Europe, Slovenia

Ljubljana: the fear and the surprise

Slovenia was not in my plans. It was in my initial plans, long, long ago, when I started thinking about backpacking Europe, but somewhere on the way, I got it out of my list.

I was in Bologna, freaking out about where to go, but I was suppose to follow my plan. I had been planning an itinerary for months, and I was suppose to follow it. The thing is, being alone in places you’ve never been before, trying to speak languages you don’t understand, you start to follow what they call instincts. So my mind was telling me I was going to get on a flight to Poland (like I planned) but my heart didn’t want that. For some weird reason, I felt Poland wasn’t the right place to go right away.

After hours (days is more accurate) of looking for options, for that place that would scream my name the second I saw it, I remembered Slovenia. Ljubljana and Lake Bled were in my plans right at the beginning, but out of fear I drop them on the way, and I was so close that not going would be a very stupid thing on my part. Why would I get on a flight to Poland, the opposite side of where I was, if I could just go to the country next to the one I was?

I only had two options if I wanted to get to Ljubljana, I would either get a 6h bus that would arrive around 9pm, or I would get a train to Trieste, spend the night and hop on another train that would get me to Ljubljana by noon. The thing you don’t know is that before coming, I made a promise to my mother. I promised her I would never arrive in a new place at night. So would I spend 100€ and keep the promise, or would I save a lot of money by breaking a rule important to my mother?

I guess I decided for the second option, since Trieste wasn’t calling me at all, and what I really wanted was to get to Slovenia. Got on my pretty long bus, where the passengers and the drivers where all Bulgarian and didn’t speak a word of English, and I saw the best sunset of my life! All I wanted was to scream at the driver to stop the bus because I had never seen such a mix of pink, orange and red in the sky and for some reason I saw that as I sign I was doing the right thing. I was exactly where I was suppose to be.

Arrived at night like predicted, got inside the train station to take my computer out so I could see the directions to the hostel again. Since I always get lost, I knew the only thing that would make everything ok was to know exactly where to go and not get lost this time, because If I did I didn’t have a hand map to find my way back and that could be a very serious problem.

And surprise! I got to the hostel so easily I even thought maybe I’m getting good at this. But…there’s always a but in my life, and like I’ve been telling you, something always goes wrong. I got to the hostel, rang the bell and nobody answered. Got myself inside the building and rang the bell a million times and nobody came. I stayed there for thirty minutes, ringing the bell over and over again and nothing. There was a sign on the door saying that the reception closed at 8pm (it was 8.30pm by the time I arrived) and that I should call them and they would come in the morning to open the door!!. Tried calling but my phone had decided he didn’t like Slovenia and wasn’t working, and I started to panic. What if nobody came? What was I going to do? Was I going to spend the night on the floor of the building hall? And I cried…of course! I knew it had been too easy, and nothing is ever easy with me, so something had to go wrong!

Eventually, while I was outside crying and not knowing what to do to solve the situation, a girl came asking me what was wrong and I was a drama queen being like “There’s nobody in the hostel, I’m going to sleep in the stairs because there’s nobody there and I don’t know what to do!” well…lucky for me she was the girl from the reception!! When she told me I was so thankful I wanted to hug her with relief! Sleeping in some building stairs was not a story I wanted to tell ever!

Enough with my train wreck disaster stories. Let me tell you about Ljubljana!
Ljubljana was a surprise! After all the fear of leaving Italy and setting off to the unknown, this small city was just what I needed to boost my confidence and loose the idea that I can’t do this on my own.
Solo travel is not easy, you know? Sometimes it’s scary, but not in the way you think! I’ve never felt my life was in any kind of danger, I was never scared to follow a narrow weird street (except in Naples of course, but that’s a story I told you before, and it all happened because I was an idiot). The scary part is like a tiny little devil that sometimes gets to your head and it lasts less than a minute! It’s a moment you freak out thinking “Oh my god I am all alone!” and “what the hell am I doing?” and then it goes away.

 “Do you know what fear stands for? False Evidence Appearing Real.”

Ljubljana is small, and you can see it in one day, but staying two days would be better, and if you want to go to Postjana Caves or Lake Bled, I would suggest staying three nights.
The good part of being a small city, and the fact that Ljubljana is not a very touristic place, you can walk every single street and you won’t see a single selfie stick around! Walking along the river is amazing and you can see locals enjoying coffee and cappuccino, you have street artists playing weird instruments, and you see older people hanging with each other as they sit on a bench on the main square.

The main attractions in Ljubljana are The Three Bridges, the Dragon Bridge and the Ljubljana Castle. The last one was my favorite by far! But Ljubljana is so much more than this! It’s the clear water, the views, the people, the colors, the street art!

The path to go up the Castle is HARD! You can get a funicular if you want, but walking is free and a great exercise! I’m serious, the climb is very, very, very inclined, but the view is awesome and once you’re at the top, totally out of breath, you’ll see just what I mean. At the top you’ll find perfection. If you enjoy silence and time away from people, if you’e like me and like to have that few moments where it’s just you, a beautiful view, a castle on your back and pure silence of nature, Ljubljana Castle is for you.

I loved going up there as I got my ass kicked by the climb, loved arriving with a feeling of conquest,loved getting lost on the paths as I went down, and loved the fact that I had it all to myself. Is it weird that even while travelling alone I still look for moments of silence and try to get away from people to just be with myself? Well…I guess that’s what I need from time to time.
So, if you’re anywhere near Slovenia, don’t miss it! You have my word that Ljubljana is amazing and it will surprise you in a very good way.

Oh, and the funny thing about my stay in Ljubljana! I had payed for a mixed dorm, but since I was the only girl at the hostel (again!), the reception lady put me in a room all by myself (royal treatment), and the next day, the boys who were there checked-out, so for two nights I had an entire hostel to myself! How cool is that? It’s like paying 10€ a night for an apartment.

Tip: Getting to Ljubljana by bus/train you don’t have that many options. The best way, if you’re in Italy, is to get the Florentia Bus. You can get the bus from Florence, Bologna, Venice and Trieste and the bus arrives in Ljubljana train station at 8pm. I don’t know the prices from the other cities, but from Bologna to Ljubljana the ticket costs 34€ and it takes you 6h to arrive. This bus also goes to Zagreb (Croatia), Belgrade (Serbia) and Sofia (Bulgaria), so you have the privilege of watching movies with Bulgarian subtitles and the bus drivers won’t speak a word of English which is fun

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