Europe 2.0 – Day 22 18 June 

Today is our full day in ljubljana and also our last day here. We woke up bright and early in the morning to go to Tivoli Park for picnicking/breakfast. Unfortunately the park was just like any other normal park (although beautiful – don’t get me wrong, YS and I were probably spoiled by many ang moh parks in London/aussie) so we made our picnic short. It’s Plecnik’s (a famous archictect in Ljubljana) 60 year anniversary so there was a photography exposition on the construction of his bridges/buildings and also takes of his end products. 

Later we headed to the farmer’s Market, just beside the covered market. It’s only a short stretch, about 100m, and there weren’t many as vendors as I’d imagine there to be. I got some raspberries which turn out very juicy, as well as a customised kitchen mat for a friend. Both were quite reasonable (3€ and 5€) even if I feel a bit bad for spending so much money. Then we went to something like a cocoa cafe, it’s name is ‘cacao’ Hahaha! I had hot chocolate that had almonds and vanilla Gelato inside. It wasn’t as good as I thought (Max Brenner wins easily) but mainly mostly because the ice-cream melted in the drink, making it very foamy, creamy and warm (not hot). 

Finally we made our way to the castle via the pain staking up slope hill. Before meeting our guide at 11am, we went to the viewing tower, which had more steps for us to go up. The view was 360 degrees, unobstructed and we could identify squares and buildings which we visited the previous day. 

The tour is called ‘time machine’ and is supposed to tell us about the history of the ljubljana castle. My first impression of the castle is that its a prominent sight in this small city; no matter where you walk, if you look up, you’d see the viewing tower and the ljubljana flag flying proudly in the sky. It’s like a guardian that watches over the town, every day and night, very amazing indeed. 

We had no expectations for the tour and it turned out way better than expected. At ljubljana Castle, the interior has been converted to exhibition and wedding halls. So the entire tour took place outside the castle rooms. 

We were first introduced to the well, 100m deep and built in roman times. Little did we know that an actor dressed up as a roman soldier, and an actress in a toga were waiting for us there! They performed a little skit about how the Romans came to develop this town. The well, including the man-treaded wheel, is still very well preserved until today. The best prisoners were assigned to manually pull up buckets of water from the deep end of the well. 

Along many other parts of the castle, we met other characters, including St George, a Hasburg royalty, Napoleon, a nun, a prisoner and finally the mayor of ljubljana who bought the castle so that our entrance fees profit this city today. All the actors were very entertaining and sporting. I love their dedication into their work and how they could make impromptu script. For a small amount to enjoy such an interactive experience was very worthwhile for both of us. 

After the tour, the castle still offered many activities like watching a video presentation (also on the history of the castle), going to the chapel to have a calligrapher write something for you in gothic font as souvenir, a national geographic exhibition of minorities living in omo river Ethiopia and a permanent exhibition on Slovenian history. All the exhibitions were very well done and the permanent exhibition especially, had interactive boards that offer information in many languages. They were very comprehensive and had many accompanying artefacts and photos to offer the audience. 

For lunch, we had ‘the best sausage in ljubljana’. I found this place (Klobasarna) by accident on Google when I was bookmarking other restaurants that were recommended by our hostel. It didn’t disappoint and I felt that we had an authentic taste of the Carniolian sausage, which is supposed to be Slovenia’s sausage haha. We also ordered barley porridge and struklji, also Slovenian dishes no less. The meal was affordable and very hearty. 

Afterwards we headed to the St Nicholas cathedral, which is also the ljubljana cathedral, and then the free walking tour which started at 3pm. By then I was super tired because of the late night yesterday and early morning today. The sun was intense and the tour would be 2h long… I highly doubted that I’d have enough energy or patience. 

On the contrary, the tour turned out to be awesome. Although I already knew and saw some of the things which the guide talked about, I still learnt a lot of new information which I wouldn’t have known or searched up if a local didn’t say it. (For example, the statue of Presereen in Presereen square is looking at his love interest, a 16 year old girl, who is represented by a wooden statue built on a building 100m away from the statue.) 

We saw all the bridges, churches (Ljubljana cathedral and also the pink Fransican church) and other buildings of significance like the town hall. The guide was super engaging throughout and we also stayed for the whole program (to my surprise). 

It was 5pm after the tour and we’d still have a lot of time to kill before the sky darkens. We headed back to bathe and rest, then headed to have dinner at one of the restaurants recommended by the hostel. Unfortunately, because we only ordered one goulash to share and nothing else, the staff treated us with double standards. By the time we paid and left, I was extremely frustrated by the lousy attitude. No doubt the food and restaurant were reputable but the staff who treats its customers in an unwarranted way still make the restaurant a zero-star one. 

We left our dinner place quickly so as not to subject ourselves to more humiliation. By then we had about 1h to kill before watching another open performance – this time it would be a play. It turns out that 99.9% of the script was in Slovenian language so we left only after 10mins into the show, and returned to the hostel for a good rest after a long day. 🙂