We took a train from Vienna across the mountains through some of the most scenic villages of Austria. Over four hours later we arrived in Villach where we changed to a Slovenian train which took us on to Ljubljana. We were initially disappointed with the look of the town. Even the entrance to our hotel was just a big unmarked wooden door in a plain alley. Hidden behind the large door was an attractive and enormous old mansion. It turned out to be a beautiful place to stay and we had an oversize multi-room suite that even had its own piano. It was much larger than two people would ever need for such a short stay.
We didn’t realize until we wandered into the old town how wonderful our location was and how incredible Ljubljana is. It is now one of my favourite places in Europe and a highlight of our trip. We both hope to revisit again sometime. The old town is comprised of pedestrian walkways running along both sides of the Lublijanica River. It is lined with cafés and willow trees. It also has a tree covered hill which climbs above it with a castle on top. Dragons are a prevalent symbol here with statues guarding one of the bridges and as symbols on the manhole covers. The size of the city it is just about perfect; it is very cosy and we loved soaking up the atmosphere. We arrived on a Saturday and there was a festival taking place with outdoor basketball games being played in front of crowds in the open squares. The dj’s were cranking out the music and it was a great vibe. We ate that night in a recommended restaurant and had a nice meal in a hidden inner courtyard.
On Sunday we rented a car and drove to Bled. This is one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. It has clear blue water, a castle overlooking it on a hill and a little island in the middle of it. We rented bikes and rode around the entire lake taking in the views from all angles. Later we went to the nearby Vintgar Gorge. It was a perfect place to get away from the heat. They have built an impressive walkway deep in the gorge along the river. The wooden trail twists along the rock walls suspended above the water below. The water is crystal clear and it was easy to see the many fish in it. We made the 3+ km trek down and back enjoying the beauty of it all. We stopped for a break along the way and refreshed with the cold clean river water. We followed that with lunch at the head of the trail and had freshly caught brown trout. It was cooked in wine sauce and was delicious. We then went and visited Bled Castle before carrying on to the next and less touristy lake in Bohinj. It was large and scenic, but frankly a bit of a let down after Bled. In the evening we returned to Ljubljana. We wondered if it would still have good night life on a Sunday and were surprised to find out it did. All the basketball courts had been removed and the djs had been replaced with impressively talented young musicians throughout the old town.
On our final day we went to the top of the hill to visit the castle and continued to wander through the town. It was a low-key day for us and we had drinks and ice cream along the river. It was Monday and we were able to see what life was like with all the stores open. I highly recommend Slovenia. We were very impressed.