So our drive got a bit stressful when for what appeared to be inexplicable reasons Google took us off the motorway and into a series of small back roads in rural Croatia. It felt very much like we were going around in circles instead of making a direct line for Slovenia and Ljubljana on the motorway.
Eventually we reached a border crossing on a small back road. The Croatian side didn’t actually have anyone guarding it – we assume they are happy enough for people to leave. On the Slovenian side there was a single border guard who I am sure would have been bored if she hadn’t been in the midst of an animated mobile phone call. She waved us up to her, we handed over our passports, she shuffled them slightly, not even opening them, then handed them back and waved us on into Slovenia and the Schengen Area. The whole experience felt very much like we’d snuck into the country.
As we drove back to rejoin the motorway we saw what Google had done for us. All the roads to the border were clogged with cars. We rejoined the motorway heading deeper into Slovenia and there was a 10km traffic-jam on the other side of the road.
Slovenia is beautiful. As we drove on the motorway through Croatia the villages and towns on the roadside were dominated by 70s flats and out-sized warehouses. In Slovenia there are rolling green fields, even now in Winter, and lovely unspoilt villages with sloping red roods and churches with tightly pointed spires.
We took a detour to Otocec castle. The only castle in Slovenia that is on an island. It sits prettily surrounded by a beautiful river alive with fish and ducks, in the midst of a forest.
After the quick detour it took hardly any time until we were in Ljubljana and dealing with the slightly complex parking arrangements. Our hotel is in the centre of town which is entirely pedestrian, so we had to be guided to an awkward parking spot over the river.
Ljubljana is split by a river or canal and dominated by a castle sitting on a hill above the town. The riverside is alive with cafes and bars all the time and at the moment they are augmented by a stretched out Christmas Market. It’s remarkably pretty.
Declan walked up to the Castle while the rest of us took the funicular. The Castle has been there since the 1300s but has been worked over enough times since then that it has a but of many ages mixed together. The view from the tower at the top is quite stunning.
We took a break for a while and played 500 back at the hotel in front of the fire.
The view was perhaps even better when we returned after dinner to view the lights. After walking all round theCastle for the view, we caught the funicular back down to the bottom. The whole of the centre of town is alive with lights and music and people enjoying themselves. We strolled along both baks of the river through the Christmas markets. There’s even one whole section of lights devoted to maths and science. We’ve all agreed we love Ljubljana.