I had to look it up on Google before I sat down to write this piece, and even then, I had to hope that when I typed ‘Slovenia’, Ljubljana would come along in the same reference. I had spent some time trying to learn Russian once, so I could make an attempt – an admittedly poor one – to pronounce this capital city. I have never ever been able to say it with ease. If I gulp in the middle, it helps. Regardless the difficulty I have pronouncing the name, enjoying the city is no trouble at all.
With some luck, we visited on a Saturday market day, when it seems the entire population of Llubljana is out in the central square, buying produce, riding bikes, eating at food stalls and restaurants. There was so much outdoor cooking when we visited that smoke from barbecue swirled around, making me hungry at 9 in the morning for beef I haven’t eaten in years.
Someone has taken very good care of the historic center of town. The entire look is prosperous medieval. Stone walls, stone streets, stone buildings. Clean and curving, the streets are for pedestrians and the citizens take advantage of that and stroll, seemingly all day long. We did, too, taking in the very dirty but much-loved Ljubljanica River that wanders through downtown; the clock tower that swings open and sings every hour; and the multi-generational family groups taking their meals with animated conversation. Citizens seemed to notice us as outsiders but went about their way, busy buying from the fresh produce stands outdoors and the modern shops inside the ancient buildings.
This is a place that says ‘home.’ As pleasant as it was to wander around this city for a day, I thought about how lucky people were to live here, in a place that has a history much, much longer than my memory. I may be old enough to remember Yugoslavia, but I should also have known about Llubljana, Slovenia. It’s people certainly never forgot their place in this world, and they’d never have a problem pronouncing Llubljana.
Happy New Year to everyone in the world.
Next up: Constanta, Romania