Posts Tagged With: ljubljana


This is the name of the bike-share system in Ljubljana. The name is clever because it’s a blurring of the English word “bicycle” and the first two letters in Ljubljana.

I also like it because it kinda looks like the letters of my name squished together :).


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Back to school (again)

I had signed up for a two-week Slovenian language course during my stay in Ljubljana. I had taken these same courses for one month each during the summers of 2000 and 2001 (ahem, when they cost much less!) but had gotten little to no practice speaking since then. There ain’t a lot of Slovenians in Boston ;). So I anticipated two weeks of trying to refresh my memory.

Shockingly, I remembered enough for my placement test and interview to be placed in a higher level class than I would have anticipated. Unfortunately, I spent the first week of classes stuck in Spanish mode, so I spoke in a sad Slov-anish for much of the time, with a few German and Italian terms thrown in for good measure. I found myself answering questions in the affirmative with “Si” or saying things in restaurants like, “Ja, ich moechte ein klobaso, pero no necesito kruha ali senf, thanks. (“Yes, I would like one (German) sausage (Slovenian) but I don’t need (Spanish) bread or (Slovenian) mustard (German), thanks (English)”). My poor brain was so confused.

My teacher, Anja, was very understanding, as were my fellow classmates: Melisa, Jennifer, and Maren from Germany; Julien from France; and Anđela from Serbia. Later in the week, we were joined by Daniela from Germany and Carlos from Italy. We made a good group. Every day, we had a half-hour break, so we would go to one of two nearby cafes for coffee. Although the group typically picked a place with an outdoor terrace, I preferred a smaller cafe, Of Moment, because it is owned by my cousin’s friend Aleksandra. (Talk about word traveling fast: some days I would come home from school and mention to Katja that I had gone for a coffee that morning. She would answer, “I know. I heard.” LOL).



IMG_3797.JPGAleksandra at Of Moment

Anja would include a lot of learning games in our lessons. My LEAST favorite (because my vocab is not the greatest) was a game called Vroče Stol, or Hot Seat, where she would write a term on the dry erase board behind you and your classmates would have to describe the word to you (obviously using only Slovenian). I much preferred the trivia game, similar to Jeopardy! I am generally pretty non-confrontational and not competitive about many things, least of all sports. But challenge me to a round of Jeopardy!, and I will destroy you.

IMG_3785.JPGJulien, ever the romantic, in the Hot Seat (The answer, an inside joke based on one of his responses during class, is “to sleep under the stars and get married”)

IMG_3802.JPG Anja reading a grammar question based on familial relationships on The Fresh Prince of Bel Aire. Guess who answered it?

There were also plenty of planned after-school activities. On the first night, the school took a group tour of the ruins of Emona, the Roman settlement which preceded Ljubljana and is celebrating its 2000- year anniversary this year. During the tour, we stopped at a pub for typical Roman honeyed wine and stuffed dates. And yes, we wore togas.

IMG_3735.JPG I made this guy hold my ice cream while I put on my toga. He was a good sport.



We had a bowling night on Friday evening and went out afterwards.


IMG_3764.JPGMirko, Daniela, Gavril,and I

Our class took an afternoon bus trip to Bled but couldn’t enjoy the scenery much due to a torrential downpour that began just after we arrived. We took this as an opportunity to gorge ourselves on kremšnita and coffee instead.


IMG_3777.JPGCarlos, Mirko, Jennifer, Melisa, and I


IMG_3778.JPGTraditionalists might find berry-flavored kremšnita to be sacrilegious, but I loved it

Finally, we had our graduation ceremony. This was fun because my mother could actually come to see it! Every class put on a skit or presentation of some kind. Our group was down to 50% due to early classmate departures, but we made it work. We each received a diploma, and then it was time to celebrate.






IMG_3829.JPGMirko, Daniela, Eduardo, and I

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Family and friends in Ljubljana

On my way to Ljubljana from Spittal, I made one of those major train errors which have always seemed to happen to other people, but not to me. In my excitement to board the train that would take me to see my family, I failed to realize that not all cars on this train were headed to Ljubljana. Only after I had settled comfortably in my compartment, window seat overlooking the green Drava river to my right, did I notice the paper which read: SPITTAL-VILLACH-KLAGENFURT-WIEN. Uhh, wait a minute. I was traveling southeast to reach Ljubljana, but Klagenfurt is almost directly north of Ljubljana, and Vienna is way northeast of Klagenfurt. Shoot. I walked my way back down several cars (leaving my heavy backpack behind), climbing over luggage left in the aisles, until I reached a car with LJUBLJANA printed on its timetable. It was quite a ways back. Great. I would just need to return to the front car, grab my backpack, then find a new seat in this car.

Except everyone was now leaving their seats and compartments and clogging to aisles to disembark in Villach, which was quickly approaching. I clambered past, trying to make it back to my original car. I did not want to be stuck in a different part of the train when the cars separated and went in their respective directions from the train station! Luckily, I reached my car in time, grabbed my backpack, jumped off the train and ran to the Slovenia-bound car in time to get a seat before the detached trains started moving. Travel is a humbling experience.

I was excited to see my mother’s cousin Majda and her daughter Katja waiting for me at the train station in Ljubljana. (Katja joked to me that they just had to look for the tallest person getting off the train in order to find me!) It was amazing to see the sheer number of backpackers getting off the train. I have not been to Slovenia in six years, and the majority of the time that I have spent here was in 2000-2001, before Slovenia adopted the Euro and before it became a major tourist destination. I braced myself to see some huge changes when I went into the city.

Back at the house, my mother’s cousin Anka and Majda’s husband, Rudi, welcomed me back and got me settled into my usual sleeping quarters: Katja’s old bedroom just off the landing of the staircase. The tiny room has tall wooden cabinets, paintings covering the walls, and a huge bookshelf built into the wall over the twin bed. This is where I have stayed every time I have come to visit, and it feels like home. I was so happy to be back.

The night before school started, I went into the center (of Ljubljana) with my “cousins” Katja and Suzi. We parked in the underground parking lot beneath Zvezda Park where Katja works and saw the town on foot. The bus lines have COMPLETELY changed since I was a student at summer school here, and streets that were once full of traffic have now been pedestrianized. The banks of the Ljubljanica River have always been lined with cafes, but now those cafes stretch farther than ever before to an area where steps and footpaths have been built along the river. I wistfully thought, “Man, 21-year-old Becky would have loved this!”


IMG_3721.JPGSuzi and Katja along the Ljubljanica


Never thought I would see a hanging klobasa sign, but hey, it works.


For the next two weeks, I would be taking Slovenian language classes at the Faculty of Arts. (More on this in another post). My typical plan was to take the bus to and from school, arriving back home in time for lunch, the main meal of the day. Majda and Anka cook fantastic meals (mostly using vegetables from their huge garden out back), so I definitely never went hungry. I was, however, concerned about my waistline when most of my favorite dishes were potato-based! Mmmm, so delicious.

IMG_3770.JPGLunchtime with the fam (Rudi, Suzi’s son Črt, Suzi, Anka, and Majda)

IMG_3755.JPGCheese and potato dumplings, zucchini and potato fritters, and cucumber-potato-onion salad: the makings of a food baby

IMG_3882.JPGAnka in the kitchen

Katja informed me that shortly before my visit, the cat gave birth to five kittens in the garage. I would visit them almost every day (if mama cat would allow me).



IMG_3916.JPGNo, not a cat, but a visitor that Katja found in the yard

I was able to visit with my mother’s father’s side of the family, too. We went for a lunchtime visit one afternoon (with more delicious food!). My mom’s cousins Helena and Anka (yes, lots of Ankas here) also took us for dessert at the cafe at the top of the nebotičnik, or skyscraper, downtown.




There are so many people from my home town of Cleveland that are now living back in Slovenia. I got to visit my friend Monika and her husband and meet their little daughter Ema, who has inherited Dad’s musical talent.



A friend of my family, Mark, has opened a burrito restaurant in Ljubljana. My mom joined me and one of my classmates for lunch there after my last day of school. Check out Burrito Loco if you happen to be in Ljubljana. Good stuff, Mark!


Other friends of my family, Nande and Meta, now spend half the year living in Florida and the other half of the year in Slovenia. Majda, my mother, and I visited them at their house in the hills overlooking Ljubljana. I looooove their house (and the view doesn’t hurt either!) It was so good to see them again.

View from Nande and Meta’s house at sunset

In between all these fun visits, I *did* have to get some studying done. More on than in my next post.

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