Standing at the international counter in Budapest’s Central Station we met with an interesting hiccup. Most people take a direct train to Croatia, arriving a few hours later with barely a delay. Most people do not have loaded touring bikes. And the two daily trains from Budapest, Hungary to neighbouring Croatia did not have bike or luggage carriages.
“Bikes to Zagreb?”
“Bikes to Split?”
Exhausting both ours and the ticket counter’s English conversation skills we fell back to consider our options. To ride in, 350km, would take about a week and our time left on our Schengen visas was too precious to waste. Another option would be to train it to another country’s capital city and hope that they would have bike/luggage compartments for their trains into Croatia.
Which was how we found ourselves in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Do you know that Ljubljana is a legendary dragon town? Neither did we! On the way home from winning the Golden Fleece, Jason and his Argonauts stopped by a large lake for the winter. Unfortunately this lake was guarded by a huge and fearsome dragon. Jason had no option but to kill the beast, freeing the surrounding townspeople and forming what is now present day Ljubljana. Or so the legend goes. Historically more believable, the dragon was adopted from Saint George, the patron of the Ljubljana Castle chapel built in the 15th century. In the legend of Saint George, the dragon represents Paganism overcome by Christianity. Dragon motifs are on the city’s coat of arms and all over town.
Either way Ljubljana is a very pretty city with the Ljubljanica River flowing straight through the city centre.
We grabbed a takeaway coffee at Nakavo, a little hole in the wall by Prešeren Square.
And followed the river as it winded its way through.
We couldn’t believe our good fortune, turning up to a place blind, but Ljubljana really stole our hearts with its pretty greenery and jaunty buildings.
Also the city is extremely bike friendly with heaps of bike paths. We rode from Central Station right to our hostel on a bike path.
The next day we caught a train, with a bike carriage!, out to Zagreb, Croatia.
Cleave’s all smiles here, but once we arrived in Zagreb we discovered that there would be no more trains after that. The Croatian train lines south only open for summer and we were a month too early!
Total: €41.56/$60.67 AUD
Train tickets to Zagreb: €49.80
Total: €110.67/$161.56 AUD