Ljubljana

Another amazing weekend of traveling has come and gone. It was also the last weekend of travel for me this semester, but I do have an eleven-day trip to look forward to after the semester wraps up. I’ll get to that when it comes around though. Now there are only two more weekends left of the semester here in Salzburg, so I don’t plan on going anywhere.

This weekend a train brought me to the beautiful capital of Slovenia: Ljubljana. The city is strikingly similar to Salzburg. There are a lot of European cities like Salzburg (ones with a castle on a hill and a river that flows through), but Ljubljana has the same feel of Salzburg. For one, they’re about the same size in population. Their cathedrals are nearly identical, and both are surrounded by mountains. They’re both beautiful cities of course.

Salzburg Dom                                        Ljubljana Cathedral

I managed to get out of bed at 4:45 am on Saturday morning, had a quick breakfast, got my things together, and biked over to the train station to catch a 6 am train. What followed were two of the most beautiful train rides I’ve ever been on. The first ride was from Salzburg to Graz, a straight shot through the Alps. Since I was so tired, I fell asleep on the train and got woken up by the ticket checker in Graz (the last stop), but it wasn’t a problem. It was a bit of a fright at first when I no one was on the train anymore and I had to check when the next train left… I still had to wait another 20 minutes, so everything was fine. The train from Graz to Ljubljana was also amazing. For the most part, the route followed a river carving its way through the Slovenian mountains.

I arrived in Ljubljana in the pouring rain at 2 in the afternoon. Luckily, I brought my umbrella. I wandered my way through the city to the Airbnb I booked just two days prior. After some time, I found the apartment, and Sasha, my host welcomed me to their cozy little apartment. After getting settled in, I decided to visit the museum of modern art. It was quite an interesting museum because it featured only Slovenian artists, and the exhibit went in a chronological order starting with the beginning of the 20th century. The guide pamphlet explained the evolution and development of Slovenian art, and there were a lot of intriguing pieces.

Later in the evening, I came back to the apartment with no more plans for the day. Sasha, however, invited me to a dance event at the Ljubljana castle! He and his wife own and run a small dance school in Ljubljana, and he had helped to organized the occasion. He said it was a sort of social event with dancing, so I thought why not? I might meet some Slovenian people! We left together at 9:30 drove up to the castle.

I’m so glad I went! There were two dance floors, and a lot of older Slovenian couples. I sat down at a table and talked with a couple who own a bakery in Ljubljana. They brought a bunch of interesting pastries to try. Later, I met a man by the name of Vital, and learned all about his life and interests. He was such an interesting person to talk to. He is from Slovenia, and he lived for six years. He has degrees in design, economics, and mechanical engineering, and he started studying computer science in California. He started a tech business there with a friend that was very successful, but now he’s back in Slovenia. His passion is filmmaking now, and he told me all about a script for a movie he’s writing. Then he is also an avid dancer. Apparently several years ago, he won a few national gold medals in ballroom dancing.

After talking for a while, we went out to the dance floor and watched as Sasha led a sort of line dance that seemed quite complicated. Later on, Sasha started leading some folk dances where everyone did the individual dance at the same time (I’m sure there’s specific dancing term for the type…). So I attempted to dance along with everyone. It didn’t go too bad, and I didn’t understand a word of the instructions. I just [tried to] copy everything that Vital did, and it was a ton of fun!

After the dancing was done, we went back to the tables. I talked some more with Vital and met another Slovenian couple. Sasha and I ended up leaving at 1:30 in the morning! It was such an amazing night. There’s no way I would have experienced something like that if I stayed in a hotel or hostel. After being up for the most of the last 22 hours, I slept quite well that night.

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On Sunday, I managed to get out of bed at 8 am, and Sasha had set out some things for breakfast. Later, I left the apartment, and walked around Ljubljana for a bit, mostly along the river canal. After a while, I made my way to the Slovenian railway museum. There was an engine roundhouse with a bunch of different Slovenian steam engines. There was also an ambulance wagon that was used during World War I to transport injured soldiers to cities with hospitals. The second part of the exhibit had all sorts of switch control machines, uniforms, and random things. There was a sort of motorcycle for the rails. It looked like so much fun to drive!

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I walked around the outside of the round house where there were more engines and train cars, but most of them looked like they hadn’t been moved or touched in several decades. There was an abandoned building that might have been a factory or workshop. Most of the windows were shattered and it was completely empty. I walked around it, and looked in. It was kind of creepy because I was all alone. It seemed like a place where some illegal operation would have its hideout. It was really cool to walk around the museum ground though.

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After finishing my visit at the railway museum, I made my way back into the city center and visited the Metelkova street art area on the way there. In two squares, all of the buildings and everything was filled with art. It was mainly on the walls, but there were sculptures. It was an overwhelming amount of art, but it was cool to see a place where graffiti and public art is encouraged!

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After visiting the Metelkova, I picked up a döner kebab and walked over to Tivoli park to take a break and eat my lunch. It kind of hit me how tired I was when I finished eating, so I walked back to the apartment and relaxed for an hour or so. Feeling a bit recharged, I decided to walk up the castle hill to watch the sun set, and boy was it worth it. It was kind of cloudy, which made the sky so beautiful with the mountains and city… my pictures do only do a bit of justice to its beauty.

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For dinner, I did not go to a traditional Slovenian restaurant. Instead, I ate at an Indian restaurant that Sasha had recommended. He told me that the owner had gone to India, and hired some of the best cooks to come and work in Slovenia. Apparently some of his past guests had told him that they had only ever eaten Indian food that good in Europe in London. I had butter chicken, and it was fantastic!

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The castle lights up at night!

This morning I woke up early and caught a bus to Villach where I transferred to a train to Salzburg. I’m on it right now, and it should arrive in Salzburg in an hour. I almost think that this train ride was even more beautiful than the ones on the way to Ljubljana!

The weekend is over now, and it was probably one of the best ones all semester. Two more weeks in Salzburg now, and I’m starting to get both eager to be back in the states, but at the same time sad because leaving Salzburg won’t be very easy.

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