Slovenia

DestinationsEuropeSloveniaThe Balkans

The stop in Lake Bled

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We woke the next morning to discover that the ceiling had not caved in on us despite the large strip of paint hanging down from it. As it turned out, the same strip of paint was still hanging from the ceiling the day we left Slovenia. I guess paint in Slovenia must be pretty strong stuff.

A quick breakfast, and we were off on our way to the old town, waylaid only by the lure of a large toiletry store. As we soon discovered, Ljubljana is actually very walkable and it is nearly impossible to get lost walking around.

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In the middle of the old town, we found a Christmas market. It was here that during a lunch of a humble hot dog (albeit with a much fancier sausage than the usual franks served back home), that I discovered the joys of glogg, or hot spiced wine. I had heard of glogg before but I never knew there was a white wine version. Amidst the knick knacks sold at the Christmas came odd strains of various Bee Gees songs being played through loud speakers. This was at least better than the Roxette Greatest Hits which seemed to be popular in Italy for some reason. The area soon became filled with tourists, among them Italians. It was a little odd seeing as we were the tourists in Italy only a short time earlier.

Nightfall found as back at the Christmas market, which by now was quite nicely lit up. The piped in music had changed to Simon and Garfunkel, although this was offset by a man in one corner of the market, thrashing away at an old acoustic guitar and shouting a rather mangled version of “Tobacco Road”. It became evidently clear to me why the streets had seemed so empty the previous night – everyone was down at the Christmas market in the old town, drinking and eating.

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Our trip to lake Bled came courtesy of a somewhat gruff bus driver who deliberately mispronounced the names of the places the bus went to in the way someone who did not speak Slovene would. We arrived in Bled on a somewhat misty Sunday morning which as it turned out, meant less tourists were around. I kept hoping that the clouds and mist would clear so that we could see the Julian mountains. As I later discovered, I was looking at the wrong side of the lake all along – the mountains were behind me. Once we went over to the other side of the lake, the view of the mountains was as beautiful as the pictures of the official Bled website showed.

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On our last day back in Ljubljana, I spent most of the day fighting with an idiotic dryer in an attempt to get our laundry done. The dryer had controls that made no sense and a broken LED panel. Having just discovered that it is possible to download the user manuals for these machines from the manufacturer’s web site, I will try not to swear. Overall, Slovenia proved to be a rather easily accessible place, with some home town charm, even if it was starting to get a little touristy.

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DestinationsEuropeSloveniaThe Balkans

The Beloved City

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I was grumpy. A four-day head cold will do that to you. Mind you, this was an improved version of me. Two days earlier, saw me reduced to a gibbering idiot, staring owl eyed at the wall.

The situation in the train station did not seem very promising. The place appeared to be cast in cold, grey stone. The design of the place seemed functional, but only just so. Only one or two shops were open, one a bar and the other a mobile phone shop of some sort. The coloured signs of the shops seemed almost reluctant in the way they shone, barely adequate in piercing the gloom of the place. The Babe (TB) went to the phone shop to try to get some directions to our hostel. After a protracted discussion, it emerged that we had to take a bus from some bus stop.

We emerged from the Ljubljana station into a cold drizzle. TB stopped a passer-by who amazingly, did speak English. We were given directions to a bus stop around the corner, where a mystical bus would take us somewhere near the hostel where we were supposed to be staying. The walk to the afore-mentioned bus stop did nothing much to change my mood, the buildings looked stark and military. I started to wonder if I had somehow made a mistake in wanting to visit there.

On the way, TB stopped another passer-by who confirmed what bus we should take. The contrast in things seemed quite odd. The buildings seemed cold and pedestrian, but the people seemed warm. After a fair amount of rigmarole, it emerged that we had to take a certain bus number 14 to a certain obscure road. The first bus that appeared came with a grumpy bus driver who did not speak a word of English and was more interested in driving off than saying very much. Fortunately, TB yelled at him to stop and we got off the bus. Amazingly, the same woman who told us about the bus appeared again at the bus stop and told us that that was indeed the correct bus. She explained that bus drivers in Ljubljana are usually unable to speak English. Asking for a pen, she proceeded to give us a list of roads to ask the bus driver about. With her help we were able to fumble our way through the journey of the next number 14 that arrived. Ljubljana seemed to be a different animal from what its gruff, military surroundings portrayed initially.

Upon arriving at what seemed to be the right bus stop, we were left staring in the dark at a somewhat distant highway road that dipped underground. With this somewhat ominous spectre, we somehow managed to stagger our way into a side road, which when we got to the end, turned out to be the very road where the hostel was located. We had help from a woman who walked out of the street and confirmed that this was where the hostel was located. Another odd pairing of cold and warmth.

The hostel itself turned out to be a cheery sort of place in bright colours. It screamed “student budget” in every way, and was practically an Ikea budget showroom. Upon checking in, we found that we were upgraded from a 4-bed room to a 2-bed room, a very nice touch, the only alarming thing being that the ceiling in one corner had a huge piece of paint that looked like it was about to fall off at any moment. It was very livable, once you got past the fact that nearly everything seemed to come from Ikea.

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