I feel sLOVEnia

Trip Start Aug 10, 2010
Trip End Oct 28, 2010

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Where I stayed
Villa Veselova

Flag of Slovenia  ,
Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The time had come to leave Croatia. After almost 3 weeks in that beautiful country, I was ready to explore other parts of Eastern Europe. Many of the travelers I had met along the way mentioned how beautiful the city of Ljubljana (pronounced Lubiyana) in Slovenia was, so I decided to check it out. It was only a two hour train ride from Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, so I got a train at about 9 pm and arrived at about 11. When I arrived I went straight to my hostel and prepared for my first full day in Slovenia. 

The next day I woke up bright and early to take a free walking tour of the city. While walking to the meeting spot, I noticed a young girl with an "F" scribbled on her cheek. I thought maybe it was a gothic thing, but I as I got closer and closer to the city center, I noticed more and more teens with F's written all over their faces and arms. It was really peculiar, and I later found out by our tour guide that it was the first day of school, and this was a hazing for freshman. But the "F" actually stood for the Slovenian word for chicken, when the hazing used to be much harsher when they would make the kids act like chickens. 

Moving on, I met a bunch of travelers from France, Australia, the UK, and even California for the free walking tour. I was very surprised at how organized and clean Ljubljana was. I later learned that is the most developed of all the Balkan countries, with a very strong economy. It was the first to claim independence from Yugoslavia, and the war there only lasted 10 days, since both sides already felt it was separate to begin with.

The city was very picturesque, with a river running through it, lined with trees and cafes. There were many squares where everyone met before they went out for coffee or drinks. We walked through the city, learning about the famous poet Perseren who is their most regarded countryman. Which is interesting, because in most countries, you have statues of famous war heroes or presidents, and here its a poet. After the tour, I went with a few of the other travelers up to the fortress over looking the city to get a better view. We got an amazing 360 degree view of the entire city, with the snowy Apls in the background.  After the long hike back down to the city, we all went to a traditional Slovenian restaurant and had Cevacipci, which is like small meatballs, only in the shape of a hotdog

Later that night I met another couch surfer for drinks named Jasna (Yasna). She had a long day at work so we sat by a river side cafe and drank glass after glass of wine, while we talked about each other's countries and cultures. After drinks, we met up with some of her friends and went to a called called "Top" as it was on top of one of the highest buildings in Ljubljana (which was about 30 stories high). It was R&B night so the music was pretty good, and we all danced together for a few hours before calling it a night.

The next day I woke up early because I wanted to pack in as much as possible in my last full day in Slovenia. The two things I had heard the most about as far as things to see in Slovenia were lake Bled and the caves. Both were about an hour away from Ljubljana. I decided to go to the lake first thinking that if I missed the cave I could do it in the morning before my flight the next day. So I caught the first bus I could for the one hour ride to lake bled. Once I arrived, I could see what everyone was talking about. It was a beautiful lake surrounded by snow covered alps and lush tress all around. In the middle was a small island that had an old monastery on it. I could feel how fresh the air was there the second I stepped out of the bus. I took a stroll around the lake for about an hour or two and started to head back to try and make the last cave tour at 5 pm that night. After another 1 hour ride back to town, I ran to another bus that would take me south to Postjana for another 1 hour ride. I was cutting it really close, arriving in the city at about 4:30, but then I had to walk another 20 minutes or so to get to the caves. Well I made it just in time to catch the last tour of the day. I have to say it was totally worth the effort. 

We started off by sitting in a small train that would take us a few hundred meters down under the mountain. We were wooshing down into the darkness with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites all around. The train dropped us off at the lowest point where we would continue on foot with a guide. We walked for about an hour through cave after cave filled with stone deposits of all shapes and colors. They also had an aquarium with an amphibian that you can only find in this cave in all the world. It looked like a snake but with hands and legs, no eyes and no color; they call it the "human fish." After that we ended in a cave that is actually used as an amphitheater for musical events and religious ceremonies and is able to fit around 8,000 people. Once the tour ended I took a long hike back up to the city, where this time I had to catch a train back to the city. 

Earlier in the day I received a call from a friend of my brothers who lived in Ljuljana. He had met her and her sister when he was traveling in Spain the year before. So I met up with them for drinks that night. As it turns out, one of the sisters, Marika, had become Miss Slovenia and had recently returned from Las Vegas where she competed for the crown of Miss Universe. Be that as it may, she and her sister were very friendly and down to earth. We went up to a lounge that was pretty posh, even for LA standards at the top of another of the tallest buildings in town. Both had a lot to do in the morning so they left early and I actually met up with Jasna again as she was at a private party for a local TV station. They had turned an old city ampitheater into a club basically, with free drinks and catering. Jasna got me in and I enjoyed the rest of the night with free booze and appetizers. 

The next day I had a few hours to spare before my flight to Belgrade, so I hung out around the city and finally got a haircut. After that haircut, I will now know that a number 3 blade in Europe is a lot shorter than a number 3 blade in America :) 

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Oskar on

i actully remember you taking a picture of us writen in F's haha :)
and a great entry on Ljubljana ;)

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