Ljubljana, Slovenia (Ljubljana, Slovenija)
Lowering one's expectations is generally a good way not to be disappointed in a new travel location. It's also fantastic in that sometimes you're pleasantly surprised by how much a place exceeds those expectations. Such was the case for the capital of Slovenia, a city of which I had heard nothing about except its complicated name (FYI it's pronounced 'yub-yana', so much easier than I had anticipated).
As we strolled over the triple bridge of Ljubljana, a tiny white hot air balloon was seen floating in the clear blue skies. The bridge itself didn't photograph well, and it perplexed me as to why there were three nearly identical bridges side by side. Apparently the two flanking bridges were built to help with traffic flow in the 1930's to accompany the original 1842 bridge.
A second bridge (the Dragon Bridge) was crossed, this one displaying several strange sculptures and a metric tonne of lovers' padlocks clamped to the railings.
The castle sat like a sleeping dragon atop the tall hill in Ljubljana's centre, and we entertained the notion that we may walk up to see it, but instead took the funicular to the top. The castle itself was pretty rubbish in my opinion (heavily renovated and inauthentic), and the view of the city was fairly mediocre, so I'm not going any more in depth about that. We did undergo the downhill walk back to the city, which was a little narrow in parts but reminded me of a New Zealand bush walk as it was pleasantly shaded by heavy foliage.
We quickly peeked inside the former Monastery of the Holy Cross, the courtyard of which is employed in summer as an outdoor theatre. The creeping vines give the monastery an eerie feel.
Just down the road from the monastery is French Revolution Square, featuring an obelisk with Napoleon's golden face and a smell of sewerage. We attempted to enter the National and University Library to see the impressive collection of historical documents, but it unexpectedly closes after 2pm. We then tried to enter the town hall, which turned out to be closed on Saturdays. I'd recommend researching opening times of sites you want to see before visiting Ljubljana.
Nebotičnik (which has only minor details to show that it is in the Art Deco style, along with this staircase) houses a café on the top floor that showcases the views of the city that I was craving. It's from here that a stunning cityscape was laid out, and this time the castle was set prominently in the middle of it (see title photo). I guess that's what was missing from the view from the castle!
Our campsite was located in the nearby village of Smlednik. It was here that we first encountered nudists, as we had taken a wrong turn into the FKK section of the campground and quickly reversed to find a more clothed area to set up our tents. In the morning light, a Smlednik hill with an abundance of shrines looked very peaceful. At night, they were all lit up with candles. That's a lot of Jesuses.