Europe 2.0 – Day 21 17 June

YAY I found a computer at our hostel in Ljubljana!

So today we left Croatia for Slovenia (finally). By right we were supposed to take a 2:45pm bus from plitvice to Zagreb, where we’ll change bus to one bound for ljubljana. But I conveniently forgot that the check out time would be at 10am (I left so much empty time so that we could spend a second morning at plitvice if need be but we managed to see most sites the day before.) 

On the night before we decided to ‘risk it’ and board an earlier bus run by the same company. (Our other option were refund or changing the departure time of the bookings but it was too troublesome and uncertain if it will work.)

By 930am we were out and our host gave us a ride, saving us a lot of effort walking on the main road w our heavy bags. The bus came late by 10mins, at 1025am, and here comes the moment of truth. 

The bus conductor took out his machine to scan the QR code on our slip and thankfully it doesn’t register the time of our actual ride. A receipt printed out from his handheld device and we were on our way to Zagreb. =P

We successfully booked a connecting bus on the spot and headed to ljubljana. The travelling time was especially long because of the queue at the customs (again). 

Nonetheless we manage to reach at least 4h earlier than if we had boarded the original 245pm bus from plitvice. 🙂 

For 2 nights we would be staying in an 8 bedded female hostel room. We chatted with a few of our room mates when we arrived, one of whom was in her transition period of life (changing job to pursue a masters in theology) and she had done wwoofing in both Croatia and Italy before coming to Slovenia. 

Not wasting time, YS and I headed to the ljubljana Castle which was a steep climb from the ground floor. Later there we found out about a guided tour happening at 11am and 3pm daily so we decided to come the next day. 

Afterwards we walked around along the river where we spotted a pride parade going on. (I already kinda saw it coming because while walking to the hostel, I spotted 2 girls wearing the rainbow flags behind their backs.) 

And the parade was RAD! Tbh I haven’t seen any other pride parades ever but I’d say this one was pretty awesome. You could tell that everyone participating in it was genuinely an advocate for LGBT rights (and I say so because they were very meticulous with their dressing and make up, although one of the ladies was half naked…) 

The size of the parade was humble, maybe only 100m long at best. Trailing behind it was an on-the-go dance floor that is fitted on a truck and it was playing loudddd music. People around us were dancing and posing for photos – the atmosphere was festive. 

Then walking further ahead we saw a stage set up in a park that’s in front of the University of Ljubljana administration building (its very pretty) and a chamber group was rehearsing. So June happened to be the month public arts and there would be a concern tonight happening for FREE!! I super love free musical/artsy stuff and both YS and I were definitely heading back. 

Later the staff even told us that today (17 June) was the ‘museum by a summer night’ day, meaning that ALL MUSEUMS WOULD BE OPENED FOR FREE UNTIL LATE! Before long I discovered that late = midnight. HOORAY! Our decision to escape from plitvice early turned out to be correct Hahaha! 

It was 8pm by the time we had all these info so the priority was to fill our stomachs before we could enjoy all these artsy line up for us this evening. We picked a burger bar by the river and found nice seats. Bonus: the big sized and intimidating looking waiter was actually very friendly and kind towards us. :’) 

Having some more time to spare before 9pm, we walked down to the dragon Bridge, where we spotted a burger and beer festival happening in front of the covered market. T^T maybe we could have seen this before deciding to settle our dinner elsewhere. 

It was 925pm when we arrived at the open concert and all the seats were filled. There were also people sitting on the floor or standing around; and very one was in the zone. Also an opera singer accompanied some of the songs and everyone was simply EXCELLENT. 

By 945m I decided to leave and check out the museums. First I went to the city museum, which is on my list of attractions to visit. When I arrived i was kinda put off by the crowds. Many people were standing in the lobby, doing nothing productive except chatting with one another. Later I realised that they were waiting for an event to start at 10pm, called ‘a walk with roman ghosts’. I’m guessing they were gonna see ruins of Emona, the old roman city that used to be in Ljubljana. 

Once the crowds cleared I had better insight of the place – its divided between a permanent exhibition (faces of ljubljana) and a temporary one (new age: industrialisation sth sth). I went to see the latter, which highlighted the important presence of factories and union workers in ljubljana. They gave rise to their own set of problems for the city council to worry about, yet is also a good way for the socialist regime to exert their power. All in all I felt that it did more benefit than harm for. Ljubljana as many people from the countryside found jobs in the city and the growing industries allowed foreign investments to pour in. I enjoyed the exhibition very much because it used many interesting and creative ways to deliver many messages across. And most of these mediums are not simply words and pictures – there were art installations and hands on displays for the audience to be engaged. 

Then I walked over to the national gallery but took a wrong right turn without knowing. I knew I needed to turn right along the street but turned too early because I saw a building with the ‘museum by the summer night’ standee outside. 

Turns out that I walked into the Parliament?! My belongings had to go through security check and I didn’t realise where I was until I was 5 minutes in, precisely at the moment where I saw the Parliament Hall where important meetings would be held. HAHAHA! It was interesting because it’s my first time seeing something like this and there were exhibits outside talking about the coming of independence of Slovenia. Lining the top of the walls were paintings of the history of Slovenia, beginning from the time that it was ruled by Romans until today as it is. 

Staying for a only a short while, I headed to my original destination. Many people were still entering although it was 11pm and the night is chilly. The permanent exhibition was about the medieval times of Slovenia and what they manage to construe of its origins as an early civilizations. Artefacts like wooden boats and coins were displayed. 

After which I came to the section on natural history which piqued my interest more. The first time I saw such thing was at the LKC natural history museum in NUS (but tbh I consider my time at London’s one a more authentic experience). 

Aside from the usual, like birds and insects, they had displays of mammoths because it’s remind were found on Slovenian grounds by archaeologists. And with gloves on, I could even touch a real life mammoth tooth (but truthfully I doubted that it is real… Shouldn’t they keep something so precious from the public?) 

The staff at the booth told me that mammoths only had 4 teeth and they change 6 times per year. I mistook the sharper end as the chewing surface but I was wrong; mammoths are herbivores. It’s cousin, mastodons, have smaller sharp teeth. And it’s the first time I heard about mastodons. 

There were many other interactive exhibits for children and adults alike to have fun with. Most of them engage the 6 senses and I realise that this is the standard of Slovenian museums. I really liked how they encourage so much public involvement in the education of history and the arts. Moreover they make it so accessible and attractive through events like that. But then again I’m sure it’s because ljubljana has more substance to display than Singapore and so they have a huge amount of educational resources to play with. 

Last but not the least, the temporary exhibition was on the archaeological artefacts of early musical instruments. I was awed by the passion of archaeologists that specialise in this area – they’re so dedicated! And that night was truly an eye opener. 🙂 I’m so in love with vibrant, green and young ljubljana. 

p.s Slovenia is 26 years old this year.