We had an amazing two weeks in Slovenia this summer and a big chunk of that time we spent in the capital, Ljubliana. Whenever we have a longish period of time anywhere, you can bet that some of the time will be spent doing laundry, unpacking and repacking and just chilling out a bit. Ljubliana was no exception. But we did manage to get out to explore Ljubliana and the UNESCO heritage Skocjan cave.
One small note for this blog post and all the rest to come from this summer – C had a birthday during our trip and decided for his gift he wanted to get the boys each a football jersey over our trip. The boys each picked a different team/country to get a jersey from, so you will see LOTS of pictures of them in these jerseys during the trip. Basically, they would wear them until we physically tore the filthy things off their bodies to wash them. In Slovenia N picked up his jersey – a bright yellow goalie jersey for the star keeper of Slovenia’s national team and also star of Athletico de Madrid, Jan Oblak. With this shirt, no chance of losing this kid in a crowd! Be prepared for lots more neon yellow from N this summer, you can keep track of his yellow shirt photos like a Where’s Waldo book.
Ljubliana has been getting some hype lately as a “green” city, and known as a beautiful and walkable city set along the banks of a river. You won’t get an argument from us about Ljubliana’s charms. Since our visit was mid-summer and we are not huge fans of the heat, we tended to go out early and/or late in the day, hibernating in our air-conditioned apartment for the heat of the day. We definitely could have spent even more time exploring (we didn’t even get to the big city park), but enjoyed the time we spent there.
Scenic spot to eat their ice cream!
And, just another example of why Ljubliana is a cool place to be – while we were there it was hosting an international beach volleyball tournament, and had set up a beach volleyball court right in the middle of town so we were able to stop and watch some amazing athletes play beach volleyball (and even grab some free swag!)
We walked up the hillside to visit the castle perched on the top, overlooking the city. Our first stop in the castle was a restaurant, Na Gradu, where the food was pretty good, but the highlight was our introduction to Elderberry juice – so good! L also had a nice little tête a tête with a bird, who has probably been fed by diners once or twice before.
Some places within the castle grounds were accessible without buying a ticket, but we bought the tickets and went through an interesting exhibit on Slovenian history. The boys weren’t super into it, but it did have a few interactive displays to hold their attention for a little while. We also saw a mediocre video with virtual images of the castle through the ages. The highlight was probably the viewing tower, where we climbed to get views over the city below.
Museum of Illusions
We spent an hour or two in Ljubliana’s Museum of Illusions. After we went and paid full price, we found coupons, so it would have been good to use them, since it wasn’t particularly cheap, but it was a fun experience. Here are pictures from some of our favorite illusions. Not pictured – the tunnel that makes it look like things are spinning. I couldn’t handle going in there without getting dizzy, but it was hysterical watching everyone try to walk straight through it without falling over, even though the floor stayed stationary the whole time! I’m getting dizzy writing about it right now!
There are two popular caves in Slovenia, and we debated about which one to go to, but in a close family vote, we decided to go to Skocjan, a UNESCO world heritage site. Over the last few years, we have seen amazing places and done amazing things. Among those, were visiting a few caves (including my all time favorite, Carlsbad Caverns), so there was a lot Skocjan needed to do to impress us.
You are not allowed to take photos in the cave itself, so I don’t have any to share with you. But, chances are, with my camera skills you aren’t missing much! 😉 At our scheduled time, we walked to the cave entrance en masse. Then, the people were divided into groups of about 30 people for the tour. Our guide was okay, but I felt like the tour was moving very fast. The first part of the tour was okay – a few stalagmites here, a few stalagmites there. Nothing terribly impressive. Until…..We got to the cavern with the river running through it. Caves are often formed by water that had one time int the past ran through it and dissolved the rock. But this cave still had an underground river walking through it, and the enormous cavern we entered was indescribably amazing. I have scoured the internet for photos of this room, and while I have included one below, it does not do this amazing space justice.
We walked along this walkway suspended far above the river below, and yet still far below the cavernous ceiling above us. Looking into the cavern, you could see the lights of the walkway marking the path in the expanse. I read somewhere that it had been likened to walking through Harry Potter’s Hogwarts, and I definitely go that sense.
So, in summary, kind of a ho-hum tour, but totally worth it for the time in the huge cavern.
After we left the cave, we decided to take a walking path back to the cars (versus the outdoor elevator option), and we walked through a collapsed section of the cave, now open to the outdoors. It was neat to walk up and through that part, knowing that it was also once a part of the cave, until, geologically speaking, recently, when it all collapsed (about 100,000 years ago).
The climb up was scenic, and when we got to the top, we had a great view of the collapsed cavern.
Many more adventures were had in Slovenia so keep an eye out for more blog posts!