Though it was cold and damp outside I awoke to a toasty bedroom thanks to a little space heater sitting near the bedside. Getting dressed I walked through the kitchen to the living room of our rental house. Here I stood with my face nearly touching the window. Beautiful green hills lightly covered by mist unfolded before me in this tiny village just south of the city. Unable to move I take in the sight for twenty minutes, watching a colorful police car drive up a small lane to a school, turn around, and return from where he appeared. Everything seems so peaceful and simple. It is simply perfection. What a heartbreak that we have to leave today.
After showering and packing up we leave our wonderful rental house. A gigantic spider appears near the top of the bedroom wardrobe to wish us goodbye. Thankfully I did not see it earlier or I might have had a different opinion of our night there. After taking in one last view as I finish putting our luggage in the car we head off to downtown Maribor for breakfast.
It is a drizzling weekend morning and traffic is light. A perfect road without a single defect takes us into the city. Driving in we pass many large Ikea-like stores and other modern construction. It all looks new and clean. A bridge spanning a river near the center appears to separate the old area from the new area. The south bank has modern glass construction while the north gets much more Communist. Here we decide on sightseeing by car has it has begun to rain. We drive a couple of laps around the center but cannot find anything of interest. Coming to a small park with parking areas around its perimeter, which the GPS seemed to think was the center of the city, we pulled in and discussed our next move. As we talked the rain suddenly stopped, as if inviting us out. Not one to argue with nature we quickly evacuated our car and walked towards a large pedestrian area. Around were decent buildings but the communist hand was everywhere. From the mandatory giant statue depicting war and sacrifice to the ugly concrete squares they call buildings.
The rain starting again we ducked into a corner cafe. The outside was not inviting but inside was beautiful. A large area opened in front of us and a fantastic heavy timber ceiling above. A waitress smiled at us as we took seats by a window and came over to take our order, in perfect English, as we dressed down and got settled in. Outside a fruit vendor and kebab shop were making preparations to open. Across the way a Communist looking shoe shops eaves protected a lady and her dog from what had become a downpour. Dreaming about the beautiful view we had just an hour before, and comparing it to what we saw now, we felt quite against Maribor.
Turning our attention to the table, we drank our mediocre coffee and ate our tasty tost and apple pastry. With the rain stopping again as we finished our meal we briefly explored the area before giving up due to lack of interest. Safely back in our car we headed for the motorway and onward to Ljubljana.
Perhaps Maribor is a beautiful city and we just happened to be in the wrong area with drab weather and negative attitudes. Or perhaps it truly is the ugliest part of Slovenia. I will leave my judgement open until the next time I visit, for I will most certainly be back.