Lovely Ljubljana

I have only been in Slovenia one day now  and I am ready to move here permanently. The country is beautiful, the people are friendly, and the vibe of this city is relaxed, with an intellectual cafe scene along a meandering river and overlooked by a castle. There are bike paths on every street, painted red, and every intersection includes stop-go lights for bikes along with pedestrians. People bike everywhere, constantly. There are community gardens in every neighborhood. Lazy cafes with strong coffee. Good food and company. I am in heaven.

Yesterday I went cave spelunking! I traveled two hours south to the Karst region of Slovenia to see the Skocjan Caves, a huge cave system with an underground river that empties into the Adriatic Sea. Our tour guide led us deep under the surface, at times almost 200 meters below, and we wandered around huge, glistening calcite formations. The best part was crossing a bridge 100 meters above a canyon with a raging river. Afterwards, hiked a little around the hills. Slovenia looks like Austria – bright green, rolling hills, picture-perfect Bavarian-style homes, and the Alps beyond. Just breath-taking.

Getting around the country is super easy. The local train system is punctual and comfortable, and often you can arrive 2 minutes before the train, jump on, choose a seat, and pay for your ticket when the conductor walks by. And the passing show of scenery is a sight all its own! I saw farms, forests, cows and sheep, and mountains. I also noticed these dry-stacked stone walls crisscrossing the land. Some are strong and fully complete and others are crumbling and covered in moss. A poetic sight, like a living incarnation of a Wordsworth poem.

For dinner I sought out a small Bosnian restaurant, hidden away in what looks like an alley. Called Harambasa, it serves traditional Bosnian food. The menu is inexpensive and simple. I tried a mix of two different kinds of meat sausages. I especially like the cevapi, which are these short stubby sausages. I also had some fried doughy bread (similar to American Indian fry bread) with a soft spreadable cheese called kajmak. There were no vegetables, beyond the grilled onions. An absolutely delicious meal, if heavy on the meat. To accompany my feast, I ordered the local sodapop, called Cockta. If you are ever in Slovenia, try Cockta. It was first produced as an alternative to Coke during Communist rule when Slovenia was part of Yugoslavia, and Western goods such as Coke were unavailable. Slovenians are very proud of their local sodapop, and I actually prefer Cockta to Coke or Pepsi. It’s not as sweet as Coke, but not as sharp an edge as Pepsi. A nice balance between the two.

The highlight of the day was meeting two locals named Myanna and Denis, a mother and her 19 year old son. Harambasa was packed, and I invited them to sit with me at my table. We ended up spending 2 hours there chatting about Slovenian and American culture, the pros and cons of socialism, and how capitalism is changing Slovenian society for good and bad. Then they invited me to their own restaurant, which was a block away. They are both architects, and owned this 600 year old building, in which they decided to renovate the first floor and open an Asian fusion restaurant called Shambala. We spent another two hours there chatting and joking around with their bartending staff. At the end we exchanged emails, and I now have friends in Ljubljana!

If you don’t hear from me in the next few weeks, or I don’t come back, I may just be here in Ljubljana, sitting at a cafe or hiking the surrounding hills. Come and find me, and be bewitched for yourself!

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About chronictraveler

Chronic Traveler starts as a dream, one that I thought I had lost, but that has slowly changed into a mission to realize and live that dream every day. In December 2007 I became seriously ill and the doctors did not know what was causing my illness. I had to stop teaching as my life tumbled into a never-ending nightmare of doctors, hospitals and tests. Finally, in May 2008 I was diagnosed with a chronic condition - fibromyalgia. I was only 26 years old at the time. I have had to give up teaching, and now work part-time at a performing arts center as I learn how to manage my condition and improve my quality of life. What helped me through the months of uncertainty and sickness, and continues to inspire me, was a new focus on what truly mattered to me: family, friends, gardening, the arts, and especially travel. I have always fed my soul by traveling, ever since I first stepped off the plane at age 16 in Kathmandu, Nepal to help with an orphanage's building project. Meeting new people and experiencing how they live and how they view the world infuses my life with a richness I was so afraid I would lose when the doctor first said, "You have fibromyalgia". This blog is my story, as I begin to forge a new path. I am embracing my life as it is, with the fibromyalgia pain and fatigue, and learning to do what I love regardless. It may mean I have to go slower and take more naps or breaks! But I am determined to learn how to travel and experience the world, and hopefully what I learn will help others like me who believe their medical condition stands in the way of their travel dreams.
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4 Responses to Lovely Ljubljana

  1. Barb Ward says:

    What a wonderful adventure!!! I am so enjoying your descriptive writing style. Hope you are feeling well as it sounds like you are very active each day. continue the journey!!
    Barb

  2. Barb Ward says:

    Am wondering what the design next to my responses is. Is it something you chose and does it have a particular meaning? Curious??

  3. hstigen says:

    Looks like you are having the time of your life. Can’t wait to see the pictures 🙂

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