Saturday, December 10, 2011

Dancing in Ljubljana

This is a delightful city and we have thoroughly enjoyed it. The people are very, very friendly, helpful and love their city. As an example, the tourist center only had one bike to rent since most have been stored away for the winter. A young woman at a cafe said we could use hers, no charge, trusting us to return it later.

Nice sunny day. We rode in Tivoli Park, which is a large park starting near the city center. It's called the lung of the city...lots of trees and open land. Stopped at the Tivoli Mansion, which contains the Graphic Arts Museum. They were featuring a print exhibit by a well known artist, Tinac Stegovec. Ironically, they had prints from another artist, Petra Varl. We are staying at her B&B! She happens to be in New York right now, so we didn't meet her.

Biked to the top of a hill and had some hardy Slovenian soup while overlooking the mountain range. Lots of people out hiking and soaking up the sun. Just a fun atmosphere. Sure a wonderful change from when they were literally wrapped in barbed wire after WW II...another sad story.

Got back in time to get a tour of Plečnik's home and studio. He was the master architect of bridges and buildings here as well as Vienna and Prague. Milan, an art history student at the University here gave us the tour. We were his only guests at the 17:00 tour. We got a lot of information about Pletničk and his inside political connections in Ljubljana

By the way, Ljubljana University has 60,000 students. The whole country has just over 2 million people and Ljubjana about 280,000. They sure are doing things right here...sophisticated, educated, fun-loving, artistic, and stable. I guess they became so successful due to the fact they are midway between Vienna and Venice, two very influential cities in two important countries.

Had tickets for the Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra. A marvelous young pianist was featured performing an incredible Mozart piece. We were in the 2nd row and were able to watch his fingers move up and down the keyboard in a blur. The orchestra is another example of the sophistication and support this city has for the arts.

Then it was back out on the plazas for all the festivities that last all month. Really great bands, lots of dancing, hot mulled wine and beautiful, unusual decorations. It just amazes us on how adept all these people are at several languages.

Lots of American songs, one country western rock about getting back to Chicago. When we said that is our city they all clapped! This is a mid sized city, but with a homey, very comfortable feel. It has been said that it is the safest and most honest in the world. We definitely feel that could be true.

Graffiti is on many building walls around town. It seems odd in a city that is very neat and tidy. We guessed that it rather than try to clean it up/off, city officials have decided to leave it as "art". As confirmation of this, as we walked to the bus station leaving Ljubljana, we passed through an area referred to an alternative art. All the buildings here are painted in a type of graffiti.

We're off to Bled (pronounced Blayd), the town and the lake, at 13:30. It's only an hour and half away.

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