sLOVEnia!

Ljubljana, the capital, is a beautiful European city with everything you need within walking distance. The river Ljubljanica flows through the centre with bustling bars and restaurants lining it on each side and a range of bridge designs to get tourists and locals from one side to another. Pop’s Place does delicious food and beer.

The Cobblers bridge has vertical pillars stretching beyond the height of the usual bridge height into the sky.

The Triple bridge is exactly as it sounds, with three bridges in one.The Butchers Bridge consists of wires donned with padlocks depicting the huge number of couple who have come and declared their love by bolting a symbol of it onto the bridge and throwing the key into the river. There were also a few bike locks and we even found a combination lock from a couple who clearly wanted a contingency plan.

The Dragon Bridge has a dragon guarding each post and looking regal in true Ljubljanan spirit. The country is obsessed with dragons. From the famous bridge to the manhole covers to the souvenirs, you will have definitely had your dragon fix by the end of your trip.

The biggest attraction of Ljubjlana is the castle at the top of the hill. It’s about a ten minute walk up to a 900 year old castle that has been adapted and changed over the generations of differing occupants.

The tower costs 13 EUR per adult and has a lot of stairs. It is worth it to climb to the top for a panorama of the small city. Also included in the price is the exhibit of the history of the castle.

Top tip: head into Vineria Del Ponte for some free samples of Slovenian spirits.

Metelkova is an area of the city that used to be army barracks but after the Austro-Hungarian war was due to be abolished. Squatters resided here to prevent it from being knocked down, and it has now turned into a hipster area full of bars with live music and great graffiti. The music is usually pay a donation of your choice for entry.

Just outside the city is a hike up Smarna Gora that is viewed by Ljubljanans as a rite of passage, and gives wonderful views of the city. At the top of the hill is a capsule to protect a logbook from the rain where people can sign their names. Also at the top is a very old map of what you can supposedly see, which is now very different to the much more built up city.

Postojna Caves is worth your attention at about 45 minutes outside of the city. It contains caves discovered in 1819 in which you can take a 2km train ride to walk 1km throughout the caves, travelling through tunnels completely devoid of light and climbing up to the highest point inside the cave (about 120m below the ground).

The rate at which the stalagmites and stalactites grow is about 1cm per 100 years, so the way that it looks now (bar the train track and artificial lighting) is almost exactly as it looked when the caves were discovered.

Also at Postojna is a vivarium, where you can see some of the caves’ unique wildlife. It is most famous for its “human fish”, a fish that lives up to 100 years and can go ten years without any food. It is very sensitive to light so getting a good photo is tough.

Soca Valley is a beautiful canyon with a turquoise river gushing through. This region of Slovenia is riddled with waterfalls and beautiful hikes. We walked up the banks of a river up to a huge waterfall tumbling over the edge to create the river we followed.

Staying in Bovec, we booked to go canyoning with Bovec Sports Centre, and our Airbnb host gave us 10% off because she knows the company owner well. We rocked up to the sports centre to pick up some essential equipment such as wetsuits and wet boots and then we hiked up to the start of our canyoning route. With little equipment, we crossed our arms and slid down waterfalls and jumped off high cliffs into deep water pools.

We ended up getting stuck between two waterfalls, unable to go down the next one because the water was too high and strong that it possibly would have drowned us, and the water was too strong to climb up the one we had just come down. We tried many different ways in our attempt to climb out of our sticky situation, and many times we nearly went over the edge to probable death.

Eventually, we were saved by a guide bringing his much more sensible group behind, looking at where we were and deciding it was too dangerous, but supplied us with his rope so that we could orchestrate some sort of pulley system to escape.

Our next stop on the road trip was the famous Lake Bled, which has water of such a beautiful and unique aqua colour. Bled castle stands overlooking the lake and is worth a trip up to see the view and the surrounding town.

There is plenty to do at Bled on a sunny day, but things close down when the weather is bad, so make sure you plan the trip around the weather.

There is a luge that runs down the mountain towards the lake, minigolf, rowboats to hire, kayaks, stand up paddle boarding lessons, and gondolas to take you to the church in the middle of the lake. Traditionally, in order to get married in this church, the groom needs to carry the bride up the 99 steps to ring the bell.

Info: Slovenia has the Euro but is much cheaper than its surrounding countries. We hired a car to get from A to B but the tourist destinations are easily accessible by day trips and buses. Between four of us, car hire was cheaper and we were able to do the whole trip on one tank of fuel, giving us the independence to travel when we wanted.

Product of the week: Blueberry liquor. We were offered this a couple of times as a welcome drink, and it was unpleasant at first; an acquired taste. It’s in all of the supermarkets and very popular!

Tip of the week: When staying in an Airbnb, ask your host(s) whether they have any recommendations or discounts that you can get in on to save yourself a bit of money.

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