I do not claim to be an expert when it comes to London. After all, I only lived there for about 7-8 months back in 2012, and my information is outdated. Nonetheless, for 8 full months, I didn’t manage to fall in love with anything else but scones, clotted cream, and squirrels. In fact, every time I went anywhere in London, I couldn’t help but wonder what is it that people like so much about this city.
But I am not here to convince you London is bad. Actually, I keep planning to go back for a short vacation – there is what to be seen and experienced in London.
When I first stepped foot in Ljubljana, however, I forgot all about UK’s capital. I remember my arrival – it was 4 a.m. on a Saturday morning. The bus entered the city and I immediately glued my face to the window. I was looking down the streets and wondered if what I am seeing is real. The entire city resembled a perfect mock-up by a talented architect. Everything was spotless, the houses nicely arranged and gently lit by the street lamps. I couldn’t see a single soul, but the illuminated windows of several bakeries showed me some people are already awake, preparing for the next day. Ljubljana was quietly asleep, as a beautiful princess from a fairytale. I walked out of the bus and told my friend: this will be my favorite city. I was right.
For the next several days we walked around Ljubljana in astonishment. It wasn’t about the architecture (which is stunning), nor about how clean it was (which I LOVE). It was the vibe of the city. I don’t know if there is another capital on earth which is so lively, yet so peaceful. We walked around Ljubljana day and night, and I couldn’t stop comparing it to where I live at the moment (Sofia) and to London. As you can imagine, Ljubljana is much different to both of them, and although there are some similarities between Ljubljana and Sofia, it was shockingly different from London. Actually, much better than it. If you’re curious, here are the 10 differences I couldn’t help but notice:
1. You can go in any area of the city at night, and be safe.
If you live in London, been there, or even planned to visit it, I am sure you’ve stumbled across at least one warning regarding certain areas. And no wonder! There are, indeed, places in the British capital which are not recommended without a bullet proof vest and a huge life insurance. I guess this is one of the downsides of large cities. Coquettish Ljubljana doesn’t have this issue – you can cross it from end to end at night, and worry about nothing.
2. The city is clean even after a party night.
One of the evenings we spent in Ljubljana was Halloween’s night. When we took a walk early next morning there was nothing more than several napkins and confetti on 2-3 places. In comparison, I vividly remember totally wasted youngsters, vomiting on the streets of London on a Saturday morning.
3. Bicycle rent is almost free.
Although Barkley was my bank, and I lived in London for 8 months I never used the bicycle rent system there. Just as everything else in London, it is made to rip you off as quickly as possible. Nothing like amazing bike rent in Ljubljana!
4. 85% of people are damn good looking.
You’d think that being such a big city with so many nationalities and people from all over the world, London would offer more eye candy than Ljubljana. Well, not quite the case. The density of good-lookers in Slovenia’s capital is so much greater than the one in London. If you don’t believe me, just go to Slovenska Hisa and spend an afternoon observing the passersby.
5. Fit people!
I mentioned this a while ago when I wrote “20 random facts about Ljubljana“, but in Slovenia, there are more people practicing sports than eating at fast food restaurants. What’s even more amazing is that you can see lots of families, spending their afternoons in the park and the kids running around WITHOUT cell phones or tablets!
6. You have time for everything.
For the while I lived in London I managed to meet my friends only couple of times. We didn’t have time. Either they were at work, or I was, or we had to go somewhere, or do something. The point is – we NEVER had time. Ljubljana is nothing like this (which is why it’s so amazing). Over there, you’ve got time for everything! Yes, this is indeed so because it is a smaller city. But in the age of digital nomads, distance learning, and distant income why on Earth do you need to live in a crowded place?
7. It’s so spacious!
I once walked in the restroom of a restaurant in London and literally couldn’t turn around. If I wanted to use it, I had to enter the toilet in the right position walking backward, otherwise, it was not happening! And this was not a single occurrence! Having space in London is the biggest luxury you can dream of. In this regard, Ljubljana is so much more luxurious than London!
8. People are actually polite!
I’ll restrain myself from commenting on the worldwide famous British hospitality, but I will tell you this: people in Ljubljana are REALLY warm and welcoming.
9. The value of your money.
Going to London? Oh, you better rob a bank in advance – this city will rip you off! See, I get it: everyone wants to be there, so why not cash out on the whole madness for as long as it lasts. It’s only human to do so. Luckily, in Ljubljana things have not (yet) gone crazy and your hard-earned money are still going to get you much more than in the UK.
10. It’s a culturally preserved capital!
On my second day in London, I was taken (by mistake) to Wembley (the neighborhood, not the stadium). We came out of the tube station and I just froze: we were the only non-Indians on the streets. Everything was written in a language I couldn’t understand (besides the words “Pound shop”) and it felt as if I am on the scenes of a Bollywood movie. Next stop – Edgware road. Within a day I had taken a walk in India and then Saudi Arabia. As amusing as this is (and as interesting), I was there to see Britain. All my dreams of pretentious smiles, good manners, and English tea were crashed within less than 8 hours. There was barely something British left in London – guess that’s the hazard of multicultural cities. Ljubljana, to the contrary, has its Slovenian spirit preserved and although there are foreigners there as well, they haven’t managed to wash out the Slovene culture. Well done, Ljubljana!
11. Go explore – you can afford it!
12. Hiking is possible.
According to Wikipedia, the highest peak in England is Scafell Pike with elevation of 978 metres. The only problem is that it’s quite far from London (6 hours acoording to Google Maps). As a comparison, Triglac National park is only 2 hours away from Ljubljana and the highest peak is 2,864 meters.