After breakfast in the apartment, we packed items for a one overnight stay, and left for a drive to Slovenia. The border between Croatia and Slovenia is about 18 miles west of Zagreb. The border crossing was backed-up. We had to wait at least 10-min to complete the stamping of our passports. When we rented the car, we paid for border crossing insurance, but as soon as we entered Slovenia we had to buy an electronic Toll-Road Pass for 15 Euros. It was simple when going through toll booths. You slow down, and everything is automated – none of having to dig out money to pay toll. It is similar to E-Z Pass in the U.S.
We continued west on the autobahn until we were out in the countryside. When there was a good secondary road, we existed. We stopped at villages with castles, churches, etc. We really enjoy these “off the autobahn” drives. However, if we want “to get” somewhere, the autobahns are wonderful. The highway infrastructure system is very good in Croatia and Slovenia.
|Castle near the Border|
It is of course winter here, but we saw fields (acres) of strawberries that will produce in the spring, acres of vineyards, row after row of greenhouses – not sure what all they were protecting, wheat fields, and fields of winter veggie (cole) crops. We also began seeing Slovenia hay-drying racks. These are completely different than when we use the word “hay-rack” in Iowa! (see photo) Due to the amount of rain this area receives, they hang the hay on these racks that have a little roof, so the hay is able to dry before storing it in the barn – even the barns are ventilated.
|One of the Many Open Barns|
|Barns in a Small Town|
We arrived in Ljubljana soon after lunch, found a hotel near the center of town, with parking by the front door. From the hotel we could walk to Old Town in ease. Ljubljana was decorated for Christmas, and Christmas markets were on both sides of the river. The river front is the place of action. Above the city is a lovely castle. We took the funicular (cable car) up the mountain instead of walking!! - saved time too!!
After riding the funicular back down to the city, a cup of coffee was in order. It was a cloudy, chilly day, but not raining. We walked through the Christmas markets on several squares, and visited St Nicholas Cathedral. There is a Dragon bridge, a Cobblers bridge, and the famous Triple bridge (see photos). At the Triple Bridge we noticed they were blocking off streets – for a Santa Parade. Yes, this is Dec 26, and for us Christmas is over, but for the Orthodox Christians, Christmas is January 6. (the Orthodox calendar is 15 days behind the Catholic & Protestant calendar). Christmas celebrations in this part of Europe will continue until Jan 6.
|Learning to Ski|
|View from the Castle|
The Santa Parade was to begin at 5:00, so we decided to hang around to see how it is done in Slovenia. Finally, at about 5:45, Santa pulled up to the middle of the Triple Bridge in a carriage, pulled by a beautiful white horse. Actually, Santa looked more like a Father Christmas than Santa Claus. Plus, he spoke excellent English to us!!! Santa and his helpers (elves, black Pete (someone painted all black), handed candy to the children and those adults who so desired.
By the time the parade was over, it was beginning to drizzle, and we were beginning to chill. Around the corner we found a great restaurant – one of the oldest in Ljubljana, for a great meal. Their sauerkraut soup was excellent – rich and hot!
After dinner we continued to walk among the Christmas market booth and squares, taking photos of their Christmas decorations.