Ljubljana, the “Beloved One”
Ljubljana. The name itself says it all…Well, at least for those who speak Slovene. But for those who don’t… It means “Beloved One”. In a faraway place, not so obvious to the eye, right beside the Italian boot, lies a chicken shaped country, named Slovenia. And in the heart of it you can find the capital city Ljubljana, the “Beloved One”. It can’t get any cheesier than that right? But it can! And this is the story.
I have been strolling the streets of Ljubljana since forever. I was growing up here, then I was growing up somewhere else and went back and forth, then went away just to come back again. So, you see, I’ve seen it through a young child’s eyes holding Mom’s hand, I’ve wondered about it as a schoolgirl, I’ve tasted it as a student. Then I went away, living elsewhere and travelling the world until I decided to come back. And I can honestly say that, at first, it felt like I was experiencing Ljubljana as a tourist. An old, slightly distant friend, so familiar and yet so new. One thing is for sure, Ljubljana never ceases to amaze me. I always wonder how can a place so small hold so many treasures. You never walk the same street twice. Inspiration ready to be uncovered at every corner.
A city, where the building named the Skyscraper has 13 floors. A city small and charming, old and new, crowded and private, easy to go around, easy to “get lost” in but hard to lose your way, very artistic in every way, so alive and beautiful when asleep, green, fresh and fluid, can be very chatty and friendly but knows how to give you space when you need it. This city has everything that the big ones have (minus the subway) and all in a walking or city cycling distance, or in a short city bus drive. And to top that off, it is a perfect starting point to take a trip to anywhere in Slovenia and get there in almost no time at all. I mean, honestly, it takes about 3,5 hours of driving to get across Slovenia, from head to the heel of the chicken. So from the heart of it, you can reach the sea or the mountains in an hour drive. But that is another story.
A Great City in a small package
Back in tiny Ljubljana…so much of wonderful awaits! A wonder world for all your senses and more. Great coffee to go and great coffee to stay, comfortable sitting settings inside and out with heartwarming views of the “Beloved one”. Amazing culinary pleasures of all preferences that will blow your mind away and there’s lots from everywhere in the world to choose from and, of course, a whole lot of deliciously authentic you can try and take with you at a fairly affordable prices.
They say that the beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but no matter how demanding of a beholder you are, Ljubljana will not let you down. The fairy tale-like image of the Old Town is simply mesmerizing, with old and beautiful buildings along the river Ljubljanica with multiple bridges crossing it, each and every one with a unique character, like the Dragon bridge, the Triple bridge, or the see through Butcher’s bridge which, interesting enough, is Ljubljana’s love bridge with love locks and all. And then there are the squares with their stories, statues and fountains. And there are charming parks and streets with not much of the sound pollution from cars, since you can’t drive in the Old Town. So you can actually hear the buzzing chitchat of people, children playing, the singing birds and the music of various street performers or coffee shops. The only vehicle (besides the bikes) driving around this area, are the nature and people friendly small electric “cars” called Kavalir, which means a Gentleman, that you can hop on or call if you, for any reason, have trouble walking. And above it all on the hill is the “Beloved one’s” crown, the Ljubljana Castle, that lights up in colors when the night falls.
Best time to visit
No matter the season, each brings out a whole new face and a whole new rhythm but the beauty never fades and you can always find something to do or to be absorbed by. Especially in spring and summertime everything is so alive with Festivals, parties, open air concerts and events, open kitchens, food and wine tasting, marathons, celebrations, pillow and bubble battles, dancing, canoeing or taking a boat tour on Ljubljanica river, walk through the beautiful Tivoli park or chill out on, so called, Ljubljana beach… And autumn carries it on and on up until christmasy lit up December still very wintery alive and magical. Then all slightly quiets down as the winter wraps the city in a mysterious veil of mostly indoor happening until it all fully wakes up in the spring and around we go again. And no matter the weather, may it rain, snow or shine there is always a shelter to be found and you don’t need to worry if you forget something in your hostel or hotel room for it is probably just around the corner or two.
I simply love the way I never get tired of the same streets. They find the way to enchant me every time.
Surely, as a visitor, you can see it all in a day or two but I tell you, that is only an introduction. If you were to take more time and dive deeper, that’s where the real magic gradually unfolds, the doors open and you are in and you are hooked. So easy to fall in love with, so home like, with warm and friendly people always ready to help. Definitely worth a visit and you’ll probably want to come back.
They say all roads lead to Rome, but Ljubljana feels more like it. The heart of sLOVEnia, the “Beloved one” that reveals herself to you in layers, a gentle lover that takes you whole.