"How on earth do you say that word?" I mutter to myself.
I'm currently staring at a list of the "Ten Places in Europe You Need to Visit but Haven't Heard About" and high up on the list is Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Well they're definitely correct. Despite Ljubljana being Slovenia's capital city, I hang my head in shame and admit that I haven't heard of it, nor do I have the faintest clue how to pronounce it. And that's what clinches it for me.
"I've found my next holiday destination!" I declare loudly to my flatmate.
"Great! Where to?" They reply.
"I have no idea how to pronounce it!" I exclaim enthusiastically.
In return I'm greeted with skeptical silence.
But I'm resolved. I will travel to this Love-lee-jub-lee city and discover all that it has to offer (after a couple minutes of googling I learn that it's actually pronounced Lube-lee-aw-nuh. Say it with me now: Lube-lee-aw-nuh).
To top off what is already bound to be a great adventure, I find a hostel which is housed in a former prison. A FORMER PRISON, people! They have regular dormitory rooms, but if you want to be extra adventurous (always go for the extra adventurous option), you can book a bed in one of the former cells, complete with prison doors. Needless to say, I am STOKED.
Upon arriving, I'm blown away by the beauty of this magical city. The Old Town is at the heart of it all and is very very walkable. You could pretty much see it in a day if you were pressed for time, though I'd recommend at least two days in order to fully soak up the city's unique charm.
One of the main sights in the Old Town is the Dragon Bridge (the symbol of the city is, you guessed it, the Ljubljana Dragon). At this point in my blog I am tempted to break into a rousing rendition of Puff the Magic Dragon, but I will spare you for now.
The bridge crosses over the Ljubljanica River, which snakes it's away through the city. There are several bridges in Ljubljana, most notably the Dragon Bridge, the Triple Bridge (which is exactly what it sounds like) and the Cobbler's Bridge, to which young lovers clip their locks of everlasting love...just before one of them dumps the other one.
My best recommendation for experiencing Ljubljana would be to just aimlessly wander the streets. It's not a city to be rushing around in, it's meant to be enjoyed at your own pace. There's something new to discover around every bend, and the laid-back charm of the Old Town will quickly win you over.
Another not-to-be-missed sight is Ljubljanski grad, the city's medieval castle. Word of advice: take the Funicular from Krek Square up to the top, rather than attempting to walk up like yours truly made the mistake of doing. The Funicular is FUN (it must be, it's in the name!) and takes only 60 seconds to reach the top. Walking (take it from me) is a significantly less enjoyable, time-consuming experience.
After my adventure in and around the castle, I decide it's time to head back to, well, my prison cell.
The hostel I'm staying in is called Hostel Celica and, as I mentioned, it's the sight of a former prison. I've booked myself into one of their cells for the night, which is exactly what it says on the tin, iron bars and all.
The only snag is the cell a two-person room and I am, after all, a solo traveler. As I open my cell door I'm greeted by a what I can only assume is a giant. But he greets me with a smile and I therefore deduce that he must be a friendly giant so I don't run away. He proceeds to inform me (in a thick Northern accent) that his name is Luke Jelley and he will be my cellmate for the evening.
Mr. Jelley has already taken the lower bed so I hoist myself up to the loft bed and try to figure out how to avoid killing myself in the night (I have a history of throwing myself off bunkbeds in my sleep). Introductions done, we head downstairs to see what the social vibe in the hostel is like.
A group has already gathered in the bar area and the bartender informs us that tonight is Make-Your-Own Cocktail Bucket Night. My group somehow goes very wrong with our mix of ingredients and our cocktail bucket ends up tasting like feet, yet still we somehow manage to drink it all.
We then decide that perhaps a round of Jaeger shots is the way to go, quickly followed by what the locals call Bear's Blood, a ruby red mystery shot which tastes of burning (well, to me at least). And with this, we're off for an evening of adventuring in Ljubljana, which actually has a surprising amount to offer in the way of nightlife.
The rest of the night is a hazy blur of drinking and dancing. I know I ended up wearing my sunglasses indoors, which somehow always manages to bring out SUPER Adventure Stacy (she's the one you need to watch out for). The night ends with an epic failed attempt at getting back into my loft bed without waking Mr. Jelley. But I finally make it up and then it's lights out for us prisoners.
Gee, who knew a night in the slammer could be so much fun?
On tomorrow's agenda? Lake Bled!
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