After breakfast, which was even more chaotic than it had been the previous two mornings, we set off towards the Museum of Contemporary History. On the way we stopped off at one of the bookshops that we had visited the previous day so that I could buy a book about the Crusades and Crusader Knights that I had seen the previous day. Purchase complete, we continued on our way to the museum. Our route took us through Tivoli Park where the trees were just beginning to show the first signs of autumn colours. As we made our way through the park, a red squirrel scampered up to me and paused a couple of inches away from my foot. I stopped walking and stood perfectly still so I didn’t scare him, he paused for a few seconds then scampered from the pathway. He then turned to look at me and paused a while longer before making his way up a nearby tree. It was a special experience which left me feeling humble and privileged.
The museum gives an excellent account of the recent history and shaping of Slovenia (as it has become today). One of the ground floor wings housed a temporary exhibition entitled ‘Coming Home’. It gave personal accounts of Slovenians who had returned home after being scattered to various battlefields, prisons and expulsion camps during 20th century wars. I found the exhibition moving and poignant. After spending some time in the museum, we made our way back to town to find a cafe for lunch. We settled on a suitable place and I chose Mozzarella and Truffle toast. It was delicious!! I need to explain that what the Slovenians describe as toast is a cross between French toast and an English toastie. It is something you need to experience for yourself to see how good it is
After lunch we visited that National History Museum where I was able to test my skills in identifying some of the exhibits that were only labelled in Slovenian. Afterwards we made our way back to the hotel in order to pack our bags ready for 5.30am transfer to the airport the following morning. Bags packed, we freshened up and made our way back into town for dinner, along the way sitting for a pre-dinner drink. As we left the hotel we booked an early morning call for 4.20am… The hotel receptionist pulled and face and said, ‘That is brutal’.
Our choice of venue provided the meal of the week with good food and excellent service. I chose comfit of duck, mashed potatoes and fresh veg with strawberry juice as my main course. This was followed up with a ’shared’ dessert of chocolate cake with orange and almonds. The meal was accompanied by a local wine which was very palatable, as all the local wines are.
After dinner we stopped for a drink in a riverside bar before making our way back to our hotel for an early night!
After breakfast we visited St Nicholas’ Cathedral and the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation. Both were decorated in a similar style inside. After these visits we went to look inside the Galerija Emporium department store to look at the Art Deco features of the building. There was not much to be seen on the inside so we left slightly disappointed and went on to visited some bookshops before going for a walk past the opera house and modern art gallery. We noticed a distinctive Austrian style chalet which we went to investigate. When we got closer we found it was the American embassy. As there were police and security guards outside I decided not to chance taking a photograph.
We walked on and this took us past other embassies although we did not see the British one. By now it was lunch time and I suggested that we might be walking the wrong way to get back into town. Mr C wasn’t convinced so he got the map out to establish where we were. One of the locals stopped and asked if we needed help then pointed us in the right direction (thank you). The walk back to town took us past the Roman Wall which I had wanted to see anyway.
As part of the Ljubljana package, we had been given a voucher for a free boat ride so after lunch we made our way down to the mooring point for the panoramic boat ride. As we got on board we were offered drinks and everyone remained quiet until I said that I would like a glass of bubbly. It would have been rude not to During the cruise we were informed that the boat had been fully hand built in Lake Bled and that it had taken eighteen months to build. We were provided with an interesting commentary as we sailed along
After alighting the boat, we stopped off at a highly recommended ice cream outlet and chose our preferred flavour, mine being blueberry sorbet and fig and walnut ice cream. We were expecting one scoop of each flavour but we were given two of each. Very decadent!! Once back in the hotel we put our feet up for a well earned rest before returning to town for our evening meal.
After such an early start the previous day we had a lie-in to recover. It was fairly chaotic when we arrived for breakfast due to the volume of people. The breakfast itself was a standard chain hotel continental breakfast.
After breakfast we took the funicular to Ljubljana Castle where we spent the whole day. On arrival we joined a guided tour with costumed actors. The guide was very good and actors appeared at certain places along the route to play out and emphasize the history. It was all very well done. One of the things we learned was about the well and the water wheel. Originally the well had been 100 feet deep but now it was only half that depth because ammunition from the WWII was dumped in it. When the castle was used as a prison the prisoners had to walk inside the wheel (like a hamster) for ten minutes at a time to draw up water from the well. They were blindfolded whilst doing so to prevent dizziness. This gave them their daily exercise as well as performing a useful function.
Within the castle, there is a Museum of Slovenian History which we found very interesting and it helped us choose which other museums we might visit whilst we were staying in Ljubljana.
For lunch I tried to order a sparkling wine to go with a slice of Prikmurska Givanica. I showed the waiter the picture of the drink in the menu but, even so, what arrived was something entirely different! It was in a tumbler full of ice and it tasted vaguely of rum…
We walked around the outside of the castle walls and saw the Alps in the distance, glowing in the late afternoon sunshine. When we had finished our walk we caught the funicular back down to ground level and made our way back to the hotel where we quickly freshened up before going out for dinner. We chose another restaurant along the riverside but picked a table next to the restaurant that was well covered in case of a repeat performance of rain. I chose salmon with roasted veg which was very nice. Afterwards we stopped of in one of the cafe bars for a nightcap before making our way back to the hotel.
We were the first to arrive for breakfast at 6.30 which we enjoyed sitting outside in early morning warmth before our 7.25 transfer to Ljubljana. After breakfast we collected our bags from the room and went to check out of the hotel. As we did so Damjan arrived early and we were whisked away immediately to another hotel to pick up a couple who were being transferred to the airport at the end of their holiday.
The journey ran smoothly and we arrived at the hotel Park at 8.30 which was too early for check in. We left our suitcases in the left luggage room and set off to explore Ljubljana. Our first stop was the tourist information office where we purchased tickets for a guided walk as recommend by Damjan when he dropped us off at the hotel. Near to the tourist information office is the town hall where the guided walk started, we rounded the corner and noticed a couple of girls posing, selfie stick in hand with their back to the town hall and the fountain that stands in front of it. The selfie stick was the same type as we had seen being touted for sale in Trieste.
The handbag I had intended to use in Ljubljana had started to disintegrate whilst we were in Piran. The plastic started peeling and leaving a fine dust over everything so I left it in the waste bin at the Hotel Tartini. As luck would have it, there was just the right handbag to replace it in one of the shops we passed as we were exploring Ljubljana. After the brief exploration of the city we returned to the hotel and were able to check in and retrieve our cases. The room was on the 11th floor so we had quite a view of the city, looking towards the castle.
We did not unpack our cases but returned to town for lunch for which I had a Tuna Ciabatta pocket. After lunch we sat for a while before making our way to the starting point of the guided walk. The tour was interesting if a little quirky, it included food samples and a short ride down the river Ljubljanica along with descriptions of the bridges and buildings of interest. One of the interesting points mentioned is that two major earthquakes that happened in the city both occurred on an Easter Sunday…
After the tour we went back to the hotel, unpacked and got ready for dinner which meant another walk into the city. We chose a place at the side of the river that served traditional Slovenian cuisine. As we were eating it started to rain and the table had to be moved several times in order for us both to keep dry. The rain looked like it had set in for the evening so after we had finished eating we made our way straight back to the hotel. Luckily I had my umbrella with me and my new bag came in handy. I was able to keep me, my bag and camera dry. Mr C however, got drenched as he had opted not to bring a coat! Back at the hotel we were unexpectedly provided with a complimentary drink in the bar by a friendly waiter.
See the dwelling place of God among men !
And he will dwell with them,
they will be his people,
and God himself will be with them.
When I was in St Nicholas Cathedral, Ljubljana I looked at the literature (a habit of mine) that is always available near to the entrance of a church. Whilst I was doing this one of the church members/officials came to tidy up the table. As I put the card you see in the picture above back down on the table, he said ‘You can take it’. I said thank you and picked it up again even though I hadn’t intended on taking it away with me.
When I got home I was able to translate the Slovenian words on the back of the card into English. The photo on the front of the card speaks for itself.
When translated into English the reverse side of the card reads:
See the dwelling place of God among men!
And he will dwell with them,
they will be his people,
and God himself will be with them
300 years of the cathedral
In remembrance and thanksgiving
the pilgrimage to the cathedral ! Ljubljana !
Today was our second trip on a guided tour with Damjan our resort rep. When the minibus arrived to pick us up we found that in addition to resort rep and tour guide Damjan was also our driver for the day. On our journey to Postojna Cave Damjan took us on a scenic detour through the Slovenian countryside taking in the wine, olive and fig growing areas. The Scenery was stunning and beautiful!
On arrival at Postojna Cave there was a strong (unexpected) military presence which transpired to be soldiers that had been taking part in a military exercise in the local area during the previous few days. Whilst we waited for our guided tour around the caves Damjan explained a bit of the history of the caves. At the time we were sheltering from the heat in a cave entrance where he pointed out the blackening of the rock where the partisans had set fire to aircraft fuel that had been stored in the cave by the occupying German forces in WWII.
A train took us into the tunnel and to the start of our guided walking tour of the caves. The growing formations of stalactites and stalagmites are quite breathtaking and I found them to be even more spectacular than I remembered from my previous visit in the late 1980s. After the walk in the caves it was time to embark on the train to take us back to the cave entrance just in time for lunch. I chose an unusual looking layer cake which I found to be savoury rather than sweet. When I looked it up in the guide book later on I was pleased to find out that it is one of the local dishes, Prekmurska gibanica. I was however, surprised that I had been able to identified all the ingredients; filo pastry, cheese, poppy seeds, walnuts and spiced apple.
After lunch we returned to the minibus for Damjan to take us on the short journey to Predjama Castle which is perched high up in a cliff. The castle and its history are interesting and we were left wondering how the castle remained attached to the cliffs that it nestles within… When we had finished our visit to Predjama, we made the return journey to the hotel where we stopped for one last drink outside the hotel until it was time to return to our room to get ready for dinner and to pack our bags ready for our stay in Ljubljana.
Our last meal in the hotel was a little chaotic… The waiter that had been serving all week had returned home for the weekend and the waitress that had taken his place was not quite as organised as he had been. Our glass of wine arrived half way through the meal. We didn’t order another glass so that we could sit an linger a while after dinner because the heat in the dining room was unbearable (it was 86o outside). Instead we enjoyed a leisurely drink looking over the coast with a fellow traveler, for one last time before transferring to Ljubljana.
When we returned to our room for the night I opened the shutters to enjoy Tartini Square one last time before we left Piran. In addition to the lovely view and the atmosphere of the square I was treated to the delightful sight of bats flying around above the square
We had an early breakfast sitting outside, which on this occasion wasn’t interrupted by rain. We had booked on an organised tour for the day, so after breakfast we strolled through the back streets to the bus station to pick up the minibus. Our first port of call was Trieste across the border in Italy. On arrival our guide Damjan took us on a short guided tour of the city, where he showed us among other things; the seafront statue, the seafront square Piazza Unità d’Italia, the remains of the Roman theatre and the Serbian Orthodox Church of Saint Spyridon. As a Slovenian Damjan is passionate about Trieste and believes as other Slovenians do that Trieste belongs to Slovenia.
After the guided tour there was just enough time to for a quick drink. We didn’t chance ordering lunch because the service although friendly was rather slow. The drinks. however arrived with bowls of crisps and other nibbles. Whilst we were walking round Trieste we couldn’t help but notice street traders trying to tout their wares to the tourists. Their object of choice seemed to be brightly coloured selfie sticks and I wondered if they managed to sell many.
Our second port of call on the tour was Miramare Castle which is situated on the Gulf of Trieste. Miramare was commission to be built by Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian as a residence for himself and his wife, Charlotte of Belgium. The castle is situated on a cliff high above the sea and is surrounded by a botanical garden. The inside of the castle is interesting and ornate and the gardens are stunning. Whilst we were there the temperature soared to 92o so to cool off we bought a tub of ice cream and sorbet from a stand near to the castle entrance. We also grabbed a bottle of water to drink on the minibus journey back to Piran.
On arrival in Piran we made our way to the seafront and enjoyed a more leisurely drink watching the world go by before returning to the hotel to freshen up before dinner. After the heat of the day a cool shower was welcome and I began to feel human again. Even in the evening it was too hot to stay inside for long so once again we found ourselves sitting on the seafront with a cooling drink watching the world go by…