Slovenia, the small country between Italy and Croatia, It is so ideal that you can swim in the Adriatic Sea on one day and hike in the Alps the next – and that’s not all.
The hotel room is pleasantly cool and carefully darkened, only gossamer strips of sunlight churning through the shutters in the room. Nice meant, but we come from the north. Two women, one thought: more light! Unfortunately, the thing is stuck. We pull and shake, as if fire alarm and this was the emergency exit, it jumps up, we almost after, see the side only a little corner of the Adriatic Sea . But: The step balcony is a step towards the sea, and now we have also arrived in the south felt. “Well, I’ll unpack later,” says Anne, “I want to go to the beach right away.” Me too.
50 kilometers of coast, lots of greenery: Slovenia is relaxing
Beach? The seaside town of Izola has, next to the marina, a strip of pebbles with palm trees, umbrella pines, elegant wooden couches and an access to the sea that has washed itself – a veritable show staircase into the water. Nice, but: That will be even better. We believe the locals are extremely demanding or, typically Slovenian, modest in claiming that their 50-kilometer-long coastline does not have really great beaches.
Therefore, we sit in the car, and drive along the cliff along to one that was recommended to us as “pretty nice”: Krka Strunjan. It borders on bushes and cliffs, is two bath towel lengths wide and coarse rocky. Anyway, pretty empty. The Adriatic Sea smells so spicy and sea-salted, as we imagined, and the water is so clear that every pebble flashes through. “I do not like sand anyway, so it sticks to my skin,” says Anne, stomping firmly against the gentle waves. I follow. As we swim, no stone interests us anymore.
Environmental protection is a top priority in Slovenia
Side things do not make important – that radiates Slovenia for me. In times when many people are unbearably bloated, Slovenians are sympathetically reserved and do not cluck over every egg they have laid. For example, they protect their nature in a progressive way: more than half of the land is forest land, a third of it is under nature protection, the center of the capital Ljubljana is car-free, environmentally friendly mobility is promoted.
Slovenia is about as big as Hesse, and nowhere else in Europe are the Adriatic and Alps so close together – at the shortest distance only 120 kilometers. That was exactly the reason for our trip: Anne wanted to go to the sea, I wanted to go to the mountains. And because we definitely do not want to miss Ljubljana , we are planning the city trip right away. Since we now listen to the locals, we drive in the evening not to the palm-and-flower promenade of the coastal town of Portorož a few miles, but in a remote from the hillside restaurant. Great the view from the terrace to the sea, which sprinkled the setting sun with gold baubles. Fine food: juicy fish fillet in crunchy crust for Anne, pasta with fresh truffles for me. Dolce Vita for both.
Piran is almost as beautiful as Venice
The next morning we leave early and start to mend our ways. Why we are a little later puzzling in front of a slender tower: Yes, Slovenia is adjacent to Italy. Yes, we went wrong more than once this morning. Yes, we did not find the car park right away, where you have to park the car, and then take the shuttle bus to the car-free center. But are we really so dumb that we accidentally landed in Venice?
It looks like that. Because in front of us is just as a campanile as in the lagoon city. There are street signs in Italian. Narrow streets, over which laundry dangles. Elegant arched arches and Gothic palazzi. The facades partly shabby chic, partly very chic. But no, we are not stupid, this is Piran . “Piran was under the rule of the Republic of Venice for 500 years,” explains Marina. “The bell tower of St. George’s Church is a copy of the Venetian original – a little smaller, but more stable.”
The fact that after the Serenissima the Habsburgs took over the power in Piran, the baroque buildings and coffee houses show. “Throughout history, we’ve picked the best out of all the influences,” says Marina. And:
From the Slavs we have the ease, the ambition of the Austrians, the sense of beauty of the Italians.
And from the sea they had and have an excellent salt, it made Piran rich at that time. When Anne and I later wander the streets, we are monosyllabic. Say only two words to each other, but on every other corner: “Really beautiful.” If a Vespa, a garbage bin and a planter are next to each other in the semi-shade of a narrow alley, that’s pretty profane. In the landmarked Gesamtkunstwerk Piran it looks like a still life.
Lake Bled is as idyllic as a postcard from the 50s
Before we have any doubts, whether it would not have been better to stay at the sea instead of driving one and a half hours north towards the Julian Alps, we have already arrived at Lake Bled. And once again carried away. The landscape is as brutally idyllic as a postcard from the 1950s and as perfect as if someone had used it extensively on Photoshop. Surrounded by dark green mountains, the smooth lake sparkles emerald green, sometimes sapphire blue. On the shore there are more forests and meadows than houses, except on the northeast side with the spa town Bled.
If Slovenes would like to go crazy, they could advertise that the lake is spotless thanks to spring water inflows and a motorboat ban. Anne and I now put it in three words: “Look there!” Big fish, seen from over 100 meters distance. Stand-up paddlers, rowers, swimmers. Most delightfully we find the mini-island in the western part of the lake. Just big enough for a few trees, a pilgrimage church and tourists landing and dropping off in a flying change with rowboats. Most go directly to the church. Not to pray, but to ring – with the wish bell. Their bright sound blows the whole day over the water.
On our mountain tour we marvel at the peaks of the Julian Alps
I fulfill my wish for myself: Rent a bike, circle the lake, switch the senses to reception. Smell elderflower and mixed forest. Listen to birdsong. Looking behind butterflies. Listen to a stream chuckle. On a meadow beach spontaneously hop in the lake. Chat with an old man who paints pictures of the islet on the riverside. Artist name Bobi. “I already painted when there was still Yugoslavia and socialism,” he says. Would he like to portray me? Gladly! His result shows me with furrows on the forehead. For a second, I wish that the artist would have had a tendency to whitewash.
The fact that the Slovenians overdo it, but sometimes also exaggerates it, we notice on our mountain tour the next day. From Bled we drove to the Triglav National Park, through a landscape like a “Heidi” movie. Our destination: the 1054 meter high Vogar.
According to the information sign, from the village of Stara Fužina you will reach the summit in an hour. The time seems to have been calculated for runners who march happily past cute calves and do not stoop for wild strawberries and herbs along the way. In 90 minutes we dare to 990 meters to a vantage point, which gives the view of the Voje Valley. Opposite the peaks of the Julian Alps scratch in the sky, below reflect clouds in the elongated Lake Bohinj. We continue to stroll up to an alpine meadow with delicate flowers. Cushiony grasses to clean!
The rest of the mountain tour we manage at three times the speed and without interruption, but downhill and driven by thunder rumble and sudden rain.
In the capital Ljubljana you feel free
The next day, on the way to Ljubljana, the sun accompanies us again. The 40-minute stretch is just enough to give Anne some idea about the Metropoli: awarded as “European Green Capital” in 2016, with just 290,000 inhabitants, but each covers more than 500 square meters of green space. 40000 students, most famous ex-student: Melania Trump, First Lady of the USA. The city park Tivoli is larger than the Central Park in New York, the city center car-free, there are free rental bikes.
It does something to people when the street belongs to us. If the air smells like jasmine and roses instead of exhaust fumes. When the tempo is taken out. “You feel freer,” says Anne very satisfied on her rental bike. Cruising next to each other, we experience Ljubljana as a city that displays a lot of Baroque and Art Nouveau in the center, but at the same time is strongly influenced by the freestyle of the architect Jože Plečnik. He had a penchant for columns like in ancient Athens, but not the budget for marble, which is why he often made the best of concrete, for example the elegant colonnades of the market halls.
The fact that Ljubljana seems to us Mediterranean and very liveable, is due to many little things. The historic Congress Square is just as free for skateboarders as it is for cyclists, pedestrians, park bench owners and in-the-meadow Döser. You can fill your own bottle with drinking water at several wells, which avoids plastic waste. On the right bank of the Ljubljanica River, you chill out from one open-air place to the next, chilling out the sounds of chill, and on the left bank you get lost in a flower-filled labyrinth of young creatures.
From the Ljubljana castle in turn you have a 360 degree view, recognizing how green the city is and how close the mountains are. I snap up what a guide says to his group. “You know that Italy looks like a boot, do you know what the shape of Slovenia reminds us of?” – No, nobody knows. “Slovenia,” the guide says, grinning, “has the shape of a chicken, so the chicken is featured on so many souvenirs.” Respect. Not to stylize your little country to be an eagle, but to compare it to a chicken – the size you have to have first.
Slovenia vacation: all tips at a glance
Near the sea
Hotel Barbara. From the outside an old box, inside a modernized, friendly house in Fiesa directly by the sea, a walk away from Piran. The beach is dominated by rocks and concrete. DZ / F from 59 Euro (Fiesa 68, Tel. 05/617 90 00, www.hotel-barbara.si ).
RiziBizi. The restaurant is located in the resort of Portorož, off the palm-lined waterfront, in a residential area on a slope. It convinces with good young kitchen (fish!) And great sea view from above. Tasting menu with three accompanying wines from 40 Euro (Portorož, Vilfanova ulica 10, Tel. 05/993 53 20, www.rizibizi.si ).
Manzioli. If you want to sit outside, enjoy good wine and Slovenian tapas, go to this wine bar in Izola. Light, young, fruity wines are z. B. “Folo bianco” and “Malvazia”. A small glass costs between 2.50 and about 3 euros (Izola, Polje 12 / a).
Piran. The listed city with St. George’s Church, whose bell tower is a copy of the Campanile of Venice, is located on a promontory and is surrounded by a city wall. The center is largely car-free; Above the town there is a parking garage (Fornače 23). From there, in ten minutes you can walk to Tartini Square, a beautifully free elliptical area of pearly white stone, framed by magnificent buildings. If you prefer to drive, take the bus that starts every ten minutes.
Beach Krka Strunjan. Long, very narrow, east of Piran and part of the nature reserve Strunjan. At first there is a sunbathing area and in the sea a buoys demarcation, behind it you will find quiet, rocky spots below the cliffs and coastal trees (Directions: follow the signs “Krjinski park Strunjan”, then towards the beach bar “Cavedin”).
Cycling tour. With a rental bike you can go great on your own the coast, z. B. southeast to Portorož. Lanes also lead slightly inland through hilly, partly Tuscan-seeming landscape. “Luma Sport” in Piran offers rental bicycles and guided tours (Piran, Dantejeva 3, Tel. 041/78 14 14, www.cyclingistria.com ).
Piranske Soline. The branch sells first-class Fleur de Sel by the glass, which is still obtained in the traditional way in the salt pans of Piran (Piran, Ulica IX, Korpusa 2, Tel. 067/331 10).
In the mountains
Old Bled House. Rebuilt farmhouse in the spa town of Bled at the end of 2016. The rooms (with fridge and kettle) fulfill longing for the country: plenty of wood and floral motifs and a very nice hostess. Five minutes walk from the lakeshore, double room from 145 euros, breakfast (8 euros per person) on request (Bled, Zagoriška cesta 12, Tel. 041 60/86 89, www.oldbledhouse.si ).
Jezeršek. Upscale restaurant on Bled Castle with wide view terrace. The hearty dishes typical of the Alpine region of Upper Carniola are skilfully modernized here. Main course from 18 Euro (Bled, Grajska cesta 61, Tel. 046 20/34 44, www.jezersek.si ).
Vrtnarija. In the “greenhouse”, as the name of the restaurant in Bled, much comes from our own cultivation, some is bio, z. B. the beef fillet for 24 euros. Inside you can sit in the greenery, outside, directly at the natural swimming pond, the center of this great conceived glamping resort with tree and wooden houses and tents (Bled, Cesta Gorenjskega odreda 16, Tel. 08 38/992 20, www.gardenvillagebled.com ).
Pri Hrvatu. Inn in the village Srednja vas, ideal for a stop after hiking. On the terrace directly above the river the air is as fresh as the trout (per 100 g about 3 Euro) in white wine sauce (Srednja Vas, Srednja vas v Bohinju 76, Tel. 045 72/36 70).
Park Café. Bled cream cuts serve almost every café in Bled, from which comes the original: two thick layers of vanilla cream and cream between thin puff pastry. Best of all it tastes on the terrace right on the lake. Belongs to the big hotel “Park” (Bled, Cesta svobode 15, www.sava-hotels-resorts.com ).
Café Belvedere. Here in the park the Vila Bled – once the residence of the Yugoslav head of state Marshal Tito, now a hotel – has a great view of the lake (Bled, Cesta Svobode 18, www.brdo.si ).
Lake Bled. Who surrounds it, after all, sets back about six kilometers and sees not only mixed forest, meadows and streams but also villas from the Habsburg period in the 18th and 19th centuries and the foothills of the spa town Bled (5500 inhabitants). Motorboats are prohibited on the lake, 13 sources provide constantly clean water. There are several swimming spots, including the large Lido beach and the sunbathing area of ”Camping Bled”. Rowing tracks are marked along the entire length of the lake (2 km) – the rowing center athletes have won numerous Olympic and world champion medals. Eye-catcher in the western part of the lake is the small island: From the jetty 99 steps lead to the pilgrimage church Maria Himmelfahrt. The main attraction is the wish bell: pulling three times on the rope costs 6 euros.
Boating. You can rent rowboats. Or rowing; There are four stations for young men and large pletna boats (with sun protection). A trip to the islet z. B. from the station at Mlino costs 14 euros and takes including stay max. 1.5 hours. To book at the Tourist Office.
Cycle. E-bikes (15 euros / day) and MTB (11 euros / day) lends z. Eg the Tourist Office on the Lakeside (Cesta svobode 10, Tel. 04/574 11 22)
Castle Bled. Around 1000 years old, it is one of the oldest in Slovenia. Great place for the sunset! On the rock plateau, about 130 meters above the water level, you can walk in half an hour. Nice fun: In the small book printing company of the castle you can lend a hand to make on handmade paper your own name deed (8 euros).
Hiking. At Bohinj Lake, about half an hour’s drive southwest of Bled, the choice for Active is great – from high alpine tours (by gondola and chairlift’s up to 1880 meters) on paragliding to leisurely green walks, z. On the 1054 meter high Vogar (Kosijev dom na Vogarju) or through the Vintagar gorge to the largest river waterfall in Slovenia. Information and hiking maps at the tourist office in Bohinj (Ribčev Laz 48, www.bohinj-info.com) and at the Triglav National Park Center in Stara Fužina ( www.tnp.si ).
The entire old town is car-free; Parking garages are chargeable, other mobility offers however free, z. One hour of rental bike (www.bicikelj.si, you can also activate a weekly use) and downtown driving with electric vehicles (between 8 and 20 clock) called “Cavalier” – just wave and get in. You can access the internet free of charge via www.wifreeljubljana.si for 60 minutes per day ( www.visitljubljana.com ).
Vander Urbani Resort. Once four old houses, today a hotel. The fact that the rooms are partly small, makes itself hardly noticeable in view of the successful design. Location: side street (car-free zone) to the nightlife promenade on the river. Small pool on the roof terrace. Very nice staff, good breakfast buffet. DZ / F from 105 Euro (Ljubljana, Krojaška ulica 6-8, Tel. 01/200 90 00, www.vanderhotel.com ).
Slon 1552. A restaurant in a large hotel in the shopping district? Does not sound good, but proves to be very good! Semi-open kitchen, fully ambitious team. Tip: order lunch at noon (10 Euro) (Ljubljana, Nazorjeva 5, Tel. 01/470 11 81, www.hotelslon.com ).
Atroke. Modern restaurant with tables on the street (pedestrian zone!). The chef is flexible and ambitious, the kitchen oriented to Istria and Italy. Main course about 20 Euro (Ljubljana, Stari trg 19, Tel. 08 20/552 82).
Plečnikova hiša. The house and garden of the architect Joše Plečnik (1872-1957), who successfully implemented his vision for Ljbuljana: a city of human needs, where everything important is within walking distance and reminiscent of ancient Athens. The exhibition about his life and work can only be visited as part of a guided tour (Ljubljana, Karunova 4-6, tel. 01/241 25 06, www.mgml.si/plecnikova-hisa ).
Old Town. It forms the medieval core of Ljubljana. Particularly interesting places are the Mestni trg (town square) with the town hall from the 15th century; the Stari trg (Alter Platz) with many baroque buildings; the Gornji trg (Upper Square) with the St. Florians Church; the Novi trg (New Square) with the National and University Library.
Tromostovje. The “Three Bridges” look like one unit because they lead side by side across the river Ljubljanica. Typical for the architect Joše Plečnik: elegant columns made of concrete, which skillfully imitates granite.
Nebotičnik. “Skyscraper” from 1933 with beautiful Art Nouveau elements. From the restaurant terrace on the 12th floor you can clearly see how green the city is ( www.neboticnik.si ).
Tivoli Park. The further away from the city center, the more “woody” is the five square kilometer park. With castle, greenhouse and sports center.
Daily market on the Vodnikov trg. Ideal for buying honey or hearty sausages. At the modest open-air stalls, farmers from the region offer fruits and vegetables, while in the colonnades along the market halls you can meet for “kava” or coffee.
Shopping streets. At Mestni trg are small lifestyle shops, such as Devur, for example, where there are modern designed things made of Slovenian wood, belt buckles, for example. StylYou can also make discoveries in the streets Križevniška ulica and Breg, where creative people can let off steam. For example, in galleries or the old graphics printing workshop Tipo Renesansa (Breg 22, www.tiporenesansa.si), and in Zoofa you can find fashion from various designers from Slovenia (Breg 12, www.zoofa.si ).
If I had known
Slovenian beekeepers are proud of their product. I bought a pound of forest honey (for 13 euros), and would have preferred to take three pounds and different varieties – the fine quality would have been worth towing!
The area code for Slovenia, 003 is 86.
The Campanile of Piran resembles that of Venice, the quaint little town as well
Down the Bohinj Lake, opposite the Julian Alps – but who like Doris Ehrhardt The Vogar wants to study the hiking map
The Franciscan monastery with its early Baroque church stands on Ljubljanas Prešeren square
Once it belonged to Marshal Tito, today there is a café in the park with great lake view