Our train left the from the worst train station in all of Europe. Seriously, we had a nine hour train ride ahead of us, so we planned to buy a couple of things to eat from the train station for the duration. However, unless we wanted to eat some E. Coli kebabs or some sort of “pizza” that looked like what a pizza might look like if its parents were cousins, our choices were limited. We settled for a couple of biscuits, diet cokes, and some ice cream bars. Lunch/Dinner of champions right there.
The train ride itself started off uneventful. With the exception of some train nerds who jumped out at every stop to take pictures of various trains, we rode in our own little cabin in peace. However, when we crossed the border into Slovenia, it was like a volcano filled with beautifulness exploded all over the place.
Part of Slovenia is located in the “Julian Alps,” and the train ride to Ljubljana hugs the mountains. Because of all the rain (sigh), everything was super green with low hanging fog and a river. Thinking we might have entered an alternative universe, Blake and I stared out the window for the last 2 hours of the train.
However, we discovered we were still on Earth when we arrived in Ljubljana, and after a mostly uneventful trek to our hotel, we found a pizza place and proceeded to eat the entire large pie (I ate my half! That’s unheard of!)
Before this trip, I had not heard much about Slovenia, and that’s just craziness. It feels sorta undiscovered, with a lack of giant tour groups chattering away and blocking your way towards everything. Ljubljana has restaurants and umbrellas flanking a river that runs through town, and it is all very romantic.
Most riverside restaurants had the 2012 Euro Cup playing on giant tvs outside, so we found one near our hotel, bought some gelato, and watched the end of the match before heading back to our hotel.
In Budapest, Blake and I discovered that the only real way to get from Ljubljana to Dubrovnik was via an overnight train. We attempted to buy tickets online, but were thwarted at every turn. However, after arriving in Slovenia, we tried at the train station and were able to get the sleeper car (Woo! I have grown to love sleeper cars) fairly easily and were gearing up for a fight with our hotel about cancelling the last night’s reservation in Ljubljana. BUT! Despite the hotel attendant’s surly demeanor, we had no real problem. Success!
Because our time in Slovenia had been cut a little short, we decided to take a day trip to Lake Bled on our full day and spend the next day exploring Ljubljana before catching our train to Croatia.
Lake Bled was beyond beautiful. We sauntered around the3.5 mile path around the lake at a leisurely one mile per hour pace (there were a LOT of pictures taken.)
Apparently the Junior Euro Rowing Championship was happening while we were there, so we spent some time watching some really fit teenagers row themselves across the lake.
We spent the time chanting “USA! USA! USA!” until we realized that the USA wasn’t competing (no we didn’t.) Seriously, how does one get into rowing? It looks so painful. Plus, how do you not get motion sick, riding backwards the whole time? The world wants to know.
We finally reached little boats called pletnas that are similar to gondolas in Italy, if gondolas had about 18 people in each one (but still only one rower.) Apparently all the pletnas on the lake are owned by one family who passes down the little boats from generation to generation. At the end of each day, the boat rowers combine all their money into one pot and split it amongst the rest of the cartel.
Because Blake and I only comprise of 1/9 of the required boatload, we sat around and waited until a tour bus of Germans (much to Blake’s delight. He LOVES Germans) emptied out into one of the pletnas, and Blake and I scooted on behind them.
The pletna took us to a teensy tinsy island with a church, a café, and some bathrooms.
We walked around for 30 minutes daring each other to jump in the water (neither of us did) before scooching back on the boat with our German friends and heading back. We spent the rest of the boat ride attempting to decipher the German happening around us (Blake – “They said ‘five.’ They are definitely talking about the number ‘five.’”)
After our little boating adventure, we decided to up the “life or death” ante, and found a ski lift and luge combination further down the path.
The top of the chair lift was beautiful and the luge ride was appropriately death-defying (Got to love getting instructions on how to accelerate and brake in another language. It adds another whole level of risk).
PLUS! There were just some sheep hanging out on the luge ride’s path! I wanted to hop out and pet them, but Blake assured me that was frowned upon.
We finally reached the end of the path and found a lake-side restaurant to have some dinner (we were SO HUNGRY. And by we, I mean the one of us who hadn’t been eating multiple Cliff’s bars because his “blood sugar is low.” A likely excuse.)
Our bus ride back to Ljubljana introduced us to the most annoying girl of all time. We spent the majority of the ride eavesdropping on her conversation with her “boyfriend” (quote used because I am not sure he would agree with the “boyfriend” title), which wasn’t that necessary because she had apparently never been taught the difference between her inside voice and her outside voice. This wonder of womanhood loved the following – talking in baby voice, eying me suspiciously while in the middle of making out with her “boyfriend,” repeating inane phrases like “I am SO happy!” and “I feel like we have gotten so much closer” and “Did you know Beyonce is part French?”, as well as turning COMPLETELY around (the better to stare at me) and make out with her “boyfriend” constantly – complete with “kissing” noises and much to his consternation. Blake and I stared determinedly ahead for the 1.5 hour ride back and then made fun of her as soon as we exited the bus. We still enjoy staring at one another and saying, “I am SO happy!” in a tiny baby voice from time to time. Try it. It’s fun.
We ate some more gelato back in town and watched some more Euro Cup before heading back up to our hotel.
Our next day in Ljubljana was mostly uneventful. They city is low key, so we walked around the square, found a market where we bought some strawberries, and took the funicular up to the (boring) castle.
After walking around for a while, we went back to the market and bought some cherries (from the most honest farmer of all time – not speaking the language, I handed him 4 euros [the cost of a kilo worth of cherries] and he filled the bag up. He weighed it and then handed me half my money back – I would never have known the difference either way – the bag looked pretty full to me!) We also found a vending machine where you could buy a plastic milk container and fill it with however much fresh, raw milk you wanted for only 1 euro for a liter.
Curious, we tried out ½ a liter first, and after our initial taste went back and bought an entire other liter. It was basically the best thing ever created in the entire world.
We found a bench and dined on cherries and raw milk.
We’ll see what our stomachs have to say about this a little later, but our taste buds were happy. Even more awesomely – I found a wool shop full of knitted socks, hats, scarves, sweaters, AND Slovenian wool/yarn! I celebrated by buying some yarn (the best way to celebrate things, in my opinion).
Of course, it wouldn’t be this Europe trip without some rain, so we took refuge in a McDonald’s before finding an amazing restaurant (named As – this is important later) for dinner. Our waiter suggested Blake order the burger, which was labeled as the “As Burger” in the menu (say it to yourself). So Blake did. He ordered an “ass burger.” Luckily, our waiter was awesome and after laughing with me for a solid 30 seconds, he gently corrected Blake’s pronunciation. Ace burger. Not Ass burger. Once that was settled, we ordered an amazing strawberry cake (Kristi – “When you say strawberry cake, what do you mean? “ Waiter – “Well. Strawberries. In Cake? And on cake? Strawberry cake.”) and ate ourselves silly.
We are now on a train to Zagreb (after which we catch a train to Split and then bus to Dubrovnik, whew) and let me tell you – Slovenia is flaunting her beauty on the way out as well, that little minx.
And finally – random picture time: