It was another early morning to make another early train. We arose at 6:30am, brushed our teeth and headed to the Vienna main train station to get some breakfast. We got some smoothies for vitamins and a few sandwiches. They were good but, sorry, no photos!
The train was at 7:58, so we had time to enjoy our sandwiches a little before heading to the platform and finding our seats. We got a cabin with window seats! There was a nice family in the other four seats next to us.
It was a good train ride with interesting scenery. We snaked our way up the mountains and even passed a castle!
Unfortunately, a combination of the window, bad photography skills, and fog means you probably can’t see it on the bottom left of this photo. Well, I enjoyed it!
Actually, it got pretty foggy at the top. We were at about 900-1000m, according to my watch! After the great landscapes, there was nothing more to look at.
Then came the rain. The fog cleared up as we descended but the rain took its place and didn’t stop until late in the evening. So much for a white Christmas – more like a grey and wet Christmas!!
The mother and two children were off somewhere else in the train and the father asked where we are from. Turns out, he is from Croatia and she is from Ljubljana but they live in a small village in Sweden! We talked also about cycling because he is into taking multi-day cycling trips with his kids! He gave me some tips for cycling near the coast.
I offered some homemade Christmas cookies (whipped shortbread) to the kids and apparently they really enjoyed them. It also dawned on me I should ask the Slovenian mother where we should eat in Ljubljana. Turns out that was a great idea! I thanked her after our 6 hour train ride together and she joked we’d never see each other again anyway, so even if her recommendations were bad, I wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. Actually, I wish I could thank her again!
We departed the train and returned to our familiar rainy doom and gloom. In spite of that, Ljubljana has some very nice buildings and the old town is great! First we unloaded our luggage at the hotel. After our crummy airbnb in Vienna, this place was a palace!
City Hotel Ljubljana – the place to stay in Ljubljana! If you put your head out the window, you can even see the castle.
We researched our Slovenian train friend’s recommendations a little more and headed out in that direction.
I’m not good at this selfie thing.
There’s a really nice square in Ljubljana where the main Christmas market is happening. It’s on the river and and has some cool old stone bridges.
Let me tell you, this was a great recommendation!!
We got a plate for two, with some pork specialty, a kind of mashed potatoes with onions, peppers (of course – we are in the Balkans now!), and a special kind of fried dough, which now we are not sure about the name of. Jelena also ordered some cabbage with pumpkin seed oil. The oil was pretty intense but I do like cabbage. Jelena already plans to recreate it at home.
After that, we split a piece of cake – some layered cake from that region but which has now become the national cake of Slovenia! It’s called Prekmurska Gibanica.
It’s got apple, poppy seeds, walnuts, and cottage cheese, so it’s really not my cup of tea. Jelena, however, was more than happy to eat most of it.
After lunch, we went across the street to check out a shop and Jelena added linden honey to our growing stash of honeys. Then we took a little stroll to check out the Christmas markets, before heading back to the hotel for some rest. It was still raining and would continue raining for a while, so we wanted to bum around the hotel and go out later when we could enjoy the evening. We ended up falling asleep for one and a half hours. Whoops!
We woke up refreshed and peered out the window to see if the rain had stopped. People were walking without umbrellas! Finally! Noah could stop building the Ark.
I got some hot chocolate, which was literally hot chocolate and not milk or water. It was thick and great. Then I got some fried dough with sugar, which I thought about dipping in the chocolate but I couldn’t resist long enough and drank it all before they were ready.
We walked around, looking for something small to eat from the many stands. It’s interesting because there is a lot of Balkan grill stuff, a nice change from the same old same old we are used to in Germany.
One square even had live music, which seemed like it had been transplanted from the Austrian Alps. For some reason, every booth at this square had someone trying to get us to buy their sausages or other grilled stuff. Everywhere else in town had normal people.
In the end, Jelena got some warm bread with kajmak and I got some burek with meat. Mine wasn’t so great but I was just gorging at this point anyway. Jelena’s bread was delicious!
Satisfied with a successful market experience, we made our way home, to return to the sweet, sweet embrace of sleep. We’ve already decided we’re coming back to Ljubljana.