Captivating experiences in Ljubljana
Ljubljana first captured me with its beauty. Then I was literally captivated when I checked in at Hostel Celica. The building was originally built as a prison in the late 1800s, and held ground as that for more than 100 years.
Before Hostel Celica opened its doors in 2003, a group of local and international artists moved in. Each group was assigned a cell, and with limited budget, they had to think creatively. Many cells have freedom as an underlying tone in different sense. The symbolism is diverse. Some have art painted directly on the walls, while others are artistic in design and furnishing. All 20 prison cells are completely different, except for an important detail; the barred doors.
At check-in I got assigned to my cell for the night, 101. A part of the concept is that you cannot choose which room you will be staying. Like the former inhabitants, you should not know what to expect.
I turned the key, went through the barred door, and found a small prison cell with a narrow bed along one of the walls. At the foot end, it was a small chest in dark wood. At the opposite wall, a wooden table and a chair. The bookshelf over the table had a few books wrapped in old travel maps. The space at the floor was minimal, and did not allow much luggage. The top of the chest saved me (and the luggage), along with the fact that I finally have learned how to travel light. The showers and toilets are naturally situated in the hallway.
A narrow ladder lead the way to the second bed, located over the door. If you want to have the room to yourself, you have to pay for both beds. If not, you will get an inmate for the night.
Hostel Celica is situated in the Metelkova area, with the alternative artistic community as closest neighbor. Many of them live as squatters in the former military barracks, but they are mostly left in peace. The area is quite colorful, to put it mildly, both literally and with the different personalities. But that is exactly what makes it so interesting. During daytime you can stroll around for hours and explore the countless details, while in the evenings different bars open, with totally different styles, both in appearance and music.
To stay at Hostel Celica and spend the day in the Metelkova area is definitely a fascinating experience I will remember for a long time.
UPDATE 2018: Unfortunately, Hostel Celica had to close down.
Have you spent the night in an unusual place? I would love to know what kind of place and where.