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Filed in Blog, Slovenia, United Kingdom by on May 27, 2014

I titled this post Ljubljana, because 1) it is the name of Slovenia’s capital city, which we visited, and 2) it is probably one of the most confusing words to approach if you have no knowledge of Slovenian phonetics, which most of us Americans don’t. For a long time during the planning phase of our backpacking trip, my friend Roslynn and I referred to Ljubljana simply as “the capital” because we were afraid to even try uttering its real name. When we finally looked it up, we were relieved to find that the pronunciation isn’t actually that difficult; it’s “lyoo-BLYAH-nah.” With the name of the capital on our tongues, we were ready to take on the city itself.

  • There’s not actually that much to “take on” in Ljubljana; it’s a very small and peaceful city of less than 300,000 people.


    Ljubljana as seen from Ljubljana Castle

  • There is, however, plenty of art for such a small city. Whimsical, unexpected, fantastical murals and graffiti jumped off many a wall.

    A skateboarder made of recycled skateboards


    A man with an enviably long beard and an equally as enviable collection of books

  • The epicenter of this artistic atmosphere was the Metelkova, which is a compound of former military barracks converted into art and music venues and other social and organizational spaces. Every inch of the Metelkova buildings is covered with art, which ranges from the charming to the disturbing. It is, nonetheless, a decidedly peaceful and welcoming place and another reactionary testament to the effect decades of war has had and continues to have on the country.

    A few buildings in the Metelkova compound


    A to-scale sculpture of Slovenia’s national rodent, the Deranged Mousefoot (believe what you will)


    What I took to be some Gollum-inspired sculpture, at Metelkova

  • We ventured outside Ljubljana to see an amazing castle called Predjama, which covers the mouth of a cave. The castle has seen many a siege due to its easily-siegeable location, but luckily there are secret entrance and exit tunnels through the porous rock of the mountain.


    Predjama Castle

  • Next up was Lake Bled, a small town by a big lake which has its own fairytale-esque castle.

    Bled Castle


    Making duck friends at Lake Bled


    Lake Bled from the cliffs


    A Slovenian sunset over Lake Bled

  • Lake Bled is one of several lakes in Triglav National Park, which covers about a quarter of Slovenia. Another of the park’s incredible lakes is Lake Bohinj, which we also visited.


    Hiking through the forest surrounding Lake Bohinj

  • As our visit to Bohinj fell on the last day of our backpacking trip, we decided to make it a grand finale by taking a ski lift — er, I mean, climbing — to the top of Mt. Vogel, right by the lake.


    View from the “climb.”  What are those cables doing there?

  • At about 1,800 meters, Mt. Vogel was the highest elevation we reached during our trip, and we were met at the top by a view of snowy Alps. (Yes, the Alps end in Slovenia! They are called the Julian Alps.) We liked to affectionately joke that Slovenia is like Switzerland for college students on a budget, since the exchange rate is quite a bit lower there than in the notoriously expensive Switzerland.


    Snow in April!

Satisfied with what we considered to be an appropriately dramatic end to our trip, we made our way back to England, where final essays and exams awaited us. It was with a sense of homecoming that I trained back to Lancaster after flying into London the next day. It’s strange how “home” can be such a relative concept.

Comments (2)

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  1. Lorna says:

    These are truly amazing photos. Please keep in mind the International Center’s photo contest

  2. Linda Gilmore says:

    Never heard of the Julian Alps, but they are magnificent!!! You have seen some AMAZING castles…..can’t wait to hear which one is your favorite! Good luck with exams!!! Love,