October 9, 2015:
Yesterday was essentially a free day, with our only scheduled activities being a visit to the Castle of Ljubljana, and our farewell dinner at a local restaurant featuring a dinner show with traditional dancers.
In the middle, we wandered some more in the old part of town, and enjoyed walking through the pedestrian-only streets (although we did have to dodge maniacal bicyclists). Ljubljana is a town of many bridges, the most famous of which are the three part bridge and the dragon bridge. However, there is also a more modern bridge which lies between those two where lovers attach locks signifying their everlasting love. The rain let off just enough for us to get some slightly less bleary photos.
Our final dinner was a blast! One of our tour companions, Margaret, gamely entered into a dancing game much like musical chairs which involved dancing and switching hats with you dancing partners until the music stopped. The person left without a hat had to sit down. Margaret was a fierce competitor, and outlasted almost everyone!
This morning, we waved goodbye to our tour companions, and prepared to enjoy the last day in Ljubljana. We started with a walk in the Tivoli gardens close to our hotel, and enjoyed the sight of the trees changing colors (as well as the cooler, crisp weather)! Slovenians seem to be very into exercise, and there were tons of dogs enjoying the park, as well.
Then it was off to do a little souvenir shopping. Kathy had spotted a store which specialized in locally grown products, so she stocked up on some of the toasted pumpkin seed oil which is a local specialty. Then we walked back to the local farmer’s market so Mark could marvel at the local produce (and visit the fish market, which Kathy and I declined to experience).
We also visited the Dragon bridge to pay homage to the city’s mascots.
However, as we walked through the square outside St. Nicholas church, there was a huge street fair set up with most of the local restaurants showcasing their foods. Apparently, this is a fairly regular event called Odprta Kuhna (“open kitchen”), because the square was full of locals from their offices and students all having an alfresco lunch.
The choices were mind-boggling!!!! Mark and I settled on splitting some baby lamb chops grilled Argentinian asado style, while Kathy found some killer ribs, and Jim tried the Thai restaurant’s yummy pad thai. Many local bars also had booths, and many of the restaurants were also selling wine, so we joined the locals and had a super lunch sitting on the steps of the square.
We spent the afternoon doing a little more shopping, and then packing (and weighing) our suitcases. For me, it was “wash, rinse, repeat” several times!
Our final evening in Ljubljana, we went to a terrific restaurant called Gostilna As. If we had discovered this gem earlier, we probably would have dined here more than once. Well, this concludes our trip to the Balkans. Stay tuned for future adventures of the gringos! Thanks for reading along with us!