Why Slovenia? Why not! While researching for my trip to Croatia (more on that later) I started reading about this small country, once part of former Yugoslavia, and not to be confused with Slovakia (been there, done that), and thought it would be great for a little solo exploration.
So I cashed in some miles and flew Seattle to Las Vegas on Alaska Air. I killed a couple of hours in the Business class lounge and also on the Wheel of Fortune slot machines. I mean if I'm going to have a layover, Vegas is the spot for me!
From here I flew non stop to Frankfurt on Condor Air, which was my first time with them. Business class was solid, it was a brand new plane but in general not as posh as some other airlines. The service was friendly, the food was good, there was plenty of champagne, and my lay flat seat was comfy but didn't actually completely lay flat. But all good and I'd fly Condor again.
FINALLY I landed in Ljubljana. Well, I landed in a field in Slovenia as that is where the airport is! I had arranged an airport pickup thru my hotel for €9 and he was waiting with my name on a sign when I walked out of baggage. Easy peasy.
I spent 2 nights in the capital city at the City Hotel, which was fantastically situated. My room was great with a big comfy bed, and a huge breakfast buffet. I'd absolutely recommend this spot, even though it feels a bit business-y.
That evening I walked along the Ljubljanica River, taking in the gorgeous buildings lining either side. This city is seriously pretty! I sat outside at Suklje Wine Bar and had my first glasses of both white and red Slovenia wines along with a salad that had prosciutto quiche and dried figs on it.
The next morning I was up early and looking forward to exploring. Ljubljana is pretty small and very easy to walk around, so seeing the entire city in a day is perfectly doable. I crossed the Dragon Bridge on my way to the TI to pick up a tourist card. You'll see dragons all over as they are one of the mascots of the city.
It literally takes about an hour to walk around the entire old town. It's super cute and dotted with interesting art, mainly sculptures. I made my way down to the river and used my tourist card to take a wooden boat tour. As the weather was a bit drizzly, there were only 4 other people on board. I bought a glass of sparkling wine for €2.50 and enjoyed the sightseeing!
Monstera Bistro, which serves a choice of 2, 3, or 4-course menu. I chose a starter sushi roll of local trout, braised beef cheeks with truffle oil, and strawberry pavlova with red peppercorn ice cream for €20. And of course glasses of local wines. I'd highly recommend this cute restaurant.
After a much needed nap I set back out for the cathedral. It wasn't yet open when I passed it in the morning, and then was closed for cleaning when I went at noon. It's a beautiful church with brightly painted murals, and a lot of gold! I was happy it was open on my 3rd try.
Not far from the church is the Movia Wine Bar where I sat for a tasting. Movia is one of the largest producers of Slovenian wine and has been around for quite a long time. I chose to do their line up of 5 wines, including Gredič (which is also called Furlanski Tokaj, but not the same as Hungarian Tokaj), Veliko belo (a white blend), Sivi Pinot Ambra (a natural, orange pinot grigio), Cab Sauv, and Veliko Rdeče (a red blend).
The bar also carries other producers and offers other wine tastings, along with a lot of information on the grapes and varietals of Slovenia. It's a great stop if you are interested in learning more about wines from this country.
I was lucky enough to come across Kolibri Bar when researching cocktails in the capital city and as soon as I walked up I knew this was the spot for me. Gorgeous jewel box style bar, with a menu of classic cocktails each with a slight twist, and Eva, the passionate and friendly bartender.
She introduced me to Broken Bones Gin, a local gin that I couldn't find for purchase anywhere. She made me a few delicious cocktails, and even politely asked a (woman) patron, who was quite drunk and openly hitting on me, to leave. I ended up staying longer than I intended and by 10pm when I reached the restaurant I was planning on having dinner at they had closed the kitchen. Go to Kolibri!
Seems no restaurants stay open past 10pm on a weeknight anyway, so I grabbed a slice of pizza, which is very unlike me. And being so close to Italy I have to stay this was one of many fantastic slices I would have on this trip.
People always ask me what my favorite countries are, which is a really hard question to answer! But I'd say Slovenia is absolutely in the top 5 and I'd highly suggest visiting before tourism escalates, which it is sure to do!
All photos of Ljubljana here.
Beautiful Lake Bled