December 17, 2010 – So it has already been two years ago when I was in this trip that I’m going to describe. Time did fly so fast, so really fast that the past 2 years seems so short that I still remember vivid my beautiful times spent in Slovenia.
Taking the trains from Padua to visit this country, we had only 2 cities in mind, Bled and its capital city Ljubljana. After more than half a day of travelling, my travelling buddy, Shangru, and I were finally in Bled. It was my first touch of snow and really cold weather, and it all made things super exciting. It was getting dark and I couldn’t see much of the city at all, but I was still very excited.
With the guys that gave us a lift
Dropped off at our hostel by a couple of gentlemen (one of them wrote a book about some politics, whose title I don’t quite remember. He did encourage us to read the book when it’s out), we were at a hostel where we thought we booked our room. It turned out to be a different hostel, when we went in. Fortunately, though, the one that we were looking for was just within our walking distance. We just need to walk a bit of the hill, about 50mm away, and there we went, at a hostel whose owner couldn’t be found; it seemed like the owner was on holiday. We went in a pub nearby, asking if someone could help us check with the owner of that hostel. He couldn’t quite help us with that, but he had spare places in his own hostel to give us. Despite some hesitation, we decided to stay and take those 2 beds available.
Our places for the night
Having left our stuff in the room, we went out for dinner. We were walking for a while, trying to decide where we could buy for dinner. I remember going into one pizzeria but then deciding to walk out; I can’t quite remember the reason why though. Maybe the menu wasn’t very good or it was just expensive. So we walked on for a short while and found another restaurant. We checked it out and decided to settle with one big meal for the 2 of us. It cost us around 25 euros for a big plate of meat and potato, which we couldn’t even finish. It was a big reward for ourselves after such long hours of travelling. I gotta say it was good but it wasn’t very special, in a sense, I mean, the food. It was basically, fried meat with french fries. I still loved the meal though; after all, it was in a decent restaurant, like a real tourist. lol
The one where we had our first dinner in Slovenia
That’s how much we had for dinner 😀
After that big dinner, we went back to our hostel for a while, and then we went out for a stroll around that amazing lake in Bled. The whole city seemed to be sleeping. Since the time we arrived, we hardly saw any movement at all. It all just seems so quiet and mysterious, just like in one of those movies where the actors reached a quiet, somehow haunting city where no-one seemed to be around. Yeah, trying to picture it all, it felt just like that. However, I guess the excitement and everything just chase all these spookiness away. I was just having fun, touching snow and feeling the freezing weather.
We went off the road onto the park by the lake covered in snow. From then we took off on our errand around the lake. It wasn’t just some 20 to 30 mn stroll; the lake was actually pretty big and it did took a pretty long and tiring walk to arrive back to finish the circle and arrive back at where we started. It was kinda bold walking in the semi-dark air, and during the entire walk I only remember encountering a few passing by.
Looking back, how amazing it all was. The snow, the walk, the ice, the light, the trees, the duck and goose swimming around the lake, the quiet atmosphere where everyone seemed to be hibernating inside their home celebrating this near-Christmas time with their family! How beautiful! How nostalgic!
With a bottle of champagne grabbed from Auchan, I went for a small house party with my Erasmus friends from France and Turkey. The party wasn’t that noisy and eventful, with only some 8 or 9 people drinking, having some homemade snack, and chit-chatting. The evening went quite slow until we went to the next place for some more partying, in Le Queen, one of the nightclubs in Padova. From my friends’ residence to the club, we walked and then stayed there dancing for a few hours, from around 2 am to 4.30 am. It was awesome.
5:00 AM, December 17, 2009
I was back at my residence, immediately starting to pack for very first trip out of Italy since my arrival in Europe. I went through all my clothes, collected all the dirty ones for laundry, and folded all that was needed into my suitcase. It was a total mess, and it took me hours to finish it all. At about 9:30, I was ready to drag the suitcase and walked out of my residence to the central train station.
10:30 AM: From Padova to Gorizia
With my travelling buddy Shangru, I, after an extremely eventful night and without any minutes of sleep, met and took the train up north from Padova to Gorizia, the city that Italy shares with Slovenia; our destination for the night and the next day was a very beautiful city of Slovenia, called Bled.
I was sleepy and I tried to get as much as nap I could on the train, although I didn’t manage to very much, but the travelling was quite beautiful. Looking out at the scenery through the train window, the views of the countryside with trees turning grey from the cold winter, and with the farmland and the hills, were quite amazing. Despite the sleepless night, it all was a rather exciting moment, anticipating quite an adventure ahead in this trip.
After about 3 hours, costing us about 10 euro in the regional train, we were at Gorizia, rather unsure what to do and where to go next so as to reach Bled in the end; I depended it all on Shangru, to be honest. However, with our little Italian, we kept asking people and the responses were just all that we needed.
From 2:30 PM: From Gorizia (Italy) to Nova Gorica (Slovenia)
It wasn’t difficult at all to get from this part of Italy to Slovenia; in fact, Gorizia and Nova Gorica are basically the same city, one side of which belongs to Italy and another to Slovenia. Opposite the train station, on the other side of the road, there’s a bus stop where the bus runs every 15 mn to another train station on the Slovene part; the one-way ride costs only 1 euro and takes around 10 mn.
It all was really interesting. It was like a moment ago we were in Italy, and now, only a few minutes later we ended up in a very different place. For a while, I almost forgot I was not in Italy anymore. Then, it was like “Bam! I’m in Slovenia. Yoohoo!!” It was all different; it’s all no longer Italian. The people looked different and seemed to behave quite differently from normal Italians, and more people could speak English.Then we were dropped off at that other train station, which looked like a normal building, not like any other train station we ever went to; we didn’t even recognize it was the train station, as all was written in Slovene. Although uncertain, we went in, asked someone, and went through to the other side of the building where it felt more like a train station, with a few old trains in our sight and the railway.
In the cold, we were waiting for the train to Bled, not very sure, still, that we were in the right place and that the train to Bled was coming. We kept waiting anyway.
3:30 PM: From Nova Gorica to Bled
Half an hour later, the train was there and we went up. We didn’t have to buy any ticket in advance; we could just pay and get the ticket inside the train, which is actually one of the nice things about going by trains in Slovenia as we don’t have to buy tickets in advance and risk being punished if forgetting to validate our tickets before getting on the train like in Italy. 🙂
The trip was beautiful; for one thing, it was really cosy sitting in quite an empty train in some comfortable seats. Plus, the views along the way were just wonderful; they did take my breath away. There were some small villages, with forest and little hills lying beside unusually blue, clear streams and lakes. Further into Slovenia, I got glimpses of pieces of land covered with such a white carpet of snow; it was the snow I got to see first-hand other than a few flakes of snow that was falling down while I was packing early that morning. It was truly an exciting and memorable experience.
As two different guys, with different skin color, smaller eyes and flatter face, from time to time I felt being looked at, but glancing at people around us none seemed to care. People on the train were just acting normal; although we would never know what they were talking about in Slovene. However, just before the train arrived in Bled, we finally got to have some friendly conversation with the local. He was a writer, spoke perfect English, and turned out to be one of the nicest guys we met during the trip. After a while of talking, at the end of his trip, in Bled, he offered us a ride.
5:10 PM: Bled
At around 5 PM, we were in Bled. As it was December, it was already pretty dark and we didn’t get to really notice and enjoy the look at the city other than the snow below our feet. Then with the kind offer of free ride to our hostel by the guys we met on the train, we accepted it and were taken in his friend’s car and were dropped at the hostel where we were going to spend the night. Had we not met these gentlemen, it would have been a horrible and freezing evening of heavy walking and trying to find the way in this rather-quiet city.
I felt so lucky and this Slovene trip started out fantastic, with an especially good impression of the people. I was happy.