The Captive Stork (A Rab Gólya)

Since living in the Hungarian countryside I grew very passionate of storks.

Storks do return to their carefully built nests year after year, They bring life to any village!

 BRODSKI VAROS, CROATIA - JUNE 20:  Malena keeps an eye on her  stork chicks on June 20, 2016 in Brodski Varos, Croatia. Stjepan Voki� has been taking care of Malena for 22 years, after an Italian hunter broke her wing and she hasn't flown since. Storks Malena and Klepetan have remained a couple for over 20 years, each spring Klepetan migrates 13,000 kilometers alone to be with Malena.  (Photo by Marco Secchi/Getty Images)

 

I recently discovered a great ballad by Hungarian author János Arany titled A Rab Gólya "The Captive Stork,” written in 1847.

By the way  he was a Hungarian journalist, writer, poet, and translator. He is often said to be the "Shakespeare of ballads" – he wrote more than 102 ballads been translated into over 50 languages, as well as the Toldi trilogy, to mention his most famous works. 

The poem or ballad describes a lonely captive stork standing in the middle of a small plot who would love to be free and  fly, all the way to the seas, but can’t because its wings have been chopped.

Árva gólya áll magában
Egy teleknek a lábjában,
Felrepűlne, messze szállna,
Messze messze,
Tengerekre,
Csakhogy el van metszve szárnya.

Tűnődik, féllábon állván,
El-elúnja egyik lábán,
Váltogatja, cserélgeti,
Abban áll a
Múlatsága,
Ha beléun, újrakezdi.

The stork at one point tucks its head under its wing because it is too painful to look at other “free storks flying to a better homeland.” But the stork waits. Perhaps one day “it will fly into the sky where the blue of freedom reigns.” and "Waiting, waiting, always waiting", the end, however, the “lonely stork" realizes that even if its wings grow out, wicked people will cut them once again.

The original Hungarian can be found online. I was unable to find a proper English version I only found this one

There is a great song from Arany ballad and is  by Margaret Island the Budapest band and the great voice of singer Lábas Viki create a magic atmosphere 

Clearly, the stork has a special meaning for Hungarians.

Klepetan Returns Home as Croatia’s Famous Love Story Continues

 

Klepetan and Malena’s story has touched many hearts around the world 

The remarkable love story of two long-legged birds from eastern Croatia, which has gone on for the last 16 years, continues as Klepetan arrived back home on Thursday at around 10:30 am.

Embed from Getty Images

 

The two storks made their nest on a chimney in Brodski Varos in eastern Croatia more than two decades ago. The pair would fly together until Italian poachers injured Malena’s wing which left her flying capabilities restricted.

With storks being a migrating bird, this caused a problem. Every winter for the last 16 years Klepetan would leave Croatia and make his way more than 13,000 km to the warmer climates of Africa.

Embed from Getty Images

 

Without fail, however, Klepetan has always managed somehow to negotiate his return to Croatia in the spring when the weather warms up to be reunited with Malena.

However when Klepetan failed to turn up by the end of March last year the nation began to worry. He did return though two weeks late keeping the love story alive.

“It is true, Klepetan has been late 3-4 days than when he was younger. The journey is long, more than 13,000 km. Last year he was 2-3 weeks late but nobody is happier than Malena and I when he arrives,” Stjepan Vokic, who has taken care of the birds in Brodski Varos for over a decade, told 24sata.

The famous love story continues.

Vero the new app, why and how to use it

Vero, a photo-sharing app that launched in 2015, is the latest app to benefit from ongoing frustration with Facebook and Instagram's hated algorithm not to mention recent uselessness of Twitter .

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A week ago, Vero was ranked so low it didn't even appear in the App Store's top 1,00 apps; today it's the most popular app both on the App Store and Google Play Store. It's gotten so popular that the app's servers have been overloaded, with many users unable to post or even sign up for an account. 

The creators and owner of the app are very clear and upfront it will be a pay as you go app. I like the idea and I never believed in freebies and if is free is too good to be true.

I like as well the concept no algorithms no advertising. In exchange of a fee?? Why not!

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Here is a summary of the manifesto: Vero is unhappy with the way social media has become about algorithms and ads, and they’re trying to create a more “natural” way of sharing things. In practice, that means no ads, ever (the service will be funded in part by an annual subscription model they’ll introduce soon, and in part by Vero receiving a commission on sales made through the platform).

It also means users have more control over who sees their posts: the news feed is chronological rather than thrown together by an algorithm, and users decide whether each post they make will be broadcast to close friends only, friends only, friends and acquaintances, or anyone who chooses to follow them.

In its manifesto, Vero said it does not incorporate advertising into its revenue model, but will instead begin charging users for a subscription after 1 million free users have joined the service.

“As a subscription-based service, our users are our customers, not the product we sell to advertisers.”

Vero’s been variously described as “the new Facebook” and “the new Instagram”, but in reality, it’s actually more like a combination of both

It’s similar to Facebook in that you can have friends as well as followers, divided into acquaintances, friends and close friends.  You can use it to chat with people, and you can post a range of content like links, text posts, photos, film recommendations etc.  It’s similar to Instagram in that you can post nice looking photos. There are no stories, it is good for me...I never used them anyway.

Arguably, its biggest selling point is that it has a chronological feed, allowing users to see everything. Companies can’t pay to boost posts because there is no algorithm that highlights certain posts over others, meaning – provided you scroll far enough down – you won’t miss any of your friends’ images.

Another interesting feature is the fact that, unlike Instagram, users aren’t required to crop their images: full-sized photos can be uploaded and displayed in their original ratio.

This business model stands in stark contrast to other apps like Facebook, which has become very advertising heavy. Without money from advertising, Vero has admitted it will eventually charge users to sign up for the app, however, the first million users will receive free access for life.

I like very much the modern design the easiness in creating an account and in how to use it.

Of course, at the moment it is a bit of an empty place...but was exactly the same on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! I do not mind to try a new medium in the hope it will work

 

 I am on vero as marco secchi

I am on vero as marco secchi

How to use Vero:

Like most social media apps, you first have to sign up with your phone number and email address after you get Vero. By entering your phone number, you can let Vero access your contacts to see which friends are also on the app. You can also invite your contacts to make a Vero account. This step is also skippable, and you can connect with friends later.

Once you’re all signed up, you officially have a Vero account. Now you can add a bio and avatar to your profile page.


Vero will then show you its “Featured Content” page. Similar to Instagram’s Explore page, it’s where you can check out posts from verified Vero users.


When you tap “Done” in the upper right-hand corner, you’re brought to the main page — your Vero feed. The app will then direct you to share your first post.


Here is where the world opens up. You can post a myriad of different things to your Vero feed. Search for music (they literally have it all), movies (seriously, they have every movie ever), books (yeah, all the books), places, links, and finally photos and videos.

Still kind of afraid of the great beyond, we decided to keep things simple with a photo post.


The Vero photo editing process is almost identical to Instagram’s. Your filters and simple editing tools are cleanly displayed below your photo. You’ll still be able to pre-edit in another app and then upload from your library, too, if you like to have a bit more variety in your editing options.


Tap “Done,” add a caption, tag a location if you like, and then choose who’s able to see your post. When adding friends and followers in Vero, you’re able to categorize them into “close friends,” “friends,” and “acquaintances,” thus letting you control how far you want each post to reach.

 

 

My Fav Settings for Fujifilm XT2

INTRO
So you have got yourself the X-T2, taken a few pics, played with the menus, but somehow feel lost or not sure how to best utilize some of the options available. Well, you’re in luck, read on and I will take you through each setting and explain what each does, what your choices are, what I personally have and for what reason. Maybe my settings will suit your style of photography maybe not, either way, I'm sure you will find most of the info helpful.

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PREPARING THE CAMERA
First, let's do a factory reset to make sure we are starting from scratch. Scroll down to the SETUP-UP menu (Wrench icon) and select USER SETTING>RESET>SHOOTING MENU RESET>OK and then go back again and select SETUP RESET>OK. Make sure you have a fresh battery and a cool refreshment nearby. Now that we are set, let’s start from the beginning.

NOTE: If you haven’t already done so, check that you have the latest firmware installed. Press and hold the DISP.BACK button while at the same time you switch the camera on. The rear LCD will display the current firmware version for both the X-T2 and the attached lens. If not up to date visit Fujifilm's firmware page, download the firmware and copy it to the root directory of your SD card. Once inserted, press and hold the DISP.BACK button again and this time follow the on-screen instruction for updating your firmware. Basically, all you do is hit the OK button, wait for the completion and then switch the camera OFF - and you’re done. 

Basic Settings, Set-up, and Functions


File Type: For landscape work I shoot in RAW Mode only. All files will be processed from RAW using Lightroom, ACR, or Iridient Developer, and then finished in Photoshop. RAW Recording is set to Uncompressed. For street work, or people, I will use RAW + JPEG Fine and I will employ the Fuji Film Emulations.

White Balance: Auto. I hardly ever vary this as it can be manipulated in post processing.

Noise Reduction: I have this set to 0 as my default.

Long Exposure Noise Reduction: Off.

Dynamic Range: I leave this set to DR100 as my default.

Color Space: Adobe RGB

Card Slots: My Card slots are set to Sequential, which means, that when one card fills up, the camera switches to the other card. You can set it to BackUp and RAW/JPEG as well but I never use these.

Image Size: I typically leave this at the default range of L3:2. Any relevant cropping I will perform in post-processing

Film Emulations: I love the Fuji Film Emulations and use them often when shooting in the RAW + JPEG Mode. But I use them even in shooting RAW as a Live View Screen setting to get a sense of what a final image might look like. The Velvia and Astia Emulations give the LV Screen image a color boost and the ACROS Emulation lets me view the potential of a B+W image.

Function Buttons: The Function Buttons are a way for you to customize the settings you want close at hand. For my camera’s I have made sure that the button assignments I use are the same on each camera body.  You can assign the various FN Buttons by going to the Set Up Menu > Button/Dial Setting > FN/AE-L/AF-L Button Setting, and work through the diagrams. The following list is how I assign my buttons:

Front FN1 Button. Wireless Communication;

FN2 Button > Face and Eye Detection.Wireless Communication;

FN3 Top of the D-Pad > AF S Custom Settings on X-T2,

FN4 Left D-Pad > Film Emulation Mode;

FN5 Right D-Pad > Timer Setting; Having this handy is very useful when I am shooting a longer exposure without or without my electronic shutter release.

FN6 Bottom D-Pad > AF C; This is Single Point, Zone, or Wide Tracking

AE-L Button: This is set to AE-L Only

AF-L Button: This is set to AF-L Only

I think setting Function Buttons comes down to your personal way of shooting and camera operations you want at your fingertips.

Focusing: I switch between S, C, and Manual focus depending largely on what I am shooting. In operation, the S Focus Mode puts the focus at a single point or zone. The C Focus Mode continually seeks focus and is good for moving objects. For my landscape work, I shoot in entirely in Manual Mode – manual focus and manual settings – and at the native camera ISO of 200. (more on some of this below). For editorial and street work, I typically use AF and utilize the Joystick to move the focus point. I will often switch to C Focus Mode and select Continuous Low CL, or Continuous High CH Modes which fires the shutter in high speed bursts when shooting news sporting events. CL will shoot from 3 to 5 burst frames and CH will fire from 8 to 14 burst frames. In addition, you can couple this with one of the five Custom AF Settings in the X-T2. I am not afraid to work the ISO when shooting on the street and invariably go over 800 to 1000. For Manual Focus I use Focus Peaking. This coupled with the Focus Distance Scale is a great way to dial in your focus and know you have the shot. To set Focus Peaking go to AM/FM Setting > MF Assist > Focus Peak Highlight > Then select your Peaking Option. I use the Red (High).


The Power of “T”, Back Button Focus, and the Distance Focus Scale


Now, let’s take a look at some other incredible components built into the Fuji X cameras. But, before we go there, I want to talk about the Screen and Viewfinder set-up. The screen set-up is entirely customizable on the Fuji’s and can be accessed in the Toolbox Menu. Aside from the usual things you might want such as AF Mode, Film Emulation, and File Type, the four items that are set on each of my cameras, both in the Viewfinder and on the Live View Screen, is the Electronic Level; the Exposure Compensation, set to Scale; the Histogram; and the Manual Focus Scale, set to Feet. Everything else notwithstanding these four singular settings are the most important to my shooting.

I almost always shoot in Manual Mode, and to be clear I set the Aperture, the ISO, and the Shutter Speed. I work quicker this way and it is the way that my mind thinks while in the process of making an image. My Exposure Mode is set to Evaluative Metering and I take my light readings using the Exposure Compensation Scale and the Histogram, and more so than not I base my exposure judgements on the Histogram. For street work I will periodically check the meter readings using the Exposure Compensation Scale and set it to 0. This usually gets me to within a stop or so of the right reading when I take a shot.

Despite what camera you shoot with I believe having the Histogram viewable while you are making exposure adjustments is a must. With aperture and ISO set then it is a simple matter of just turning the Shutter Speed Dial to manipulate the exposure while looking at the effect in real time using the Histogram. After choosing a shutter speed you can use the front Command Dial to adjust the exposure, up 1-stop and down 1-stop, in 1/3-stop increments. This is quite handy for micro manipulation of the Histogram.

But, here is where the Power of the “T” can simplify this even more. The “T” is located on the Shutter Speed Dial, and when set it allows you to use the Front Command Dial (or rear if you set it that way), to manipulate the shutter speed ranging from 30 seconds all the way to 32,000. So, with my aperture and ISO set, and the Shutter Dial set to “T”,  the only thing I have to manipulate is the Command Dial. It could not be more simple and I can quickly change aperture to suit conditions, and manipulate the exposure quickly while using the Histogram. Because the Command Dial moves in 1/3-stop increments as well, I can make micro adjustments to the exposure too. I have both of my cameras set this way and with the turn of the on-button, and a quick read of the light, I am shooting instantaneously. I think at the heart of this set-up is simplification – to simplify the mechanical process and make it automatic – so that I can concentrate on making images.

Back Button Focus Now a small word about Back Button Focusing.

If you are in Manual Focus Mode and you have the AF-L Button set to AF-L Lock you can use the Button to Back Button Focus. This is a great help for street photography or even for shooting portraits. When in Manual Mode you can use the Joystick to move your focus point, and once you have it where you want it, hit the AF-L Button. The camera will lock focus at that point and you can then press the shutter button as many times as you wish without the camera changing focus. Additionally, if you go to the Set-Up Menu > Button/Dial Setting > AE/AF Lock Mode, and set it to AE&AF On/Off Switch, this will decouple the buttons and allow you to lock focus and exposure when the camera is set to C or S, AF Mode, and you are in Aperture or Shutter Priority. So, much like the Back Button Method, once you have achieved focus, you can select the AF-L Button and it will lock focus until you press the button again. This is the same for the AE-L Button. You will know you are locked in when you see the AF-L and the AE-L indicator in the lower left corner.

In the image below I had already locked focus in the zone around the grill using the Back Button Focus, and when Chef Chris hit his Usain Bolt pose, which caught me completely by surprise, I was ready to make a capture without worrying about the autofocus kicking in and perhaps missing the moment


Fuji’s Distance Scale is nothing short of brilliant. Shown below on my Live View Screen, it is the linear graph at the bottom of the screen, just above the shooting data. The White Tick Mark on the graph is the point where I have focused the lens, in this example at 2 feet. The blue line indicates the hyper-focus zone of the lens, in this case from just inside of a foot to 5 feet. Since Fujinon lenses are all chipped this information is conveyed to the camera for each focal length. I use this information in concert with Focus Peaking for all of my landscape work and it is extremely accurate. Much like the other settings described in this post this is another technical innovation from Fuji that allows me to focus on image making and not wondering if I am in focus or actually where my hyperfocus zone is located. The Depth of Field Scale has two options – Pixel Basis, and Film Format Basis. Pixel Basis is for images that will be viewed on screens and Film Basis is for images that will be printed. For my work I use the Film Format Basis. To set this go to the AF/MF Setting Menu > Depth of Field Scale > Film Format Basis. The Distance Scale can be set in feet or meters based on your preference, and to set this go to the Set Up Menu > Screen Set Up > Focus Scale Units > Feet.

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The image below illustrates the base set-up for my Live View Screen which is also mirrored in my Viewfinder. To the left is the Exposure Compensation Scale; to the lower right, the Histogram; and the Focus Distance Scale along the bottom. The Green Line is my Horizon Level Line. Additionally I have the Composition Grid set in thirds. To set up your screen go to the Set Up Menu > Screen Set Up > Disp. Custom Settings and place a check in the box for the items you wish to display.

Venice Carnival: is it really necessary?

The circus performances, under the theme ‘Lights, Camera, Action’, are inspired by the work of Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini.  

The flotilla featured tightrope walkers, fire eaters, boats and animal floats to the backdrop of music from Fellini’s films.  Circus performers hold up barbells and breathe fire as part of Venice Carnivale celebrations

However, celebrations were marred by reports of thousands stranded outside the gates along the banks of the canal.

According to local paper 'La Nuova Venezia', police restricted entry to the Cannaregio Canal. It is part of a push by authorities to restrict the crowd size to 6,000 people, citing public safety concerns.

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More tourists are expected to arrive in the city as festivities ramp up. The celebration of the Angel’s Flight in Saint Mark’s Square, a major festival event that takes place next Sunday, has in recent years drawn crowds of over 100,000 people. This year there will be a restriction of 20,000 in Saint Mark's Square so expect more chaos.

The Venice Carnival should return to its "original" roots of 1980, lose most of the commercial aspects to return to be a celebration for the Venetians and tourist who like to take part, with activities all over the city and in most of the Campi and stop being monothematic in Saint Mark's Square.

Improve your long exposure with photo stacking

Are you planning on shooting soft, silky waves? Do you wish to create dreamy, daytime landscapes with smooth, stretched clouds?

This post will help you improve your long-exposure skills and overcome the most common challenges that occur in daytime long-exposure photography.

Photo Stacking for Daytime Long-Exposures

When doing long-exposure photography–photography that requires light to hit your camera sensor for more than 2 minutes a lot of problems can arise and those can easily ruin your shot: false light, camera shake, accidentally tripping over your tripod, etc. 

With exposure time around 4 minutes, you can easily waste a lot of time trying to capture the perfect shot of soft clouds or silky waves.

But by dividing the shot into several shorter exposures of the same subject and stacking them together in Photoshop, you can overcome most of the issues, spend less time on wasted shots, and come away with better images.

Photo stacking is not a technique for every situation, but sometimes stacking your long-exposures is the only way to get a good shot. However, it is important to recognise when you need it during shooting.

When to Use Photo Stacking

False Light

During the day, you’ll often have too much light available for long-exposure photography. Long-exposure photography in daytime light using a 10 stop ND-filter might still result in an overexposed shot. 

At night or during the blue hour, when the light is limited, you can adjust your camera settings to give you a 2 or 4 minutes exposure even without using neutral density filters.

  This long-exposure image consists of 4 shots of 40 seconds each. I was standing on a metal bridge and there is often passage of heavy trolleys and people

This long-exposure image consists of 4 shots of 40 seconds each. I was standing on a metal bridge and there is often passage of heavy trolleys and people

 

Photo stacking your daytime long-exposure photos will ensure that you get correctly exposed shots. Furthermore, if you don’t own a 10 stop neutral density filter, using a less strong ND-filter and taking multiple images to combine later will give you similar results.

Camera Shake

Next to false light, shaking is the most common reason for failed shots in long-exposure photography.

At night, factors that can cause your tripod and camera to shake are usually lessened: lighter wind, fewer waves, and less traffic, for example.

But during the day, these factors are stronger, heavier, and more problematic for daytime long-exposure photography; strong wind or heavy traffic can make your tripod shake or vibrate, resulting in blurred or unsharp shots. 

While we’re at it, remember to take the camera strap off your camera while shooting long-exposure. It acts as a sail in the wind and causes shaking to the tripod and camera.

And make sure the ground is sturdy enough to support your tripod and keep the camera steady for a long-exposure shot.

 

User Error

And then there are those unforeseen hiccups that can ruin a great long-exposure shot.

Regardless of whether its daytime or night, another common mistake is simply forgetting your remote. Without a remote, you are stuck with the longest exposure time your camera allows excluding bulb mode.

Bulb-mode without a remote requires that you press the shutter all the time, which is a no-go to avoid camera shake. My camera, like most, has a max of 30 seconds exposure.

How to Photo Stack Long-Exposure Photos

Factors like too much light, too much wind, or the risk of camera shake make it worthwhile to use photo stacking for your daytime long-exposure photos instead of doing a 2- or 4-minute exposure.

You now know when to use photo stacking; below you will learn how to use photo stacking–how to do it in the field and how to blend the exposures afterwards in Photoshop.

Equipment

This is the equipment I tend to use for Long Exposure shots

 

Setting Up Your Camera

At the location, set up your gear as normal, but make sure your camera settings and ND-filters gives a good exposure with a histogram peaking just over the middle to the right when using an exposure time of 30 seconds. To get the effect of a 4-minute shot, aim for 8 good shots, each at 30 seconds (8 x 30 seconds = 4 minutes).

Get some extra exposures just in case some of them get blurred due to camera shake from a sudden wind gust or bypassing bus. You can leave out a particular shot from your sequence in the photo stacking process.

Processing in Photoshop

In  Photoshop, go to File → Scripts → Load Files into Stack. In the appearing dialogue, choose Add Open Files to make the set of images appear under files to use for stacking.

Remember to check the boxes Attempt to Automatically Align Source Images and Create Smart Object after Loading Layers.

Click OK to begin the blending process. It usually takes some time for Photoshop to create a single Smart Object from all of the exposures.

Next, go to the menu Layer → Smart Objects → Stack Mode → Mean. This makes Photoshop automatically blend the images in the stack into a smooth long-exposure, to look like it was a single very long exposure.

At this point, you don’t need the layer to be a Smart Object anymore, and keeping it this way would prevent you from using a brush tool, for example, so you should convert it by right-clicking on the layer and choose to Rasterize Layer.

After this, you need to process the image as you would for a normal daytime long-exposure or any other image. To get the best results when you process your daytime long-exposure photos, be sure to only use selective sharpening of the areas in your photo that are not moving.

Long-exposures taken during daytime often have a lot of large white areas with clouds or silky soft water. If you apply sharpening to the areas that are supposed to be soft, you’ll cause an unwanted grainy look to your photo.

 

Venice Photo Walk and Tour

During your Photo Tour of Venice, I will point out details invisible to the untrained eye and reveal the best vantage-points on your chosen route. Learn to tell a story through images, take great shots of iconic monuments and capture atmospheric images off the beaten track.

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So bring your walking shoes and be prepared to discover the mysteries of the city. Bring your camera and learn how to have more fun with your camera.

• Discover parts of Venice less travelled by tourists. • Hear interesting tales and stories • Take better photos • Turn your photos into exciting stories. • Have fun!

Let a Creative Italian Photographer walk you through the city of Venice in an unforgettable Photo Walk capturing real candid moments of your stay in beautiful pictures. Enjoy a relaxing vacation and bring home remarkable pictures of your visit.

Touring Venice can be a very exciting experience, but it can also be quite an adventure if you are unsure of which places to visit and how. The language barrier may also represent a curious obstacle but it can also be frustrating. We offer innovative and unforgettable Photographic Tours to welcome you to the most fascinating and romantic place in the world. Experience Venice through the eyes of a native Italian Professional Photographer. He will guide you in an exclusive tour through the most interesting Venice landmarks and monuments.

All city excursions are exclusively custom-made to fit your needs. You can explore the sites whichever way you like and at your own pace.

Walking around Venice together with a professional photographer is an enlightening experience. He will show you all the tricks of the game but it is also a fun and new way to visit a city like Venice. You will be able to visit, see, experience and tour places, situations, people that would be otherwise difficult to come across. The Photo Tours will take you through off-the-beaten tracks to the most important monuments and landmarks. You will avoid the tourist pedestrian highways and will take more secluded, intimate and truly Italian passageways. Let it be romantic, creative, fun and friendly, the astounding imagery will do the rest. We will show you the right places to eat, where true Italian dwell and the hidden beauties of the wonderful city.

"Carnivaland" new photozines

It is that time of the year .....and Carnival is approaching super fast!

 "Carnivaland" the Photozine published by Awakening

"Carnivaland" the Photozine published by Awakening

Created with friend, colleague and Awakening Collective member Simone Padovani our aim is to celebrate this world renowned Venetian event and showcase some of our work.

We have also a II Photozine about some of the Excellent Artisans behind the work to create the magic world of Carnival.

The Photozine are 40 pages in Full Colours and the price is an exceptional 7 Euro each!

GET your copy quickly  https://www.msecchi.com/photo-zines/carnivaland

Available from the 22nd of January 2018

What to do in Ljubljana

Ljubljana is the vibrant capital city of Slovenia, with rich history and culture. The architecture is astonishing, and Ljubljana’s cobblestone streets and river banks are made for long walks. The city and its surroundings offer many ways to spend the time when visiting.

Ljubljana is young, very hip and green as can be: In 2016 it was the European Green Capital, in a part of Europe not always known for environmental friendliness. The city centre is now mostly car-free, public transport is low-emissions and there’s a new cycling network. The squat-turned-cultural zone Metelkova is the go-to for hipsters and live music, and has nightspots, bars and public art installations in an old barracks.

According to the Quality of Living survey released by Mercer, a well-known international consultancy firm, the Slovene capital Ljubljana is the third best Eastern European city to live in, trailing only Pargue and Budapest by the slimmest of margins. Despite the fact the Slovenia is geographically located squarely in Central (if not Western) Europe, and has always been culturally and politically closer to Vienna and Paris than Moscow, this is still quite an accomplishment. 

Here is a list of my favourite best things to do, that will make your stay in Ljubljana unforgettable.

 

Obviously and so is out of the way.... I can only recommend one of my Photo walk and workshop and are HERE

 

Ljubljana Castle

 Ljubljana Castle and Congree Square

Ljubljana Castle and Congree Square

When you’re looking up from one of the Ljubljana’s squares or the river, the castle seems dauntingly high. If you’ve got the stamina you can try to get up there on foot, but there’s also a tourist train and a funicular railway.The castle has changed a lot since it first came together 900 years ago.The early stone wood and stone fortress was succeeded by more practical military buildings, becoming an Arsenal in the 16th century as a regional bulwark against an Ottoman invasion.The main courtyard is free to enter, and has a cafe, nightclub, galleries and a restaurant.

 

Prešeren Square

Right by the Ljubljanica, Prešeren Square is the place where the city meets up and celebrate.

If there’s an event going on in Ljubljana there’s a good chance it will happen in this space.

With a rough triangular outline, the square is at the convergence of a number of major arteries, and gained its current opulent appearance after the earthquake in 1895. This was when regal halls replaced the medieval houses that had been here before, joining the Baroque Church of the Annunciation, which dates to 1795. The square takes its name from the 19th-century poet France Prešeren whose work “Zdravljica”, “A Toast”, became Slovenia’s national anthem.

You can find his statue next to the Central Pharmacy, across the square from his unrequited love and muse Julija Primic.

Triple Bridge

Ushering you off Prešeren Square is a group of three bridges decorated with stone balustrades and lanterns.

The central bridge of the three is much older than the two that flank it, and dates to 1842. This was intended for road traffic, while the two alongside were added for pedestrians at the start of the 1930 and were the work of Jože Plečnik, Ljubljana’s most revered architect.

Also dating from this project are the riverside terraces lined with poplars, and the temple-like flower shop that connects with the colonnade of the Central Market on the right bank.

Dragon Bridge (Zmajski Most)

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Dating back to 1901, the bridge was built for the 40th anniversary of Emperor Franc Jožef I’s rule and it symbolizes the history, beauty and architectural style of Ljubljana. Those dragons have been integrated into the city’s coat of arms, and as a result, they are found all around Ljubljana.

Tivoli Park

Tivoli Park is the green heart of Ljubljana the its biggest. Located on the northern outskirts of the Center District, it offers facilities such as playgrounds, fountains, ponds, exhibitions, mansions and sports facilities. 

Tivoli Park also hosts a tropical greenhouse managed by the city’s Botanical Gardens and sits beside a pond. But if there’s one reason to come it’s to walk the Jakopič Promenade, an arrow-straight avenue that runs from the eastern entrance up to the Neoclassical Tivoli Castle.

Central Market

Jože Plečnik also designed this market in the early 1930s as part of his beautiful set piece that included the Triple Bridge.

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It hugs the riverside between this bridge and the Dragon Bridge and is on the site of an old diocesan college for girls that collapsed during the earthquake in 1895. That handsome colonnade on the fringe of Prešeren Square shelters stalls selling herbs, spices and handicrafts, while further along are bakery stalls, cured meat, dried fruit and nuts, dairy products, fresh fruit and veg and fish.

The market is open every day except Sunday, while the covered sections have slightly shorter opening times to the open-air stalls.

Congress Square

This cultured central square has played host to some momentous occasions in Slovenian history.

Independence from Austria-Hungary was announced here in 1918, while Josip Broz Tito addressed the crowds from the balcony of the university building in 1945. Later, the first free protest took place here in 1988, in a movement that would end with Slovene independence in 1991. Finally in 1999 Bill Clinton read the first line of the Slovenian National Anthem to a crowd on this square.

Dating to1821, it’s a formidable space that has civic buildings and palaces on all sides and the Zvezda park at the centre.

A couple of sights to note are the resplendent Slovenian Philharmonic and the copy of a Roman gilded bronze statue excavated on this site in 1836.

Metelkova Mesto

Soon after independence, a disused army barracks from the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was occupied by squatters to stop it from being torn down. This large space in the centre of Ljubljana has gone on to become an autonomous urban enclave, not unlike the famous Freetown Christiania in Copenhagen.

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It’s an alternative haven where almost every wall is covered in graffiti and imaginative murals. Come for photos during the day, and return at night when it’s full of life. After dark, the bars and clubs book live bands and DJs, and there are outdoor concerts in summer.

Nebotičnik

Get High in Ljubljana and take the lift to the top of Nebotičnik, the 70 meters high skyscraper with the torch – like top. The views from Ljubljana's Empire State Building are stunning, day and night, and guess what? A glass of red will only set you back 2 euros! One of the cool things to do in Ljubljana at night. 

 

Šmarna Gora

If you need to break out into the countryside, this park is only ten kilometres north of Ljubljana and brings the wilderness to the suburbs. Unmistakable for its twin humps, Šmarna Gora is more than 660 metres above sea level, but has been made hospitable by 15 well-tended hiking trails, all serving the summits.When you make it to the top of the eastern peak you’ll be met by a restaurant and a Baroque church from the early 1700s. There’s also a Marian column up here from the same century to mark an outbreak of plague that took place in the 1600s.But the greatest sight is Ljubljana in the distance scattered around at the bottom of Rožnik and Castle hill.

 

Ljubljanica River 

The Ljubljanica River is the main river that runs through the old town of Ljubljana and divides the medieval centre with the rest of the city. There are a lot of cafes & restaurants lining the Ljubljanica river which makes it the perfect spot for sitting and watching how the world goes by. A walk along the river is a good way to discover the beautiful Ljubljana decorated by many bridges throughout the river.

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Have lunch at Open Kitchen Market

Every Friday from early spring to the late autumn, Open Kitchen Market is the best option for lunch in Ljubljana. The Open Kitchen presents the best foods from Slovenia and around the world and wineries and breweries from all over the country offer their best drinks to compliment the food.  Hugely popular among locals, visiting this market is a great place to get good food and make new friends.

Leave Ljubljana

It will be tough, but there are lots of lovely day trips from the capital, including the majestic Lake Bled (the town with the church in the middle of the lake) and to the Slovenian/Croatian border where you can go glamping if you are in Slovenia for longer.

Let someone else do the driving! Take a tour of Bled, a short hike to Bled Castle and ride the Pletna boats in Lake Bled. Next, explore the Vintgar Gorge then dine at a local Alpine restaurant. It’s not over yet! See the less touristy Lake Bohinj and wander through the medieval town of Skofja Loka.

Highlights

  • Bled castle + boat trip
  • Vintgar Gorge
  • Lake Bohinj

 

Visit a Bookstore in Ljubljana

Azil Bookshop Café 

What used to be a tiny bookstore called Azil (Asylum) is now a bookshop café that combines two bookstores and a café. Azil has a bookstore sister called Beletrina next door and a café inside and outside this place. Novi trg or New Square is surrounded by beautiful baroque palaces, so visiting this place will also give you the possibility to see one of the palaces from the inside.

Azil is run by the Scientific Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, so what you can mostly get there is academic literature on humanistic and sociological sciences in Slovene, English, French and Russian. The atmosphere here is truly cosy and you can almost smell all the knowledge that the shelves store.

There’s a really good English language selection on philosophy. You can also find books on cultural studies and anthropology, arts, history, gender studies and even comic books. Check out for books by Slavoj Žižek, the most prominent and notorious Slovenian philosopher of all times! Azil is also a bookcrossing zone, so you might even find some free books or leave your own behind. My favourite here, the excellent selection of comics!

Knjigarna AZIL 

Website  Novi trg 2, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

 

Konzorcij Bookstore and Stationery  Mladinska knjiga založba d.d. 

The best bookshop between Vienna and Milan. If you like traditional bookstores you will love this spot. There is a small paper shop in the basement, and kingdom of books in the first floor. There is a great selection of books for kids as well. It has a great selection of English books (as well as Slovenian of course) also had quite a large Slovenian language learning book section which is impossible to find elsewhere! The bookstore is littered with cute gifts and souvenirs at reasonable prices

Website    Slovenska cesta 29, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

 

Coffee in Ljubljana

Pavin Caffe

This is my local! Cosy, warm, friendly helpful staff and a great choice of cakes! Super pet-friendly, my Westie favourite place, dogs get free snacks! They have amazing ice creams,

Lovely place with outdoor seatings.

Stari trg 30, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

Kavarna Union

This is probably the best café that i have been in years. The location could not be better, it has the historic ambient, the service is friendly and fast, and the cake was just superb. Would recommend it to anyone seeking a good coffee and cake in centre of Ljubljana.

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The recent restoration of this 1905 cafe is very welcome It feels right for a traditional Austro-Hungarian cafe - which were civilised institutions but also relaxed and democratic

 

Ziferblat Ljubljana

Very close to home and a place I miss when not in Ljubljana. The coffee here is free. Ziferblat follows the trend of cafes opening around Europe that wish to work as extensions of people’s homes. This is a place to have coffee with a friend, come to create, read a book, or meet new people. The only thing Ziferblat charges for is time. After finishing coffee or tea, guests pay for the time spent there instead of the drinks they had.

Vegova ulica 8, Ljubljana, 1000, Slovenia

Café Čokl

Conveniently located next to Ljubljana’s public market, Café Čokl is a perfect place to rest tired feet after browsing the market shops. The staff of this small and cosy café is knowledgeable and always prepared to help the guest select a perfect cup of coffee.

 

Krekov trg 8, Ljubljana, 1000, Slovenia

Nebotičnik Café

After being shut for nearly a decade, the best views in the city are once again open to the public. Occupying the top floor of Ljubljana’s famed Neboticnik building, the highest residential structure in Europe when it opened in 1933, the terrace’s 360° views from the Alps to the castle to the mountains in the south are truly breathtaking, and the coffee, cocktails and homemade cakes are worth trying as well. This is an absolute must for all visitors to the city.

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Where to eat in Ljubljana

 

Druga Violina

 is a great restaurant to enjoy a traditional Slovenian brunch. Located in the old part of Ljubljana’s city centre, it offers delicious food on its terrace or its cosy inside area. Most of Druga Violina’s employees are people with special needs and the restaurant is helping with their inclusion into society. Ordering the traditional Slovenian dish štruklji, made from buckwheat and filled with cottage cheese or walnuts, will make for a brunch like nowhere else in the world.

Stari trg 21, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Gostilnica Pri Škofu

Located in a tiny eclectic neighbourhood, this temple for foodies serves dishes that emphasise traditional Slovenian cooking, but not the sort that makes it onto many standard menus. It's located in  Trnovo, and will immediately make you feel at home with its welcoming service.. The food is absolutely delicious! Home-made but creative food, where the ingredients' taste is highlighted.
Can't be missed in Ljubljana!! Is a welcome get-away from the busy/noisy town center and offers an experience that is far from the traditional restaurant-food meals.

At lunch time they offer a fixed price menu for less than 10 Euro!

Rečna 8, Ljubljana, N/A Slovenia, 1000, Slovenia   tel 01-426–4508

Klobasarna

Klobasarna, located on the premises of a once famous watchmaker's shop, is a fast food restaurant offering the best known traditional Slovenian dish, the Carniolan sausage.

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The restaurant's menu is simple: it includes the original, high quality Carniolan sausage, recognized as a product with Protected Geographical Indication, served with a fresh Kaiser roll, fine mustard, and fresh horseradish.

Ciril-Metodov trg 15, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

Gostilna Čad (Balkan)

When you ask locals to name their favourite Balkan restaurant in Ljubljana, Čad is one of the most frequently heard answers. Situated by Rožnik Hill around the corner from Tivoli Park, it's also the longest-running restaurant of its kind in town, and guests can dine in the shady garden surrounded by nature or in the rustic homey interior. Specialising in spit and grilled dishes, the beefsteaks, grilled peppers and ražnjići skewers all come highly recommended.

 

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Namasté (Indian)

Set along the beautifully redeveloped Breg riverside walk in the Old Town, Namasté is the oldest surviving Indian restaurant in all of Slovenia and offers one of Ljubljana’s most romantic dining experiences of any flavour. With its soft, yellow-hued lighting, hand-painted walls and a relaxed atmosphere, the house specialities on offer here are from the Rajasthan and Punjab regions, are prepared individually with spices directly imported from the subcontinent and can be ordered from mild to extra hot. Sometimes we like to stop by just to savour a cup of spicy masala chai.

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I like and go more often to their other plave the Namaste Indian Express
in Trubarjeva Cesta 31, Ljubljana, Slovenia

 

Burek Olimpija

This tiny takeaway at Bavarski Dvor is a true Ljubljana institution, and has been serving up piping hot Serbian-style burek almost literally non-stop, around the clock since the 1970s. It was the runaway winner of a Battle of the Burek competition way back in 2010, and consistently ranks as a local favourite year in and year out. No night out on the town is complete without a pre- or post-club stop here, so don't be surprised to see a queue at four in the morning. And while they renovated not too long ago, the menu and prices have thankfully stayed the same.

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Shambala

Not only does Shambala's kitchen turn out some of the best (and spiciest) Asian cuisine in Slovenia, but the tranquil, almost meditative, ambience of the place allows you to enjoy your meal in a state of perfect relaxation - with some of the best service in town thrown in as an added benefit. During the warmer months, diners can also take advantage of the pleasant little garden that is tucked away in one of the buildings inner courtyards. Situated down a narrow alleyway off Breg, this hidden gem is definitely worth finding.

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Balkan Express (Balkan)

What better way to deal with an exhausting day of shopping than hoeing into a big plate of juicy čevapčiči. Thankfully Balkan Express at the first-floor dining area in City Park BTC has us covered with a solid range of Balkan favourites from smoky grills meats to burek and make sure to leave room for baklava. And if you don’t want to go to BTC but have a craving for pleskavica, Balkan Express also delivers throughout Ljubljana seven days a week.

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Gostilnica Rio-Momo (Balkan)

Situated between the central post office and Kongresni Trg on the city's main thoroughfare, we've never found the exterior to be the most inviting but once you get inside it's actually quite warm and cosy. The thick leather covers on the menus portend the ample selection of grilled meat dishes within, although vegetarians have a handful of a pasta and salads to choose from as well. On your way in don't forget to check the table outside for flyers entitling you to a free glass of wine.

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Učilna Okusov

An interesting new model for a cafe and deli, Učilna Okusov (it translates to ‘classroom of flavours') is a joint venture by three Slovenian vocational schools. Located beside Dragon Bridge at the Ljubljana Central Market, it is an outlet for quality regional products - much of it organic and some produced by students themselves. Učilna Okusov teaches students hospitality and retail skills, whilst giving market goers and tourists alike a taste of traditional Slovene foods either to take away or stay for a tasty great value daily lunch with a glass of wine, or else drop by for a Turkish coffee and delicious sweet treat.

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Shops

Pekarna Osem

A must stop and an absolute gem in Ljubljana. Whilst this small and unassuming doorway at the very end of the 'high street' does not look like much the bread and the raw produce sold packs a punch.

If you enjoy simple things done well then you should come here

Gornji trg 10, Ljubljana 1000, Slovenia

+386 40 562 699