On Friday, May 16, Jenna and I left Brussels for our next adventure. We had just finished the last week of classes and had a nice break before finals!
We flew into Zagreb, Croatia early in the morning. Now this trip was a treat. Since we flew Croatian airlines, we had free drinks and a sandwich on the plane. Living like royalty with that one! We landed in a cloudy Zagreb and took the bus to the city center from the airport. A quick walk towards the city from the bus station we found our hostel. It was definitely one of the nicer ones we’ve stayed in so far too. Since the weather was pretty bad for the day, we walked as much as we could in the rain. Zagreb is a nice city, there are many courtyards with benches and places to sit before you reach the center of town. We walked along the main road, which is filled with plenty of cute cafés and boutiques. We ate a nice lunch at a place with a discount from the hostel and it was great. A good place to start because we ended up going back each additional time we ended up back in the city. We definitely didn’t get the full vibe because of the rain though. (Good thing we would be back two more times lol) We decided to take it inside to the popular “museum of broken relationships” for the afternoon. Quite uplifting!! Though it sounds ridiculously depressing, this was actually a really interesting exhibit. It was a more modern museum, filled with personal items and stories from people who wished to share their own “broken relationship”. Some stories were long and others short, but they were all really interesting to read and see the different situations people around the world have lived through and dealt with. By late afternoon it had been a long day of traveling and rainy weather, so we had some pizza for dinner (Croatians love pizza) and called it a night at the hostel!
On Saturday we got up early to get to the train station for our ride to Ljubljana, Slovenia. I was particularly excited for this part of the trip because my grandma’s father was born there and her and Roy and Suzanne would be out for a visit just a week after me! So disappointing that our trips didn’t line up, but I was so thrilled to see everything I knew they would be seeing just a few days after me. Ljubljana is an adorable city and I immediately became very fond of it. We got into town and found our hostel with relative ease. It ended up being a privately owned place and the owner was a bit bizarre to say the least, but we had a nice room with plenty of space to spread out. After dropping our bags off we headed into the city center to explore. It was still kind of rainy but luckily it cleared up over the course of the day. We wandered through the food market and tried all of the samples; I really enjoy doing this and talking with the local vendors. We kept walking past cute little restaurants with plenty of outdoor seating and street vendors until we came to the triple bridge, one of the main landmarks in the city. It’s basically three bridges next to each other that traverse the river, a really pretty area. We noticed there was a festival-like feel to the city and discovered that it was a weekend of various festivities for a few days. We found this massively long Slovenian cake and learned that they were setting the world record for the longest of this cake ever and all of the money was going to a charity. There were people handing out pamphlets, we saw a flash mob, played a street performer’s traditional game, walked along the jewelry vendors on the river.. A beautiful morning! For lunch, we enjoyed soup and salad at a place with a nice vibe and outdoor seating. It was really nice out by then and I enjoyed the people watching. After lunch, we regrouped and decided to hike up the hill in the city to the top where the castle is located that overlooks the rest of the area. It was a nice walk through the winding cobble stone streets and then along the path that led up the side of the hill. At the top, we saw the castle and it’s surrounding area with a great look from above the city. There were a decent amount of people there, and we even saw a few newlyweds taking their wedding photos. We went into the castle and explored a bit, did the panorama view, and watched a short video on the history of the landmark. Afterwards, we made our way back into town for some dinner. Since we weren’t starved, we decided to hop around a bit. We started at a Mexican place for some chips and guac and our drink of choice on the trip: radlers! We enjoyed the Mexican restaurant vibe for a little bit and then found our way to a sushi place. The restaurant was really cool, it was basically a conveyer belt of sushi where you chose which one you wanted and then just paid at the end based on what you had picked. We had a great girls night!
On Sunday morning, we got up for brunch at a place down the street from our hostel that we saw had great reviews. It was delicious! We spent a good amount of time there just relaxing and then decided to explore the surrounding area called “Metalkova”. It was a small neighborhood that had a really artsy/hip feel. All of the walls were expertly graffitied and there were some interesting structures built around the worn down apartments. Not somewhere we wanted to be at night, but definitely interesting to see during the day. Our next stop was the local science center! (lol) We spent a few hours in this little science center doing all of the experiments. We had some childish fun and spent an embarrassingly long amount of time at the bubble station. But it wasn’t the best weather outside so what else were we supposed to do!? Afterwards, we walked to a place called Dvorni Wine Bar for some wine and appetizers. It ended up torrentially down pouring while we were inside, so we helped ourselves to a few glasses of great wine before moving on. When we finished, we walked towards Tivoli Park, a nice green area of the city, and decided to walk the trails. We ended up getting a liiiiittle bit lost as we wandered into the woods, and dusk had us hustling for the road, but we made it through and had a nice walk overall! Starved, we walked back into the city and found a pub to have some pizza for dinner and watch some American hockey, something I hadn’t seen while being abroad! We were exhausted by the time we had some food in us, so we called it a night after that.
On Monday, we took our time getting up and made our way to the bus station to catch a ride to the famous Lake Bled. The bus ride was a little bit over an hour long, and the scenic route made it go by quickly. We arrived at the quaint little lake town, surrounded by mountains, with the famous cathedral island standing majestically in the middle of the lake. It is an absolutely stunning place. Once we caught our breath from the natural beauty of the area we got ourselves together and decided to walk the perimeter of the lake, which would take a few hours, and then hike up to the castle along the mountain beside the lake so that we could get a good ariel view of the scenery. You can take or rent boats to go out on the water and tour the island and cathedral, but it was a bit windy and we decided we would prefer the view from above instead. So we took our time walking around the outside of the lake, and every few minutes the angle changed which left us more and more amazed at the beauty of it all. The water was perfectly blue (as was the sky) and the mountains in the background were fairytale-like with the castle, cathedral, and other mid-evil looking structures in the area. When we were at the base of the mountain with the castle on top, we made the hike upwards. Breathing heavy and sweaty we finally got to the top, but it was worth every step. We toured the castle, which is not extraordinarily large, but the view from the outdoor terrace area is to die for. When we were finished, we went back into the town and grabbed some food and drink. In the morning, we were thinking we may be ambitious enough to hike to nearby waterfalls in the afternoon, but after walking the lake and hiking to the castle (plus a drink or two) we decided to just find a nice spot on the grass, lay down, and enjoy the outdoors before catching our bus back to Ljubljana. We ended up laying down on the water’s edge and watching/feeding ducks and ducklings for about an hour before we caught one of the later buses back. The ride home was great as well, we got to watch a gorgeous sunset from the bus windows. When we got back into town we had some takeout noodles (an occurring theme for my time abroad) and then called it a night as we would be heading back to Zagreb the next morning.
So that’s our trip to Slovenia! It is now July, and I am back in NJ for about a month now, so I am clearly behind on this thing. My goal is to get through my remaining posts by the end of the summer before starting back at school. So next up, we went back to Zagreb and then on to Split and Dubrovnik, two places that I will always fondly remember, but my time in Slovenia was definitely very special to me.