Ljubljana: What a gentle urban center! Set around a flowing river, it is probably one of the most beautiful capital cites in the world, a university town with the old center still intact. The square honoring its favorite poet, bridges and buildings all displaying the artistic work of its native architect, Josip Plecnik, a National Library and University, and a city hall clock tower and pedestrian only main street lined with wonderful restaurants. This is not a tourist pull as much as a foodie attraction. Jack and I went out for a walk our first evening in the city to find a restaurant and discovered a new place just opened last month, Jadro, that was so good we returned two nights later and chose it over the several Michelin starred places nearby.
The young people who live here are similar to those in cities in the U.S., progressive in thought, but they seem more ecologically oriented understanding the necessity of public transportation. They despair about the rising cost of housing like their U.S. counterparts. What is striking to me is the number and quality of vegan restaurants and offerings; some very inexpensive for the university population and some more high end. Vegan is seen as usual and every place understands a request for such food. Having said that, the traditional food is very meat heavy — we went on a food walk which included cabbage and potato soup which Melanie and I could also enjoy plus sausages for the meat eaters. There was a stop for fried smelts and potatoes at another shop as well as a wonderful staple food, barley and beans stew. And the glory of the town, home made vegan ice cream. I had the chocolate and pistachio while Jack had Blackberry ginger. But, very said to say, I decided that the chocolate and sugar may be contributing to my severe sleep issues and I had to swear off further indulgence.
Our wonderful guide Borut, took us on a boat trip along the river. The weather was perfect and we watched people sunbathing and enjoying the sunshine along the shore. We were told Ljubljana is a very clean city and it is — but that does not exclude excessive graffiti along walls. It appears to be a universal statement of — something.
Slovenia is a very homogenous culture, Roman Catholic with some Orthodox Catholics as well from incoming Serbians, all white, very few non Balkan immigrants. We were told most younger people often live together without getting married, even with children. The divorce rate is about 30%. There are some financial advantages for being unwed here with children, given the social support system, and their religion, like in many places, is traditional and cultural more than a spiritual commitment.
Our high-end hotel is in the middle of the student district so that there are falafel and burger places as well as numerous gathering clusters of students, as everywhere.
More tomorrow after some sleep.