Thursday, August 21, 2014

First Impressions of Ljubljana

I've been to a fair number of European cities, and Ljubljana may take the cake as far as pure quaintness.  The entire downtown is closed to cars, so very pleasant for walkers and bikers.

Tons of old bridges, churches, cobble stoned streets and the long river walk on both banks is thronged with cafes and people.  It's like Market Square times 100.  Also tons of parks and green spaces.

The law school, where Ben will be teaching, is right next to a daily farmer's market, across the famous Dragon bridge, and beneath the looming Ljubljana Castle.  Pretty cool spot.

Nobody jaywalks.  Even if there are no cars coming in either direction, people placidly wait for the light to change.  Apparently they will ticket you without warning for violations.  The cross walk beeps go really fast when it's time to walk, so we've had fun with that.

Everyone speaks English.    Most people under 40 are as fluent as I am.  We're trying to learn at least a few basic Slovene phrases so we can be polite, and to find our way around a little better.  Credit cards are accepted everywhere, unlike Salzburg..

Yummy food
You can get all kinds of food - Italian, Mexican, Thai, Sushi.  We had amazing pizza tonight, including some excellent GF pizza.  Wine is cheap and good.  The traditional Slovene food is fresh and delicious.  Salads have been amazing, and the sausage dishes make me glad I eat meat.  

The school the girls will attend serves hot lunches, which the girls were excited to try, until they learned it included more 'European' offerings, like calamari.  They do have pizza every Wednesday, though not sure if it comes with corn or not...

We will cook more once we're settled into our house.  So far the grocery stores seem fine, but I'm really missing our Cruze Dairy farm milk.  The milk we've found so far is not so good.

Moving to our house tomorrow
Our permanent place is about 10 minutes outside of the center, has a little yard and lots of cozy rooms.  The Slovene couple are both lawyer/professors, spending the year as Fellows at Harvard.  The kids, 17 and 8, speak 4-5 languages, including perfect English.  

While the whole family showed us around their home they kept extolling American ways.  The little girl can't wait to shop at Target.  The parents loved studying at UCLA.  We kept asking them about Farmers markets and how to bike/bus/walk places.  They said, driving is easier, go to this big store, and Starbucks is their favorite coffee!  Meanwhile we're delighted by cobble stone streets and old bridges.  Novelty is the thing!

Although Georgia packed no long sleeve shirts, she did manage to squeeze in some favorite books, like a Doonesbury collection and Calvin and Hobbes, which weigh about 10 pounds each

Luckily, our landlords are leaving us their huge book & DVD collection, which is mostly in English.  This includes some essentials like the entire Simpsons collection and Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.  Also they show American movies here with subtitles, not dubbed, so that will be good for the cold winter nights.

Bobo update
In case you were worried, Bobo has had no trouble adjusting to the new time zone.   Dogs are welcome almost everywhere and restaurant waiters always insist on bringing him a bowl of water.  

My new job
I start my new job tomorrow morning.  Wish me luck!

I'll be teaching at the American International school full-time in exchange for tuition for the girls.  Still not totally clear what I'll be teaching, but the principal doesn't seem worried about it, so I will try not to worry either.  

Most likely I will be teaching Dahlia and Georgia at least one class per day; they both think that's about the worst idea ever.  

The school has about 110 kids k-12, so it's tiny.  About 1/3 of the students are connected to the American Embassy, the rest are Slovene, Austrian, Russian and who knows what else.  Students start next Thursday, though most Slovene students apparently don't show up until the 2nd week (!).  Typical class sizes are about 10 kids.

We met one American family today.  They have two kids, ages 10 and 12, who've been here a year.  Before that they lived in Dubai and Senegal.  The kids are worldly, but seem typically American too.  The boy has Atlanta Braves and guitar posters all over his room and the girl loves The Fault in Our Stars, knitting and piano.  They have a minivan and a new puppy.  

My classroom and two of my new students.

It's been a whirlwind of change - exhilarating, but stressful.  Writing helps me process it all.  I look forward to unpacking and establishing some new routines soon!



  1. Slovene is key. Slovenians use it as a way to exclude others. When I became much better at it, I realized how much was being said about me directly in front of me. A quick "A res? Ti misliš da?*" solved that forever.

    *Really? You think that?

  2. Thanks, Toby. I need to study pronunciation rules too.

  3. This was amazing, Indya! Read it 3 times and even found Master Bobo in the water near the castle. Great organizing and clarity. I can only imagine how the school will create a challenge in flexibility. Sounds like Slovenia was made just for you 5....and I predict you will find a new source for better milk soon. Thanks so much for posting this. So much Love to everyone.

  4. Love it! Almost looks like a Disney village named Ljubljanaland.

    And Georgia remains the best dressed person in any city she finds herself.