In January I had a REPAIR project meeting in Ljubljana (project video). I had visited in 2010 as a reviewer for the CIVITAS urban mobility research project ELAN and so was looking forward to seeing Ljubljana again.
The city has really embraced sustainable mobility: much of the historic downtown is auto free including the beautiful walkways on both sides of the river. I was especially excited to visit because 2022 was the 150th birthday of the Ljubljana architect Jože Plečnik. Plečnik was a student of Otto Wagner, a Viennese pioneer of modern architecture (my Otto Wagner Stadtbahn tour).
I took the Eurocity 151, a direct train leaving Vienna’s Hauptbahnhof about 8:00 am and arriving in Ljubljana about 14:00 (this was the Guardian’s rail route of the month in January!). It was a great ride over the Semmering railway, a UNESCO world heritage site, through Steirmark, and into Slovenia. One highlight is that the train has a real dining car – they actually cook (not a microwave). It’s not gourmet, but I had a nice goulash soup and local beer. Other possibilities were omelets, ham and cheese platters, and more soups.
In Ljubljana I stayed at the Hotel Heritage, a newly renovated historic building just steps from the river promenade. Everything was great from the receptionist offering me a coffee and homemade Christmas cookies on my arrival to the excellent breakfast – with good strong espresso coffee.
In the afternoon I walked around in the snowy center and then visited two Plečnik exhibitions, the first in the Plečnik House museum and the second in the Ljubljana city museum (special exhibit celebrating Plečnik’s 150th birthday ). I’ll describe them in tomorrow’s post.
The next morning I had time to walk around Ljubljana and look at Plečnik’s river bank designs in more detail and could visit his university library building. I also stopped by the Bankarium, a museum of Slovenian banking. The museum is housed in a beautiful Jugenstil building and had some very interesting exhibits. I especially liked a display showing the money used in Slovenia over the years because it presented the currency of the time on a set of maps illustrating how the borders of Slovenia had changed from the Hapsburg empire to independence. I wish I had had more time to spend in the museum.
After our meeting we had a wonderful dinner – one of the best I have ever had (and that is saying something!) – at the restaurant Valvas’or. The food was a contemporary take on traditional Slovenian cooking, with local ingredients and modern flair. It tasted superb. The wine was also all local and excellent. Especially enjoyable were the servers who were enthusiastic and knowledgeable – I have rarely had a waiter who could explain the wines so well. A delightful evening!
Our meeting ended the next afternoon and we took the direct Eurocity train back to Vienna. It left about 16:00. We had a nice Thai late lunch at RozaSlon center (cafeteria style) – located right across the street from the station! They even had craft beer to go, so we took a couple for the ride back to Vienna. Great tip if you are taking the train from Ljubljana!