Welcome to this week’s Postcard From – the feature where I chat to some lucky explorer about their recent travels. If you would like to take part please get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org or @em_luxton – I would love to hear from you!
This week, I’m welcoming back Sarah and Kris with another story from their epic long-term adventure. Last time, they sent me a Postcard From Mostar, which was fascinating – and now they’re back to highlight another European city I’d never heard of!
Sarah and Kris are Jetsetting Fools! In love with new places, people and cultures, they travelled as often as their work schedules would allow them, but in April 2014, they put their careers on hold and left on a ‘Round the World journey. Eleven months into their trip, they’ve travelled to South America, across the Pacific Ocean, Australia, Southeast Asia, South Africa and Europe. They don’t view travel as a destination, but as an experience. It doesn’t always go to plan, so they aren’t intent on setting plans, but rather live life flying by the seat of their pants.
Welcome back guys! Tell us about your latest stop…
It was love at first sight when we arrived in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The city center is like a fairytale, complete with a hilltop castle and snow-capped mountains in the distance. Pedestrian paths follow along both sides of the river that flows through town. Perseren Square is the heart of the city bringing together six streets and an endless stream of people busy licking ice cream cones. The Triple Bridge crosses from the main square to the Old Town, Cathedral and lively outdoor market, nestled at the base of Castle Hill.
That sounds gorgeous! What’s the weather like there at the moment?
We arrived in Ljubljana the same time as spring. In the two weeks we were there, we watched trees bud and flowers blossom. It was like watching a pastel painting take form. The afternoon sun brought warmth to the cool, breezy days.
Did you find another lovely place to stay this time?
We stayed just outside of the city centre in a top-floor flat that we found on Airbnb. We had more space than we needed with two bedrooms and a den – and the high ceilings, large windows and skylights throughout made it feel even bigger. Views from our window extended over rooftops to Roznik hill and the pink, hilltop church.
It all sounds perfect – I’m very jealous! So, what did you get up to while you were there?
We were so fortunate to have such lovely weather that most of our time was spent outdoors, which is the best way to experience Ljubljana. The outdoor cafes were bustling in the afternoons and we joined in with the crowds, enjoying local brews and the scenic views over the river. Besides the walkable streets in the city center, there are also several nature paths in the city. We hiked to the top of Castle Hill several times, but also spent time on the trails at Tivoli City Park and at the Botanical Gardens.
We also spent a day at Lake Bled, a serene lake surrounded by snow-capped mountains. One island sits in the middle of the lake, which is occupied by a church, and a dramatic cliff-hanging castle is perched along the shore. We sought out the best scenic views of the lake, trekking through the forested hills to two lookout points that put some distance between us and the lake, but delivered picture-perfect views and a fresh perspective.
Do you have a Ljubljana highlight?
For us, the highlight was spending time outdoors amongst the people. Whether we were hiking through the parks or to Castle Hill, sitting and sipping alfresco at a café or chowing down at the food festivals, we were outside, experiencing the city with the locals.
Pretty certain I know absolutely nothing about the food in Slovenia – how did you find the cuisine in Ljubljana?
Savory meat and potato dishes are typical in the area, but a variety of international cuisine is also available. During our visit, we had the pleasure of attending two food festivals: Open Kitchen and Pivo & Burger. At the Open Kitchen event, which takes place every Friday in the warmer months, local chefs turn market booths into their kitchens to create everything from classic to creative dishes. The tantalizing aromas fought for our attention, but the countryside veal cutlets over a bed of mashed potatoes were my favorite. At the Pivo (Beer) & Burger fest we tried three burgers: a gourmet Angus beef burger, a huge and saucy horseburger and a juicy burger grilled over hot coals and topped with bacon, gorgonzola, onion marmalade and horseradish mayo.
Do you have any tips or advice for anyone heading to Ljubljana?
Our best advice when visiting Ljubljana is to ditch the checklist of sights and simply relax and enjoy. Stroll through town, sit down at a café, take a leisurely hike up Castle Hill. It isn’t a town that should be rushed through, but rather experienced.
And finally – what do you love most about travelling?
We love seeing the world with fresh eyes. We notice everything: how a place looks, how it smells, what the people sound like, how they act. We don’t need to understand their language to get a feeling for the culture. It is fascinating to take note of the similarities and differences and relish in them.
NB – all images are owned by Sarah and Kris