Monday, June 22, 2015

Two Tours and a Castle in Ljubljana, Slovenia

We planned on spending a full day in Ljubljana so we were forced to use another taxi. I got a little bit more annoyed everytime I had to use one of them. They are so shady. The hotel desk would tell us it would cost 6 euro and of course it always cost more, and random amounts more. Hopefully Uber and Lyft will destroy taxis soon.

Well on the bright side our first stop was to meet for a free tour of the city. Can’t beat that.

One of the first stories that our guide Tina told us was about this statue depicting a poet and his muse. Well the muse is mostly naked and parishioners from the church across the street complained. Oh, the scandal! They tried in vain to have the lady taken down. They eventually settled on planting some trees between the statue and the church, thus solving a really important problem.

Tina directed our attention to this fancy looking old department store. It has a statue of Mercury on top, who is the god of commerce. He has his arm outstretched and apparently was at one time holding a bag of coins. It turns out that Mercury is also the god of thieves.

This is a bit of a tangent but according to Wikipedia...

The god Mercury is often depicted holding this staff, called a caduceus. I think the two snakes are supposed to symbolize trade or negotiation, pursuits that require a give-and-take.

This is often mistakenly used in the US to denote medicine like in this U.S. Army Medical Corps Branch Plaque.

What they really mean to use is the Rod of Asclepius, which sports only one snake and no wings. Asclepius is the god of medicine. The end.

Tina asked for questions for the first time and a guy asked “who’s that guy on the top of the church?” It was Mary holding baby Jesus. Embarrassing.

We stopped at the market and our guide bought two little baggies of sauerkraut for us to try, one cabbage and the other radish. It was so good, definitely the best I’ve ever had.

Blocks and blocks of the city were closed to traffic so it was a pretty peaceful stroll with plenty of bicycles whizzing about. I saw these little electric cars on several occasions. Apparently it’s a free public service to help people who’ve bought heavy stuff or who need help getting around. I thought that was pretty nice.

Speaking of which maybe it’s like this in big cities in the US as well but I feel like the strong public transportation system must have some sort of democratizing effect on society. People of all classes and ages were mixed in a way I just don’t see in St. Louis. I feel like that has to be a good thing.

As Tina spoke she kept saying what I thought was "Asian Greeks" and "Asian temples". Finally I deciphered her accent; She was saying "ancient Greeks". Suddenly Slovenian history made much more sense.

It's apparently a thing in European cities for lovers to lock locks onto bridges to symbolize how only bolt cutters or a blowtorch can stop true love. Something like that.

I appreciated this little cheat sheet that our guide passed around.

We strayed from the tour group briefly when I spotted a book sale. Everyday I'm hustlin'.

Ljubljana lore is that the city was founded by Argonauts after they recovered the Golden Fleece. During their return trip they killed a monster who lived near present day Ljubljana.

Our guide told us that back in the day bakers who did a poor job would be put in a cage and dunked in the river. It seemed to be more of an embarrassment thing than a torture thing.

I've been trying to insert the word "philharmonicorum" into more conversations but it's been slow going.

A really cool looking library. I think that libraries are sort of secular churches.

The inside was epic.

This was the entrance to some art museum. More interesting were the two men speckling tiny dots of glow in the dark paint on lots and lots of pavement stones.

I thought this building was pretty cool. The Kri┼żanke Outdoor Theatre was originally built as a monastery of the Order of Teutonic Knights. Apparently different orders of knights built monasteries all over the place to serve as resting points for crusaders on their way to and from the... crusades. Very cool. The building has now been converted for use as an outdoor summer theatre.

One fun point of downtown Ljubljana is that Ljubljana Castle is always visible up on its hill.

After the tour we went back to the market where we tried the sauerkraut. They had a line of interesting food truck things. We picked the fish guy.

We checked out the fruit stands as well. Lydia wanted raspberries but that's way too normal for me.

I believe these were red currants. They were really good. Lydia didn't like them because they had a bit of tartness going on.

Ljubljana's cool system of street blocker things let people in who have the code, but normals have to walk.

Well of course we had to go to the castle. Didn't really have a choice.

There was some sort of puppetry theatre nearby so the castle had several creepy legless drummers keeping a beat.

They had a penny squishing machine! Finally after 11 countries I found one.

Yes I realize I am a dork and I'm not super proud of having the same hobby I did when I was in fourth grade, but on the upside I've got a pretty righteous squished coin collection so... that evens out?

We bought tickets for something called a "time machine tour" where you walk to different parts of the castle and there are actors there to tell you the story. The place started off in Roman times as an outpost to keep an eye on barbarians. This building was a well house.

The well was super deep and so was powered by this big hamster wheel that prisoners were forced to run around in. I guess the "well" wasn't exactly one because since the castle was on a high hill they couldn't dig deep enough to reach the water table. The wells therefore had to collect rainwater somehow. The castle had one fake well that was really an escape tunnel.

This is a hole for a cannon to go through with a sight at the top.

Napoleon briefly held the castle.

After its usefulness as a castle had passed the building was used as a prison. This is a list of many past guests.

Our time machine tickets also got us entry into a torture device museum which was pretty cool.

Our final act of the day was a food tour. This was probably the most interesting thing we ate: pumpkin seed oil whipped into a kind of butter.

I thought this random, disembodied refrigerator door was a cool way for this tourit store to display its magnet offerings.

We were scoping out this funky looking store and our guide went on and on about how cool of a chocolate shop it was. So we ditched the group briefly and went in and got some.

I asked the store lady if she would take a picture with me. She asked "is your girlfriend jealous?" and I said "no", so she like bear hugged me from behind the counter. Fun times at the candy store.

We got some gelato. I got this awesome kind they were calling Venetian, it was chocolate with candied orange peels inside. Man it was good. Another interesting aspect of the tour was that it was just us and a group of three really tall Norwegian women who were there scouting locations for a large group that they were going to be showing around Ljubljana. They were very nice.


  1. In Ljubljana, there are lots of castle also some attractive old ages house too. Last year, I traveled to Ljubljana and saw different and amazing castle there. And only those castle attract me a lot.