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Published: April 9th 2015
I can't believe it's already been 4 weeks since I left America! They've flown by so fast, and now there's only 7 more weeks to go. I've now made it behind the Iron Curtain, and I'll be staying here for most of the remainder of my trip - until May 12th. This is all a new part of Europe for me to explore (my day trips to Bratislava and Poland don't really count much in the grand scheme of things), and I can say that I was taken over by a little rush of excitement when we crossed into Slovenia yesterday morning and I started seeing signs in a language I hadn't ever encountered.
The train to Ljubljana wasn't exactly how I had planned - it was more of a bus. Apparently they've been doing some major work on this route for a long while now, so even though I hopped on a train at the Italian border, the trip only lasted 15 or so minutes. Then we all disembarked, and most of us hopped on the bus next to the train station. It was a pleasant journey, considering the bus was maybe 1/3 full. It made one stop, about
half way to Ljubljana, but along the way, we were treated to some spectacular Alpine vistas. Once they dropped us off in Ljubljana, I walked about 10-15 minutes to my hotel, where they were expecting me and even let me check in over an hour early, not even flinching. That was nice. It's called Hotel Meksiko (yes, they spell it like that), and it's my first hotel on this trip that I would describe as a hotel like American's expect. The room isn't big, but it has a/c, TV, wifi, a nice bed, private bathroom, and a desk. And breakfast comes free with it, which I tried this morning, and it was decent. It's about 15 minutes on foot to the center of downtown, so that's perfect for me.
Once I got settled into the room yesterday, I decided to go exploring. I hadn't expected to get so much time in town on the first day, so I took advantage of it. Frankly, I saw most of the sights yesterday. The river running through the center of the Old Town makes for some nice views, and they've made several bridges over it, each with its own personality. There's a
huge pink church that dominates the center of the Old Town, and it's right in front of the most famous (if that's the right word) bridge in the town - the Triple Bridge. There are plenty of cafes and touristy shops along the river, but the entire town is pretty chill. I mean that there's not a lot of traffic, the streets aren't crowded, and people don't seem to be in any real hurry to get anywhere. I really dig it. There are a couple of street performers, and a few beggars, but it's clean and quiet.
I explored most of the Old Town, just walking around the cute streets and seeing the shops. Then there was the big university library and Congress Square, and then I made my way towards Tivoli, the big green space/hill at the western edge of the downtown area. It's massive. On my way there, I saw some big old buildings, but nothing that's "world renowned." There are monuments throughout the city, as any culture is prone to do. But by this time, my feet were tired, and I wanted to save the Castle atop the hill for a better time. I started walking
back to the hotel and found a place with cheap baked goods, so I picked some up and went about my way. Back at the hotel, I had the best night's sleep in a week.
This morning, I woke up around 8AM, not particularly wanting to, but figuring I may as well. After breakfast, I made my way through some of the less touristy parts of downtown, including the RTV Slovenija building. Not much to tell - it's the TV station with lots of satellites. Then I made my way to the Skyscraper. Yes, that's what they call it, and no, it's not the only one. In fact, I would hardly call it a skyscraper today, but back in the 1930s, it was a big deal, and an eyesore, from what I understand. There's supposedly a cafe up near the top where you can get good views of the city, but I couldn't find it, and it was too foggy/cloudy to get good views anyway. My next stop was Tivoli. I meandered about in the green area for over an hour, not really going anywhere in particular. They certainly have some odd (and sometimes perhaps too-inappropriately anatomically-correct) statues of
people and even children. I kept walking. I made it back to the Congress Square, where I saw these two big buildings, one of which reportedly has the largest digital clock in the world. I've uploaded a picture - maybe you can see it there? I next made my way to some Roman ruins - apparently this was a Roman town at one point.
By this time, it was almost noon, and I needed food. I was told to try a burek here - a local filled pastry thing. It comes with cheese and meat, or you could get a spinach one, or really I guess anything you wanted in it. I didn't go for the spinach. I enjoyed it, though it was quite heavy. Very filling. Along with it, I bought a Fanta "Madness" flavored drink, but it turns out that it's just grape, which I love. After that, it was on to the castle.
The castle is above everything - you can take a funicular to get there, or you can walk a really long and windy road. I'm very glad I brought my student ID with me - it knocked the price from 8 to
5 euros, which I can definitely afford. That included the funicular, the viewing tower, and the museum inside the castle. Once at the top, I walked around the ramparts and got some good views. But the tower was something else. You climb a bunch of steps, and unless you're looking up, you don't realize you've made it until you're stepping onto the top of the tower. I'm not usually good with heights, and this tower didn't have the highest walls around the edges. There were even crenelations big enough for my foot, so that gave me the creeps. I did stay up there for about 10 minutes though. After that, I went to the museum in the castle, dedicated to Slovenian history. It was mainly informative, not much in the way of artifacts. They were there, but not nearly as many as I would associate with a proper museum. Lots of videos and pictures. Either way, I learned a great deal about the history of these people and their land.
By this point, I was looking to rest my feet, so I set off towards the hotel. I stopped for some gelato on the way - after all, much
of Slovenian cuisine is a combination of Italian and Austro-German cooking. I tried the blueberry, and it was pretty good - there were bits of blueberries in it. Now I'm back at the hotel, resting my feet. I've got a day trip tomorrow that will take me to Lake Bled, among other places. We're leaving at 8:30AM, supposed to be back around 7PM, so it's a full day. I'm looking forward to seeing more of this country, and especially to getting back into the Alps!
Just for completion's sake, I'll quickly tell you about my last night in Italy: a town called Trieste, which was a decent town. I'd like to visit again - the bus ride to the top of the hill (so I could catch my train to Slovenia) provided a wonderful view over the coast and the town at the bottom. My B&B was quaint, for sure - it was the extra bedroom in a separate part of the house of Alessandra, an Italian woman in her 50s living alone with her dog, Obama. She said she called him that because when he was born, all the other puppies in the litter were white, but he
was solid black! The wifi was good, the bed was better than the one in Bergamo, and I had a private bathroom. She even brought me breakfast. I would've stayed longer, but Slovenia beckoned.
A minor cause for celebration: I have some clean laundry! If you've never experience how joyous it can be to have clean clothes, then nothing I say will make you appreciate it. I had never really appreciated how much I take clean clothing for granted, but I do now. This should be able to last me until I get to Erica's place in Germany, which is only 12 days away!
Lastly, I thought I'd take note of how my supplies are doing, and since you can skip this if you don't want to read it, that's fine. But I'm doing this blog partly for my own sake, keeping track of stuff that I might need or want to remember, which most likely I will forget by the end of the trip.
Shampoo will definitely make it through the trip, though the conditioner and soap might not. Luckily, most hotels give you free soap, so that shouldn't be too bad. I'll probably have just
enough toothpaste to last me. I hope the floss lasts, but I can never tell with that stuff. Deodorant won't run out, and neither will shaving gel or aftershave. I'm making each razor blade last 2 weeks, which should be just enough - I brought 5 with me. I haven't had to use any allergy pills; I did use a few Mucinex in Spain when the weather changed on me, but I've still got plenty, I think. Aleve is in good supply, as are Melatonin. Q-tips shouldn't run out. I bought some antibacterial liquid and cotton balls in Italy for the blisters, and I'm sure those will be fine, even if more blisters develop. I ran out of band-aids in Italy, though. I'll look into getting some more soon. I also need to get some hand lotion, since my hands are getting dry a lot. It's not as humid here as it is in Georgia. I've only had to use a few of the antacid chews, which surprised me, since I use usually a bag every 2-3 weeks in America. Don't know what that says about the difference between here and there, concerning stress or food. I think that's about
it for supplies.
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