I saw an advertisement in an issue of National Geographic that read “Getting There is Half the Adventure!”
Um, no thanks.
I don’t want adventure getting somewhere unless, maybe, it’s a rollercoaster ride lined with cotton candy trees and sangria-filled streams. I want uneventful, boring travel. Boring is good – it means no missed flights, broken down cars, panicked trips across town to foreign train stations. Sure, those things can be memorable, sometimes more than the actual thing your going to see or do. I remember Amboseli National Park in Kenya very well; the animals, the Indian food buffet we had for lunch, being just a few feet away from a giant elephant. Seared into my memory, though, is the trip to the park. If you were to tell me the Land Rover we road in for 4 hours (each way) was produced when Roosevelt was in office, I wouldn’t even ask if you meant Franklin or Teddy. I remember that stopping for breakfast meant a box of crackers (they literally blew the dust off, like in a cartoon) and instant brown coffee water. I remember the buzzer that sounded whenever the car went over 80 kilometers an hour, which was the entire way there and back. I remember fidgeting and swapping seats to try and get comfortable, only to be miserable in a different seat. In hindsight, it makes for a good story, but if I had to do it again? Get me a comfortable sedan and box of chicken nuggets. Or better yet, I’ll just watch animal planet. But, I digress.
The point is, boring means getting to where you are supposed to go, mostly on time, and without too much drama. So when there’s an attempted coup in Turkey less than 48 hours after I bought round trip tickets to Slovenia, on Turkish airline with a layover in Istanbul, I feared there was going to be considerable ‘adventure’ in the getting there part of the trip. All flights to and from Turkey were on hold several days while the situation worked itself out. Thankfully, I was wrong, and the only adventurous part of the trip was choosing between pasta or chicken for the in-flight meal. Packed up and well fed, Teresa and I headed out for a two-part trip to Slovenia and Croatia.
Arriving in Ljubljana has an almost Japanese feel to it: The airport was spotless, very organized and efficient. It’s also tiny, being one of the smallest capital cities in Europe, but for what it lacks in UNESCO sites or giant tourist draws, it makes up for in pleasant charm. You won’t find any loud hawkers or aggressive panhandlers, just gelato on every corner and a river walk/old town area free of cars. Almost everything you could want to see or do is a short walk, or bus ride, away – there’s no need for a rental car unless you are really, really enthusiastic about seeing the countryside.
We only had a day to tour the city before we hopped the train to Zagreb, but the city is small enough to get a feel for pretty quickly. One doesn’t rush around in Ljubljana, so we spent our time sampling different gelato and sausage stands, touring the sites, and recovering from jetlag. Those nostalgic for communist era soda, produced to compete with American beverages, can buy a Cockta (pronounced Coke-ta). It’s has a …complex flavor profile, consisting of – supposedly – eleven herbs, and indeed does taste like someone emptied their spice rack into a Pepsi. It’s worth a sip. Our pleasant, lazy tour of the city left us wishing we had allotted more time to bus out to Lake Bled, but alas, the train waits for no man, or person, and especially not for tourist. Tonight we catch the train to the Croatia capital, Zagreb.
How we got there: Turkish Airways round trip 1200$ Boston to Slovenia
Where we stayed: City Hotel, Ljubljana – Smallish rooms but very modern and sleek. Skip the breakfast buffet and eat out in town.
What we did:
Jose Plecnik’s Triple Bridge:
Town Hall/Market Hall/old Town: