21 June 2011

Ljubljana, Slovenia (video)

Austria and Slovenia (at least Ljubljana) seem to be similar in culture, with a friendly populace who don't seem to take things too seriously or try to do things too quickly. It was a smooth crossing to the new country, almost as if we had not left. This similarity may be somewhat attributed to the relatively short conflict period that Slovenia had to go through to obtain their independence from Yugoslavia in comparison to the other ex-republics. Recent conflict in a country seems as if it can create a spirit of unease or tension that we have not felt in either of these two countries.
Architecturally, Ljubljana has heavy use of the decorative art nouveau style with some touches of baroque thrown in. Another noteable characteristic was the widespread deterioration that could be seen with many of the facades as you continued down the street. Spain and Italy had some of this as well, but not every second or third building as in Ljubljana.
We went on a walking tour of the city as well, to learn a bit about the history and interesting activities around the town. The tour ended up being more focused on the former than the latter, with lengthy stories about the founding of the landmarks that we visited. We stopped at two of the churches including entering one of the baroque style churches for a view of the inside, the dragon bridge, one of the fountains in the city, and a crusader monastery. That along with a pretty complete history lesson on Ljubljana, all the way from its days as a swamp to the Roman city to the Yugoslavian conflict, rounded out the tour for quite an educational two hours.
It would have been interesting to stay for some lively nights out with the locals, but unfortunately, as quickly as we arrived we had to leave again. Two days is not enough time to stay in a destination, but with the impending settlement in Vienna we are quickly running out of time and will have to cut a few corners in order to see all the cities we want to.
The quick visit to Ljubljana was a friendly, educational transition to the east, and we can only hope the rest of the cities will be this easy to live in.