Day 7: This day was going to be made to see the city and finish up the Bled area if we hadn’t gotten to it on our mega RT I had initially planned. SO we got to spend the whole day in the city instead giving us plenty of time to explore. First up at 9 we had a tour booked to Stand- Up Paddleboard down the Ljubljanski river. This was probably one of the top 5 things I was excited to do. And it was really cool! Our group was made up of 4 Asian friends, 2 Brits, and ourselves so not too big a group either. The tour lasted 2 hours and we got to go all the way down through the city center under the 3 main bridges (plenty more as well) before turning around and going back to where we let in. 
We started in the river around this beautiful neck of the woods
I couldn’t help but take a picture of this. This guy was walking (yes walking) both a dog ( can’t see him here but he was there) and a CAT. Neither was leashed but both were definitely walking with him as he changed direction after a bit and came back the other way. I laughed so hard.  
Braden got the hang of paddling down so quick. He was a Pro!
Getting to about the city center area with the really pretty bridges! 
Standing up and paddling was actually fairly simple, only offering a small challenge when one of the boats passed by and created a wake. Even then only 2 guys fell in. Braden and I were pros! It got quite toasty as the tour progressed so everyonce in a while when we needed to wait for the rest of the group, I’d sit down and straddle the board with my feet in the water to cool off. The water itself was incredibly clean for a city river. Not claiming it was clear or anything, but I could see fish swimming around down below so it definitely wasn’t filthy. 
The Triple Bridge with the Iconic Prešeren Square (our Airbnb was one block from this square!!) 
Cooling off by wetting my feet and waiting for the others to catch up.. 
Waiting for the others also meant time for.. a photo op! 

My favorite bridge: The Dragon Bridge. It was not far past here we turned around
to paddle back to our start point. 
The Butcher’s Bridge covered in love locks which sadly… I forgot to bring for us. 

After our tour we got some gelato on our walk back to the apartment, showered and cleaned up, and then headed out to explore the city from above. We walked across the Dragon Bridge and headed up the hill (which was quite steep honestly maybe just as hard as the hike from the day before) to Ljubljana Castle.

We passed a really cool drinking water fountain… (Left) Seriously America is now very underwhelming in our drinking water fountains.

Not making that name up, I promise. 
Dragon Bridge from above. 

It was the Dragon Bridge that first intrigued us to visit Ljubljana. Glad we did! 
We didn’t go in the castle or anything but really enjoyed touring around the outside and exploring the park greens out in front. The view of the city was great!

They had a little Medieval festival going on out front! 

Some amazing cobble-stoned streets we passed walking back down from the castle! 
Such a quaint city! 
Parks, Parks, and more Parks! 

Recognize this bridge? Had to cross it on foot of course! 

After heading back down from the castle we wandered a bit more, and then decided on this cool looking Burger Bar for dinner. It was situated RIGHT on the river on a sort of a floating dock and was probably the BEST burger I’ve had in a while. It had salad greens and sun-dried tomatoes on it! DELICIOUS!

After dinner and it had started to cool off a bit, we walked over to the main city park which was HUGE. It took us about 15-20 minutes getting there and was just mind blowing in size. You could probably compare it to Central Park in New York as there were trails everywhere. We just skimmed along one side of it enjoying the people and dog watching we got before walking back. 
Hello? Slovenian Permberlee is that you?!
The cute little street our apartment was off of. 

Our amazing space! Loved the wood beams and beautiful floors. Everything was so tidy, clean, and cozy! The little bedroom (barely squeezing a double bed in there) is that door on the right.

The door entrance to the building. 

And our little kitchen nook! Perfect for brewing tea and storing our snacks!

One of my favorite spots in the whole city was the main square (just 2 minutes from our apartment). This is also the location of the “tripple Bridge” and gives a great view of the river with the castle sitting above on the hill, and also some historic buildings round about. There were tons of cafes and right in the middle of this square there was a “Ljubljana’s own weather system” sign and a sprinkler was situated above that caused a constant
drizzle” mist in the middle of the square. It was so unique and quaint,  I just could never quite get over it! The chart of the cobblestone streets and Eastern European Architecture just all rolled into one great city! we loved it and were sure sad to head back to the apartment to pack and get ready for our last trip.

My favorite town square. Ever. 
But we had one last experience in the city and that was to meet our other host! Their names were Sijan and Prav and we met with them about 9 PM to go and get tea. Which good thing too since we had been previously going to bed soo early we would’ve missed the great night life as well! We had some tea called “joy” that smelled a LOT like Black Licorice but thankfully was not as strong as that, and we sat for probably an hour on the river under a massive tree discussing travel, and countries, work, life, etc.. They were so friendly and sweet I actually hope we meet again someday. 
After that though it was close to 10:30 and definitely our bedtime as we were headed into Country #3 the next day. 
Day 6: Another one of my favorite days if not a bit stressful at times. I had initially planned a VERY full day driving pretty much the entire loop of SLovenian highways. However I knew that would be too much after driving the previous day, so we headed the 40 minute drive north to the Bled area, stopping first at Vintgar Gorge, which is part of the Triglav National Park. We were pretty excited to be back in our element of nature however surprised to find a 45 minute line waiting to buy tickets (didn’t even know we needed tickets) lol. But we hung around and waited and it was well worth it! The walk through the gorge was a little over 2 KM each way (so about 4 roundtrip) 
The beautiful drive to Bled. Check out those awesome mountains! 
Braden was a trooper and drove the whole time. He did awesome! 
The path is almost entirely suspended above a stunning blue/green river on wood platfroms that are stuck into the walls. 2 km of that! Seriously such a neat place with at least 2 large waterfalls, many rapids, and some calmer spots. It was pretty crowded at the start but luckily the clouds started to thin out on our way back so we didn’t have to “swim upstream” as much as we were worried we would. 

A little bit like a fairy tale place, don’t you agree? 😉

A cute little Cairn garden. I loved catching one of these in another country! WOW! 

The final stop was this stunning waterfall, before we turned back around and saw it all again in reverse. The photos I got aren’t the best as it was a constant battle for good lighting and shots without a million people in them, but I managed to snag a couple I’m content with. Just know that even the shots I got don’t even come close to doing justice to this gorgeous place!

When we were all set at the Gorge, we decided it was lunch time and all time for Braden to experience his very first… International McDonalds. It was huge! and was the pretty standard international type with like a whole separate cafe within. We especially liked the auto ordering they had so you didn’t have to try and speak to anyone to order. (Later, we checked out that Grocery Store LiDL for some great finds)
So lunch acquired, we headed into Bled to find a NIGHTMARE of parking. oh goodness….it was horrible. Braden was a champ and somehow got us and our rental car out in one piece.. but there were roads blocked off all over the place due to festivals and weddings. People would just block traffic and park with their hazards on making you wait foreverr for them to move. No parking anywhere to be found. We finally were about to give up when the GPS lead us to the Bled campground on the other side of the lake (which is lucky cause that’s actually where we wanted to be anyways) and we happened by chance, upon a large dirt parking lot that was FREE!! haha score. Only took us an hour of frustrated driving to locate it. We quickly set off to make use of the little bit of day we had left at this part. I had my heart set on hiring a boat to row out to the Island, making Braden carry me up the stairs to the little church (which is said to bring you good luck) and doing a hike to get a view of the lake. Well… looked like we were going to have to choose between boat or hike so I gave Braden the option.. and can you guess what he chose?

So we went into the camp office to inquire about the hikes in the area and we were seriouly RIGHT where we needed to be, just a few steps from the TH. The Ostrica trail was actually pretty short at 1.61 miles RT but decently steep with 800 feet of elevation gain (which didn’t feel like that much after the stairs we endured on the Cinque Terre hikes) The view from the top was like nothing else. Easily again one of my favorite moments from the trip, it was so surreal! 
The view looking away from the lake. (not that most people want to) You can see the campground in the lower right. 
We hung out there for a little while before making our way back down to Lake side. I wished desperately that I’d brought my bathing suit so I could actually swim, but I settled for taking my shoes off and sitting on the bank watching the beautiful swans swim around nearby. Super peaceful and wonderful evening. 

Obsessed with swans! 

Aww our cute little car…. On our way back to Ljubljana, we stopped at the McDonalds for dinner (hey, easy and cheap!) and we also got croissants for breakfast the next day, and dessert that consisted of Tiramasu, Chocolate cake, and Macaroons. haha had to try them at least once. (they were ok) We also stopped in at a grocery store to buy more apples and snacks, along with some juice to go with our breakfast. We were again back in Ljubljana around 8:30 and settled in to relax and call it a night.

Continuing on Day 5: Postojna. We made it here by about 4 and promptly bought our tickets for one seriously THE COOLEST places I’ve ever been: Postojna Caves.

Above: Stunning village area near the caves entrance and ticketing booth
Left: cave entrance. All the tours lined up with our respective Language group.

All aboard! We hopped on a train, YES A TRAIN. just an open aired sort of disney ride which was 15 minutes deep into the caves. So yes, we passed through caverns of stalactites and stalagmites, tunnels and large rooms. I like to call this the REAL Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. The whole time we kept expecting some roller coaster type drop lol. while there weren’t any crazy vertical drops, there was quite a drop in temperature as we descended further and further into the caves.

At the end, we got out and had an hour, 3 km walking tour on paved paths through more caverns. This cave system was HUGE. So cool. There was one part  you cross a bridge that is called “the Russian bridge” as it was built by Russian prisoners of war during World War II. Then you go through 3 aptly named caverns the While hall  and Red hall (due to the color of the rooms owing to the minerals in the cavern walls) and the Spaghetti room because all the stalactites on the ceiling are little spaghetti shapes. Some how you walk around and end up in a room under the spaghetti cavern so directly under where you were standing earlier in the tour and you also walk under the Russian bridge.

You walk up and over a hill called the “calvary” where you can get a sense for just how massive this
cave system is. Lot’s of switch-backs to make the slippery walk way manageable. 
A look at the Russian Bridge, later we would be walking underneath this!!!

The “white” room
The “red” room
And the “spaghetti” room
Postojna’s “most famous” formation referred to as the Diamond. 

The tour ends with a small aquarium of proteus (also called the Human fish) which are cool looking cave salamanders and in the “concert hall” which is the largest cavern in the whole series. (Capable of accomodating 10,000 people for musical concerts.. which they DO!… Bucketlist) Here, deep under the ground still, they have a souvenir shop, post office, and my favorite part: flushing toilets which I made sure to make use of. Then you hop back on the train for a return journey of another 15 minutes. Just all in all. AMAZING!

Left: Me in the Concert Hall.

Time for the ride out! 
Next stop: Predjama Castle, just 15 km from the Postojna Cave tours

So our tour for that finished up about 6:30 and we still had Predjama Castle to visit. When we bought the tickets, someone told us it was open until 8, but the caves area is only open to 7. As we were inquiring about how to get to the castle, an employee told us the castle also closed at 7. Begin total disapointment and despair. These feelings weren’t helped when we were trying to exit the car park and were hopelessly trapped, thereby delaying us until 6:45. (We finally sorted out that there were pay kiosks in the parking area that you insert you ticket, pay, and then all you have to do is put your “paid” ticket in the machine to get out. lol we just hadn’t known where the pay kiosks were) So we got over to the castle just before  and Yippee! It was ACTUALLY open until 8 afterall. So we picked up our included audio tour devices and set out to explore one killer castle.

Left: The first area you see as you walk into the castle. I just loved the seems from where castle met mountain. 

The castle itself is set right into the cliffs about 123 M above the ground with another cave system extending up behind it and dates back to at least the 13th century. It also holds the world record for largest “cave- castle.” The audio tour is quite extensive on explaining just about every room of the castle and also it’s most famous occupant: Erazem Lueger who was sort of a “Robbin Hood” figure for that area and also survived over a 1.5 year siege on Pedjama Castle.

Right: Braden listening closely to the very interesting tales of Ezarem Lueger.

Left; The water closet. Set out somewhat precariously over the edge of the cliffs… Guess you knew where NOT to walk below back in those days.

The Torture chamber. 
Views of the amazing country side seen from the windows of the castle. 

The tunnels that go back behind the castle actually continue out on the other side near a village where they could get supplies into the castle. (Sound like Helms Deep anyone…? anyone?) You get to see a couple different over looks that have amazing views of the valley and also climb up into the “cave portion” of the castle a little ways. There are tours that can lead you further into them if you book in advance. (which we didn’t. we barely made it in time to see the castle) lol. So all in all both of these stops turned out to be quite incredible.

The climb up quite the steep large stairs led to some dramatic overlooks and “defensible positions”

The only room with a fireplace (besides the kitchen) and the warmest room… I know where I’ll be staying. 
The little church within the castle. Those 2 windows on the side there connect through to the bedroom… So what you’re saying is… I could go to church without ever leaving my bedroom?

The path that leads up into the caves. 

Up in the caves… looking down on the scenic Torture Chamber. 
There were actual rooms built up in these caves but the walls unfortuntely are not still standing. Still it was cool to go up and explore a little ways. 
Up in the caves looking back toward the castle front. 
The Knights of the Round Table room. (just kidding it was a rectangle table)

All finished up with this magnificent castle and area, we hit the road and we still had about 30 minutes to Ljubljana (our home for the next 3 nights)

Ljubljana looked awesome! But one problem: we COULD NOT find parking anywhere! We circled around for probably 20 minutes before our AirBnb host came to the rescue and recommended an underground parking garage near the place we were staying, so we put that into the GPS and bam. DONE. parked. Then it was only a short 5 minute walk through essentially the city center (which is incredibly charming! but more on that later…) and we were at our hosts’ front door. We only met one of the hosts but he was very friendly and I had conversed with the hosts pretty extensively in planning for our trip. So we were excited to meet them! And turns out, he was pretty excited to meet us! They had a selection of teas in the apartment for us as well as 4 of the largest apples I’ve ever seen. They had some really thoughtful things around for us including maps, tourist pamphlets, and a cute little “How to speak Slovenian” key phrases paper. We had essentially an apartment to ourselves. You would enter through the main door into a shared space with a little washer/ dryer. Then we had our own lock and key to a separate space (one of the largest we had) with a nice sized bathroom, living space, small kitchen corner, and a little bedroom nook. All in all it was so clean and nice we didn’t feel like leaving the comfort of it to find dinner, so we ate leftover snacks, all 4 apples, and some tea that night for dinner. lol. Plus they also had several English channels so we gorged on random travel channels really settling in for the night.