We had left half of Ljubljana for another day as we were too tired to see it all on the first day we arrived. The other day landed up being the day we got back from Postojna caves as it was relatively early and more importantly, less rainy. As hubby and kid refused to accompany me, and chose to watch TV in Slovenian at the hotel instead, I spent the better part of 3 hours getting lost in the little alleyways of Ljubljana.
Enamored as I was by the river Ljubljanica and its pretty bridges, I naturally headed straight to the triple bridge where an old man was playing haunting tunes with his accordion. Kids, all bundled up against the cold, were running about or cycling. People were walking their dogs. This was a Sunday, locals day out. And they all looked happy.
I turned right at the bridge, instead of left as I had earlier, to see a most alluring sight of small charming buildings of every pastel shade imaginable. All along the river were small restaurants with tables laid with colorful tablecloths, fresh flower bunches and light flares enclosed in glass, all covered by large umbrellas.
As I moved ahead, I could see that the buildings on this side were even more intricately decorated. Each one in pastel with carvings above each window and at all corners. Music was playing from all the restaurants. More bridges crossed the small river, gushing stronger now because of the rain.
On the castle side of the river were fabulous stores with stunningly arranged shop windows. Stores selling lace products and children’s clothes and shoes were adorned so well that it look a tremendous amount of self-control to stop me from going in. There were quaint “shop around the corner” type shops. I could easily picture Meg Ryan walking out of one with a board for a book reading.
The restaurants were so inviting too, one with a bear playing an accordion, another with a chef holding up his blackboard menu of the day.
I walked ahead, trying to balance the downloaded audio route, the Rick Steves’ suggested walking tour, the dslr and my own roving eyes. There’s just so much that one can do at a time, and one can come upon a wall, occasionally.
But natural that I ended up getting thoroughly lost. And quite pleased in the process. After passing the “café” zone, where the kid had whined and whined for hot chocolate, I suddenly came upon a large green square with several important looking buildings with the castle seen again in the background. The only thing to mar the beauty of this solemn place was a ugly yellow crane with some funny contraption near it, which on closer inspection, was a long dining table with lots of chairs. This was a “dinner in the sky” event with diners treated to an elaborate meal high up in the sky. It seemed odd that anyone would consider this a gourmet experience, I would be terrified out of my wits.
By now, I was very tired but still determined to find Metelkova, the art district of Ljubljana with all the graffiti and art installations. I ended up roaming here and there, and seeing streets with stores that would have driven my sister crazy, but there was no sight of Metelkova. I figured out later that I would have had to take a bus to reach there and so just gave up. Using the bright pink Franciscan church as a guide, I found my way back eventually.
Ljubljana prides itself on being the green capital of Europe. There are large pedestrian-only areas and lots of gardens and green areas. Cycles are everywhere to be seen. It’s not uncommon to see people cycling with one hand, umbrella in the other. In fact when the 3 of us had been roaming about together, one of the brat’s biggest Veruca moments had been, “Daday, I want to bycle. Get me a bycle daddy. ” In the same whiny tone as Veruca Salt of Charlie and the chocolate factory. Bycle, by the way, is not a spelling mistake. That’s what she actually called it.
I went home late, tired, very cold, with a dslr full of pictures. Hubby and kid were tired of seeing Slovenian tv and now wanted to step out. Instead I suggested heading out at night to see the night views of beautiful Ljubljana. As things happened, 2 lazy people never went out again and I braved the cold and dark to see some part of lit Ljubljana at least.
There were people along the road to the square but far and few, and I admit I was a little scared walking alone. But when I reached the Preseren square, I was thrilled to see a very different Ljubljana. Lit up in simple colors of yellow, pink and green, the square was a buzz of activity. All the tables outside the cafes were filled, despite the cold. The triple bridge was all lit as were all the buildings around. The castle was illuminated by a green light emphasising green Ljubljana. More magical than day? No. Almost as much? Certainly.
Looking back, I feel that Ljubljana has to be the most romantic city I have ever been to. She makes Venice look touristy and artificial. She has all the charms of Paris and the style too, without the enveloping hugeness of Paris. I can see myself here for days, book in hand, lounging at a riverside café or enjoying open-air garden book-reads in Tivoli Park, strolling down the river or perhaps, learning to “bycle”.
P.S. My apologies for a photo-heavy post. The blame is sorely Yogesh’s for making my pictures so beautiful that I didn’t know which one to exclude.