Yesterday, we went to Rijeka, Croatia for a day trip before continuing on to Ljubljana, Slovakia (a friend of mine doesn’t believe that Ljubljana is a real word).
Rijeka is a big port city close to some beautiful coastline, so most tourists just pass through it. We didn’t have time to hit the more remote coasts, so we focused on Rijeka instead. While it wasn’t bad, we definitely want to spend more time exploring the Croatian coast.
Ljubljana is a perfect small European city.
Rijeka has evidence of a lot of cultures in it: Roman ruins, Catholic churches, Austrian theaters, a Hungarian train station, and a Slavic language. The last part might have been the strangest for me. From my Russian experience, I’m used to associating the Slavic culture with forests, plains, and the cold. However, here was an active Mediterranean city that used a language related to that of Siberia. It felt Italian (which makes sense due to previous ownership by Venice), but it was part of a different culture.
Rijeka isn’t a compelling place to visit, but it was a good stop for a day between other towns.
We love Ljubljana. We’re even thinking about seeing what’s necessary to get a work permit in Slovenia so we can stay here (although Zagreb would be fine, too). It’s not a very large city, with fewer than 300,000 inhabitants, so it doesn’t take very long to wander through the sights. However, they live life well here. As Lonely Planet says, they combine a German work ethic (from the years of Austrian rule) with a Mediterranean joie de vivre, which makes it economically stable yet seem very livable.
We loved wandering the Saturday market with fresh produce, souveniers, and honey brandy. We hiked up to the castle and enjoyed the view. We drank free wine on a bridge while being entertained by folk dancers and singers. We kissed under the moon as the music of a Spanish band wafted across the river.
We’re definitely returning.