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December 3rd 2016
Published: March 9th 2018
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So we were getting close to the end of the second leg of this journey. Ljubljana was the last destination on the list... Now only we needed to get there somehow… Unfortunately the connections between Rovinj and Ljubljana weren't that great… Either a very early bus at 5.50am or the afternoon one at 2.50pm... We were really considering the early morning one for a while, mostly thinking about Millie and the fact that she's definitely coping better with morning bus journeys rather than the afternoon ones... still the idea of waking up around 4am to catch the bus faded away quite quickly. The afternoon bus it was then... Thankfully we were able to negotiate late check-out with the hosts (another advantage of booking accommodation in the low season I guess). And we were ready to head to our last destination on this trip.

Good thing we didn't take the early bus as Millie had a bit of a tough night, not sure if she had some bad dreams or was simply suffering from teething but there wasn't much sleep between 2 and 4 at all... Being able to sleep in after that was quite a blessing to say the least... if we can call it sleeping in as it was the usual 7am wake up in the end...

After breakfast we had a chance to go for a nice walk around Rovinj once again. We really loved this little town. Very charming! After that we picked up our bags, had a quick bite to eat and were ready for the 4,5hour journey ahead. Yes, despite the short distance it was still a bit of a drive... Not to mention that we would be crossing the border quite a few times, Croatia to Slovenia, then Italy and finally Slovenia again... Back to the Shengen zone as well – better count the days on Grant’s visa properly this time!

As we were leaving Croatia we had a chance to experience an absolutely stunning sunset... It wasn't exactly a full sky experience, but the sun looked just exceptionally big and was changing colours by the minute... Beautiful! Shengen border crossing went pretty smooth and Grant got a stamp without any questions asked. If it was in Poland we probably would've had to explain every single stamp again. Here – nice and easy though... pheeeew... Millie had a few moments during the journey, but in general, considering we were travelling in the late afternoon, she did very well... 4,5 hours went by and right on time we arrived in Ljubljana. I have to say that the buses we took during our journey through the Balkans didn't disappoint! I was really positively surprised how smooth and punctual these rides were! Having said that, I was still quite happy that this was our last journey for a while.

We got picked up from the bus station by the owner of the apartment we were staying at and for no extra charge at all! Talking about that extra effort to satisfy the costumer! Not to mention that the apartment was really beautiful as well. New, clean and very well equipped – I felt as if I walked straight into IKEA. Slightly more expensive than all the apartments we stayed at during this leg of the trip, but the prices in Ljubljana were in general higher, so we didn't mind at all... Not to mention that it was still cheaper than that horrible hotel we stayed at in London!

First thing on my list, after feeding Millie and putting her to sleep of course, was to call my friend to confirm we were in fact in Ljubljana already... I was really looking forward to catching up with her. 3 years gone by since our adventure in China... I met both of them on the bus to Dali, we shared a taxi to the Old Town, bumped into each other again later on and eventually spent two days together walking the Tiger Leaping Gorge... We have been in contact ever since so when I was planning our European adventure, I made sure Ljubljana appeared on our list...

The plan was to meet my friends for breakfast and we would make further plans from there. It was only a short walk by the river to the centre so we got there in no time at all. I couldn’t help but think ‘thankfully!’ as it was freezing! And what’s worse, the next few days were supposed to be even colder! My body wasn’t prepared for that for sure but I guess I would just need to deal with the cold somehow… It was so nice to see my friend Mojca again! A few things had changed since the last time we met for sure! One huge difference with both of us in new mother roles now! At the same time it felt as if nothing had changed since we parted ways in Lijiang at all though! I have met some very nice people during my travels but I had no doubt that most of them I would probably never hear from again. And then there were a very few I knew I would stay in touch with for sure! And one true friend as well! And now I was lucky enough to be able to visit her in her own town.

After a very pleasant and slightly disorganised breakfast (just like all of them for the past year or so have been) Mojca and her little boy Kostja joined us for a little walk around Ljubljana. How about that? Our own local guide! 😉 It sure was a bit different walking around the town with someone who actually knew the place. Finding out about all the good spots – where to get a big bowl of coffee (score!), where to get some good food or even where to go for a nice stroll… Not to mention that it was great to catch up – on travelling, kids and life in general… We wandered around the centre and had a chance to go up to the castle as well. What an amazing spot! Beautiful panorama of Ljubljana and its surroundings from up there… After that we parted ways. My friend went back to her home and we went exploring the town on our own. And that was basically our ‘routine’ here. Meet up with my friend at some stage of the day and then wander around on our own.

We sure took our time leaving the house during the next few days. With temperatures below zero and my clothes slightly inadequate for this kind of weather, it was a bit of an effort to push myself out of bed and give Ljubljana some attention. Being voted European green capital in 2016 it deserved attention for sure! So what exactly makes the city a green capital? Is it the amount of parks, clean air, recycling…? Well, it looks like Ljubljana exceeded in all these areas actually! First there was this vast green space – 542 square metres of public green space per resident to be exact! If that’s not impressive enough, how about the city‘s ‘zerowaste’ programme! Waste segregation was beyond anything I’ve seen before. Forget the usual red, green and yellow bins as apparently that’s the absolute minimum! Here they had separate bins for metal, glass and whatever else, not to mention that all those bins were fitted underground! And then there was more… City centre totally cut off from traffic… That’s right, it was a pedestrian and cyclists area only! And finally a natural drinking water running from your tap... All these things certainly put Ljubljana ahead of any other European capitals – an example to follow for sure!

We didn't have a chance to fully explore the green spaces as since it was December already, days suddenly became really short. Not to mention that we wasted quite a few of those precious daylight hours getting out of the house… We did get to know the centre of the town pretty well though. And with Christmas just around the corner it was really nice to see Ljubljana decorated for the occasion. Main Square illuminated by Christmas lights, even though some of them were quite strange to say the least... Woman and man floating in the air and between them woman's egg and little men's soldiers... It doesn’t necessarily ring Christmas to me… Open for interpretation I guess? We also had a chance visit our first Christmas market that winter. How I wished to have some of that incredibly aromatic mulled wine... Warm whiskey smelled equally tempting I guess as well... A cup of hot tea would do! 😊

Strangely enough on our last day we decided to do a free walking tour. I can't really recall why we left it for the last day but since we signed up for it already we decided to do it anyway. It was a few degrees below zero that day so I wondered how I was going to last the full two hours tour… We met up with our group at the main square. There were quite a few people around, with many different nationalities. When our tour guide arrived holding a microphone, my expectations lowered a lot… What can I say? The mike simply puts me off… Her English was really good though. It was so good in fact that it felt as if we were touring with a real Brit not a Slovenian! Ah well, I probably was just picking at all these
An entrance to a parliament building in LjubljanaAn entrance to a parliament building in LjubljanaAn entrance to a parliament building in Ljubljana

After all we are all born with nothing but our talent...
things because I was really cold… The group didn’t really seem too excited about the tour either. The guide threw in a couple of fun facts at the beginning trying to warm up the group a little bit but it looked as if everyone was hibernating as hardly anyone responded to it at all. We walked around some famous spots in town listening to our guide telling us interesting facts about Ljubljana. Unfortunately I lost interest after an hour focusing on warming up my toes and hands rather than listening. And stressing out about Millie being cold of course as well… In the end I thought the tour was ok but it didn't really blow my mind though. Our guide told us a lot about the history of the city for sure but the tour just lacked some character… Maybe some random facts would make it a bit more interesting? Not to mention that some real Slovenian accent would make it a bit more authentic for sure! 😉

And that was it for Ljubljana and Slovenia for that matter as well. A part of me regretted going back home but I felt relieved at the same time as well. Feeling cold and nauseous all the time made me want to stay in bed the whole day. Sitting by the fireplace, munching on my mum’s cakes and drinking cups and cups of hot tea just felt like a perfect thing to do right now. It would’ve been nice to see more of Slovenia for sure as we hardly saw anything in this country at all. After all there is so much to see and do here – starting with beautiful lakes and charming little towns to explore, not to mention numerous trekking opportunities. It was time to head home though and spend some more time with my family though. I do hope that one day we will be able to come back to this part of this world and explore it more thoroughly though. We definitely weren’t done with the Balkans just yet…

Additional photos below
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12th March 2018
The city of dragons

I liked that one
Slovenia is a country I still haven't visited. But we like the Balkans a lot so we are likely to go there in the future. Funny sculpture you found there /Ake
16th March 2018

Traveling off season
We love off season travel. Your blog has added a few cities to our future list.

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