The city and nature – urban and harmonious
My green Ljubljana
Robin McKelvie, a Scottish travel writer, who has been visiting Slovenia for at least two decades, said to me some time ago in an interview for Lipov magazine that Ljubljana is one of his favourite European cities, as he likes the fact that “you can be adventurous in an urban setting: you can go kayaking, cycling, up a hill ...”
Šmarna gora beckons as I step out of my apartment
Exactly! And that's why Ljubljana is my favourite city. Because I can be in the woods in five minutes from the residential area I live in. In ten minutes by car I can be at the foot of the mountains. Because you don't need to do anything for a few hours hill walking. Because I can get away from home and ride my bike down cart tracks among flowery meadows and go up and down in the middle of the forest like the waves in a kid's drawing. Because I can always get lost in a place I know well :-). And because just after leaving the embrace of the woods or the rural idyll on the city's doorstep I can sit and have a drink in the old city centre and enjoy a touch of urban life. That's why.
Other seasons, other colours – autumn's palette in the Polhov gradec Dolomites
...that's why Ljubljana is my favourite city. Because I can be in the woods in five minutes from the residential area I live in. In ten minutes by car I can be at the foot of the mountains.
I get to the woods around Rašica first. In their shelter, a snow-white cart track winds from the village of Rašica in the midst of meadows; no matter how many times I have run or cycled up there, the beauty of the landscape always overwhelms me. The foot of Šmarna gora hill is a bit further on. We'll see whether today its peak is very busy and, if so, one of the marked trails is normally better as it's nicely quiet. When I feel like a longer hike, it's not too far to the slopes of the Polhov gradec hills where you sometimes get the intoxicating scent of Mediterranean vegetation and where you can gather wild garlic in early spring. And then Šentvid hill, where this year blueberries have quickly run wild and put down roots. And the varied ridge above them, from Toško Čelo to Topol and then on to Osredek, where I build up my cycling fitness each spring. And then of course there's Rožnik and Mostec, Golovec, Krim ... They all have their faithful visitors but you can still get away from other people and drink in the scents and sounds of nature in solitude.
As the great playwright William Shakespeare once said, just one touch of nature makes the whole world friendlier. In Ljubljana, the natural world constantly touches the city. If the ancient beliefs about the healing or therapeutic effects of nature and its sounds and colours still hold true, then Ljubljana must be in really robust and red-blooded psycho-physical health :-)!
Just a friendly greeting before I finish, as the next year and a bit is going to be stuffed full of hills, forests, meadows, trails and footpaths, and will take on all the colours of the seasons. Perhaps someone might discover a new path and find out there are still new places even when you were sure you knew them all :-)!
Next time, I'll talk about Šmarna gora and how young cottager Janez went after the giant Hrust, a dangerous scourge of the people, so the giant threw rocks over the River Sava and thus formed the Šmarna gora hill. Did you know that the sound of drums can still be heard from deep within as there still snores Hrust, ready to wake up when the Sava changes its course?
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