After waking up at 5.30am we get the 7am train to Trieste. However after this our plans for getting to Ljubljana stop. Hopefully there will be a bus into Slovenia from Trieste as it’s on the border but then again we thought there would be a train between Venice and the closest capital city, Ljubljana too…
Tina snacks on some carrots and we take a little kip before we get to Trieste. On arrival we first go to the train information, who tells us that we would have to go back to where we came from AND change trains 3 times, taking 5 hours before we would get into Slovenia. It was extra silly as the station that would take us to Slovenia was only 14km away. It would make more sense for us to get a bus to that town, Sezana, and then the train from there. “The bus station is over there”.
Around the sea were some cars and so I suggested we should look at their plates to see if any were Slovenian or going in that direction. Most were obviously Italian. We first saw a guy exit his car and Tina asked if he was going to Slovenia, he was but he was also waiting in Trieste for his wife so he would also be a few hours. We thank him and walk along the car park some more. We see some more Slovenian plates and a lady inside the car pulling away. Tina knocks on the window and success! She lives in Nova Gorica but can drop us off at Gorizia on a road to Ljubljana. We jump in and forgive ourselves the €2.70 we lost on a bus ticket. Lift 9 – Slovenian Business Lady. Nichola: 3 Tina:6. She tells us how she also went on exchange to Florida when she was at university. She loved it there, though as she was foreign she missed out on a lot of scholarships offered in her classes. I don’t think anyone ever regrets a year abroad.
We get dropped off at a petrol station – we’ve been here before, our hitchhiking tale was not over in Venice. Tina takes the pumps and I take the sign to wave passers-by in. True to Venice form in no time a truck pulls over and says he can take us. I call Tina over and off we go. Nichola:4 Tina:6. Lift 10 – Bosnian Truck Driver. We are quite excited by this lift as we didn’t manage to get a truck on the way to Venice, plus we had wanted to visit Bosnia afterwards but couldn’t due to time. He couldn’t speak English so Tina chatted to him. He explained the mystery to us about the Vignette. They have these things stuck on the windscreen that open the barrier and take money out of your account automatically when you go through. As a truck driver he has several, one for each country.
We must also visit “Postojnska jama” the caves we had seen on the way to Ljubljana the first time. He and Tina told me how in Yugoslavia there were many school trips to go see these beautiful things. Another thing he told us was that the road we were taking is often closed as it is a point where two air currents meet causing very strong winds that can even knock trucks off the road. It sounded very dangerous.
He dropped us off at Rudnik which is a big industrial estate outside Ljubljana. Here we decide to buy lunch and in so doing enter the biggest supermarket I have ever seen! It blew my mind and was not something I was expecting from little Slovenia. Among other things they had about four isles of cake and even more impressively it was full of different types of cake and not just the same type filling a whole section (Tesco!). All this cake meant we had to buy some so we ate it in the car park and texted Xena (our couch surfer) our location. We were only a bus ride away.
Here we learn Ljubljana buses are not our forte as we try to get on the first that comes but they say we need a special card, can’t use money and drives away. We then buy this card and wait for the next bus, however when we scan it a red light says were not allowed on. Luckily we bargain with the bus driver and he lets us get on without us having to wait for a third bus. We make it to the Filoza and meet Xena in the university where she is working at bar K16 there. We also meet her friend Natasha who shows us around the city.
We are blown away by Slovenia and Ljubljana. It is absolutely stunning. The scenery is gorgeous and Ljubljana has this small town feel not that it is the state capital of a country. Natasha studied architecture (alongside many of her other talents, studying Japanese, skateboarding, break dancing, belly dancing, playing violin, drums, recording with her band, though she hurt her foot so they had to wait a while for that. She was generally crazy but truly inspiring with what she has done with her life considering she was our age) so she tells us about all the beautiful Baroque buildings and other history of the city including;
Joze Plocnik is a famous architect who designed many of the buildings in Ljubljana such as Ursulinska Cerkev.
France Preseren was a composer and was in love with a girl Julija who was to become the unfulfilled love of his life as it would never become mutual. There is a statue of him in the city which faces a window where Julija used to live. A small statue of her is also there.The dragon is the national symbol of Ljubljana and is on their national coat of arms. Natasha then left us as she had to get to her Japanese class. Tina and I sat in the park and then returned to Xena’s flat to see if she had ideas for dinner, but she wasn’t there. In the end we asked her house mate for ideas, although we couldn’t find what she described. Our search for Slovenian food ended disastrously as we sat in a restaurant that said it served Goulash outside, however this was only at lunch time. He gave us the menu and we ordered. Later we realised it was the same menu as the fast food place two doors down. We decided to not speak of this again and got some ice cream for pudding in another place.
We returned to Xena’s apartment and thankfully she was there this time. We chatted to her and she explained how that weekend was very important as there was a referendum being held in the country to allow gay marriages. Xena was at the front of the campaign in support of marriages and Tina and I agreed this was very cool.
We tried to look up trains and buses to Zagreb, but again it was ludicrous that there wasn’t more travel options. We decided to get up and have an early lunch the next day at a proper Slovenian place Xena had recommended to us. We’d then walk to the station and see what was going on. After we chatted some more, but I was falling asleep on the couch and Xena had to get up early the next day for work. We organised our sleeping quarters in Xena’s living room and slept. Tomorrow Zagreb, Croatia!