The moment we decided we were going to Slovenia, we searched for pictures of how the country looks in the winters. Everyone knows the beauty of the Yugoslavian remnants in the summer; to visit them in the dead of European winters was adventurous, some told us, and really, really stupid, assured others. We were undeterred, and grew more captivated with our plan with each pristine, snowy landscape we found on the internet which bore the tag “Slovenija”.
Our flight to Ljubljana was due to depart from Amsterdam; despite being meticulous planners, the Dutch spirit of chill had invaded us both, and we reached the airport with a quarter of an hour to go before our flight. As I sprinted (at the highest speed I could muster, only to be overtaken by several casually strolling Europeans) toward our departure gate to beg them to wait for my companion, I had the fleeting thought that it may not be so bad if we missed our flight. Our hosts in the Netherlands were beyond kind and interesting and we had been having a lovely time in Amsterdam. Moreover, our tickets to Ljubljana had been a steal. Perhaps all wouldn’t be lost? Thankfully, before my sentiments had the time to reach any logical conclusion, my companion overtook me as well, and asked the ground crew to wait for me.
We boarded our flight.
Our time in Slovenia was magical. On our first day, we ate lunch inside a restored castle, where pizzas were baked on a stone in a large cellar. They infused the crust with garlic, rosemary and roasted peppers. Each bite sparkled with decadence. Our stewardess was middle-aged, pretty and had the sweetest smile one could imagine. I would have hugged her, but I didn’t want her to think I was weird. The stewardess poured us two shots of thick, sweet-tasting alcohol: frothy gold beer layered atop Slovenia’s prized flower-honey. Laughing at our delight, she poured us two more.
We headed out for a walking tour, my favourite way to explore any city. We learnt about Ljubljana’s art history, cultural richness and its unique education system. Strolling about the city by ourselves soon after, we found ourselves at the top of the bridge which leads to Ljubljana Castle, majestic and mysterious. Exhausted from the climb up, we sat on the edge of the cliff overlooking the castle’s lawns. The only other person we could see for miles was a woman who was sitting cross-legged at the bottom of one of the spires of the castle, sketching the spire opposite her. In that moment, I wished that I could draw too; I reasoned that something as impersonal as a photograph couldn’t capture the utter peace I felt.
We returned to our hostel, another restored castle (!) with a statue of the Ganesh at its doorstep. We were welcomed in with some orange tea, which we guzzled down to fuel up for another appointment with our winter fairytale.