Ljubljana, Slovakia June 17–The Delegation Spends an Evening Experiencing the Charm

Sunday, June 17: Ljubljana, Slovakia.

This is such a pleasant city, and not overwhelmingly large. Of course there is the large modern business and shopping district, but there is also a nicely preserved, large older part on the other side of the river which cuts through the city.  There, historic buildings from Austrian and earlier Renaissance periods are preserved and the streets are vehicle-free, just bicycles and skaters.  Clean and not too crowded, the people seem friendly, and it is just enjoyable to be here.  On the hot (80s) summer days, there are outdoor seating areas beside most cafes and restaurants, with people enjoying their meals al fresco.  Gelato stands are popular. The one on the main square featured 24 flavors including cantaloupe, coconut, and varieties of berries and other fruits.  Nearby is a crepe vendor.

So, this morning we walked a few blocks from our hotel, passing expensive shops with high fashions, back to the central square near the big pink Catholic Church.

Our local guide, a knowledgeable young lady named Helena, told us about the buildings and the city’s history, took us into the Cathedral, and let us do a little shopping.  Our lunch was at Gostina Sestica, a traditional and touristy restaurant, where we had mushroom soup, the usual shredded cabbage salad, veal in cream sauce with mashed potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, and a nut-cream layered cake, coffee and tea.In the afternoon we got on the van and went to the suburbs, where we had a meeting with Dorijan (pronounced “Dorian”) Marsic, Director of a de-mining company called International Trust Fund (ITF) to Enhance Human Security.  This organization raises funds and provides services and coordination for the actual de-mining contractors.  ITF works with the USA and various governments.  They have cleared Serbia and Slovenia, but are still working on places (off limits to people) in Croatia and Bosnia.  Mr. Marsic was leaving soon to survey the needs for de-mining in Libya.

Returning to Ljubljana, a group of us walked to the Funicular near the Pink Catholic Church Square, and ascended a nearly vertical hillside to the city’s castle.  An informative video showed that the site had been first a Neolithic settlement, which evolved into a Roman fortress, a Slavic village, and finally a real castle built by Germans in the 14th century.  Later, it was possessed by Turks, then Austrians and now it is a center for art and music.

After our Castle tour, we rode back down and walked along the river, bought ham and cheese crepes and gelatos and indulged in people-watching on a balmy summer evening.


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