Ljubljana & Maribor

Let’s just say that spelling isn’t exactly a forte of mine.  Spelling in another language is doubly difficult.  Because Slovenian words aren’t exactly logical for a native English speaker, I felt like I was double and triple checking myself all day trying to enter a simple city into the GPS.  L-j-u-b-l-j-a-n-a.  Finally!  It is the capital and largest city in Slovenia and is the home of another Olmsted Scholar, Scott Johnson, and his wife Carolynn (who graciously allowed us to stay at their house even though they were away on vacation!)  Before making to Ljubljana though, we made a quick pit-stop in Maribor, Slovenia’s 2nd largest city. 

Maribor was chosen, jointly with Guimaraes, Portugal, as the 2012 capital of European Culture.  Each year, a city (or 2) is highlighted to show off the culture specific to that region and gives the city an opportunity to gain significant economic revenue with more tourist traffic.  When we arrived in Maribor, however, I’m going to be honest and say I didn’t want to get out of the car.  It was absolutely POURING rain.  Bobby successfully lured me out with promises of Slovenian wine tasting :).  Maribor is home to the oldest vine tree in the world and it still produces wine to this day!  A local winery also produces a very similar grape and they store their wine (some 5.5 million liters) in a 20.000 square meter cellar under the city.

The winery along the river

Oldest vine in the world

Old Vine

Inside the wine museum that is dedicated to the “Old Vine,” we tasted some wine from the area.  The region produces about 90% white wine, so we figured we should try what they do best.  We settled on tasting (and then buying) a semi-dry Riesling and a sparkling white wine.

Some of the local products

Some of our tastings (including some delicious Slovenian dark chocolate)

Seeking some sunshine and warmth, we decided to hop back in the car and head on to Ljubljana.  We were welcomed with blue skies and a beautiful city!

Prešernov trg (Preseren Square) – central square in Ljubljana

The Ljubljanica River bisects the city and the people have really capitalized on the feature by placing many bars/restaurants/tourist attractions along its banks.

Waterfront

Cafes line the banks

Also, because of the river, the bridges in Ljubljana have become very important cultural and architectural structures.  The main bridge, aptly named “Triple Bridge,” is made up of 3 bridges.  There was originally only one, which linked Central Europe and the Balkans. In order to prevent the 1842 stone arch bridge from being a bottleneck, two additional pedestrian bridges were added (in 1932) on either side.

Triple Bridge

The symbol of Ljubljana is the dragon, and thus, there is another bridge dedicated to the figure.  When it was built in 1901, it had the 3rd longest arch span in Europe at 109 feet, 5 inches.

Dragon Bridge

Dragon!

Trying to scare the locals

A third bridge, called the Butcher’s Bridge, connects the northern side of the bank to the central market on the south side. It just opened in 2010 as a pedestiran-only walkway.  It is a modern structure with a glass floor and steel cable supports, which bear thousands of padlocks of love, a phenomenon that started in Paris many years ago.

Butcher’s Bridge

Artist sculptures on the bridge

Signs of love

Ljubljana actually reminded us a lot of Salzburg because of its beautiful streets and imposing castle looking down from above.  We rode the funicular up the mountain and took a tour of Ljubljanski grad, a medieval fortress inhabited since the 1200s.

Heading up to the funicular

Looking down from the funicular

View of the castle’s courtyard from its tower

The main square (Prešernov trg) from above

Ljubljana’s skyline from the castle

Skyline from the courtyard

Castle’s window

Castle’s entrance portal

Bobby “rowing” on the castle’s boat bench

We took the stairs up a little farther to the castle’s tower.  The staircase is designed as a double-helix so people can go up and down at the same time without passing each other.  The tower itself was built so that a guard could watch over the town, giving announcements in case of a VIP arrival or if there was impending trouble like a city fire or attack.

Tower stairs

Tower’s double-helix staircase

The views from the tower were absolutely amazing!  We could see for miles.

View to the south

We decided to take the wooded path back down to the city instead of the funicular and we were rewarded with more beautiful views.

Pathway back to the city

Since we didn’t have much to eat earlier in the day (just some wine and chocolate!) we were hungry for a snack.  Turns out, that “snack” ended up being another dessert.  :) Oh well, some days we have more willpower than others!

My amazing “snickers” (the Slovenian description, not mine) mousse

…and Bobby’s pistachio cake

And our night was finished off by a beautiful Slovenian sunset.

Lovely.

 

Comments

  1. yay! new fall jacket! :) looks like a great trip!