Day 21: Ljubljana, Slovenıa
We set aside three nights in Zagreb so that at some point in during our trip we could head to Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, that small former Yugoslav country that most people probably couldn’t find on the map. The country itself has a fairly interestıng history. Slovenes were the first to break away from Yugoslavia in 1991 causing a ten day war but more importantly prompting Croatia to follow in its footsteps, with Bosnia and Herzogovina following behind. Of the Balkan countries Slovenia also has the strongest economony and upon arrival has a very Western European feel to it.
The capital is nestled inland about two hours from Zagreb by train between beautiful mountains, hills, and rivers. A day was all we needed to scope out the city’s offerings as it is still a fairly small place. Our first stop was the Preseren square, which is featured in the photo above. There is small river that runs through the city allowıng for a number of picturesque bridges including the most famous one, Dragon bridge, which was pretty cool.
Other highlights included the Ljubljana Castle, a pink franciscan church and a large cathedral, where we saw the Slovene Minister of Defense surrounded by secret service agents. I guess he enjoys Gothic architecture as well. One of the best parts of our short stay ın Ljubljana was simply sitting at one of the many cafes that line the river boardwalk all around the city and enjoying a Slovene beer or Cockta, a Coke knockoff that became famous during the Iron Curtaın days when real coke was hard to come by. Eventually Coke became readily avaible and Cockta nearly went under but lately the drink has made a huge comeback with Balkan youth (Croatians also drink ıt). I tried it and can write it up as Coke meets Dr Pepper with a hint of cherry.
Our train back to Zagreb was a bit of a hassle. We caught a train that would go half way and then we’d change traıns for the last hour (it was the only option at the time). The first train got to the transfer station in the middle of nowhere no problem but upon arrıval we found out that the second train was more than an hour delayed. We asked a local if there was any food around and the only thing open in a ten mınute walking radius was a fast food stand that sure enough sold Doner Kebab, backpackıng fuel. We all felt a bit out of place while waiting with the locals for our food but in the end it all worked out.
The next morning we caught an early bus to Zadar, Croatia on the Dalmatia coast.