Disovering Ljubljana

The plane to Ljubljana is the size of a bus. The small airport is close to the mountains. Ljubljana has an amazingly small railway station and countless bus lines on the station forecourt: 2 hours to Zagreb, 3.5 hours to Venice, 1.5 to Trieste.

Travelling is discovering and Slovenia on the edge of the Balkans a charming destination. Before departure, astonished questions: Why Slovenia? The other person does not get a precise idea of this country. The associations with some countries of the “former Yugoslavia” often disappear in the fog even more than 25 years after the dissolution of socialist Yugoslavia and 13 years after EU accession. South of Austria and east of Venice there is Slovenia. If you inform yourself on the Internet, the first descriptions that come to mind are that a large number of languages are spoken there and that the lakes and rivers have beautiful clear water in all shades of green, turquoise and blue.

“SPRANA LJUBLJANA means washed out or exhausted Ljubljana” says the waiter looking around the corner to see what I’m photographing on the café wall. “I have never seen that before. Thank you for showing me.” I see this street art stencil more often in the next few days. The varnish shimmering, place and underground carefully selected. I also meet the big cat face. Ljubljana is vegan, hip, elegant and friendly.

Late summer, warmth – the colours are soft. The windows of the houses open to the outside. Every house has a decoration, a detail, a particularly beautiful shadow to discover. When it rains, the roofs glow more intensely red and the river turns restlessly dark green. Under one of the many bridges I see the water smooth and reflecting. The traffic light counts down the much too long waiting time to the pedestrians in large numbers and soaks my sneakers. Short time later everything is dry again and the still wet cracks of the asphalt draw bizarre patterns.

Every day regional suppliers sell their harvest on the market at long, green rows of tables. Some boxes of deep blue Merlot grapes, blackberries, cranberries, mushrooms or figs in all colours.

In my search for the “typical Slovenian” I encounter the illustrations of Ancka Gosnik-Godec. She was born in 1927, painted in the mountains and liked to paint at night when it was quiet. Ancka Gosnik-Godek celebrated her 90th birthday in 2017 and finally received recognition for her work at this high age. In one of the antiquarian bookshops the patient bookseller finds the edition of a children’s book with her illustrations for me. The culture and landscape of Slovenia seems to be a good breeding ground for fantastic stories and fairy tales.

Recommended places
Tea house Casa Hijna
Café Primel in the botanical garden
the Julian Alps
The turquoise water of Soča
Franja Partisan Hospital. An entire village worked as a partisan hospital during World War II.
Contemporary art in the MG+MSUM
The reading room of the library, one of the works of architect Jose Plecnik, was destroyed by a plane in 1944. It flew in the middle! What a rage of destruction. Today, students are still learning in the restored room. On weekends or in summer it is open for sightseeing.

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