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December 2016
Stropnik Naveršnik Nastja
Volunteer of Hostelling International Slovenia
nastja.stropnik@gmail.com
glasnanaja.blogspot.com

Wandering around the streets of Ljubljana
Despite of being one of the smaller European capitals, it is written in my heart as one of the most beautiful ones. Ljubljana is a city that instantly inspires you to fall in love with her at the first sight. The city centre under the castle, divided by the River Ljubljanica into two parts, the old town and the new Ljubljana, is full of life, people and events, no matter the season, part of the day or weather conditions.



Businessman in an elegant black suit with briefcase in hand hurries over the Three Bridges to his next meeting, classy middle aged lady in a blue skirt and black heels rides her old pony bike down the Čopova street towards the Zvezde café – probably to meet with a friend, drink a cup of coffee and treat herself with a delicious cake – students spend their free, sunny afternoons after school on the banks of Ljubljanica river, a group of Asian tourists with their Nikons blocks the streets between Filip chateau and Kresija when they try to capture Ljubljana Castle with their cameras. Next to the statue of France Prešeren an older gentleman in Slovenian national costume is stretching his accordion. And this is why I love it – it is the city of diverse traditions, customs, religions and styles, where nobody is judged and nobody wags a finger at anyone. Ljubljana is a small town of major attractions. It is a place where already the first autumn colours bring the delicious smell of roasted chestnuts, where in December there is no places where people would not enjoy one of the many performance stages with live music, warming theirs fingers with a glass of mulled wine, and where the summers are the most beautiful while drinking a cup of aromatic coffee along the Ljubljanica river, having long conversations with friends. That is why I love it so much!

 
Through Jakopič avenue onto the green meadows of Tivoli
Lately I often visit the capital – with a particular reason or just because. This time I visited my friend Neja and together we began to stroll through the hidden and less hidden corners of Ljubljana. First we visited the Tivoli park, Ljubljana's largest park, which is just a stone's throw away from the city centre. Through the underpass the pathway lead us into a beautiful park. We walked through Jakopič avenue towards the mansion and watched an exhibition of photographs. Park visitors are welcomed by the photographic exhibition through the whole year. This is definitely one of the finest open exhibitions in the country. The park is always full of people – either runners, dog walkers, pregnant women practicing yoga on the lawn, or dancers that under a canopy of trees, along the energetic Latin rhythms, acquire new salsa steps. We chatted for quite some time on the pier at the boathouse, because we haven’t seen each other for a long time. But due to our long list of things to see and because the minutes went by so quickly – as they always do when you're in good company – we returned to the centre. We stopped at the Nama department store and turned into the ice cream buffet bar Grefino. We filled the cups with our favourite ice cream and added our favourite accessories. Mmm. Ice cream in hand, we went to the park Zvezda, past the tombstone of Emonian to an unoccupied bench, where we enjoyed the ice cream indulgence, which was over too soon.



Museum of illusions – an awesome experience and a full photo memory card 
We crossed the Congress Square, just a few steps, and we already entered the old townhouse, where the Museum of illusions recently opened its doors. XXL dose of fun and pictures for all lovers of the world of illusions. Glorious, inspiring, fun, phenomenal and memorable! Those were the impressions that we got when we navigated from one room to another, from one exhibit to another. Museum on three floors offers a varied, entertaining and humorous world of installations that are made for perfect optical deception. We were hanging like monkeys from a ceiling lamp, danced in the disco, instead of dinner served our own heads on a plate, wandered through the galaxy of music and colours, were catching our balance and wondered why the gravity does not work as it should.



Cankar’s coffee for two
Excited about visiting one of the most fun museums we continued along the narrow streets, paved with granite cubes, past the town houses, which are, dressed in various shades of pastel facades, closely touching one another. We crossed over Ljubljanica at Plecnik's Three Bridges and headed towards the Slovenian house. We hardly got a free table with a view of the river. We ordered the Cankar coffee for two and a house cocktail the Little terrace. Coffee served on a wooden plate, in a cute red pot (you can nowadays see only in some grandmother’s closet) with white polka dots is a unique experience. So Slovenian! So traditional! So cute! We poured ourselves the black, hot coffee and impressed with service, friendliness, hospitality and preservation of Slovenian heritage, toasted with cocktails. In our minds we were both probably singing the evergreen Slovenian song, on which we were reminded by the cocktail "... Little terrace, below it Ljubljana ..."Slovenian house is a unique pub along the Ljubljanica river precisely because it offers the combination of rural life and an urban pulse of the city. Offered food and beverages are exclusively Slovenian, combined perfectly with the themed interiors and names of house specialties, such as Cankar and Kekec.



So near, yet so high away
Through the old Ljubljana, past the replica of the Robba’s fountain, we made our way to Ljubljana Castle. We could have chosen the funicular, which since 2006 connects the castle with the city, but we preferred walking. On the pedestal of the city proudly reins the Ljubljana Castle. It stands so close to the town that it seems like you can fit the cathedral of st. Nicholas, the Skyscraper or strollers in Tivoli park in the palm of your hand, yet it is so far away from the city bustle and noise. From the castle walls a great view of the Ljubljana basin opens up. Inside the castle we watched a twenty-minute long projection of the history of the Ljubljana Castle. But what impressed us even more was the permanent exhibition Penitentiary.

As a banker in the vault
Tired after a hard day, but full of beautiful impressions we returned to the centre. We said goodbye with a promise to soon repeat that adventurous wandering around Ljubljana. There are still so many beautiful attractions that are worth visiting. Too much for one day. But because of that I have a reason to visit Ljubljana again soon. After goodbye Neja went home, and I went on a hunt for a soft bed and a warm blanket. In the hostel Tresor I was greeted by the friendly staff and escorted to my room 208 (Slovenian Tolar), where I felt like a banker in a mini-vault. Literally, because the hostel is arranged as a vault. Cute hostel with an awesome story line that connects all the rooms is a unique experience. I highly recommend it! Good night and sweet dreams.



Glossary:
Pony - still popular type of rental bike, made by Ljubljana’s very own brand Rog.
Matija Čop - Slovenian linguist from the Romantic period.
Filip chateau and Kresija palace - buildings, built after the Ljubljana earthquake in 1895, located next to the Three Bridges, at the entrance to the old town.
Rihard Jakopič - the central figure of Slovenian painting from the first half of the 20th century.
Emonian - a tombstone from the 1st century, the replica is located in the Zvezda park, original kept in the National Museum.
Little terrace – an evergreen song of the popular group the White Crows. The text was written by the acclaimed songwriter Gregor Strniša.
Ivan Cankar - Slovenian writer, one of the four major representatives of Slovenian modernism.
Jože Plečnik - a very famous Slovenian architect whose architectural works can be found in Prague, Vienna and Ljubljana; he left his architectural opus to the capital.
Kekec - Slovenian literary hero created by Josip Vandot, Kekec was the first Slovenian Youth black-and-white feature film.
Robba's Fountain - the most famous Slovenian Fountain, which personifies three Slovenian rivers (Sava, Krka and Ljubljanica). A replica stands in the old city, at the intersection of three streets, the original is kept at the National Gallery of Slovenia.
Skyscraper - one of the most recognizable buildings in Ljubljana, when constructed in 1933 it was the tallest building in Central Europe and the tallest building in the Balkans.