Sunday, September 20, 2015

We visited Ljubljana – Slovenia, 14 May 2015 – End of East Europe trip

The history of Slovenia is very similar to other East European countries – early Roman Influence – ravaged by WW I and WW II – thereafter under Communist Yugoslavian regime and eventually independence on 25 June 1991. Slovenia joined the European Union on 1 May 2004. Slovenia is blessed with a very well educated work force and an excellent infrastructure of road, rail and air connectivity. It boasts of a well developed economy – second only to the Czech. The prosperity is very evident as one travels through the capital city of Ljubljana.

Having come so far we toyed with the idea of visiting next door Ljubljana – Slovenia - even if it was for a short period. We took a train from Zagreb;the rail station’s conveniently located opposite our hotel at 0630 h and we reached Ljubljana around 1000 h. We returned by about 1900 h. The entire journey was smooth and effortless. The railway system is very modern, clean and efficient. It was indeed a pleasure to travel without any glitches. There are 101 inhabitants per every sq km as against 380 in India. As a result one does not see overcrowding anywhere. It is very difficult to spot any animal. The region around is mountainous and riddled with a number of rivers and streams – making the countryside a pleasure to watch.

Ljubljana is an ancient city, dating back to the Roman period. It is located on the banks of River Ljubljanica.  The city is located at an elevation of 968 ft. Bangalore is 5 times the size of Ljubljana - which is blessed with a very low population of 272,000 as against our 10.8 million that makes it a mind blogging 40 times. It is extremely invigorating to see very few people on the roads, rail stations, public places and elsewhere as against our chaotic setting. We strolled our way through the city and spent considerable time sitting in the market square and absorbing the essence of the city. We had a fabulous lunch in a restaurant by the river. 

East Europe

Over the last sixty years these countries have toiled hard to consolidate their economy and infrastructure which in turn has resulted in making their society vibrant and prosperous. Peace has prevailed in these parts during this period. A war free environment has been responsible for triggering growth and stability to a very large extent. Tourism is a big money spinner in these countries and all of them have taken an integrated approach to sustain it. Dwindling population poses a very big problem in this region. Looking back on this wonderful trip, I can say we were quite lucky there was no migrant problem on hand, whilst we were there. I am sure they will find a solution and life will continue – albeit a few changes.

Prague, Krakow, Budapest, Zagreb and Ljubljana represent the best of Europe – loads of history and culture, brilliant architecture, lively city life, clean and orderly, good food, excellent wine and much more. In short it is a traveller’s dream.

Every time we return from a trip abroad, I feel India is being left out of the race – be it China or South Africa or even Sri Lanka  - all of them have made great strides in building their nations. We, meaning the people, government, media and others continue to be preoccupied with petty issues, low level of politics, party squabbles and other such useless activities. There is hardly any concern or debate for nation building activities. Maximum time is spent on non issues such as Sheena – Indrani murder case, Hard Dick and his uprising, Meat ban, etc.

As far as we are concerned – “It’s a long long way to Tipperary”  and our only hope is the growing concern of the young, who are making constant efforts in small pockets to make life better, so we have traffic free Sundays, cycle marathons, cleaning crews like the Ugly Indians who anonymously work to better our streets, bit by bit.

From the train - lovely countryside
Lots of water bodies on the way
Some more water bodies
fairy tale setting

On the streets of  Ljubljana
Adam and Eve.These thoroughly fascinating grotesques are the creations of Slovene sculptor Jakov rdar  
Sunday market scene - Fruits and vegetables galore
Jai enjoying the market scene
The satyr by Jakov Brdar 
A lovely lunch at Fany and Mary. The waitress readily agreed to pose for me.
Another interesting poster
Photo after lunch by the river
The river in the heart of the city.

Grand Hotel Union

A very orderly city

Fascinating flowers
Cobble stone street
Upper Carniola Region - Franciscan Church of Annunciation
Love padlocks on Butcher’s Bridge. Couples lock them here to symbolise their eternal love.
A lovely country scene

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