My husband always has the best ideas!
For the Easter weekend, Chris, Reece (Chris' friend who's currently an expat living in Germany) and I planned a trip to Venice, Italy, and Chris suggested that we make a stop in Slovenia on our way. The capitol city, Ljubljana, is a little more than half way, but Chris assured me that it was a city worth checking out. It also seemed a reasonable place to meet up with Reece, ditch one of the cars, and travel on towards Venice together. I had never heard too much about Ljubljana or the country of Slovenia, for that matter, but I said I would book a hotel and start researching the city a bit.
I knew that Slovenia had been part of Yugoslavia, but I hadn't realized that in 1991, they were the first country to gain independence from the Socialist state. The area that is now Slovenia had always been economically strong so the split was a huge loss for Yugoslavia. I discovered that after the split occurred, Slovenia was invaded by the Yugoslav Army. Luckily for Slovenia, the battle was short lived and the Yugoslav Army retreated and left Slovenia to develop Her own identity.
Given the fraction of history knowledge I had gained in my "research," I really didn't expect Slovenia to look and feel much different than Serbia. Chris promised me that Ljubljana was uniquely beautiful, so I booked a room at AHotel, and got excited about exploring a new city.
(Note - if you're driving to Ljubljana, Slovenia, AHotel offers free parking. The hotel allowed us to leave one car in their secure lot for three days while we traveled to Venice, and didn't charge us for that either. Parking is so expensive in most touristy European cities, so finding free parking is always a pleasant surprise!)
Our hotel was a couple miles outside of the city, but we got a good price (and free parking!) and figured we could always use the exercise. The walk into town was a little overcast and drizzly, but the rain clouds lifted as we entered town square in the old city of Ljubljana.
|The town square in Ljubljana, Slovenia.|
It felt as though the sun suddenly appeared and illuminated the city as we stepped foot in the square. I was instantly mystified and in love with this little gem of a city. The architecture is similar to what we see in Subotica, Serbia, but unlike Serbia, all of the buildings are meticulously maintained. The language in similar to Serbian so we were able to read menus and road signs, but other than that, the city holds little resemblance to the Serbia that I have experienced. In all honesty, Ljubljana looks more like an Austrian city than a city that was once contained within the same borders as Subotica, Serbia.
A city this beautiful just begs to be photographed! Enjoy some of the pictures that we snapped. I think these images might make you want to plan your own trip to Ljubljana!
|See the Ljubljana Castle?|
|Preseren Square and the salmon colored building is The Franciscan Church.|
|This alley way leads you up to the Ljubljana Castle.|
|A great little hostel/cafe on the river where we tried a local beer.|
|"Marley & Me" Restaurant Ljubljana.|
I have to rave about this little restaurant for a second!
I have made a new best friend and his name is Trip Advisor. Mr. Trip Advisor typically points us in the direction of a great beer or local meal. After we were ripped off in Prague at a touristy restaurant on the river, I figured it was time to rely on other traveler reviews. To date, Trip Advisor's recommendations have not disappointed, and Marley & Me was an absolute delight!
Trust me, if you're in Ljubljana, you MUST have lunch or dinner here!
Chris and I walked in around 5:00pm to make a dinner reservation. The rustic and cozy restaurant only holds nine tables and there are a few extra patio tables when the weather is agreeable. The place seemed fairly empty, but Mr. Trip Advisor claimed reservations were absolutely necessary. I spoke with a charming man behind the bar who assured us that we would have the best table in the house for dinner that evening. That charming man turned out to be the owner/server/bartender/manager. It's his place and he runs the show; the only other person working that evening was the chef.
True to his word, we had the best seat in the house, and he spent a long time suggesting particular dishes and wine pairings. The atmosphere is warm and inviting.
I had grilled salmon with a sweet mustard, peppercorns, and fresh roasted vegetables. It was one of the best meals I have had in Europe, and it was very moderately priced.
Chris ordered the steak with peppercorns and the same fresh, roasted vegetables. His steak was a little undercooked for his taste, but he still really enjoyed it.
We finished off the meal with the owner's suggestion of a chocolate and pear pie. It was divine!
On our way out of the restaurant, I stopped to speak to an older couple who had sat down next to us. They walked into Marley & Me, and their full grown german shepherd accompanied them to their reserved table. Without skipping a beat, the owner produced a doggy bowl for the furry guest. She happily lapped up the water and then found a cozy spot in the middle of the cramped aisle. Europe allows dogs absolutely everywhere, and this has been an adjustment for us. In America, dogs are not allowed on most patios if food is being served and they would never be seen inside a restaurant. Anyway, I had stopped to say that I was so impressed at how well behaved the german shepherd was. Turns out that the couple was from Washington D.C. and the man was the U.S. ambassador to Austria.
Small world - or perhaps I should say, great restaurant!
Chris and I are already planning another trip to Ljubljana and of course Marley & Me is the first place we're heading back to!
|The Ljubljana Castle.|
|There are a lot of restaurants and cafes inside the Castle.|
|On a clear day, the mountains surrounding Ljubljana are breathtaking!|
|The most awesome man and travel partner in the world!|
|Even the drive into and our of Ljubljana is stunning!|
One evening in Ljubljana was not enough! I am ready to go back and spend a couple days exploring and eating my way through this lovely city! We really enjoyed the whole "feel" of the city, and we cannot wait to get back!
Chris had suggested a visit to Ljubljana, Slovenia, and I am so glad that we made the trip!
Great idea, husband!
Next stop - Venice, Italy!