Memories of Our Ljubljana Adventure

In mid-July 2019, my partner and I were fortunate enough to tick lovely Ljubljana off our bucket lists. The city well and truly left its mark on my heart, so much so, in fact, that I was compelled to write an article about it.

From its mesmerising clash of colours to its happy-go-lucky demeanour that vibrates throughout, Ljubljana sits in a class all of its own.

Sunday morning in Ljubljana... Is there a dreamier disposition?

Sharing the day of rest with one of Europe’s most wonderfully laid-back cities is nothing short of a blessing, as we discovered during our recent visit to the capital.

Perfectly nestled between Italy and Croatia, Slovenia well and truly holds its own and boasts individual unique charm and culture in abundance. Dripping in the most sumptuous, panoramic emerald countryside, Slovenia and its landscape behold the effortless ability to make jaws drop and ignite awe-struck inspiration. And there is no better location to boast all of this splendour than Ljubljana.

Our Slovenian adventure begun in Koper, and we took a drive to our desired destination: Ljubljana, the country’s capital. The highway was a slender snake wriggling between the sandwich of endless greenery spanning out either side. The journey took around an hour and a half, and was one of the most picturesque drives of my life.

Forget the ‘Emerald City’ – this is the Emerald Country! The untamed beauty of Slovenia’s mesmerising vegetation almost has to be seen to be believed. The sheer blazing mass of it only comes to a reluctant end at the foot of the far-off mountain ranges in the distance, which circle the country like wisps of smoke.

Mention Slovenian beauty spots, and one would not be blamed for thinking solely of Lake Bled, however, it seems to be an appealing factor that has spread countrywide!

Sunday presented as a balmy morning, and the sun was premature in the cornflower sky. Upon arrival in Ljubljana, we took an early stroll down by the river, the rays lazily pirouetting above us, engulfing our every step in contented warmth. The river pulsates through the heart of the city, dominated by a series of dramatic bridges, including the impressive Dragon Bridge.

The city unravelled its charm alongside the dawning of the day, and we basked in the blissful unfolding merriment on the streets.

Numerous stalls selling an intriguing array of antique items spayed out along the riverbank – the ideal place to pick up a souvenir with a difference! A further stall piled high with second-hand books caught my eye. Edging closer, I played the spines of the diverse selection of books like a piano, marvelling at their tattered covers, well-worn pages and that ‘old book’ smell that simply cannot be rivalled. Behind the stall, boxes of books overflowed onto the pavement. Pure heaven for book-worms both old and young alike, as the array boasted something for everyone.

Shaded by the branches of the dancing trees overhead, the makeshift stalls were a joy to discover and had seemingly attracted the attention of locals and tourists.

Locals paused from walking their dogs to browse the antiques and books, chatting happily with the stallholders. All around us, the air was laced with laughter and tranquillity.

An immaculate city with spiralling streets decked out by pristine, modern buildings gives way to the Old Town, which lies beyond the river. The superlative statures outlining the Congress Square provide a sharp distinction to those making up the Old Town, which is steeped in olde-worlde allure.

The vibrant contrast of old and new set amongst the shimmering greenery under the canopy of the blazing summer sun is an explosive blend. Ljubljana is a city that one will hold close to their heart long after their visit has ended.

The Old Town was pleasantly bustling, without possessing that overly-busy facade that some cities sadly fall victim to. It remained wondrously upbeat and atmospheric while retaining its peace and laidback pace.

The shopping haven on display was diverse and ranged from Lush to individual quirky gifting emporiums. Whether one is looking to treat themselves, splash the cash on some expensive clothes and accessories, or simply bag the best souvenirs, Ljubljana’s city centre will far from disappoint.

The definitive horizon of Ljubljana is undoubtedly the Castle, which stands, domineering, atop a dazzling green hillside overlooking the city below. Cool, cosmopolitan and cultural in generously equal amounts, Ljubljana shyly flourishes its selling points from every angle.

Thrillingly uncovering the many layers and dimensions of Ljubljana is comparable to finally being able to unwrap the mystery-doused presents under the Christmas tree.

We took the glass funicular railway up to the Castle. Our view of Ljubljana faded into a mere toy-town as we climbed higher and higher up the hillside. (Side note: I am the biggest wimp ever and even get vertigo looking down the stairs, but I found the funicular to be a short, smooth ride. A few seconds of swallowing your fear of heights is well worth it for the views at the top.)

The view of the city from the Castle was outstanding. From above, the city’s divisions were obvious: the towering mountain range marking the horizon, the orange roofs of the Old Town, and the vast spillage of shrubbery and trees. The merge was magnificent. The best of both worlds; city and countryside, with the added bonus of a shared location.

The city could almost be described as romantic from above, and a more picture-perfect outlook you will struggle to seek in Ljubljana. It is no wonder happy couples adorn the city bridges with love-locks after being captivated by their setting.

Back in the town, we replenished ourselves at one of the riverside cafes. What could be better than the sun, an ice-cold drink, and a cake? Ah yes - sun, an ice-cold drink, and a cake in Ljubljana, of course! We basked in our fairytale surroundings, savouring every mouthful of the best cake I have ever eaten, relishing the feel of the sun on our legs.

Time appears to stand still in Ljubljana, in a way that gently enforces its heavenly serenity on all in its company.

A 45-minute drive down the road from Ljubljana will take one to Lake Bled, via yet more spine-tingling scenery en route. I can now confirm that no amount of professional photography and editing can do this spot justice.

The city and the natural beauty collide in ferocious fashion, showcasing the elements that have since seen Slovenia rocket up in my list of favourite countries.

The glistening jade surface waltzes away from the eye-line, fringed by luscious forests. Grab an ice-cream at the lakeside, daringly dip your toes in the cool water amongst the fish, or hike up to the castle; the memories you will make at Lake Bled will only shape and enhance your ever-growing Slovenian love affair.

To me, Ljubljana wasn’t just a place, it was a feeling. There is something incredibly soothing about walking beneath the tree-lined riverside pathways, the Old Town on one side, the New Town on the other. Very rarely have I beheld the privilege to visit a city that dances so effortlessly with history and innovation in a single heartbeat.

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