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…has been going on for fourteen years, ever since I first walked into the wonderfully aromatic Lush store in Ljubljana. Unable to read Slovenian, I had no idea what I was buying but they did have a few words in English such as “natural ingredients” and “handmade” so I took a chance. After one use, I became a big fan and there are usually 3-4 jars sitting on my bathroom counter at any given time. 

As I was going through photos (an ongoing project), I noticed Lush stores have been a big part of my travels. Anytime we traveled with friends or family we would drag them into a Lush store. Stores didn’t open in the US until the late 2000s so it was a novelty.

Lush in Ljubljana, Slovenia
With sister-in-law and niece in Ljubljana (2004)

Lush in Lake Bled with a good friend.

Lush in Ljubljana with a good friend (2005)

Lush in Quebec City

Lush in Quebec City (2009)

Lush in Amsterdam

Lush in Amsterdam (2004)

Lush in Ottawa

Lush in Ottawa (2007)

Besides the fabulous products which makes my skin feel wonderful, the company is environmentally forward thinking, no animal testing and ethically source their ingredients. They are 100% vegetarian with most being vegan. All their packaging is recycled, recyclable and biodegradable. Lush products don’t contain microbeads which were recently banned in the US by President Obama’s executive order. Every container has an employee’s sticker with their likeness and name. Makes me think it must be a fun place to work.
At the spa – so lovely.

Recently my daughter requested a Lush spa treatment as a reward for a stellar report card. There are only two spa locations in the United  States: New York City and Philadelphia. It was a great excuse to return to Philly for a visit. The spa offers several different themed treatments ~ my daughter got the Validation and loved it. They want it to be an external (glowing and vibrant skin) and internal (relaxing) experience. The estheticians at all Lush spas have been trained at the headquarters in the UK so you can expect consistently fabulous facials at anyone of them. Before the facial begins, you will be taken into the store to handpick your preferred products to be used during the facial.

This is my personal opinion: I don’t know anyone at Lush nor have I received any monetary or product payment for this review. Although I’m sure my husband wishes I did. Just a big fan. 

 

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My first visit to Ljubljana was in 2002 and, since then, I’ve recommended the capital city and other places in Slovenia to many of my friends. I’m happy to say everyone who visits has had a fabulous time. It’s the one country I don’t have to caveat with any exceptions ~ there is something for everyone.

On my recent return visit (after a 10 year absence), I was thrilled to find this incredibly charming city as I remembered. There are a few more cafes, bars and activities (paddleboard on the river, Segway tours, etc) but the positive vibe and essence of the city is still fantastic.

Cheeky Bar signVegan RestaurantAn especially nice change for the better are the new vegan restaurants located in the city center. We ate at Ajdovo Zrno for lunch and it was delicious. The restaurant is located at Trubarjeva Cesta 7, Ljubljana.

If you decide to visit, here are my suggestions and recommendations: Spend at least 2-3 days in the capital city of Ljubljana. It’s a great place to base from while exploring the rest of Slovenia. From the city, it’s 40 minutes to Lake Bled, 90 minutes to Piran (on the Adriatic coast) and 38 minutes to Postojna (Castle and Caves).

  • Check out the Visit Ljubljana website. Purchase a city card for 24 hours, 48 hours or 72 hours. It offers admission to over 15 attractions, free travel on city buses, a guided tour of the city, a boat cruise, a free funicular & tourist road train ride to Ljubljana Castle and 24 hour internet access.
  • If the weather is nice, definitely enjoy a stroll along the river and stop off at a cafe along the river and enjoy a coffee, beer or glass of wine. If you’re a foodie or have special dietary needs, check out Ljubljanajam and their food walks.
  • I didn’t get a chance to take one of their walks but it’s at the TOP of my to do list for my next visit.

  • We took the Roman Tour of Emona by Torchlight. It was a very interesting ~ I had no idea about all the roman history of the city. But I admit to refusing to wear the Roman outfit provided by the tour guide. It’s would have been a fashion disaster 😉
  • Slovenia Vignette

    We’ve always driven to Ljubljana and this time was no exception. We flew into Italy and drove to Slovenia the next day. It’s only a two hour drive from Venice to Ljubljana. If you drive, make sure you purchase a Vignette (toll sticker) or else you will be subject to a fine between €300-€800.

    Where to Stay:

    Castle View Union HotelGrand Union Hotel located directly behind the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation (the pink church)

  • In the past, we’ve stayed at the Grand Hotel Union during the off season when room rates were lower. It’s a beautiful, historic hotel which dates back 110 years. It’s located a block from Prešeren Square and the triple bridge. Fantastic location and superb service. This time, we opted to stay at Central Hotel which is operated by the same hotel group as the Grand Union. Go to Union Hotels for more information. We booked a family room with 2 bedrooms, one bath with a hearty breakfast included. Best part: it was only 2 blocks away from the Grand Union hotel and the river.
  • I haven’t stayed at either of these hostels but they looked like nice places for those backpacking through the area. Hostel Tresor was a former bank and has rooms in the vault. Hostel Celica is in a former prison. Not sure I’d be brave enough to stay there but it looked nice from the outside.
  • Dotto Trains
    Tourist Train in Ljubljana. Didn’t ride the train. We took the funicular:
    Funicular LjubljanaLjubljana Slovenia street leading to Castle Trail
    Street leading to the castle (it’s a tough climb if the temperatures are high)

    Outdoor cafe with cooling mistersOn a hot summer day, look for one of the cafes with the cooling misters. We had a lovely dinner right by the river ~ all the while staying cool with the water mist Sausage and Beer
    Beer and Sausage ~ my husband was in food heaven

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    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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