Each month I request time off so that I can take a trip somewhere I’ve never been. I’m usually able to take smaller trips within my weeks depending on how many days off I get for a weekend (sometimes three!) but I make sure to request time for a guaranteed trip. For June I didn’t have any specific dates I wanted, so when I requested time off I wrote: “any six days.”
I was given six days at the end of June, and I didn’t decide where I was going to go until a few days prior. I couldn’t commit to anywhere in particular, and had no motivation to book anything. As I mentioned in my previous post, solo travel isn’t lighting my fire like it usually does, so I was somewhat indifferent about taking a trip.
I wasn’t going to waste the time off, so I needed to plan something.
I had heard about Ljubljana back in March, but it wasn’t high on my radar until the summer started. I thought about visiting it on a three day weekend, but that would require an overnight bus to maximize time, and I’m not a fan of those when solo. When I didn’t have anywhere in mind that I was headstrong on visiting for July I decided to go to Ljubljana, and oh.my.goodness I am so glad that I did.
Ljubljana, the capital city in Slovenia, is a gem of a city. It’s rated as one of the top places to retire and I can see why. The city is adorably quaint, clean, lively, and full of history and culture. I didn’t want to stress at all on this trip, so I took an early morning bus arriving on day one around 330pm, and I had plans to stay in Ljubljana for three nights
Upon arrival I stopped by my hostel to drop off my things before soaking up the rest of the daylight.
I stayed here, and cannot recommend it enough. This hostel is a high school dorm during the school year, and is only open for travelers a few months out of the year. I stayed in a three person dorm, with a spacious room. The breakfast was free and just the right balance, also the location was perfect.
When I entered my room, I met one of my two hostelmates for the next two days. An adorably friendly girl from Chile. She had just finished her studies in Milan and was traveling for a bit before heading back to Chile. We made small talk for a bit, and she asked me to get a drink in town later on in the evening. I told her I would love to have a tea with her, and then we parted ways to explore a bit on our own.
I arrived in Slovenia with no real plan other than to see Lake Bled, and visit the Postojna Caves (more on those in the next couple posts.) Any city adventures, I was planning as I went. The weekend I visited Slovenia the temps were in the 90’s everyday, and I was sweating for my life. I took more cold showers than I can count on two hands.
My first day in the city I walked up to the castle where I was sadly underwhelmed. They were doing construction, and had a live band playing which made it feel very modern. The entire area felt unoriginal and it was definitely one of the least exciting castles I’ve been to. Even the view was mediocre.
All in all, I’m glad I saw it. After I lost half my body weight in sweat walking up the hill to the castle, I stopped for a bite to eat. My food was very fresh, and it was delicious, but I know better than to eat nightshades. I was a bloated mess the rest of the evening. I spent the remainder of the daylight walking around to digest as much as possible.
There is a river canal that runs through the middle of the city, and it had a slight Venice feel to it. The city is fairly small, and was easily walked in its entirety in just a handful of hours. I discovered a lot of honey shops, chocolate shops, and gelato. I didn’t partake in any, because I’ve been really strict about my food the last month. It makes a huge difference in my mood, and I wanted to fully enjoy my trip.
After I wandered most of the city I headed back to my hostel to meet with my Chilean hostelmate, Coti. Coti and I went back into town for a drink, she had an IPA and I had a peppermint tea. My mood and anxiety levels are 100% managed by my diet, and I am so thankful that I have been so strict the last little while, because had I not been I wouldn’t have gone to have a drink with Coti.
I didn’t have debilitating fatigue on this trip, again thanks to not eating any foods that cause my body to flare up. Sometimes it’s hard to turn down the local cuisine, but I’m choosing mental clarity more and more as I stay here in Europe. My evening with Coti was great. We bonded over our love of travel, our environmental awareness, our passion for quality food, and how food is medicine.
Coti had traveled to Ljubljana from Munich, where her sister currently lives. She had also booked her trip last minute after searching for places that were close to Munich.
She showed genuine interest in my autoimmune struggles, my food struggles, and talking to her was smooth like butter on warm bread. She shared with me her plans to visit the beach the next day and invited me along, but I told her my heart was set on visiting Lake Bled. I extended the invite to her, and she accepted. We chatted with ease for a few hours before heading back to the hostel around 1030p.
Our three person room was still empty when we returned, and just as we thought it was going to be the two of us alone in the room, our third roommate walked in. She was exhausted after a long day of travel, but we introduced ourselves and discovered her name was Cornelia and she was from Sweden.
Cornelia was at the end of two months of travel, and stumbled upon Ljubljana last minute just like Coti and I had. Within 5 minutes we invited her to the lake, and she agreed with slight hesitation. I had been in Ljubljana for seven hours and already had plans with two strangers for a full day at the lake. This is a big deal for an introvert.
What followed the next two days was pure, unfiltered, friendship that was as random as a game of roulette. All three of us were a bit unsure about how our solo trip to Slovenia would go, and all three of us were not planning on spending the entire trip with other people, but the cards we were dealt for our hostel room placement was comparable to a full house.
We all planned for three nights in Slovenia, and were hostel mates the entire time.
It makes me sad to think that I can count on one hand the genuine soul connections I’ve felt in the last five years. I put up a HUGE wall after a painful breakup (which was forever ago, but unprocessed emotions and walls lead to extended healing times) and I haven’t been able to knock them down.
My previous trip to Switzerland with my amazing roommate was the catalyst to the connection in my brain. The need for relationships, even if just for a short weekend, are so strong in me right now and I’m trying my damndest not to fight it. I have always put on a strong front like I don’t need others, but we all need others and pretending we don’t just wages an internal war that we are bound to loose.
I opened up to two strangers and it felt as natural as unprocessed peanut butter. Slowly but surely I feel like God is putting people in my life to show me that it’s possible to find like minded individuals that I want to be around. The problem has continued to be that I don’t want to spend my time with most people, and it’s rare for me to find others I genuinely want to spend time with.
Slovenia was an absolute dream, for not only the cities I visited, but for the overall experience I had with two amazing girls I hope to see again someday. My next post will be about our trip to Lake Bled, one of the main places I wanted to visit while in Slovenia!
Q: Do you enjoy meeting people while traveling, or would you rather keep to yourself?