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Published: December 26th 2011
Christmas day celebrations
Night falls and the chrissy lights are turned on in Ljubljana
If you have a desire to get out and see the world, the lovely reader, surely now's the time then to fill your boots! Life offers us so many rewarding experiences in this wonderful world we share, as I send fond season’s greetings from lovely Ljubljana. The Balkans is a fascinating part of Europe, and I'm looking forward to exploring this unique region during the next month. So once again it's time to get with the program here in Slovenia, as I embark on a new series of travel adventures.
The most competitive long haul airfare out of Australia at Christmas time is with China Southern airlines. So I purchased a ticket cause the price is right, and the flight had it's transit in Guangzhou. It was interesting to compare China Southern with the more established airlines who have been flying this route for decades now. OK then, the verdict is in ... and the new kid on the block definitely needs to lift their game! Our plane had a ratty interior on the first leg, there were only two English language movies on offer, the cabin crew were not that conversant in English, and the seven hour stopover in
Old Town, Lubljana
Buildings on the river
Guangzhou terminal had practically nothing to offer the tired passengers, with most of the shops refusing to accept visa cards. It was a chore that I don't recommend, where I passed the time either listening to music, or watching other bored passengers pacing up and down the terminal in search of something to do ... anything really! On the European leg an Irish lad got to chatting and he was seething about rude staff, poor service etc. I haven't set foot in China for twenty five years and thought attitudes to customer service would have changed greatly in that time, but I guess the century of China is still a work in progress.
It's all good though, and simply a new experience on the unavoidable long haul flight to Europe. I had another five hours to kill at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, before connecting with an easyJet flying taxi direct to Ljubljana. Now this airline really has their act together, and the passengers are up and out of the seats the moment the plane taxis to a stop. They don't muck around and fly people all over Europe with extraordinary efficiency at insanely low prices. I left
a cold but sunny Paris to step off the plane in freezing rain and minus 2 degrees, and that's after coming from a Sydney summer! Now it's time to issue a general warning ... old man alert! Just a day before flying out of Australia I tore a calf muscle. As such I've been forced to start my trip at a very sedate pace. Instead of racing around packing in the sights like there's no tomorrow, I've been pretty much on the hobble for the last several days. Whilst out and about grandpas have gone smokin' past with the wind in their hair, but despite being blown off by all comers, pottering about at a snail's pace allows one to soak up the atmosphere of this gorgeous European capital.
One of the Alibi M14 hostel girls has been talking up this big city of theirs, this little New York. Of course the friendly locals say it with a laugh, because Slovenia is a tiny country. You can get from end to end in a couple of hours maximum, and be guaranteed of seeing lush forests and snow capped mountains in every direction at this time of year. The
Lake Bled in winter
A beautiful location for a leisurely stroll.
scenery is stunning in Slovenia, and it's incredible to note in the days of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia this tiny little republic contributed 20% of the total GDP. The Slovenians are confident and hard working, and seem very proud of their mighty little country. The old town in Ljubljana is gorgeous, and lit up with spectacular christmas decorations that bring the city centre to life after dark. A little bit of cold isn't going to put off the locals, and the streets were jam packed on Christmas night with people promenading in the European style.
I took the opportunity of catching a bus for a day trip to Bled, the most popular tourist destination in Slovenia. This picturesque town has a stunning setting on Lake Bled, and a leisurely walk along the lake is one of life's great experiences. The scenery is breathtaking in the bracing winter air, but it's certainly not as cold as in the capital. Apparently it gets so crowded in summer that accommodation at any price can be a real struggle. Slovenia is a country of two million people and has all a traveller could wish for in a compact little package. In
fact I suggest, basically all of you should be here now!
We're in a time of crisis, but if human reproduction was decided by thinking about whether you're going to have a perfect life, we wouldn't be here to talk about it, neither your nor I." Carla Bruni
As I continue my travels, until next time it's signing off for now
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