After having some leftover spaghetti from my fantastic meal last night I was off to the train station to catch a short train ride to Mestre, a city just on the outskirts of Venice about 10 minutes away.
From there I caught a bus to my new home for the next few days – Ljubljana, Slovenia!
The bus was an adventure in itself as you get out of the train station you walk across the street and try to find a minivan indicating Ljubljana on it. After a very broken English conversation where the man resorted to writing the price on the dirty window to communicate it to me, I paid my 25 euros and hopped in the van.
The van ride lasted 5 minutes as we parked and got off to load on a bus. I stood there waiting for my man to unload my backpack from the back watching other people get on and off the bus. I truly had no idea what was going on until I finally just grabbed my bag, shoved it on the bus and hopped on.
On the bus I was easily the only English speaking person there and I had to remind myself that this was, in fact, going to be my life for the next couple of months – a foreigner in a foreign land where English is scarce.
I smiled to myself – happy that I was finally on this leg – my most anticipated one of them all.
The bus ride took just over 3 hours and, after following simple directions, I ended up at my new home. The hostel is an old 4 story house but it is beautifully done. After some hits and some misses through the 22 other hostels I’ve stayed at this was definitely a hit.
The girl at the front desk was immensely helpful and I was actually happy and surprised to learn that speaking only English wouldn’t be a problem on this leg of my trip. I was ready to suffer a little but I was happy to find out I wouldn’t have to quite that much.
It was 3pm when I checked in and after I bombarded her with questions about what to see and do in Slovenia it was an hour later and I was heading back out to have a late lunch.
I went to a restaurant she had recommended that made home cooked Slovenian fare. I perused the menu and a couple things caught my eye. One was a peasant’s platter. I have no idea what’s on it but the name was enticing enough for me. The other was a special weekend menu of 3 courses and salad bar for only 8 euros. Granted the special menu wasn’t real Slovenian fare – the entree was a choice of gnocchi fish or ribs – it was still a great deal.
Since this was my only weekend day here I chose the special menu but made plans to come back in the future to try some of the other more authentic Slovenian food.
The salad bar I started with was just some greens and a homemade potato salad but for what they lacked in quantity they excelled in quality. The potato salad was scrumptious and I could have eaten a whole meal of just that.
The meal started with a bowl of vegetable soup. You could tell it had been made from scratch as the aroma was intoxicating. It tasted equally good and for once I didn’t burn my tongue on my soup – bonus points!
For my entree I chose ribs. They came in a tomato vegetable sauce and were served with a unique version of mashed potatoes.
Dessert was a homemade slice of chocolate cake with whipped cream and cherry filling. Yummy!
Along with a glass of house wine, this four course meal set me back a whopping 10 euros. Quite the contrast from the four course meal I had the night before for 44 euros.
Yes, I’m going to love this leg of my trip.
After lunch I headed back to the hostel to try to figure out just exactly how I’m going to spend my time here in Slovenia. I knew I wanted to see the big things here – the caves and Lake Bled – but I also was really interested in doing some white water rafting while I was here too.
Something that threw a wrench in my plans was the upcoming Labor Day holiday on May 1 – this Wednesday. Apparently Ljubljana shuts down so I had to make sure I wasn’t it town on that day. As it turns out, the only spot available the rafting company had over the next couple days was on the same day.
Great! Kill two birds with one stone! Well….
Not so quick…
Turns out getting to the rafting area of Bovec takes a couple of hours and on the best of days the buses run infrequently. Well, turns out they run even more infrequently on holidays.
Plans… falling… apart…
I was once again left with trying to figure out how to make this work – a skill I’ve had to employ a few times on this trip. One I’m getting better at but, man, it takes its’ toll on you. There’s only so much google searching one can do.
I did find a benefit to the whole May 1st holiday and that was the fact that they plan a huge bonfire and family outdoor event the evening before so I’ll be going to that in a couple of days.
In the end I opted to spend one more day in Slovenia in order to go rafting on the day after the holiday instead. Of course I haven’t heard back from the company as to whether they have a spot for me on that day or not – but that’s the plan.
And of course I have a backup plan – just in case.
By 10pm I was tired but also pretty hungry so I went back out to find some food. As in Venice the city kind of shuts down by that time. There aren’t many people in the streets and everything seemed close. I opted for a kebab again and called it a night.
So, there it is – my first day on this new leg and I spent most of it planning the next few days. I know – kinda lame but these are necessary days. For one, I need to have days where I don’t do anything otherwise I would need a vacation from my vacation. Also, I have to have some kind of plan when I’m in a city or else I’m just wandering around not doing anything.
The next few days should be action packed. I’m visiting the caves and a castle tomorrow and then on Tuesday I’m spending the day here in Ljubljana ending with a bonfire at night. Wednesday I’m going to Lake Bled to explore and then on Thursday I head over to Bovec for white water rafting (hopefully) before going to Croatia on Friday.
Going to be a great week!