No sooner had we moved into our new flat and unpacked a few belongings, than we were off on another adventure for Easter 2009! We were only too conscious of the fact that this was likely to be our last year in Europe, and we didn’t want to waste one precious moment.
We flew into Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, on Good Friday. Descending on a devoutly catholic country in the midst of one of the most important religious holidays was madness; there were people everywhere, and every church was packed full of worshippers and confessors. For this reason, we steered clear of most religious buildings, which is a shame as some of them looked amazing from the outside and would have been even more so inside, we’re sure.
Zagreb is a really cool mix of old and new, with a vibrant, hip population mixed with a great sense of tradition. We wandered the old town, came across a little church set in an archway in the road, visited a bustling inner-city farmers’ market, picnicked in a beautiful park and sat drinking Ozujsko, the local beer, in a cafe on the busy main square.
On Easter Sunday, we caught the train to Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. At the train station, Tall took charge of buying our tickets. I stood back, suppressing giggles for a while, as he asked for tickets to “Libbyjubeyjanjar”…the poor teller looked so confused, so I had to jump in and gently say, “Um, he means “Loobleeaahna”!
The train ride was gorgeous – rolling green hills and wide, emerald rivers, churches perched precariously on the top of hills, a distinct shift from Mediterranean-style farms to Alps-style a-frames.
Ljubljana was very cute, with the winding river dividing the city in two. We climbed up to Ljubljana Castle, wandered through the antiques market, and drank copious amounts of delicious espresso.
At one sidewalk cafe, the waiter asked whether we wanted our espressos “normal” or “Italiano”. I (wisely) chose normal; Tall chose Italiano. The waiter raised an eyebrow and gave my husband a surprised but slightly impressed look, as did I – he’d always chosen the milky coffees up to that point. After the waiter had gone, I leaned across the table and said, “Are you sure about drinking an Italiano??”, and Tall replied, “Yep, I like to try different coffees.” I started to explain what an Italiano was, but we got distracted by a tiny dog wearing bootees being walked by his very individual owner, and then our coffees arrived. As I’d been about to explain, Tall’s Italiano was essentially coffee sludge. Strong, coffee sludge. Needless to say….he spent the next few hours bouncing off the walls in an excess of caffeinated energy!
We crossed the dragon bridge from the new to the old part of town, and strolled the cobbled streets looking for ice cream. Unfortunately we made a big error of judgement on our last day, and missed out on going to Lake Bled, which made us both very grumpy….especially when we had to wait for over an hour for the bus to the airport!
I think we were also both a bit over travelling, truth be told, but neither of us wanted to be the one to admit it! However, we did have a great time, and loved both cities, so it was worth the feelings of exhaustion upon returning home.