solo europe trip | to and from slovenia

This blog post has been sitting in my drafts for months and months. I’m finally completing it. ūüôā¬†
When I decided to go to Slovenia, I only had two objectives in mind – to visit Lake Bled and see the Soca River. I did both…and so much more. But first, the important information.
WHERE IS SLOVENIA
You won’t imagine the amount of people that asked me that question. Slo-what?? Slovakia? Nope, Slovenia. Slovenia is a ‘little’ country surrounded by Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia. When I said ‘little’, it is little compared to the neighboring countries. But it’s 20,273km¬≤ is big compared to Singapore’s¬†719.1¬†km¬≤.
COST
My total transport cost from Venice РBled РLjubljana РVenice was a total of Euro 55.30.
HOW TO GET AND FROM SLOVENIA
Though you can fly to Ljubljana, a quick check showed me that it would make a huge dent to my pocket. Upon further research, I read some old blog posts that talked about going into Slovenia through Venice. It sounded like a good idea to me. So I bought a plane ticket from London (LHR) to Venice (VCE). It cost S$287.66 through Skiddoo.

Now, I just had to figure out a way to get to Slovenia. From what I saw, there wasn’t a direct train from Venice (or the surrounding area) to Bled. Going there¬†would require a combination of buses and trains which meant more time spent. It seemed like I didn’t have much options…until I¬†stumbled on a mention of GoOpti. At first¬†glance, it seemed a bit sketchy to me…it didn’t seem to have much reviews¬†floating around the net. But I decided to try my luck and I have to say, I came away extremely impressed with GoOpti. So, just a quick¬†overview about them – GoOpti is a Slovenian¬†company (I only found that out after talking to my driver) which provides private or shared transfers to and from Slovenia to the surrounding¬†countries. I arranged for a pick up from Venice to Bled. I picked the larger window period from 3:45am to 6:45am (meaning that they can schedule my pick up from 3:45am to 6:45am) and hoped with crossed fingers that my pick up would be at about 6am. It was not the case. Read this post to find out what happened.

My driver tried calling me at 4:05am but since I was¬†nearly at Piazzale Roma, I was just about cut off the call when¬†the call was cut off. He later told me that he heard the international dial tone and¬†didn’t want to rack up my phone bill. ūüôā I got to the van, knocked on his window and he jumped out to help me with my bags. After peeping into the passenger windows, I saw some people sleeping inside. The driver then ushered me to the front sit and I got settled. Before we even left Italy, I was dead asleep. I was awoken at 5:06am when driver stopped to drop off some passengers at some petrol station. I dozed off again and woke up when the sun came out.

We were already in Ljubljana when I opened my eyes again. I was left alone in the van with the driver. He told me that the journey to Bled would be about an hour so then we started talking. And talking. We talked about Slovenia’s history, about GoOpti, about traveling, about Asia. Since I was the only passenger left and my hostel wasn’t too far from the Bled Bus Station, the driver dropped me off at my hostel. After hauling my bag from the back of the van, he commented that I seemed too small to be carrying such a heavy bag…I can’t help it that I’m short leh. I had a number of people commenting¬†that I was too small for my bag. I don’t think small/short = weak. Right? Right?? ūüôā

Anyway, I got dropped off at my hostel at 6:39am. The sky was bright, the town was quiet, I was alone. The check in for the hostel only opened at 9am so I was stranded in Bled and had to wait. Some of the shops were slowly opening and I was eyed at before they wrote me off as harmless. I sat on a bench and killed time by reading.

The bench I sat on.

HOW TO GET FROM BLED TO LJUBLJANA

Catching a bus from Bled to Ljubljana was easy peasy. There is a departure from Bled Bus Station almost every hour. After my early morning cycle around Lake Bled, I rushed back to my hostel, grabbed my bags and walked 3 minutes down to the station. I sat and waited for a little while before the bus came. Check out some of the transport info here.

There were a number of buses that pulled up but not all go to Ljubljana. I asked around before to make sure that I didn’t miss the bus. I didn’t. To be on the safe side, check with the hostel/hotel staff for the exact timings of the buses. The 1+hour comfortable bus ride cost me Euro 6.30. My backpack was stored under the bus. I arrived in Ljubljana at 8:50am.

Once in Ljubljana, I depended on my offline Google Maps to bring me to Hostel Tresor. ¬†The walk was 12 minutes away – a pretty walk that will bring you to and through the city center. But I’ll leave that for another post.

I spent a day in Ljubljana just walking around (and shopping) loving every minute I spent there. But my time was short and I had to leave at 4+am. The pick up location I had chosen was a pedestrian area (meaning that no vehicles were allowed in that area) – I’m not too sure why it was an option to pick that location if no vehicles were allowed in but a day before my pick up, GoOpti emailed me and asked if I can wait at another location. After a few emails back and forth, we finally arranged to meet at Grand Hotel Union – a 3 minute walk away from my hostel. I spent the last few hours in Ljubljana eating some popular Asian noodle¬†place and packing my bags.

At 3:31am, I crept out of my room, down to the 1st floor, returned my key to the front desk guy, had him assure me that Ljubljana was very safe (even at 3am in the morning) and said goodbye. Oh, and that weird guy sitting outside the hostel (catching wifi)? He’s a harmless (and homeless) wannabe author. He’s sits outside the hostel every night. The hostel can’t do anything about it. But he’s harmless. With the reassurance, I headed out into the cold – with my phone and tactical torch in hand.

See the green glow? That’s the Ljubljana Castle. I climbed up there earlier that afternoon.

I was early for my pick up this time and had to wait for a few minutes. But even though I was early, my pick up arrived earlier than the stated time. I hopped around the pavement to keep warm while keeping an eye out for my van. The street was hauntingly empty. And like a knight in shining armor, my ride drove in.

There already was someone sitting in front so I ducked into the second row at the back and adjusted my stuff. I wasn’t all that tired. The next pick up saw us pick up two passengers at some random point. The young guy sat at the back next to me and immediately turned on his laptop…at 4am in the morning. I closed my eyes.

When I woke up, the sun was slowly rising and we were¬†already in Italy heading for the airport (one of the drop off points). When we reached the airport,¬†my fellow passengers all left the van…leaving me along. Again. My driver continued on until we reached Piazzale Roma in Venice. ¬†And there, my day in Venice commenced.

Thing to note: There is no immigration in between EU countries when you travel by road. So you won’t have a Slovenian chop in your passport.

February 27, 2017
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