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Day 11: Zagreb to Ljubljana

We had a rather slow start to the morning, because our train from Zagreb to Ljubljana was at the slightly awkward time of 12.36. There are several trains a day between Zagreb and Ljubljana but it isn't possible to buy the tickets online in advance, so we had to wait to buy them at the station this morning. As so often with international tickets, I'd struggled to find any reliable mention of what they might cost online, so I was very happy when it turned out to be €9 each :)

I'd budgeted for it to be about €20 each and so this, combined with the extremely cheap prices in places like Varaždin yesterday, meant that we had a fair amount of Croatian kuna left; so much that it seemed like it would be worth trying to change it into Euros. We followed signs for an exchange office in the station, but when we got there it turned out that they were only able to change Euros into kuna and not the other way round. The woman there gave us some instructions about how to find another exchange office; she spoke very fast, but I understood it as go outside, go round a corner and down some steps.

We set out to do that, but the only steps we could find looked like they were leading down to a subway route to other platforms. It didn't look too hopeful, but Tim decided to explore them anyway while I waited above ground with the baggage. I waited for quite a long time.... and when he eventually came back, it turned out that there was an entire underground shopping centre down there that we didn't know about :o  The good news was that there was indeed an exchange office down there too, so he had managed to change our excess kuna into €50 :)

The platform for the Ljubljana train was really busy and it was a bit of a mad scramble when the train arrived. There seemed to be a lot of backpackers travelling between Zagreb and Ljubljana (or possibly further afield, as the train continued on to Villach on Austria). We found some seats in a compartment that didn't have any labels to say seats were reserved and were just getting comfortable with our baggage, when some girls arrived to say that they had reserved three of the seats in this compartment. Some other people moved so we were okay, but when the conductor came round to check our tickets, I asked him whether there were free seats somewhere else, or how we could tell which seats were reserved. He announced that this was a train with no reservations, which was rather odd, as the backpackers had obviously booked their tickets through some sort of travel agency and paid for a reservation. At least we knew that if anyone else turned up, we could tell them to go and speak to the conductor about their reservation xD

It takes around 2.5 hours to get from Zagreb to Ljubljana, which is not because it's terribly far but mainly because the train wastes the best part of an hour at the border. Although both countries are now in the EU, Slovenia is in the Schengen area and Croatia isn't, so there was a Croatian passport check, followed by a Slovenian passport check, followed by a Slovenian ticket check. Once the train is moving again it's a really beautiful journey though, following the course of the river Sava through some steep wooded valleys. 

We finally arrived in Ljubljana at 15.15, to find that it was raining. Oh dear :( Luckily we didn't have far to walk to our apartment though, and it turned out to be really nice. There's a living area with a sofa and TV...


...behind which is hidden a bedroom area.


There's also a nice kitchen/dining area...


...with a modern-looking bathroom behind.


Ljubljana is not a particularly cheap place, so the apartment works out at about £70/night, on top of which we have had to pay a tourist tax of €2.50 each per night. Cheaper apartments were available, but I chose this one because of the location (it's really near the town centre, but also within easy reach of the train/bus stations) and the fact that it had air-conditioning (which seems fairly rare for apartments in Ljubljana).

Once we had unpacked a bit, we set out to see a bit of the city.


The apartment is really close to my favourite bridge, Zmajski Most (Dragon Bridge).


We walked along the river Ljubljanica, admiring the views.


Before long we were able to get glimpses of Ljubljana's castle, which towers above the town.


There are several other bridges across the river, in addition to the Dragon Bridge.


We followed the river until we came to Ljubljana's main square: Prešernov trg. There's a beautiful pink Franciscan church here.


There is a large statue of Prešeren, a famous Slovenian poet, in the middle of the square.


And there's a great view up to the castle from here :)


We walked a bit away from the river, through colourful streets.


This impressive building is now part of the University of Ljubljana, although originally it was the parliament building of the Carniola region, during Habsburg times.


Eventually we found this square - Novi Trg - which probably has the best view of the castle :)


From here we crossed the river and walked along the other side....


...until finally we got back to the dragon bridge :)


Unfortunately it had started to rain again by this point, so we had to give up and go back to the apartment. Here's hoping the weather improves for the rest of the week!

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