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Slovenia

 
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Late Doors
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 20, 2015 9:52 am    Post subject: Slovenia  Reply with quote

Just back. What a beautiful country in every way. Full account to follow when i piece it all together. Anyone else been?
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 20, 2015 7:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another spying mission   holiday?
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2015 3:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did you make it to Germany?

* Wonders if he knows exactly where Slovenia is. *
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 23, 2015 9:49 am    Post subject: Re: Slovenia Reply with quote

Late Doors wrote:
Just back. What a beautiful country in every way. Full account to follow when i piece it all together. Anyone else been?


Frankly, no. Czech Republic, Latvia, and Poland. That's it in that neck of the woods. I get sick of Eastern Europeans pouting grimaces over here so I no longer go to that part of Europe. Get enough of it in England.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 24, 2015 6:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Forest wrote:
Another spying mission   holiday?


 Bit of both but obviously can't say what i was spying otherwise, well i wouldn't be a very good spy would i?  In fact,  as you were, i wasn't spying so forget i ever mentioned it, ok * taps nose *

I'll do this in installments covering the five stops we did.

As the plane flew over the Austrian alps into Slovenia i just knew I'd love the place. Lush rolling pastures agen the misty mountains and into Ljubljana capital of Slovenia. We were all set for a cycling trip here in 91 but bottled out on account of the, errr, lets just say situation. We weren't to know the country wasn't to go through the carnage of its neighbors in its move to independence when Yugoslavia broke up. Wish we did but better late than never.

24 years later the plan was to have a couple of nights in Ljubljana then ten days moving around before a final 3 day exploration here at the back end of the trip.

Got off to a perfect start with the pre arranged taxi waiting since buses into the city were not exactly plentifully. The Lovely welcoming taxi driver gave us good information about the town and country during the 25 minute drive there through the orderly if drab suburbs. She had to drop us off on the north bank of the river on account of the pedestrianized old town area. However   it was only a short walk down the civic square across the river and along the old town riverside to the tidy apartment block on the riverside amongst the lively cafe bar scene.

Since we were going to come back to Ljubljana for the last three nights we thought we'd just relax and not stray too far so spent Saturday night and Sunday by the river.

The place is an idyllic model of European relaxed but vibrant chic. The high banked ambling green river divides old town and the north bank. The old town south bank gets the evening sun but the best bars are on the other side. Great ales as well as the local union lager on offer and I quickly established that the local reservoir dogs micro brewery was the best. The grim reaper ipa at 7%  is outstanding. On average we paid about £2-40 a pint and the restaurants were slightly cheaper than average here.

The place has obviously had a lot of EU renovation money but the old architecture squares and streets are  heaving with charm and splendor. Some superb striking civic buildings, a long old market colonnade as well as the landmark triple bridge. A joy just to wander around without a plan and gaze.

The place had a bit of a stag do reputation but the only ones we saw were impeccable continental European types singing and a hen party from Hungary with the hen carrying around a huge inflatable penis. None had the lairy cackling horror of a typical British version.

Terrific food as well reflecting the county's geography combining Italian Hungarian and Austro- German elements. Hearty meat dishes, great pizzas, perfectly cooked crispy skinned fish, unfussy veg and plenty of well presented spuds chips and rice. Fine dining is also about providing sophistication and delicacy but i think the average salad lacked the panache of French salads. Lovely and fresh but nothing special. Here in the capital for the first two nights we stumbled on the ace Vodnikov Hram.  whilst abandoning our search in the rain for the highly rated Taj Mahal. It's a traditional Slovenian place so i plumped for  veal schnitzel the size of a Frisbee. Man it was delicious as were the crisp chips. We were both starving after a long day and it was perfect. Soft pink juicy veal, crisp breadcrumbs and a very palatable local red filled the gap admirably. MrsD's  dear medallions were perfect, quite rare with a soft earthy buttery taste. The tasty wood fired crispy pizzas we had the day after somewhere else  were also splendid.

More about the place later for on Monday we took a direct train to Ptuj.

Ptuj (pronounced Ptuey )

The oldest town in Slovenia with Roman settlements traced back to 200AD and iron age history beyond that. Our BnB place was on the oldest road in town which served as the old tannery in days of yore. What a story behind the hotel as well.

It was an old farmhouse lovingly renovated by the original owners grandson Vladimir. He has put is whole life into its renovation. We know this because he told us, a few times. The first time was when he saw us walking into town with our back packs as he was sat in the cafe and followed us through the hotel entrance door into the immaculate courtyard. His wife was sweeping the yard as he took us into his office and sat down. You have a beautiful house we said. "Yes" he replied, "but it is such hard work". Just then his son who was sat behind us on his pc put his head phones on as Vladimir told us the story of the house and the toll it had put on him as his wife swept the steps behind us.

It was owned by his grandma's parents just before the war and was occupied by the Germans. After the war it was taken by the communist like so many others. It went to rack n ruin over the decades while his grandma sought to reclaim it after the independence of 91. Eventually she got it back and died shortly after. Vladimir has since embarked on the massive renovation and it is magnificent. "But so much hard work" he almost painfully told us as he sat and contemplated. Just then his wife scurried past, her eyes just peeping at him over a pile of laundry. "You must be very proud" i said. He sat and stared at the table like a chess master contemplating his next move. "I am too tired to be proud" he mumbled as his wife dashed back with a fresh pile in one hand and a vacuum cleaner in the other complete with another glance towards her tired motionless husband.

Piss takes aside it was a truly special place and a privilege to stop there.

The town isn't a large place so our three night stop was quite leisurely and included a day out to Maribor on the train.

The original roman settlement on the south is now an orderly collection of suburban infrastructure. Ptuj old town is on the north side of the river and looks pretty as a picture as you cross the bridge. The first thing you see incredibly is a Chinese restaurant. Quite subtle and apparently a main stay of the town, highly regarded. 'twas ok, nowt special. Across the road on the riverside is a much better place. Beautiful white fish in caper sauce and atmosphere to match.

Just up the road is the highly rated Amadeus restaurant. We had a late afternoon beer in the bar and decided to go there for tea later. Quite possibly the rudest service I've ever encountered. Food was ok, this time a turkey schnitzel but fuck me the manageress needed a rapid round of manners therapy. We walked in and waited a few minutes. A few more minutes later a group of men came in and she went straight to them all over them fawning and curtseying. They were clearly some local dignitaries and the head of them was as embarrassed as we were annoyed. She ignored us and left us there whilst he looked apologetic towards us and beckoned us to join them. We did and took the adjacent table. He was a lovely chap and had to tell the hag to serve us first which she did, begrudgingly. By now it was comical so we antagonized her further. After finishing our mains we pondered deserts and coffee but didn't get asked. She was too busy sat at a table talking to her friends. Unbelievable but worth every cent of her 5 cent tip.

That said, the rest of the folk in the town were superb as were our two bars. The brilliant Musik cafe, a center of culture arts and beer for everyone and a fab  bar who specialized in bottles of ale from around the world as well as Slovenian micro brews. Can't remember the name though.

The rest of the town is a joy to walk around and explore the open history and fascinating detail. It's all mainly in two small squares Mesni and Slovenski and along the main old street Presernova that runs under the castle. The place is full of medieval town houses, civic buildings and churches. Lots are decorated with ancient stuccos, portals and reliefs. Many are in the form of kurrent masks, the masks used in ancient spring fertility rituals still practiced albeit for show these days. Its all quite charming as is the castle that hosts many strange animal like costumes that accompany the masks during the festival.

The castle was first built in AD34 but like many others modified over the centuries particularly when the country was under attack from the ottoman empire. Must have done their job as it never fell to them.
The church bell tower on Slovenski square is tall and handsome towering above ancient tomb stones around it. None more so striking as the 2000 year old Orpheus monument whose shadow provided afternoon shade for a beer on the pretty cafe terrace around it.

Maribor was ok for a day trip but nowhere near the appeal of Ptuj. The place did have a spectacular plague memorial though, pure Doctor Who, don't blink stuff.

Quite an early start on Thursday as we caught  two trains and a bus to the spectacularly wonderful lake Bled and Bohinj, quite possibly the most beautiful landscapes I've ever seen.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2015 7:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So, following literally one request to continue, we press on. To Lake Bled

From Ptuj we got the Train back to Ljubljana then a bus up to the mountains to the spectacularly beautiful Lake Bled. The place that first inspired the trip three years ago purely from seeing a picture if it.

Our digs were a 10 minute walk away from the lake but well worth it. Pension Tereza is run by madam Tereza and her husband. An incredible, kind and generous couple who built the place themselves 60 years ago. Just listening to them was a history lesson in itself. The pair of them represent everything that's happened in the country. In contrast to Vladimir in Ptuj they yearn for the pre '91 years but accept what is now. Tereza is  bewildered by booking.com and trip advisor. How can one person give her hospitality 10/10 and someone else give her 8 when she is the same all the time for everybody she asks.

Bled town is an incongruous ugly mess. Seeing it from a distance touching the astonishingly lovely lake is like seeing Rod Stewart with a beautiful blonde. You just wonder how the fuck can that happen. Happily the sheer shimmering magic of the lake among the serenity of its situation more than compensates.

You can walk the entire perimeter in about two hours. Away from the town carp fishermen sit earnestly amongst their vast array of tackle in and around the surrounding shrubbery. Other strollers are everywhere along with the clip clop of horse drawn  carriages. It still retains the charm as incredible views of Bled Castle and the lake's little island church  open up from every angle.

Sadly the eating and drinking options are mainly poor. Hundreds of leather clad  Italian Austrian and Rumanian Hells angels fill the cafes before the seemingly constant roar of their chrome laden Harley Davidsons take them away. Their drone fills the still air and only after late afternoon does it stop.

The cafes are soulless and most of the restaurants bland. The only decent place is pizza Rustika, a brilliant little atmospheric place just out of the main town area. A pity really but the place is all about the lake. We did get a decent Indian meal in a hotel restaurant that must have an Asian chef but the rest of the tucker was very average.

We spent most of the pre tea time on our hotel room terrace with a bottle of sparkly watching the sub set in front of us behind the castle  and lovely it was too.

Lake Bohinje is a 50 min bus ride away and is, if anything even more beautiful. Entirely devoid of any structure around its immediate shore line its eerier in its starkness than Bled and a lot more imposing in its beauty. The countries famous and revered poet France Preseren put it thusly

"The lake of Bohinj calm in stillness lies, No sign of strife remains to outward sight; Yet in the lake the fierce pike never sleep, Nor other fell marauders of the deep"


Stood on the bridge watching the deep cobalt clarity of the inlet stream below us drift into the lake is one of the most natural awe inspiring ten minutes I've ever spent. How can anyone not wonder about creation when you see something like that.

About Five mile out of town is the Gorge Vintgar. Mr Tereza very kindly drove us there along with smart directions about the best way to walk back avoiding the roads and taking in the areas pretty villages.

The gorge is maybe a mile long stretch of the river sandwiched between rock faces until it dives over a sharp waterfall to continue along the valley. It was discovered by chance apparently and is now a kind of national park where you have to pay a small amount to trek along its manmade riverside path. It's pleasant enough.

Three nights in Bled and its left a lasting impression. The air, the sweat purity of it like the water has anchored it in my consciousness. The kind of place you hear about artists discovering and spending the rest of their lives there and i understand why. But we have other things to do as well.

Ought to put some photos up really
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 21, 2015 6:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Late Doors wrote:
We spent most of the pre tea time on our hotel room terrace with a bottle of sparkly watching the sub set in front of us behind the castle  and lovely it was too.


Was this a Russian Pravda, Leninets or schuka class submarine?

p.s. great write up.


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