jn82’s Epic Adventure

Day 72 [11 Apr 09] – Ljubljana to Bled

Posted in Bled, Ljubljana by jn82 on April 12, 2009

After a night of watching multiple episodes of downloaded CSI Las Vegas, I woke up pretty well rested. Had breakfast at the hostel, lazed around for a bit and then checked out of the hostel. As the train to Lesce I intended to catch was only at 3.25pm, we had some more time to spend in the Ljubljana, so we decided to head to the old city once more to walk around a bit. Being Saturday today, the entire old city was bustling with people, mainly there to walk around the weekend markets around the area from of the Triple Bridge northwards along the river to the Dragon Bridge. I was pretty lazy and did not take any pictures, also because it was pretty normal like your typical weekend market scenario with stall holders selling anything from touristy souveniers, cheap clothing, fresh food and flowers. With the weather also being warm and sunny, it was really what you would expect as a nice spring day in Ljubljana.

Once again at Prešernov trg.

After lunch at the same place as yesterday, we headed back to the hostel to chill out and go online for a bit, following which we headed to the train station around 3pm to catch the Euro-city 210 for the 45 minute ride to Lesce, the nearest train station to Bled. Upon reaching Lesce at one or two minutes after the scheduled 4.10pm, I realised that the only bus that was scheduled to bring people to Bled was scheduled to have left at 4.10pm! We thought (and hoped) that the next bus was at 5.10pm, so an hours wait would not be that bad. 5.10pm came and gone, and only then did I realise that the 5.10pm bus ran from June – August (the peak months), as I had earlier suspected but tried not to believe. So we ended up waiting till 6.08pm before the bus finally arrived to bring us on our 10 minute or so bus ride into Bled. Two hours at a bus stop under the hot sun must be a new record wait at a bus stop. Getting into Bled, it was a short stroll to the hostel, which is pretty nice and has a free use washing machine, but no internet facilities at all.

Dinner was nearby at this place which served traditional Slovenian food, Costilna Murka. Food was pretty okay, and the price was reasonable.

Telečja obara z drobnjakovimi žličniki: Veal stew with chive dumplings.

Svinjski medaljoni z jurcki in prazenim krompirjem: Pork medallions with boletus mushrooms and roasted potatoes.

Today’s pictures here.

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Day 71 [10 Apr 09] – Ljubljana

Posted in Ljubljana by jn82 on April 10, 2009

After another late morning start, we headed off to the Etnografski Muzej (Slovene Ethnographic Museum), a museum about the people of Slovenia and their cultural background. There were three exhibits running in the museum at the moment, of which we visited the ones about the culture of wine in Slovenia and “Between Nature and Culture” about Slovene and non-European heritage. There was basic information in English about the exhibitions on the pamphlets provided, however all the descriptions on the exhibits themselves were only in the Slovene language.

Etnografski Muzej.

Anew the vines have fruited: the Culture of Wine in Slovenia.

Wine growing regions in Slovenia.

Wise quote.

Apart from the quote above, there were a few others, some which made sense, and some which were probably lost in translation:

1. Brez vina ne bi bilo *na svetu* na predpusta, ne praznikov, ne godov, ne svatbe, ne žegnaja, skratka nobene veselice: Without wine there would be no build up to Shorve, no holidays, no name-days, no weddings, no christenings, in short, no celebrations.

2. Pri vinu kupuj, pri vodi prodajaj: Drink wine when you are buying, water when you are selling.

3. Najboljše vino se pije tam, kjer ne raste: The best wine is drunk when the vine does not grow.

4. Vino ceste meri, pa se nikoli ne zameri: Wine follows the way the road bends, but never offends.

5. Riba brez vode ne more živet, jaz pa brez vinca ne morem strpet: A fish without water will die for sure, while I without wine cannot endure.

As you can see, the Slovenian people really do love their wine. The next exhibit “Between Nature and Culture” was pretty boring (perhaps because we were getting a bit tired from walking around the museum). It covered items and the lifestyle of the Slovenian people across time, as well as the background to different cultures and people in the world.

Interesting enthocentric quote.

After the museum, we headed just next door, which was Metelkova Mestro, an area of alternative culture which has art galleries, bars, art studios, space for designers and live music. The guy at the hostel told us that the graffiti we would see on the walls in the area were allowed by law.

Metelkova Mesteo.

Next was lunch, and then off to Tivoli park, the largest park in the city. Spring arrived in Slovenia recently, and it was a pretty warm and sunny day today. The flowers were in bloom and there was greenery everywhere. We took a two hour hike past the park along a gravel path up and around Mostec, a popular area that the locals relax in a green and peacrful enviroment.

Tivoli Park.

View from the top of  Mostec.

Opposite the park at Pravoslavna cerkev (church).

After the park and a quick rest at the hostel, we walked nearby to Trubarjeva cetsa for dinner at Red ‘N Hot Horse, a kebab shop which sells… horse meat burgers for 3.50€.  I will not bother with a picture as it looks like a pretty regular burger. Taste wise, it is not too bad and while you can tell it is not beef, I am not exactly sure how to describe it. Horse meat is meant to be sweet, tender, low in fat and high in protein, so I guess it must be a good meat!

Today’s pictures here.

Day 70 [9 Apr 09] – Ljubljana

Posted in Ljubljana by jn82 on April 9, 2009

Woke up at 6.30am and left our very nice hotel in Salzburg to catch the 8.12am train from Salzburg to Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia. The first part of the train ride from Salzburg to Villach from 8.12am – 10.42am was on an Austrian euro-city train, so the first class carriage there was good and there was hardly anyone else in the carriage. From Villach to Ljubljana (10.52am – 12.32am) we were on a Slovenian inter-city train which had only two second class carriages on them. The carriages were pretty old on the inside, but perfectly clean and usable.

Inter-city 313: Pretty new looking Slovenian railway Siemens locomotive pulling two old second class carriages.

Ljubljana is the first of a few Eastern European cities we will be visiting, before heading back to Western Europe briefly and on to Scandinavia after. It was part of the former Yugoslavia and gained independence sometime in the ’90s. The city itself is pretty small, with around 250,000 people (the whole of Slovenia has a population of around two million). This is good as it meant that all the main attractions are within walking distance.

After dropping out bags and checking into the hotel, we headed for the city’s main tourist site, Ljubljana Castle, via the old city to see the many bridges. Walking along the river Ljubljanica for a few minutes, we reached Prešernov trg (Prešeren Square), the central square in Ljubljana. Just in front of the square was the “Triple Bridge”, the city’s best known bridge and the first of three bridges we intended to see.

Prešernov trg and the Triple Bridge.

Walking down from the Triple Bridge, we passed many sidewalk cafes and bars which were packed with people just sitting and having a drink, watching the world go by. It was probably so crowded here today because the sun was out in full force, and after a pretty intense winter, the locals could probably use a bit of the sun now. Another reason for that is because Ljubljana is just a very chill out city where people hang out all day and do not really do very much (or get stressed). Further forn from the Triple Bridge and past the cafes is the Cobbler Bridge, which we went in in order to get to the castle.

Cobbler Bridge.

A 20 minute or so uphill walk later, and we were at the castle. Compared to the other castles we have visited so far in Europe, this one was was not very impressive as it was pretty small, had nothing on display and the main tower was closed for some restoration works. The view of the city from the elevated terrace was pretty decent, but looking down at the city one realises that there no real landmarks which you can pick up.

City view.

After the castle, we walked back along the river in the direction of the last bridge, the Dragon Bridge. Description from Wikipedia: “There is a legend that Jason was the founder of Ljubljana, and he and his Argonauts killed a dragon. This is one of the four dragon statues in the bridge. According to local legends, when a virgin crosses the bridge, the dragons will wag their tails. Some local people have nicknamed this structure “mother-in-law” because of its fiery nature.

Along the river.

The Dragon Bridge.

After sightseeing, I bought a 0.44€ Slovenian beer and went back to the hostel for a pre-dinner rest. For dinner, we headed to a small place Klub preserne zdravljice recommended by the guy at the hostel for some traditional Slovenian food.

The not so Slovenian salad.

Divjačinski golaž: Venison goulash with bread dumplings.

All in all a pretty good day, and I am excited to finally be in Eastern Europe.

Today’s pictures here.