We took the new United 787-8 DEN-FRA route for the first leg of our trip to
Ljubljana, departing at 1545. It was about an hour late due to having to drop off passengers at the International terminal first (and then drive it to B). We got to use the United Club in advance despite having booked award tickets (which made it ineligible to use my complimentary upgrades or GPUs). Beyond a slight delay, the only other minor nuisances of this otherwise pleasant flight were 100%, and a non-functional entertainment system at Brendan’s seat (which they comped him 7,500 miles for). We watched “First Man” during dinner, consisting of quinoa salad, ravioli, and lemon sorbet (which was an odd choice we felt), slept a little, and read a little. We landed more or less on time in Frankfurt at 0930. Uncharacteristically, the flight attendants on this United flight were extremely pleasant and dare I say friendly.
After very quickly passing through immigration (and never having to collect our checked luggage, scan them, and re-check them), we scoped out our gate in A, before making the trek back to B for the Lufthansa Senator Lounge (accessible via my United Gold status). We had a snack (German pretzel) and some coffee in the lounge, and I promptly found a lounge chair and had a great snooze for 2 hours while Brendan read. I really needed the sleep, and felt much better when I awoke.
We headed back to the A gates and waited for our FRA-LJU Adria Air flight (United code share). It was about an hour late due to incoming aircraft delays. When it was time to board, we had to take a bus on a serpentine path through FRA that took about 20 minutes to get to the tiniest and last plane at the farthest edge of the airport. We had to tag our bags as well and couldn’t take them aboard. The airplane was a 2 by 2 configuration and the flight was pleasant enough – lasting only about an hour. We sat near a man that spent the whole flight coughing and blowing his nose, which did not portend well for us. We took a wide berth of him when deplaning.
Arriving to Ljubljana Airport (LJU) around 1800, we very quickly got out luggage and never did have to take it through security/customs again since we were coming from an EU country. I got some Euros at an ATM in baggage claim, and we went outside to find a taxi – which we easily found. The drive to our hotel, the Ljubljana City Hotel, was about 30 minutes and was a whopping 56 Euros (much more than we were anticipating). For reference, the shuttles from the airport (which made many stops) were around 10 Euros and certainly were the more economical option. We opted for speedy over cheap. On the drive over, we got to hear our tax driver take at least 5 phone calls across his wife and his mother, and explained that he has a baby at home and his wife is demanding a specific type of take-out food, and there were some problems with the other that he arranged. The things we do for love.
Check in at the Ljubljana City Hotel was easy and the front-desk team was very friendly. We got up to our room on the 4th floor (419) where we would be staying for one night, and unpacked a bit, showered, and formulated a game plan for the evening.
Ljubjlana weather was drizzly but not too cold, so we were able to open the window and enjoy some fresh air and a view overlooking the courtyard below (it was even sunny for an instant during the photo shoot). We decided to head to the old town Ljubljana and grab a bite at restaurant called Most (“bridge” in Slovene) which had traditional Slovenian food, which but its very nature is cosmopolitan. On the walk to dinner, we took a detour to check out the train station located a few blocks from our hotel to check out where we would be picking up our rental car the following morning and whether we could roll our luggage that distance without too many problems. It turned out to be very close, and cobblestone-free, which put our minds at ease as far as the game plan for the next day in Ljubljana.
From the train station, we retraced our steps and then headed in to old town Ljubljana to grab a bite at a restaurant we previously selected. Given its location near the river and the famous bridges, the name “Most” was a perfect fit. The woman at front desk reception had recommend it as a personal favorite that wasn’t too touristic (although 50% of the people we saw there spoke English) and served Slovenian food as well.
Before dinner we took a bit longer walk by the river, crossed to the opposite side to get a closer look at the Ljubljana castle looming overhead, but did not find many people out and about. It was a fairly quiet city considering it was the capital, and considering it was Saturday night. We weren’t sure if people eat early or late, and if they do go out to eat, which part of the city can they be found in.
The restaurant scene was a lot more lively once we re-crossed the river and found restaurant row, of which Most was in the middle. Plenty of Slovenians and tourists were enjoying their meal outside in the biergarten-like atmosphere that the restaurants had set up. We opted to sit inside because it was a little damp and cold (50 degrees), although not too unpleasant.
Most Restaurant turned out to be a great choice. I got to explore a couple of Slovenian white wines from local regions, of which I preferred the “suho” (dry) variety from the Istra region, specifically from the winery Pucer z Vrha winery and the Malvazija grape (the letter j here is pronounced “ya”). Brendan enjoyed a local beer as the restaurant enjoyed a general din of laughter and conversation.
The food was exquisite so far in Ljubljana. We started with a vegetable pastry laden with pumpkin sauce, while Brendan had potato and black truffle soup. Mine won the taste test. For our mains, Brendan had buckwheat dumplings with porcini mushrooms accompanied by shrimp, while I had the black truffle pasta. Both were outstanding, even though I let Brendan finish mine 😉
For dessert, we shared the Bovški krafi (Slovenian steamed dumpling filled with dried Bovec pears, raisins and apple sauce), with apple slices in cream sauce and roasted breadcrumbs. It was delicious and refreshing.
After dinner, we walked the stretch of the river on both sides and meandered through some cobblestone streets with shops and galleries (now mostly all closed). Most people hung out by the river, talking and drinking in to the night. We also noticed several good looking gelato stands and dessert parlors along our route, noting them down for later. I also puzzled out a key word in Sloven – “sladoled” – which means ice cream.
Thoroughly enjoying our after-dinner walk and what we had seen so far in Ljubljana, we understood why the translation of Ljubljana was “the beloved”. Back at the hotel around 2300, we were in bed shortly thereafter, aiming for an early breakfast and wake-up time to pick up our care around 0900 at the Sixt near the train station.