Monday, March 4, 2013

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana

Continuation from Budapest

Day 14 (Thursday, September 18th 2008)

After leaving Budapest, I eventually made my way to Ljubljana, Slovenia, finally arriving in the city around 22:00. From the train station, I had a 15 minute walk to Hotel Emonec, where I was staying for two nights. The hotel was conveniently right in the center of town. My room was extremely modern and plain, but clean and of a decent price (77 Euros; about $112) so it worked just fine for me. The only downfall was that the hotel was located close to a nightclub, so I heard loud music thumping throughout the night.
Hotel Emonec in Ljublana.
Hotel Emonec in Ljubljana.

Day 15 (Friday, September 19th 2008)

I awoke to a chilly but sunny day in Ljubljana, which was my first glimpse of sunshine in five days! After eating breakfast at my hotel, I left and walked to the nearby tourist office where I purchased a ticket for a two hour walking tour. The tour is put on by guides from the tourist information office and costs 10 Euros. I met my guide in front of the Town Hall around the corner from the Triple Bridge. The guide took the group all over the central core of Ljubljana, including a trip up to the castle via a funicular ride. I also saw other landmarks such as the gorgeous interior of the Cathedral of St. Nicholas and several of the numerous bridges and squares that can be found throughout the city. The guide provided lots of interesting and informational commentary as he walked the group through the beautiful streets of the Ljubljana.
Ljubljana
Ljubljana
Ljubljana
Ljubljana
Ljubljana
Ljubljana
Ljubljana
Ljubljana's Cathedral of St. Nicholas.
Ljubljana's Cathedral of St. Nicholas.
Ljubljana's Cathedral of St. Nicholas.
Ljubljana's Cathedral of St. Nicholas.
Ljubljana's Cathedral of St. Nicholas.
Ljubljana's Cathedral of St. Nicholas.
Ljubljana's Cathedral of St. Nicholas.
Ljubljana's Cathedral of St. Nicholas.
Ljubljana's Cathedral of St. Nicholas.
Ljubljana
View of Ljubljana from the funicular ride.
Ljubljana
View of Ljubljana.
View of Ljubljana.
View of Ljubljana.

Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia and is a moderately sized city of about 275,000 people, including a large student population of over 50,000 from the many colleges and universities. The city suffered an earthquake in 1895 which destroyed over half the town; as a result, Ljubljana was rebuilt with many stylish forms of colorful architecture, much of which has been lovingly restored. Although the city lacks the plethora of sights that you would find in a large city such as Prague or Budapest, it more than makes up for its shortcomings with the many cafes, narrow cobblestone-lined streets, beautiful views of the Ljubljanica River, and the Italian-influenced atmosphere. It is one of the most pleasant and easygoing cities I have ever visited and I think that any first time visitor would be instantly charmed.
Ljubljana
Ljubljana
Ljubljana
Ljubljana
Ljubljana
Ljubljana
Ljubljana
Ljubljana
Ljubljana
Ljubljana
Fence post in Ljubljana.
Fence posts in Ljubljana.
Ljubljana
Ljubljana
Ljubljana
Ljubljana
Ljubljana
Ljubljana
Ljubljana
Ljubljana
Ljubljana
Ljubljana
Ljubljana
Ljubljana
Ljubljana
Ljubljana

After the walking tour finished, I made my way to the sprawling Riverside Market. The market spread over a few city blocks and was filled with dozens of produce stands, craft booths, and a few stalls selling beautiful flowers. For a city of its size, I was shocked to see how large the market was. I browsed my way through the stands, stopping to take lots of photos and to make a few purchases.
Ljubljana's Riverside Market
Ljubljana's Riverside Market
Ljubljana's Riverside Market
Ljubljana's Riverside Market
Ljubljana's Riverside Market
Ljubljana's Riverside Market
Ljubljana's Riverside Market
Ljubljana's Riverside Market
Ljubljana's Riverside Market
Ljubljana's Riverside Market
Ljubljana's Riverside Market
Ljubljana's Riverside Market
Ljubljana's Riverside Market
Ljubljana's Riverside Market
Ljubljana's Riverside Market
Ljubljana's Riverside Market
Ljubljana's Riverside Market
Ljubljana's Riverside Market
Ljubljana's Riverside Market

From the market, I headed to the National and University Library. The structure was built by the famous architect of Ljubljana, Joze Plecnik in 1941. The facade of the building contains red and gray bricks that symbolize the red soil and gray granite found in the Karst Region in Slovenia, where Plecnik grew up. I walked into the dark interior of the building, which was supposed to represent an Egyptian tomb. I was slightly perplexed by the building and could not quite understand what the big deal was, as the structure was supposed to be quite famous in Slovenia. I just wasn't that impressed.
National and University Library in Ljubljana.

I continued walking through Ljubljana, taking many photos of the different buildings and architecture, including a stop at the US Embassy. The Embassy was housed in cute yellow chalet surrounded by a large metal fence, the only embassy in Ljubljana with such unnecessary protection. I did not realize that people are not allowed to take photos of US Embassies. After I took some photos I noticed that the guards were intently staring at me from across the road, though thankfully none of them questioned or followed me.
US Embassy in Ljubljana.

I also paid a short visit to the Serbian Orthodox Church, which had a stunning and colorful interior. The church was built in 1936 after Slovenia formed a political union with the Serbs. Once the relationship was formed between the two countries, Slovenia saw its capital city receive an influx of new people. As a result, the city built the church for the many new Serbians.
Serbian Orthodox Church in Ljubljana.
Serbian Orthodox Church in Ljubljana.
Serbian Orthodox Church in Ljubljana.
Serbian Orthodox Church in Ljubljana.
Serbian Orthodox Church in Ljubljana.

After visiting the church, I walked to Tivoli Park, which contains several of the cities museums and lots of green spaces for its residents to relax in. I walked through the park for a bit, eventually stopping in front of a fountain to enjoy the setting.
Tivoli Park in Ljubljana.
Tivoli Park in Ljubljana.
Tivoli Park in Ljubljana.

After the book fiasco, I walked back through town, mostly just to soak up the atmosphere. For an early dinner, I stopped at a place called Pizzeria Foculus. For being so early in the evening (17:00) the restaurant was surprisingly filled with lots of locals. I decided to eat inside as it was rather cold outside. The service was slow and it took about 15 minutes before I received my menu and finally ordered. If you are looking for variety, the menu has over 50 different types of pizzas to select from. I ordered a margarita pizza, which was okay. I had eaten a slice of pizza earlier in the day that I purchased from a take-away place that was three times less expensive and about ten times better tasting.
Pizzeria Foculus

After dinner, I looked for a nearby grocery store, as I had wanted to purchase snacks for the following day as it would be the first day of my car rental. I read about a grocery store in one of my guidebooks called Maxi-Market that was situated below a department store of the same name. As I rode the escalator down to the grocery section of Maxi-Market, I was blown away by what I saw. Unlike so many of the other grocery stores I have visited in large cities in Europe, this one appeared to be brand new and sparkling clean. The store was quite upscale and even featured a large organic section. It also contained an on-site bakery, deli, butcher shop, and large wine section. I had so much fun walking around the aisles of the stores, discovering new food items. I purchased a small variety of items, including a delectable pastry called kremna rezina.
Maxi-Market grocery store in Ljubljana.
Maxi-Market grocery store in Ljubljana.

Afterward, I walked back to my hotel and relaxed for the rest of the evening while munching on some of the goodies I had purchased at the grocery store.

Up next: Slovenian Countryside

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