04.07.2013 - 04.07.2013
Our plan today was to spend some time in Ljubljiana (lyoob-lee-AH-nah).
We walked down to the east end of the Ljubljana River and worked our way west.
The dragon is a symbol of Ljubljana because Jason (of the Argonauts) supposedly slew his dragon near the town, also St. George who slew a dragon is the saint of the town.
We walked through the outdoor market where there were a few unique refrigerated vending machines. One for artisan dairy products like cheese, and in the other you can get fresh, raw milk. This place is awesome.
Butchers Bridge. The railings are full of padlocks that couples attach to the railings to symbolize their love.
The triple bridge, constructed by famous Slovene architect Joze Plecnik
River cafes next to the triple bridge
We took an hour tour of the town.
Cathedral behind the town square fountain
Congress Square with Ljubljana Castle in the background
Monastery of the Holy Cross by Joze Plecnik
Joze Plecnik's National Library
On our walk, the Slovene guide told us that their language combines all the most complex traits of European languages. It is a famously difficult language to learn. In fact some Slovene children have trouble learning English because it is too simple. There are male, female, and neutral nouns. Nouns are not singular or plural like in English, but are singular, dual, small group (<5), or large group (>5). Verb conjugations are also very complex. Although a small country, Slovenes from the opposite ends of the country sometimes cannot understand each other. Yikes, sounds complicated!
Another interesting tidbit is that Slovenia is one of the only countries outside of France to have monuments to Napoleon. Before the breakup of Yugoslavia, the only period of time that Slovenes could officially express many aspects of their culture and write in their language is a five year period in the 1800's when Napoleon took the area away from the Austrians.
After lunch, we looked through some shops and bought a few souvenirs for the kids. We came across this interesting beehive art. Apparently Slovenes were the first beekeepers, so there is a bunch of art associated with beekeeping. Some scenes are religious, some just slice of life, and some are humorous (with a dash of misogyny). They believed that these art panels attached to the front of the hives helped the bees find their way home to the correct hive.
When two people fight, lawyers make the money (or get the milk)
Men putting their old wives through a machine and getting newer wives in return.
Women making soup with trousers and men drinking while beekeeping.
We caught dinner at a restaurant at Ljubljana Castle
Funicular to the castle
This dinner here at Gostilna na Gradu was as good as the one in Hvar
Pork bits with soft cheese covered in honey
Venison stew with polenta and sausage with potatoes
Ljubljana style (stuffed) veal schnitzel with potatoes
Yum, Slovenia, where the Slavic, Germanic, and Italian worlds collide.
On all my European travel so far, I think that Ljubljana reminds me most of my hometown, Portland, OR.
Famous bridges, many bookstores, lots of bikes.
Check, check, check.
Downtown hemmed in by a river and hills, farmers markets with local foods, proximity to good beer.
Check, check, check.
Lots of young people, often with facial hair.
Laid back people that are also creative and industrious.
Hour from the beach and the mountains.
They share a similar population size with Portland and even some architectural style due to a 1890s earthquake in Ljubljana.
The town was magical at night.
Triple bridge and Preseren Square