Bojana, the owner of Kamp Tura had promised us a proper pitch when someone moved, however we hadn’t realised that it was on a first-come-first-served basis. The campsite was full and pitches that became vacant disappeared immediately!
Following our three-campsite-and-a-graveyard epic last night, we didn’t arise until 11.30. Realising the stiff competition for pitches, we had to rush to move the caravan before breakfast.
Rather than going through the fandangle of hitching her up, we moved house by pushing Kismet up the road. “Don’t you have a motor mover?” The cry went up from the few English couples who lined the route of our deliverance from the piece of wasteland to a proper pitch.
After two years on the road, we have a very well-tuned system for setting up. However it is strange how everything always goes wrong when you decide to cut corners and do half a job, because you’re just moving a short distance. We shoved Kismet into her new pitch but accidentally positioned her too close to a hedge, so we couldn’t access the gas locker and water points. Once in position, she refused to budge by muscle power alone, so in the end we had to hitch her up anyway.
I’m ashamed to say that we didn’t realise that Rosie had taken refuge from the smouldering midday heat by crawling underneath the caravan. Thankfully she was not crushed when we moved Kismet, although she did look a little shocked when she shot out from her shady den. We had also connected up the electric before we re-positioned to keep the fridge cold. As we drew Kismet forward, the cable got caught under her wheel and nearly tore out the fitting.
We discovered that our English neighbours, Maureen, Jim and their dog Buddy had adopted the same lifestyle as us. They had bought their first caravan as soon as they retired and had decided to spend a year touring. They were en route to Greece.
We picked their brains about travelling in Montenegro and Bosnia, since they mentioned that friends of theirs had done that route the previous year. UK insurance companies won’t cover you for travel to these countries, so you have to buy insurance at the border. Maureen and Jim said that their friends had been somewhat disconcerted when the border guards had confiscated their passports, however they had returned them once the insurance was paid for.
Maureen agreed with me on the Bermuda Triangle characteristics of a caravan. “I have lost a twenty-one inch, deep-sided frying pan!” she exclaimed. A slightly more impressive object to lose than my stealth-camouflaged (black) flip flops. They could have slipped into any corner of the caravan, although I still suspect that they are holidaying as a couple in the Auvergne, France.
The following day, after waving goodbye to Jim and Maureen, we turned right at Vipava and climbed. We zig-zagged up to Col through beautiful scenery with spectacular views of the Nanos plateau. Regiments of green hills marched one after the other into the distance.
The vibrant green was interspersed with villages of terracotta-roofed, white houses, each with geraniums tumbling from window boxes, which overlooked unrelentingly pristine gardens. Slovenia is a very beautiful country. It has a bright, new feel, which contrasts markedly with the dilapidated, run-down villages of rural France or Italy with their flaking plaster walls.
Our entry into the city of Ljubljana was by no means as picturesque as our approach into Verona, however. Modern office blocks and concrete walls covered with graffiti led us in. We parked a couple of minutes walk from the centre in an open air car park that ultimately cost us just €6 for the day.
Ljubljana is our kind of town. It is small, clean, relaxed and the pedestrianised centre is just lovely to meander about. The buildings are beautiful; it is cradled in a bend of the river Ljubljanica and overlooked by a magnificent, hilltop castle. Not only that, we noted that it is 20-minutes drive from ski resorts in the Slovenian Alps and 45-minutes from the Adriatic beaches for windsurfing. Paradise indeed!
We based our city tour not on the historic sights but on sports shops who stock utility sandals, since my feet were forced to endure steamy, summer temperatures in my only remaining choice of footwear, a pair trainers or a pair of hiking boots.
We ambled along the river to the Dragon Bridge, which is the symbol of Ljubljana. I do love a dragon. I was born in the Chinese Year of the Dragon and went to University in the country of the dragon (Wales.) I studied martial arts and have always been fascinated by the fabulous Chinese and Japanese dragon dances – particularly the significance of the final pounce on to a ceremonial cabbage that I once read about but to which I can now find no reference!
I didn’t have any luck on the sandal front in the sports shop near the Dragon bridge. We moseyed some more, before stopping for a coffee in the shade, overlooking the beautiful, green river Ljubljanica. We saw some Stand Up Paddle Boards on the river and cursed ourselves for leaving our SUP paddles holding up the ceiling of the awning. Not that we would have had time – nor could we see where we would have access to launch on the river.
There were plenty of fountains in which to cool off the dogs from the sweltering summer heat, which is always more intense in a city. In a country famed for majestic war horses (the famous Lippizaners’ ‘Haut ecole’ dressage has its origins on the battlefields) my favourite monumental fountain was one surrounded by little, fat bronze Thelwell ponies! My other favourite fountain was one which mimicked Ljubljana’s weather and sprinkled a fine mist over tourists. This was most welcome in the steamy heat – as was the delicious Nutella ice cream!
Mark sealed his image as an English eccentric by walking around the city barefoot so that he could sense whether or not the pavements were too hot for our Fur Babies’ paddy paws,
We found Ljubljana to be a very dog friendly city. Technically, dogs are supposed to be on leads in the Tivoli and Castle gardens, however a printed leaflet in the Tourist Office intimated that although leads were the rule, dogs running free would probably be overlooked by officialdom if they behaved. The pups were welcome in nearly all of the shops that we visited, including Lush, where they had a massive fuss made of them.
A Capital city often gives a sense of the character of its country’s people. We found Ljubljana to be good tempered and laid back.
However, Inter Sport in Ljubljana did not welcome dogs and as far as I could tell, felt much the same way about customers! They had a vast array of shop assistants and sandals, however I still had to ask a sullen girl to help me first to find the right size and then to provide the left shoe.
The sullen girl summoned a moody teenager, who told me that the left shoes were in the pile of boxes beside me and the shoe that I had in my hand was my size. He forgot to add ‘Idiot.’ I asked him for another style in my size and he told me that they didn’t have it. “Do you have it in the other colours?” I enquired. “No!”
Against my better judgement I did make a purchase. Encapsulated in a pair of trainers, my overheated feet demanded it. A pair of Teva’s was comfortable and supportive, unlike the staff. And, like the service, they were also reduced by 30%!
Ljubljana with Dogs
There are several dog parks in Ljubljana, a Hov Hov Dog Bakery and dogs can go in all parts of the castle, apart from the museums and the cafeteria. They can ride in the funicular up to the castle if you hold them in your arms or they are wearing a muzzle. In such a dog-friendly place, it is no surprise to learn that the ticket office will lend you a muzzle if you don’t have one!
For a map that you can view or download, showing all major hotels, dog-friendly restaurants and bars, pet shops and vets, click here.
For a list of places in and around the city that you can visit with your dog, with the facility to click-through to further information, follow this link.