You have no idea how desperately I wish I could take credit for figuring out that Slovenia has the word "love" in it, but unfortunately the tourist department in Slovenia is too on top of things for me to be the first. The souvenir shops in the city carried many objects, most of which revolving around dragons (which I'll discuss in more detail in a minute). However, the souvenir shop at the tourist information center was filled with keychains and mugs which said "I Feel sLOVEnia". As someone who appreciates puns, this play on words made me very happy, and I had to make space for it in my post.
To preface this section, I want to note that Ljubljana was my favorite city we went to on the trip. It is amazingly quaint despite all the interesting sights there are to see, and there wasn't a single city that was friendlier to tourists than Ljubljana was. Also worth noting, the reason why I always put the name of the country as well as the city is because I had no idea where this city was before I went. In all honesty, the only reason we chose to go to Ljubljana was because it was a good stopping place between Munich and Vienna. Since I was lucky enought to stumble upon this city by coincidence, I feel that it is my duty to recommend it to anyone who ever sets foot in Europe.
My friend and I took an overnight train from Munich, so we arrived at Ljubljana bright and early - too early for us to check into our hostel. After dropping our bags off (the receptionist assured us it was safe, and it truly was), we decided to climb the large hill leading up to the Ljubljana Castle. At this point I should note that we were sleep-deprived, so our trip up and down the "mountain" as we called it was funnier than it should have been. As my friend described it, both of us were on an emotional roller coaster, switching constantly between giddiness and irritation, and our emotions were, for the most part, opposite of the other person's. However, on our castle adventure, both of us were at the highest point of our respective moods, which explains the overabundance of photos from this point, as well as their inexplicable nature. For an example, see the photo below:
We found this mask on the street and carried it with us for quite a while. Here is the "artistic" photo that resulted from it.
It was on top of this mountain that we learned how Ljubljana (supposedly) came to be. According to legend, Jason (the one with the Argonauts) was sailing down the Ljubljanica River when he decided to stop here. I can't remember if it was his intention or not to run into a mythical monster, but he ended up having to battle and kill some sort of terrifying creature resembling a dragon. Thus, Ljubljana's Dragon Bridge and other various references to dragons are a reminder of this battle long ago. Although I'm not sure I believe this tale, I'll be the first to admit that a dragon serves as a pretty cool mascot.
Unbeknownst to many, the Dragon Bridge also has griffins.
We also went to Lake Bled, Slovenia which was absolutely stunning. It's one of those places that seems to have come straight from a fairytale - the water is crystal blue, there is a castle at the top of one of the surrounding mountains, and the swans majestically float across the lake, stopping from time to time to say hello and to see if you have breadcrumbs.
Swans make everything more majestic.
The receptionist at our hotel also recommended going to Lake Bohinj to see a beautiful waterfall. However, we went there too late to take the 1 1/2 hour hike to the waterfall and instead spent most of our time naming the ducks we saw and daring each other to jump in the ice-cold water. The reason that we didn't enjoy this lake so much most likely wasn't for lack of a beautiful atmosphere; rather, we got off at the wrong stop in the middle of a random town in Slovenia which, to this day, I don't know the name of. Luckily, we were able to catch the next bus and ride it to Lake Bohinj [Note: this particular bus only stopped for us because I was sarcastically waving at it as it was driving by]. Hopefully, that is the first and last time I will ever have the opportunity to wave down a bus in the middle of the street.
In short, Slovenia is an absolutely stunning country, and if I haven't yet convinced you to pay it a visit, the photos below should do the trick.
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<p>My name is Ali, and I'm a Political Economy major at the University of Southern California (Trojans!). Ever since I was a little kid and found out that there was such a thing as "study abroad", I dreamed about doing it. I'd stare at the famous Midwestern cornfields and wonder what it would take to go see the world. I loved the idea of picking up and leaving everything, even if it was only for a short while. Now, I'm living the dream and studying abroad in Berlin, Germany.</p>