December is traditionally a time of good spirits, christmas cheers and mulled wine. A time to reflect on the year behind us and plan new exciting adventures in the one ahead. It’s also a great excause to have some fun in the company of good frineds.
I just came back from the tongue-twisting town that is Ljubljana, our capital and largest city with about 300.000 inhabitants. My primary reason for being there in the first place was to addend the end of year gettogether of the Slovenian branch of Hostelling International. That basically meant a bunch of keen young travellers hanging out, sharing stories and having a good time. Once again my friend Dušan came along – it was his idea originally as he’s been a member for several years.
The meeting place was the Tresor Hostel in Ljubljana’s city center. Tresor or “Vault” has a unique backstory of being situated in a former bank – hence the name and features all the modern amenities a traveller might want. 24-hour reception with a bar, common areas with various events, spaces for larger gatherings, self-service laundry, free wi-fi and computer corner, bike and even longboard rental, you name it, they got it. You can choose between private rooms and dormitories with up to 10 beds which provide basic furnishings, but you don’t really need more. Following the bank-turned-hostel trend, every room is fashioned after a specific currency, with old bank notes and money-related quotes painted on the walls. Most importantly, everything looks and feels clean, modern, friendly and well managed.
About a dozen of us gathered in front of the hostel and set off on a guided walk of the city center with our guide (in the red jacket on the picture) throwing out handfuls of facts about the history of the streets, buildings, architects, musicians and political events long gone by. It was perhaps a bit hard to follow at times, but I’m certainly not one to disrespect knowledge. Along the way we were taking in the sights, sounds and smells coming from the many stands selling mulled wine and other assorted gourmet products to masses of happy townsfolk. Every time I come to Ljubljana I’m amazed at how busy the streets are even on a weekday evening. The Ljubljanica river gives the city great continuity with shops, pubs and restaurants lined along both banks. The whole center is a big pedestrian zone, so you can walk freely without the hustle and bustle of motorised traffic. Many small bridges over the river connect the banks wonderfully.
After the walkaround it was time to retreat to the hostel where we settled in for some story sharing and a movie – vote chose The Bucket List with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. Just as we settled in pizzas and beer arrived and we had to pause the movie. You can’t keep food waiting, you know how it gets cold and all.
Well fed, movie over, me and Dušan hit the street again in search of some good brews. Luckily for a man like me, pubs around Ljubljana offer a wide selection of domestic and international craft beers. Dušan suggested a pub he knew and it turned out a hit. I ordered myself a Hobgoblin while he went of a more traditional Guinness on tap.
Good beer sadly not being cheap, we decided to call it quits and end the day with one more walk along the festive streets. I find it fascinating how much more alive Ljubljana is compared to my home town Maribor, which is the second biggest in the country, but nowhere near as busy. Much like the Tresor hostel, the city center is clean and well looked after – you’ll hardly see grafitti tags, broken benches and full trash bins here. The authorities take good care to keep the streets tidy and the tourists love it.
With the hour getting quite late, we made our way back to Tresor. Dušan had to get back home early in the morning while I wanted to take in the sights a bit more. Sadly the day was gray, cold and not at all pleasant. After a bit of a morning stroll and an ascent to the castle above the city, I figured I had enough. My camera would have to wait for a sunnier day and all that was left was to make my way back home.
I’ve come to realise that Ljubljana is a city which I should definitely visit more often. When I do you’ll surely hear about it, but in the meanwhile, click on their official tourist page for more goodies.
And I wouldn’t be at all mad at you if you followed my site and swung by some other time as well. 🙂