Slovenia

 

Climbing higher and higher now, out of the lagoons of the Adriatic and towards the looming Julian Alps. Destination, Ljubljana. A scheduled meet-up with a wandering friend. But first, a stop one quarter way through Slovenia in the mountainous town of Postojna.

The tourist trap around these parts, a cave so bewilderingly deep that reaching the depths requires a train ride from the maw. Another deep and dank cave, which unfortunately have become somewhat repetitive to me over the course of the last few years. As such, the highlight of Postojna for me was really the crisp mountain air, countryside calm and a Shining-esque mansion of a hotel nestled in mountain, in which I seemed to be the only proprietor.

 

Reaching Ljubljana the next day was deceptively quick and easy. Slovenia is smaller than Belgium in size, and as such whisking around between the coast, mountains and cities, is incredibly brisk. The  bus jump from Postojna to Ljubljana for example only being around 45 minutes.

Out of all the ex-Yugoslav states I’ve seen on this and previous trips, Slovenia is unsurprisingly the most culturally biased towards Austria. Good wine, kebab, and Mediterranean oils are of course available as in the other states in this region, but the stately stone-clad alleys definitely whisper at me “go for the sausages”. Which I did, and they were splendid. There’s even very finely prepared glühwein to smooth over the November night frosts, available from vendors lining the streets. The salty winds of Croatia, from which I came and to which I shall return, seem far away in my mind already.

 

After a day of few in Ljubljana, pondering and participating in the effects of the local spirits and ales with my esteemed droog, we were forced to run for the hills. Or rather, rent a fresh-out-the-factory Peugeot on one of the rainiest days of the year to take in the alpine roads in the North-West of the country. Luckily the local Intersport was equipped with all the rain gear student travelers require, a dozen plus two plastic bags and heaps of fresh socks.

The foothills of the Julian Alps hide among them great jewels of natural and architectural beauty. Lake Bled with its Disney-esque castles, great waterfalls draining from far above the mist, and deep forest bleeding with crimson fall leaves. Those leaves being very entertaining to slip through on the blind turns of alpine roads gushing with rainwater. As a hasty sunset started to hide most of the surrounding beauty, we made put in a gear and made our hasty charge back into the city. One last warm meal, farewells and a date with my bunk in order to catch the early bus towards the old front lines.

-Markus

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