Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Ljubljana, Slovenia

One of the four guardians on Dragon Bridge.

Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia. It was supposedly founded by Jason, the Greek mythological hero, and his Argonauts, after they stole the Golden Fleece from King Aeetes. I think they also killed a dragon in the area and now the city claims the dragon as their mascot. That seems a little backwards. Who knows. They are still looking for evidence to back this up so maybe they will know one day.

Plecnik Colonnade and the backside of the Vodnikov Trg Central Market.

Ljubljana was where I spent my last day in Europe before going home to the USA for a week. Going home was a good thing. 1,129km in 12 days without a rest day was too much. My calves were hurting. They felt like they wanted to explode even on the downhill and flat 58km day to the capital of Slovenia. Unfortunately, my first day in Ljubljana was kind of a bust, but it wasn't because I was hurting though I am sure that didn't help. I rolled into my hostel checked in and asked about my camera. It wasn't there and I wasn't very happy about it. It set the tone for a bad day and took up a lot of time trying to make it get there. It didn't. Blah, blah, blah, I recanted that drama in another post.

One of many busts that lined a single street in Ljubljana.

Ljubljana is a good city to take a time out in. It is small. It has cafe culture out the wazoo. It has lazy rivers to stroll along. Just don't try to bike along them. They have a castle that everyone talks dominating Ljubljana and I guess it does from a sky view, but you just can't see it from most parts of the city. I was in the city a full day before I saw it. Usually, there is a building in the way on the narrow streets. Sometimes, you can see a corner of it, but never a dominating view. I might have just been in the wrong part of the city though.

Ljubljana castle wall, courtyard, and the city below.

Ljubljana's guardian, the dragon, on a step up to the tower.

My hostel might have been the most interesting part of my first visit. It is in the Metelkova area which was an army base, then became a hippie colony, then squatters took over. It seems to live by different rules that the rest of the city based on how it looks and certainly how it sounds late into the night. My specific building was a jail and they have had designers come in and create a single cell so every room looks different. Lots of fun to see, but a little overpriced for what they offer for my tastes. Their staff was hit and miss. Their pay to use internet was terrible. You got a login, but the logout never worked so if you did not use it one sitting, you were out of luck.

The Metelkova area

A new version of David in the Metelkova area

Those crazy kids in the Metelkova area

My favorite sculpture in the Metelkova area

What else . . . . I got my best massage yet in Europe. I wish I had an excuse to go back after I flew back in from the states, but I couldn't justify it. I had a great falafel while listening to good 'ol American Blues about 12 hours before I went home. Through the power of friends (and facebook), I was able to find someone to babysit my bike in Ljubljana so that I could fly home for my dad's memorial and a friend's wedding without worrying about it sitting in a hostel where they won't take responsibility for it. I cannot say my thanks enough to Carolina and her husband who took a huge stress off of me while I went home.

St. Peter's bridge.

A bridge decorated for the 2010 ICF Kayak and Canoe Slalom World Championships.

When I got back from my one week in the states, I had hoped to catch the overnight train to Split. However, I got my bike too late and it did not appear you could take bikes on the train. Based on my Krakow disaster, I just decided to bike the next big leg of my trip. It also gave me another day to check out Ljubljana.

A family street fair in one of the communities just beyond the city center.

Selling wares along the river.

It was still a small wonderful city, but I was able to enjoy it this time. I sat down at those cafes. I visited the castle. I caught a bunch of live street music. I think my favorite had to be the mariachi band. I don't associate Mexican music with Slovenia, but hey, why not. In all fairness, the second time I heard them they were doing less mariachi and more big brass and both were fantastic. I heard one band I am going to guess was doing local music and another was doing big band era swing on the river. Hmm, hmm, good.

Philharmonic Hall with live music outside.

Presernov Trg and the Triple Bridge

Unfortunately, the morning I was leaving, all of this goodness was washed down the drain in a fit of nausea. As most of you know, I am not a killer. I don't eat meat. I will try to shoo a bug out of the tent instead of squashing it, though sandflies, mosquitos, and any ticks on Sabah and I are not usually afforded that hospitality. What did I kill you ask? I killed a bird. I was trying to bike down the river one last time and was going super slow because of the huge amount of pedestrian traffic. I had already dodged a couple birds but this was one decided to land under my tire. I had no chance to react. I heard the sickening crunch of its light brittle bones. I looked back and it was not moving. Wow, I suck at life. I know it wasn't my fault, but I do have that control issue thing which tries to make me believe I could have avoided it. Yeah for guilt. An Italian rider I met suggested it was a birdie suicide. Anyway, that is what I would call an inauspicious restart to my trip. Luckily, I have not had a truck make my bones make that sickening crunch.

More decorations for the Kayak and Canoe Slalom Championships.

Ljubljanica River.

1 comment:

  1. Poor birdie. Birdie suicide? That's the first I heard of that term. I was watching a PBS show about Zion National Park's failing ecosystem because of the lack of a top predator (to eat the deers, who eats all the vegetation that in the end provides shade for the rivers and fishes, etc.). Anyway, consider yourself a top predator and that you probably saved the Slovenia ecosystem. :-)

    Did I read something about your father's MEMORIAL?! I missed a lot of things going on in your life recently. My condolences.