It was my last day in Slovenia for work and a friend very kindly offered to join me to do Ljubljana. I’m not sure who was more excited, me for having the chance to check out the smallest capital in Europe or my friend for experiencing the capital through my eyes. During the half hour drive from Kranj, which by the way is the 4th largest city in Slovenia, my friend dazzled me with some historical facts about the capital. Although it was clear she read the first page of google before picking me up, I was grateful nonetheless. Luckily I had a plan written down of the main things I wanted to check out.
With less than 300,000 inhabitants the city is tiny but I was smitten with how beautiful it was. The architecture of the buildings and their colours, the river weaving its way through the fairytale city just oozed a totally relaxed vibe. One of main highlights were the many bridges interspersed throughout.
Bridges, Bridges and Bridges
Our first stop was the Triple bridge. Arguably in the centre of the city, adjacent to Prešeren square. Where the statue of Frances Preseren, a 19th century romantic poet hailed as the biggest influencer Slovene literature proudly stands.
The Dragon bridge aptly named due to the gorgeous dragon statues adorning the pillars on the bridge was worth glance at best, because my favourite was Butchers Bridge, or its more appropriate name, Lovers bridge. Throughout my travels in Europe I have seen many “love locks”, however never to this quantity or concentration. The highlight here outside of the locks was a maturer woman who decided to film her own personal music video. With her friend holding the iPad recording her, she moved and mimed with not a care in the world. It was awesome and so much respect for her. I wanted to join.
After taking the requisite photos, we could not resist the smell of food no longer and headed to the once weekly Open Food Market, Odprta Kuhna. A food lovers dream, with all local restaurants and eateries showcasing their cuisines. It was fascinating walking through checking out every stall, mentally taking a note of which place to go back to. The only problem was there too many that we liked. The atmosphere was wonderful, full of people smiling, stuffing their faces, carrying food and drinks and getting food envy with each passer-by.
Coffee Session: Cafe Cokl
After stuffing our faces, naturally needed some coffee. Apparently with myself now being the tourist guide, I lead the way towards Cafe Cokl. Situated right at the entrance of the Castle, sitting outside on the terrace, we ordered coffee and lemonades. I loved the mosaic tables where my sweet slightly bitter espresso was resting. Inside it was actually very small, but there were little hidden gems everywhere. From cute coffee meme signs, to vintage telephones, coffee bean sacks and the shelf porn of goodies. I asked if I could take some pictures, the barista smiled, said of course but was nervous. He told me to wait a few minutes to clean up otherwise his boss may see the picture and think he’s not doing any work. Bless.
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Checking the time we still had time to check out the Castle, getting our tickets we waited for the cable car to take us up to the key landmark of the city. Apparently that evening a jazz concert was happening as well as a wedding. We were not appropriately dressed for neither. Riding the cable car was cool. Slowly ascending up you can admire the city and spot where we were walking. Exploring the grounds I was astonished of how well the refurbishment was to almost seamlessly merge the old with the new, considering most of the renovation took place during the 1960’s. Walking along the viewing platforms provides such a picturesque view of the city and slowly watching the sunset. It also appeared there was a park surrounding which would be a nice way to spend an afternoon. Trying to figure out other places to explore, we went through a gate past the Archery tower. Realising this was the wrong way we walked back and the security guard was closing the gate. He almost did not want to let us in, saying the Castle is closing. Yes sure, but how do you expect us to get out! He obviously did not give a shit, just wanted to close the gate. Comical.
Next up on the list was Metelkova. Apparently it is a 100% cool hip place to experience, with its street art and alternative vibe. Being a 10-15 minute walk from the Castle to the area, I did contemplate getting a taxi, before realising how lazy that sounded. Entering the place realised would have been cool during the day to fully appreciate the graffiti, but as it was night, the place was Emo Central. The young hip youth in their black clothes, inked bodies, piercings, drinking beer from cans, smoking, it was pretty cool. Secretly we were both like this in our respective youths, and we reminisced of that simpler time. I wanted to take more pictures, but noticing a sign stating “No photos, this is not a zoo”, I decided not to. Main reason being if we got in any kind of kerfuffle it would be difficult for us to run away quickly. One because I was in chelsea boots and secondly my friend was carrying an overcoat and umbrella, just in case it rained. It was irrelevant she was the only person in the whole city who thought that.
Coffee Session: Tozd
For a night cap the last place on my list was Tozd Coffee Bar. Situated along the embankment, with many other bars and restaurants, it was the perfect end to chilled out evening of exploring. The embankment in general was heaving, and the ambience perfectly complimented my coffee. Have to give credit to the waiters and waitresses here, they were so good at knowing what was going on. Service was great. Although we were sitting inside, the decor inside the place was amazing. Again a place that also needed to be visited during the day.
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Walking back towards the centre, exploring the many cute side streets and soaking up the Friday night vibes, I realised that I was slowly falling for this city. If you only have one evening to experience you could do most of the things the city has to offer, however not enough to truly appreciate. I will be back Ljubljana. Peace & Love.
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