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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Slovenia - Day 13: Ljubljana, Slovenia´s Green Capital

We originally planned to take the train from Kamnik-Mesto Train Station to Ljubljana. But since our pension house in Kamnik, the Guesthouse Špenko, was directly located in front of the Kamnik Bus Terminal and the buses we've taken in Slovenia so far, all proved to be comfortable, punctual and not too crowded. So, we decided to take the local KamBus, which offers frequent departures to Ljubljana. The central bus station in Ljubljana is conveniently located in front of the train station. From there, we just had to walk a bit to our next and last hotel for the journey, the City Hotel Ljubljana.


We chose the hotel, as it is conveniently located between the bus- and train-station and the Old Town, with both in walking distance. We couldn´t check in yet, but we could store our luggage. Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia and also the largest city and the cultural hub of the country. It is interesting to note that during the antiquity, it was the site of a Roman city known as Emona. It was under the Habsburg rule from the Middle Ages until the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918. We're billeted at the City Hotel for two nights. That's one  and a half days of sightseeing in Ljubljana and one for a day trip to the coastal town of Piran at the Adriatic Sea, on the following day. But before we started our sightseeing in Ljubljana, I wanted to meet a friend and former colleague who now lives in Ljubljana. It was nice to catch up with her and meeting her little one in a cafe in Truvarjeva Street, one of Ljubljana´s lively streets.



We started our sightseeing walk through the Old Town at the nearby square Presernov Trg, which showcases the Preseren Monument, France Preseren, being the greatest poet of Slovenia. The square also features some really interesting and beautiful buildings. The most prominent of course is the fine example of art noveau building of Galerija Emporium which now houses a shopping mall. We took a look inside to see the staircase but decided not to stay long inside. From there, the Triple Bridge leads further into the Old Town and there you can already see the castle towering above the city. It's all a pedestrian zone except for the special green service car which caters esp. to the senior citizens as well as the pwd's.

 

After crossing one of the bridges, we walked to the huge Cathedral of St.Nicholas (Ljubljana Cathedral) and took a look at the market.




My friend whom we met earlier recommend that we take a boat tour and so we soon boarded a boat to see the Old Town from the river. It was quite relaxing, informative and a wonderful way to get a first impression of the beautiful and historic city. One can easily see, why Ljubljana was awarded the title of being a "European Green Capital 2016".



After stopping at a diner in the market area, we decided to take a break from our sightseeing to check-in at the hotel, which was just a short walk away. Our room was decent, modern and comfortable, so we had to fight the urge to take a nap. It was a very hot day and I was already sweating profusely so I had to take a refreshing cold shower.




We successfully avoided falling asleep and soon were back on foot, heading again to the Presernov Trg. On the way, we made a stop at the beautiful Franciscan Church of the Annunciation.



Our next stop was at the Dragon Bridge, where we of course had to take photos with Ljubljana´s favorite symbol, the impressive Dragons.



From the bridge it was just a short walk to the Funicular Railway, which brings you up to the castle. We soon boarded and enjoyed the view, when we reached the castle at the top. Ljubljana Castle, which has a long history as Medieval Fortress, is today a tourist spot with several attractions. 


The third attraction we experienced was the Castle Chapel of St. George. 



We also took a look at the Penitentiary with cells and walked up to the Viewing Tower. It was actually rather cheap, at least for us, as a man with his family gave us two tickets for free, as they had bought all-inclusive tickets for all the attractions there by mistake, as they just wanted to buy a funicular ticket. We saw a film presentation, "Virtual Castle", showing the history of the castle, and went to the museum. Finally, we couldn´t resist the souvenir shop, where you get stuff like little dragons. All said, the castle is quite interesting with diverse sights and you can spend quite some time there.



It was getting late, so we returned to the hotel, after we enjoyed dinner outside nearby the market area. Later I returned to the three bridges for some night shots of wonderful Ljubljana, but nearly mugged by a crazy drunken vagrant. 




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