December is a time for Christmas Markets. In 2007 I was in Ljubljana in Slovenia…
Tag Archives: Slovenia
While the current travel restrictions are in place I have no new stories to post so what I thought that I would do is to go through my picture archives and see where I was on this day at any time in the last few travelling years.
On 24th May 2007 I was rowing a boat on Lake Bled in Slovenia…
Rowing I find is one of those things that can be quite a lot more difficult than it looks and I had some early problems coordinating the actions of left and right hand oars to keep us progressing in a straight line and with Kim in charge of plotting the course I had to make frequent adjustments to maintain the right direction. I found it most helpful however when she began to beat out the rowing tempo in the manner of a Roman galley slave-master but I was worried that I might not be able to cope physically if she decided to up the pace to Ben Hur ramming speed.
We left the island and as Kim was convinced that rowing a boat was a straightforward process and that I was simply an incompetent oarsman she decided to take responsibility for the return journey. She was no better than me of course but I didn’t complain because I was enjoying sitting back in boat enjoying the warm sunshine and the slightly curious meandering route back to the shore. I will concede however that she did make a perfect docking procedure and we completed our walk around the lake stopping on route for a pizza and a beer at a bar with a raised terrace and a good view over the lake.
There was a lovely blue sky and once again the bus arrived exactly on time and we enjoyed the forty-minute journey through the picturesque countryside and arrived at an untidy little terminus at our destination.
The bus station may not have been very exciting but the little town was quite spectacular. It is a European cultural heritage site and although there is evidence of fifty years or so of neglect there was a lot of restoration work taking place and when all of this is finished it will once again be a seriously attractive town.
March 20th is the festival day of St John Nepomuk. I saw him once when visiting the village of Škofja Loka in Slovenia.
On the way to the village we crossed a six hundred year old stone bridge across the Selška Sora and in the middle is a statue of St John Nepomuk who is supposed to be the bringer of good luck. Well the sort of luck that old St John brings I can happily do without. The man, who built the bridge, a certain bishop Leopold, fell off it shortly after completion and he drowned in the river below. Where was St John on that particular day I wondered?
Actually I found this statue a bit surprising because poor old John Nepomuk didn’t seem to have a great deal of luck himself in his lifetime as he was a Jesuit priest who was tortured and killed by King Wenceslas in 1393 and his body was thrown into the river Vltava in Prague.
Because of his aquatic final resting place he is regarded as a protector from floods but he must have been off duty in August 2003 when the city endured its worst deluge for two hundred years and forty thousand people were evacuated and the cost of repairing the damage ran into billions. Where was St John on that particular day I wondered?
Lake Bled, Slovenia
The island, according to legend, was created as a punishment by God. He stopped by one day on a surprise inspection and was annoyed to find his church full of cattle because the villages had become too lazy to watch over them and had left the church door open. To punish them he made the lake so that in future the animals couldn’t get across to it and get inside. A nice story but without a shred of truth of course because in actual fact the lake is glacial and was formed at the end of the last ice age when water poured in behind the retreating ice.
The church is popular for weddings and there are ninety-nine steps to the top and there is a tradition that if a bridegroom can carry his bride to the church without either stopping for breath or complaining then the couple will enjoy a happy marriage. If you are tempted to try this super-human feat my then my advice would be that you get engaged to a skinny girlfriend because just getting to the top sounds like seriously hard work to me without any unnecessary additional burden. Or perhaps this is simply designed to get you ready for the harsh realities of married life.
On the return from Lake Bled we walked back through the streets of the city that in the daylight we could see were regrettably extensively disfigured by graffiti. This is a real problem in Ljubljana where every building provides a canvas and an opportunity for the so-called artists. Every year there is a city spring clean organised by the Ljubljana City Authorities as part of the annual activity “Za lepso Ljubljano” (For a Prettier Ljubljana). The operation cleans up three hundred and eighty square metres of river walls and also tidies city streets, passageways and parks as well as cleaning two kilometres of riverbed by divers.
There was another dreary start to the day but at least it wasn’t raining and after another excellent breakfast where I was even tempted to sample the bottled beetroot juice (and promptly wished I hadn’t) we decided to take another bus journey out of the city and to Slovenia’s most popular tourist destination, Lake Bled.
How disappointed we were when we discovered that the market in Klagenfurt was even tackier than the one in Ljubljana – it was full of cheap trash and repetitive rubbish that none of us had a mind to purchase. And there wasn’t a great deal of seasonal good cheer on offer either.
I am sure that the market would be more lively and vibrant at night but in the middle of a cold and overcast day it was just dull and lifeless and minding every stall was someone who looked as though they wished that they were somewhere else.
Sadly there was little change in the weather overnight and the early morning check revealed grey clouds and steady light rain so it didn’t look too good. Micky had been out for a walk already however and although we were beginning to lose confidence in his weather predictions was still promising improvement over breakfast.
It was Christmas market time again and by undertaking detailed research of the flight schedules and destination options there was an opportunity to visit two neighbouring countries by flying to and staying in Ljubljana in Slovenia and whilst there taking a day trip to Klagenfurt over the border in Austria.