Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Slovenia: Ljubljana, Postonja Caves, & Lake Bled

One of my university professors once asked my class "do you know what the most romantic country is?"... the answer... "sLOVEnia because it has the word LOVE in it!" 

I don't know many, maybe not even anyone who has actually been to Slovenia. It just isn't as "on the map" as it's neighbouring countries to the west like Italy or Germany. But I wanted to come to Slovenia for the reason that this was the country my grandpa was born in, in the capital Ljubljana. 

I took a train from Flachau, Austria where I had spent New Years with some friends, to Ljubljana which was a very very beautiful train ride through the Julian Alps.

When I was checking in the girl at the front desk needed my passport... so I gave it to her, she looked at it and said "Klanchar (the actual pronunciation), you are Slovenian!? Do you speak Slovenian?" I was like "yeah, my grandpa was born here... and umm no, I don't speak anything but English!" I will assume it's a common name in Slovenia!?

I arrived quite late in Ljubljana but didn't want to waste any time so I headed out right away. The city was covered in heavy thick fog, which made it difficult to see but I read somewhere that Ljubljana is actually known for it's fog... apparently they have fog 121 days a year!

After grabbing dinner, I headed back to my hostel for a night's rest to set out again in the morning. In the morning I picked up a map at the tourist office. Everything was very central because Ljubljana is actually almost like an island, with the Ljubljanica River circling around the city like a ring. When you look at an ariel view of the city, the Ljubljana castle sits atop a  lush green hill right in the middle.

My day included all the major sites - the Ljubljana castle, town square, famous bridges (like the Dragon Bridge and the Triple Bridge), a few cathedrals, the Ljubljana university, a farmer's markets, town hall, and the Slovenian parliament building.

The city is quite old, which is evident just by the look of the buildings and the damage done from the earthquakes/floods. Actually, the infrastructure of the city is in quite poor condition because of these disasters.

I recommend the castle for anyone visiting Ljubljana because it can award you some very outstanding views. There are two options for those wanting to get to the top - a funicular (for a fee) or the walking trail (which has some steeper inclined sections but is free to do). 

Some small interesting facts I learnt were that:

- the Dragon is the symbol of Ljubljana, representing power and courage. (You can see it on many signs and statues around the city).
- Ljubljana is on the south part of the Eurasian Plate and therefore has had several earthquakes as well as floods in the past, 2 of which were quite severe
- After the devastation of the earthquakes and a flood, Ljubljana was re-built in similar style to Graz and Salzburg in Austria
- Slovenia is the 3rd most forested country in Europe (after Sweden and Finland), according to their tourism website

One of my days in Ljubljana was spent going to the Postojna Caves, one of the biggest tourist attractions in Slovenia and biggest Karst caves in the world, which are about 20km long and 2 million years old! The guided tour was available in multiple languages, split into different groups for each and lasted about 1.5hrs. The inside of the caves are relatively warm but make sure you wear a waterproof jacket and enclosed shoes! Some of the Karst columns and formations are literally jaw-dropping, their size is incredible! If your schedule allows it, don't miss Postojna Caves!

My last day in Slovenia was spent at Lake Bled. The lake has an intense emerald green color, and in the centre of it is a petite islet with a cute church on it... this lake is truly a picture perfect spot! From what I got, there was not a whole lot more you could do there other than walk around the lake, rent a boat to paddle around the lake in, or walk up to Bled Castle which was on a steep cliff overlooking the lake. Because of this, I couldn't imagine spending any more than one or maximum two days in Lake Bled. Nonetheless, make sure to stop for a picture or two if your passing through the area!

I think that's all... I hope you liked the post and get to enjoy some of the beautiful sights Slovenia has!


1 comment:

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