Travel

31 Jul 2019, 09:00 AM

STA, 31 July 2019 - A four-day music festival will start in the idyllic village of Fara in the south on Wednesday, including camping on the Kolpa river. The long list of bands that will entertain the crowd includes Asian Dub Foundation, Soulfly, Skindred and Inner Circle.

The first evening of the Castle Kolpa Music Festival will be dominated by Slovenian bands performing on only one stage, while in the following three days, fans will be able to choose from a variety of music genres playing on three stages.

On Thursday, Dub Fx from Austria, Skindred from the UK and Slovenia's Elvis Jackson will take the main Dragon Stage in prime time.

The stars of Friday night will be Jamaican reggae band Inner Circle from Jamaica, Slovenia's rock band Siddharta and Croatia's pop punk band Psihomodo Pop.

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Photo: http://www.castlefestival.si/

American heavy metal band Soulfly and English electronica band that combines rapcore, dub, dancehall, ragga and South Asian music, Asian Dub Foundation, will take the main stage on Saturday.

The Beach Stage will offer Acroyoga and impro shows during the day, and DJs in the evenings, while the Arena Experience stage will be the place to go for electronic music fans. The stars there will be Dutch musicians Jay Hardway and Sander van Doorn, and Slovenia's Umek.

The organisers have also prepared a variety of activities to keep visitors entertained during the day. Apart from Acroyoga and impro shows, they will be able to enjoy in an outdoor cinema, take part in various workshops or play football or volleyball.

The festival’s website is here

30 Jul 2019, 18:22 PM

The Overjam International Reggae Festival is back for the heat of the summer in the cool of Sotočje, ad event located between the two mountain rivers, the Tolminka and Soča.

The name says reggae but the festival’s reach is a little broader than that, taking in related subcultures such as ska, drum n bass, dub and dancehall. The full line-up can be seen on this page, with the headline acts being Alborosie & Shengen Clan, Cali P, Junior Kelly, Israel Vibration, Queen Ifrica, Zion Train, Ward 21 and Ziggi Mastah - Dubtafari Sound, plus support from many more, making it a long weekend that’s worth considering if you’re looking for great a place to chill in the beautiful, watery wild.

It runs from Thursday to Saturday, August 15 to 17, as an all-day event and six-day experience, offering live music and DJs, performances, workshops, and, of course, food and drink, with vegans and vegetarians catered for. Families are welcome, and children’s activities and areas are planned, along with supervision provided by professionals working for the festival from 11:00 to 16:00 each day, as part of Overjam4kidz.

Camping is allowed and free of charge if you have a valid ticket – and to discourage people from using cheap tents that they then leave at the site you can buy waterproof cardboard structures here. At the time of writing one-day tickets could be had for 39 euros (plus commission), while the whole thing could be seen for 100 euros (more details on all offers and how to buy now here). Tickets also get you unlimited mobile charging, a festival info book and ear plugs, safe deposit, and unlimited use of hot showers – with details here and the festival’s FAQ here.

29 Jul 2019, 09:37 AM

STA, 28 July 2019 - The passenger terminal at Koper, Slovenia's sole maritime port, welcomed 55,000 cruise line passengers by Friday this year with more than 109,000 expected to arrive at the port by the end of the season.

Most of the passengers come on high-end cruise liners, most of which sail in from Venice, as well as from Croatian ports such as Rijeka, Zadar, Split, Dubrovnik or even Korčula.

The city authorities told the STA that three cruise liners were due to dock at the Koper port this weekend.

The Celebrity Infinity arrived in the port for the first time on Friday carrying 2,000 passengers and 1,000 crew members. The ship was due to return as early as Sunday, following the Celebrity Constellation on Saturday.

By the end of the season 71 cruise liner arrivals are expected with a total of more than 106,000 passengers on board, so the port may even trump the boom year of 2010, when it welcomed more than 109,000 passengers on board of 78 ships.

The biggest this season are the Mein Schiff 6 and the Koningsdam, each carrying 2,500 passengers. The former is scheduled to visit Koper four times and the latter three times.

Most of the cruise liners arrive in June, July, September and October. Some estimates are that Koper could receive between 180,000 and 200,000 passengers a year in the coming years, but these should be distributed evenly throughout the year.

Many of the cruise line passengers stay in the town to explore the historic centre, or take a trip to some other coastal town, or even the rural Istria with a wine fountain in Marezige one popular draw.

There is also high demand for visits to Lipica, the home of the white Lipizzan horse, the Postojna Cave, the alpine lakeside resort of Bled or the capital Ljubljana.

26 Jul 2019, 19:18 PM

Most visitors to Ljubljana, even those who live in the country, focus on the very centre of town, the picturesque and increasingly pedestrianised area that runs roughly between Žitni most (Grain Bridge) – the next bridge after Zmajski most (Dragon Bridge) – and Šentjakobski most (St James’ Bridge), at the end of the old town in the other direction. So in this series of articles we’ll write a little about places that are just outside this area, within an easy walk, cycle or so on, and which can be used as anchor points to explore further.

Today’s focus is Ljubljana Botanical Garden (Botanični vrt Univerze v Ljubljani), just passed Špica. I visited and took these pictures in late July. The date is important, as what you'll see obviously depends on the time of year, with repeat visits yielding different views. All of it, apart from the tropical greenhouse, is free to enter, and the walk there takes you along the Ljubljanica, via Špica.

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Inside the tropical greenhouse

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Founded in 1810, when Ljubljana was capital of the short-lived Illyrian Provinces (1809—14), part of the French Empire under Napoleon, when it was built to go along with the Ecole Centrale. Two centuries later, and it's now part of the University of Ljubljana.

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Now I'll say right in the open that I have no idea what I'm looking at when I visit, other than the broad categories of grass, flower, and tree, but that doesn't spoil my enjoyment, especially with a camera in hand and a book to relax with in the shade of a tree.

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There are paths to follow and many things to enjoy. In addition to the plants, there are all the insects you'll come across, with one focus of the garden being pollinators. The best known of these are of course the bees, and here you'll find a colony of the Carnolian Grey, the native Slovene species. There's an “education bee house”, out by the railtracks, where you can stand behind glass and watch the bees come and go from the hive. Or go out, as I did, and rest on your back looking up between the hive and the nearby grape vine, a superhighway of insects going back and forth above me.

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Go slow enough to smell the flowers and take in the great variety packed into a relatively small area. Keep going ang eventually you’ll come across a pond with some turtles, or a cafe among the trees. Just lots of small things to enjoy.

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If you like being in nature but find Tivoli Park too big,  or just want a greater concentration of varied plants, the Botanical Garden is highly recommended, and visiting will also give you a chance to see more of the city, following the river upstream, to places where not everyone goes.

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From June to August it's open every day 07:00 to 20:00. September and October it closes an hour earlier, while from November to March the hours are 07:00 to 17:00. April to June it's then open 07:00 to 19:00. The tropical greenhouse and store are open 10:00 to 19:00, every day of the week, where you can buy seeds and plants (although the latter only Monday to Friday, 08:00 to 18:00). Entrance to the greenhouse is €2.80 for adults and €1.30 for children, and annual tickets are available. The official website is here, and the address is Ižanska cesta 15, 1000 Ljubljana.

23 Jul 2019, 13:31 PM

STA, 23 July 2019 - Great names of jazz and world music will perform admission-free concerts against what is arguably the most picturesque backdrop in Slovenia as the annual Okarina festival kicks off in Bled tonight.

Held for 29th year running, the festival will get under way at Bled Castle with a concert by Vigüela, the Spanish ensemble performing authentic rural music from the Castilla-La Mancha province.

After a concert by the Serbian folk band Legende at the castle the next day, the festival will move to the promenade by the lake where another ten gigs will follow daily until 3 August.

The Brooklyn-based afrobeat band Antibalas will perform there on Thursday, followed by a fusion French breakbeat and traditional Qawwali music from Pakistan, to be performed by Markus & Shahzad Santoo Khan.

One of the musical treats for the weekend will be Ravid Kahalani and the Yemen Blues ensemble, who combine traditional Yemenite melodies with funk, blues, and jazz rhythms.

Another will be the Belgium-based band, Panta Rhei, who have given the traditional music of Eastern Europe a new twist with tunes from England and Swedish melancholia.

The second festival week will see the greats such as Jamaican jazz pianist Monty Alexander, the Lovell sisters aka Larkin Poe, known for heavy electric guitar riffs and slide guitar, and Tunisian oud master Dhafer Youssef.

The official website, in English, can be found here

22 Jul 2019, 16:46 PM

STA, 22 July 2019 - A total of 4,066 ships were recorded in the Slovenian coastal towns of Koper, Izola and Piran last year, which is 7.2% less than in 2017. However, passenger traffic was up by 23.2%, mostly on account of cruise ships, the Statistics Office said on Monday.

The number of cargo ships was down by 8% compared to 2017 and the number of passenger ships by 4%.

A total of 132,814 ship passengers were recorded on the Slovenian coast last year, 108,682 of whom arrived on cruise ships, which is 55% more than in 2017.

Some 11.873 came with passenger and other ships, while 12,259 departed from the three coastal towns. Both numbers are 36% lower than in 2017.

The cargo ships docking at or departing from the Koper port were mostly container ships, followed by general cargo ships, ships transporting liquids and bulk cargo, and specialised ships.

The port operator Luka Koper transshipped 23 million tonnes of cargo last year, up almost 4% from 2017. Workers mostly unloaded dry bulk goods and large containers, while they loaded mainly large containers.

16 Jul 2019, 18:53 PM

July 16, 2019

Summer street festivals are not only a feature of the capital, but take place in other parts of the country as well.

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In its 17 years of existence the Littoral Street Festival has hosted around 800 street performers and puppeteers from some 40 different countries, and among a variety of shows we will this year see also some of the earliest, Commedia dell’arte originating puppet characters such as Mascarredas, Harlequin and Colobina, Pulcinella and a Slovenian version of the character, Pavliha.

 

The festival will last till the end of August and will feature shows along the main promenade path of Koper/Capodistria every Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Thursday shows take place at Hlavaty Park, Friday shows at Ukmar Square and Saturday shows on the corner of the Hlavaty Park and Semedela promenade. In case of rain, shows will move under the roof of Taverna.

For information on shows, please visit: https://www.mclu.info/puf

PUF started as a puppet street festival and later extended its programme into other fields of performative arts.

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In the last week of the festival from August 26 to 30 PUF will move to the villages in the outskirts of Koper/Capodistria in Slovenian Istria: Sokoliči, Hrvoji, Gračišče and Truški.

The grand finale of the festival will take place in Koper on August 30 with Etno HistEria concert, which will then move to Snežnik Castle as Floating Castle festival, which will only last for one day this year.

 

15 Jul 2019, 10:32 AM

STA, 15 July 2019 - British Airways is launching a new route to Ljubljana on Monday with its first plane from London Heathrow Airport due to touch down at Jože Pučnik Ljubljana Airport at 9pm.

The British air carrier had already operated scheduled flights to Ljubljana from Gatwick airport at the turn of the millennium, when Slovenian air carrier Adria Airways was flying to Heathrow.

Becoming the third carrier to fly between London and Slovenia's capital, British Airways will link the capitals twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays, on a 220-seater Airbus 321.

For the time being, flights are planned only during the summer, but considering how well the flights are booked, the operator of Ljubljana airport hopes British Airways will extend the flights beyond summer.

The launch of the route tonight will be accompanied by a ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring officials from airport operator Fraport Slovenija and British Airways, UK Ambassador to Slovenia Sophie Honey, Slovenian Ambassador to the UK Tadej Rupel and the head of the British-Slovenian Chamber of Commerce Barbara Uranjek.

Two other airlines fly between London and Ljubljana; Easyjet operates flights from Stansted ten times a week and from Gatwick four times a week, while Wizz Air offers four weekly flights from Luton.

A total of 239,727 passengers flew between Ljubljana and London last year.

All our stories on air travel and Slovenia are here

10 Jul 2019, 12:55 PM

The best site around for all that’s in air in the former Yugoslavia, Ex-Yu Aviation, reports that Wizz Air, the budget carrier, is set to raise capacity on its flights from London’s Luton Airport to Ljubljana this winter, with the new schedule starting on October 27.

The change will see the Hungarian airline shift from the current 180-seat Airbus A320 to a 230-seat A321. The Ljubljana service is set to run three times a week for the 2019/20 season, rising to four times in December.

All our stories on air travel are here

01 Jul 2019, 16:11 PM

I recently took a trip to Bela krajina, and as part of that stayed a few days at Big Berry resort, by the River Kolpa. It a was nice, relaxing experience, a way to get away from the demands of my day job and do nothing but eat, drink, read and sleep.

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But not everyone goes to Big Berry to leave work behind, as I found out when talking to one of the staff, Tjaša Perhavec, who told me about the many organisations who come to the site for team-building exercises, as follows…

How long have you been offering team-building, and what kind of organisations come here?

We’ve been doing it since the beginning, four years ago, but started more actively in the last year. Now that the product is really defined and the guests can truly enjoy all the benefits this amazing location can offer.

With regard to organisations, there’s a great variety, but some of the bigger names you might recognise are BMW, AMZS, Finance, Moje leče, Porsche Slovenija, Časnik Finance, HP,  the Slovenian Olympic Committee, and IEDC - Bled School of Management.

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And what do offer organisations like that?

The first and the biggest asset is definitely the entire resort, with its 25.000 m2 of fairytale land caught between two rivers, a spring and a picturesque field. This is a large area that offers enough space and variety for all sorts of outdoor activities on land and in the water. All major companies that have team-building exercises can find the perfect spot for whatever activity they want to do, no matter the size.

Other than that we provide seven luxurious houses that can serve as accommodation for smaller groups. These have everything one would need for a productive stay here – big comfortable beds, private bathrooms, a kitchen with all the utilities, a living room connected directly to the terrace and the outdoor space. Each house has its own private hot tub with an amazing direct view of the river. They offer privacy, relaxation and the possibility to reconnect with nature, oneself and the team.

Besides that, teams can also use the BBQ area located on the resort. It can be used for a barbecue, to have private meetings in nature, as a catering venue. The other covered option for the activities is the reception and connected terrace, where we also offer the technical equipment needed for meetings and lectures.

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How long can organisations spend at BB for team-building?

They can come for just half a day if that’s all the time they have, just to have a couple of productive and out-of-the-box meetings away from the crowds and a good, relaxing  time. However, the majority stay for a couple of days, to really soak in the nature, experience the local hospitality and connect with the team. But there is also a possibility of a longer stay of up to a month and even more for individuals and for teams – the idea of a so-called “workation” when remote work is strongly connected with a vacation. Just imagine waking up to birdsong with an all local fresh breakfast and working with your colleagues or our own team in a coworking space with the amazing view of the river and all the green scenery that surrounds us. And then just jump in the river for a quick break.

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What about the food and drink?

The local food is just amazing. The majority is eco-friendly and all of it as fresh as it gets. We directly only offer a breakfast basket, filled with local products that will help you start the day right. For everything else we recommend local partner restaurants and catering because they know what they are doing and they are amazing at it. Everything can be organised on the location as well, if the group prefers to stay in the resort, such as local food catering, finger food, a BBQ picnic, homemade goulash by our chef or even a traditional pig or lamb on a spit.

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Besides regular meals for the teams we also strongly suggest workshops - like one showing how to make the local flat bread, Belokrajinska pogača – or different wines and even local beer tastings. These can be done in the local cellars or on the resort.

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What about at the end of day, when the work is over?

Anyone who stays here can use the bicycles, canoes, beach volleyball court and a lounge area for relaxation. Through our many local partners we can also provide them with local catering, workshops, wine or beer tastings, yoga classes, massages, activities on the river and so on, the possibilities are endless.

Then there are many possibilities for after-work events on the terrace or anywhere on the resort. We can offer several band and DJ options – although guests can bring their own as well – that go well with our new mobile cocktail BB van. We can even organise an outdoor movie night for the team, or have any “daytime” activity done at night.

To be honest, it’s just that the sky and your imagination are the limits. We’ll do everything we can to make you feel comfortable and we’re sure you’ll love it.

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You can learn more about Big Berry, as a team-building or vacation destination, here.

29 Jun 2019, 20:32 PM

Trubarjeva cesta is not one of the more obvious tourist streets of Ljubljana. It’s not the Old Town and it’s not by the river. It doesn’t have great views of the Castle or many beautiful buildings. It’s where the smart townhouses end and the smaller homes begin, where the artisans used to live and the actual work got done.

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Photo: Gordana Grlič

Of course it’s changing as the city becomes more famous, and well-visited, but it’s still got a character all its own, especially the half that starts around Dragon Bridge and heads out of town. It’s a diverse, graffiti-covered part of the street that has perhaps the greatest mix of ethnicities in Ljubljana, and thus the country, along with the greatest variety of food on offer, from budget prices on up. A place you want to go if you’re hungry, or thirsty, or to see some of street level life of the city, and one with food options to midnight and beyond.

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Photo: Gordana Grlič

Right now the road being torn up and replaced, and in some places a little hard to navigate. But the people who live and work there, including myself, are part of a real community of friends and neighbours, and business keeps going despite the dust and rubble. I thus present a walk along the street as of the end of June 2019 with an eye to the food you can get there, in the hope of encouraging you to make a visit and enjoy a meal or two.

Asian, Indian and Turkish food

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Photo: Svilna pot, Facebook

We’ll start our journey at 20 Trubarjeva cesta with Svilna Pot (Silk Road), a small Asian food centre where you can pick up spices, pastes, sauces, ramen, frozen food and so on, with a focus on the foods of India, China, SE Asia, Japan and Korea. It’s run by the people behind Osha – the Thai / Vietnamese place further up the street. A little further up there’s the very lively Centralna Postaja (Central Station) , which offers drinks, burgers and DJ sets.

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Photo: JL Flanner

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Photo: JL Flanner

Keep walking and you’ll hit Namaste Express, an Indian restaurant, while next door is Šeherezada, a fresh, fast Turkish restaurant with kebabs, falafel, salads, and more, and a best option for food well after midnight on the street. On the opposite side of the street, on the corner, there’s another late night option, the Pekarna Zmajski most (Dragon Bridge Bakery) is open even on days when nothing else is.

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Photo: JL Flanner

Balkan, Arabic, Thai, Vietnamese and Slovenian food

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Photo: Gordana Grlič

Cross the street and the livelier, funkier end of the Trubarjeva begins, with a narrower street, smaller buildings, and more graffiti. The first food place here is Riviera, and also the first so far with a Balkan menu of soups, steaks, burek, ćevapčići and the like, and open until 01:00. Big soccer games are shown outside or inside, depending on the weather>

A little further up there’s a closely packed run of places that you’ll want to stop and consider in turn.

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Photo: JL Flanner

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Photo: JL Flanner

There’s Abi Falafal, a clean, well-lit place that offers an extensive menu offering Arabian food and open until 01:00 from Thursday to Saturday. Just up from this is Osha, a Vietnamese / Thai place with soups, noodles, rice dishes and so on. Next to this is Čompa, a place that looks like nothing special from the outside but is fully booked almost every evening due to its lively atmosphere and short but well done menu of Slovenian meats and wines. It’s one of the pricier places on the street, so check those first if on a budget, and book ahead if you want make sure of a table.

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Photo: JL Flanner

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Photo: JL Flanner

It’s not a restaurant or bar, but just opposite these places is Hiša Začimb (House of Spices), a fantastic little store that has all the herbs and spices you want and many you’ve never heard of. Well worth checking out, and the only place in town to get many of these things.

Lebanese, burgers, pizza and beer

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Photo: JL Flanner

Keep walking and on your left is Libanonske meze in drugi užitki (Lebanese meze and other delights). In the warmer months you can eat outside, but if you want some shade, or it’s cold, head inside, down a few stairs, and be transported to another place. Read our interview with the owner here.

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Photo: JL Flanner

On your right is then Kavarna Mačkon (Café Tomcat), a place you might hear before you see. It has a short café menu, more drinks and snacks than food, and if you like guitar-based music then this is a spot you’ll want to sit down and enjoy, with the outside tables great for watching the life of the street. Next to this is Pinsa Rustika, a pizza place that sells by the slice, to go or eat in, along with beer and wine. The slices are sold by weight and cut to order.

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Photo: JL Flanner

Opposite this, and tucked just off the street, is Burger Time and its craft beer tap room, with burgers, hotdogs and French fries in the formers, and a selection of craft beers in the latter. You might recognize the name from Izola. If you want vegan food then keep walking up through here and you’ll come across Veganika (which is actually at Komenskega ulica 30).

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Photo: JL Flanner

If you want more craft beer to go, and to choose from one of the best selections in the country, then next to Pinsa Rustika you’ll want to visit the wonderful ŽE V REDU, Primož (Are you OK, Primož?). Run by the people by the Lajbah bar on the other side of town, the right side of the store has a selection of Slovenian beer, while the left side focuses on imports. Unless you’re the owner I guarantee they have things you’ve never heard of, never mind tasted.

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Photo: JL Flanner

The food and drink action then pauses for 15 metres or so, until you come across Trubar on your left. This is a café bar that has all the usual drinks, along with ice creams in the summer and very good croissants and donuts. I’ve spent more time here than any place in Slovenia I don’t keep a toothbrush in.

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Photo: JL Flanner

Italian, Chinese, African and Indian food

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Photo: JL Flanner

On the other side of the road, on a lane that takes you to the river, there’s Capriccio, a pizzeria and Italian restaurant that’s run by Italians. Pizzas are big, thin crust, and come fast – I eat here far too often. Opposite this is the Zhong Hua (China, in Chinese) Chinese restaurant, which is a pretty authentic place that tends toward the spicier dishes and sees a lot of Chinese tourists. If you can read Chinese – simplified or traditional – then ask for the Chinese menu, as the English or Slovenian names aren’t always clear. I go for the 魚香肉絲.

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Photo: JL Flanner

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Photo: JL Flanner

If you return to Trubarjeva then there’s just two more places before the street quietens down, in culinary terms. First up is the most diverse of the lot, and that’s Skuhna. This project works at integrating recent immigrants by training them for restaurant work, and makes use of their skills by offering a rotating menu of specialities from around the world, with each day focusing on a different country, most often from Africa or Asia. It’s a really interesting project that produces very good food, and you can learn more about it here. After this there’s Tandoori, a small Indian restaurant that has a few – very few – seats inside, although it’s easy to get something to go.

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Photo: JL Flanner

And that, as of the start of summer 2019, is what the food scene is like on my favourite street in Ljubljana, and where I currently reside, Trubarjeva cesta. Check it out next time you’re in town.

Note: This story was produced in collaboration with Trubarjeva na dljani (Trubarjeva at your fingertips), a community-led project to promote the street. You can follow it here

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