Very excited to be heading to Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana, today. Split into the old city and new by the Ljubljana river, it offers a wealth of nooks and crannies awaiting exploration. It’s surprisingly rural on the outskirts – less than 10 km out, it’s still farmland.
Unbeknownst to us, we’ve picked the perfect day to arrive. Each Friday, Ljubljana holds a food festival, an endless array of food tents offering local specialities and international cuisine.
Not to mention the several kilometres of busy restaurants and cafes that line the river banks.
I’m not sure I’ve seen as many concentrated into any city – there’s most definitely a thriving food culture here. The finishing touch is a thriving fresh food market.
It’s all a bit overwhelming after being in the peace of the countryside for a while. Our noses lead the way – the scents of cooking all around us are intoxicating.
We drag ourselves away to see the sights of the old city. The Dragon bridge is a must:
legend has it that the dragon ruled the Slovenian marshes until he was slayed by (and here thoughts are divided) by either St George, or Jason and the Argonauts of Greek legend. The locals use the term “slay” loosely – they say he’s still alive and well.
There’s Ljubljana’s famous triple triple bridge, designed by Joze Plecnik in 1929 to connect the two halves of the city.
We also see the Fountain of the Three Rivers, symbolising Slovenia’s main rivers, and the highly decorated Baroque St Nicholas’s Cathedral.
Most of the afternoon is taken up though with a visit to Ljubljana Castle, another 11th century wonder.
It’s another killer walk up a steep incline, so steep in spots that standing without holding on is a challenge. The castle has undertaken a metamorphosis over the centuries, retaining its original form where possible, but also morphing into a present day space offering performance and display opportunities for the modern community.
We learn of the history of the area from hut dwellers, through Roman occupation, European battles for supremacy, Napoleon’s invasion, through to present times. There’s also quite a good musuem on site, an ancient chapel
and excellent views to be had over the city from the tower – tricky spiral staircase though! Chris gets to pretend he’s a dragon…
All that hiking deserves a drink and so we settle in the market district for drinks with a local flavour. Slovenian beer and wine for Chris, rose vodka for me.
A riverbank walk at twilight, contemplating the many choices for dinner rounds out our day. It’s so alive here, it seems the whole city is out walking, drinking, eating, celebrating life.
We select a restaurant and settle for what end up being an excellent meal. Truffles get me every time, with veal and truffled mash, whilst Chris has a cured pork knuckle that’s been roasted under pressure. The local Cabernet Sauvignon is excellent too.
I’m calling it: I’m enormously impressed with Slovenia. I’m absolutely love everything about being here – scenery, culture, food, wine: all are exceptional.