See the Charms of Ljubljana from a New Angle with a Barka Boat Ride

By , 31 May 2019, 12:37 PM Travel
Normally you'd need to fall in the water to get this view Normally you'd need to fall in the water to get this view JL Flanner

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Life in downtown Ljubljana arranges itself around the river and its bridges, with the Ljubljanica, its regulation and the varied and various architectural interventions that cross it, giving the area much of its charm. But have you ever actually been on the water?

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Source: Barka

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Source: Barka

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Source: Barka

I have to confess, even though I’ve lived right by the river for some years, and am supposed to engage with my environment, I’d dismissed the boats going up and down in view of my apartment as a tourist trap, little more than floating bars with a captive audience. What could they offer me beyond feeling like an idiot as people watched from the embankments?

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Food can be arranged for private parties, and there's a bar onboard. Source: Barka

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Photo: JL Flanner

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Photo: JL Flanner

 But the other day I finally overcome at least one of my foolish and limiting prejudices, and took a ride on the Barka, which bills itself as the first and only wooden boat on the Ljubljanica, and one that was hand-built in Slovenia. A handsome vessel, as well as the usual boat trips and guided city tours, it can also be hired for romantic rides, closed groups, weddings or other occasions, with the option of full catering and the support of partner restaurants. It’s a nice boat, and – and the photos show here – one the complements the city itself.

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The Ljubljana many don't see. Photo: JL Flanner

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Photo: JL Flanner

The standard trip, as shown in the video at the end of this story, lasts 45 minutes and leaves from under the market side of Butchers Bridge (the one with the lovers’ locks). From there you head upriver, past Špica, and into the relative wilds inhabited by the canoe and sailing clubs, with idyllic looking homes that make you realise, once again, what a ridiculously nice city this is to live in. If you’re lucky you may even see some nutrija, a large water rodent that also makes its home here.

Related: In town this week? Check out what's on in Ljubljana here

Turning at Livada, the boat then heads back to the centre town, where you’ll get a good of the Castle, as well as the various bridges that connect the two parts of the Old Town. The trip then ends a little after Dragon Bridge, as it must, due to the sluice gate a hundred metres or so beyond this (a work by the architect Jože Plečnik, the man behind Špica embankment, the Triple Bridge, and Market Arcades, all seen on this trip).

In short, a boat ride along the river is highly recommended, and – to my surprise – perhaps even more so for residents than tourists, although the latter will still find much to enjoy from being on the relatively clean water, enjoying a cold beer or glass of wine, looking up at the people on the riverbanks and wondering if they know what they’re missing. You can learn more about Barka’s trips here, or just look out for the nice wooden boat.

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