We arrived in Ljubljana after a 6.5-hour drive from Budapest on Thursday morning. This was longer than the drive should have been; our GPS system got us quite lost in eastern Slovenia, and we ended up traveling a fair distance on a single track dirt road which paralleled (we now realize) the paved highway... but the weather was beautiful, and the Slovenian countryside gorgeous -- mountains, vineyards, and small villages. This photo shows the Ljubljana Cathedral in the center of the old town.
One of the guardians of the Dragon Bridge -- itself one of the several bridges over the Ljubljanica River, which winds through the old town and around the castle hill. The Ljubljanica, while pretty, is tiny compared to the Danube, and the bridges are only a few meters long. The dragon represents the one Jason slew while pursuing the Golden Fleece.
Ljubljana's main square
This is the Franciscan Church of St. Mary in Ljubljana's main square. There are also a number of Serbian Orthodox churches in town, similar to the ones we saw a few weeks ago in Szentendre.
The Ljubljana market -- vegetables, fruits, and flowers -- is open daily, with an additional fish market on Saturdays. Although in the end we didn't buy any, Richard and I spent some time looking at flowers (especially the dried straw flowers which I have also seen for sale in Budapest) and at the fish (which we really haven't seen since we left Ottawa). The next time we go to Slovenia, we bring our cooler and ice packs to fill with fresh fish to bring back...
Ljubljana Market II
Squash are in season here; Janet has already brought out her butternut squash soup recipe. For reasons we don't know, in Hungarian butternut squash are called "kanadai sutotek" -- Canadian squash!
Strolling along the Ljubljanica River -- a town where, in stark contrast to Budapest, nearly everyone gets around on bicycle or on foot. The waterfront is lined with small restaurants and cafes, including one which served us our first salmon fillets in over a month.
View of the red roofs and steeple towers of Ljubljana on the walk up Castle Hill. Tracing church architecture from Budapest through to the Slovenian coast was interesting -- Baroque in Budapest; Venetian on the coast; and a mixture in intermediate areas. The castle itself was under restoration, and inaccessible except from the outside.
On Friday afternoon, we drove to the Slovenian coast, where the architecture was definitively Italianate and the seafood plentiful. This photo was taken from the Portoroz airport, on the Slovenian-Croatian border.
We had dinner in Piran, a small town on Slovenia's small coastline. Clams, mussels, scampi, and fish -- a delight after six weeks in landlocked Hungary! From the Piran harbor, we could see Trieste and Croatia, as well as the lights of Venice. Piran is an old, small town with narrow winding streets suitable only for motorbikes. With the warm winds off the Adriatic, it is both grape- and olive-growing country, and has an Italian flavor in architecture and culture.
View round the Piran harbor just before sunset, looking southwest towards Croatia.
Sunset over Venice
In Budapest, the sun disappears behind the hill in front of our house before we really get to appreciate the sunset. In Piran -- well, the only thing the sun had to disappear behind was the Italian coast.
Grape harvest near Celje
On Saturday, we were invited to help with the grape harvest on a friend's grandfather's farm about an hour's drive east of Ljubljana. This shows the view from the vineyard, overlooking the village and an artificial lake (created by a dam for steelworks in the 1960s).