Let‘s start in McDonalds. This is where we met our Couchsurfing host in Ljubljana and took a seat in the back of his car. His place was not actually in Ljubljana, but a small village 30 kilometres away from the city. As I write “we” I’m referring to me and Ernesta, other Lithuanian volunteer in Latinovac.
Our host originally appreared to be from Belarus. We also found Regina from Russia already surfing in his flat. Well, that’s a meeting of a neighbourhood and I had a rare opportunity to practise my Russian, which was not that bad as I expected.
Slovenia is the fifth out of six ex-Yugoslavia countries that I visited during the past couples of months. Together with Croatia they were the first ones to declare independence in 1991. Slovenia joined EU in the same year as Lithuania – 2004, surprisingly only after three they jumped into Eurozone. But enough about the facts.
The first thing I saw in Ljubljana, was the big statues of dragons on one of the bridges. Dragon is the symbol of the city and you can see a lot of monuments with dragons all around. Public transportation almost doesn’t exist in the city centre as everything is in walkable distance. But that’s not the best part. The best part was a lot of modern and interesting statues that you can find on every corner. As it became a tradition in Balcans for me, we took a free walking tour as well.
I also couldn’t resist to visit an exhibition of XVI-XVII century torturing devices. The guy that worked in the museum, dropped us an interesting remark: „The most important question, are we that different from those times? I think not“. I‘ll leave this to your considerations.
Lithuania is a small country, but Slovenia is one third of that! It took only one and a half hour to reach our next destination – Bled. There is a church in the island surrounded by the lake and mountains in the distance. The lake is not very big, so we walked around it and climbed some hills that offered some spectacular scenery. When we were descending through the forest it was already dark. Luckily, we didn’t break our necks.
Next morning, we set off to Vintgar gorge, a few kilometres away from the city. I’ve already seen some similar gorges in Slovakia and Austria, so this part wasn’t very impressive, but still it’s nature and it’s beautiful.
We left Bled and came back to Ljubljana. As we didn’t make any reservations we bounced through few hostels, until we found one that had vacancy. We shared a room with two Germans Ruth and Katha. Together we went for a dinner, checked some local bar and ended up in Metalkova street, a self-declared autonomous culture zone. Everything there is covered with various paintings and sculptures. There are some bars and clubs, cultural events are also happening. We went to a laid back, underground bar with good music, I had my Cockta (some version of Coca-Cola) and learned some phrases in German from our new friends. At the meantime it was raining heavy outside, the darkness took its part in every corner of the street and it felt like a right place to be.
Our final destination was Škocjan caves, not far to the border with Italy. The caves were impressive, with huge chambers and even a river Reka in the middle. This place reminded me Charon from Greek mythology carrying dead souls across the river Styx. I could just imagine the first explorers who visited these caves, especially because there were some ladders left on some walls.
On the way to Croatia, the boarder officers were interrogating a tourist from Libya for half an hour, while all the passengers in the train just silently watched the show. “What did you do in Slovenia”, “What did you like about it”, “Show me your pockets” etc. That’s how it works if you are from the “wrong” country. I also saw some trains with refugees passing. A fast comeback to reality.