A Miniature Europe

Trip Start Jun 02, 2010
Trip End Oct 03, 2010

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Where I stayed
Hostel Print

Flag of Slovenia  ,
Friday, August 27, 2010

Another of the many things one learns while traveling is that a ridiculous amount of wonderful places get overlooked by tourists.  One such place is the country of Slovenia.  Unlike it's neighboring countries Italy, Austria, and Croatia, Slovenia has stayed out of the spotlight.  However, people seem to be catching on to the magic that is Slovenia.  And who could help but fall in love with the great variety of beauty to be found in this occasionally forgotten place.

When I first got off the train in Ljubljana I had absolutely no idea where my hostel was or how to get to it.  I was a bit amazed at my lack of concern.  At the beginning of my travels I would have been freaking out, not knowing exactly where I was going.  But somewhere in between Ireland and Croatia I relaxed.  I realized that things will work out how they work out, what's the point in worrying about it?  So I excited the train, free of worry and excited to be in yet another country.  I managed to find the tourist information office, which had perhaps the nicest customer service person I had met to date.  She was falling over herself to explain the bus system to me, giving me advice on what to see, etc.  And I didn't even really need to act.  Perfect.  She pointed me in the right direction and I ended up at my hostel.

I am staying at Hostel Print.  Now, this hostel may not have been centrally located, but it is probably one of the best I have stayed in so far.  The minute I got there I knew I loved it.  The girl who greeted me and showed me around the hostel was as friendly as could be.  The facilities themselves are clean and well kept.  Every morning we get a specially made breakfast that we order the day before.  I prefer the eggs and bacon because they are mmm, mmm good!  And my room!  Oh, my room.  I am in a four person dorm, but each bed is in it's own cubicle with lamp and side table so that it feels as if you have your own room.  AND each room comes with a refrigerator, which is oh so convenient.  Needless to say I was happily surprised by my hostel and the people running it.  And I'm happy to say I was also pleasantly surprised by the city of Ljubljana and Slovenia, or what I saw of it, in general.

My first day in Ljubljana I spent walking around the town.  Even though my hostel is not the most central, it is still within walking distance of the city center.The city of Ljubljana is beautiful in it's variety.  While the majority of the architecture is Baroque in style, one can still find remnants of the Roman occupancy.  And it is perhaps the detailed eccentricities that one can find in the architecture around the city that makes Ljubljana so unique.

I wandered through the old town, which is mostly on the southeast side of the Ljubljanica River that runs through the city center.  The old town is what one would expect: cobbled streets lined with extravagant stores and a castle perched up on a hill.  I debated about walking up to the castle and decided I've walked up enough hills for now.  So instead I focused on finding all those little eccentricities I just mentioned.  I found a wonderful little market on my way to the Dragon Bridge (literally a bridge decorated with dragons, the symbol of Ljubljana).  There were all kinds of fruits and vegetables, baked and candied nuts, and REALLY cheap clothing to be seen.  Once I had found the Dragon Bridge I crossed back over to the West side of the river, where I enjoyed watching people walk along the waterfront.  I was even nicely surprised by coming across a Mariachi band!  Who would have thought the next time I heard the phrase "Ai, yai, yai, yai..." would be in Slovenia?  It made me think of home.  And then it made me laugh to see what a big crowd the group had drawn.  I guess we're always fascinated by the foreign.

After I passed the band I found one of the neatest things in the city: The Triple Bridge.  This is quite literally three bridges, built in sequence so they form a fork-like connection between the two sides of the river.  After I had my fill of pictures I continued to wander up and down the streets of Ljubljana.  I found my way to a lovely park that was filled with families enjoying each other's company on a summer afternoon.  Eventually I found my way back to the hostel where I made myself a delicious dinner and went to bed early.

My second day in Ljubljana I decided to spend at Lake Bled.  I can't quite remember where I had heard about Lake Bled, but I knew I wanted to go there.  Plus this gave me a chance to see more of Slovenia.  And what a beautiful country it is.  This place literally has a little piece of all those things that make Europe so enticing: You have the Alps to the north, the sea to the south, and all kinds of lakes and rolling hills in between.  It is often referred to as "the Sunny Side of the Alps" or "the Green Piece of Europe" and one can easily see why.

After and easy bus ride from Ljubljana I found myself in a summer vacation town.  I could tell right off the bat that this was a place where families came to relax.  You had the lovely lake, which provided one with plenty of water sports; the surrounding forests and hills, which would please any outdoors-man; and plenty of shops and restaurants for those who love to spend some money.  So, like I do in so many places, I just wandered about, from one side of the small town to the other.  It really was quite a pleasant day.

My few days that I spent in Slovenia were not in enough in my opinion.  I guess I could say that about all the places I have visited, but there is something special about Slovenia.  Perhaps it is the people, all of whom spoke sublime English, that are so friendly and eager to help.  Or perhaps it is the quality and variety of all the places one can see.  Whatever it is I doubt Slovenia will remain off the tourist radar for long.  My parents have even told me there was an article about it in this months edition of National Geographic: Travel magazine.  Well, there goes the neighborhood.
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