A Love Affair with S-love-nia

My affair with Slovenia has started when my colleague gave me a bottle of Slovenian wine in turn of taking care of his plant. Until then, the little country had not attracted my attention at all. Perhaps just because it is in the shadows of its neighbors: Italy, Austria, Hungary, and Croatia.

You may have certainly passed through the country while traveling between its neighbors, and probably it never occurred to you to spend your valuable time here? If so, you missed quite a lot! Besides the delicious wines, there are so much to do and see in this lovely country... Do you like city life? Nature? Beaches? History? Slovenia has something to offer for everyone.

my favorite white wine Set aside my addiction to Slovenian wines, the photos of the Škocjan Caves forced me to visit Slovenia as soon as possible. Last October, my dear hubby and I were finally able to spent a long weekend in Slovenia. The plan was basically to visit Vintgar Gorge and Lake Bled on the way to Ljubljana, and then to pub crawl in Ljubljana before visiting Škocjan Caves, and to feel the last sea breeze of the year before returning home. Following this plan, our first stop of the first day was Vintgar Gorge. As a common rule for my travels, the weather was not the best again. Murphy comes with me everywhere!

Although it was a cold October day, the scenery was so beautiful, the water was so clear and inviting that I had to fight against the will to jump into the water.

Vintgar Gorge
The 1.6 km long hiking trail here is easy and suitable for every age and fitness level. At the beginning and end of the trail you will find a small kiosk, where you can buy some snacks and coffee. Also just before the entrance there is a restaurant, which serves fish caught right there from the river. However, it was not appealing to us at all, due to being packed with package tourists.

We spent around an hour here enjoying the gorgeous scenery, and I took literally hundreds of photos. You can see a bunch of them here, including some photos of Lake Bled -our next destination.

Lake Bled is located in the town of Bled, only 4 km away from Vintgar. Bled itself is a typical tourist town with dozens of hotels and restaurants side by side. Given the diversity of the restaurants, it was time for us to have late lunch here, before checking the famous lake.

Bled
Unfortunately, the lake was a bare disappointment for me. It is so small that I had a feeling as if it were not natural (but it is!). The bad weather multiplied the disappointment, as we could neither take a boat tour to the island, nor climb to the castle. I don't think that the castle is impressive inside, but the view from top must be awesome. So a must for the next time!

Bled Castle
Bled Island with the church - The only natural island in Slovenia
After a quick tour in Bled, we headed to the capital - Ljubljana. I have to admit that the most difficult part of the planning was to find a reasonably priced and conveniently located hotel in Ljubljana, plus on-site parking possibility. As mostly business people stay for overnight in the capital city, hotels are overpriced; and there is only a couple of hostels without a parking slot. After spending quite a lot of time with searching, I decided to use airbnb for the first time, and I was happy to find Azra's place for 50 EUR/night. As for the experience with arbnb, I don't like their tendency to round up the total payment amount, as if the 15% commission were not enough. The incorrect amount is less than 1 EUR for an individual, but the business idea is just irritating. The service center was prompt to refund the incorrectly charged amount, but they didn't respond to my questions regarding their business policy. Unless they change this "round-up" policy, I'll not recommend, nor use them again. So, check your bill thoroughly...

Anyway, a short drive later we were finally at the Azra's place, and of course we stuck to our plan with pub crawling.

Prešeren Square
Like in the most European towns, Ljubljana is divided through a river that is adorned with nice pubs and cafés alongside. I am not going to recommend any specific pubs or restaurants; just stroll around and pick the one, which appeals to you.



We concluded the first night with a last drink at Metelkova, which I think no one should leave the city before seeing. It is an autonomous culture center with clubs, bars, art installations, graffiti, even a hostel, and it is unique. It was great to hangout outside of Jalla Jalla, to mingle with people, and to have some cheap local beer. Old military barracks, new ideas: we love it!

Details- Metelkova
Details - Metelkova
Hanging shoes - Metelkova
The next day started quite late for us, and surprisingly we had mostly sunny weather. We spent the day strolling around and making many stops along the way to continue bar crawling where we left. At this time, the city became our favorite in Europe by far. In every corner you can find something nice: let it be a graffiti, nice flowers, an artistic door, food fair, friendly people, cheap and real margarita and so on...




We had to say goodbye to Ljubljana soon after falling in love, for the sake of our last stop in this awesome country: Škocjan Caves.

There are two famous caves in Slovenia (the other being Postojna), and this one seems to get lesser visitors. I am not quite sure why, perhaps due to being a bit farther away or not being so commercialized. In any case, Škocjan Jame is certainly worth the longer distance and the hiking effort. On top, it is in UNESCO world heritage list, whereas Postojna not. There are several guided walking tours a day (click here for more information), which takes approximately 2 hours, and in my opinion requires a reasonable level of fitness due to the stairs and slopes that you need to master.

I was so impressed by the underground river in the Škocjan Caves system and by the enormous stalactite and stalagmite formations that once again I realized how small a human being is. Unfortunately, the photography is prohibited here, hence the following photos are from web.

photo from unesco
photo from travel-slovenia
Our time in Slovenia was over hereby, as I decided to get the last sea breeze of the year in Rovinj, Croatia (by the way, we met the only non-English speaking Slovenian guy near the Croatian border). All in all, I would have to say that we love Slovenia, we love Ljubljana, we love the friendly people, we love the delicious wines, and and and...looking forward to the next escape!






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About Maho

Nature lover, diving and travel enthusiast, Asian looking, Russian sounding, Turkish raised, Munich based stranger on Earth.

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