On the return from Lake Bled we walked back through the streets of the city that in the daylight we could see were regrettably extensively disfigured by graffiti. This is a real problem in Ljubljana where every building provides a canvas and an opportunity for the so-called artists. Every year there is a city spring clean organised by the Ljubljana City Authorities as part of the annual activity “Za lepso Ljubljano” (For a Prettier Ljubljana). The operation cleans up three hundred and eighty square metres of river walls and also tidies city streets, passageways and parks as well as cleaning two kilometres of riverbed by divers.
The Ljubljanica River is a tributary of the Sava and where the original city was established and has become a popular site for archeologists and treasure hunters to dive for lost relics and artifacts. Excavations in the river have produced pieces of history from the Stone Age to the Renaissance and historians believe that it is related to how local tradition has always held the river as a sacred place. These treasures may have been offered to the river during rites of passage, in mourning, or as thanksgiving for triumphs in wars.
Because of this the Ljubljanica has become a very popular attraction for treasure hunters and this has created tension between local historians and international treasure seekers. It is believed that the river has lost over ten thousand important historical artifacts, of which many have been lost to the public, been sold into private collections, or are hidden away by the original treasure hunters.
In 2003, to prevent further important losses, Slovenia’s National Parliament declared the river a site of cultural importance and banned diving in the river without a permit. It seemed to me that you would probably also be sensible to make sure you fully inoculated against a full range of unpleasant diseases because the water looked rather grim and uninviting with a stagnant laziness and a brackish contaminated colour.
It was late afternoon now and the light was fading and the market flickering into life as more people were beginning to swell the streets and jostle past the stalls and we walked through the main street and back to the Julija that had that post dinner atmosphere when a restaurant and its staff relax after the busy lunch time activity and adopt a more casual and relaxed attitude to its customers and there is an altogether more leisurely dining experience.
We had the same table as before and some of us had the same food and we definitely all had the same wine and we enjoyed the space and the peaceful atmosphere and our final Slovenian meal. It was a sure sign that we were becoming accepted as regulars, or perhaps we just left a too generous tip, because when it came time to go and after we had settled the bill the staff brought complimentary Slovenian bilberry brandy for us to drink before we left. Borovničevec is a locally made liqueur made from blueberries and blackberries and from an assortment of different herbs. What was really nice about the drink was the sweet sour flavour and the little berries that were left as residue at the bottom of the glass.
After we had collected our bags from the hotel we returned to the bus station and waited for the airport coach to arrive. It was just about rush hour and there were a lot of people on the bus that took the least direct route possible to the airport as it zigzagged through the commuter belt of Ljubljana stopping regularly to drop people off and pick new passengers up. There didn’t seem to be much sign of the airport and I was beginning to worry about being on the right bus at all but after about forty minutes there were finally some road signs that I couldn’t read but there was a picture of an airplane so I knew that we were not far away.
We checked in and once through security we browsed the duty free shops and purchased some Borovničevec to take home and then we each passed the time away in our preferred styles before it was time to board the plane and say goodbye to Slovenia.