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Lovely Ljublijana, Slovenia

October 03, 2007

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Lost in the dark in a foreign city, is not our idea of fun, but we lingered too long in Istria on the way here, so that made finding our campground in Ljubljana in the dark a stressful entry. On top of that we have been passing colds around the family since I picked up a bug in Split and DaVinci, our driver had a the worst version thus far. We also had to get out the heater as the nights were getting cold and camping is always a little harder in the fall as there is more drizzle and mud to contend with.

DaVinci took his Nyquil and we all plopped into bed exhausted and a little cranky  with the frustration and constraints of fast travel. Things, as usual, looked better in the morning sun. Mozart was thrilled to see that we were parked right in front of a nice playground which we had not realized in the dark.

It was particularly handy because they had internet from each campsite (for a price), so we could work on the internet while watching her play. We decided to add another day or so here to give DaVinci time to rest and sleep as his cold seemed more like a flu and he heals best by sleeping.

Like most Americans, we knew little about Ljubljana or Slovenia, other than it was part of the former Yugoslavia like Croatia and Montenegro. It gained its independence in 1991 and is very popular with European tourists, is richer than most central European nations and uses the euro. It is called the greenest country in Europe with lovely countryside and the Julian Alps (named after Julius Caesar).

We stayed at Camping Jezica in a northern suburb because it has easy access by bus to the Old Town. It may or may not be great in high season, but it served our purposes well this fall and very few people were there in late September. Mozart was disappointed that the water park and pools were already closed, but the weather was too cold for swimming anyway.

There were a bunch of school kids there that were ten and eleven doing a wilderness training ropes course. They looked liked they were having fun swinging through the trees and it brought back memories from the time I did that many years ago when I lived in Los Angeles.

Mozart played and played by herself in the cute playground and sometimes we joined in with her play. She decided the “car” was her RV and she got me to squeeze in to take a ride to a few cool places that she “drove” to. She really loved the big sand pit though, as she has not seen one in some time and she got out her bucket and collected umpteen nuts to created a really interesting city with a complex creative explanation for every detail that her dad got on video. I love the things she comes up with and can hear part of our travels in her made up explanation.

She was also happy to see some unusual monkey bars as they use to be her favorite at home and this one gave her a new challenge. Europe seems filled with wonderfully inventive playgrounds, much different from most at home and always a favorite area for Mozart to explore.

We did make it into the pretty small city the second day which is the largest in Slovenia, but seemed cozy and we all enjoyed it. Some call it a mini Prague and it has lovely pedestrian bridges, willow-lined streets, imperial Austrian and Slavic architecture. There was an organic (they call it biological in Europe) festival and market going on which only happens twice a year and that added to the festive mood. We bought some yummy fresh fruit and vegetables to snack on and DaVinci really liked the work of a craftsperson who made some beautiful wreaths out of dried flowers and shells. We would have bought one, but it is not something that would travel well.

Mozart managed to find another sand pit there and played with some local kids while we talked to the man who was running that site. We were surprised to hear that they just had a day of morning for one of the worst disasters in their country in centuries where six people had died and much damage due to floods and mudslides. That storm that we caught as we left Plitvicka Park, created extreme havoc in an area near where we had planned to visit later in Bohinj where there is a beautiful glacial lake. We had not seen that much rain so it was quite a shock as things were sunny and normal in Ljubljana.

One of the things we really liked were some very cool doors on a famous church there which I have now forgotten the name of. They were made out of metal and one had a bunch of popes heads in detailed 3D amongst other things and were just huge. They also had some great frescoes inside and out and I particularly liked the ceiling. Of course, Mozart had to go in to light a candle and say a prayer for her Grandfather and perhaps the prayers are working as he seems to be getting better which makes us happy!

We did not take a tour, just wandered around the Old Town to get a feel for the place and looked up a few places from our books. You would think after so many months of travel we would be sick of a it, but some how it is always exciting to explore a new place, although at this point we don't mind doing a light approach and did not bother with every museum or castle. When we travel fast, we mainly want to get just a taste of a place.

We happily stumbled across a cafe for dead people that was filled with bones and a popular pit stop for the many students here and the dragon bridge actually pleased us more than the famous triple bridge. Mozart manage to find some street musicians to give some coins to and it was a perfect sunny, crisp fall day ripe for explorations and enjoying the market.


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Dan Stevens

I really liked Ljubljana. I stayed in a hostel in the city, and at night the bridges over the river are lit up in various colours. I used this place as a base as I visited the Skocjan Caves, well worth the visit.

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