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Ljubljana, Slovenia

On our way to Ljubljana (the capital of Slovenia) we pulled in to a petrol station for a quick lunch. It just happened to be the best petrol station in the world. There was electricity, water and waste disposal services just for campervans - we would have stayed the night if it was anywhere near where we wanted to be. We didn't use the electricity but we did make use of the other two. Brilliant idea - thanks Slovenia!

Ljubljana isn't the biggest city; in fact it's more like a town. Only three kilometres out from the centre we were still surrounded by bushland with no evidence of civilisation. Of course once we hit the city there wasn't a suitable car park in sight, either because there were "no campervan" signs or because it was pay by the hour parking (not good when we wanted to stay overnight). We eventually did find a spot in an office building car park, but were informed that we would need to leave by 6 a.m. Rising early was not a desirable option, so we scouted the area and found a residential street that looked friendly enough. 

As there was still no gas in the van we walked into town for dinner. We used Garmin to locate an Indian restaurant, but the building it led us to was a small shopping centre with no restaurants in sight. Instead we kept walking until we found a Chinese restaurant with the coolest feature ever: a button on the table that let us call for service when it was convenient for us. I hate waiting for a waiter when I'm keen to order, especially when I see them chatting to each other or texting on their phone. I'm pretty sure this I was meant to come to this restaurant just to experience this button. Unfortunately I never had a chance to use it, because the place was almost empty and the service was excellent. I really think all restaurants should look into installing these facilities. With our speedy service we ordered dumplings, noodles and rice, and ended up with a massive meal for little money. It was actually one of the best Chinese meals we had ever eaten. Glad we didn't find that Indian place.

We walked into Ljubljana the next morning - not often we can say that we walked into a capital city straight from our campervan. It became apparent quickly that the city was obsessed with dragons, with carvings and statues at every turn. The first thing we did was walk across a dragon bridge, probably the most iconic sight of the capital. If you are ever after dragon souvenirs, head to Ljubljiana - you won't be disappointed.

 

Of course when I'm with Danny the first thing we do is make a beeline for the market. This one was not the world's best market: some veggies, lots of old women's clothing, plus the occasional food stand or souvenir stall. We didn't stay long. 

The main attraction in the city was a castle on top of the hill, reached via funicular. It would have to be the most contemporary-looking castle we had ever laid eyes on. Everything was well maintained, with modern walkways, signs, exhibitions, cafes – it didn't feel like a castle at all. The highlight was walking up the (modern) stairs to the top of the watchtower, providing the views over the surrounding area that I'm always after. There were also a couple of small art exhibitions but we didn't find much inspiration here. 

After the castle we wandered through the old city, with pastel coloured buildings lining the pedestrian streets. It was almost too neat, like a fairy tale town. Danny was keen on trying a horse meat burger, a local specialty, and after searching for 45 minutes he finally found one in the market. It was fairly lean meat and it didn't taste too bad. We can now tick "horse" off the list.

 

Being an affordable country we took advantage of the inexpensive alcohol and added to our stash: honey liqueur for me, juniper gin for Danny. The rest of the afternoon was spent at a bar on the river, outside in the sunshine, cheap drink in hand, chilling with the locals. Perfect.

The dramas of the caravan park. We arrived, it wasn't full, we could park anywhere that was empty. We tried one spot but when we plugged in our electricity cord, nothing happened. So we moved to another spot, where it did work. Then Danny decided he wanted to be near the office to get a better WiFi signal, so we moved again. Once again, the electricity didn't work. Someone else near us said others had been having problems too. Yet another move, this time to a spot where others could access the electricity but, of course, ours didn't work. For our fifth move (we were entertaining to the other guests by this stage) we returned to our second spot where the electricity functioned fine, to discover that now it didn't work. By this time we were thinking our car was the problem, not the electricity source. After taking some time to find the fuse box (we probably should have known where that was), we found there were no blown fuses. A few people came over and tried to help us but they couldn't see anything wrong either. Then one resourceful man brought over a multimeter and tested our cord, which quickly pointed out that one end wasn't working. Danny unscrewed the top of the cable and found the problem: loose wires. Within a minute he had fixed the cord and the power was back on. Not sure how we would have coped without gas and electricity.

Dinner was toasted sandwiches, bread, cheese, oil and dukkah, the best we could do without gas to cook with. For dessert Danny surprised me with macadamias from Bosnia. Much bigger than Australian macadamias but the taste wasn't as good. I wonder what they feed their nuts to make them so huge.

On our way out of Ljubljana we decided it was time for action: we needed to do something about our lack of gas. We found an auto shop near the caravan park with gas bottles out the front, so we enquired about buying one for our van. The man who served us said the bottles wouldn't fit because we had a different connection, but he gave us the address of a place that refills gas bottles. We turned up at this gas-filling site and yes, they do refill gas bottles, but not ours because of a different regulator. We were ready to scream in frustration at this point, until we were informed that they also sold gas bottles, in a size small enough to fit in our van and with the appropriate regulator. A few minutes later we were back on the road, fully topped up with gas, smiles on our faces. Danny was back on dinner duty again.