06.08.2006 19 °C
A few people had recommended I stay at Hostel Celicia, or Celica, Or Cecilia (I never figured it out). Its actually a former prison which has been cleverly and very stylishly converted into a modern, hip hostel by some top architects, who you can meet for a guided tour if you're around on the right days. It looks brilliant, but as I hadn't been able to ring and reserve, (the number in the 2005 Lonely Planet is wrong) it was full. So I ended up in this Student place a couple of minutes away. It took me beack to when I was 14 and I went on a French Exchange to Brive and stayed with a girl who boarded. Only without the teenage angst. The whole building was the same, shabby, grey and institutional. This made sense when the lovely guys on reception explained that the building houses 13-18 year old school kids during term time.
So I figured there wasn't going to be much of a party in Ljubljana, and was a little disappointed with how quiet things were. But later I met my room-mates, an Australian Nurse who has been working and travelling for ages, and an American student. Later we went out for a meal and had a look round Metelkova. Metelkova is a strange alternative community of dreadlocked arty types and a few slightly dodgy looking types. Its full of tiny bars that look like they're built from scrap metal, from which drift some funny smelling smoke. Random sculptures dot the place. It was really interesting but also felt a bit uncomfortable.
The next morning despite the drizzle we went to have a look around the city centre. the distances are tiny and it doesn't take long to walk around Ljubljana. It seems to have a lot of handicraft and original shops and galleries. We then climbed up to the castle, which is a mixture of additions from various centuries, from 16th Century walls to a modern glass and concrete shop and cafe. The tower gives a panoramic view of the city out to the mountians, which gives an idea of its siye. Its population is just over half that of my home city, Sheffield, so for a capital it is small.
Walking back the rain started again, we sheltered in a cafe but since it was getting worse we went back to the hostel and just relaxed, since the thunder had started up and it was properly throwing it down like Thailand in the monsoon. Apparantly its due to get worse tomorrow. If that's possible. And I'm due to go up to the mountains, what am I like? They said it would brighten up on Saturday, so I figured I may as well go tomorrow and even if the afternoon is spent indoors, that way I get a whole day in Lake Bled on Saturday.
Eventually the rain calmed and we found a nice little family restaurnat to eat, where they were very welcoming and gave us local cheese and free shots of some local spirit, I think it was Plum Brandy, which I've had before in Croatia.
The people here in Slovenia all seem so lovely and helpful, especially compared to Budapest where you never saw anyone so much as smile. They drive carefully, and even stop to let pedestrians cross the road, which is very rare in most countries. Despite its charms, however, I don't think I'll stick with my original plan to come back to Ljubljana for my birthday. I think after Bled I'll just come back long enough to get the train to Prague. This town may be small and quiet, but it has tons of character. Its impossible not to like Ljubljana, even in the rain.