April 26, 2016

8 Treasures Hiding in Ljubljana (cont.)

Funky Alleys

Ljubljana is a very inviting and safe city. There is no such thing as a wrong turn here, where every alley leads to another square, fountain, adorable cafe, and new treasure to find. The most interesting alleyway was lined with sculptures of faces in the gutter along the path.

Maybe a little too modern in its depiction for me (some of the faces were very grotesque), but it was something about the idea that every person's face was just a variation of one face. It's gritty and confusing and really made me think about what makes a face beautiful or ugly. You can find this artsy alleyway on Ključavničarska Ulica right by the river.

Open Kitchen

Whatever you do, make sure you plan to be in Ljubljana on a Friday. Hopefully, it was also be warm weather, then you'll be blessed with the culinary delights of the Open Kitchen market. These aren't just food stands; these are booths with real chefs from real restaurants who really want to impress you with their food and drink. It feels more like a friendly cooking competition than a typical street market.

Every kind of person turned out to have their meal or snack in the square, and since it is open from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., you can actually eat here multiple times throughout the day! Julia opted for Indian food and I went for the Argentine steak. We shared a six Euro bottle of wine while listening to the jazzy music and the social buzz that good food tends to generate.

Mexican Food

I don't think I ever realized how much I really love Mexican food until I moved away from California. Truth: I could eat it everyday. Julia somehow learned to love Mexican food despite growing up nowhere near Mexico in Switzerland. This meant that we ate at Joe Peña's twice, enjoying the pineapple-infused enchiladas and incredibly good and cheap appetizer platter.

There are some other Mexican restaurants in Ljubljana, but Joe's was also close to our hostel and had better prices than the other places. I also feel like I need to know if Joe is really Mexican, because, if he is, does he pronounce his name with an English "j" as "Joe," or with a Spanish "j" as "Yo?"


Ljubljana even has it's own version of Berlin's RAW neighborhood, called the Metelkova, close to the train station. You'll find incredibly intricate graffiti, wildly disorganized wall mosaics, and hundreds of bicycles wrenched into gates and fences. If you go at night, you will also find the most interesting and strange people in Ljubljana. This was where Julia and I played the parts of non-English-speaking French people so well that a man cursed at us (edited version), "Learn English if you're going to travel in the world!"

You can wander around Ljubljana's nightlife scene as much as you want, but the best way to really enjoy it is in a group. Julia and I decided the best way for us to do this would be to join a pub crawl. The greatest thing about tours is that tour guides are the coolest people ever 99% of the time. The Pub Crawl Ljubljana was no exception to this. We ended up hanging with the tour guides, their Slovenian friends, and had a hilarious night out to remember!

(If you are familiar with the Stefon skits from Saturday Night Live, maybe you can appreciate how random and crazy the following description will be...I dare you to read it out loud in the Stefon voice without laughing.)

"The hottest club is Ljubljana is Klub Cirkus. They have everything: dancing clowns in unitards, zombies juggling bowling pins, and a witch in a neon hula hoop. But that's not all: get ready for napkins falling from the ceiling, confetti guns, and you'll even make balloon animals. And whatever you do, don't forget to leave the wheelchairs on the dance floor to go say howdy to the 75-year-old man wearing suspenders doing the solo quick-step outside the bathroom."

Every word of that is true.

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I think it's reasonable to say that Ljubljana has something to offer everyone, in addition to being a beautiful, warm, and friendly city. Julia and I had a fabulous time together, running between French and English, making cat friends, and finding sushi and ice cream when we weren't eating Mexican food. I can't imagine my first time in Ljubljana with anyone else! Thank you, Julia!