Ljubljana, what an intriguing name for a capital city. My love for the Slovenian capital started when I searched for its pronunciation on YouTube. No one really knows the origin of the name Ljubljana. Some say it stands for a flooding river. Others point out the Slavic prefix “ljub-” means to love. And I… will take the latter interpretation.
Train Travel Between Zagreb and Ljubljana
I only came to know of Ljubljana when I was exploring day trip options from Zagreb, Croatia. The two capital cities are only 2.5 hours apart, making Ljubljana a popular weekend destination for Croatian locals and travelers alike.
The convenience of train travel in Europe never ceased to amaze me. Two hours of train ride could get me from one capital city to another, with a different language and currency. The railway system, a triumph of modernity, knitted European borders and societies together with steam engines and steel tracks. It essentially forced people to rethink social mobility, geography and so much more that was once unimaginable. I sound like a Victorian traveler who’s never seen a locomotive before, but I’m sure you understand the romance of train travel!
Seat 61 is the ultimate train travel bible that helped with my route planning in Europe. Taking Seat 61’s advice, I bought my train ticket to Ljubljana several days earlier. The round-trip ticket from Zagreb to Ljubljana only cost a jaw-dropping €18 — budget travel at its finest.
A Note on Prešeren Square
Hopping off the train bright and early, I strolled to the main square in a pleasant morning breeze. I could almost tell if I’d like a place within the first two minutes. A natural smile always crawled its way onto my face if the new destination pleased me. Ljubljana was one of them.
Like all other town squares in Europe, Prešeren Square is a central place of happenings. In the summertime, you can catch sight of an installation titled Ljubljana’s Own Weather. You’d see raindrops falling within a magic circle in front of the church, but it’s completely dry everywhere else. I thought it’s a weird weather phenomenon before I finally realized the almost invisible sprinklers were hanging on a wire above the circle!
Prešeren Square took its name not after a general or a great leader, but a Slovene poet, France Prešeren. The Homer of Slovenia, who also wrote prolifically about his unfulfilled love, Julija. A monument of Prešeren was also erected on the square, an emphasis of his cultural importance.
I suppose a country that salutes to its national poet more than anyone else is a romantic country in itself.
My Favorite Part: Ljubljanica Kanal
You can hit all the sightseeing spots in Ljubljana in one day. It’s that small.
Neither the historical landmarks nor the farmer’s market impressed me as much as the Ljubljanica river. Makalonca was the perfect bar for people watching because it’s right down the river. Boys were paddling and fighting in the river and sometimes there’s a river cruise boat with a rapper? Grab a beer, and it’ll be hard to leave.