Ljubljana…you had me at dober dan (that’s “hello” the one word in Slovenian that we learned and got lots of mileage out of it). This tiny former Yugoslavian country packs a wallop. Some people were surprised that we opted to spend our Easter holiday weekend here, but it’s a little known gem. Okay our pictures won’t do it justice because Europe is currently enduring a never-ending winter, but it was really beautiful with fun loving and generous people. It feels like Austria in terms of landscape and architecture, but the people and food might make you think you’re in Italy, and that’s because you practically are.
On a four day trip we covered a good bit of Slovenian ground. The capital, Ljubljana, is short on sights but big on charm. We appreciated all the delicious food and wine and had some beautiful “slow food” meals that we’ll never forget. We tried horse, traditional Slovenian cuisine, and at Restaurant JB the waiter slipped us the tongue (beef tongue that is) when we were supposed to have had the snails so that was interesting. All in all though the food was some of the best we’ve had on our travels.
Where we went wine tasting in the Vipava Valley, just 30 minutes outside Ljubljana and about 30 minutes from the Italian border, the language barrier was not Slovenian but Italian. We had arranged to visit two wineries and it was more than we expected when we were welcomed like old friends into the winemaker’s homes to visit and drink award wining wines. The people were truly generous to us that day, sending us off with bellies full of homemade bread, local cheese, wine and lots of fond memories.
Another day was spent in nearby Lake Bled, an Alpine resort with a bit of a Tahoe-esque feel. It’s a beautiful lake with a church-capped island in the middle. Normally you could wile away the afternoon walking around the lake or swimming but it was much too cold for that. Instead we drove around, looked for Tito’s Villa (Tito Corleone as Brent nicknamed him), snapped a few quick pics and admired the view from indoors while enjoying the town’s specialty cream cake.
Easter Sunday was spent in a very enjoyable if a bit unconventional adventure into the Skocjan Caves, one of the best caves in the world and the largest underground canyon in Europe. The caves were carved by a river that went subterranean long ago and continues to cut through the earth leaving massive underground chambers in its wake. Because it had been so rainy, the river was absolutely thrashing, and it was a dramatic experience as we crossed over the surge on a footbridge. It was a bit chilling to see the ghost steps that had been used by the first cave explorers and which now cling dramatically close to the edge of the torrent.
All in all a great time! Now home to detox a bit.