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June, 2005

Ljubljana is one of my favorite funked out little European capitals. It has all the charm and amenities of some of the more “popular” destination cities in Europe, without all the fanfare and crowds. While brief, my experience in ljub1Ljubljana was rife with good food, good beer, and good ol’  Mediterranean charm.

Arriving on the train down from Lake Bled, I immediately took to hunting down the Fluxus hostel in the center of town, an artsy little place that has been voted consistently among Europe’s top hostels. Upon arriving in my room, I found I was sharing a room with an Italian man from Venice who invited me out to dinner. While I appreciated the offer, I was sort of in the mood to set out and explore the city on my own. Looking back, I would have loved to have joined that Italian man for dinner, because I am sure that he had some fabulous things to talk about.

Walking around town that evening solo was an enjoyable adventure in itself, however. Set along the banks of the Ljubljanica River, the city reminds me of a smaller version of Amsterdam, with less bicycles and more outdoor cafes. Hopping around town from one bar to another, casually enjoying local Slovenian beers as pedestrians strolled up and down the bridges and canals, I found myself later that night wandering dark alleys on the north end of town Lubiana_centro1in search of some underground university bar, and I knew it was time to just go home.

That next morning I woke up strangely early, and had another 2 hours or so until the free hostel breakfast was served. Seizing the opportunity, I headed out into the city for a still-brisk sunrise run from downtown up to the hill of the Ljubljana Castle for a panoramic sunrise view of the city. For those looking for one of the best views of the city, look no further than Ljubljana Castle at sunrise.

Seeing as I was still an active member of the men’s tennis team back at castleuniversity in Los Angeles, I was carrying two racquets with me all over Europe in hopes of impromptu practice sessions, and I was actually able to swat a few balls over at the Tivoli Athletic Center, a sprawling athletic complex with classic European red clay courts. I don’t know if they have ever had an errant American backpacker randomly walk in with racquets sticking out of his bag and request a court to hit some serves, but it was  a fun practice session nonetheless in none too random of a location.

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