Sciences Po winter break: day 6
I technically made my way through probably four separate countries on February 20.
The first was Hungary, where I caught a night bus late in the evening. I slept for most of the journey, so I’m not actually sure how many hours of the wee morning that I was in Hungary, but I’ll wager it was a few. The second was Croatia, where we had to wait out a several hour layover (is that what it’s called when it’s a bus?). Funnily, I’m pretty sure the bus we took from Budapest to Zagreb was the exact same one I took the previous summer. I think we took the same route and went through the same checkpoints and everything.
We only spent a few hours in Zagreb as we waited for the next bus, but I honestly remember almost nothing of it. I spent most of it unsuccessfully trying to sleep in a hard plastic chair. Eventually, as some of the bus station shops began to open up, I bought one of the most disgusting sandwiches I’ve ever had in my life and barely finished half of it.
From there, it was a few hours on until our main destination, Ljubljana, Slovenia. Like Frankfurt, this was just a day trip — less than a 12 hour stay before we had yet another bus to catch.
After finding a place to store our luggage (something I got very good at — who knew luggage storage facilities would become my new best friend?) we headed towards downtown.
Ljubljana is a very small city, though it’s the largest in Slovenia. If you’ll remember, I’d actually been to Slovenia once before, for a brief stop in Brežice while my friend’s cousin picked up medication. Ljubljana reminded me in many ways of Brežice: a small but quaint town nestled in even more beautiful mountains.
Slovenia is known as the “city of dragons” but other than the famous Dragon Bridge, I’m not sure if there’s any history or mythology that goes along with that reputation. We didn’t do a tour or visit a museum at this location, which meant my actual knowledge of the sites I was seeing was scant.
After doing a brief overview of the Dragon Bridge and the iconic pink Franciscan Church of the Annunciation, we decided to take the hike up to Ljubljana Castle. Or at least, that’s what I wanted to do. After having spent the previous 12-ish hours sat in a bus, sat in a bus station, and then sat in another bus, I was eager to stretch my legs, and a hike — that is, a walk through somewhere other than a busy tourist street — sounded wonderful to me.
But it didn’t sound wonderful to some of my friends, so instead, we took the funicular lift, which pleasantly surprised me. I thought it’d be lame to just ride up to the top of the hill, but being in the funicular car actually allowed us some really beautiful views of the landscape and the city below.
At the castle, we met a lovely British man who agreed to take our photo and also gave us some recommendations for lunch options. I wouldn’t have been against trying something else authentic, especially having indulged in sushi and humus in Vienna and Budapest, but my friends weren’t feeling it. Instead, we went to a Mexican restaurant. Because you know, those Slovenians are so known for their authentic Mexican cuisine.
Our last stop before we got onto our bus to our final destination of the day was the Metelkova neighborhood. From what I gathered from my friend, Ebba, who was the one who suggested that we go, Metelkova is a lot like Freetown Christiania in Copenhagen in that it’s a small artist community within the city bounds that has its own autonomous status. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to look around much. There was a group of men playing soccer who didn’t seem interested in having tourists walking around taking pictures, which, you know, I get. I don’t think they would have given us any trouble if we’d kept walking, but my friends didn’t want to risk it, and besides, we had one final (!!!) bus to catch.
Our last country of day was Italy. We got to Venice after sunset, and by then, we were really so tired from walking around and taking buses all day that we weren’t interested in doing much sightseeing. We ended up getting much more of a tour than we bargained for that night, though, as our AirBnB ended up being on what seemed like the exact opposite side of town from where the bus stop was.
It was a Thursday night during Carnevale, but I was too exhausted to really pay close attention to the colorful costumes and loud music. I think there may have been a parade going on somewhere in the city while we were hunting for our AirBnB and trying not to get our bridges confused or fall into a canal, but I’m really not sure.
Once we finally made it to our apartment, we crashed for about an hour to decompress and relax before we dragged ourselves off the floor and crawled to a restaurant for dinner. After dinner, I think I could’ve had enough energy to venture out again and see if we could discern where all those costumed people were heading earlier, but we ultimately just went home and went to bed. We figured we’d have (yet another) big day ahead of us.
Jeans: Altar’d State
Coat: A vintage shop in Budapest (thrifted)