Loitering around Ljubljana

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October 17th 2016
Published: June 13th 2017
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Castle in the CloudsCastle in the CloudsCastle in the Clouds

First view after getting off the train in Ljubljana. Not bad.
Picking up where we left off with the clink of coffee cups and the hum of conversation in the background, I left Split and had a bit of choice on how to get to my next conference. This meant getting to the towns of Piran and Portoroz, a lovely little spot on the tiny 40km sliver of coastline owned by Slovenia. The fact that I was there to talk about whales for two weeks was a fact that amused every Slovene I encountered to no end. Slovenia has some dolphins, and like many other populations, they're not doing as well as most would like. Anyways that gave a few options. Either go along the Croatian coast, or try to cut through along a more consistently used road. The problem was that the rational mid point stop was Zagreb, and as nice as it is I had little interest in going back. That meant two night trains so I could cut through Zagreb without seeing anything more than the train station at 3AM. Not the most comfortable, but it worked out alright and save me paying for a night's lodgings.

It was all worth it for sunrise in Slovenia. The country
Ljubljana DragonLjubljana DragonLjubljana Dragon

Ljubljana traces its roots back to the Roman city of Emona, and further still to a legend of a battle between Jason and a wetland dwelling dragon.
is a strange and lovely paradox. In spite of a strong history in agriculture, it's 60 percent forested with populations of wolves and bears. It boasts the highest churches per capita in the world, but has a deep history of ecology and liberal politics. Farmer's markets are still a hallmark of every major city and town, even as urban living accounts for 80 percent of the populace. And as I stared out the window with my mouth open at a fog wreathed valley of autumn colors, the whole place looks like a setting for Grimm's Fairytales.

Ljubljana does little to shake that impression. The old town feels like the littlest Vienna possible. A castle dots the nearby hill, and greenspaces make the city bloom as it crisscrosses the Ljubljanska river. And to top it off, national past times seem to include a penchant for extremely creepy puppets, bees(?), and dragons. I don't know what more I could want. I lived cheaply and well for a few days in Ljubljana, working most days and then wandering around in the morning or late nights. In spite of everything, I even managed to repeat my goof in Split, wandering into the wrong
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Ljubljana was decimated by an earthquake in the late 19th Century, and remade itself in a Viennese style.
museum and finding myself leaning the history of Ljubljana instead of the national history museum. Not the worst I suppose, the museum itself is almost a piece of history on its own. When construction began to renovate the basement of the museum, builders quickly discovered that they were actually smack dab on the top of a Roman era road. A rather pleasant surprise for the archaeologists, I'm sure. All too soon it was finally time to make my way to Piran, and back to working full time. Worse fates, of course. Til next time.

Additional photos below
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Sure. Why not.Sure. Why not.
Sure. Why not.

The castle is a weird museum exhibit A.

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