Although the second trip I took to Slovenia, just two weeks after coming back from the first one, was quite different, there were some parallels between the two.
Just like the first time around, I again spent most of my time elsewhere and only went to Ljubljana on the day before leaving, which now felt both familiar and new. Some spots, like the small-scale model of the city above, I was seeing for the first time. Others, like the Butchers’ Bridge, I had already seen and even taken pictures of.
But – apart from seeing familiar sites, walking along the same streets and having coffee in the same bars – all with the people I had sadly said good bye to a few weeks earlier, what struck me was the strangeness of coming back to a place that I didn’t know if I would ever return to, let alone so soon.
Another time I felt similarly was several years ago. One summer, on our way to see my closest friend in Bhutan, a few of us had a two-day layover in Kathmandu. There, we were lucky to have been put in touch with a friend of another friend, who very graciously took us around the city’s sites, wined and dined us and entertained us to no end. We all fell head over heels with him. I remember being in Kathmandu, wanting and trying to see as much as possible, as I didn’t think I would come back to it ever, and surely not soon. As planned, we then continued our trip to Bhutan and eventually returned home.
Next spring, the Nepali friend who had put us in touch with our gracious Kathmandu host e-mailed out of the blue to invite us to her wedding in Kathmandu that coming summer. She was marrying him – the guy who had taken us around Kathmandu the previous summer! So, not even a full year later, I found myself back in the Himalayas, to a place that I thought I would never visit again.
So, of course Ljubljana is no Kathmandu, if for no other reason than the distance between the two and Sofia (although, judging from the length of my journey home this time, I may as well have been coming back from the Himalayas), but it still brought about the same pleasant, albeit strange, feeling of unexpectedly getting a second chance to return to a place that I thought was a one-off.
If I keep coming back to Slovenia at this rate, I’ll be able to put together the whole mosaic in no time.