Saturday, January 14, 2012

Ljubljana, Day 1!

We split up again in Ljubljana. I had been told my multiple people that there was a Free Ljubljana Tour at 10am, so I got up to go to the tour and hit the post office before hand for me and Jen. Together we had 26 postcards to mail. I was able to buy stamps for all of them and a collective one for Jen’s friend who collects stamps. The lady gave me “priority” stickers to put on all the post cards. I asked if I needed them, and she then said that “they are good.” So I put them on all put one of them (Ashley) to see if they all get there at the same time. I then went down to the Tourist Information center to buy the Ljubljana Tourist Card, which I highly recommend if you want to go to many different museums or attractions that are on the list. It was 30 Euro for 2 days, but when I did the math for all of the places I wanted to go, it was only like 2-3 euros more, and I figured I would catch a bus or something to make up for the other euros. Turns out that I used it way more than expected!

Well, I waited around for the tour, but they never showed. So I gave up and went to the City Museum of Ljubljana. IT WAS AWESOME! They had old Roman artifacts all the way up to independence in 1991. I started off with the “Faces of Ljubljana” exhibit. They showed how the family whose house the museum was located in had been. Complete with funny audio guide. They had the whole family tree, some jewelry, suit of armor, and other nicknack's.  The next room had an exhibit about the different women who had made an impact in Ljubljana. From the women who helped build the first stilt houses to the first woman mayor of Ljubljana (1930s?). You could listen/read an excerpt of their letter or diary and see things that they had used. Then the next room had an exhibit about the children and town during WW2. In 1942, the Italians encircled Ljubljana with a wire fence- the only town (according to them) to have this happen to. They were prisoners in their own city, but because of this they were able to preserve their monuments/buildings- why bomb an occupied city?

Did you know that in the past, the mayor had a throne? And the judges had a staff? I didn’t.

The old Roman part showed a bread oven, sewer and part of the old road. You need about 2 hours to really see this museum.

Next I started walking towards the next museum on my list, but by the time I made it back to the center, I was just in time to catch a boat tour! I learned a lot about the history of the city. Like, only citizens were allowed on one side of the river- and they could only build their houses two or three windows wide. But on the other side, they could build as big as they wanted to- they didn’t have to listen to the government. The river was drained as part of a reconstruction effort in the 70s? 80s? Sometime, anyway, they were worried that during the fast moving seasons of the river, that it would eventually erode the side of the river and collapse the city into the river. So when they were building a canal to help with drain off, they also drained the river and paved the bottom and built a slope. Now the river is a constant 5 meters (16 feet)deep. I also learned a bit about the different bridges that were built in Ljubljana throughout the centuries.

The Triple Bridge: When the city was being built up, traffic was getting too busy they needed more space. The architect Plecnik (he designed EVERYTHING in Ljubljana) decided to add two walking bridges to the one driving bridge, that way to not destroy the older bridge.

Dragon Bridge:  Completed in 1901, not designed by Plecnik, it is guarded by 4 dragons- the city symbol. The story goes that way back when, their was a dragon that was killed by a local boy who saved the city.

Shoemaker Bridge: back in the olden days, shoemakers used to set up on this bridge because it was over the river (and therefore there was  not taxed), and they could get more profit.

Lovers Bridge: recently built, but there had been a plan since Plecnik’s time, it i designed in the shape of a square. Since it has railings, unlike the other bridges, lovers are locking their love together on the bridge, and throwing the key into the river.

After the boat tour, I walked over to the Contemporary History Museum. It housed a temporary exhibit on women of Slovenia (but this was all in Slovenian, so I breezed through this floor). The second floor was their permanent exhibit- it started in WW1 and went until a little after Independence. Their was a nice guy there who played two movies specially for me! The exhibit went through the history of Slovenia during the world wars, a bit through the communist history, and a very little bit of the 1991 history. It was still pretty interesting, but there wasn’t a lot in English. (not that I expect the national museum to have stuff in another language, but just letting you know). This takes about 1 hour to see.

After the history museum I walked to the National Gallery, where I realized that I had left my souvenirs at the other museum. So I walked the 10 minutes back to the other museum then back to the National Gallery. The gallery had national artist's work. Some of them were pretty good. Some were haunting. Sometimes when the museums are in old palaces, you need to look past the artwork and admire the building that has been restored. It can be very pretty at times. There was also an exhibit of new acquisitions- some older stuff some newer stuff. This takes about one hour to complete.

Then I went off to the National History Museum (part one) and the Natural History Museum. They are located, currently, in the same building. The national history museum was very interesting. One room went through pre-historic to about the 16th century- the oldest flute ever found is in there. Along with fibulae, and other recovered things. Then there was a very interesting room. It was about the development of the Slovenian language. It was nice to see how they didn’t try to justify their language and history. It seemed like unbiased history. I liked it, it was refreshing. It traced the history of the development of Slavic languages, and specifically Slovenian.

I don’t like Natural History Museums. I know they are necessary, but I don’t like seeing stuffed creatures. I just shudder. But, it was included in the price of the card I had. The only cool part was the complete skeleton that they had discovered of a whale in a bay off the coast of Slovenia. It was basically complete! They had fun interactive exhibits for the kids in there.
Afterwards, I went back to the hostel, because I had about an hour before I was to meet Lizzie and Jen at the BALLET! We thought that we were going to see the Nutcracker. But instead we saw the Nutcracker-A Christmas Carol.
The Nutcracker - A Christmas Story Hungarian choreographer and director Yourija Vamos a "glistening snow, charming, cheerful and expectations of serious performance," with its domestic audience the magic again and again conjures up the December festive season. One of the most beautiful fairy-tale ballet by Marius Petipa, the librettist Mon Dumasovi renovation designed by Hoffmann's fairy tale The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,the director of a known upgrade the timeless Christmas story by Charles Dickens. In the foreground is a bitter miser who hates Christmas. Realizes dreams through injustice, which he did in life, repent and become a loving and generous man. Big Ballet is a performance hit with a deep message that people can make you happy and kindness and compassion towards others. Although the show, which is a real treat for the children's fantasy world,on stage SNG Opera and Ballet of Ljubljana from the premiere season of 2002 / 2003 saw nearly 60 repetitions over and over again until the last corner of the hall filled, it is perfect for all those who like to enjoy the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky and ballet virtuosity.” From the website of the Opera and Ballet. It was actually pretty interesting.

Afterwards we went for Slovenian food! I had fried cheese, potatos and zucchini. Notice a pattern? We choose this restaurant because they gave us a free glass of wine! We also got cream rolls for dessert!


Then back to bed for a big day of exploring tomorrow!
See you around the globe!

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