Our last day in Slovenia came too soon, so we took ourselves a bus trip down to Lake Bled. Our repeat server at our hotel restaurant would not have approved–he warned us away from major tourist attractions such as Postojna Cave, in addition to calling expensive toothpaste “bullshit” and singing the praises of healthy food like tap water and grilled vegetables–but we’ll keep this little secret between us, shall we?
And, I mean, come on. Despite the crowds, we enjoyed ourselves. The day was clear and bright and the color of the lake water was absolutely unbelievable.
I’m still not convinced it wasn’t actually berry-flavored Jello. Ducks can swim through gelatin, can’t they?
I’m a little ashamed to say that we skipped Bled Castle. I’m sure the view would have been amazing, but Mom and I were both feeling distinctly anti-stairs that day. Instead, we did the next best thing:
Ate cream cake! There were some extremely presumptuous sparrows hanging around the hotel balcony where we snacked, read, and enjoyed the water; I’m pretty sure they enjoy a steady diet of cream cake and little else.
After our bus ride back to Ljubljana, the rest of the day was spent doing a little shopping, enjoying local street food like ćevapčići and burek, and figuring out how to repack our increasing amounts of luggage and gifts to take home.
Saturday, we had a loooooong train ride from Ljubljana to Vienna. We didn’t make any exciting friends this time, but I did read Zoo City in one sitting and quite enjoyed it. (I thought the denouement was kind of rushed but will be interested to see if there’s a sequel.)
At last, Vienna! Or rather, Vienna again, since we saw brief snippets of it between the airport and the train station on that first exhausting day of travel. It was pretty dang cold that first evening, but we got checked in and had an interesting dinner of innards ragout, lamb knuckle, and the worst salad I think I’ve ever had in my life. (Present among the lettuce leaves: sweet canned corn, cocktail onions, pickled cucumber, chunks of cold cooked potato, and way, wayyyy too much dressing. Surely there must be good salads somewhere in Vienna?)
After food, we hit the hay early–I think this was around the time that I started taking guided tours in my dreams, which I think was a little unfair of my brain.
Sunday wasn’t quite so chilly, and after a very pleasant breakfast (side note: this was far and away the nicest Best Western I’ve ever stayed at–most of them don’t provide you with redcurrant juice and five kinds of cheese) we walked down to the nearest U-Bahn station to catch a ride to Schönbrunn Palace.
Unfortunately, the wait time to get into the palace was over two hours, so instead we amused ourselves by walking around the extensive and beautiful gardens.
And will you look at that, I just happened to match some of them!
We also checked out the much-less-crowded carriage museum on the palace grounds, where we saw elaborate children’s carriages…
…slightly disturbing carriages upholstered in real leopard skin…
…and one particularly ornate carriage, which Mom just so happened to remember from a Viennese postcard that her grandma sent her when she was six years old in 1956. She was delighted get to see it in real life for the first time nearly sixty years later!
I, on the other hand, was completely enchanted by a series of fat horse paintings and wanted to take them home with me. Alas, Mom talked me out of it. I suppose the whole world should be able to see fat horse paintings if they wish, so at the carriage museum they stayed.
After the carriage museum, I, uh, might have gotten us a little (read: very) lost in Leopoldstadt trying to find a restaurant recommended by a friend. We ended up having a pretty unimpressive lunch at a weird little cafe/diner thing, and then we looped back around to St. Stephan’s Cathedral to try and salvage the day. I was pretty embarrassed–I thought my map-reading skills had improved so much!–but our stylish taxidermied friend here cheered me up a bit, at least.
And, whoa. Hello, cathedral! We didn’t stick around for too long because there was a reasonably large protest going on just to the left, but we saw the insides and it was all cool and cathedral-y, so that was neat.
We also stayed for a minute to watch the carriage horses, WHO WERE WEARING EAR HATS. Ear hats. I died there, and my spirit is still in Vienna because of those ear hats.
And then, naturally: MORE CAKE. We passed by a nice-looking coffeehouse on our way back to the hotel and decided that, by golly, we were gonna have some melanges and cake. Pictured: Mom’s choice, which turned out to be a chocolate/banana/rum concoction that was absolutely delicious.
My cake was a lemon-raspberry cheesecake, also extremely good. Thanks for reviving us with cake, Cafe Diglas. I’ll never forget your bizarre bathrooms with the see-through doors.
Weird European Graffiti tally:
7. Truth bombs being dropped all over Ljubljana.
8. The last Slovenian graffiti, seen from the train. See you later, Slovenia!
9. More truth bombs in Vienna. You tell ’em, street artists.