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Standing on a hill overlooking Ljubljana is a beautiful castle, Ljubljanski Grad. The views from the top are fabulous especially from the top of the tower. On previous visits, we hiked to the castle from the Old Square in Ljubljana but it was over 36°C so we rode the funicular.

Ljubljana Church
View from the top of the Tower of Ljubljanski Grad

Ljubljana Slovenia penitentary at the castle
One of the cells in the penitentary

Looking in the jail cell at the castle Ljubljana Slovenia Looking out to Ljubljana Slovenia Puppet and Logan at the Castle Ljubljana Slovenia Castle stairs Ljubljana Slovenia
Stairs leading to Castle Tower

Castle in Ljubljana
Castle high on the hill

For more information about visiting the castle, click here.

Dragons in Ljubljana, Slovenia

The dragon on the City of Ljubljana’s coat of arms symbolises strength and courage. The dragon is located on the top of the castle.

Ljubljana coat of arms

There are four gorgeous dragons on the Dragon bridge:

Dragon on Dragon Bridge

Dragon Ljubljana Slovenia complete statue

Ljubljana Slovenia Dragon
Dragon Bridge ~ side view

Dragon backside Ljubljana Slovenia

There are several versions of the story of the Ljubljana Dragon:

The Ljubljana dragon is thought to come from the legend of Greek hero Jason and the Argonauts. Jason and his Argonaut comrades stole a golden fleece, which was the coat of a golden ram, from the King of Colchis who lived on the Black Sea. They fled their pursuers but found themselves at the mouth of the Danube River rather than at the Aegean Sea and their Greek homeland. There was no way for them to go back so they continued up the Danube and eventually made it to the River Ljubljanica.

After wintering at the mouth of the Ljubljanica, they took their ship, the Argo, apart and carried it on their shoulders to the Adriatic sea, then they put their boat back together again and sailed on ending in Ljubljana. The Argonauts stumbled onto a large lake with a marsh which is where a terrible dragon lived. Jason killed the dragon after a heroic battle. The dragon became known as the Ljubljana dragon. It is said that Jason was the first true citizen of Ljubljana.

The other version of the Dragon story is taken from St George who is the the patron saint of the Castle Chapel. St. George is often depicted as slaying a dragon. In ancient times, Castle Hill was a sacred place then in the Middle Ages, when the foundation of the castle was laid, the builders dedicated the Castle Chapel to St George. And the dragon comes with St. George.

The dragon is a part of the coat of arms on numerous buildings owned by the city. After WWII, the dragon has been used by various companies such as the name of a torch company, on cigarette packages, as a fashion award and on beer bottle labels like the Union Beer can:

Union beer dragon

Who doesn’t love a dragon…

Some cities make me feel great and Ljubljana is one of them. It’s clean, safe and vibrant. I find it relaxing to stroll along the beautiful streets of the city absorbing all the fabulous energy it has to offer. London is the only other city that I feel as comfortable in as I do Ljubljana.

There are hundreds of gorgeous statues and sculptures throughout the city. Here are but a few:

Preseren Statue in Ljubljana SloveniaFrance Prešeren ~ a prolific Slovenia poet/writer and National Hero in the early 1800s. Mand and Woman statues Ljubljana Slovenia
Adam & Eve being banished from the Garden of Eden. Located at The Butcher’s Bridge over Ljubljanica River, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Man statue Ljubljana SloveniaPrometheus statue by Jacov Brdar Dragon Ljubljana Slovenia complete statue
Another one of the amazing Dragon statues

Audrey II and pallette Ljubljana Slovenia
Not sure about this sculpture ~ looks like “Seymour” from “Little Shop of Horrors.” Logan thinks it symbolises the painter being consumed by his/her artwork. I have to agree with her…

Ljubljana, Slovenia

We decided to take a very last minute, unplanned trip to Slovenia and Croatia. It has been a whirlwind but lots of fun. Slovenia is one of our favorite countries in Europe. The capital, Ljubljana is safe, beautiful and very friendly. When we lived in Germany, we visited Slovenia four times but our last visit was 10 years ago. There have been a few changes but the essence of the country is still the same. Thankfully, the city seems even better than we remembered.

Boat under bridge in Ljubljana Slovenia
The beautiful Ljubljanica River which flows through the center of the city

Boat under Bridge Ljubljana Slovenia II
The Ljubljanica was a major supply and trade route from Roman times until the advent of the railways. You’ll find a lot of social activity along the river with many outdoor cafes, tourist boats and entertainers.

Dragon Ljubljana Slovenia complete statue
The Dragon Bridge. The Dragon is the symbol of Ljubljana and you will see the fierce-looking dragons all over the city.

Dragon backside Ljubljana Slovenia
Back side of the Dragon Bridge

Locks on the bridge Ljubljana Slovenia
The Butcher’s Bridge, built in 2010, has become a popular spot for the lover’s locks. Keys are thrown into the river. Personally, I’m not a big fan of the locks (or the litter going in the river). Call me unromantic but I think lovers should have to use combination locks so if they break-up, one of them can come back and remove the lock.

One of the three bridges in Ljubljana Slovenia
Walking across “Triple bridge” off the main square in the city center. It was originally built in 1842 and is a good starting point when touring the city, especially for first timer.

Two boats under bridge in Ljubljana Slovenia III
The first thing we did when we arrived is head down to the river, have a glass of wine and RELAX!

The Pope-Leighey House was owned first by Loren Pope, a journalist. He was intrigued by Frank Lloyd Wright’s home designs and wrote to the architect asking to be considered. At the time, Wright made his decisions based on the location and family. The house was commissioned in 1940 and became part of the more than 100 of these modest homes, referred to as Usonian, which were constructed between 1936 and Wright’s death in 1959.

The Leigheys were the second owners of the home. In the 1950s, when Hwy 66 was being widened and in danger of being destroyed due to eminent domain, Mrs. Leighey graciously gave the property to the National Trust, which relocated it to nearby Woodlawn. They granted her lifetime tenancy and Mrs. Leighey lived in the house at Woodlawn until her death in 1983.

In 1995-96, the house required another move due to the unstable clay soil but this time, it only had to be moved thirty feet up the hill. Currently, Route 1 is expanding and Woodlawn/Pope-Leighey House are along the route. Wisely, the decision makers went with the other side of the road so both historic sites wouldn’t have to be moved.

Pope Leighey carport and front doorFront Entrance and car port Pope Leighey dinosaur

Detailed woodcarving on all the windows.

Pope Leighey porch

Between 1936 and Wright’s death in 1959, he focused on designing and constructing over 100 affordable, middle-class residences. The style was referred to as Usonian, thought to mean “the United States of North America.”

Pope Leighey House I
The house is very small and would be ideal for a beach or lake house but I couldn’t imagine a family of five, like the Popes, living in it comfortably. No privacy whatsoever. On the positive side, it blended in nicely with the environment and all the little details inside the home were clever and quirky.

I must have driven past the signs for Woodlawn and the Pope-Leighey house several hundred times and last week I finally turned onto the road leading to the two historic and contrasting homes.

Woodlawn House Alexandria VAWoodlawn was a gift from George Washington to his nephew Major Lawrence Lewis and his wife Eleanor “Nelly” Custis (Washington’s step-granddaughter). They were married on February 22, 1799 which was George Washington’s last birthday. Nelly was raised at Mount Vernon after her father died when she was two and her mother was unable to raise her two youngest children. Nelly continued to live at Mount Vernon with her husband Lawrence Vernon until Woodlawn was completed in 1805.

The Lewis family lived in the home until 1846. Since 1846, there have been numerous owners including the Troth-Gillingham family who were Quakers intent on proving that successful farming could be done with a free-labor colony as opposed to slavery. They sold off parcels of the 2,000 acre estate to other Quakers, like-minded Baptists and freed slaves, leaving 120 acres today where the two houses are located. Woodlawn front door
Woodlawn is a Georgian/Federal style home designed by Dr. William Thornton who was the architect of the U.S. Capitol

Photography is not allowed inside the house but I snapped a few of the exterior:
Woodlawn Flowers
Crepe Myrtle flowers

Woodlawn Crepe Myrtal
Crepe Myrtle archway
Sign to housesWoodlawn on Bench
Bench at Woodlawn

Woodlawn Lion BenchWoodlawn pond and gardens
Pond and Gardens at Woodlawn

Woodlawn and the Pope-Leighey House are both owned and operated by the National Trust of Historic Preservation. The National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture formed a partnership in 2013 for the purpose of providing visitors a place eat, learn and garden. Arcadia, which has been operating a garden, agriculture programs and a Mobile Market bus at Woodlawn since 2010 will expand to include dining, agricultural production, educational programs and retail operations. Woodlawn seems like the perfect place to have experimental agricultural since George Washington was an innovative farmer when he owned the land.

Plan on two hours to visit both homes. Opening hours are Friday through Monday with guided tours at Woodlawn at the top of every hour from noon until 4pm.The Pope-Leighey House offers guided tours every half hour from noon until 4 pm. For more information and directions, click here.

It’s a short walk from Woodlawn to Frank Lloyd Wright’s house but more about Pope-Leighey house next time…

The University of Pennsylvania, created in the mid-1700s by Benjamin Franklin, is a gorgeous tree-lined campus. We took the 1.5 hour prospective student tour, ascertained all the pertinent information needed for undergraduate studies and enjoyed seeing all the lovely buildings/artwork. It’s definitely worth a walk around the campus even if you’re not college shopping. There’s a self-guided walking tour.

Philadelphia Ben Franklin Statue at Penn
College Hall, built in 1872 and Ben Franklin Statue. The building was the inspiration of Penn alumnus Charles Addams for the Addams Family mansion.

Philadelphia Button Statue
Big White Button. The crack in the button represents the Schuylkill River which runs through Philadelphia. When you’re at the button, you’re in the middle of College Green and according to our tour guide, classmates use the Button as a meet-up point ~  “meet me at the button” is said a lot.

Philadelphia Hands Gate
Hands Gate ~ notice the additional one?

Philadelphia Penn Building
Another beautiful campus building

IMG_6917
Colorful LOVE

Philadelphia Penn Door Arch
Archway at UPenn

While in Philadelphia, I highly recommend two restaurants. But, be forewarned, they are absolutely delicious, but Vegan:

Verge is an innovative, delicious tapas-style restaurant located at 1221 Locust Street in City Center. It’s only open for dinner and is very popular so reservations are highly recommended. We went early and snagged a table next to the kitchen. Not ideal but it was actually fun to watch all the staff. I was very tempted to have dessert but my two tapas selections were too filling. For two of us, we had two selections each and a glass of wine. In addition to the yummy menu selections, service was outstanding! Our bill (without tip) came to $81.00.

Vedge Restaurant, Philadelphia
Spicy Tofu

Vedge Restaurant in Philadelphia
Golden Beets ~ my favorite plate of the evening!

Vedge Restaurant, Philadelphia
Our view from our table. Be sure to make reservations for a better location!

Vegetate is located near UPenn and Drexel at 3210 Chestnut and is a great place to have a quick and inexpensive lunch. I recommend the Vegatacos, a smoothie and a sweet potato cupcake ~ Delish!

Philadelphia Vegetate

We stayed at the Inn at Penn (Hilton) which is adjacent to the University of Penn. It was an ideal location for college tours. Since it was only $2.50, we hopped on Bus 21 when we went into City Center. We rode the bus four times and each time I was very impressed with the friendly and extremely helpful bus drivers. On every trip, I witnessed the drivers going out of their way to help elderly passengers with walkers or wheelchairs. The drivers made sure those passengers were comfortable and safe. It was heartwarming to see the true meaning of Brotherly Love.

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