Ljubljana has a very young and hip vibe, a great place for liberal minds. Streets closer to the university and train station are filled with interesting graffiti, a lot of it in English. Above are shoes and umbrellas hanging from overhead wires, placed there in anticipation of major life changes or when students finish a semester.
I was really interested in visiting Metelkova City, which is a community squatted at former Yugoslavian military barracks near the train station. The barracks have been completely redecorated. The space holds art galleries, clubs, music, and hosts clubs for women, the disabled, and LGBTQ.
During one of my long sleepy breaks during the day, I stumbled upon a “Free Outdoor Reading” site in Tivoli Park. They had cute wooden bookcases and lounge chairs facing gardens and greenhouses in the park, all shaded by a giant oak tree. It was beautifully pleasant and calm.
Whew, it’s been a while! These weeks I’ve been hunkering and buckling down to reward myself with later travel. My second day trip to Ljubjana was jam-packed! I got off the train before 8am and walked most of the city before my departure after 9pm. The view above is from the bell tower of Ljubljanski grad, the Ljubjana castle! The city was nice and quiet in the morning, which is when I snapped these:
Franciscan Church of the Annunciation, Prešeren Square
Building of the former Cooperative Bank
There are some famous bridges in Ljubjana, many crossing the Ljubljanica River. A Wikipedia search shows 17 pages under the category “Bridges in Ljubljana.” Among them are:
Dragon Bridge, symbol of Ljubljana
It was another scorcher of a day, but things cooled nicely in the evening. Before my departure, I returned to Prešeren Square and enjoyed the accordion/oboe music on a sweet summer night.
Swaying to the band
Dusk rises past the Triple Bridge
Fisherman’s Bastion, Budapest
After Salzburg, I hopped on a train to Budapest for the weekend! The currency in Hungary is the forint (HUF), and a dollar equals approximately 227.34 forints.
Budapest is beautiful! As per us (pronounced yoush), I first went to one of the highest lookout points, Fisherman’s Bastion. Budapest is split by the Danube River into Buda (west) and Pest (east). First, I crossed the Széchenyi Chain Bridge out of Pest into Buda. The Chain Bridge reminds me very much of the Brooklyn Bridge, and in fact, much of what I saw in Budapest reminded me of New York. Great architecture, and in some places, a very bustling and youthful scene.
View from the Bastion
Széchenyi Chain Bridge
I was happy to do a ton of walking all around the city and feast on some delicious pastries, many of them being just 99 forints! More to come on the architecture, food and baths!
Don’t worry, don’t worry, of COURSE I made sure to do one Sound of Music thing in Salzburg.
These are the Mirabell Gardens, where Maria teaches the children “Do, Re, Mi” in the movie. They are part of Mirabell Palace (Schloss Mirabell), which Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich Raitenau had built in 1606 for his lady love, Salome. Note: While I was in the mines, this ridiculous video played where Raitenau is dying and shouts out, “Salomeeeeeeeeeee, Salomeeeeeeee!”
Horse fountain at Mirabell
Red rose garden
I absolutely love walking through plant-covered awnings. So peaceful. I remember walking through one in Florence that was in full bloom, and it was the BEST. Here’s the one in Mirabell:
After the garden, I rounded out the day with a visit to Stiegl Brewery (home of the incredible Stiegl Radler (grapefruit beer, increasingly available in San Diego)). They have a huge museum, full of fun history. I had quite a time getting lost on my way, but ultimately finding myself outside the brauerei. Your museum ticket gets you 3 little (yet still big) mugs of beer:
Stiegl Goldbräu, Stiegl Radler (grapefruit), Stiegl Weisse
A pattern’s emerging here. Every time I get to a new city, the first thing I do is check where them views at. Usually, what can be climbed?
In Salzburg, them views are at the “high Salzburg fortress,” which can be seen from most points in the city. It was first ordered to be built in 1077 by the archbishops of Salzburg during the Holy Roman Empire. It was a gorgeous day, and the views were plentiful from all sides of the castle. The photo above is looking down on the Salzburg Cathedral in the Altstadt (Old Town) of the city.
These next two are looking south towards the mountains:
And here’s the fortress itself, taken from the Altstadt!
My second day trip to Venezia (or Venedig in Deutsch) was focused on ferrying to the islands of Murano and Burano. Murano is where there are a lot of glass-making activities. You can pretty much find Murano glass all over Venedig, but you can watch demonstrations of how they make it in Murano. Most demos take place during the weekdays, so I didn’t get a chance to see the action. I did, however, get a chance to try cuttlefish, which is of the same class as the squid and the octopus. The sauce for the pasta I ate it with is made from the ink of the cuttlefish, known as Nero di Seppia! It was pretty good!
Dining on cuttlefish in Murano
Murano glass art
About half of the trip this day was spent on the Vaporetto, or ferries around the city and islands. From Murano to Burano was another 40 minutes, well worth it. This is a tinier island with all the buildings painted in bright colors. The production of lace was once a thriving industry in Burano, and there are a lot of lovely lace goods for sale.
More colored houses in Burano
Finally, I don’t think any day trip to Venice would be complete without wandering through the streets of the main island, cooling down with gelato, and perking up with espresso. It seems that about 3pm is when total exhaustion sets in, and it is time to sit and chillax!
Haven’t hit the same cross-city path yet!
Another eye-catching waterway
Until next time, Venezia!
20€ and 3.5 bus hours is all it takes to get to Venice from Villach!
Taking the 6:50am bus and sleeping all the way, Venezia has been the perfect place to wake up to on a Saturday morning! I took my first day trip a few weeks ago, and returned yesterday to hit up the islands of Murano (of Murano glass) and Burano (of Burano lace and pretty painted buildings). I’ll add those photos later — I realize I took a ton to share!
My favorite part is absolutely losing myself among the narrow winding streets and discovering all the cute cafes, restaurants, and gelato shops (so much gelato).
View from the Rialto Bridge
Saint Mark’s Basilica from the bell tower
Another bell tower view!
In front of the Basilica
One of many scenic waterways
Venezia II (island vibes) coming soon!
Hallo and greetings from Villach, Austria!
I am based here in Villach for the next several summer months as part of a research fellowship. What great fortune to be able to travel and explore while also working on cool projects! Villach is located in the south of Austria in the valleys of the Alps, very close to the borders of Slovenia and Italy. It is 2 hours south of Salzburg by train and 3.5 hours from Venice by bus.
Equipped with a trusty bicycle (thank you, university!), some summer shoes, an English-German dictionary, and a Kindle for lazy reading in mountains and fields, I am ready to explore!
Biking through Villach
View of the Center City over the Drau
If you are interested in saving photos, you can access a larger version by just clicking on the photo you want. Looking forward to sharing more with you!