(This is the 11th post of our Croatia-Budapest trip, June-July 2014)
Tuesday, June 24
For those of you who are keeping track, it’s Tuesday and this is Slovenia. . . Ljubljana, to be exact, and we have learned how to say it (mostly). But before we do anything else, it’s breakfast.
Juices, hot milk, cereals (both of the Looks-Like-Horse-Oats and the Other variety), fruits (prunes, for the tourists, of course).
The hot cocoa/coffee station. I had hot cocoa every day, a lovely treat.
Rolls, meats, cheeses, yogurts station. Americans don’t have many cold cuts for breakfast, but it’s pretty common over here.
Soft cheese and butter. I liked the random way the soft cheese ended up, after several travelers had taken what they wanted.
And my favorite station of this hotel: a place where you could hard, or soft-boil your egg. I used my timer on my iPhone to keep track, and had one every morning. Before we left for the day, we stopped and talked to the young man at the desk about doing our laundry. At first we were just going to load it all up and bring it down to the desk, as he assured us that was the best way. But we wanted to do our own, and asked him for a laundromat. He had no idea. Dave went upstairs and got his computer, and we did a search and on some traveller’s blog they had listed where the laundromat was. The front desk guy was surprised. We were happy. But first we decided to take advantage of the clear skies (when we had woken up it was raining, but had cleared away) and head into town.
On the wall across from our hotel’s main entrance.
The side of the slightly damp, but pink church. I saw a sign in the hotel’s front office which promoted free walking tours, so we hustled down here, but there didn’t seem to be any group coalescing anywhere. We we pulled out our guidebook and followed Rick Steves’ walking tour. Another time we checked in at the Tourist Office for another walking tour, but it was majorly pricey and we’d missed it by 45 minutes.
After realizing we didn’t have a tour, we did go in, but it was nearly time for mass, so quietly let ourselves out. The interior was unremarkable, but I loved the doorknobs.
In Preseren Square they have a car-sized model of the city; we saw this model-thing again in other cities.
The terra cotta bas relief just above the green doorway in the yellow building is of Julija, the unrequited love of the poet Preseren’s life, or so the tour guides say.
We were interested in the Centromerkur building, or Galleria Emporium as it’s called now, a beautiful building with a graceful glass fan over the front entrance.
Inside a graceful stacked column and the grand staircase gives an idea of what it used to be like.
I thought the plastic purses were interesting, but they were all out of our price range, so we headed back outside to enjoy the sun.
The Hauptmann House was the only building on the square to survive that 1895 earthquake. A few years later, the owners repainted it in the Art Nouveau style using bright colors, as his family sold dyes.
The Cooperative Bank, just up the street from the Galleria and the Hauptmann House is beautifully painted and decorated.
We liked this fountain of chubby horses. They look like a bunch of toddler-aged horses, playing in the water.
We crossed over the Triple Bridge to the Castle-side of town, and turned left and headed toward the Riverside Market. This is looking down the river to the Butcher’s Bridge (and beyond that is the Dragon Bridge).
Fascinating sculptures on the Butcher’s Bridge, all nearly ruined by those hideous Locks of Love (when will these ever stop?) attachments.
The weight of the bridge can’t handle too many, the city cuts off a bunch every week, which are unfortunately replaced by more.
We thought this looked like a bubble-gum-blowing sheep. Apparently the sculptures were meant to be temporary, but people liked them so much, they stayed.
The market has a decent display of vegetables, plants, and wonderful baskets, which quite frankly, I wanted to bring home with me. Apparently Saturday is the bustling day here, as the market tables only covered half the square.
This was a vending machine, which sold fresh unpasteurized milk, among other things.
And next to it was a small scale, where market-goers could check the weight of anything they’d purchased, so they could verify what the merchant had charged them.
Clever broom stand.
I loved the woman’s orange hair.
But we were hungry now after walking around downtown and thought we’d try to find some burek, a filled pastry. Well, actually, I thought we should have bought some on our way in, and when we went to look and just see what our options were, most of them were gone. So we snapped up a couple from what was left, got a salad from another vendor, and a “Ljubljana Cake” from another stall. We made our way to an area with tables and chairs and started eating.
It looked like a public space, but apparently not. The owner of the bar/coffee shop came and chased us out of HIS tables and chairs. We figured out that you could only eat where you’d purchased your food, so we settled into the tables in front of where we’d purchased our salads (and were not chased out). The cake was a “meh” but we liked our cheese-filled bureks. I wondered what the meat-filled ones were like.
The two twin yellow towers bordering the market square were those belonging to the Cathedral of St. Nicholas.
The doors were created for Pope John Paul II’s visit to Slovenia in 1996, and contain elements of the city’s history, as well as notable events from Slovenia’s history. This is the main door (and the side door is below).
The interior was beautiful–Italian Baroque, so the guide book says, and we enjoyed seeing it.
A smaller organ loft?
In the chapel for St. Joseph was this beautifully embroidered cloth on the altar. We’d not seen chapels dedicated to Christ’s father, so thought it interesting.
A pieta on the outside of the church, in a small niche. We walked along the Castle-side of the church, and headed toward the Dragon Bridge.
I think you can figure out why it is named this. The dragon has been the symbol of Ljubljana for centuries, and this bridge was one of those earthquake projects mentioned before.
We cross the Ljublanica River and head back towards our hotel.
More interesting urban art.
Looking ahead towards the Triple Bridge.
The riverside colannade, and the area where we tried to have lunch the first time (but were unsuccessful).
Looking back toward the center, going a different way home this afternoon.
We meandered, checking out the buildings.
At one point, the city’s reconstruction committee declared that all the corner buildings should have a domed spire. We saw this on many buildings downtown.
Dome, but no spire.
We were making plans for this day because we were supposed to meet Dave’s sister and brother-in-law the next morning and tour the sights together. So we thought it was important to get the laundry done today so it wouldn’t interfere with our touristing. Of course, hindsight is 20-20 and with what we know now, we should have gone up to the castle on this sunny day and enjoyed the sights, saving the laundry for the time when it was raining (and for when expected meetings didn’t materialize). But this is travel, isn’t it? Trying to judge the best use of limited time. So we grabbed our suitcases, got into the car, and armed with TWO maps, and screenshots of the city, headed off.
It was in a strip shopping mall, just across from the most humungous shopping mall I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot. It’s open Pon-pet and it’s one of those days, so we’re in good shape. I also liked the named for Saturday (Sob) and Sunday (Ned).
Washers, with the blue circles on the wall.
Dryers, with the orange-red circles on the wall.
And we think this means “broken,” or “don’t use,” or “forget this machine.” Soap is always tricky, but we figured out that soap was automatically added to the wash. If we got it wrong, we had very well-rinsed clothes.
Dave babysits the wash while I check out the shops. Nothing much, but I did pick up some clown candy, Ki-Ki, for our granddaughter, for she has that as her nickname. Although one washer stops and we have to restart it, we finish with the laundry and happy that we’ll have clean clothes again.
We head across the street to BTC, or BTCity, mainly because these are our daughter’s initials and we want to try and bring her back something. BTCity is a series of free-standing malls (I think there were seven), with other giant box-type stores around the perimeter. The website tells me that there are:
- more than 450 stores
- more than 8,500 parking spaces
- Market BTC
- Atlantis Water Park
- Sports Centre Millenium
- Casino Rio
- Multiplex Colosseum and XpanD
- type of pubs, cafes, pub, restaurants, pizzerias, pastry shops
Truthfully, I wished I’d visited the Market, but we drove around, unable to figure out this place. I think most of the parking spaces were filled, or so it felt from the amount of cars everywhere. We were looking for something with the BTC logo on it, and finally stopped in at the mall office, but couldn’t find much more than a shopping bag. They did give me a Frequent Shopper Card with the logo on it, but I was supposed to sign up for an account, which I wasn’t going to do. So the nice young woman behind the counter filled in some phony name and handed me the card.
I did see a sewing shop, but knew I wasn’t going to carry a sewing machine home on the airplane, so we kept going. We hoped to have dinner earlier this night than the previous nights of 9 p.m., so decided to head back to town, dropping out laundry (and car) off at the hotel and heading back toward the pedestrian center.
We pass another shop, but I didn’t go in either, given my experience of buying foreign fabric: paying double the cost for American-made goods. I now wish I’d gone in there, as we never had another chance. This, too, is travel.
We walk along the main drag, checking first one restaurant then another, but by seven p.m. we were seated at Julija’s, at an outdoor table.
We share a salad, then I have the goulash over polenta (below).
Dave has the stack of vegetables with fish. Our table was next to a table with a young woman and a middle-aged man. I never could totally figure out their conversation, but she was from Slovenia (as she talked about where she was on Independence Day, which was the next day, Wednesday, and when we found out that nearly the whole place shut down) and he had a British accent. It seems that he knew her parents somehow. At one point they were discussing the new Google self-driving cars, and he noted that it was a remarkable invention. She agreed but said that it would only work in America, because “Americans are basically lazy.”
(for dessert, some strudel and some ice cream, drizzled with honey)
Ouch. As Dave and I walked after dinner, I asked him if our export of our youth culture had so permeated what others thought of us that they couldn’t get past the stereotypes. But is it a stereotype? I don’t think I’m particularly lazy, nor my husband, nor my family. But why has this image percolated into her brain? I liked it better when I couldn’t understand the people next to me, I think.
When we returned from dinner a jazz band was going full steam downstairs, the sound echoing up into our hallway with our room’s window directly over the place where it was playing. We walked up the stairs with a tall young man, and I said “No sleep tonight.”
He said “Oh, it’s Ljubljana. This won’t last long.”
I asked him why not and he replied that “Slovenians like to go to work in the morning, so they don’t stay up late. Not like my country,” he said. “I’m Serbian, and we go twenty-four hours a day, never stop.”
And so this is travel, too. Learning not only about yourself, but about others’ as well. (As long as they speak English.) Back in the room, we can hear the jazz and with our windows shut, it’s not too big of a problem. We settle into our nightly routine of checking emails, touching base with our lives back across the world. I realize I am more than happy to be in one hotel for three straight nights, the string of one-night stays we’ve just done having worn me out. We relax, the music fades, and these tired tourists fall to sleep.
Next post: A rainy visit to the Castle and where are they?