The dragon bridge
Suzy is parked up for the night in the Ljubljana resort site just three miles out of town. An interesting night - gunshots or at least they sounded like gunshots, ambulance or police sirens - it was hard to tell what they were and finally the bells ringing out the hours from the cities churches. A bit of a change from last nights cuckoos and woodpeckers.
The site has filled up with quite a number of solo motorbikers and strange combinations of three people to a tent. Two lads and one girl. We wonder what the arrangement must be.
It turned out another lovely hot day with the sun beating down upon us. We headed off after breakfast for the bus which left from the small pull in opposite the camp site. We had paid up on the Urbana card yesterday and tried to use it on the machine on the bus. It seemed to work but when the inspectors got on to check tickets they seemed to think there was a problem and we wondered if we had only put it through the machine once instead of twice. With a grimace and without a cheery smile they did
something and let us on our way. Could be interesting on the way back.
We arrived in the centre of the city and were shocked at how well behaved the drivers were . Not racing from traffic lights nor running down pedestrians they behaved impeccably. The city was very quiet with few cars on the streets and even less pedestrians. It was a pleasure to walk everywhere without bumping into people or having to jostle to find a space to walk in. Sometimes it takes a little while to get your bearings but in this city it didnt take too long at all. Head for the river is a good idea . Boats were moored and it was possible to go on one hour trips up the river although we saw none doing any trade. Perhaps it is too early in the season and there are not enough visitors to make it worthwhile taking the boat out.
As we walked along the river side street cafes spilled on to the street and customers drank their early morning coffees. We walked to the Three Bridges which linked Presernov trg on the west bank of the river with the market
on the other side. This is one of the many bridges that criss cross the river and was built as late as 1929. The old 19th
century bridge was retained and two angled side bridges were added. It makes an attractive addition to the riverside . We cross it and moved on over the Butchers Bridge passing washing lines with tied shoes hanging between the buildings. The Butchers Bridge is modern and is festooned with locks symbolising a couples undying love for each other. We should have brought a lock with us and left it locked to the railings.
We didn’t go into the Baroque St Nicholas Cathedral. From the outside it was pretty in pink but we are not keen followers of Baroque architecture. It is too over fussy for us and there were so many other sites to see. .
From here we headed for the castle high on the hill above the town by crossing the Dragon Bridge. This bridge is an Art Noveau style built in 1901 to mark the birthday of the Austro/Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph the first . Four beautiful copper dragons sit on the walls of the bridge. It reminded me
The Co-operative Building
of home Wales where the dragon is our national treasure and is on our flag. Sion wondered if his friend Woolly had seen dragons this big on his travels.
We had two choices to get up to the castle. The first a long and winding walk up the hill or the second the easier funicular railway. As it was getting warmer 25 degrees and the cost of the railway plus entrance to the museum was only 10 euros for the two of us the funicular won. The trip up was worth the money for the view over the Old and New City. The castle itself once again unspectacular. Built in the 11th
century it epitomises the Austro/Hungarian tradition of castle building. It was empty and devoid of any character having been used as a barracks, a home for the poor and needy and also as a prison. The 15th
century Pentagonal tower was interesting and was the home to some very rude artwork. We chose to miss the virtual castle museum and moved on to climb the red spiral staircase which climbed up the clock tower. This was built in 1848 to be used as a viewing platform and
How many pairs of shoes?
was painted stark white with the black clock telling the time on the front. Our last stop inside the Chapel of St George which had recently had a facelift by the look of it. Too fresh paint on the walls and too freshly restored frescoes which originally had been painted in 1747. Final stop outside a sit in the sun with a capuccino and an espresso.
The next part of our exploration of the city was to the New Town which was on our way to the Railway Museum. We passed the highly decorated Art Noveau Co-operative Building. Stunningly different and a refreshing treat after so much Baroque stuff. This was designed by an architect Ivan Vurnik. His work was primarily designed to showcase traditional Slovenian folk architecture with the best of modern design. It was begun in 1921and it is covered in the brightest pink and orange you can imagine. The windows and doorways are detailed by jazzy chevrons and zig zags in blue ,yellow and brick red.
Our next stop after a 40 minute walk was to the Zeleniski Muzej or in English the Railway Museum. A rather run down affair out of town and off
the tourist trail. We were greeted by a young man who issued us our tickets. Old fashioned green cardboard railway tickets which he stamped and cut holes in. He charged 7 euros for the two of us to get in and explained that he didn’t see many visitors - a few yesterday and we were his first of the day. He explained that the engines were housed in the main building and once we had seen those he would open up the second half of the exhibition. The building had little of the style of Cite of the Train in Mulhouse but had a charm of its own. The engines lovingly cared for. Explanations in English for each machine. He walked around with us and although we hate guided tours he was doing it for the love of the engines, his pride in them and to get his chance to speak English. Many of the engines on display were from the early years of the Slovenian railway period between 1844 and 1849. We could not get on many of the engines for a closer look but oddly we were allowed on board the oldest engine SB 718. Across the site
in another shed were the controls and antiquated signalling equipment. Most of it would have been incomprehensible to us but our guide followed us across and after opening up the rooms gave us a demonstration on each of the signalling boxes. Some brought down the crossings, others worked the overhead signals and many moved the points. He only left us when his phone rang and another visitor had arrived and wanted to be let in.
We walked back and sat and ate dinner a large pizza classico shared between the two of us, coke and the local beer Union. And then on to the bus ride home. The machine clicked and took one fare off and then did nothing. The driver fed up of us waved us on and we hoped the inspector would keep away until we got back to our campsite.
Thoughts on Lujbljana. A small compact city, a lot to do,a fun railway museum and a vibrant street life.
Tomorrow we head out of Slovenia for its neighbour Croatia . A welcome return after our visit of last year. And best of all a stamp in our passport - well at least we hope
Ljubljana Railway Museum
so . Croatia are joining that big country the United States of Europe next month so who knows what we will find this year. Perhaps they would be better not joining with the current economic situation in the EU. Life on the outside of Europe could be a better option.
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