We are very, very lucky to have found a house so close to everything that Istria has to offer, but also very close to both the Italian and Slovenian borders. Border checks are now quite a lot more stringent than when we first arrived, but there is a small crossing point, no more than 10 minutes from our house, which is just great for us getting into Italy and Slovenia. It’s more exciting using this crossing as not many people know about it, so it makes us feel like real locals 😉
Last weekend, we decided to take a trip across the border and into Slovenia. We’re still without cable TV (although we are nudging ever closer) and wanted to be able to watch the Champions League Final AND have a curry (a cuisine which is virtually non-existent in Istria), so we decided to investigate Ljubljana, the capital, described by Lonely Planet as follows:
Slovenia’s capital and largest city also happens to be one of Europe’s greenest and most liveable capitals. Indeed, the European Commission awarded Ljubljana with the coveted Green Capital of Europe title for 2016. Car traffic is restricted in the centre, leaving the leafy banks of the emerald-green Ljubljanica River, which flows through the city’s heart, free for pedestrians and cyclists. In summer, cafes set up terrace seating along the river; it almost feels like a nightly street party. Slovenia’s master of early-modern, minimalist design, Jože Plečnik, graced Ljubljana with beautiful buildings and accoutrements; attractive cities are often described as ‘jewel boxes’, but here the name really fits. And bringing life to these historical riches, the city’s 50,000-odd students support an active clubbing and cultural scene, and the museums, hotels and restaurants are among the best in the country.
Within an hour and a half from leaving The House, we were checked into our hotel – the very beautiful, boutique style Vander Urbani Resort, on the banks of the river. The hotel has no car park becasue the city centre is pedestrianised, but there is an underground car park no more than a 10 minute walk away – just know that parking is free on a Sunday, and don’t do what we did and leave the car over the weekend. We had a hefty parking fee, which we could have substantially reduced if we’d just paid for Saturday, taken the car out & re-parked it. Lesson learned 😉
Vander Urbani Resort
This is a very design-led hotel, but without the design-led prices. The location is just perfect for people watching, especially if you partake in the welcome drink offer, on the outside terrace. Our room was small, but perfectly formed – and perhaps the highlight was the rooftop terrace, with views across the river and the city and up to the castle – and the infinity pool. Perfect 🙂
Ljubljana is a very small city – its cobbled streets are packed full with delightful shops, restaurants offering cuisine from around the world, bars, galleries, museums, street theatre and much more. Boat trips on the river seem to be very popular – we didn’t have the time to take one in, but will be doing so next time, especially as most seem to also offer food and drink. A lovely way to while away a few hours.
Ljubljana Castle, standing on a hill above the city for about 900 years, is Ljubljana’s main attraction. The castle’s Outlook Tower and ramparts offer some of the most beautiful views of the city and if you don’t fancy the steep walk up to it, it can be accessed by a funicular.
And, after three months of craving a spicy curry, we finally got one! As amazing as the food is out here – traditional Istrian cuisine is gorgeous and there is the definite Italian influence – but Indian/Thai dishes are definitely not the norm. But now that we know we can fill our faces with spice, just an hour and a half away, we’ll be hitting the road to Ljubljana, on a regular basis!
We did get to watch the Champions League Final – but, we’ll say no more about that one…