Those who know me know that I’m not a romantic person. I’m not good at going out on a limb with my feelings and tend to inch slowly into relationships, cautiously dipping a toe into the water before I dive in. I view the idea of love at first sight with an overwhelming sense of cynicism; while some couples claim they knew they were meant to be from the moment they met, that instant, instinctive attraction is something I’ve never experienced and don’t expect I ever will. It’s just not in my nature.
But then last week I arrived in Ljubljana and was reminded that this isn’t completely true. As soon as I stepped out of my taxi and made my way through the cobbled streets to my hostel, a familiar feeling of calm contentment settled in my stomach. It was the elusive but unmistakable sensation of belonging, of arriving in a place and knowing in your bones that it’s a match made in heaven. I might not fall fast for people, but places can seduce me in no time at all.
As my first day in Ljubljana unfolded I felt myself relaxing, letting go of all my stress from home and settling into the city. Although it’s the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana feels like a town; it has none of the grand government buildings you expect from capital cities and you can walk from one side of the centre to the other in about half an hour. Though small in size it’s big in character; I was immediately won over by its winding cobbled streets, pretty bridges and lack of tourist hordes that flood the famous capitals of Western Europe.
I climbed the hill to Ljubljana Castle, amazed at how few people I met on the tree-covered route to the top, and sat looking out over the city in the sunshine, feeling totally at peace. Later as I headed out for dinner the heavens opened, but I found a table under a huge umbrella and enjoyed my meat and vegetable tapas boards with a glass of red wine anyway. For better or worse, as the pledge goes.
I’d decided to go on holiday by myself – to see what it was like, to prove to myself that I could survive on my own, and most of all to get some uninterrupted headspace from my day-to-day life at home. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made – I found out what it’s like to discover a new place completely on your own terms, to find that inner stillness and wrap yourself up in the delicious feeling of falling head over heels in love. Ljubljana, you have joined a very select list of places that have a piece of my heart forever, and though we may be parted by land and oceans, I have faith that we’ll meet again someday. Thanks for the good times.
Have you ever arrived somewhere and known immediately you were going to love it? What places have you fallen in love with?