Still pouring rain in the morning. We went out anyway to go on the free city tour at 11 a.m. We met our tour guide at the pink church, the Franciscan church of the Annunciation in Preseren Square, across from the Triple Bridge. She was a PhD in Sociology from the University here (as well as a salsa dance instructor – the things you can do with a PhD in Sociology nowadays) and she was very good at explaining the history of the city, past politics, architecture, etc. We have noticed dragons everywhere in the city – statues, flags, the coat of arms, etc – and she explained that Ljubljana has adopted the dragon as the symbol of the city. This stems from the Greek myth of Jason and the Argonauts. At one point in his trek with the Golden Fleece, Jason passed through an area where he had to slay a dragon. The description of the locale is very similar to where Ljubljana now lies, so it is felt that Jason was the first citizen of Ljubljana. The tour was 2.5 hours long, just walking in the old part of the city and, though it rained throughout, was excellent. It also ended with a free tasting of the same types of Slovenian liquors that we had at the hotel, so that was an added bonus.
After the tour, because we were chilled and hungry, we went to a coffee shop (actually a tea shop) for soup and coffee. Prices and service are much better here than in Italy. This is a university town, with over 60,000 students in a city of 265,000 people, and we dramatically up the average age of any place we go into. Tuition is free in Slovenia, even for undergraduate university, so it is a highly educated populace, especially in the city. Almost all people under 50 speak at least some English, which is helpful considering that Slovene is a Slavic language with different vowel and consonant pronunciations than the romance languages that we are familiar with. We are slowly learning a few words though. Na zdravje (cheers) is a popular one with us!
Supper was at Julija, a more expensive and fancy restaurant than last night but with the same quality food. JoAnn and I went back to the hotel afterwards while the others went to find a flamenco bar that Chris had heard about, about a 20-minute walk away. I like live music but that really wasn’t my cup of tea, especially walking there in the rain that had started up again during supper. The group reported that it was a good time though.
We will be back in Ljubljana in a week, after we finish with the cycling. Hopefully the weather will be more cooperative.