Sometimes you end up in a place that you never knew you wanted to go to before — or, hell, knew existed (but my European geography is improving, guys). For me, that place was Slovenia. It's one of my favorite places I've been to in Europe so far, and thank goodness it's close, because we'll definitely be going back!
A group of girls and I drove out to Slovenia a few weekends ago to visit our husbands while they were on a break from work. A trip was organized to nearby caves and castles in Postojna, and also just a day free in the city of Ljubljana (which I'm now a pro at spelling). Tyler and aren't much for castles, so we decided to just explore Ljubljana on our own, and we were blown away by this secretly very cool city.
The drive out to Slovenia from Italy was gorgeous. It reminded me a lot of Bavaria — rolling hills and colorful trees and the possibility of a mountain goat around every corner. Once we got into Ljubljana, I was really impressed by the meshing of the old and the new in the city. It felt very clean and vibrant with hip cafes and glass bridges and walkways, but still had all the historic charm of a very old city. I could've spent weeks trying out all the cafes and almost had some anxiety that we wouldn't pick the coolest one.
The city is built around a river, and also surrounds a castle up on a hill. We chose to have a zero-itinerary kind of day and just did whatever we felt like doing at the moment. We walked along the river and stopped for snacks and drinks more than once at many of restaurants with outdoor seating. I highly recommend just exploring and taking in the city — it was very lively the weekend we were there, with multiple festivals and market. I was super impressed with how cool Ljubljana seemed, and how little credit it seems to get on the interwebs. Maybe we can keep it our little secret?
WHAT WE DID:
- Took in panoramic views at Ljubljana Castle: The best money we spent during the weekend was taking the funnicula up to the castle (because, let's be honest, hiking up it did not seem like something I wanted to do that day), then climbing the steps for a spectacular view of the city. The castle in and of itself is, honestly, nothing special, but it was nice to walk around just take in the surrounding mountains, city and countryside.
- Souvenir searched at Ika: I don't know if you guys know about my postcard obsession, but I started collecting postcards when I lived abroad in college and couldn't afford souvenirs. Now, I make a point to send my family postcards from most of the places we go, and I've become a bit of a postcard snob in the process. I loved Ika's original artwork and beautiful souvenirs. They had wonderfully-designed postcards and adorable knitwear.
- River-watched at Makalonca Bar & Burger: The morning that we left Ljubljana, we stopped for a hip girls' brunch on the river, and were so excited to find pancakes on the menu! We all got the coconut vanilla pancakes, which were delicious and fluffy, plus mimosas and potato chips that they tried to pass off as home fries. It was a perfect brunch in the sun, taking in the river (though, if I'm being honest, the river didn't smell great!).
- Free smells at the farmers' market: What did smell great was the farmer's market on Saturday, where local farmers came to sell fresh produce. We also found roasted chesnuts, which are popular in most European cities, especially this time of year, but also mulled wine, which we could not buy fast enough.
- Indulged in gluttony at Lolita Cafe: One of my friends Instagrammed this impressive cafe when she visited Ljubljana awhile back, and I was on a mission to find it when we went. It was a bit packed when we stopped by in the morning, so we came back after lunch for dessert and coffee as we admired the really impressive, feminine cherry-themed decor.
- Turned into Khaleesi at the dragon bridge: Ljubljana claims that Jason of Jason and the Argonauts defeated the dragon in their city, and you can find homages to dragons all throughout. We stopped by for quick selfies at the dragon bridge, imagining we were Daenerys Targaryen.
- Exploring the Postojna Caves and Predjama Castle: So, I didn't actually take the castles & caves tour in Slovenia — my friends and I just swung by on our way home to check out Predjama Castle and it's impressive exterior, as it's built into the side of a mountain. I had a lot of friends do the caves tour, however, which they loved, though said they might skip on the castle (we enjoyed looking at it without going in!)
Photos and text © Katie Currid, 2015. All rights reserved.