I had a pretty crazy time in Ljubljana; on paper, it probably needn’t be spared the three nights I spent there, but I eschewed Venice (and triggered Nightmare Morning) by allowing myself a full week of Slovenia.
After two weeks of city after city, mum and I arrived in Ljubljana with low expectations. Another city, another metropolis, more pollution, more costly public transport, more having to keep a constant eye on our valuables.
Our hostel (IHYF Tabor), another strange ex-school set-up, was cheap and basic – we arrived late and headed out into the centre to be, you guessed it, pleasantly surprised!
Fashionable restaurants and bars tightly hug the river, which can be crossed using a number of pedestrian bridges. This is where the crowds gather to listen to talented street musicians. Heading away from the water, unknowingly into Congress Square, mum and I came across a crowd listening to a band play in a bandstand. As it turned out, it was Mick Jagger’s brother Chris, playing country and western classics. The city’s homeless danced alongside the carefree travellers and locals. It was a beautiful moment.
Mum flew home early the next morning; I left the school and headed to a new hostel, H2O (I wouldn’t recommend). I joined a free walking tour (11am in the Prešeren Square on the church steps) and, having not been on my own in ten days, was glad to meet Jo, an Irish lady. The tour was great, really insightful, especially about the city’s architecture and its shaping by Jose Plečnik. After the tour, Jo invited me to a picnic in Tivoli park with her and Paige from Chicago, a lovely way to spend a couple of hours during the searing heat of the day.
They left for Vienna, and feeling very alone and momentarily disillusioned with travelling (if I was at home…), I scoured couchsurfing and found a pub meet-up happening that evening which, as it happens, shaped the rest of my Slovenia stay.
Three French, a German, a local Slovenian, a Canadian/Bahamian and one Brit other than myself met in a quirky bar in downtown Ljubljana at 20.30. At 04.00 the next morning, we left the club and parted ways, five of us with an agreement to meet the next morning for a road trip to Bled. It was a whirlwind day spent back at the Lake, during the course of which we gained another Brit who we met at Bled, and two Irish guys. Sharing stories of travelling, laughing at language barriers and swimming into the clear water, we had a mad time. A second crazy night out followed, encompassing Metelkova and TRN Fest, and I couchsurfed with Paul, the Canadian, who already had French girl Corinne surfing at his.
City experiences are so much about the people you meet, and the spontaneous day trips and night outs are often the best. My time in Ljubljana was a little crazy, happening out of pretty much no where, but I made some great friends and had an amazing time.
Couchsurfing, you’ve well and truly won me over.