Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Day 2 Ljubljana, Slovenia - City of Dragons!

Day 2 of my trip brings me back to Ljubljana, Slovenia. I visited this gem during my 2006 backpacking trip, I only stayed one night but the city made enough of an impression of me that I vowed to return and I did so for 3 days in 2010. This visit in 2017 was just a short visit as a stopping off point before going to explore to Triglav National Park. There are many reasons I love Ljubljana, one of which is that it is fairly empty most of the time, in a country of only 2 million people, I’ve seen that anywhere from 250 thousand to half a million live here, for someone who spends most of my days in the 8 million people plus tourist always crowded NYC this is a blessing. Despite the small size, they know how to have fun here in Ljubljana with many outdoor cafes and bars mostly packed around the old town on the river, which is closed off to cars. In fact many of the streets in the old town are closed off to cars, making this a great bicycling and walking city, its small enough to get around to most places in less than 30 minutes.

I arrived here by bus from Trieste, there are companies such as Hello and FlixBux that offer fares from 8 Euros for the short 2 hour ride, you can buy the tickets online and have the PDF sent to your phone, very easy and comfortable bus with air conditioning and wifi that works (sometimes), its always a worry where to get the bus in Trieste the Hello bus was late, and without any signs or representation, you had to keep your eyes out for it and you got on where it parked with the rest of the busses.

Tivoli Park is a lovely large park with nature hiking, artwork, performance space, cafes, childrens play areas located a short walk from the center of town. On a warm day it’s a great place for a picnic, with some views of the whole city. A worthy destination during your trip there.

On past trips I visited the majestic Castle which sits overlooking the river, on my one full day here this trip I spent some time walking around the huge Tivoli Park which is situated right in the city and is a lovely green space. I was lucky enough to randomly run into matches of the European Beach Volleyball tournament which was being played in one of the main squares just a short distance from the river walking area. As night falls onto the city, its time to walk around and find some music and a good bar, but before we do so, we have to respect the Dragon.. Yes Game of Thrones fans, while much of the show is filmed in Croatia, Iceland and other places, it would be right at home here. The city has a small obsession with Dragons, from the famous Dragon Bridge spanning the river, to logos used on craft beers and merchandise. So the mythical creatures live here for sure.

Walking around I happened upon the finals of the European Beach Volleyball championship which was being played on a court in one of the main squares. It was a fun atmosphere with a full crowd, DJ, announcer between points to get the crowd hyped up.

As for bars, you have your choices, but one I really enjoyed this time was Malakona, which is located downstairs, so you might miss it if you aren’t looking for it, but once you go downstairs you have a chance to sit and drink right on the railing of the river, just below the pedestrian traffic above you, it’s a really nice get away from the sometime hustle and bustle on the main drag. They also make their own microbrew Beer, which was tasty and a welcome relief from the city that seems to be dominated by the two large beer makers Lasko and Union beer, which are everywhere. Another nice find was the Begov, which is made in Austria but totally from Slovenian founders, I guess some tax issues or paperwork was the reason for the move, but the cans are awesome with again their dragon themed design.

Beers are well priced with a large 500ml draft going for between 2 and 3 Euros of the local choices, and cans of microbrew all under 4 Euros. So if you are ever in the area stop in Ljubljana stay a few ways and I’m sure you will enjoy it

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