Trip Start Mar 16, 2004
Trip End Jun 13, 2004

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Flag of Slovenia  ,
Wednesday, April 7, 2004

Entering Lubljana all I could think of was "Hot shower, hot shower." I thought I would never get to the city centre, but of course you always get there in the end. I got a bit of a fright in the tourist office when I was told that all the hostels, pensions etc were full, and the one she couldn't get an answer at was probably full. I did not relish the thought of camping out tonight.

Before I left she tried the Bit Centre Hostel once more. I understand no Slovenian whatsoever, but when I heard her say super, I felt so relieved. She told me that she had just booked me in and marked its location on a little map. The final 4 km to a hot shower.

The Bit Centre Hostel, yes I think its a strange name too, is a very modern sport centre with a hostel block attached. It was buzzing with people. The dorms each have names and I was given a bunk in "Blacksmith".

For the record the shower was powerful and very hot. It reminded me of doing PE at school in the winter and having a life saving shower after cross country running or playing gaelic football in subzero temperatures.

There was another thunder storm during the night and the ground was covered in very slushy snow when I walked into town. It was actually very Christmassy!! I spent the day exploring the city and climbing up to the castle.

I stayed in Ljubljana until Saturday morning, a combination of poor weather and having to wait for the bike shop to fit in the repairs to a couple of spokes. On Thursday I did a little sight seeing tour of the city centre using the guide. the sun was out again and the place looked very cheery. In both the Francisi\can Church in the Square and the Cathedral there were long lines of people for confession, religion is still taken seriously here.

The Cathedral has two doors beautifully cast in bronze.One is to commemorate the Pope's visit and the other represents the centuries of Christianity here. Inside there are paintings of saints on the wall that are so three dimensional that they actually look like statues. Behind and to the side of the Cathedral is the market, a colourful collection of fruit, veg, flower and local produce stalls. A bit of a cross between Henry St and Grafton St in Dublin.

After two nights having a 10 bed dorm to myself the hostel was full for Thursday and Friday. On the Thursday I had a drink with a Japonese student, studying Environmental politics in Germany. That was an interesting conversation.

Friday was dull and wet again and after collecting the bike I went to the Zoo. I haven't been to a zoo for years and thought it would be nice. Ljubljana zoo is in a forest park on the edge of town. I was particularly interested in seeing the animals that live wild in Europe. I had no idea there were so many types of deer and goat, and I m sure it was a moufflon that I saw in Cyprus after seeing them here. I don't thing I 'd like to meet the wolves alone though.

It was strange seeing the South American animals. Having seen so many macaws in the rainforest in Peru it was a little sad seeing them in an aviary here, the capybara looked like they were loving the rain and I only saw the puma as it disappeared into its covered enclosure. I got a better view of puma in the rainforest.(Jusyt had to mention that for all the gang from Greenforce who were at Bahuaja!!)

I went out for a quiet pint that night in the pub across the road. I got chatting to two local men, one a truck driver who spoke 3 or 4 words of English. The pother guy spoke a bit more and the barmaid did a lot of translation work for us. It was a great night. The trucker, complete with moustache, checked shirt and body warmer, produced a boarding pass for the Dover/Calais ferry. I retaliated with the Malta/Gozo ferry timetable. Hieroglyphics was the language of choice as I explained my trip to them and then I got a Slovenian lesson. The pair tried to teach the days of the week in Slovenian, at the time I could recite them perfectly, next morning, nothing!! They also refused to let me pay for any drink. I had 5 beers and paid for two.

The party broke up around midnight and I resisted the temptation to find another bar and sensibly went to bed.
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