A day in Ljubljana, Slovenia
We had only one day to explore lovely Ljubljana during our stay at the campsite Big Berry, but we managed to make the best of our time there! We started with coffee and tea at “Slovenska Hisa” – a cute cafe along the Ljubljanitsa River – not usually the first thing we do when we find ourselves in a new place, but we only had thirty minutes until the beginning of our city tour. Our cheerful guide from Visit Ljubljana enthusiastically showed us around pointing at the most popular landmarks. The group walked around the market where you can get fresh fish, vegetables, and products from local producers. Then we headed to the most famous touristic site – the Ljubljana Castle that was originally a Medieval fortress. A short funicular ride will take you up the hill where you can watch a movie about the history of the castle, wander around the abandoned cells or climb the stairs to the tower where an incredible view is waiting for you. Although a bit short, our short walk around the city staring at the beautiful people (Slovenians are gorgeous for your information!) and Baroque pastel buildings, was absolutely enough to give us energy and inspiration for the long day ahead of us.
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Besides being called the city of dragons and bridges, Ljubljana was also declared a European Green Capital in 2016! That’s not a surprise at all! If you’ve ever been or seen photos of Ljubljana and Slovenia you will have no doubts that this is one of the greenest countries in Europe with beautiful nature that people care about. The Roman name of the city was Emona. Sounds quite familiar for Bulgarians because there is also a village with the same name along the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. According to Slovenians, Ljubljana is the city of Jože Plečnik – an architect that began restoring the buildings after their destruction as a result of several earthquakes in the previous centuries. The three bridges of the city are some of his most famous creations. However, an interesting fact is that the third bridge was actually completed much later by another architect.
Skuhna is a unique social project that cannot be found in other European capitals and can definitely make Ljubljana proud. The restaurant brings the attention of the residents of Ljubljana to countries like Morocco, Zimbabwe, Algeria, Nigeria and Iran by introducing their exotic national cuisine. The dishes are as authentic as it can get because they are prepared by migrants from these countries. Without any doubt, the innovative idea meets the recent needs and problems in Europe and provides a good example of compassion, tolerance and integration. This initiative not only creates job opportunities but also allows people to learn more about specific cultures, their beliefs and activities in a more personal way.
The menu changes frequently and some days it is dedicated to the traditional cuisine of a particular country. You can choose from the special dishes in the daily menu rich in exotic spices and some not so typical for Europe ingredients and combinations such as roasted bananas, for example. The interior is organized with ethnic motifs, creating a cozy atmosphere and authentic feeling. In addition to having lunch and dinner there, you can visit Skuhna for one of their regular movie screenings, culinary and children’s workshops and evening debates on social issues.
Located on the Trubarjeva street, Skuhna is in the city center, but remains slightly hidden and because of that it is probably not the first choice for all the starving tourists. Even better for us, we felt somehow special.
After a day trip to the Slovenian seaside visiting picturesque Piran and Portoroz, we went back to Ljubljana to attend the Open kitchen Food market. Luckily, the Big Berry team sharing the same love for good food as us, decided that this is the perfect choice to finish our visit to the capital. They took us to the most authentic place, where the residents of Ljubljana go to have lunch or dinner at the end of the week. Between mid-March and October, every Friday the central market of Ljubljana (located right next to the river and the covered market) turns into an open stage where foodies meet the best chefs and restaurants, celebrating cultures and international flavors. You can hear the music from a distance and you can even smell the freshly made food that is inviting you to join on all the fun! People of all ages, casually dressed or even still in costumes after work are sitting on the stairs, talking, having fun and sharing the food with their friends. Bonus points for some great music coming from the speakers that night. Delicious food with some of Chet Faker tracks in the background was an idyllic picture and such a nice end of a long sunny day exploring Slovenia.
But let’s go back to the main point of our visit that night – the food! Oh, the food was remarkable! One of the best ways to feel the local spirit and experience the culture is by trying the food and merging with the crowd at events like this. It is not a coincidence that we always try to find the best places in town where you can have a well-prepared meal or a mouth-watering gelato and pastries. In Ljubljana we didn’t have enough time (we’re definitely going back soon) to hunt for hip restaurants and cafes so the Open Kitchen food market was the best place to have a good look of all of them together and to get a sense of the city’s gastronomical scene.
There was a wide selection of traditional Slovenian food, international cuisine and contemporary dishes. Everything is prepared on site and apart from enjoying warm and fresh food, you can also see how it is cooked and the products that are used. From pad Thai to falafels and Indian cuisine all the way to traditional and gourmet burgers. Everything was so tempting that it was difficult to choose just one. The aromatic dishes from the traditional Arabic restaurant “Abi Falafel” caught our eyes. Minutes later a few crunchy spicy falafels were being fried for us and served with the most delicious hummus we’ve ever tried. For dessert we returned to Skuhna, that had their own stall to try Indian sweets with coconut and condensed milk. The warm months are coming to an end, but if you are planning a visit to Slovenia, reserve one of the Fridays for adventures in Ljubljana and tasting some of the food it has to offer.