This week’s travel dream: The laid-back life of Ljubljana
The capital of Slovenia, in the heart of Central Europe, has been regularly fought over by competing empires.
Why don’t more people know about Ljubljana? said Scott Vogel in The Washington Post. This “welcoming city” in the center of Slovenia certainly is tourist-friendly. But the country’s charming capital seems to be “genetically incapable of marketing itself aggressively.” The surrounding region, smack in the heart of Central Europe, has been fought over “since before Roman times.” Regularly claimed by competing empires, Slovenia and its people became known for their “aggressive non-aggressiveness.” Switzerland may be neutral; Slovenia is simply nonchalant. One of Ljubljana’s mottoes is “Lean back and relax,” and that’s the way of life along its quaint, cobblestone streets.
Ljubljana is “best understood” from the top of Castle Hill, where you’ll find Ljubljana Castle, a 15th-century medieval fortress that gives the city its “storybook” feel. Steep footpaths lead to the castle from downtown, affording visitors a panoramic view of the city. A modern glass funicular, which “rises gracefully over the trees and green-domed churches,” calls to mind the closing scene of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Just as Charlie was whisked into the sky in a glass elevator, you can ascend over Ljubljana’s red-tile roofs, enjoying enchanting vistas of the Julian Alps. Once you’ve come back to earth, explore the rest of Ljubljana.
Walk along the cafe-lined banks of Ljubljanica River, the “charming but almost comically slow emerald waterway” that weaves through the city. Take in the “stately balustrades” of the Triple Bridge along with the “stunning, turn-of-the-20th-century architecture” of Joze Plecnik. Go people-watching in Preseren Square, where a statue of 19th-century poet France Preseren sits across from one of his beloved Julia, whom he never got to marry. Loosen your belt to indulge in a true Slovenian “country feast” of fried sausage, buckwheat dumplings, and dried pork chops. Then wash it all down with a pint of Lasko, “Slovenia’s best beer.” Be thankful that the rest of the world has “almost, but not quite, caught on” to the pleasures of Ljubljana.