Monday 9 January 2006


Ask 10 Australians what the capital of Slovenia is, and only 0.03% of 1 of those people will know the answer. That earlobe notwithstanding, Ljubljana is not exactly the top tourist destination for travellers from Melbourne. However, it certainly is a nice city, and would probably be a great place to visit in Summer. However, for some reason I chose to visit in the middle of Winter.

Regarding the trip to Slovenia, the thing that first springs to mind is the weather. It was awful. – It wasn'’t too windy, but apart from that it couldn'’t have been much worse. After the first night when I arrived, it pretty much rained the entire duration of our stay. On the last day it started snowing, which would normally be an improvement, but it was still very wet, uncomfortable snow. We spent three days trudging through a layer of water and sludgy, partially melted snow that covered everything except the middles of the roads, which were instead covered by cars.

Now that I’ve said that, allow me to combat the overwhelmingly negative impression I have given of Ljubljana by relating some good points. The city itself is very pretty. Apparently it was largely flattened by an earthquake in 1850, so most of the buildings are relatively new. The city is set in a small valley in the middle of the eastern Alps. This is said to give the city a very peculiar weather cycle, the wrong end of which I imagine we encountered. The city is threaded by a long, meandering river, which can confuse visitors sometimes by not going in a straight line. On top of a nearby hill is the Slovenske Grad, the castle that overlooks the city. This site is particularly nice since it provides a perfect vantage point for a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains as they nestle the city.

We were staying in the Hotel Mons, a four-star hotel on the outskirts of the city. On the first day we arrived we hired a cab to get there. However we later noticed that this cab did not seem to have any company insignia, and also lacked a radio. As a result we were not surprised to discover later that the fare of 3600 Slovenian Tolars was in fact about twice the going rate.

We spent the next day looking around town. Some photos that I took are here (one positive feature of the hotel is that it provides free internet access, so I was able to upload these photos). There were some spectacular views from the castle, which I can only imagine would have even been better on a fine day. We used the hotel’s shuttle service to take us into and out of town – along the way we probed the driver about the best places to spend New Year’s that night.

In the end we decided to watch the midnight fireworks from just near the main square. The city had organized some free concertsso we were able to drink wine and listen to some nice jazz music while we waited. After that we headed off to listen to some (in my opinion) awful techno music for the rest of the night.

The following day was a bit of a rest day – we slept in and then went to see a movie in the afternoon (this was a good chance to see a movie in English, since they seem to use subtitles in Slovenia in preference to dubbing, which they do in Germany). Then in the evening we went to a restaurant that Tim declared had served the best food he had ever eaten. With a rap like that I could hardly refuse to go, and the food was indeed very good. I’m not sure, however, whether I could say it was the greatest meal I had ever experienced.

The following day we had to check out of the hotel at 12:00. We had planned to do some shopping, but it turned out that it was a public holiday (I suppose this was since New Year’s Day fell on a Sunday they have the holiday the following day). This meant that pretty much everything was closed, but we managed to find a restaurant in which to have a slow lunch. After that we caught our train to Venice at 16:16, leaving behind Eric who had to wait until nearly midnight for his night train back to Coburg.

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