Saturday, 27 September 2008

Luvverly Ljubljana

If Bratislava was unprepared to become a capital city what of Ljubljana, the tiny, bijou capital of Slovenia? Ancient Emona (as was) founded, as legend has it, by Jason of the Argonauts - a case of bad navigation as they were trying to get back to Greece but mistook the Danube delta for the Dardenelles - was for years under the sway of either Venice, Vienna or, until 1992, Belgrade. It's a bit like Cornwall declaring its independence and Truro taking on capital city status.

However, of all the former communist cities we've visited, the Slovene capital seems to have suffered least from the usual contagion of concrete blocks. Or at least that's how it seemed to us as we admired the panorama from the top of the Castle's tower (like the city, the castle is tiny and understated but very pretty and well situated).
Instead the city makes the most of what both nature - in the form of the ring of snow capped mountains and forested hills surrounding the Sava River plain that it sits on - and previous rulers have bestowed upon it - quaint bridges, colonnades, art deco houses and market squares. It doesn't bowl you over, just gently seduces.

Ljubljana also has quite an alternative streak to it and we got a little taster of this. We had picked up a flyer in, of all places, the tourist information office, for a Tribal Infusion night, promising belly dancing, body paint, turbo folk, live music and DJs. Sounded fun (and it was free) so we headed along about 11ish (it went on til 6am!) to find that the venue was situated in some kind of artists' collective in a half derelict factory. If you are from Bristol, think The Black Swan meets The Cube. Donations on the door, dreadlocks everywhere, lasers, smoke... all that was missing was a few dogs on strings and we could have been back at the Rocket Festival. It was ace. We drank, danced and tried to take half-decent photos before finally calling it a night at 3am.

We love Ljubljana. Even if only Kate can say it properly.

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