Ljubljana: The City of Dragons

I can’t believe that I am going to try to fit a month’s worth of experiences into one blog post. Ljubljana deserves several blog posts though because it is that amazing!

I had honestly never heard of Ljubljana before seeing the Remote Year itinerary when it was released early this year. I definitely had no idea how to pronounce it! A lot of my friends and family referred to it as “the city with the L’s and J’s”. For those of you who are unsure like I was here is the phonetic pronunciation [lyoo-BLYAH-nah] and you can watch a video on how to pronounce it here.

Slovenia has some really interesting history. It was part of Yugoslavia until its independence in 1991. The country is extremely beautiful even though it is rather small in size and population with just over 2 million people. The diversity of scenery in Slovenia is incredible. You can be in the forest, up in the mountains, or relaxing by the sea all in the same day!

I really didn’t know what to expect from Ljubljana, but I was oddly excited to find out. Ljubljana has a population of almost 300,000. This makes it about the size of Toledo, Ohio. However, I think that is one of the only similarities it has to that mid-sized city in the U.S. Midwest.

We took a long double-decker bus ride from Prague to Ljubljana. It was a great time to bond with some of the others on Remote Year. A group of us sat on the top level and got to know each other by asking the 36 Questions that Lead to Love. These were recently posted in the New York Times. This was a really intense way to understand the groups background, happiest times, and interesting thoughts. We arrived at our hostel late at night. I must admit that we were not impressed with the Ljubljana that we saw that night. It didn’t help that the place we were staying was sub-par high school dorm. Our accommodations for the month were a big frustration for many. It wasn’t the most comfortable situation for me, but I just tried to spend as much time as possible outside exploring the city. I was really only there to sleep. It was definitely unfortunate that there was a heat wave during this time since we didn’t have air conditioning in the dorm. The temperatures got as high as 99 F (~38 C).

The city is extremely bikable! I was beyond excited to get a bike and ride around the city. Ljubljana was recently ranked #13 most bike-friendly city in the world and recently won the 2016 European Green Capital award. (I was excited to see that Minneapolis was ranked #18 and is the only United States city represented!). I loved biking around the city with my new bike. Ljubljana did have a nice bike share system called Bicikelj that only cost 1 Euro for the month and 3 Euro for the year!

We had a fantastic workspace this month! Poligon was a co-working space that was utlized by many startups and freelancers in the city. The space was creative and collaborative! The people we met there were also absolutely fantastic. It really felt like the perfect place for us to be working and creating. Remote Year was able to collaborate with them on many events which I appreciated. This gave us a chance to interact and connect with the locals. Some of those that we met at Poligon really did become great friends. I do hope that our paths will cross again someday.

The city was just constantly filled with great events and fantastic art. Here are some things I was able to see and experience while I was there:

  • Two Cellos – Amazing cello duo that played a variety of covers. I loved the performance!

  • Film Under the Stars– This was held at the palace courtyard that looked out over the city. They even had free gelato. 🙂 It was one of my favorite events in Ljubljana. I went twice!

  • Metalkova – We spent numerous evenings hanging out with the locals at this spot. This location used to be the Slovenian headquarters of the Yugoslav Army. It is now home to very interesting art and sculpture, bars and nightclubs. It attracts a really diverse group of people as well. We enjoyed meeting locals and hanging out in the tree house.

  • 4th of July in Ljubljana – It was great to celebrate this American holiday with the Slovenians.

I had some great food while in Ljubljana as well. I wasn’t particularly impressed with the quality of the coffee, but there were some lovely cafes and restaurants!

  • Open Kitchen (food market) – Every weekend we would attend the open kitchen food market. There were a variety of vendors from Egyptian food to Traditional Slovenian to Argentinian. It was all excellent and was very well attended!

  • Cacao – We were all obsessed with Cacao! They had excellent gelato, but beyond that they had this excellent dessert called the Venezuela which was just cut fruit with cream. The cream did not include sugar and was just absolutely delicious!

  • Fresh Bar/Cafe– I just loved that this cafe was in a small, quiet neighborhood. There was also a deal to get a toast (which is a ham and cheese sandwich), orange juice, and a cappuccino for just 3 Euro!

  • Lolita – I loved the waffles with fruit here and the chocolate croissants. I was once in Vienna and had the best chocolate croissant ever, but I think Lolita has recently taken the lead!

Outside of Ljubljana, I was able to visit some other areas of Slovenia. We took a day trip to Lake Bled. The lake was beautiful and the water was so clear! We had such a lovely day relaxing near the lake and visiting the booths of local vendors. I was told that Lake Bohinj is an even better location to visit as it is significantly less touristy. I didn’t make it there on this trip, but maybe in the future.

The Skocjan Caves were absolutely incredible! Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take pictures in the most beautiful sections, but it was worth the trip! The caves are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the largest known underground canyons in the world!

I also spent a day by myself biking around the countryside of Slovenia. I was riding through farms and stopping at rivers. It was fun to go off on my own and explore. It was extremely hot on this day though and I drank both of my bottles of water pretty quickly. Luckily, a nice family welcomed me to fill them up so that I could make the return trip to Ljubljana.

Finally- here are some additional pictures to convince you to vacation in Ljubljana, Slovenia:

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