My good friend Rohini just moved to Geneva, and I have never been to Switzerland! So that was reason enough to plan a trip! It turned out the cheapest destination to fly to, from Cork was to Ljubljana! – another reason to be happy!
The journey started off on a bad note with my flight from Cork to London Stansted being delayed for almost 4 hours! Fortunately, I had about 5 hours between my flights at Stansted, but I had to make a desperate run for it. I managed to make it by just a few minutes!
It was a rainy day as I landed in Ljubljana. I’m not really a city-tourist, but Ljubljana, being the smallest capital city in the EU intrigued me. Even though Ljubljana was just a stopover, and I wasn’t really planning to stay there, I decided to make the best use of available time.
Rewind about 2 months earlier ……. I had wanted to book an ‘advance saver fare (SparSchiene)’ train ticket from Ljubljana to Switzerland, and it turns out that you cannot book it online directly. There are ‘agent’ websites that could do it for you, but they charge a lot of fees! I turned to the Couchsurfing community. As usual, it restored by faith in humanity. I found Marko, a very active member of Ljubljana Couchsurfing, who offered to go to Ljubljana railway station and buy the ticket for me!
So, back to the present ….. I met up with Marko, who took me to a shop to get an umbrella the first thing! After a pleasant walk through Ljubljana, we went to Metalkova (Ljubljana’s Christiania). It’s kind of a self-proclaimed city situated on a former military base, now an urban squat, it is the centre for underground music and art. There are no signposts to follow to reach here, but once you are inside, you will definitely feel the difference!
Then, we visited Celica – a hostel in a ex-prison building. It’s a fascinating place with friendly staff. Definitely worth checking out or staying in, if you plan to visit Ljubljana! After collecting my train tickets and saying goodbye to Marko, I walked around a bit by myself and had dinner at Loving Hut just opposite to the railway station, a vegan buffet restaurant, which was simply brilliant! There was a huge variety of things to choose from, and just pay by weight. It was so good that would end up eating here the next day as well!
As night fell and the lights turned on, Ljubljana turned into a magical place! Even though the rain added a beautiful feel, it would have been lovely if it were not raining. I could stay have stayed walking as long as I wanted!It was a lovely end to the night!
I woke up early the next day and was planning to visit Bled. I really hope the weather would be better because it would be a pity to visit a beautiful place like Bled on a badly rainy day. When I looked out of the window in the morning, I was not happy at all! But having lived in Ireland for a while, I just repeated to myself, “Rain is beautiful too, rain is beautiful too”, and mustered up the courage to get out of bed and catch a bus towards Bled. As I was nearing Bled, the weather seemed to clear up, and I was absolutely over the moon!
When I reached Bled, I had expected the place to be filled with tourists, since it was still summer and kind of the high season. But to my surprise, there were very few people! I walked around the lake all the way across to the other side and hiked up to a viewpoint called Ojstrica. It was about half an hour to get up there, and there was literally nobody on the trail! When I reached the top, I had the place all to myself, and the view … I guess, that’s what one calls breathtaking!
I had the most delicious vegan burger in Zaziv vegan bar in Bled! It filled me up until dinner late at night back at Loving hut in Ljubljana!
Back in Ljubljana, I met up with Ana, an old friend from the Ghent University Choir! There’s something about old friends and especially ones connected with music! We went up to Ljubljana castle, and along the way Ana described her times as a kid growing up in Ljubljana, and memories from little corners en route up the hill – something that I absolutely love about meeting people! Sometimes amidst all the natural beauty, it is easy to forget that it is people and their stories that make up cities and villages! We had a lazy stroll around the castle and a coffee in the city. Then I was on my way on the night train towards Switzerland and meeting more friends!