Notes from Ljubljana

I walked around 10 kilometers today because I wanted to visit the zoo. I’m not normally a zoo goer, but I intend visiting the Singapore Zoo when I’m in Singapore next month, so thought what the heck?! Anyway, I’ll get to my zoobservations later in this post. First though, are my general impressions of Ljubljana.

The people

The people of Ljubljana are both polite and helpful. I have particularly noticed those working in hospitality, with whom I have the most contact (ordering food in cafés, hotel interactions etc). Nothing is too much trouble.

I did have a lovely chat with a handsome young man who was guarding the US Embassy (note: do not try and take a picture!) and we talked about travel and the Euro and more travel. It’s easy to have these sorts of conversations in Slovenia, as everyone seems to speak English.

Also, I haven’t been bothered by vendors. It’s nice to walk around without being pestered to buy something.

Food

Fresh and yummy! That is all.

Infrastructure

What strikes me most about this city is how good the infrastructure is at supporting active transport like cycling and walking. Yes, there are still a lot of cars on the road, but the traffic doesn’t seem to be congested and flows freely. Bicycles have their own distinct lanes, which form part of the footpath. At times bikes and pedestrians share the footpath, but it is very orderly. Oh, and no one wears helmets!

Slim, smoking population

There are very few obese people in Ljubljana… I’ve spotted maybe two or three since I’ve been here. I’m not sure if it’s the active lifestyle or because of the smoking – every second person here smokes. I know I was super thin when I smoked in the 70s and 80s, and I’ve struggled with weight control since I quit 20 years ago, but I don’t want to jump to any conclusions!

Architecture

There is a real mix of architecture here and I found this quite interesting. In the area where my hotel is located, there are a lot of apartments that remind me of stereotypical Eastern Bloc: concrete, grungey, with a housing project-like quality. Note though, that there are lots of BMWs parked outside these apartments!

Walk into the Old Town and the built environment takes on the distinctly European flavour that I expect to see: cobblestones, al fresco eateries, squares, fountains, churches, an open air market, footbridges over the river (which reminded me of Florence). I had my lunch in the Old Town yesterday in a quaint café overlooking the river. There are worse ways to spend an afternoon!

Wasps and sparrows

Wasps are everywhere there is food: markets, cafés, outdoor dining. They are both insistent and annoying. I dread being stung by one.

The sparrows are cheeky and brazen. They’ll hop onto the table, waiting for a few crumbs – or even better – a plate with leftovers. I think they are quite cute, but I could see how people would be annoyed by them.

Zoo

In my efforts to keep active (and not put on weight while I’m away) I decided to walk to the zoo. It was quite a hike… probably about 5kms there and back to my hotel. And it was warm.

While some of the animals looked happy (meerkats, I’m looking at you!), others (monkeys) looked plain sad and bored. The seals swam around in a circle in water that looked less than pristine. The bears huddled along the boundaries of their confines. This certainly wasn’t a modern zoo – despite the well kept grounds – and the pens looked decidedly like cages. And they seemed small. I was happy to have left, because I don’t like seeing animals looking miserable, even if they are well looked after.

Where to from here

I have two more nights here in Ljubljana before driving to Zagreb, Croatia. The tours starts tomorrow evening, with a welcome dinner, but I’m going to Bled tomorrow on a tour organised by the hotel. I’m very much looking forward to being on a schedule!

4 Comments

  • BookabyeBaby September 7, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    Yeah I suspected the zoo might be a bit depressing 🙁 The city sounds lovely though 🙂

    Reply
    • dileeshus September 7, 2013 at 3:57 pm

      It’s a lovely city, Mel. It’s been a lovely first stop 🙂

      Reply
  • Susan Cooper September 10, 2013 at 2:55 am

    Sounds like a great place to visit. So sad that the zoo seemed like cages. 🙂

    Reply
    • dileeshus September 10, 2013 at 8:15 pm

      Indeed, Susan. But the city itself was lovely.

      Reply

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