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Ljubljana, Sunday 29th May

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Grey LjubljanaI was a bit lackluster about Ljubljana yesterday, but enjoyed it a lot more today. Perhaps the rain clouds disappearing, and return of warm, blue skies helped. Didn’t help Sylvia. She was the tired one today, and crawled gratefully into bed and crashed. We did do a lot of walking.

The castle that sits above Ljubljana is called…Ljubljana Castle. They have taken a different approach in restoring this as a tourist attraction. With so many cities based, (logically enough in historical terms), around a castle, they can become a bit dime-a-dozen. The local authorities dust it off, restore it to perfection, and then try and flog it as a tourist attraction. They do tend to blend into each other after awhile, the details get a bit blurred.

Ljubljana has taken a different approach. Instead ot treating it like an old building to be restored to original format in every detail, they have treated it like a interpretive fitout of, say, a quarry or an underground mine.

They have cut chunks out and exposed the guts of it, filled gaps with new work, sometimes meticulously reproducing old skills, other times deliberately ‘industrializing’ it with raw steel and poured concrete. It feels like you are walking through a life-size cutaway model.

In other parts they have simply replaced parts with new functioning areas, so there will now be a suspended floor joining two spaces, a huge underground area turned into a gallery or function space.

Old bones with new flesh being added

All very stylishly done by swish architects and engineers, a nice mix of old and new.

There’s a historical museum and a 3D show. Slovenia has such a complex history you’d have to gloss over it anyway, but there’s simply holes in the conversation where they don’t want to talk too much about what happened. I didn’t know much about the Italian and German occupation during the Second World War…that was pretty disturbing. But there was too much detail on the communist period – or more than I was prepared to digest, and almost nothing on the civil war.

For the day we caught the funicular up to the castle, and later walked back down, then walked around the town again, found a few more things to look at, had lunch at the castle, an icecream and a coffee along the river promenade, sat in the sun and so on. Which is what most everyone else was doing, tourists and locals alike.

Blue sky dragon

I’ve tried a few local beers, but business here is based on flogging cheep booze to tourists, so there doesn’t seem to be the same local specialties. You can get a watery dark beer, but bottled only. You can buy a Fosters though, or an American Budweiser. Silly. You can get pretty complex cocktails, but Sylvia’s attempt to order a coffee cocktail went bizarrely astray. The waiter took the menu off her, read and re-read the coffee cocktail description as if we had written it, consulted the other waiters, (much shoulder shrugging and accusations) and eventually came back with two black coffees.

I haven’t watched any tv at all so far, so I might have missed the tv campaign that holds it together, but in Austria and now Slovenia I have seen Diesel clothing posters that show groups of earnest young people. They seem to be arriving at a destination, or on a journey. But each poster has the same catchphrase/slogan: “Diesel: Land of the Stupid, Home of the Brave”. Maybe for non-English speakers this interprets differently, but what sort of branding is that?


Houses along the canal

In the afternoon we walked back to the train station to buy tickets for Karlovac in Croatia. The woman selling tickets wouldn’t sell to us, because we admitted we hadn’t asked the man in the information centre. When we told him this, he shook his head and sent us back, and this time she sold us the ticket….same request, same information. Aah, job satisfaction comes in many forms. She certainly seemed to appear satisfied.

Why Karlovac? Well, Karlovac is as close as we can get to Plitvice by rail, and you can get there from Ljubljana in a two-train jump. From there we will either catch a bus to Plitvice, or hire a car if we can. The bus is apparently a bit unreliable. Like, you can’t book a seat and it doesn’t stop if it’s full.

None of the agencies will allow an online car-hire booking from Karlovac, but it’s a biggish town with an industrial base, so I expect there will be some sort of hire available. Ideally we will spend a day/night in Plitvice national park, or thereabouts, and then either take the car on to the coast at Zadar, or return it to Karlovac and get back on the train to Zadar.

One way or another, another few days and we’ll be leaving the mountains behind for the Adriatic Sea.

Written by wurstofvienna2011

May 29, 2011 at 8:27 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Hi Ian
    Great catching up with your adventures. I’m sure you are beginning to forget things from the start of the journey but I am really looking forward to seeing you in the Lederhose shorts.
    the scenery looks amazing. I reckon I could spend a month in just one of those places. Your descriptions of castles are very enticing. The photos look great, it’s hard to believe there are so many places of interest. Perhaps I will retire soon and travel for a year.
    Your writing has improved. The irony brings a smile to the cold wet winter back here in Melbourne.

    Little to report of National interest so please keep the blog going. Now that I’ve caught up I’ll be able to respond more frequently.



    John Stone

    May 30, 2011 at 10:06 am

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