Part II: Slovenia. A few hours in the car and we cross the border between Austria and Slovenia, heading to Ljubljana. It is a rainy afternoon, but we head to the city centre full of expectation.
My knowledge of the city is almost non-existing, so I am ready to whatever. Unfortunately, heavy rain comes down in buckets. Our mood starts to fall down too, but nothing that a good Union pivo in a small bar on the way cannot restore. The evening rolls between some beers and games in the hostel, till when it is time to set off for the centre. Between floods of water, we make our way passing by beautiful buildings as the Museum of Contemporary Art, the National Gallery of Slovenia, the Opera balet, finally reaching the Knafljev passage (access from Copova ulica). Cutty Sark Pub: great place for drinking a couple of beers with friends. Alternatively, with strangers. Not a place for a quiet, romantic drink, rather with loud, fun people from the table next to you. We make friends with other travellers, and end up all together in a club somewhere. Super cool.
Visiting Ljubljana. The city is cosy and fascinating, full of small bars and shops, picturesque corners and canals. People are everywhere, but that only makes the city looks alive. A must-visit, you find yourself at peace, breathing a calm yet vibrant atmosphere where bookshops stand close to amazingly smelling vegan restaurants and bars with live DJ sets.
Reach Kongresni trg (Congress Square) and then Prešeren Square. From there, walk in any direction: any street, heading inwards or following the canal, is worth it. A random wander, without any plan whatsoever, seems to be the perfect way to explore this city. For example, the triple bridge (Tromostovje) is not exactly a tourist attraction but it is a lovely place, surrounded by cafes, performers and filled with shoppers and walkers. Make sure to wander along Cankerjevo Nabrezje, stretching along the Ljubljanica River. No matter if it is morning, afternoon or night, this area is always a beating heart. The Ljubljana Grad (castle) overlooks impressively the city from the top of a steep hill. We reach it by walking up one of the steep paths (you can take the funicular too). The whole building has been great fully renovated in a very interesting way, with wooden and concrete interiors, which give it some modern artistic flavour.
I stay in Ljubljana just for three days, and I wonder if or when I will be there again. This city feels warm and exciting at the same time, and, even for restless fragments like me, worth considering even living.
Surroundings: lakes & nature. The first stop is Bled. To me, a very much overrated destination. Lake is pretty, true, but tourists and cars swamp it, traffic is awful and finding parking a challenge. We favour Lake Bohinj much more than Bled! We stop the car along the road, find a beach (there are only other very few people around) and crystal clear water and a scenic view are all for us. Cold water and wind are not enough to stop us from jumping into the lake. The other spot that attracts our attention is the Vintgar Gorge. Some pros and cons. The views, the colour of the water and the waterfalls are beautiful (and the entry is very cheap). It is very crowded, unfortunately, and at some points can happen to proceed as if queueing. Not the best feeling, but the landscape can help to overcome this bug.
Back to Hamburg, a tick on my visited countries’ list and a smile on my face. My heart feels lighter, after travelling.