L-you-bl-y-anna – say that bad boy out loud and you’re one step closer to speaking Slovenian!
While planning our 10-country Eurotrip this summer, we wanted to hit up all the Lisbons, Barcelonas, Berlins, but also cities that aren’t exactly common on a tourist’s “must visit” list. So, in typical DamonAndJo fashion, we opened up our crinkly EuRail map and planned out a route from Italy to Budapest, with a quick stop in Slovenia, specifically Ljubjlana. What better way to pick a city that one can barely even pronounce?
Does this look like a language we can retain? Nuh uh honey.
I had never even thought I’d set foot in Eastern Europe, let alone Slovenia, which is why I got giddy while en route. When you don’t know what to expect, the possibilities for adventure are endless because every little thing becomes exciting, like figuring out how to ask for the bathroom, or desperately asking a McDonald’s employee named Sasho how to say “hi” and “bye,” then adding him on Facebook (true story).
Except he never accepted our friend request.
We didn’t figure out how to say basic sentences to our Slovenian friends, but we did manage to have some human contact when we were randomly recognized by one of our YouTube viewers who made this awesome video.
We tried to learn more about Slovenia and Ljubljana, apart from our basic Google knowledge, by booking a free tour (aka tipping tour), but guess who never showed up? The tour guide. So, instead, we hit up BIKOFE and relied on our conversation with the super shy, super quirky girl with a top-knot ponytail and nose piercing who worked as the barista to get the juiciest Slovenian secret spots.
Because the country’s capital is easily walkable (you can see most of the “Top Things to See” in one day), she recommended a lot of the same things we learned from our Google search. “Go to the top of the hill and see the castle…”
Funnily enough, we hiked all the way up to the castle, avoiding the elevator that costs something like €3, took photos of the view, but didn’t even take one photo of the actual castle. And the award for the best travel bloggers goes to: Damon and Jo!
Next, the BIKOFE barista said, “Notice the orange rooftops and well-preserved, medieval-looking buildings.”
“Oh, and make sure to check out the river and Dragon bridge.” Which are way less exciting than they sound.
Our boy Sasho from McDonalds also recommended the river, but he referred to it as the platja, or “beach,” where people sit back, smoke some cigarettes, chat for hours, and drink, drink, drink. How…European of Ljubljana!
We stayed in the cheapest hostel we could find, Nana’s Rooms, that had an amazing value at a measly $8 a night a bed with the added benefit of being in the suburbs, allowing us to see how real Slovenians live. Not only was it $8 a night, but they also put us in the biggest corner room, with about five windows “just cuz.”
Aside from the sweet hostel deal, we made friends while walking through Tivoli Park at night, sipped coffee in a trendy café, and I tried a horse burger for the first time.
But a city guide wouldn’t be complete without a review of the nightlife. Our girl at BIKOFE told us Metelkova was the spot to be for alternative, underground music – which is not our thing at all, but still something we can appreciate if that’s what locals do.
After we left Nana’s to check out Lljubljana’s night life scene, we stumbled upon a group of random Slovenian teens who were drinking casually in a park in the heart of the city. We decided to drop in and ask for directions, and ended up taking birthday shots with these Friends-obsessed smiley people. They taught us curse words, laughed at how fluffy my hair was, and sang the Friends theme on the top of their lungs with us; our kind of people (who actually accepted our friend request on Facebook). When the homeless guy with no teeth tried to crash the party by serenading us with Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing,” we decided we’d better be on our way and finally check out Metelkova.
At around midnight on a random Wednesday we arrived at what used to be military barracks that has now been transformed into an artist mecca. The entire place is covered in graffiti. There was a treehouse in the middle of the courtyard with tire swings and other super alternative things with super alternative people just chilling out. There wasn’t much happening because despite being full of creative people, turns out they believe in only partying hard on the weekend so we decided to call it a night and payed less than $5 for a 20 minute cab ride back into the suburbs and catch them z’s for the early morning train ride; on to da next.
To check out more of where we went in Ljubljana, check out this nifty tool called Tripcipe we just discovered, where we listed the places we visited in Slovenia’s capital that you probably can’t pronounce, but should still visit!
Have you ever been to Ljubljana? What did you think?