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A Black and White Dawn in Ljubljana, Slovenia

Sometimes the most delightful adventures are the ones you don’t plan on. The ones you dream up at the last minute.

Late one spring night in a Slovenian hostel, four girlfriends and I were crammed into a teensy room under the eaves, wondering how on earth we were going to sleep in such sweltering heat.

It was midway through our ten-day road trip through the Balkans with our friend Ben and my brother Ryan, and although we were loving every minute of it, we were exhausted, longing for soft beds, cool sheets, and a good, long sleep-in. Alas, the next day we had to drive through Bosnia on our way down to Croatia, so an early start was inevitable.

In spite of our fatigue we really, really wanted to see Ljubljana, a medieval city and the capital of Slovenia, before we left. Our late arrival had given us only a fleeting glimpse of the night-shrouded city, and we knew we’d kick ourselves if we drove all that way only to see the doors of our hostel and nothing else.

So with moans and groans of protest, we grudgingly agreed to rise at 4 in the morning to explore Ljubljana before hitting the road.

We were so glad we did.

The moon was still visible, glowing brightly above the turrets and towers of Old Town Ljubljana, making us feel as though we’d stumbled into a medieval fairy tale as we ambled through the empty streets.

We crossed the beautiful and imposing Dragon Bridge (Zmajski most) which spans the Ljubljanica River and features 20 different dragons.

Originally named The Jubilee Bridge of the Emperor Franz Josef I, the bridge received its current name in 1919.

TheΒ Ljubljana Dragon is the symbol of the city and signifies power, courage, and greatness.

There is a fascinating juxtaposition of medieval and modern in Ljubljana, an often startling mingling of jaunty street art and sobering war memorials, classical buildings and contemporary shops.

I like it.

I found myself catching my breath in amazement wherever I looked. Aged statues stark against the lightening sky, lacy architectural details, staid European row houses, the emerging of locals doing what people everywhere do in the early morning hours: buy coffee, pick up the newspaper, take the dog out for a piddle.

The sun had nearly risen when we forced ourselves to leave beautiful Old Town Ljubljana and clamber aboard our van for the next leg of our Balkan adventure.

Our experience of Ljubljana was the merest taste of what it has to offer, and I hope one day I will get to return for a more leisurely exploration of the history, food and culture of this Slovenian city.

It is definitely worth getting up early for.

What city would you be willing to get up at 4 a.m. to explore?

PS – Thank you to all of you who participated in my Aussie Giveaway last week. The winner is Ruth Sutherland. Please send me your mailing address, Ruth, and I’ll be sure to get your parcel out post haste. πŸ™‚

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Krista - I spent a little time in Croatia too, Velva, and absolutely loved it. πŸ™‚ Slovenia is stunning too – just in a different way. πŸ™‚

Krista - Thank you so much, dear Joanne! πŸ™‚ It was so much fun and worth every bit of dopey-ness that followed. πŸ™‚

Krista - I thought so too, dear Linda. πŸ™‚ It captured what I felt on that walk. πŸ™‚

Velva-Tomatoes on the Vine - The world is an amazing place! I spent a couple weeks in Croatia and it was stunning. I can imagine Slovenia.
What place would I get up at 4am to see? probably a beautiful place I had not seen before-

LindyLou Mac - Very atmospheric in black and white.

Joanne (eats well with others) - What a fun road trip! I love that you did this with your girlfriends…and I’m so glad you got up so early to explore! These photos are gorgeous.

Krista - Oh wow!!! That is so fantastic, @SevenGreySweaters:disqus πŸ™‚ I had no idea you’d been there or were able to get EU citizenship. That is absolutely fabulous! πŸ™‚

Krista - Thank you, @google-37854c7777b9b21d0ae36d3aa8184779:disqus !! πŸ™‚ One day we will go adventuring here. πŸ™‚

Krista - Isn’t the moon amazing, Andi?! I just loved it. πŸ™‚

Krista - I know what you mean, Ayngelina. πŸ™‚ It surprised me constantly. πŸ™‚

Amy @ Seven Grey Sweaters - Oh, I am SO glad you got to explore Ljubljana, even thought it meant getting up early. I haven’t been to as many places in Europe as you have, but Ljubljana is at the top of my list of European cities I’d like to live in (along with Lisbon). I am working on getting us dual EU citizenship, so maybe some day we can actually do it. πŸ™‚

Marie Sutherland - Awesome black and whites!!!

Andi Perullo, L.Ac. - WOW sooooooo beautiful! Love the moon!!!

Ayngelina - I am always surprised by photos of Slovenia, it’s such a beautiful country.

Krista - I can only imagine how bad it is in the Summer, Andrea. We nearly croaked in SPRING! πŸ™‚

Andrea and John - Oh yeah, the heat there can be brutal – such a beautiful city though!

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