So I’m travelling again, this time in Europe. This trip started in Slovenia, moved on to Italy and will continue to France.
Apart from anything else I needed to get away from the endless debates about Brexit. You know how it is; something happens – a resignation, a new law, whatever – and then there is a discussion about how this might change things.
Then the thing I hate the most, the Vox Pop. This is where they say ‘let’s go out on the street and ask the people of (insert any small, middle-England town here) what they think’. We then have to listen to somebody tell us how he’s never trusted the French ever since his cousin’s friend’s Auntie once came back with food poisoning, so that’s why we should just get on with it and leave.
Really there should be a minimum intelligence level before we let people share their opinions. Vox Pop’s are not news. I don’t care what John from Sunderland thinks.
So it seemed as good a time as ever to get away. Going further afield didn’t seem like a great idea at the moment, since I am unable to get insurance for my poorly knee and, should it flare up again, I’d be faced with potentially heavy medical bills. So I arranged this little trip into Europe, whilst we still have a reciprocal health agreement.
A Travel Milestone
Slovenia represented a travel milestone; it turns out to be my 100th country. I say this in full knowledge that I find country-counting a bit sad and pathetic; it is, after all, about quality not quantity. Plus the main reason that I have hit this milestone is that I changed the way I calculated. I previously said that I had to stay at least 24 hours before I was allowed to count it but I changed it to allow places that I had taken day trips. This gave me Monaco, Luxembourg, Slovakia and a whole heap of places where, really, a day trip is sufficient. Hence: triple figures.
Slovenia was formally part of Yugoslavia, gaining independence in 1991 in a near-bloodless ten-day coup. It is a small country with just 45 kilometres of coastline (Croatia claimed the bulk of the coastline). The rest of the country is made up of forests (in Europe, only Sweden and Finland have a higher proportion of forest), lakes, caves, medieval towns and Unesco world heritage sites.
I opted to stay in Ljubljana and travel out from there each day. The lazy choice maybe, but it puts less stress on my knee not to have to carry my bag every day and also less stress on me not to have to get up, find the bus station and move on every day. Few places are more than an hour and a half away from the capital.
The capital, Ljubljana (let’s do it slowly together: ly-oob-lee-ahn-a), is a small city; it really doesn’t feel like a capital city at all (I remember having the same feeling in Zagreb). It was busy (I got there first week of September) but not ridiculously crowded like Florence or Barcelona.
Things to see in Ljubljana
It is a great city to walk around and see what you find. It isn’t chock-a-block with must see’s, although I suppose if anything comes into the category of must sees it would be the castle. Ljubljana’s castle is like the Eiffel Tower; wherever you go in the city you can see the castle perched up on its hill.
Other things to see
Metelkova art and cultural space.
In the 1990s, this former army barracks was taken over by a bunch of artists. The government was threatening demolition and the artists squatted there to protect it.
Now it has become a small area where you can hang out, admire the artwork, get a drink and maybe see a concert in summer. There is even a hotel there (Hostel Celica) in a former prison, where you sleep in converted jail cells. Unfortunately it was fully booked when I tried to get a room last minute, but reviews are great.
There are several companies offering cruises down the river; all last around 45 minutes and cost 10 euros. Walking along the river bank works equally well, and there were also some people on stand up paddle-boards.