Last time I wrote on here I was just arriving to Ljubljana, Slovenia (my 18th country) and since then I’ve been hanging out in Slovenia for the past 9 days plus a quick 2 day stint in Zagreb, Croatia.
So much stuff has happened in this time frame! Again, bear with me for my long post full of typos and grammar mistakes. 🙂 I’m also currently on a bus so I can’t download photos for this post. If you want to see my latest, check my insta: @travelingspud.
The last day I wrote on here, I had just arrived in Ljubljana and had just checked into the Hostel Celica (an old Yugoslavian prison). It was super rainy outside so I decided to hang out inside and get some blogging and trip planning done in the main room.
I ended up meeting a few people from the USA. Anna from NYC, Creston from NYC and David from San Francisco. David and Creston were living and working part time in Slovenia to manage their online University called, GCAS. It’s pretty fascinating and I’ll mention a bit more about it in another post.
The four of us hit it off and all got drinks at the hostel bar together. After talking with them a bit they invited us to their ‘mansion’ in Maribor (the second biggest town in Slovenia). I say mansion loosely, but it really is huge home that was owned by the most wealthy and influential family in Maribor back in the day. The place should probably be a museum with all of the cool furniture, paintings, vase’s etc, but they were living there and it was amazing.
I had no plans to go to Maribor originally since a lot of locals and travelers said there isn’t much to do unless you go with someone who knows their way around ( a local). Since Anna and I both didn’t have plans yet, we both decided we would meet them in Maribor and stay in the apartments they offered for us to stay in for free. It was definitely spur of the moment, but when you’re traveling it’s almost like you get to know people faster, you cut through the bullshit and it’s easy!
So after making that plan, the guys left and Anna and I proceeded to hang out for a few more days in Ljubljana. I am OBSESSED with Slovenia. Like seriously obsessed. It’s officially become one of my favorite countries really fast. 2 most favorite countries so far: Vietnam and Slovenia…who knew?!
Ljubljana is an amazing capital city. It’s only got about 300k people in the whole city and recently won the most green capital of Europe. You can tell by the their strict recycling rules and the fact that most streets are pedestrians only. It’s awesome.
When I first arrived to Ljubljana, I met up with the Visit Ljubljana tour guide to get a private tour of the city It was great to get my bearings and get a tour from a local. It was raining a bit and she kept commenting of how amazing it usually is in the summer and when it’s sunny because everyone sits at the outside river cafes. I was bummed to miss the nice weather, but then the next day was super nice so I got to see it all in action!
The cafes in Slovenia might have been the best part. Each one has a massive outdoor area and super tiny indoor areas. So, locals are outside even when it’s cold (as long as it’s not raining) they are sitting outside drinking their espresso and smoking their cig. There is also one on every single corner and I spent a lot of time in these cafes in Slovenia. The way of life is slower here and I DIG it.
Slovenia has major Italian influence as well as Austrian, Hungarian, Bosnian and Croatian etc. It’s a big mix of all the surrounding countries and you can find amazing pizzas and wines, but also Hungarian and Austrian/German dishes as well.
My hostel in Ljubljana was in the Metalkova district, which is almost like the anarchist district. It can be best described as a city located inside of a city where the police don’t usually bother anyone and people are free to be their wild and crazy selves. It is covered with graffiti art and crazy colors and structures. There are bars and clubs and art exhibits all over this area. We went out there on a Saturday night and couldn’t believe the scene! It reminded me of the deep Mission in San Francisco.
I spent a few days in Ljubljana soaking up the culture and exploring. I was feeling really sick most of the time there so I tried to relax a bit each day. Anna and I went to the Burger and Brew fest one day which was awesome. Slovenians really pride themselves in fresh and local food and everything I ate here super fresh and grown locally. I’m eating food that would make me 100 pounds heavier in the USA, but since everything I’m eating usually was made that day or doesn’t have chemicals in it I’m actually maintaining if not losing weight.
Slovenians are also super into craft brews and I learned that they had only lagers for so long in their history because of communism that the fact they can now make their own craft beers is a big deal. Naturally we drank a few of those. Horse is a speciality in Slovenia and a few other countries over here so there were also some horse burgers. This surprisingly doesn’t weird me out just cause we eat things like deer, cow, pig, sheep etc. Technically horse shouldn’t be any different. I didn’t try it though (after my time in Iceland with all the cute horses I couldn’t really get myself to do it).
I didn’t know what to expect in Slovenia at all which is probably why I liked it so much. It feels like western european countries, but without the millions of tourists and high prices. ALSO they don’t make you pay to go to a public bathroom like Germany, Austria, Croatia and Hungary. Thank you, Slovenia!
After spending a few nights in Ljubljana I parted ways with Anna (we were meeting up again in Maribor) and proceeded to head to the fairytale lake of Lake Bled. A lot of people told me to just do a day trip here, but again, I decided to stay a few nights. Plus I was really sick and needed to stay somewhere for a bit. The first day I checked into my hostel I was the only one there. I was actually alone both nights! It was really nice actually because I was trying to recover from being sick so I could cough and sneeze all I wanted without bothering people.
The first day I got there I proceeded to take a bus about 45 mins to Lake Bohinj which is a popular lake for Slovenians to visit. It was beautiful and I walked about half way around before realizing I was too sick to keep going. After about a 2 hour hike I bought the bus on the end of the lake and went back to the hostel and made soup and tried to recuperate.
This area was beautiful so it was so hard to be sick. I had an appointment to meet with Lake Bled Tourism at 9am the next morning, but I emailed and had to cancel because of how I was feeling. It was such a bummer. I ended up getting some energy around noon and decided to walk around Lake Bled. It was rainy at first and then got to be a beautiful day! I convinced myself that I was sweating out the sickness. I ended up hiking up a hill so that I could get views like this and at the top and I met a couple from SF who know my roommate from SF. Small world at the top of a hill in Slovenia!
After walking around the lake I went to the tourist office where I was just in time to meet my contact and had some of the famous Lake Bled cake (for lunch) and a tea in attempts to feel better. She let me take the last boat out to the island in the middle of the lake. I got a private ride out the island which was pretty great. It was fun to get to experience it. The entire lake was a fairytale! I keep finding these fairytale locations and I don’t hate it.
My last day in Bled I decided to go to the Vintgar Gorge. I started to feel a bit better and hiked to it and through it before catching my bus back to Ljubljana. I was grateful that the hostel owner just let me stay as long as I wanted so I didn’t have to feel rushed. This was nice especially after feeling sick. The gorge was beautiful and it was especially fun to walk thru some villages and farms on the way there. It’s so cool to see how people in the countryside actually live! Eventually I left Bled even though I could have stayed a few more days to relax. One crazy thing about Slovenia, especially in more rural areas like Bled, is that hitchhiking is a normal and safe thing to do. My hostel owner seriously told me to do it if I ever felt lost or just needed a ride back to the hostel from where I was.
In Ljubljana I stayed at a different hostel, Zeppelin, and met a ton of people just for the night. I stayed in to get over the sickness even though they all invited me to go out. I was determined to get back to 100% health. I went to sleep early and did laundry in preps for going to Maribor and meeting back up with Anna in the morning.
We met up at a cafe and did a Slovenian car ride share with a guy who drives back and forth the two cities regularly for work. It was cool to try that mode of transport out and it was faster than taking a bus or train. It also only costed each of us 5 euro. We got to Maribor not knowing what to expect, but met up with our friends we had met before and they showed us around the “mansion” and our own apartments. We also got a feel for the city, went wine tasting at the oldest living grape vine in the world (so cool!) and then out to dinner. We then hung out at the mansion for a bit before going out to some of their cool underground bars! It’s fun having people show you around.
The next day we met up and made brunch at the mansion and then went mushroom hunting in hopes we could find some edible ones. We hiked up the hill and vineyards to the top of the city where the church is and had amazing views of the whole city. Not many tourists come to this town so it was cool to chill and see how the locals really live. Again, cafes everywhere.
We went to a few thrift stores to get goods for the halloween party that night and then went at 3pm to the underground city wine tour. It was 4 euro each and seriously amazing. These barrels were NUTS. They could hold up to 130,000 liters or more in each one. We walked inside of the actual barrels and a few were the size of my bedroom back in SF. These used to be full of WINE! WTF.
I ended up being a pirate for the halloween party and it was so fun to hang out with local Slovenians at the party.. They don’t actually really celebrate the holiday, but they had fun too. One girl made a pumpkin pie from scratch with real pumpkin which is even hard to do in the states! I was impressed.
The next day Anna and I got up and got lunch and then we both headed our separate ways! Maribor was such a fun break in our schedule and so spontaneous. This is the cool stuff you get to do when you don’t really have a schedule!
Anna went off to Budapest where I’ll be meeting her in a few days for Halloween and I went off to Croatia (Zagreb) where I’ll be spending a few nights before heading to Budapest!
I’m already planning on coming back to Slovenia this summer. it’s such an incredible country and I have so much more I need to explore and give myself more time. I think this summer I’m going to rent a car or something to do a road trip thru Slovenia, Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia and Montenegro. Anyone want to join? 🙂 So many places I want to go!
I’m no longer sick which is amazing and I’m looking forward to the next few legs of my trip.
I ended up taking a bus to Zagreb, Croatia where I just spent 2 nights. I stayed at a sweet hostel, Swanky Mint. It had two bars and a pool inside. I met a cool guy from Ohio, girl from UK, girl from Estonia and girl from Russia. We had such cool conversations and toured around the city together. The Estonian and Russian told me some loopholes I can use to go to Russia without purchasing a visa so I might consider doing this in the summer or maybe this winter. Zagreb had very similar vibes to Bratislava and Ljubljana.
I went to a great restaurant where I had this famous Croatian pasta dish mixed with Hungarian goulash. All the foods in this area just mix together. I also went to the Museum of Broken Relationships which was super cool and the Museum of Illusion. I liked their creativity on museums!
Now I’m on a Flixbus (the main way I’ve been getting from place to place) to Budapest for about a week and a half for Halloween and an AirBnB chill sesh. Then I’m meeting my friend Michelle in Prague for the weekend and then the plan is the head up to the Poland for about a week. I also just booked a flight to Dublin spontaneously so I can hang out with my good friends Shay and Kurt from the US and not be lonely for Thanksgiving!
After that my plans are very much up in the air! Right now I’d like to go back to Germany to see some Christmas markets and explore a bit more of the northern part and then I’m thinking i’ll book a flight out of Europe to get to warmer weather and head to SE Asia a bit earlier than expected!