24.08.2013 - 27.08.2013 36 °C
Before we set out on planning this trip we had already arranged to go on a group holiday to Cyprus with our friends at the end of July and as such booked cheap flights from Milan to Larnaca, so as we were drawing closer to the end of July we needed to head towards Italy. However we wanted to get in as much as we could before then, so got on the train sites and looked at cheap train journeys from Munich to some where in north Italy. I really wanted to explore some of the more eastern European countries after hearing and reading amazing things about them, plus I wanted to visit them before they got too touristy. As it turned out we could do a 6 hour train journey from Munich to Ljubljana (the capital of Slovenia) for €40 each. Neither of us knew much about Slovenia but thought it'll just be for 3 days so lets check it out and from there we can easily cross the boarder in to Italy. So after a 6 hour journey with a lovely America couple and an eccentric Austria lady we arrived at Ljubljana.
Along the train ride the scenery was breath taking, passing by; the Bavarian woods, into the Austrian Alps and then the mountains of Slovenia, however upon arriving we were not sure what we had let our selves in for as it was the usual run down high rise area you get around all train stations. After a mile with the child sized bags we arrived at our hostel Vila Veselova http://www.v-v.si/en/directions a beautiful old converted house with only a few rooms, a small kitchen and communal area. The hostel was fab they offered a free breakfast, a very strong shot on arrival, gave you maps and advice of what to see and do. This hostel also seemed to be the most social so far, upon arriving we had met two lovely americans, Rick who had been travelling Europe for well over a year and Darlene who was leaving that day to go back to Singapore where she now lives (who kindly offered to show us round when we get there) after dumping our bags we went for a short walk to the centre of town which had a beautiful river flowing through the middle. Later that evening while making dinner we met Daisy a lovely Australian with a similar humour to us and Ben a student form New York, who later persuaded us to go out for cocktails, Daisy, Nick and I left early as we wanted to go on the walking tour the next morning and left Ben to it.
The next morning we were up and showered met Daisy and went to the start of the tour where we discovered the majority of our hostel, all of whom talked English rather well. Rick had met friends in Bled who joined us too from another hostel and Daisy's room mate Natalia who also met a friend from another hostel Tom. So already there was a large group of us chatting about where we have been and where we were going, giving each other ideas and advice. The Tour was Fantastic with a guide who was enthusiastic and extremely knowledgeable as he was an Art History lecturer at the University (which is free to attend in Slovenia).
After the tour a few guys went off for lunch, leaving Nick, Natalia and I who decided to explore the castle on the top of the hill. Now this was a beautiful building but not really much to see when you got up there. The castle had been turned into a restaurant and a few bars a great place for weddings and parties. You could see a virtual tour of the castle and go up the tower, but for €8 each it really wasn't worth it, so we soon headed back down. The weather was hot in it's early 30's so sight seeing and lots of walking was out of the question. We therefore decided we would explore the large park (you by now know we love a park) that was next to our hostel. We went off to the supermarket for supplies and bumped into the guys from earlier who were also heading there so tagged along and spent the afternoon chilling in the park chatting about our countries and how they differ in education, politics and culture as well as swopping stories. By 19:00 we were all peckish so headed off to town for a spot of tea, where we discovered a lovely Mexican place by the river and stayed there eating, chatting and drinking till the early hours. Again Nick and I had to leave early as we were catching an 08:00 bus to Bled so needed the sleep...
... However in the morning and due to a little be of faffing on my part we had to run to the bus station in 30 degree heat and then just missed it by minutes so had to wait an hour for the next one. We used the time however to book a minibus to Venice (yes minibus, thanks to Daisy we discovered you could go by minibus to Venice in two hours for €25 each, rather than the 7 hour journey by two trains and a bus we looking at for a little more money). Once on the bus (€14 each return) we enjoyed a nice air-con drive to Bled a large lake just two hours outside Ljubljana, where you could do, swimming, boating, hiking, walking, cycling and tobogganing. The lake was beautiful and so clear with a small island in the middle with a grand house you could visit, had we the time we would have gone as it was only €3 and a boat ride. We decided to go on a hike to get a great view of the lake, so after a trip to the TI for a map we set off. Oh my was it HOT! it was 11:00 and coming into the hight of the sun so getting to 33 degrees+ and the hike was an hour up hill. Nick seemed to be loving it but I was not a happy bunny as I was very hot, sweaty and getting bitten as it was through moist woodlands. By the time we got to the top it was worth it and the views were fantastic, so we sat an eat or lunch taking it in.
Eventually we decided to go back down to a swimming area of the lake and just jumped in it. By now it was 36 degrees, so deciding it was too hot we settled by the lakeside and chilled. By 18:00 and still 33 degrees we got back on the bus to Ljubljana unfortunately it was our last night so we eat, packed said our goodbyes and went to sleep.
Slovenia is a wonderful country with a long and interesting history, it's architecture is some of the best we have seen so far, it has mountains, lakes and woods. I would highly recommend visiting. We wished we had more time here as there is so much to explore and see.
The next morning it was off to Padova.