So here we are, the finality of a 3 week train adventure through Europe. I’d make one more stop before the grueling 14 hour train ride back to Amsterdam, where I’d spend my last night.
I chose Slovenia over Austria due to its smaller size. Only having 2 and 1/2 days to explore, I figured I could get more in. I’d make my home base in the beautiful city of Ljubljana for the next few days. I had arrived on Valentine’s day and couldn’t have picked a more romantic city to be single in.
The streets were lined with cafes, heaters set ablaze with blankets out. A greenish hued river split the city center in two. A triple bridge connected the streets, while an older man played the accordion at the foot of it. The Ljubljana Castle towered above, as dragons looked on. I’m not much of a Valentine’s day type of guy (topic for another day), but I’d be lying if I said, my heart wasn’t hurting a bit.
I had done a little bit of research before getting into Slovenia, and Lake Bled was a must see. They say all good things come to those who wait, and even though I had seen a lot so far, the tranquility I experienced here was unreal. It was about a 45 minute bus ride out of the city, and I spent much of it waiting in great anticipation.
days like today remind me that love radiates from much deeper depths, than just the warmth of another human being. cupid shot me with his arrow yesterday and it led me straight to lake bled ~r~
Before we pulled into the station, I caught my first glimpse of Cerkev Marijinega vnebovzetja (a pilgrimage church dedicated to the Assumption of Mary), which sits in the middle of Lake Bled. My jaw had simply dropped after I made the short walk from the bus station down to the lake edge. My day would consist of hiking up a very steep hill to explore Bled Castle (dating back to 1011) and a 3.7 mile walk around Lake Bled. As I’ve said before, pictures can only take the senses so far, so I won’t even try to describe what I was feeling inside. For your viewing pleasure, I leave with you the photos below.
I returned later in the evening hoping to go out with a sense of normalcy. After having flooded the bathroom out 2 nights in a row, my shower had been fixed. I thought things were looking up considering how my day went, however, I just couldn’t pull myself to go out and interact. Something internally was blocking me. I honestly felt like I had reverted back to my high school years, and was crippled by the fear of interacting with strangers. This coming from a guy who rode a bus through Honduras for 10 hours alone and also just spent 3 weeks traveling through Europe alone. What was the deal? Was I moving backwards, or was I really taking steps forward?
I hooked up with a local on my final day in Ljubljana and we spent the day tooling around the city. She had quite the personality, very fiery. I saw more of the alternative side of the city that day. Definitely more of my scene. At night I would check out the area known as Metelkova. It used to be an old military barracks, but has since been transformed into a city center. Many of the buildings housing different genres of music. I spent about 25 minutes there before asking myself, “what the fuck are you doing here?” Did I enjoy the scene yes, but I also felt out of my element. With a group of friends, this would’ve been awesome, but since I was by myself and probably the oldest guy there, I knew it was time to bail.
As I mentioned at the beginning, I was staring at a 14 hour train journey back to Amsterdam for one last evening before returning home. I’d have a lot of time to soak everything in. My feelings, my thoughts, my experiences had all led me to this point. It was during this train ride I would actually write my first blog entry. It was also during this train ride, I think, I was finally beginning to make sense of everything that was going on internally.
I arrived in Amsterdam around 10pm, just enough time to enjoy one more evening out. I booked my hotel the week prior and it sat above a bar/restaurant. You actually had to walk through the establishment to get to your room. Crazy, but it served its purpose for the evening. What did I do on my final night? I’ll leave that up to your imagination. I did reason with my higher self, but I still managed to enjoy myself.
I awoke the next day to bright sunshine and a feeling of lightness. The heaviness I had been carrying around for much of the trip had lifted. On my way to the train station, I stood over one of the canals, closed my eyes and soaked in every last moment I could before heading to the airport. My last oops moment would happen there.
When I got to the check-in desk, the service agent said to me “you just made it on time!” I looked at the clock and noticed it was 12 pm. I checked my ticket and it said 13:00, which equivilates to 1pm. My trusty old iPhone had decided on scheduling my flight for a 3pm departure. Luckily for me the check in process went smoothly and I made my flight with plenty of time to spare. It wouldn’t have been the worst thing in the world to have spent another night in Amsterdam, right?
Next stop, Brick, NJ …