Yes, that’s the name of the next destination. The capital city of Slovenia. What comes to mind when you hear Slovenia? Let me guess – beautiful women, no? Slovenian girls are famous for being frontrunners of Miss Universe. Donald Trump married a Slovenian, so that says a lot. And also, beautiful sceneries. Before going there, I’ve seen many pics of the country. Each of them as perfect as a cover of 80s photo album. Left me wondering if Slovenian men are equally gorgeous as their women and the landscape ;-)
We woke up early to catch a morning train, leaving Croatia (non-EU) and entering Slovenia (EU). We booked first class seats, but apparently we were the only passengers in there, so the conductor told us to move to second class instead. Maybe he didn’t want to waste energy powering up the entire coach just for us. Anyhow, the second class was nice, not much different from the first class. The conductor gave us a nice private cabin and we had it all to ourselves. We could flatten the seats and get a good shut eye during the 2-hour ride.
Shortly after the train started moving, Croatian immigration officers came into the cabin to stamp our passports. I was quite surprised as we barely left Zagreb, still a long way before reaching the border. About an hour later, we crossed into Slovenia and the train stopped at Dobova for passport control. Slovenian immigration officers stepped onboard and once again, we went through a long security check.
First they asked us common questions (i.e. Where are you from? Where are you heading? How long in EU?). Then they asked us to show our return flight tickets. Since we still had many days before going home, I kept the tickets in my huge luggage. It was quite a hassle bring down the bag from the overhead rack to get the tickets, yet I had to do it anyway. Then they asked to check all our bags. So we had to get everything off the rack and open them up. The cabin immediately went cramped with us, our suitcases and a group of immigration officers insisting to flip and turn the stuffs in the bags, looking for suspicious items. One of the officers was alerted by a container in my bag filled with small yet heavy items. “What’s this?” he asked. I truthfully answered, “Fridge magnets!”
Then they asked how much money we brought and told us to show them. Standard procedure, they didn’t want immigrants to enter EU with no money to go home and became burdens to their economy. I did have enough cash to survive the remaining of the trip, so that wasn’t a problem.
The visual verification of our passports took quite a while. The officer stared at me, looked at my passport photo, stared again, looked at the passport again, for several times. FYI my passport pic was taken several years ago when I was a lot chubbier. Add that to the fact that passport pics always make people look fat, therefore I looked even fatter in it. All I could do was to smile, so the officer would be convinced that it was indeed me in the red book. Because no matter how much my weight change, my smile stayed the same :-D
After being raided by 6 immigration officers for almost half an hour, we finally got our passport stamped. Woohoo! The officers alighted and the train continued its journey for another hour. Throughout the ride, I feasted my eyes on the scenery of Slovenian countryside, which was really beautiful.
|The railway track ran by lakes and rivers…|
|…giving us a fantastic view of the scenery outside.|
An hour later we reached Ljubljana. It was raining for a bit. Rain + Europe + December = Cold! Our hostel was about 1km from the train station. We braved the weather and walked there. As expected, it was too early to check-in, so we left our bags at the luggage room and head out to the city.
|EU flag. Slovenian flag. Ljubljana flag.|
|Cobblestone walkways. Ljubljana Castle standing tall on the top of the hill.|
|Triple Bridge and the cute pink Franciscan Church.|
|Just look at the city, so clean and pretty!|
By the way, as we were walking around the city, we could hear soothing music playing in the background. I wondered where it came from. Then I looked up and saw audio speakers strategically “hidden” on the buildings – at the corners, near the roof etc. How intelligent! Strolling in the beautiful city, with sweet music in my ears, felt like I was in a fairytale land. By the way, the city council provided free WiFi all over town, so we could snap and upload as we walked. So cool!
|We then took a cruise to check out the view from the river, which was just as amazing. That’s the Dragon Bridge ahead.|
|It was said that the former Ketua Menteri Melaka took the inspiration from here when he set up Melaka River Cruise and riverside walkways and cafés.|
|We then headed up to Ljubljana Castle.|
|Aerial view of the castle complex and the city downhill.|
|By the time we finished touring the castle, it was already dark.|
|But it was fine coz Ljubljana looked just as pretty at night!|