Ljubljana, Slovenia – nice city, nice people!

I was asked in April, by the director of my Master’s program, to participate in a small conference / seminar, the 2nd NOHA-ECHO Presidency seminar, “The Changing Scope of Humanitarian Action.” Of course I accepted, and on May 4 I landed in rainy Ljubljana. My taxi pickup was conveniently not there, so I had to take a private taxi for 40 euro (luckily reimbursed later). The next morning I woke up and it was still raining outside… no good! I decided to stay inside for the first part of the day, getting some more rest and trying to do some school work. This is the view from my window on the 9th floor of Hotel Park (really nice room, quite nice hotel).

In the afternoon, when the weather was better, I walked to the University of Ljubljana‘s Faculty of Social Sciences for the opening session. The participants were about two dozen Slovenian students interested in humanitarianism, six representatives from different NOHA network universities (I was representing Uppsala), three program heads, two Marie Curie fellows, Rene Guth from ECHO, and a handful of professors from the University of Ljubljana.

I won’t comment much on the seminar content, since it’s not particularly interesting to people outside this field of study / work, but suffice it to say that the evening session and the full day session the following day were at times interesting and at times useful, and I’m glad I was there.

After the end of the seminar on the 6th, a bunch of us met up at a bar for a drink, and we later went to the famous Skeleton Bar for another drink. The place is really neat, there are skeletons everywhere! And at a certain time (midnight, I think), they all start rattling and the eyeballs of the paintings on the walls start moving.

The next day I was due to fly out at night, so I decided to spend the sunny, sunny day outside taking some photos and exploring town more. The old town in Ljubljana is a really pretty place, and the rest of the city is not too bad either. The Ljubljanica river flows through Ljubljana and is crossed by a bunch of different bridges, including the Tromostovje, known in English as the Triple Bridge.

The riverbanks in some places have restaurants and other businesses built in, or terraces for cafes. Here, they’ve planted a tonne of tulips, pansies, and something pretty I can’t quite identify in the back.

The triple bridge again:

I walked a bit past the old town, sat down on a bench to eat a sandwich, and heard a helicopter coming, so I grabbed my camera out of my bag and got the settings adjust just in time to catch the chopper as it flew past at full speed. Note it says ‘Policija’ on the bottom.

I liked these little window outcroppings, or whatever you call them:

In Prešeren Square, I thought this building was neat:

Ljubljana Central Pharmacy, also in Prešeren Square:

In the afternoon, I was invited to lunch with three Slovenian students I had met at the University: Špela, Maša, and Juri. They took me to Hostel Celica, a former prison converted into a hostel, where they treated me to a tasty meal. I had great bean soup and a massive, and very colourful, Greek salad. Mmmm.

After lunch, they showed me through Metelkova, “an autonomous social centre on the site of former military barracks (the Slovenian headquarters of the Yugoslav National Army)” according to that ever-useful, but never fully trustworthy, Wikipedia. It was really neat! So much art on the outside of the buildings! They hold concerts and workshops and all sorts of stuff there, and we could hear a band practicing inside one of the buildings as we walked past. Here’s a selection of art on the outside of the buildings:

“Lahko noč!” means “Good night” in Slovenian:

If you know me, you know I consume enough coke in a year for a small island nation, so I spotted this without even trying:

After Metelkova, it was time to say goodbye to Maša and Juri. Špela and I then set off to see a bit more of the city before my cab to the airport. Here are Špela, Maša, and Juri, super nice people! They, and the others I met, definitely gave me an extremely positive impression of young Slovenians!

Špela and I wandered around, and she explained different places to me as we passed them. At one point we saw a couple looking at a map so we stopped and offered help, and Špela knew exactly where they had to go. We ended up talking to them for a few blocks walk, very nice Americans from Washington, DC. While they were talking with Špela, I took a picture of this tower of the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation.

I dunno what this is, but it looks nice! [edit: Špela has now told me that this is the main post office]

This is the main building of the Unive
rsity, though it’s only used for administration, not classes, anymore.

A close-up, and my idea of making it more artistic, of the crest on the building:

While we were walking about town, I got a call on my mobile phone from Adria Airways, Slovenia’s flagship carrier. They decided to cancel my flight to Sarajevo that evening, and I was stuck with two options: fly out at 6am to Munich and from there to Sarajevo, arriving just after noon, or fly direct at 3pm and arrive an hour later. I chose the second option, because the first option would be too tiring, and because I felt I hadn’t spent quite enough time in Ljubljana yet.

Špela had to head home to do crazy amounts of school work, and I walked slowly back to the hotel I had stayed at to pick up my backpack. Near the hotel is the Dragon Bridge, which has four dragons mounted on it. I wish I could have taken a better photo to show how awesome these statues are…

I got myself out to the airport a couple hours later, where they sorted out my new itinerary and arranged a hotel room and meals for me nearby. I arrived at the hotel and, after a quick supper, went up to my room. Turns out the “single room” that Adria Airways booked for me was in fact a rather massive and quite pleasant place. I took photos just to remember! It had 4 beds, a couch that was also a 5th bed, a bathroom and good shower, aircon/heater, basically everything I could possibly need!

This couch is also a bed if the cushions are removed:

Beds 1, 2, and 3:

Bed 4:

In the morning, I had quite a few hours to waste so I caught a bus back into the city and hung out with Špela, Jovan, and a bunch of other Slovenian students in the hot, hot sun for almost three hours before heading back to the airport in time for my flight. This is the view of the Julian Alps (Julijske Alpe in Slovenian) on the way from town to the airport:

And this is the plane that was NOT cancelled, and did indeed get me from Ljubljana to Sarajevo:

I really loved my too-short stay in Ljubljana, and I hope I can make a trip to Slovenia next year when I’m living in Sweden again, to see some more of the country and the people!

Next post: Adventures in Sarajevo!

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