give more people a chance to see the game. The square was packed with cheering fans. Slovenia won three sets to one and the crowd went wild.