Before we go any further, let’s establish something off the bat.
In Slovenian, the ‘j’ is pronounced like an English ‘y.’
So: Ljubljana is Lyooblyeeahna. Looks like it’s missing some vowels, takes some getting used to, but it starts to make sense soon enough.
Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia, and its widely regarded as one of Europe’s most underrated capitals. It’s pretty, it’s on a river, there’s a castle, there’s craft beer and a dragon bridge – what more could you ask for?
What’s that? Cheese dumplings and apple strudel, you say?
Yeah, that too.
I can vouch that both of these dishes were delicious and can be obtained from the restaurant Julija, which based on my knowledge of Slovenian ‘j’s and Internet memes is probably pronounced like this: “NOMNOMNOM.”
Jared and I didn’t really do anything in Ljubljana, but that was the whole point. We didn’t spend time on our phones, or watching TV, or sitting in the same chair all day, wishing we were somewhere else. We used our legs, our eyes, our ears, our brains: all of those things that make us human, that we don’t fully engage as often as we should. (I would also like to take this time to say that I still do not understand why the 9-5 workday continues to be the standard. But that is a rant for another day.)
When we planned our compact Euro-Thai vacation, there was one question hovering at the back of our minds: “Is this ten days going to be over so fast it doesn’t seem worth it?”
Well, it wasn’t. Ten good days, where you are in control of what you do and when you do it, is worth 30 days of routine. It felt so much longer, and the last two nights in Ljubljana capped it off.
There’s a castle, first of all, and you can walk to it from town. While the castle itself didn’t do much for me, the views did. I understand now why my cat Mittens liked to observe the world from the top of the fridge: no matter what you’re looking at, it’s more captivating when viewed from above.
Also, there be dragons (I feel like that is now the correct grammar when referring to dragons) in Ljubljana. Dragons are the focal point of much of the city’s merchandise, as well as its manhole covers. Of the city’s major bridges, it’s hard to identify which is the most famous, but the dragon bridge is obviously a strong contender.
Legend goes that when a virgin crosses the bridge, the dragon’s tail will twitch. Of course, the predictable punchline is that no one has ever seen it happen. Because obviously, virgins are hard to come by! *cue hilarious laugh track*
There’s an artsy vibe in Ljubljana, and I think that’s what really clinched it for me. Call it hipster if you like, but doing so would be a) lazy and b) selling the place short. Ljubljana, I’d definitely hang out with you again. If I saw you on Tinder, I’d swipe right. Or left. Whichever way is the good one. I’m married and even if I wasn’t, Tinder is too weird for me.
The best destinations are the ones that turn out to be more than you expected, and Ljubljana was that for me. I didn’t get to know it as well as I would have liked, but I can say confidently that we’re now on a first-name basis.