My wife’s eyes were apologetic as we drove into Ljubljana. As we’d planned this trip, she’d booked our stops in Slovenia, and I’d booked those in Croatia, and at our first stop in Slovenia we found ourselves surrounded by blocks of Communist-looking office buildings: big, square, with water-stained concrete faces and A/C units protruding from a lucky smattering of windows. She was going for adorable and rustic, not socialist realism. We parked under our hotel, an imposing baroque building at the end of a square that looked like it had been built in the ’70s to some ’60s vision of what the future would look like in the ’90s. We changed our clothes, got ready to explore Ljubjlana, made a right turn out of the hotel entrance, and were suddenly surrounded by postcard-perfect adorable 1870s Eastern European city.
Ljublana’s old town is centered around a 15th-century castle on the top of a steep hill, with a quiet little river below. The Ljublanans love their bridges, and have one every few blocks — most famously, the dragon bridge:
The old town is a beautiful pastiche of pastel baroque facades, with broad streets that curve to follow the river:
It’s just as charming at night, when light from the buildings spreads out over the cobblestone streets. Cafes line the streets and the river, and the food is delicious. We had an amazing dinner of typical local food — game, with sauces including mushrooms and sour cherries (not at the same time, don’t worry!), and various carbs that all seem to be vehicles for cheese. And you know how I love both game and cheese!
All of the attractions and cafes were open surprisingly late, and we got to see the castle at sundown. We took a funicular up the steep hillside, then climbed an amazing spiral staircase that never seemed to end (seen here from halfway up):
Finally, we reached the top, and were treated to an amazing panorama (glamorous wife may not be included in your panorama):
As the sun went down and the streets were lighted from the windows of the classic buildings that lined them, the city was just as cute:
Ljubljana was incredibly charming, with friendly people everywhere. Now, on to Bled, at the foot of the Julian Alps!