Croatia and Slovenia: Good Times with Great Friends!
June 10th to 16th
On Tuesday morning, we went for a hike up Bohor, the tallest peak in Simon's region. It was about an hour hike each way, and had a fantastic view of the area! (I would love to live in Simon's area since it has both some flat(er) land and mountains all right there - it is wonderful!!) When we got to the top, the clouds started rolling in quickly, so we paused for a drink at the top (there is a little restaurant/bar up there), signed the book that has a record of who has gone up the mountain (found in the restaurant - it now has two Manitobans in it! Yay!) and then headed back down to avoid as much rain as possible. Just as we got to the bottom, the rain started. Perfect timing!
Side note: At the top of Bohor in the book with all the visitors to the peak, there is a record that shows who has hikes it the most so far this year and with their total number. Some had over 200 times marked down! That is a lot of hiking! I wish I had a mountain in my backyard, so to speak, so that I could go hiking up it more than 200 times in half a year! I also wish I had the time to go hiking that much! That would be awesome. Maybe a new retirement plan for in forty-some years?? Quite possibly. :)
Once we had finished our hike up and down Bohor, we went to Volovnik, which is where Simon and his father have a vineyard. We got a tour of the vineyard and got to sample some of the wine that they made. In Slovenia, they make a special kind of wine called Cvicek, and it is made from four different kinds of grapes - two reds and two whites. Because of this unique property, the wine is specially recognized and is protected by the EU. Also, it only comes from Simon's region, which was pretty cool. (Hopefully I remembered that all correctly!) And it was tasty!
After trying some wine, we headed back to Simon's place for some lunch. His sister, Urska (I feel so bad not being able to include all the proper punctuation in everyone's names!), was already home from work by this time and was going into Krsko to run some errands, so she offered to take us with her so we could go for ice cream, and of course we could not say no to that! So off to Krsko we went!
After she finished her errands and we had ice cream in our bellies, Urska also took Simon, Meghan and I to Kostanjevica, another little island not far from their home. (Slovenia had three islands - Bled, Otocec and Kostanjevica - we got to see all three!) We took a quick stroll through the little village on the island and then went back to their home. Then we got our stuff and back to Ljubljana we went. And I must say, the sunset on the drive back to the city was incredible with the view of the mountains and all the trees. Simply beautiful.
That evening, us three and Nusa went for a drink along the river downtown Ljubljana. First, though, we stopped to try Burek, a deep-fried phyllo pastry with filling sort of thing, that Simon said we must try! It was pretty good - a little greasey, but good. In Ljubljana, there are quite a few little bars that have tables outside along the river, so it is nice to just sit there, relax, have a drink, people watch, and enjoy the view. Which is exactly what we did!
The next morning, Simon, Meghan and I went to the Postonja caves, which is one of the longest Kaus caves in the world. These caves were formed from underground rivers, and have tons of stalactites and stalagmites in them. The cave we were in was more than 20 km long, and we went down about 125 metres and a 5 km distance into it. It was pretty cool to see all the stalagmites and stalactites. It takes so long for them to become large and there were some huge ones in the cave. We also got to take a train through part of the cave and then walk through another part of it. If you are ever in Slovenia, I definitely recommend going to check it out. After checking out the cave, we went to look at a nearby castle that was built into a cave. The outside of the castle faces outward from the cave, and the inside is built into the cave. If you go into the castle and through it, there is also another castle inside the cave. We didn't actually go in to see the inside or the second cave, but it was pretty cool looking at it from the outside! The natural protection of the surrounding cliffs and cave walls would have made it quite the castle back in the day.
Next it was off to thr seaside! Slovenia has just under 50km of coastline, and since it is such a tiny country it didn't take long to get there. We picked up some groceries on our way for lunch, and took them down to a pier to have our picnic lunch. Such a simple meal, but so good when you have it as a picnic at the seaside!
While at the Portoraz seaside, we also visited the town of Piras. Being so close to Italy, it has a very strong Italian influence in it's city architecture. Simon said it feels like Venice a bit, but since I haven't been to that city, I just have to take his word on it. (It did feel much more like Italy than it did Slovenia. Historically, it had also been under Italian rule at one point, but Slovenia got it back.)
Back to Ljubljana that night for a kebab dinner and some time just strolling around the city. A nice relaxing evening for our last in Slovenia!
The next morning, bright and early, Meghan and I caught our train out of Slovenia. It was great to see Simon again and spend some time with him. I can't wait to be able to visit Slovenia again in the future for another reunion with great friends! (I also can't wait til everyone visits me in Manitoba!) Til next time, see ya later Slovenia!