Lingering in Ljubljana

First of all, if you’re going to read my entire post about Ljubljana, you might want to know how to pronounce it. It’s not as hard as it looks. A “J” has more of a “Y” sound in Slovenian. Basically, the capital of Slovenia sounds like Lube-lee-ah-na. This is where I am currently, where I have been since Sunday afternoon.

We got the very unfortunate news Sunday morning that Mike’s grandma Bella passed away. She was an amazing woman with a long, challenging, and inspiring life. She was a Holocaust survivor, an immigrant, and a loving mother and grandmother. Her family will miss her very much. You can read more about her in her obituary.

Upon receiving the news, We began making frantic travel arrangements so that Mike could go to New York for her funeral. I originally planned to go with, but the costs were just too prohibitive. After much scrambling, everything was lined up — we just needed to get from Nova Vas to Ljubljana for Mike to catch his flight. We biked the 60km (mostly downhill!) to the city Sunday afternoon. We both stayed the night in a hostel, and then Mike flew out on Monday.

Since then, I’ve been staying in a nice AirBnB. I’ve walked around the city, eaten gelato everyday, visited the castle, taken in the crazy huge shopping center, and more.

The castle is perhaps the most popular tourist destination. Sitting atop a hill in the middle of the city, it offers great views. I spent an afternoon exploring it and touring its many exhibits (Slovenian history, torture devices, a virtual castle tour through the centuries, photography exhibit about kissing, exhibit of preserved frescos). The hill offered a nice little hike up and down, too.

Tuesday I biked around, mostly. I visited a rather disappointing (but free) botanical garden. (I guess I’m spoiled by the amazing Desert Botanical Garden at home.) After that I biked to a more lovely Tivoli Park and viewed its outdoor gallery of photographs focusing on “Youth in Nature.” I pedaled around throughout the city, checking out various neighborhoods.

On Wednesday, due to a rainy forecast, I chose to explore BTC City. BTC City is a shopping area just outside the center of Ljubljana. It’s kind of like a whole series of malls. There are 450+ shops, an indoor water park, go-karts, bowling, a casino, a movie theater, and more. It is located in an area that basically used to be a warehouse facility for all of Yugoslavia. Some warehouses have been converted to strip malls, some are more like conventional malls, some are parking structures. It’s a really bizarre layout. I dislike shopping and was a bit overwhelmed, but I went to see Pitch Perfect 2 and enjoyed it.

Today is another rainy day, so I plan to make a few small excursions this afternoon, but mostly I’ll be staying in to do work and plan for when Mike gets back tomorrow.

Ljubljana is a nice city worth a day or two of exploration, but I wouldn’t recommend a 5-day stay…

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