Tears for Ljubljana

After ten amazing days riding the rails in Croatia, I wasn’t quite sure how that experience could be topped.

But it was this post that got me excited about Ljubljana, the tiny capital of the tiny country of Slovenia. Such stark profession of love from such a seasoned traveler is a pretty big statement.

Still, I had no idea. I, REALLY, had no idea.

Ten minutes into our exploration of the old city center, on a foggy and cold November night, I was brought to tears.

After two and a half years of traveling, no other place has affected me like this, no other place has evoked such an immediate and profound claim of love from me.

It’s the coziness of the small city, the gorgeous historic center, the friendly people who return smiles aimed their way. The chilled fog in the air hung low on our first evening wander, covering the old buildings in a mystic charm with soft white lights dimly lighting the way. The small river was lit bright green, locals patronized the patio bars under heat lamps and blankets, drinking cheap hot wine.

Ljubljana

 

 

Pete and I held hands and darted through the streets, in awe and with constant exclamations of “look at that!” We were often sidetracked from the planned dash to our chosen restaurant for just a quick glance here, a rapid snapshot there. We briefly lost our way, regained our path, and then completely stopped short.

The melodic voices of a choir, arranged on a plaza corner,

halted us in our tracks.

 

Beneath that soft light, surrounded by those smiling locals, and immersed in that enchanting fog, the choir mesmerized, and brought forth a rush of emotions that suddenly brought warmth to my cheeks and hot tears to my eyes.

The setting, the voices, the surrealty of the moment.

Several long minutes later, the choir was finished and gave up their position. I shoved my hands deep into my pockets to warm them and we continued on our way.

Wordless and walking quickly, Pete kept glancing over to check on the state of my glistening eyes. As they were accompanied by the hugest of smiles, his face was too.

Over a joyful dinner we bantered around a word that neither of us has uttered in quite a long time…

Home?

**********

Many thanks to the Slovenia Tourist Board for accommodating us at the Grand Union Hotel (click here to read our full review of the hotel). The tourst board slogan is “I Feel Slovenia” – oh boy, they sure got that one right!

61 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own

  • December 7 2011

    Ljubljana looks as though it should be in a fairytale. I can see why you fell in love with it. Stunning photos

    • December 9 2011

      It does look like a fairytale! And it feels that way too, so calm and serene. It was hard for me to write and re-read this post, without jumping on a train back there… :)

  • December 7 2011

    What a great post! Being that I am in a very uncomfortable spot right now and missing that feeling of home…it brought a little tear to my own eye. Glad that you two are finding magic over there! Keep up the heart touching posts

    • December 9 2011

      Hey Bri, I can only imagine the roller coaster you are going through now after blowing up your van! It will all work out as it should and you’ll be back on the road in no time, I am sure… :)

  • December 7 2011

    Make sure you buy a house with several guest rooms. We will SO come visit you!
    Katrina recently posted..Best CouchSurfing Request EVER

    • December 9 2011

      Haha! You’re not the first person to say that… :)

  • December 7 2011

    Hmmmm….interesting…:)
    Teri recently posted..Favourite Things

    • December 9 2011

      Hmmm…yes….top drawer! :)

  • Mom
    December 7 2011

    Holy Dinah, that didn’t just bring tears to my eyes..it brought a flood. Beautiful,beautiful photos !!!!!

    • December 9 2011

      Thanks Mom! Sorry about the tears!:)

  • I’m sold! Slovenia and her capital seem very very interesting.
    Debbie – European Travelista recently posted..All I Want For My Birthday . . .

  • December 8 2011

    Okay, this solidifies it. I MUST go to Slovenia next summer! Sounds like Ljubljana really made an impression on you!
    Amanda recently posted..Best Blogs of the Month: November, 2011

    • December 9 2011

      Yeah, you could say that. :)

  • Sam
    December 8 2011

    Ljubljana is a cool little city, only had a day when I was there but it was fun
    Sam recently posted..10 Essential Travel Items You Can’t Travel Without!

  • December 8 2011

    Ljubljana affected me a bit like this too the first night. We had arrived in the evening and we made our way down to the Triple Bridge beers in hand, and just sat there listening to the river. Lately I have been thinking “Home?” about it a bit as well, as I know I will be looking for a spot or two to stop for a while on my RTW next year … awesome pics!
    Scott recently posted..My Dia De Los Meurtos in Mexico

    • December 9 2011

      Thanks Scott! By the sounds of the reaction from others, perhaps we can make Ljubljana the next Chiang Mai for bloggers? Haha

      • March 12 2012

        ok, i’ve been shamelessly browsing through these compliments about my home town, and the single greatest one is this would-be comparison with ChiangMai…i can actually relate and would be lying if i didn’t say that these kind of thoughts make me cheerful :))
        keep on discovering, we’ll be there to preserve or enhance your perception of this hidden nation :)

        • March 13 2012

          Ahhh…you are very fortunate to be living in one of our favorite European cities!! We hope to return very soon and explore a lot more. :)

  • December 8 2011

    Your pictures perfectly capture love and romance with a city- I can see why you would fall so hard so quickly.
    jade recently posted..The Island Oasis in the middle of Vancouver

    • December 9 2011

      It was pretty impressive – the city definitely has some real magic to it!

  • Oh, lovely.
    You really talked about making a home there? That’s amazing. I’d love to hear more about the cost of living.
    I have dream of spending a year somewhere in Europe so I can watch a garden grow through all the seasons, growing fruit and vegetables that I learn to cook the local way. You are making me wonder what Croatian cooking is like! :-)
    Barbara – The Dropout Diaries recently posted..The Vomit Express

    • December 9 2011

      We’ve just started to look into the costs of it – we are currently committed with other things until June but it could become a real possibility in the fall (wait for our post today, and it will tell you why!) Although I’m not sure about growing year round there, I could think of a few other places that could…

    • Sean Westrupp
      December 12 2011

      Croatian and Slovenian food is amazing and I’m not being biased saying that. There’s so much fresh produce out here it’s hard to “make” a bad meal :0)

  • First let me say how much I enjoyed your post and it was great to be reminded of what the town looked like before the Christmas lights changed it all last weekend.

    The cost of living is not too expensive but it varies depending on the product. Clothes and some supermarket food are in general expensive and you are unlikely to find good deals.
    Eating out and drinks can be very affordable as long as you avoid some tourist traps along the river.
    Rent prices of apartments are ok compared to other capitals in Europe but buying an apartment seems over priced at the moment.

    You have to come back in the summer when its easier to sit out and really enjoy a coffee or a drink for hours along the the river Ljubljanica.

    Stefan
    Stefan – Ljubljana Hotel Information recently posted..Lev Hotel Ljubljana Videos

    • December 9 2011

      Stefan – thank you SO MUCH for your comment and information on your beautiful city. If we do try to spend more time there, it won’t be until next summer and I am excited to see it in the sun and not the fog! But from what I’ve seen so far, it looks to be much more affordable then some other places. :)

    • Sean Westrupp
      December 12 2011

      I agree with Stefan’s comment. Come back NYE and during the summer so you can get the whole package of what Slovenia has to offer. Slovenia is stunning winter and summer, in fact all the time! :0))

  • December 8 2011

    what an adorable little town!
    Maria D. recently posted..Affordable options for Milan’s La Scala Opera

  • December 8 2011

    I love the fact that you felt the same way I did about this city! I’m actually hoping to return there for New Years…and who knows, maybe I really won’t let myself leave this time. So, I guess I’ll see you both there!
    Earl recently posted..Every Trip Is A Trip Of A Lifetime

    • December 9 2011

      Ah! Well we won’t make it for NYE, but perhaps we will be there next summer, maybe for the long term (our next post will explain how/why!) Maybe you’ll still be there? :)

      • Sean Westrupp
        December 12 2011

        I’m going to be here and so much is going on this month that you’ll be cultured and entertained out lol!

  • December 9 2011

    This is a great post-Ljubljana is a place that a friend and I stumbled upon years ago in at atlas, and were so confused by the spelling and pronunciation, that it has become a running joke between us ever since, whenever we need jokes with obscure locations. Love the fact that you found such warmth and…..home there. I hope it works if you want it to!
    Claire recently posted..Guest Post: Has Your Travel Bug Bitten Yet?

    • December 9 2011

      Ha – that’s hilarious! Well now, as long are the jokes are about how GREAT that little obscure place is, then it’s all good! :)

  • December 9 2011

    Wow that looks so amazing! Definitely adding it to my list of places to go!
    Claire recently posted..Looks like it mooght rain

  • December 9 2011

    Very descriptive, transporting post. Between your words and Earl’s, I am thoroughly convinced that I need to go here. Sounds like you already got in with tourist board, maybe look into full employment ;) Seriously, this was a beautiful post. I especially love the 5th paragraph and the closing bit about the choir.
    Phil recently posted..Ghana Travel Health Guide

    • December 9 2011

      Thanks so much Phil – I had to write this as soon as we sat down, just something I *felt* I needed to write! While I had heard about what a great place it is, I didn’t expect to be moved that much. It’s so lovely!

    • Sean Westrupp
      December 12 2011

      Hi Phil,

      Everyone should come to Slovenia at least once. Although I doubt, you’d want to leave!

      A very happy Brit very chuffed to be living and working here and hearing so many great things about the place I call “home”.

      Sean

  • December 9 2011

    Very touching. I felt the beauty too.

  • December 9 2011

    It sounds so enchanting! I felt like that when I first stepped foot in Spain. I think you should run with it!
    dtravelsround recently posted..An inside look at Elephant Nature Park

    • December 10 2011

      I think so too! We’ve got some things in the “works’, just need to see how they pan out!

  • December 10 2011

    I’ve only met a couple of people who’ve been to Ljubljana, but they loved it just as much as you did. Seeing these pictures only makes me want to visit more.
    Emily in Chile recently posted..Ready for take-off

    • December 11 2011

      I think I’ve read one person who said they were “meh” on Ljubljana…most other people LOVE it! We had better get in there before it gets taken over soon, haha! :)

  • December 11 2011

    We loved Slovenia also – were there in the summer but Llubljana looks just as gorgeous in the wintertime. We spent most of our time hiking in the Julian Alps and then a brief Adriatic coast pitstop. It is a country full of beauty and character.
    Natasha @ Wandering Kiwi recently posted..Spain snapshot: Madrid’s best flamenco tablao

    • December 11 2011

      We needed more time there, truthfully, four days just wasn’t enough! But it made such an impact on us. We have to go back and do everything you just said!

  • December 11 2011

    I love when it feels like home!!
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..Foto of the Week from … Buenos Aires

    • December 12 2011

      That has NEVER happened to either of us before. So, it was quite a big deal! Hope it works out that we can spend more time there….

  • December 11 2011

    Your photos are stunning — you can almost feel the magic of that choir. You two are so sweet.
    Abby recently posted..My Mini Turtle Rescue in Costa Rica

  • December 12 2011

    This is a really nice post … I love reading about when visiting a new place really affects people like this. I feel this way about Budapest! And being a lovely city on a foggy night, seriously romantic. :)
    cheryl recently posted..Street Art in Amsterdam.

  • Sean Westrupp
    December 12 2011

    Hi there,

    Loved reading your blog. I felt the same when I came here 5 years ago for a holiday after working in Greece. I must say, that I’ve never regretted my decision to stay here!

    Christmas time is really special here in Slovenia – you should also see it in the summer!

    Hope to see you soon!

    Sean xx

    • December 13 2011

      Thanks so much for your comments Sean – glad we connected – and you may very well be hearing from us soon…cheers!

  • December 12 2011

    Wow! Magical.
    trvl8dintern recently posted..One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, peanuts!

  • December 16 2011

    I am going there next September and you just made me grin with this post. Thanks for all the posts about the Balkans :)
    Shanky recently posted..Circular Love

    • December 17 2011

      Enjoy! I wish we had more time to do all the Balkans, but we will most definitely be back!

  • December 16 2011

    That’s great that you enjoyed Lubljana so much. I was there back in 2003 and fell in love with the city as soon as I arrived. There is something really special about it, isn’t there?
    A Lady in London recently posted..Lady in Rio de Janeiro

    • December 17 2011

      It’s got such a charm to it that we were surprised it was not completely overwhelmed with tourists. Hopefully it will stay that way… :)

  • February 22 2012

    Wow. The pictures alone made me fall in love with place what more if I visit this place? Thank you for sharing. This place looks absolutely beautiful.
    Alexa Meisler recently posted..Calistoga in winter: Sublime

  • September 23 2012

    Hello! Stumbled upon your blog and reblogged it here: http://ljubljanablog.wordpress.com/2012/09/23/happy-tears/

    Are you planning to come to Ljubljana for more time?

  • September 2 2013

    Hello! Found your lovely post and pics. We have some Turkish Airlines miles and was wondering where we could go with them, and saw that they fly to Ljubljana. I have just come back from a first visit to Prague with my 2 sisters. I didn’t feel like it was home but I did feel quite emotional as soon as we stepped into the old town area. I have lived in NZ and UAE – and been starved of such architecture for years!!!! Anyway, looking forward so much to seeing Ljubljana in October!

    • September 3 2013

      I am sure you will love Ljubljana! Especially in October – less tourists – and it is so, so lovely.

  • March 27 2014

    Great post! I’m Slovenian and it really makes me proud to read something like this about my country:)

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