I don't know how they did it, but our friends in Ljubljana arranged to have a Medieval Festival while we were there and the parade came right down the street where we were sitting having drinks. This is a 2 day festival with lots of activity and our plan was to go up to the castle for the medieval arts fair. However our friends didn't arrange good weather (LOL) and we ended up just watching the grand parade then going for an early dinner.
I stole the description of the festival from the local Tourism Board so you have some idea about it and have attached photos of the parade.
"The biggest procession, taking place as part of the main programme of events and including all the knights' groups appearing at the festival, will set off from the Zvezda park in the Kongresni trg square and head towards Ljubljana Castle on 11 September at 2 p.m. The two festival days will see altogether 250 performing groups and solo performers including musicians, dancers, swordsmen, actors and other artists."
The festival is held every September. I can't identify the knights' groups but there were lots of them. One of our friends in Ljubljana joined us late as she was at the castle where she offered her calligraphy in the fair.
Just behind the Cathedral of St. Nicholas is a large open market square which seems to be open all weekdays. It is a mass of colorful produce, clothing, etc and sort of hidden behind some buildings at the north end is a beautiful flower market.
Just between the market and the river is a colonnaded area beside the river which has a series of shops - bakers, fish mongers, cheese shops, meat shops, etc. As the breakfast at our hotel was so woeful we decided to skip out on it one morning and stopped here for some nice pastries and good coffee (much better than the hotel's).
Be careful of your friends in Slovenia, especially Ljubljana, as they will try and buy everything for you. If they offer to carry your items in a shop, don't let them, for they will take them to the counter and buy them for you when you aren't looking. The only way I could find to counter their surprising generosity, was to buy them things when they weren't expecting it either. Of course, not all Slovenians are the same, and the Ljubljana people I met swore the mountain people to the north were the most terrible skinflints, but everyone I met said the same thing, especially about the people of Ljubjlana.
If you are staying with locals or out partying on the town with them, make sure you tell them when you are tired. All of the Slovenians I met were so generous with their time, that they would never think to go to bed before you do. As an Englishman I try and stay awake until my host feels tired, but Slovenians seem to work the other way around. I found myself nearly staying up all night on a couple of occasions, as we both politely waited for the other to show signs of wanting to sleep!
Not once but twice on our visit we ran into an interesting collection of superheroes walking down the street, no one but us paying them much attention. They weren't handing anything out, they weren't talking to people, just walking the streets of Ljubljana as if it were perfectly normal to be wearing a costume midday nowhere near Halloween.
I can only identify one of the four we saw, Batman, and I have to wonder what kind of cartoons kids in Slovenia are watching. A giant happy bear with a cape? What kind of super powers does he have? And then there's the one with the beak on his head and what looks like a puzzle piece on his chest. Is he Birdman? Puzzleman? And the 4th one's costume looked like he was shopping at the discount costume store because I can't even hazard a guess....
The Ljubljanians take their cafe culture almost as serious as Parisians, Viennese, and the Italians, but with none of the hoity-toityness. Every cafe that went to was low key and immensely enjoyable. The coffee was great, not good. And, I should know, I tried coffee every place I went. And lots of it. Yes, I am addicted.
I think Slovenia is a bit like Croatia... People just enjoy sitting with their friends, talking over coffee & enjoying the Sun. The Preseren square is always busy & crowded with people doing their daily things. But there's always time to relax... So, you try it too! :)
If possible, visit Slovene Drama no metter of language barrier am sure you'll enjoy in the spectacle. Btw, if the performance is of a good quality we can understand it even if we don't speak the language.
SNG is situated in Erjavceva ulica, very close to Ursuline Church.
Ljubljana is great place for pizzas. They are cheap, big and tasteful, laden with thick layers of cheese and other stuff on them. Always ask about size of pizza, even if price is low. Big pizza is almost everywhere too large for one person, no matter how hungry he or she is. Pizzas go up to 40 cm in diameter!!! So the smart strategy is to share one pizza between 2 or 3 persons and take an extra salad because it may be too heavy for stomach. Ask waiter to bring you one pizza on two plates! Pizzas start at 3 EUR and are up to 7 EUR. Try mushroom pizza at Trta or order vegetarian mexican (hot) or mozzarela from Halo katra by phone.
Slovenia is one of the best places when it comes to getting decent but affordable meal. Most of the places are good because if they are not they can close business. It is pleasant surprise especially after overpriced places like Vienna.
In Ljubljana prices of food are somewhat higher than on countryside. It is always smart to check about prices before you decide to order. Many places have menus in foreign languages.
Usually you get better deals in places that are trying to compensate their not attractive location with good food. Example of such restaurant is Balin in Polje suburb. But it is all very relative because most of my favorite restaurants are located in Ljubljana centre and they are well worth visit. Don't expect big difference like ie. in Czech republic. Big salad in Foculus for 750 SIT (3 EUR) is really a bargain. On the other hand prices of drinks are similar everywhere (beer is 1.5 -1.9 EUR).
If you decide to eat at restaurants, than a good time to eat is between noon and 3 pm because most of the restaurants offer "malica". It is the time when most of Slovenian employees eat so restaurants offer few lunch menus for considerably less money. Since market is inexorable, if you find a place with workers in working suits you are about to find a good deal. ;)
Vegetarians (like me) will also survive Ljubljana. Although pure vegetarian restaurants are rare (you might check for place called Vegedrom if it still exists), most of the restaurants offer few dishes without meat. There are many places with salad bars (I like those offering fried eggplants or mushrooms), there is wide selecton of vegetarian pizzas, and most of restaurants have mushrooms, vegetable plate and fried cheese. Spaghetti with cheese sauce are also good. Great place for vegetarians are Mexican restaurants, they offer my favorite vegetarian dishes although price is somewhat high (8-9 EUR). If you are not sure if there are vegetarian dishes, ask waiter before you sit. And if you are alreay sitting in a restaurant that doesn't seem to have vegetarian food don't let them confuse you - say openly that you don't eat meat and ask them to prepare something vegetaran for you. This way you are very likely to receive excellent dish made exclusively for you.
Salad bars are good choice. Before you sit it is smart to have a look at salads they are offering to see if it suits you. Usually you pay according to the size of plate you choose. You take either large or small plate and you fill it to the top. In Foculus you can also take slices of baked pizza bread with some cheese on it with salad. In some places you have to weigh how much salad have you taken and you pay accordingly, which is considerably more than when you pay for the plate. Salads should be up to 3 or 4 EUR.
There are plenty foreign restaurants in Ljubljana, like Serbian, Croatian, Mexican, Chinese, Greek, Spanish... Heavy meat Serbian cuisine seems very popular. If you enter such place try prebranac (should be tasteful beans dish without meat).
When it comes to Slovenian cuisine, I'm not really sure which food is really Slovenian because it is all so mixed these days, but you can check at good restaurants like Sokol.
Waiters are usually very good in Ljubljana. They are very fast and efficient and they are usually easy to communicate to and ask them for advice. Tipping is not mandatory although you can round your bills and leave some extar money. But be careful, 15-20% tip is far too much and they might be shocked. ;) Start with 50-100 tolars, up to 5%, maybe 10% if you feel like it. Waiter that received your tip is not necessarily the one to keep it. Often all of the tips are put together and shared among all of employees. Although it might seem just, this is the best way to punish talented and award average, which is typical Slovenian weakness.
According to law you don't have to pay if you don't get bill printed by machine with all official data of the place (bills written by hands don't count). So if they don't give you bill when paying then there is something strange going on (it never happened to me, though). At least check about the price and feel free to request a bill.
One of the most common souvenirs we saw in Ljubljana was replica beehive panels sold in what I presume was their original size plus much smaller versions and even refrigerator magnets. We had a laugh over many of the designs, old women being milled into pretty maids, bears with guns robbing the beekeepers, a devil sharpening a woman's tongue. There are also religious panels, folk art panels, historical panels and ones with mythical figures.
The beehive panel is a painted wooden board that was surrounded by other wooden boards that make up the beehive. They can be found on the beehives that are stacked on top of one another a bee-house. The panels 20-30 cm wide, 10-20 cm high, where the bees entered the hive were painted, so the bees could recognise their hive. Most of the original panels were created during the 1800s up through WWII. You might find an authentic panel for a lot of money at an antique store, what you'll find in the souvenir shops are replicas.
Even if you don't plan on buying one, take a look at them should you find them at a souvenir shop, I guarantee you'll laugh at least a few of them.
In what I presume is a seasonal art display, there were a couple of pieces of outdoor art in Preseren Square. The 1st photo shows a cascade of rocks, at the bottom there was a sign in English saying "Danger! Falling Rocks!" The other was a series of people in a trajectory.
Located a stone's throw away from Ljubljanica river, the main square & the famous Three Bridges....more
My 1st choice, Hotel Emonec, was fully booked for our 1st night in Ljubljana so I decided to splurge...more
Would recommend this hotel being very central, staff very friendly, one thing the hotel heating...more