I first ventured beyond the boundaries of Western Europe just after the fall of the Berlin Wall. I remember getting into Hungary was quite difficult, but to an adventurous teenager it was all very exciting. Particularly so when you get quizzed by stern looking border guards waving big guns and not speaking a word of English. I loved Hungary. And particularly for the fact that you could buy the most amazing Tokaj wines (Louis XIV allegedly called them The King of Wines and The Wine of Kings) in government liquor stores for peanuts (even for a student).
Fast forward to 2012, and again I ended up broadly “in that part of the world”. A tour of the Balkans this time, with the highlight for me (although incidentally not for anyone else travelling with me) finally getting to spend some time in Albania. Hey, it’s not every day you get to visit the number one spot on your childhood bucket list…
Into 2013 and there’s just a teeny little bit of Central Europe left that hasn’t yet had the unenviable privilege of being “Brian’d”. Or “Brained” as my good friend Fifi would say. So a winter weekend in Slovenia was in order.
Ljubljana is a curious mix of Eastern and Western Europe. More so the latter though I guess. Lots of snow on the ground, the ambiance accentuated by the backdrop of the Julian Alps on a day trip we took to Lake Bled. Stunning scenery and the short hike to Bled Castle was well worth the view over the whole of the lake from the top.
Speaking of castles, back in Ljubljana there’s also an imposing castle there overlooking the city. A very compact old town, and some lovely bars and restaurants by the river. Can imagine it being great for a summer city break too. One of the major tourist traps is Tivoli Park, home of the famous “Hot Horse Burger”. We gave it a miss though – after all, we can get plenty of that back in the UK these days.
Call it nostalgia from my earlier Balkans trip, but I really did miss my cevapcici so we managed to find a small Bosnian enclave (well, a restaurant anyway) in the city where this was being served. The only downside was the severely inflated prices over what I paid when I was actually in Bosnia. Like I said though, this was more Western Europe than East, so not entirely unexpected.
But with return flights costing only £26 return (Wizzair from Luton), I was more than happy to pay whatever they asked!