Saturday, 11 August 2012


Following two fabulous days at Lake Bled - the most picturesque lake I have ever seen - we arrived in Ljubljana, capital of Slovenia. After wandering through the central markets, we came across a cute café and stopped off for coffee. Café Cokl, Krekov trg 8, named for the family name of the owner, Tine Cokl. Tine is absolutely passionate about coffee – if you get him started on the subject, you’ll have a hard time getting away. His knowledge is immense and his enthusiasm is catching. It was hot, and we ordered Tine’s iced espresso, €1.50; strong espresso, a little sugar, poured over ice to beat the heat, and topped with frothed milk. Excellent. And as cool as anywhere you’d find in East London. 

By the time we finished our coffee it was lunch time, and Tine had recommended the fish place in the market. Ribarnica Ribice is a simple van on the edge of the market, with trestle tables, plastic tablecloths and bench seats. We ordered plates of barbecued and deep fried squid and baby octopus, served with salsa verde and a squeeze of lemon, salmon steak, bread, and a mix of yummy vinegary salads. The seafood was incredibly fresh and perfectly cooked, washed down with a plastic cup of white wine, all for €28.50. The Slovenian ladies seated next to us insisted that this place served the best fish in town, and I would believe it. 

Ribarnica Ribice seafood lunch

After taking the funicular up to the castle for the view, and returning on foot, it was time for an afternoon refreshment; an Aperol Spritz, €3.50, at Clementina’s on Gornji trg, a lovely street lined with pretty apartments in various stages of decay or renovation. 

Gornji Trg Ljubljana

South of the train station, Ljubljana turned into a mini-East Berlin, graffiti-stained and rough. We walked, admired the architecture, watched street artists at work, Kavarna Mackon campariand wound up in a bar at happy hour. Truberjeva cesta is a great street to stroll along; not as pretty as the old part of town, but interesting for it’s mix of long-legged local ladies on bikes, hippies, guys on mopeds, and the occasional drunk, and is dotted with good-looking cheap eats. We stopped off at Kavarna Mackon for a Campari & soda, €2.40. 

Just a little further up the road, in a very non-descript part of Truberjeva cesta (60), was Tandoori, an Indian & Bengali restaurant. Drawing customers in by the scent; you can smell the spices a block away. We filled up the one table in the tiny takeaway restaurant, and I ordered the Biryani tikki thali, €5.50. Tender tandoori chicken in spicy biryani, topped with mango dhal, with salad and a tahini dressing, served up with a huge smile and massive enthusiasm by the excellent staff. After (almost) finishing my whole plate, I cooled down with a honey-sweetened, cardamom-scented mango lassi, €1.50. Fantastic dinner, and ridiculously cheap.  

We decided to finish the evening by trying one of the local tipples; Borovnicevec. We found the Holidays Pub, ordered a round of the forest blueberry-based brandy, €2 each; ultra sweet, with actual berries floating around in the glass. We sat back and finished an incredible day by watching half an hour of the track and field at the London Olympics. 

Most excellent day. Great food and drink, and the friendliness of Slovenians won us over. Ljubljana is one to come back to. 

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