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Published: August 14th 2019
I have a cunning plan this morning. I only have to check out at noon; my train to Graz isn’t until 15.45 and I want to make the most of the time in Ljubljana. I did have a bath very late last night so I am definitely clean, but I get up and go down to breakfast (whispering) ….without showering!! So my plan is to head out in shorts and trainers (and top, obviously!) and do a more energetic walk than yesterday’s guided walk, returning to the hotel around 11ish to shower, pack and check out.
I feel as though I have benefited so much from travelling here by train. I arrived at 3pm on Sunday which meant that I still had the afternoon and the evening to explore. Yesterday, I had the entire day in the city and I still get to spend a few more hours here this morning. Because I have booked hotels that are close to the city centre and the station, and because the city is compact, I have the sense that I am getting so much more from the experience than if I had flown here. I am really loving the travel
by train experience.
I have another enjoyable breakfast. One thing I love doing when travelling alone (for work or leisure) is to be anonymous and simply blend in. These hotels allow you to do that, and I enjoy taking my Kindle to breakfast and lingering afterwards with a coffee and a good read. Soon after this linger I take off towards the Old Town. I have a short errand to conduct at the City Hotel and I quickly arrive in the city centre.
I drop into the Old Town via Prešeren Square. This is right by the Ljubljanica (the river running through the city). If there is an event on in the city, there is good chance that it will happen in this space. Each evening there have been things going on here with crowds gathering to enjoy the atmosphere. The square is at the convergence of a number routes including the Triple Bridge. This bridge is one of the
iconic structures in Ljubljana, designed by Jože Plečnik. Plečnik was a Slovene architect who had a major impact on the modern architecture of not only Ljubljana, but also Vienna and Prague. As well as
the Triple Bridge and the Cobblers’ Bridge, Plečnik’s best known works include the National and University Library building, the Ljubljanica river embankments, parks, plazas and the Ljubljana cemetery. His architectural imprint on Ljubljana has been compared to the impact Antoni Gaudí had on Barcelona. Plečnik wanted to model Ljubljana on ancient Athens. His numerous creations in the city, referred to as a whole as "Plečnik's Ljubljana", is considered to be one of the 20th century's most important total works of art. Andrei, yesterday’s guide, told us that you can book Plečnik walking tours.
I decide that I should like to take a look at more of Plečnik’s work whilst walking along the river. If you look at the map of Ljubljana you can see just how important the river Ljubljanica is. It practically surrounds the city and there are great paths all along on both sides. There are 20 bridges over the river just inside the city itself, so lots of opportunities to criss-cross the river, and that is exactly what I do. Although the Old Town is lovely, I fancy walking further out of the centre. I turn left at Prešeren Square and follow the river
embankment along, passing Dragon Bridge and scores of cafes, all with lovely tables overlooking the river. One of these is Cacao, where I sampled delicious gelato on the first evening. It is overcast today and much cooler than yesterday’s scorching 35C degrees. (Trish, that is approx 105F!!). Anything over 20C feels a bit warm for me, so this is brilliant walking weather. I walk as far as another one of Plečnik’s iconic bridges, then cross over and walk back on the other side of the river. This takes me beneath the castle and past the vibrant market area at the foot of the castle funicular. It is lovely to see the action at the market with older ladies inspecting every piece of fruit and veg with a practised eye before making careful purchases. The flower section beneath the cathedral is busy too, and I spend a half hour people watching at this wonderful location. The attractive white embankment buildings that stretch along from the open-air market, beneath the cathedral and as far as Triple Bridge, form the covered market for meat, fish etc and are also part of the Plečnik collection.
I walk through the main street
of the Old Town on the castle side. This is a really delightful street with so many attractive restaurants, cafes and independent shops. The restaurant from the first evening, Julija, is also here (and to be recommended). Lots of winding alleys and streets lead off the main street, leading up to the castle area. I continue along the river embankment for a couple of miles, passing the places which I had noticed from the wooden boat yesterday. Eventually and reluctantly I cross over for the last time and retrace my steps to Prešeren Square and back to the hotel.
I shower, pack and check out by noon. I love this train travel. My train to Graz is at 15.45 and I know it takes less than ten minutes to stroll to the station from the Hotel Lev. So I leave my case at the hotel and wander back into the city centre. This time I avoid the Old Town and head towards the cultural area, taking in the impressive buildings of the Opera House, Museum of Modern Art, Parliament and the National Gallery. From here I can see the lovely Tivoli Park across the road. Normally I
would have explored here too, but I have to keep an eye on the time now, and I also need to have lunch. I walk down one of the streets in this area and choose an attractive restaurant, Soba102, that appears to be full of locals. It is a great choice and I have a delicious Karst prosciutto platter.
I collect my case and arrive at the station in plenty of time for my train to Graz. It is actually the train for Vienna, and as it starts here, it is already in at the station and I get on. I read about this trip on the excellent website www.seat61.com
. The owner of this site, Mark Smith, is sooooooo knowledgeable and helpful. I bought most of my tickets following his advice and tips. And for this particular trip - Ljubljana to Graz - I got a really cheap 1st class ticket. I have this comfortable carriage to myself for the entire journey - three and a half hours. I see only two people throughout the trip - the charming Slovenian lady train manager and the equally pleasant Austrian train manager who gets on when we cross the
border. The scenery is wonderful from start to finish. Bang on time we arrive in Graz, and I cross the road to the Austria Trend Hotel - my home for just one night. I have never been to Graz before and only have tomorrow morning here to explore. Our groups will not stay here overnight. They will only stop here for a walking tour of Graz after leaving Vienna, and on their way to Zagreb. My hotel room is very comfortable and very suitable for business travellers with its excellent working space as well as its accessibility to the main station. After a quick meal in the restaurant next door, I make the most of this work space to catch up with the blog over a glass of Zweigelt (Austrian red wine).
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