Slovenia September 2010

It’s confession time.  Until a few weeks ago, I knew very little about Slovenia and really only had a pretty limited grasp of where it was.  My school-acquired knowledge said things like it used to be part of Yugoslavia and it probably wasn’t very far from Italy. Or was that Slovakia?

I’m delighted to report that I know a bit more Slovenia now, I’ve certainly figured the difference between it and Slovakia – and it’s a splendid place to spend a few days, particularly in September.

I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that the BBC don’t know where it is either – before I went their weather forecast was that it was going to be damp and cool, and after I got back the forecast for Ljubljana was pretty much the same.  However, when I was there it was warm and sunny and most folks (perhaps excepting those relying on BBC weather forecasts) were wandering around in shirt-sleeves.

I was trying to find a way to sum up Ljubljana in a few words – “cafes” and “bicycles” are the first two that came to mind, and “carnivore” is probably the third.  This trip (I should say that I was actually in Ljubljana for an ASPECT project management meeting, before anyone gets the idea that I was on vacation) was the first one where the standard hotel booking included bed, breakfast, internet access and bicycle hire.  The centre of Ljubljana is pretty much entirely pedestrianised and every one appears to get around on bicycles, and (with the exception of the castle up on the hill overlooking the river) the city is flat enough to encourage cycling.

The centre of old Ljubljana definitely still has a “Hapsburg” look about it – the similarities with Prague and Vienna are certainly pretty strong, but here the river is well marshalled through the centre of town – with lots of bridges - and each side of the river is lined by cafes.   The huge number of cafes and the absence of motorised traffic give a really calm and relaxed pace to the centre of a fairly major city.  I’ll certainly be trying to get back to Slovenia again – I think it’s probably an ideal place for a long weekend (at least in the summer or autumn), and next time I’ll try and make sure I’ve got time to get up into the mountains or down to the coast.

And the carnivore bit – the traditional restaurant menus leave you in little doubt that meat is big is Slovenia.  I sidestepped the stallion steak, but did have vension, wild boar, and what looked very much like Slovenian haggis.

Slovenia September 2010

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