Wien (Vienna)

Despite wanting to go to Ljubljana for a long time, and despite planning my holiday around starting there, and despite travelling for 2 days to get there, I never really felt at home either in the City or elsewhere in Slovenia. On the train today I decided that for me, Slovenia is one of those countries where there are lots of places to enjoy a loved one's company and not so many places or things to enjoy by oneself. Take for instance the castle overlooking Ljubljana - this offers fantastically romantic views over the city and lovely courtyard dining, but not much else in the way of exhibitons or history of the building to entertain the loan visitor.

The picture shows Union beer, brewed in Ljubljana and not a bad drop.

This is Stallion Steak, on a bed of rocket, with grilled cheese and roast potatoes. Now, I ordered Stallion Steak expecting to receive Ned the Horse, and maybe I did, but it sure tasted like beef to me. Maybe that's intended...whatever it was, it was very nice.

Take also Lake Bled - widely rewiewed in the guidebooks as "the place to visit" when in Slovenia, but in fact while the views and tranquility are stunning the place itself is a bit , well, dull for the singleton.

So today's adventures didn't come off as planned in any way. The plan was to catch the early train to Lesce Beld which is 2 miles from Lake Bled, get the bus to the lake, check into a friendly and inviting hostel on the lake, dump the bag, catch to bus to Planica and watch the Ski Flying for a bit, then bus back to the lake and watch the sun go down over a cold beer or three. Tomorrow I was going to go back to Lesce Bled, catch the train to Villach (Austria) then onwards to Prague.

Funny how things work out. I missed the early train by 2 minutes, so spent 2 hours waiting for the next one. The bus to the lake was fine, but having followed the driver's directions to the centre of down I discovered that not only was it pretty much closed (still low season) but also any hostel that might be open was back up the hill, past the bus station where I had been dropped off. So I trudged back up the hill, found a deserted hostel where the owner wanted E15 for the night without breakfast/facilities/pleasantries. So moved on, tried one other that was shut and decided at that point that Lake Bled was not for me, and to be honest neither was any more Slovenian (lack of) hospitality. The hostel in Ljubljana was also lousy (dirty, uncomfortable and unhelpful) but I had thought this was a one-off. As for the ski flying, no one locally had the first idea of what it was or how to get there, buses where infrequent, etc etc. Enough was enough.

So, bus back to Lesce Bled, wait 2 hours for the next train to Villach and get on it. Luckily the sun was shining and the bar on the platform was open, so I did get my beers in the sunshine afterall. The journey to Villach takes about an hour, hopped off the platform there and straight onto an Intercity going to Wien. Not that I really cared at that point.

Funny though how I had felt really quite down while leaving Slovenia but much more cheerful as we emerged at the end of the Alpine tunnel into Austria. Must be the different kind of scenery or something.

The Intercity to Wien was pretty dull, although livened up by a dining car serving both good beer (Paulaner) and properly cooked food, pictured here. At long last we pulled into one of the 4 City Stations, I found a Tourist Information Centre still open at 9pm (beat that, Salisbury) and eventually stumbled into a Youth Hostel which had one bed left. Its mine now!

Tomorrow, as of now, the plan is to go onto Prague in the morning. There is a train at 9.30am which gets in at 2.30pm ish. This would give me time to fine a hostel and perhaps have the luxury of choosing a room/bed rather than the last one available. The, onwards to Krakow, then Berlin, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Home. The original idea of taking in the Swiss mountain railway will have to wait for the next trip - it would eat up too much time getting there and back.

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