Lovin' the Ljubljana
June 20, 2006

I am now in the capital of Slovenia – Ljubljana (pronounced ‘loob-lee-yana). I am still amazed at the timing of my arrival.
There was only one train that would be heading to this city from Vienna and it just so happened that it would arrive within
thirty minutes of when my sister’s flight would come in (these things normally don’t happen to me).

Within thirty minutes I would see the little airport minivan drive up to the hotel with a passenger. My sister! Though I have
to admit that when I saw her, it felt as maybe only a couple weeks had passed since I had last seen her. In reality, it was two
months ago when she came to San Francisco to help me get packed up and ready to go. When dropping her off at the airport,
tears streamed down my face as I was just starting to realize what I was going to be leaving behind for the next year. This
was the first time I felt any fear about what I was going to be doing.

Fast-forward two months to my little reunion with my sister Michelle in our Ljubljana hotel lobby. It was great to see each
other. Even
more great was being able to head out to a restaurant to eat with another person. I hadn’t had restaurant
companionship since I arrived in Central Europe. Ah, this would be nice. A real, live conversation while eating out. I am oh-so-
appreciative of the little things now. We chose a place with many Slovenian specialties. It was hard to pick one item. Wait! I
was with my sister. I didn’t have to pick
one item. We could pick two items and share. Ahhh…the perks and advantages of
traveling with my sister.  

It’s typical for many people to look puzzled when you say you’re going to a country called ‘Slovenia’. What people don’t realize
is that this country has a backdrop of the Alps, the coast lies on the Adriatic Sea and it was part of the newest addition of
countries to the European Union a couple years ago (I just wanted to share this piece of information on this country since my
sister has been having to field questions by many regarding her choice of a vacation getaway).        

But let’s get back to Ljubljana…

Right after lunch Michelle and I were on our way to explore this small and charming capital city. Considering it was a Sunday,
there wasn’t
too much to explore in terms of shops, etc. (everything is closed on Sundays in Europe). Our day would revolve
around scenic exploring. We had our sights first set on heading up the hill to go to the castle to see the views of the city.

Atop of the castle, we didn’t only see views of the charming buildings below. We also had sweeping views of the mountains
that surround this city. Or maybe I should say the ‘Alps’ that surround the city. The landscape in this country is truly
beautiful (the train ride I took out here was a good indication of this). Even though we are in ‘Slovenia’, we are in an alpine
region. It’s nice to be in a place that not everybody and their brother are coming to. Or for that matter, has really even heard
of. The lifestyle here seems to really revolve around restaurants, cafes and ice cream. Oh…and the World Cup right now. In
fact, this city seems to revolve around a café/restaurant culture. Restaurants all along the river and side-streets have
outdoor seating. With all of the outdoor seating available, it is hard to believe that all of the tables would fill up. But they do.
That’s just the way it is over here. This is what people do. This is based on my first-hand experience on a Tuesday night at

I feel like I’ve mostly been noticing locals around the streets. Yes, there are some tourists. No, there are not many. Aside
from going up to the castle, there really aren’t ‘tourist attractions’ here. Instead, there is a huge outdoor market with a
combination of tons of produce, flowers and handmade products. They have indoor stalls (similar to the Ferry Plaza in San
Francisco) that have cheese vendors, meat vendors and baked goods vendors. Needless to say, this is a
very good place for a
foodie. And like I mentioned before, there are endless rows of cafes and restaurants lined up along the river.

When the sun goes down and the lights go on, this city starts to look even more beautiful. People still continue to ride their
bikes down the cobblestone streets. People still continue to walk their dogs. And of course, people still continue to eat their ice
cream cones.

I am a bit sad that I have to leave tomorrow afternoon. In a final tribute to this city, we’re going to go to the market to buy
stuff for our picnic lunch…that we will have on our six-hour bus ride to Croatia…
Back to Slovenia.
Ljubljana after the sun had set.
Ljubljana from atop the castle.