Our guide this week: Špela, 35, has been a vendor of Slovenian paper Kralji ulice (King of the Street) for nine years. She sells in the underpass of the car park Trdinova in the centre of the city and helps train new vendors.
Why I like living in Ljubljana
Everywhere is very tidy and clean
Ljubljana is our country’s capital and centre of all cultural happenings. Slovenia was the fifth-cleanest country in the world in 2018 and Ljubljana was Europe’s greenest capital in 2016. In 2018 Slovenia was also declared the world’s most sustainable country. It’s nestled among emerald fields, the Adriatic sea and snowy peaks. Nearly 60 per cent is covered in lush forests, with more than 40 parks and reserves home to some 20,000 different plants and animals. I have to mention our cuisine as well. It’s exquisite. Visit Ljubljana, you won’t be sorry.
The best bit about Ljubljana
Ljubljana is a beautiful city with lots of history and an old centre. You never get bored living here. I love the city’s commitment to preserving historical sights, especially the ancient Roman ruins. At that time the city was called Emona and it was on an important trade route. I went on a Roman Emona guided tour and loved it. Besides all the museums, there’s a city within the city called Metelkova. It is autonomous and is more of an alternative place.
There are many clubs and bars and hostels, where craftsmen, painters and other artists reside. It’s definitely a place to visit.
My favourite park
Ljubljana has got lots of green areas and Tivoli is one of the biggest parks in the city. It’s great for walks and relaxing. It’s very neat and doesn’t get crowded. You can almost forget about your daily struggles. Surrounded by nature you can think in peace about your next steps in life.
What I love about the locals
I must say most of my customers are really friendly. My regular customers know me well and often stop to chat so I’m never bored. Still, you will encounter people who act superior or are bitter. They try to lower your self-esteem. It’s really important you don’t let yourself get bummed out by them. Since I’m retired due to health reasons I consider selling the street paper a job. Be positive.
In total, more than 92,000 people have sold The Big Issue since 1991 to help themselves work their way out of poverty – more than could fit into Wembley Stadium.
The best time of year to visit
Spring and summer
Besides all you can see in Ljubljana, you can also take a trip to the seaside or visit the Alps – both are within one hour’s car drive.
Not in the guidebooks
No tourist guide will show you Invisible Ljubljana. The street paper offers a tour around city’s hidden spots, mostly related to homelessness. I’m one of the guides showing the spots where I used to live. You are cordially invited to take part if you find yourself in Ljubljana.
Interview: Jean Nikolič