Truth be told we were exhausted from the previous day of sightseeing and face stuffing so enjoying a good nights sleep was an easy enough affair. After getting washed and dressed it was time for breakfast. We popped into the wonderful looking lifts and walked past reception, the barbers shop a handful of conference rooms and into the sister uHotel (as it is now called) for our breakfast buffet (please note, it was not located in the basement).
After an initial warm welcome the reality dawned on us almost immediately, despite the size of the breakfast room this place was a total zoo, in fact it was feeding time at the zoo. Actually zoo is probably not the right word, a zoo assumes a degree of order. Pure chaos is the only way I could accurately describe this room, it felt continuously like we were one step away from a major accident or spill. If you missed the backwards walking child you were equally likely to run into their exasperated parent or the buffet equivalent of gate lice hanging around the waffle station. Between the messy tables stacked with half eaten plates of food and the crowds it was not my idea of a nice relaxing start to the day!
Despite my complaints about the chaotic atmosphere there was a decent buffet spread of both quantity and quality. From hot food of eggs, bacon, fried bread and even bean stew to fresh fruit, loads of cold meat and cheese, pastries, bread, cereal, a bean to cup coffee machine and fresh juice and so on. It was not bad and we managed a couple of buffet runs each. That said I would strongly recommend making for an early start or sneaking in just before the room closes in the hope you can find a space and not feel the occupants of both hotels closing in on you, the buffet and anything else they can get their hands on!
In lieu of a proper plan we followed a walking route from a leaflet Anne-So picked up at the tourist office. It actually ended up being a really great way to see the city and during our near two days in Ljubljana we managed to see around 80-90% of the sights on the map.
Ljubljana is certainly a beautiful city. From cute little side streets pedestrian paths alongside the river, to interesting buildings of varying architectural styles and the numerous pavement cafes for watching tourists from across the globe go by. What more could you want?
After having checked off the majority of sights from the walk we were left with one last thing before lunch, the old Roman ruins. Due to fatigue and building work we circled around a rather deserted student area, (and in all honesty it’s the youthful enthusiasm of the students that give such areas their charming buzz) baked in the sun waiting to cross the road and began to catch a little as we crossed back over the same road. Eventually we found the ruins which were basically a small park that may have once been a Roman toilet complex…
The one part of the plan that I’d actually planned for this trip was lunch at the outdoor food market Odprta Kuhna which had a great write up in our guidebook and online. Unfortunately we were either really unlucky or the write up was written by someone not familiar with the finer food markets of the world. We thought that the mornings breakfast buffet was mad but in the heat of the midday sun the food market was carnage. No shade, very crowded, a lack of free seats and the searing heat from the stalls and crowds just compounding the matter.
We patrolled the stalls on edge with hunger and probably heat stroke. I settled on Egyptian chicken and Anne-So picked out a fish burger. The food was at least tasty and decent value for money. Anne-So’s burger was however rather messy and not easy to eat. In the end we were just glad to find a shaded step to sit on and enjoy our lunch. I was really hoping to enjoy some beer or wine but it was just too hot to drink anything other than water.
After lunch we finally managed to visit Ljubljana Cathedral which had been closed both of the other times we had passed by. Our cathedral visit was definitely worth the wait as there were some beautiful frescoes, a magnificent organ, wonderful metal doors, interestingly posed sculptures but best of all was the calm atmosphere and the wonderfully cool temperatures which made the cathedral a welcome sanctuary from the heat of the blazing sun outside.
We agreed to make at least one ice cream stop on this trip and Gelataria Romantika was top of the Lonley Planet list. The gelato (not ice cream) was served from covered metal tubs, there was gelato making equipment on the premises and a host of way out wacky flavours that meant that it was not just romantika but also authentika (insert face palm emoji here). I picked chocolate, pistachio and watermelon, whilst Anne-So chose chocolate, cinnamon and lavender. All the flavours were fantastic, whilst the latter tasted like I’d been thrown head first into a luscious lavender field. That gelato sure took our minds off the blazing heat.
For out final act of of sightseeing in Ljubljana we visited the Modern Art Museum. It was interesting in places though I regularly found reading the history behind the art more captivating then the works themselves. I did like some of the portraits and the black and white sketches. The former Yugoslavia certainly did not suffer a dull 20th century! In contrast to outside, the museum was blasting an arctic chill from the air con, so much so that one poor lady working there had wrapped herself up in her winter coat!
We walked back to the hotel to pick up our bags and to change for the flight. It was a short walk to the bus station where we caught the bus prior to the one we intended to catch as it was about 10 minutes late as had become the norm on our trip…
For once the bus was empty and made good time taking the scenic route through the suburbs to the airport. The air conditioning was working and we arrived nice and early at the airport, perhaps a little too early. We then headed for check in.
It was nice to see that priority check in was available though initially it wasn’t well set up. An economy queue had already formed with no agents at the Club Desk, thankfully realising this another agent soon set up shop and made the effort to call out to the line for business class passengers. We did get a bit of a nasty look from a few people who thought we were pushing in but I was wearing my silver tag on my bag as well just to make sure nobody got the wrong idea.
LJU also has priority security though there was next to no queue at this time as there were only a handful of flights left to depart for the day. Maybe this would have been a more useful perk during peak hours.
Access: First & Business Class Passengers on selected airlines, Sky Team, Oneworld and Star Alliance Elites, Priority Pass, Lounge Key, No 1 Traveller, Diners Club, Dragon Pass
To reach the wonderfully named Business Lounge one just heads through the rather underwhelming and particularly pricey duty free shop, side note if you like truffle products then you will be over the moon, otherwise it was rather grim.
We were welcomed into the Business Lounge and first impressions were pretty good. There was lots of seating, some TVs but a lack of food and drink. It reminded me a little of a Eurostar lounge. Thankfully we kept walking till we arrived at the second section of the lounge and found the entertainment!
There was beer on tap, red and white wine, spirits, soft drinks, bean to cup coffee to drink and sandwiches, biscuits and snacks to eat.
Overall the lounge was small and comfortable but looking a little tatty around the edges. The staff regularly cleaned up dirty cups and plates as well as replenished the food. There were also toilets in lounge which was convenient.
Overall the lounge was pleasant as it was at all not busy with just our flight and two others left to board for the day. I though it was a great place to spend 40 minutes or so prior to flying. Unfortunately we were very early and had to endure it for a couple of hours… So yet again I dropped some eaves to kill time but they were not massively exciting. Hearing two grown men do a lounge comparison between this and T5 Galleries Club was hardly riveting. I strongly remember these two commenting that our outbound flight was the inaugural. I hope they had as fun a time in Slovenia as we did.
Bored we decided to explore the airport. With LJU being small and efficient this did not take long. In addition to Duty Free there were a couple of restaurants. We hung around waiting for the gate and looking out for our aircraft which was hiding at a different gate to the one on the board.
Eventually some very long announcements were made in Slovenian and English to tell us all about how priority boarding worked on BA. However on arrival it was completely ignored and the gate agents operated on a first come first served basis. I’m not sure why they wasted their breath…
Class: Club Europe (Business)
Depart: LJU T1 21:20 (delayed till 22:10)
Arrive: LHR T5 22:35 (delayed till 23:05)
Aircraft: A320-200 G-EUYJ Delivered 28/20/2010
Seats 1D and 1F
I have to say this flight did not get off to the best of starts and it really should have been an early warning as to how our night was going to unfold. Initially we were delayed due to air traffic control restrictions. Then we were further delayed due to paperwork issues which then meant that delay caused more delays. We finally departed around 22:10 almost an hour late with multiple profuse apologies from Captain. Whilst we appreciated being kept up to date regarding the delay it was still frustrating especially with our departure being quite late in the evening. Thankfully the Captain was interrupted during his third or perhaps fourth apology to tell us we had a slot and we’d taking off right away.
We enjoyed a nice night time climb out over the city as we flew back towards London.
Service started with hot towels followed by a drinks run with a bag of nuts. We were both addressed by name throughout the flight and I have to say service from our crew was absolutely fantastic throughout the flight. It was truly BA at its best.
The food was tasty, especially the chocolate dessert, BA has really improved the catering since the last round of changes. Though I really wish BA would change the fake table cloths to something a little nicer.
We finished our meal with a coffee. Since BA switched to Union the coffee has gone from sewer water to pond water. It’s a start and maybe one day they’ll put some kind of Nespresso machine in the galley for Club customers.
I thought our outbound flight was pretty good but this one was way better and for me is how Club Europe should be done. With the current limitations of BA’s hard product there’s not much else they can do. I’ve done at least one Club Europe return a year for the last seven years and this crew were up there with the best of them. It definitely felt like a premium service.
We taxied into T5 B about 30 minutes late. I wanted to do the tunnels as we’d just missed a transit train but Anne-So had now had enough and made the sensible decision to make me wait. It was then time for baggage claim and passport control which were as speedy as always at T5.
It had started to rain outside and after collecting our bags it was time to get the bus to hotel. I thinking waiting for the bus only added to our irritability as did the fact that our bus route did not match up with what Google Maps was showing. We were exhausted and looking forward to a comfortable night at the Renaissance LHR, all the more so after the great stay we had to start our Japan trip last year.
Sadly things did not go quite to plan but that’s a whole other story to read about in the next instalment.