Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Ljubljana (Lyoo-BLYAH-nah), Slovenia

>>> Hello Slovenia <<<

Ljubljana is the red flag in Slovenia, and you can see Strasbourg near a northeastern point of France. 

Note to readers: I'm playing catch up with this blog post because I needed the get the pictures from a friend's camera. The weekend trip to Slovenia was October 6-9th, and I'm in the middle of writing the post for London this past weekend. (Scholarship applications and school work have been stealing just a bit of my attention, also.) 

Four friends and I made the LONGGG trip to Ljubljana, Slovenia for a long weekend. I’m running low on time, but I want to get this post up before I head out of town tomorrow… Bear with me as you read the fragmented skeleton of what should’ve been a really nice blog post, and I hope you enjoy the sensory overload with all of the pictures... 10 points if you're not my parents and you make it to the bottom of this post.J
The lady who was taking the picture suggested a 'weird pic. This is in downtown Ljubljana.
 We left for Ljubljana on Thursday at 9:30p.m., and we arrived back in Strasbourg Monday at 11:00a.m. The bus rides were around 12 hours there and 14 hours home (due to 3 extremely thorough border patrol stops in Austria, Germany, and France). I would’ve liked to sleep better than I did on the overnight buses, but neither trip was too miserable.

Eventually I’m going to have to stop saying this, but this was the most exciting weekend for me since I arrived in Europe on August 28th. Ljubljana was such a pleasant city, and our day trips were full of remarkable sights. It hurts my heart to think I may never return to see this lovely country again.

A view of Ljubljana from the castle. 
Another huge thank you to Natalia for all of these amazing photos we were able to take on her camera during our trip.

The weekend went like this:


We left Strasbourg in the evening.
We could barely contain our excitement as we started our adventure.
After a layover in Karlsruhe, Germany, we settled in for the overnight trip to Ljubljana.
I woke up to admire this portion of the Alps,
and then I fell back asleep like this for the last hour of the ride.


I woke up early in the morning to the Slovenian border and my first ever views of the Alps.
We arrived in Ljubljana and made our way to our hostel.
We wandered aimlessly around the city, drank coffee, and ate delectable Slovenian cuisine.
(There’s a market with the best restaurants from all around coming together on Fridays!)
The castle was calling our names, so we ventured to the top that overlooked all of Ljubljana.
At the castle we stumbled upon a group of Portuguese speakers… it’s a very small world.
Trivoli Park and Pivnica Union Pub made the first day lineup, also.
Slovenian food snatched my approval quite easily, and we were lucky to have the name of a hole-in-the-wall restaurant from another exchange student at EM who’s from Ljubljana.

We get kind of excited about Brazilian flags :)  
There are a surprising number of dinosaur statues around Ljubljana.


10am bus to Lake Bled. Quite naturally, we met three new Portuguese friends on the bus.
After venturing up to the castle, we went to a cute restaurant on the lake for lunch.
I enjoyed the soup, and snagged a bite of Lake Bled’s famous Cream Cake from my friends.

Naturally, we found three Portuguese who study in Triste, Italy on the bus from Ljubljana to Lake Bled, and we spent the morning with them! I missed my Portuguese girls from Stras this weekend, but it was fun to meet a few more. :) 

Lake Bled Castle

Friends enjoyed this famous Lake Bled Cream Cake!

From there, we made the 4km walk to Vingtar Gorge.
The small residential areas and countrysides we walked through were so nice.
Once we reached the gorge, the super clear, bright blue water took us aback.
This stood out to me as significantly clearer than Lake Superior, which seems unreal to me.
We could see trout fighting the current, and it was just so undisturbed and peaceful.
Walking back, we enjoyed a slightly different route with equally awesome views.


Once back in Ljubljana, we went to a touristy restaurant because our hostel had coupons.
I ate a great vegetarian casserole, and we all enjoyed an overly exaggerated Slovenian meal.


10am bus to Divača, Slovenia.
4km walk to Škocjan Caves. (Laugh and pretend we didn’t walk on the side of a busy road.)

I can’t describe the caves in a way that will do them justice. UNESCO protects these caves for a really good reason. The stalactite, stalagmite, and columns of the Silent Cave system were absolutely amazing. Every 50 years, stalactite in this part of the cave grows 1 centimeter. Just thinking about that fact as I looked around at the complex system of what thousands of years had created all around me made me feel insignificant in a really cool way. 

Moving forward to the flowing water section of the cave, I was completely in awe. I’m sharing pictures so you have some type of reference, but please do not think these pictures capture the magnitude of the natural beauty these caves possess.
Photos aren't allowed inside the cave, but I found this professional photo online. This is the best picture I found to document the size of the cave. I wish it were realistic to tell all of my friends and family to go see it for themselves.
After Floris and I raced up the hill to the information center, we discovered that the last bus back to Divača had just left… We were trying to be responsible and pay for a bus back to Divača since we felt so unsafe walking over to the site of the caves, but we were given a walking map that led us back to Divača via a much safer route through the woods. It was a gorgeous walk, and we arrived back in Divača in just enough time to catch the last train to Ljubljana.
We were on the wrong trail here, but it was a beautiful wrong turn. 
This is the view from the location of the pictures above. Again, wow. Slovenia is so perfect. 
We got to Ljubljana with just enough time to grab some dinner and last minute souvenirs, get back to the hostel to pick up our luggage, and head to the bus station.


We got back to Strasbourg a couple hours later than expected, but otherwise it was a fine trip home.
Thank you to every single one of these friends for such a great trip. Love you all dearly!
It’s funny how after hugs, kisses, and goodbyes at the bus station the next thoughts were, “Oh yeah we need to get together today to book the hostel for Thursday-Sunday in London.” It's also funny how hugs and kisses so naturally accompany goodbyes here.

A post about London is coming soon! Then Friday my friends and I are taking off for our fall break trip around Eastern Europe!

Thanks for keeping up with my adventures.

Love, Jules
"Wander with wonder and the whole world becomes home." - Tyler Knott Gregson


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