We said a sad farewell to the Penzion Mayer, with its beautiful tiled bathroom, generous and fresh breakfast and prime location. The manager, when Alison asked him to book us a taxi to the bus station, offered to drive us there gratis. So nice!
We ended up taking a car and driver to the city instead of the bus to save time. The driver was quite a character, complaining all the way that he was losing money on us since he could only get five passengers. At any rate, it was a quick trip to the city, we rolled our suitcases to the hotel, and here we are.
Well! We chose this hotel for its location, which is perfect, right off the main square in Ljubljana with the cathedral and the famous triple bridge.Never mind that the bathroom is not only tiny but designed so that you can hardly help but spray the shower all over the place, and there is nowhere to put the soap. It does, on request, have both a good hair dryer (which eventually worked once the nice man fixed the fuse) and laundry facilities that we used this afternoon. Never mind that it was gloomy and sprinkling when we arrived and that we were both so tired we had to crawl back to the room for a long afternoon nap. Things looked up after that.
I find that a gentle boat ride down the river is just the ticket when you’re feeling weak. We watched the kids kayaking and a creature that the captain called a beaver but made me think more of a marmot chomping grass, while the banks slid slowly by and we waved at people standing on the bridges. This is the Cobbler’s Bridge by the ubiquitous and beloved Slovenian architect Jozef Pleznik, with a new feature at one end, shoes strung over a line. Soon after that it was time for dinner in the old town.
We went to Sokol, touted as having local Slovenian dishes. True, but they were indifferently presented and the venison goulash could have been any kind of meat. (They did offer foal on the menu – not kidding- but I feel sure we would have noticed…right?) So a bit of a bust, but that’s okay. We sat at the end of the Triple Bridge and watched the world go by until we decided it was late enough by our lights to call it a day.
Today, as is usually the case, went much better (despite the tiny shower and the simple yet not delicious breakfast). We took a walking tour of the city with an enthusiastic graduate student who claimed she learned her fluent, idiomatic English by staying glued to the Cartoon Channel as a child. She was a good storyteller and kept us engaged as we looked at the cathedral (baroque interior), the town hall (16th century sgraffito), and the views from the top of the castle tower looking over the city to the Julian Alps in the distance. Did I mention that we took a funicular up to the castle? We shut our eyes and it was over in a moment. We had a really good lunch (Kranskje sausages with horseradish and potatoes) at the castle restaurant sitting outside in the square and then visited the Slovenian History Museum in hopes of getting a better handle on WWI in Yugoslavia. The museum was well arranged, but the most interesting thing was that Tito was barely mentioned – odd, considering that he WAS Yugoslavia for 40+ years and was apparently fairly well regarded by the people.
As a reward for our hard work, we descended via funicular to the old town for a piece of traditional cake made with apples, walnuts and poppy seeds. Quite delicious – our guide told us it’s complicated to make, so their family always buys it for special occasions. By 3:00, we were beginning to fade again, so it’s back to the room to do some laundry, read and nap until it’s time for dinner.