Hello all, apologies again that I’ve been silent a few days.
The truth is my days have been so full that I’ve barely had a moment to gather my thoughts, let alone write them down. Also I’ve had next to no signal, which complicates things.
During my brief leave of absence, I’ve been brainstorming the title for this entry quite vigorously.
You’d be well aware that usually I like my title to rhyme, feature some sort of alliteration, or at least some assonance; if I’m lucky it might be remotely humorous. This time, I’ve opted for a new tactic – a call to arms.
I really liked Croatia, but I loved Slovenia.
It truly is something.
This post will aim to feature lots and lots of photos and brief movies to make my point and break up my rambling. So here goes.
We departed from Pula on the bus where we detoured through the town of Rovinj. I had my last fling with Jana to keep me hydrated on the bus (come on Jana, I’m really trying here. Hit me up).
This town has a real Italian flavour; indeed, it’s officially bilingual (Italian and Croatian). It was nice to take a walk along the cobblestones… Until it started raining and the mere act of putting one foot in front of the other felt like you were toying with death itself (or at least a fractured hip).
Sure enough, we were back on the bus for another round of scenery, and soon ended up in the town of Bled, Slovenia.
I don’t know how much you know about Slovenia so I will briefly give some salient facts:
- It is a small country (population of two million people) which borders Croatia, Hungary, Austria and the Adriatic Sea.
- The capital is Ljubljiana, located in the centre of the country
- The national language is Slovene, but most younger people can speak English and Croatian (at a minimum)
- Slovenia was an important geographical location during the first world war
- They became independent from The Former Republic of Yugoslavia in 1992
- The climate is varied, since the topography can be both alpine and mediterranean
Bled is a beautiful town with its iconic lake the central feature. Unfortunately the cold weather was not on our side on this day, and the rain very much extinguished any desire I may have had to walk around the lake or up to the castle. I still hadn’t come across a jacket that was funky enough to wear (and was stubborn enough to literally freeze to death if it never materialised) It still looked stunning amidst the gloom, but we opted to bail for dinner and football in the warm.
Today was also notable because I took old faithful braids out. I’ll miss the random stares, fist pumps and high fives that this hairstyle generated. If anyone knows any African hair salons in Sydney, please hit me up.
Today was the big day. We were to spend it touring around Triglav National Park with the company 3glav Adventures (www.3glav.com)They were phenomenal and I highly recommend them.
We were picked up at 8am and made our way (via a quick stop to see the Golden Goat) to the first stop Slap (which means waterfall) Pericnik. It was still cloudy and cold, but thankfully a jacket had materialised at my door that morning (I assume thanks to me miming to the kind lady who owned our accommodation that I was rapidly becoming and icicle) so I was somewhat confident that if I just gave up all hope of looking fashionable, I might not die during the day.
We hiked up the waterfall which was at the limits of my comfort of pre breakfast, pre coffee activity, but it was worth it for the views.
After this we drove up the mountain side, dodging so many cyclists (seriously impressive). We parked and then finished the rest of the trip on foot, to get to a total elevation of approximately 1600m. The views were breathtaking. They reminded me a fair bit of Yosemite, but with conifers and a lot of sheep.
The only thing I didn’t like about the day was that it featured three different suspension bridges (I only photographed two). They make me supremely uncomfortable. I had to go on one before eating lunch, which was a small mercy because it meant there was nothing to vomit up.
Speaking of lunch: Oh my god. If you had to rank a list of places you’d expect to find the best chicken kebab in the history of the world, I bet a sassy Albanian bakery in Slovenia wouldn’t fare too highly. Well, I’m happy to advise you that this is the number one kebab which exists. Look at the pictorial proof of how life changing it was.
After lunch we made our way down to Lake Soča. There was the option to raft and given how amazing (and not so rough and choppy) the water was, I really regret not doing it. Having said that, I am sure I would’ve sunk straight to the bottom given how big the kebab was (but hey, it would be a nice way to go). Us land based people went for a walk by the river (which involved another darn suspension bridge) and wow is this lake a sight to behold.
It is probably one of the most beautiful landmarks I’ve ever seen. Unlike Plitvice, this water required no photoshop. It really is that blue, thanks to the limestone. It’s phenomenal.
Thankfully, the sun came out which made it pleasant to mill around on the pebbled beach and dip our toes into the (freezing) water while we waited for the boats to drift down river.
At this point in time, I’d like to mention another one of the most beautiful sights in the world would have to be the men of Slovenia, especially the ones who commandeer white water rafts. Watching these golden, norse-like humans gracefully paddle along, muscles rippling in the winking sun, was just lovely. So lovely, that a travelling companion known to me may have accidentally shielded a ring of a wedded nature as one walked past.
If the day wasn’t already so full of joy and happiness, it was about to somehow become even better. After we had dried up, we went around to actual utopia (aka Kozjak).
I am skipping through some content, because I’m wary of just how long this post is getting, and how much I sound like a broken record.
Let’s take another brief intermission from the day as I briefly digress to write about another theme I forgot to weave through the previous prose.
Ok so Slovenia is famous for its cream cake. To an untrained Australian eye, it resembles a vanilla slice, but I’m told it’s much more than this. Now I’m not a cream cake sort of person but this thing was advertised absolutely everywhere. What added to the mystery was that it was very hard to come by. The reason for this was you had to be licensed to make it, I’m still not sure why that is but I assume they don’t take kindly to fake cake.
Now back to the piece d’resistance! In order to get back to Bled from utopia, you could drive (if you were a boring mortal). Or take a car train (if you were cool and hip). We took the car train, and it made for the most amazing experience. Whilst waiting for the car train, some entrepreneurial people set up a makeshift bar on the side of the road, so by the time the train came along, everyone was in good spirits, swapping curse words in respective languages (ps if you wanna offend someone in Slovenia, say 300 hairy brown bears).
I guess the term car train is self explanatory, but you literally just drive your car onto the train. It cuts through the mountain in a tunnel, turning a long car trip into a makeshift rollercoaster. What made it even more epic was that our guide’s Spotify collection was gnarly. We were tracking along to some decent power ballads. I really wanted to make an epic montage of how the train trip went, but 1. My phone died so I couldn’t take much footage and 2. I’m not actually sure how to mesh all the little videos together. I’ll just give a snippet because I’m terrible at filming.
I distinctly remember whilst I was in the car looking out of the window where I thought to myself, wow, in this moment I am truly happy. You don’t get those secondsof such clarified contentment often, so I was very thankful for that.
We had a quick stop at Bohinj, and then just like that it was 14 hours later and the day was done. We had our final group dinner together which was delicious. The cream cake was still proving elusive, until one knowledgeable waiter told us that the real licensed version could be found just across the road!
We made a beeline for the cake and let’s just say I can see why it’s licensed. Any more than two spoonfuls will send you right into a cream coma. The dealers need to be closely monitored.
In conclusion, my day in Slovenia was honestly one of the best of my life and I wish we could stay for longer.
Ciao for now (if that gives you a clue as to where I currently am),
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust