Entries in Slovenia (2)

Monday
Aug052013

Ljubliana {say what?}

So, you've seen the fabulous adventure/nature side of Slovenia and now it's time to see it's quirky capital, Ljubliana. Most of you know I'm a big fan of the "book of Rick", and he says Krakow is the new Prague, and Ljubliana is the new Krakow. So, Ljubliana has been on my list for some time as well since we loved Prague AND Krakow!

First let me tell you about a travel mis-step I made. I do make them from time to time (usually, when I'm NOT following Rick's advice) :) and this was one of them. I'd read that there was a really cool Hostel in Ljubliana (hostel Celica) that used to be an old prison and was converted into a hip Hostel. Voted #1 by Lonely Planet in Europe and everything. This was certainly a gamble as our hostel days are about 20 years behind us, but it sounded cool so I booked it. We were not fans. We are way too old and are obviously not hip enough, if dirty rooms, scratchy towels and full body tattoos are the standard fare. We slept lightly and without moving as much as possible and got outta there asap. The Mr. has assured me there's enough funds to cover a proper hotel/guesthouse/apartment for all future travels. lol.

Our "Super hip hostel" was indeed in a super hip Austin-ish grafiti part of town that me and my camera quite enjoyed :) So the hostel was better to take pictures around than to actually sleep IN, so we're clear :)
The rest of Ljubliana was quite like Krakow and Prague with the castle on the hill, and a lovely old town.. just a smaller version. We were dodging rain on this day, so not as pretty in pictures as it could have been.
I'd have to say the foretress itself was nothing much, but the views were great, and we always enjoy a good climb!
Oh and I had to get these shots of miss C and dad's lunch on this day. I'm so glad he got an adventurous eating kid to share such dishes with!?


On day 3, there was rain forecasted for the entire day, so we had to change our plans a bit and decided to visit Slovenia's (And actually one of Europe's) most visited natural wonder: Postojna Cave. No photos were allowed inside, so you'll have to take a peek on the link above. We did enjoy it, although we were water-logged and chilly most of the time. Turns out it was "raining" quite a bit inside the cave too!

Since we were over near Postijna, we decided to have lunch near Predjama Castle, a beautiful castle built within a cave mouth. Talk about lunch with a view!

There's a funny legend that has to do with this castle and I'll let you read about it if you're interested.. especially if you have the humor of a pre-teen boy :)

So, that concludes the rest of our trip in Slovenia! Next stop: Plitvice Lakes in northern Croatia. You'll want to make sure and come back for that one :)

Sunday
Aug042013

S{love}nia: Lake Bled and beyond

I'm guessing that 99.5% of you have NOT been to Slovenia. Perhaps you're not even sure where it is? Is it close to Slovakia, is there a Slavonia? What's up with all the Slavic-ia countries?
You're not alone. It's confusing and likely has changed since you were in highschool, like me??! Here's a map to help clear it up.. Slovenia is in red.

Basically, Slovenia was part of Austria for a long while, so they share some of the same Alpine culture.
After WWII, it became part of Yogoslavia, which you can see below. (it's in Blue)

Slovenia became the first to pretty much peacefully secede in 1990 and declare their independence. By 1997, Slovenia was part of the EU and was the first non-original EU member to adopt the Euro cuurency. Slovenia has it's act together! Travel is super easy there and most people speak English as their 2nd language.. we heard more English there than I hear in my grocery on any given day!

Now you know WHERE Slovenia, is the next question is WHY did we want to visit?? Great question!
There are certain places/images that are on my list either by reading, being told first hand, eavesdropping :) etc.. Lake Bled is a place that had me hooked from the moment I first saw this image:
Take me here!!
So we went in search of this picture.. and we found it! ( the above photo was taken by yours truly courtesy of a very hearty hike and the trusty Canon camera)

But we also found so much more.. in researching for the trip, we quickly discovered that Slovenia is a nature-lovers dream! (and in case you didn't realize it, we love us some nature) It's lush and green, with the Julian Alps rising in the northwest, gorgeous waterfalls, seafoam blue rivers and a quirky capital, Ljubliana, that's a cross between Austin, Texas and Prague if you can believe it. More on that tomorrow..

Here's a sneak peek at the Lake Bled area and the many adventures we had and loved.
First up: hiking around Vintgar Gorge.
next we hiked up to Mala Osojnica to get the above view of Lake Bled. It was WELL worth the hike for the amazing views!
After a morning full of hiking, we rewarded ourselves with a ride on a pletna boat that took us to the actual island in the middle of Bled. The views down on the water were pretty amazing too..
On the island we visited the Church of the Holy Assumoption where we all took a turn at ringing the church bell "the wishing bell". Also, dad carried miss C up the 99 steps like all husbands traditionally have to do here!  She was a much lighter option than his actual bride :)

Next up, we headed to Lake Bohinj, which a friend who had visited often highly recommended. It was indeed beautiful and we were so thankful to have an inside tip on where else to explore off the beaten path!

Just up from Bohinj is the Vogel Ski area, so we drove up and took the cable car up to take in the views. It was early May, so there was still snow on the ground, which was a bonus for my sno-ball throwing boys :)

We kept thinking that summer would be an amazing time to visit so we could take advantage of all the lakes and rivers, but May was a pleasant time to sightsee for sure and there were hardly any tourtists!
We stopped at a couple of waterfalls, the first being near Lake Bohinj called Savica.

On the way to Ljubliana the next day, our guesthouse host told us about her favorite waterfall, which was Slap Pericnic. It was a bit out of the way, but when a local tells you of their favorite non-touristed waterfall.. you go!! there was a certain point where you could stand and totally get sprayed by the waterfall. The kids and dad went for it.. I volunteered to stay up top and take photos :)
you know you're having a good day when you're covered in waterfall spray!
Another tip we scored, was having dinner at Lectar in Radovljica, a few km from Bled. It's a tiny little hotel with a restaurant and gingerbread workshop that's been in operation since 1766! We had a nice traditional Slovenian meal (think goulash, hearty soups, sausages and game..) and of course, had to sample some of the gingerbread. Warning: the gingerbread can be stored for up to 10 years and we could kind of tell :) They sure are decorated cutely though! haha..

Speaking of all the great advice we got on this trip, I would love to recommend the great (And reasonable) guesthouse we stayed at near Bled, called Millhouse Bled. The owners were SO helpful and kind. It was a great little find. Here's a funny story.. the wife had actually seen our HHI show a few days after we booked our reservation and knew who we were when we arrived. That's REALLY a SMALL WORLD, huh?! haha..

I hope you enjoyed the tour and will consider adding lovely Slovenia to your wish list.. Next up: Ljubliana!