Slovenia – Ljubljana & Bled

I love the Balkans, and Slovenia is one of the most beautiful countries I’ve been to. 

The first things I noticed while on the train from Zagreb were these hay racks. Turns out these are known as “kozolec” and they are distinctly Slovenian.

The train followed the river Sava all the way to Ljubljana, presumably because it’s​ not easy to build train tracks over mountains. 

I arrived in Ljubljana on a beautiful day and began my walk across town at the Dragon Bridge.

After getting settled in my room, I met a really nice New Zealander and we went up to explore the castle together. 

This castle was a little strange. It was just a little too touristy inside for my taste.

You can really imagine all the authentic Medieval garden parties that must have taken place here. 

Ljubljana was definitely more tourist friendly than I expected. The cafes along the river were usually full and English was common everywhere.

There is an abandoned barracks in Ljubljana that is famous for being the graffiti heavy self declared autonomous city of Metelkova. 

It was very cool to walk through. Didn’t expect to find something like that here!

Slovenia had some really good local food. I frequently went to the Slovenian restaurant near my hostel to try something new. 

The first thing I tried was a venison stew with buckwheat porridge, which I really liked.

Later in town I tried the national dessert known as Prekmurska gibanica. It was a many layered cake with poppy seeds, apples, cottage cheese, and walnuts. It was pretty different but I liked it!

Another dish I was told to try was this dough and cheese roll.

I loved the many bridges of Ljubljana, particularly the triple bridge in the centre of town.

The triple bridge leads into the main square, which has the pink Franciscan church.

I was lucky and visited the church at the perfect time, during a choir rehearsal.

That was a pretty nice place to sit and listen to some music for a little while. 

There were other nice churches in town, including the Ljubljana Cathedral.

I walked slowly through the cathedral enjoying the silence until the arrival of a tour cued my exit.

I wonder if it’s possible to build a church organ in your house.

If you ever wonder what the weather is like in Slovenia I can save you some time. It’s the same every day: sunny with 100% chance of rain. It’s raining in this picture.

Legend has it that Ljubljana was founded by Jason of the Argonauts. The dragon of the dragon bridge is therefore the one that Jason defeated. 

There were a lot of random sculptures around the city.

Slovenia was the first to declare independence from Yugoslavia. In 1991, independence was declared in republic square and after​ a 10 day war, Slovenia was its own country.

Ljubljana even had a Templar church! Later that day I met a really nice Australian​ guy at my hostel who advised me to do some exploring outside of Ljubljana, and said that Bled was a good idea.

I ended up spending my last two days in Slovenia outside of Ljubljana. My penultimate day saw me on a day trip to Bled.

My first destination was Vintgar Gorge, but I had 15 minutes after arriving in Bled before the shuttle left, so I wandered over to the church.

The church was nice, but before long I was where I really wanted to be. I deleted a lot of pictures before posting this, but it’s still going to be too much. Are you ready to want to go to Slovenia? 

I think I saw every variety of blue and green in this gorge.

I had woken up that morning feeling bad about constantly meeting cool people whom I then have to say goodbye to, and didn’t feel like getting up and doing a full day. 

I’m so glad I did though.

I walked through most of the gorge with a girl from Hong Kong, talking about travel and the pros and cons of traveling alone. It was nice to have someone to appreciate the beauty of this place with. 

I got a little wet walking past the waterfall. If mist could ever be called aggressive, the most of this waterfall certainly was.

The end of the gorge had a fantastic view of the river, forest, and mountains.

I then got to walk all the way back through the gorge to the beginning and enjoyed it all again.

I met a girl from the Netherlands here, and she and I along with the girl from Hong Kong decided to visit Bled Castle together. First though, I was told that there is a dessert made in Bled that, while it exists elsewhere, nowhere is it as good. It’s called the Bled Cream Cake, and it is awesome.

We were then ready for the hike to the castle.

Unfortunately you had to pay to go in, but it did give you a fantastic view of Lake Bled and the surrounding area.

Here’s the church I was in earlier.

The hike back down was a little sketchy, but we managed it. We went to catch the train back to Ljubljana instead of the bus, and it took us through the other side of Bled, which was well worth the time.

On my last day I visited the Škocjan caves in southwest Slovenia. They are a UNESCO site and I wasn’t allowed to take pictures until leaving the cave. If you’re curious about the inside there are images online (or you could visit them yourself!).

The guide described the caves as being similar to the Grand Canyon, but with a roof. They were huge!

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Slovenia, and the natural beauty was the selling point for me, though I really did have a great experience with the local food as well. 

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