(This is the 12th post of our Croatia-Budapest trip, June-July 2014)
Wednesday, June 25
Happy Slovenian Independence Day!
What this translates out to mean for tourists is: limited openings, noon closings, no market, no easy food, and especially for us: the rain we’ve been trying to dodge for two days has finally arrived. On top of all that, we are supposed to meet Dave’s sister and brother-in-law at 1 p.m., so whatever we choose to do has be done quickly, as we need to be back to the hotel a bit early to meet them.
No, this was not one of our stops on the sightseeing musts, but it was interesting to see the set-up they had for recycling– a full block full of these little huts where you could drop your goods.
A quixotic sculpture in a garden. Those brilliant red-orange bits are letters of the alphabet.
Our first destination was the Serbian Orthodox Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius, about two blocks from our hotel. An elegant, cream-colored edifice with wide welcoming steps held a wealth of surface decoration inside.
But there were signs that no photographs were allowed. So this is a clandestine shot with my iPhone, trying to get a photo of that circle up there on the arch. I had just started making circle quilt blocks and was hunting for ideas and designs, and I had hit pay dirt on this ornately covered church. But I resisted photographing it, determined to do it legitimately somehow.
The Opera House was on the way to our next sight.
We walked by the Fountain of the Three Carniolian Rivers (Ljubljana, Sva and Krka Rivers), inspired by one of Rome’s many fountains. Here are the three facades, showing the three different rivers. Unfortunately, the obelisk was under renovation:
We also found out that the original of this was in a museum. We head to the castle that looms over Ljubljana, taking a funicular up to the top (like these other tourists did).
We enjoy the soggy views as we glide upwards.
To this. A re-developed plaza with several buildings, a few exhibits, a clock tower, a cafe which is not serving anything because it’s Happy Slovenian Independence Day.
Another dragon, this one perched up on the side of the portal that leads to the walking path down the hill, in case you don’t want to take the funicular.
What do tourists do on rainy days? Take pictures of one another under umbrellas and head into marginal tableaus, displays and the one interesting room in the castle that doesn’t charge you extra to visit.
I loved the decorative art on the surface. Above is the organ loft, complete with small wooden organ.
I also loved the decorative surface of this slightly-pineapple-quilt-block-looking floor, but with a twist, outside in one of the gun turret towers.
Now that we’ve seen an ersatz fountain and an ersatz castle, it’s time for real lunch.
Because we did not realize what Happy Independence Day in Slovenia meant, we headed to the market. That was a bust. It was getting towards the meeting time with the in-laws, so we stopped by a convenience market and picked up some cold cuts, a cucumber and two rolls studded with pumpkin seeds. We got extra to feed Anna Clare and Earl, for as we were standing in line, some guy flipped a switch, locking the door and barring entrance to the few tourists outside. To say that we felt lucky is an understatement, for we didn’t see much else open.
When we arrived back home, there was a note on our door telling us that Anna Clare and Earl had decided to detour to Lake Bled and see the sights and now wouldn’t be here until 3 p.m. Fine, we could deal.
We had a delicious lunch on our bed (yes, we ate theirs), then cleared everything off and took a rainy day nap, surfed the rainy day internet and rainy day waited. And waited. We had told them to knock on our hotel room door when they arrived, and finally at 4:30 p.m. I told Dave I wasn’t waiting around anymore. The rain had stopped and somehow they would find us.
When we went downstairs, we found out that apparently the clerk had told them we weren’t here, so they left without knocking. We wrote and slipped a note under their door, telling them we’d meet them at 6 p.m., hoping that the third time is a charm in Tourist Land.
With nearly everything closed, we peeked into any open doorway, finding this exquisite courtyard with friezes over every archway.
There was a an art exhibit about shopping bags, which I’m sure meant something entirely different, and I took a few photos of this student exhibit.
We found out later that this was either a) the Town Hall, or b) the city art gallery (Cafe Galerija). More street sights:
Every girl should have an iron purse.
Or a tomato purse. When I came home and looked them up on the web, they were running about 1500 bucks.
This looked to be another standard church statue (but in polychrome, not marble) until I looked at the little scene underneath.
The close-up of the statue was quite revealing. I guess it was “throw the priest out.” I like the lace on his robes.
We cross the river to get a good look at the University in this town, famous for its archicture by Joze Plecnik: a homegrown and prolific genius whose relationship to Ljublana has been compared to that of Gaudi’s to Barcelona. Above is Cobblers Bridge, which encapsulates his style: “simple, clean lines adorned with classical columns.” We checked at the Tourist Office for tours of his house, but it was under renovation (closed).
Our first look at the National and University Library (the multi-colored brick edifice, just behind the fountain) and regarded as Plecnik’s masterpiece.
“On the surface, the red-and-gray colors scheme evokes the red soil and the chunks of granite of the karst region, south of Ljubljana. But on a deeper level, the library’s design conveys the message of overcoming obstacles to attain knowledge. The odd-sized and -shaped blocks in the facade represent a complex numerological pattern that suggests barriers on the path to enlightenment.” ~ Rick Steves, Croatia
These doorknobs represent the winged horse Pegasus. We tried to open them, but the place is locked up for Independence Day (we assume).
We find an open courtyard and explore. We loved seeing the remnants of communism here, the hammer and sicle in the decorations above doorways and statues.
This was an interesting crossing sign. We look at the explanation below, thinking it might be a bus schedule:
Wrong. We’ve stumbled on a Faux Art Tour, and we realize there is masking tape, marking the way.
None catch our fancy like the two runaways, and it only leads to this wall, and what we suppose to be the art studios of the university. But we like the fact that it’s not raining anymore, and that we are feeling a bit of freedom the schedule, until Dave realizes it is after 6:00 and we have to hurry to meet the relatives.
Walking along the main drag, next to the Post Office we spot them ahead of us, but instead of turning left to our hotel, they are turning right. We start hollering and hollering, finally get their attention. Dave runs to catch up to them, and finally we have met up! It’s great seeing them, seeing them with their badges and as missionary smiles. We refresh at the hotel, and then head out to find dinner. We are wary, as we know not much is open.
But on our usual path to town, there is a place called Cafe Sarajevo ’84, and Anna Clare and Earl really want to eat here, so we did. Above is the chopped salad, covered with cheese.
A salad, without the cheese.
We all fell in love with the warm doughy rolls, the balls of honey-butter, and the flatbreads (below).
We shared two “three-part meals” and Earl wrapped up the rest of the bread and put it in his pocket for breakfast. Except, we mentioned, your breakfast is free, and comes the hotel. His face lit up in delight. We love that, too, Earl.
Next post: Ljubljana’s Orthodox Church, and quilt Circles
1 thought on “Ljubjana, Rainy Ljubljana”
Well, how LUCKY you were to be there for Slovenian Independence Day! Too bad it wasn’t a bit more celebratory. A few street parties with blaring music could have helped you forgive all the places that were locked up tight. Great pictures. My favorite is the “throw the priest out” sculpture on the church.