Saturday, 22 October 2016

Travel: Slovenia | Part two

As you can see in part one, our first full day in Ljubljana saw us slowly exploring the city. Day two was the day we got to explore Slovenia more as we were picking up the hire car. After a slight snag, meaning more time for coffee, we were off to Lake Bled. 

Bled is about a 45 minute drive from Ljubljana so we were there in no time. Bled is probably one of the most touristy places in Slovenia, it had quite a resorty feeling to it with shops, hotels and restaurants in the drive down to the lakeside. Parking wasn't the easiest thing in the world but we finally found a space not too far from the centre of Bled and headed off in search of food. Rain eventually forced us to make a decision sharpish and we ended up sat outside a Mexican (I use that term very loosely) restaurant trying not to get rained on. I ordered a burrito...the beans and rice were amazing so there's that.

The theme of our holiday was humidity and Lake Bled didn't let up. We walked around the lake, which was utterly gorgeous. Lots of people were boating or swimming on the lake, it must be amazing to have something like that to go to if you're local. I'd looked at lots of photos of the lake before we went away but nothing compared to how it looked in person.

After Bled we took the advice of the apartment owner and drove to Lake Bohinj to see what the fuss was about, definitely the right decision. It's a smaller lake than Bled but just as beautiful and with far fewer tourists. We stopped for a quick coffee (I wanted hot chocolate but they don't do it in the summer) and a brief wander along the banks of the lake before heading back to Ljubljana.

After a day of walking and sightseeing it was definitely time to sample some traditional Slovenian food. We had walked past the Sokol Inn previously and I'd suggested that we go back to it as it was always busy, which has to be a good thing. This is the point where I'd show you the goulash Jon had and the schnitzel I had but we were too hungry to take photos and wolfed down our food along with Slovenian beer before taking a slow wander back to the apartment. 

The next day we drove to the Postojna Cave Park for a day of education and history, a castle carved into a cliff was involved so I was excited. I was also excited to see the famous 'dragons' of Postojna. You enter the caves with a group that speak your language so we boarded the train with the large English speaking group having been told to wrap up, there were even capes available to use if you hadn't brought warm clothes with you. As the train started moving deeper into the cave I suddenly really regretted wearing shorts, it was so cold! The train journey takes you so far through the cave giving you an amazing insight into the tunnel system until you disembark for a walking tour. 

After getting back out into the open air and warmth, we had a wait til our allotted coach time to take us to Predjama Castle so we grabbed some coffee and people watched for a while. The coach takes a 9km drive through the countryside to the castle, another storm was brewing so we got to see lightening striking the mountains nearby which made the experience incredibly atmospheric. 

Visiting the castle was a great experience, it was like something out of a scary vampire story. In reality the castle is famous for a robber who took refuge in the castle for a year in the 15th century. The castle has a cave system under it with a secret passage leading out to safety, so it's easy to see why he chose it.

The following day saw us drive to Piran, something I'd really been looking forward to but it wasn't quite what I expected...


Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Travel: Slovenia | Part one

At the end of July I headed on holiday for a week with Jon to Slovenia. We thought a lot about where to go for our summer holiday and picked Slovenia as Jon had ridden through part of it last summer when he rode the Transcontinental race between Belgium and Turkey. He'd stopped in Ljubljana and raved about how amazing it was but he didn't have enough time there to appreciate it.

We flew out of Luton...hopefully for the last time. The whole experience that morning was awful, as I got into the taxi at the ungodly hour of 5am I dropped my phone and completely smashed the screen, then I had to deal with Luton airport. It was a learning experience, thank god has the patience of a saint and can deal with me when I'm sleep, caffeine and phone deprived. 

On arriving at Ljubljana we took a minibus taxi with other people from our flight to the city, the first thing I noticed was how warm it was and how overdressed I was. After the taxi dropped us off we headed towards the river and I spotted a coffee shop I'd read about before we went away so we stopped there for much needed coffee and a platter of cheeses and meats. I can confirm that Slovenska hisa definitely lived up to my expectations, it was the first of many visits that week.

We had rented an Airbnb apartment for our week in Ljubljana which was about a 20-30 minute walk to the centre of the city along the river. We met the owner of the apartment (which I strangely have no photos of) outside and he showed us around, he was on hand through the week if we wanted to text him to get trip suggestions which was great to know.

After dumping our things at the apartment and having a short rest we took a walk into the city, I finally got to see what Jon had been raving about. Ljubljana is beautiful!

On our first day we stayed in Ljubljana to explore the city. After breakfast we wandered slowly through the city, and decided to take the funicular up to Ljubljana Castle. This is a bit sad but I was super excited to go in the funicular as there's one featured in my favourite film (Grand Budapest Hotel) so I wanted to see what it was like. 

Kangaroo shaped water fountain anyone?

The views from the castle were amazing, you could see right over to the mountains miles away and glimpse the red roofs of the buildings in the old part of Ljubljana.

From the castle we went to find the rail station so we'd know where to pick up our hire car later in the week and then headed to Tivoli Park. We had intended to hire bikes and ride around but we couldn't find the docking stations, oops. Instead we went and found a tree to sit under as it was getting pretty humid, after a while of laying there the wind picked up and it felt like a storm was brewing. We decided to get moving (slowly thanks to my awful choice of shoes that day) back to the city to beat the storm. 

We decided to eat dinner at Fany & Mary's, definitely not traditional Slovenian food! As we sat and drank our beers and munched on pizza the storm rolled in and the most amazing thunder and lightening raged overhead. It was a great experience.

The next instalment of my trip to Slovenia will be coming up soon!

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