We start to get in travel rhythms gradually. The first few days seem unnaturally long. Today as we don't have to cover a big distance we decide to go for a walk in the center after breakfast to see the city in normal weekday rhythms.
In the main thoroughfare there was a lot more people than yesterday! We bought some souvenirs and returned to the hotel to start packing. There we met 2 greek couples returning from a bike trip in Northern Italy. They were planning to return driving all the way back to Greece through former Yugoslavia. When they found out we have been in south Croatia last year they asked some advice for places to visit. They got disheartened with our recommendations though as they did not have enough time to stop in all of them. We spited and we headed towards Ljubljana, Slovenia. After 50km give or take, we entered the motorway we travelled for 70km or so before exiting for Ljubljana. There we followed signs towards Medvode where our hotel was situated.
After 12km we arrived and we were delighted with our choice, as the hotel was like little house on the prairie! After a short wait of approximately 10 minutes for our room to be ready we were directed to it. It was situated on the alcove with a window on the roof. We left our luggage and went to the town of Medvode to eat.
During our lunch, I experienced a sensation similar to a cerebral episode, as while playing with the camera I accidentally deleted everything we have shouted so far! After talking with Vangelis, the IT support guy of the club, I was reassured that we could get them back as long as I did not continue shooting with the same memory card through a special program. This gave me some hope, but still I needed time to recover from the shock. By the way food was delicious and very cheap.
In the evening we went to Ljubljana town center. There we were reminded of the comments the couples we met earlier made: The city is gorgeous. Indeed the beauty and atmosphere of the city is beyond description. You see people strolling around on foot or bicycle, to eat ice creams, children to roam about on skates and it is hard to believe that this is a capital and not a provincial town. On top of these the picturesque river Ljubljana runs through the city with numerous bridges and boats.
Ljubljana is situated in the center of the country and has a population of 270.000. It rose to prominence as the political, scientific, economic and cultural center of Slovenia who won it's independence on 1991. Through the course of its history and because of its location it was influenced by the German, Slav and Latin culture.
Symbol of the town is the dragon and the explanation lies in greek mythology and the tale of the Argonauts! According to the myth Jason after retrieving the Golden Fleece, they crossed Dunabe and continued in the tributary Sava to end up at the source of Ljubljana. There they stopped and carried Argo in order to reach the Adriatic Sea. Between the towns that today are Vrhnika and Ljubljana the Argonauts found a big lake surrounded by a swamp. There Jason killed the dragon, who became the symbol not only of Ljubljana but also of the nearby Austrian town of Klagenfurt, which was for century an important cultural center for Slovenians.
We started strolling on the banks of the river, passing by many bridges (on top of which there were street artists creating a nice ambient) and ending up through the main triple bridge to the main square of Preseren. The square has taken its name from the Slovac national poet France Preseren, a statue of whom sits on the center. Here also is situated the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation which stands out mainly due to it's crimson colour. From here starts one of the main commercial streets of the city.
Leaving behind us the main square we reach the famous bridge of the dragons (Zmajski most). It is a bridge constructed as an automobile through fare the other ones were only for pedestrian use, on the four corners of which are 4 big winged dragons. A local legend says that when a virgin passes the bridge the dragons swing their tails!
It was getting dark and we were starting to feel really tired. So we decided to sit on one of the bars along the river, have a drink and go to bed. Ljubljana was the first stop was we would stay for two nights, so we had the chance to see more next evening. For the coming morning we had planned a trip to the lake of Bled.
* Hotel Pri Ancki : Situated in Medvode, 15 minutes (12km) from the center of Ljubljana, it is worth it though for the experience of a little house in the prairie. Breakfast was ok. 148euro for 2 nights.