Ryans Review
DAY ONE: LJUBLJANA
When I booked my flight to Ljubljana, I had NO IDEA that Slovenia was chosen to host the 2013 EuroBasket (European Basketball Championship Tournament.) My first day there happened to be opening day, so the city was abuzz with opening day festivities. Everywhere I went was a party, and Kongresni Trg had live musical performances all day and night. The atmosphere was electric for even those not a fan of basketball. For the sports nut like me, every night, for the rest of my trip, would be energetic.

DAY TWO: SALZBURG, AUSTRIA
I decided to do some exploring outside of Slovenia this time. My original plan was to visit Vienna, but unfavorable train schedules forced me to look at Salzburg instead. I would NOT be disappointed. A four hour train ride from Ljubljana, Salzburg is a picturesque European city with many beautiful fountains, statues, churches, and small roads with no vehicular traffic. The mighty Hohensalzburg Fortress sits high on a hill above old town. Great views can be had from the terrace of the Hotel Stein across the Salzach River from old town.

After a walk around the old town of Salzburg, it was time to catch a bus to the Werfen Ice Cave. I had previously purchased a ticket for an excursion to the cave which is about a twenty minute drive south of Salzburg. The meeting point was at a terminal near Mirabellplatz which was used in a scene for “The Sound of Music.”
The Werfen Ice Cave is a must see for anyone travelling to or around Salzburg. A spectacular wonder of nature, the cave was formed by the Salzach river, which eroded passageways into the mountain. The ice formations in the cave were formed by thawing snow which drained into the cave and froze during winter. Since the entrance to the caves is open year-round, chilly winter winds blow into the cave and freeze the snow inside.
In summer, a cold wind from inside the cave blows toward the entrance and prevents the formations from melting. Unfortunately, I was not permitted to take any photos inside the cave. The hike up to the cave entrance is very physically demanding. It requires a long hike uphill on an unpaved path to get to the cable car station. After the cable car ride, ANOTHER long hike continues until the entrance is finally reached. The cave tour itself isn’t much easier. It is seven hundred steps up, and seven hundred back down inside the freezing cave. The beauty of the ice formations is well worth the strenuous journey to get there, however. The road to the ice cave circles around Hohenwerfen Fortress which is well worth stopping for photos, and even a visit if time allows.

Upon returning to Salzburg, I had time for another walk around town and a stop for a Stiegl beer before going back to Ljubljana via the night train in a surprisingly comfortable sleeper car.

         Salzburg and Castle Werfen ice Cave near Salzburg             Salzburg and Castle                                                   Werfen ice Cave near Salzburg

DAY THREE: KAMEN CASTLE ~ LAKE BOHINJ
On the third day, it was time to pick up my rental car from Budget at the Hotel Union in Ljubljana. My first drive would be to Lake Bohinj, but on the way, I would stop to see the ruins of Kamen Castle first.

In Begunje, Slovenia, Kamen Castle is a once mighty fortress now in ruins and is worth a visit if it’s on the way to another destination. Watch your step as you walk through the ruins on your own at your own risk. The castle was built on a rocky terrace at the entrance to the Draga Valley, and was an important stronghold protecting the important cargo path over the Prevala Pass to Carinthia. It is first mentioned in 1145. In the early 18th century, the fortress lost its protective function, and was therefore abandoned. I enjoyed a casual walk over the different terraces, looking at the thick remaining walls, imagining what life would have been like there several hundred years ago while the castle was still fully intact.

After I was done walking through the castle, I made my way to Hotel Bohinj by the clear, serene water of Lake Bohinj. Hotel Bohinj was a beautiful hotel with friendly service conveniently located within a short walk down to the lake. I got a really nice, large room that was more like a suite with a living room separated from the bedroom by a small hallway. Dinner there was delicious, and consisted of a salad, soup, main course, and dessert. I definitely felt I got a lot for a good price.

Situated in the Bohinj Valley in the Julian Alps, Lake Bohinj is Slovenia’s largest permanent lake. Being in a very small town, there isn’t much to do around the lake, which makes for a perfect setting for a relaxing portion of a vacation. (I do not mean to say it is a boring place. I mean it is much less commercialized than Lake Bled, so don’t look for nightlife or mini golf courses.) There are many trails for hiking and biking with great views around the lake, and a boat will take you to the other side and back if you don’t feel like rowing in a canoe. Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to ride the Vogel cable car, but I’ve heard the views from the top station are breathtaking.

An approximately 4 km drive from the lake took me to the head of the trail to the Savica Waterfall. The trail was a somewhat difficult 25 minute long hike, but the destination was well worth it. Previous pictures of Savica Waterfall did not give me any perception of how big it really is. I was assuming I was going to see a rather small waterfall, but that was not the case. When I got there, I was surprised to see a mighty waterfall 60 meters high (196 ft) crashing into a pool, but not before splitting into two streams forming a giant letter A.

Kamen Castle Savica Waterfall, Lake Bohinj Lake Bohinj, Slovenia Kamen Castle, Begunje                              Savica Waterfall, Lake Bohinj                                     Peaceful Lake Bohinj, Slovenia

DAY FOUR: EMERALD RIVER ADVENTURE
Four my fourth day overseas, I signed up for the Emerald River Adventure . This was an all day tour visiting various points of interest along the Soca River in Triglav National Park. The first stop on the tour was Jasna Lake in Kranjska Gora. It was a beautiful, small lake with beautiful mountains in the backdrop. A statue of Zlatorog sits on its shore. Zlatorog is a golden horned mythical goat of Slovenian lore who guarded a large treasure in the Julian Alps. It is said that riding the goat gives you good luck.

When we were done at the lake, we rode the windy Vršic Pass to the top. The Vršic Pass is a mountain rode built by Russian prisoners of war duing WWI so the Austrians could supply the front lines. At the top of the pass, we got out of the van to do some hiking above the road, and take in the amazing views all around us.

After winding back down the other side of Vršic Pass, we went to see the source of the Soca River. The path to the source is a very narrow trail in the wall of a small rocky ravine, high above the creek spawned by the spring.
The source of the Soca is a deep fissure below the mountain of Šnita from which the water gushes, then flows to the crystal clear river.
Next, it was onto the starting point of our rafting adventure on the Soca River. On the way to the starting point, we had a couple of stops along the river for some nice views. Once we got to the starting point, we were met by rafting experts who gave us our wet suits, oars, and helmets, and divided us into groups for the rafting. The water was about medium level, so the rafting was not so fast and difficult nor was it too shallow to keep moving without getting stuck. Halfway through the rafting adventure, we took a small break. One of the rafts was hung up-side-down against the side of a large rock for us to use as a slide into the cold water. I took some time to take advantage of the pureness of the Soca, by taking large gulps of the frigid, refreshing, and very drinkable river water.

Lake Jasna, Kranjska Gora Source of the Soca River Rafting on the Soca River, Slovenia
Lake Jasna, Kranjska Gora                         Source of the Soca River                                     Rafting on the Soca River, Slovenia

The next stop would be the highlight of my two trips to Slovenia. Near Kobarid is the majestic Kozjak Waterfall. The water falls along the back of a small, dark, semi-cavern, into a cold pool below. Some of us took the time to swim in the ice cold water below the most beautiful waterfall in Slovenia.

When we were done swimming, we headed to Most na Soci to catch a cartrain to Bohinjska Bistrica. Before getting to the station, we stopped at a bridge for an opportunity to jump into the Soca River. Only two of us were brave enough to take the 12 meter plunge, however it should be noted that had I properly calculated the conversion into 40 feet, I might have reconsidered. It was definitely worth the thrill anyway!

By the time we got off the train in Bohinjska Bistrica, and drove down to Lake Bohinj we only had time for a brief look at the lake (which was fine by me since I had been there all day the day before.) The tour ended at the headquarters in Bled, but it did not mean the end of our night. My new friends (five women from England, and two guys from California) and I finished off the night with dinner up in the loft of Gostilna na Planicu in Bled. Delicious pizzas were served, and it was a great way to end a great day! I highly recommend booking an adventure tour. They are very friendly, and can show you a fantastic time. The Emerald River Adventure I took was a great way to spend an entire day, and make new friends for life. However, they offer other adventures such as bicycling, canyoning, and skydiving.

New mates, Car train, Most na Soci Kozjak Falls, Kobarid The whole gang at Lake Bohinj
New mates, Car train, Most na Soci                        Kozjak Falls, Kobarid                                     The whole gang at Lake Bohinj

DAY FIVE: RELAXING BY LAKE BOHINJ ~ PIRAN
The first half of day five was spent relaxing from the long, strenuous adventure from day four, and walking around the lake some more. I was also hoping to get a chance to ride the Vogel cable car, but the sky was so cloudy I could not see the top cable car station. A local gave me the heads up, that if you can’t see the top cable car station, it’s not worth going, because you won’t see much. Early in the afternoon I made my way to the beautiful, medieval, coastal town of Piran.
Once in Piran, I spent the day taking a nice stroll along the beaches, and through the narrow, vehicle free streets. The Slovenian basketball team did not have a game that night, but the Slovenian soccer team had a World Cup qualifying match. After I finished my pizza at Pizzeria Batana, (my favorite pizzeria in the world!) I found a nice bar to watch Slovenia beat Albania 1-0.

Ribcev Laz, Bohinj Sunset at Piran View from Hotel Piran
Ribcev Laz, Bohinj                                    Sunset at Piran                                        View from Hotel Piran

DAY SIX: VENICE, ITALY
Early in the morning, I went out to the pier to meet the Dora which would take me to Venice, Italy via a two hour ride on the Adriatic Sea. This is a great way to visit Venice for a day for someone like me who just likes to admire beauty and architecture without lingering around any one point of interest. (I generally read all about any point of interest I visit before or after my trip. This way, I can admire, snap a few photos, and move on to the next thing. This allows me to fit a lot in a small window of time.)

I was able to see all I needed to see in a few hours. Sometime after boarding the Dora, passengers were broken up into groups by their native languages. Each group was led by a tour guide who told us everything you need to know about the history of Venice, and how to get around. He also told us of four extras we could purchase. The extras, which I will mention later since I purchased them all, could be purchased separately or all at once as a package for a discount.

The first extra was a ride on a shuttle boat from the docking of the Dora to San Marco Square which would be the check point with the guides who would give us more history of Venice, more tips, and lead us to where we needed to go for our extras. I would recommend skipping this for two reasons. First is after two hours on a boat, the last thing I needed was to get onto a smaller one. The second is that it went back the same way the Dora comes in to dock. There were no new photos to take. I imagine the people who opted to walk to the square on their own got to see more, and take more photos.

The second extra was dinner Hotel Canaletta. I can’t say I’d highly recommend taking this, but I will say I had the best lasagna I’ve ever had in my life there. I also had the best wine in my life there. (I should point out that I’m hardly a wine connoisseur, so I may not be the right person to make that judgment.) I don’t even know what it was, as the bottles were on the table, and unmarked. But whether it was red or white, I was really enjoying it. So you may choose to eat on your own, or you can buy a ticket for this restaurant, and have a preselected meal. You can’t go wrong either way, it’s what’s most convenient for you.

The third extra was a gondola ride. This I WILL recommend. I enjoyed a nice leisurely ride through several canals of Venice including parts of the Grand Canal. I was able to get a lot of great photos.

The fourth extra is a ride on a water taxi through the Grand Canal. I also highly recommend this. In case you are familiar with the movie “The Tourist,” the water taxi is the same kind of boat that Angelina Jolie uses to rescue a captured Johnny Depp. I got to see a lot along the Grand Hotel including the famous Rialto Bridge, and again was able to get a lot of good photos.

At about 17:00, it was time to get back on the Dora, and return to Piran. Thankfully the seats on the Dora are very comfortable as a nice nap was needed after a long, enjoyable day.

Venice, Rialto Bridge Venice, Gondolas Venice Dora Ferry
Venice, Rialto Bridge                                   Venice, Gondolas                                     Venice Dora Ferry

DAYS SEVEN AND EIGHT: LOGARSKA DOLINA
Before I go further, I would like to mention that the aforementioned Eurobaket tournament brought a lot of travellers from all around Europe to Slovenia. This made booking hotels a little tricky which is why my itinerary zigzags up and down the country with some backtracking. I had to go when and where the rooms were available.

After I was done with the coast on the south, it was time for the long drive to the north for Logarska Dolina. Logarska Dolina is a beautiful valley in the Savinja Alps near the border of Austria. Much like Lake Bohinj, you won’t find any bars or clubs, but you will find plenty of spectacular hiking trails, waterfalls, and beautiful green pastures. When I entered the valley, I drove straight to the other side to see the Rinka Waterfall. Once again, it was another long, hard hike from where I parked to get to the waterfall, but once again, it was well worth it. At 105 meters (344 ft.,) it is the highest waterfall in Logarska Dolina.

Hotel Plesnik was a very beautiful hotel located approximately in the middle of the valley. The service was great, and the room was beautiful. The food was also delicious, which was a good thing, since that was pretty much the only place I could have a full meal. After checking in, I had a few hours of daylight left, so I took a walk to see as much as I could. The first stop would not be very far away. Just behind the hotel was Palenk Waterfall. It is a waterfall the fans out from the narrow part at the top until the much wider bottom. It is 78 meters (255 ft.) high. The combination of its height, width, and its location in a wooded area made it impossible for me to capture the magnificent falls with one shot.

I took a walk down the road towards the entrance when I came across a sign for the Rastovški Waterfall. A ten minute walk from the road through a farm, the Rastovški Waterfall is small, but well worth the short trek.
After that, it began to rain, so I went back to my room sooner than I hoped. I did enjoy an excellent full course dinner before calling it a night. After waking up the next morning, I spent the day hiking along the road, and winding through scenic trails between spurts of rain. Hopefully the next time I go, the weather will be much more favorable so I can see more of what Logarska Dolina has to offer, as well as checking out the neighboring valleys of Matkov Kot and Robanov Kot.

Logarska Dolina Rinka Falls, Logarska Dolina Logarska Dolina
Logarska Dolina                                        Rinka Falls, Logarska Dolina                             Logarska Dolina

DAY NINE: ŽUŽEMBERK CASTLE ~ OTOCEC CASTLE ~ NOVO MESTO
A little before noon on the ninth day, I made my back south to Novo Mesto. On the way, I stopped by Žužemberk Castle. Unfortunately it was not open, but it was still worth the stop, as I was still able to walk around it. I got a really nice view of it from the Krka River below the hill on which it sits.

After I was done in Žužemberk, I started for Novo Mesto. I was on pace to get there before I could check into my hotel, so I decided to take a little detour to Otocec Castle. It is a nice little castle built on an island in the Krka River. It is now a four star hotel. There were a lot of trees around it, and I didn’t find a perch on higher ground (not that I looked very hard,) so it was hard for me to get any great photos of it. Finally, it was on to Novo Mesto. Not the most exciting town in Slovenia, Novo Mesto is still a nice little city to see for a stopover, and some strolling around. I followed signs to Grm Castle, but was disappointed in what I saw. Still the walk to the caste, gave me some nice views of the city. I finished the day with a great pizza at Go Pizza Go which was a small pizzeria and coffee shop that had an outdoor deck overlooking the Krka River.

Zuzemberk Castle Zuzemberk Castle Otocec Castle
Zuzemberk Castle                                   Zuzemberk Castle                                     Otocec Castle

DAY TEN: PODCETRTEK CASTLE ~ PTUJ
On the way to Ptuj,I stopped to take a walk through Podcetrtek Castle. First mentioned in 1251, and updated to the Baroque style in the 18th century, the castle was looted, and left in disrepair in 1945. Still the imposing building on the hill is a neat sight to see. Though nothing special, I still really enjoyed walking through all the levels, and, just as I did at Kamen Castle, try to imagine what life was like in its heyday. Not a must see, I would still say it’s worth a stop, for a nice casual walk, and a break from driving.

Ptuj is a very beautiful city on the Drava River in Eastern Slovenia. I really enjoyed my brief time there. It is the oldest city in Slovenia. The self-guided tour of Ptuj Castle was broken into three parts. The first part featured fantastic tapestry and furniture. The second part featured music and instruments, including the history of instrument making throughout Slovenia. The third part, and my favorite, was the armory.

My room was in the Apartments Šilak, and was very beautiful. I checked in with an elderly man named Vladimir. He was a very friendly man who, before even showing me to my room, pulled out a tourist map, and gave me tips on where to go and where to eat, as well as a history lesson on Ptuj. Some might find this as “boring ramblings of an old man,” and grow impatient, but a history buff like me really enjoyed it. I walked around town, visiting many of the spots he suggested, and took a walk to Terme Ptuj for a swim followed by relaxation in a giant hot tub. I finished the night at one of the restaurants the old man recommended, and was not the least bit disappointed by Gostilna Amadeus. There I enjoyed an amazing plate of beef steaks in gorgonzola sauce.

Ptuj, Slovenia Ptuj Castle, Slovenia Ptuj, Slovenia
Ptuj, Slovenia                                            Ptuj Castle, Slovenia                                     Ptuj Castle, Slovenia

DAY ELEVEN: VINEYARDS OF KOG ~ MARIBOR
Driving through the eastern side of Slovenia, of course I had to drive go visit some vineyards. On the way from Ptuj to Maribor, I stopped at the Hlebec Tourist Farm in Kog. There, I rented a bicycle, and rode a couple of hours on the roads through what seemed to be endless fields of beautiful vineyard. I most likely would have ridden a lot longer if it had not been so hot that day.

After I was finished riding, I returned the bike to the Hlebec Tourist Farm whereupon I was invited to stay for a wine tasting. Naturally, I was interested in purchasing wine from the vineyard, so I stayed. I must mention here that it wasn’t so much of a wine tasting, as much as it was a wine drinking party. I had been expecting small samples of wine, but instead our server filled our glasses full. Each pour came with a history of that particular wine. So after six wine “tastings” plus a shot of Konjak (their clever version of Cognac) I had to stick around a couple hours longer than I had intended. (Not that it was a bad thing. I was on vacation, so I had no problem relaxing in the beautiful countryside of Slovenia.) I ended up buying three bottles. Liking the sweeter wines, I went with the chardonnay, Muškat Otonel, and the bottle of Konjak.

Maribor was a very pleasant surprise for me. When I learned it was the second biggest city behind Ljubljana, I expected a much more modern city. In hindsight, that was probably a silly assumption considering that the larger Ljubljana has plenty of old town to see. Maribor was a lovely blend of the modern and the old. It had large, very modern shopping mall where I was able to buy a nice blue Slovenia team soccer jacket. A large roundabout had a large, colorful, modern fountain. But it also had old churches, an old water tower, and small streets with outdoor dining in old cafes. I didn’t see Maribor as a place I could visit over and over again, but I definitely saw it as a place I could live.

Kog, Hlebec, Slovenia Maribor, Slovenia Maribor, Slovenia
Kog, Hlebec, Slovenia                                   Maribor, Slovenia                                     Maribor, Slovenia

DAY TWELVE: CELJE OLD CASTLE ~ BACK TO LJBULJANA
On day twelve, it was time to head back to the capital, return the rental car, and wind down the last three days of my trip. Along the way, I made sure to stop in Celje to vistit Old Celje Castle. The castle is first mentioned in 1322, and was the former seat of the Counts of Celje who were the most important late medieval noble family on the territory. The three stars on the Slovenian shield come from the coat of arms of the Counts of Celje. The castle is partially in ruins, but is in the process of being restored.

After leaving the castle, I went straight back to Ljubljana, returned the car, and checked into the Guesthouse Stari Tišler which was a most excellent place to spend my last three nights. Later that night, I took a taxi up to Vodice to attent RockFest 2013 where I met up with some friends from my trip two years prior. We were all happy to see each other, and had a great time. I probably had way too much to drink, but that’s what happens when you party with a rock band. (Avven. The band I had seen two years before at RockFest. They were there in support of the other local rock bands.)

DAY THIRTEEN: KRIŽNA CAVE ~ CHILLING WITH RELATIVES ~ EUROBASKET
First thing the next morning, while still a little hung over, I met my cousin Matjaž and two of his friends to take the four hour tour of Križna Cave. On my last trip, I made an impromptu visit to this cave, because my GPS informed me that I would be arriving at my next hotel far too early for check in. I only got to see the one hour tour, but absolutely loved it. This time, I was very excited to get the four hour tour which would include floating over 13 underground lakes. This is an exciting cave to tour, as it is not artificially lit like most tourist caves, nor does it have a built in walkway. Special equipment, including waterproof boots and a helmet with a light, was needed to enter the cave. (Most of the equipment was supplied. All I needed was to dress in layers beforehand.)

Krizna Jama, Slovenia Krizna Jama, Slovenia Krizna Jama, Slovenia
Krizna Jama, Slovenia                                   Krizna Jama, Slovenia                                  Krizna Jama, Slovenia

For the rest of the afternoon, I went back to Ljubljana to hang out with other cousins, and aunts and uncles. We had a delightful time catching up, giving reports on family members who were not present, drinking wine, eating traditional Slovenian sausages. Later that night, I took a 20 minute walk to Arena Stožice hoping to find ticket scalpers so I could attend EuroBasket action between Slovenia and Greece. Unfortunately, I think every police officer in Ljubljana was around the arena, so no scalpers were found. However there was a giant screen set up outside the arena for those, like me, who couldn’t get tickets. Also there were several booths set up for refreshments, snacks, beer, and basketball related entertainment. The large crowd was energetic, and fun as we watched Slovenia defeat Greece in dominating fashion. (Slovenia would eventually go on to win the Bronze in EuroBasket 2013.) After the game, I returned to downtown Ljubljana with three new friends I met, and we partied all night in Metelkova. Metelkova was a very unique, artistic place, and a fun place to hang out especially with a crowd of happy Slovenian basketball supporters. It is an autonomous social center in the center of Ljubljana, Slovenia. It is located on the site of former military barracks of the old Yugoslavia. It was squatted in 1993, and now with its seven buildings and 12,500 square meters of space, it hosts a range of activities including an art gallery, bars, artist studios, space for designers, offices of cultural organizations, and concerts featuring different types of live music from free jazz, rockabilly, heavy metal, and techno.

DAY FOURTEEN (MY FINAL DAY IN SLOVENIA): RELAXING IN LJUBLJANA
Two consecutive nights of hard partying plus the fact that I am not so young anymore made my final day in Slovenia a day for sleeping in, relaxing, and taking a final stroll through Ljubljana to snap a few random, last minute photos. I wanted to stay out as late as I possibly could that I would be able to fall asleep on my flight over the Atlantic Ocean, and be as fresh as I could be after 17 hours of travel when I finally reached Pittsburgh. I started by going straight to Neboticnik, an excellent place to get a cocktail and enjoy fantastic views of Ljubljana. I headed into old town, took some photos at night of some things I missed my first day there. Of course I had to go to Dragon Bridge again. I LOVE that bridge. (So much, in fact that I got the dragon worked into my tattoo on my left arm.) I went back up to Kongresni Square to see what was going on as part of the EuroBasket festivities. I discovered it was a concert by the lovely Slovenian pop star Nina Pušlar. I was even lucky enough to snag a photo opportunity with her after the show. I ended that night watching Serbia beat France in EuroBasket action then went back to my room for my final night in Slovenia.

Nina Puslar, Ljubljana Neboticnik, Ljubljana Preseren Square, Ljubljana
Nina Puslar, Ljubljana                                   Neboticnik, Ljubljana                                     Preseren Square, Ljubljana

MY PERSONAL RECOMMENDATIONS
After two trips to Slovenia, I have seen much of it from north to south and east to west. I have seen most of what I wanted to see. Pretty much all I have left is to climb Mt. Triglav. That will be number one priority for my next trip. Anyway, here are my personal recommendations for a trip to Slovenia:

ABSOLUTE MUST SEE
Ok, I pretty much love ALL of Slovenia, but if you only go one time, these are places you cannot miss:

Kozjak Waterfall ~ In Kobarid Most majestic waterfall I’ve ever seen. Not huge, or powerful, just very beautiful.
Škocjan Caves ~ Near Divaca. Magnificent caves, and the walk back through Karst valleys and natural bridges is every bit as enjoyable as the caves themselves.
Lake Bohinj/Savica Waterfall ~ Peaceful and beautiful.
Bled/Vintgar Gorge ~ A beautiful lake with a beautiful church on an island, and a small castle sitting high on a hill above the lake. The castle and church are exceptionally beautiful at night. Also, a very short drive from Bled is Vintgar Gorge. A nice little ravine with a wooden walkway about 1.7 km long through which the Radovna River rushes. At some points the rushing water is so powerful you can fell the mist, and there is a small waterfall in the middle, and a larger one at the end. Should only take a couple of hours out of your day.
Križna Cave ~ Lož Valley. If you can, go for the four hour tour. If not, you can still see plenty during the one hour tour. Either way, this a great cave to see. Bonus points for the element of adventure because of the equipment required, the need to watch your step, and the minor climbing done inside.
Logarska Dolina ~ Solcava. Jewel of the Alps. A beautiful green valley in the Savinja Alps near the Austrian border. Peaceful, picturesque hikes, green meadows, and great waterfalls.
Celje Old Catle ~ Partially in ruins, but still very much worth seeing. Even with parts missing, it’s a menacing castle with thick walls and high towers.
Piran ~ A beautiful medieval city on the Istrian Coast. A small peninsula that juts out into the Adriatic Sea.
Soca River ~ Pretty much guaranteed to see this beautiful, pure river if you are driving around Triglav National Park. (If you follow my recommendations above, you will be.) Stop anytime you see it where stopping is possible. It’s really almost unnecessary to include this in recommendations since you’ll most likely see it anyway, but I put it in there just in case. If you find an opportunity to go rafting or swimming in it, I suggest you take it.
Triglav National Park: Spend a day driving all around the park with a drives over the Vršic Pass and up Predel Pass. Also, make stops for Pericnik Waterfall, various views of Mt. Triglav, various spots on the Soca River (as mentioned before,) and the source of the Soca. There is plenty to see.
*Note: These are not in any particular order. They are all MUST SEE, regardless of order.
I also did not include anything in Ljubljana. This is not because Ljubljana is boring with nothing to see. I simply lift out Ljubljana because it will most likely be where you spend your first day, and you can pretty much see all of Ljubljana in a day or two.

HONORABLE MENTIONS
Don’t plan your trip around these places, but they are “must see” if they are even somewhat on the way between points of interest:
Predjama Castle ~ A castle built precariously into the side of a cliff with some very interesting history. Along with Postojna Cave and Škocjan Caves, this can easily be seen in one day. Since I put Škocjan Caves above under “MUST SEE,” this is also technically a “must see,” based on the description of this list. You can visit all three on a drive from Ljubljana to Piran, and still arrive at Piran before nightfall.
Postojna Cave ~ A very nice cave well worth seeing. Bonus points for the human fish at the end of the tour. And like I said earlier, this can easily be seen along with Predjama Castle and Škocjan Caves in one day, which, again, I guess technically makes it a “must see.”
Kamen Catle ~ Between Ljubljana and Bled/Lake Bohinj. The ruins of a once mighty fortress in Begunje.
Snežnik Castle ~ Lož Valley. A little bit past Križna Cave off the highway between Ljubljan and Piran. Most well preserved castle in Slovenia. Even the furniture is original.
Štanjel ~ A neat little medieval town half in ruins. A good place to spend a couple hours strolling if the weather is nice. Not really between any of my “MUST SEE” points, unless maybe you drive from Piran to Lake Bohinj via the cartrain (which is next on the list.)
CarTrain ~ For a unique experience with great scenery, go to the train station in Most na Soci, drive your car onto a flatbed, and ride the train to Bohinjska Bistrica (or vice versa.)

BEST ACCOMMODATION
In Slovenia, every hotel room in which I stayed, whether fancy and expensive or the cheapest I could find, had amazing character. There was not one single plain, cookie cutter style with drab décor like we have in the USA. Here are the best of the best:

Hiša Sonca in Zgornje Laze ~ If you visit Bled, you must stay in this beautiful apartment just outside of the town. Vintgar Gorge is just off the route from the apartment to Lake Bled. You get an entire basement of a farm house with a full kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and a large living room. I got very friendly service from Petra who gave me some sort of concoction made from tree bark made by her son. (It had much needed calming qualities after a very stressful night of driving) Free Wi-Fi. Tall people, watch your heads!

Rooms and Apartments Šilak in Ptuj ~ Very beautiful and very old building in the oldest city in Slovenia. Nice looking rustic rooms with free Wi-Fi. Comes with 10% discount to Terme Ptuj . Within short walking distance of the best restaurant in Slovenia. (Gostilna Amadeus) I was greeted by an elderly man named Vladimir. Before even showing me to my room, he grabbed a map of Ptuj, and gave me tips on what to see and where to go. He also gave me a history lesson on Ptuj, some of the points of interest, and even the hotel. (Some might lose patience listening to “the ramblings of an old man,” but I really enjoyed the educational info.

Guesthouse Stari Tišler in Ljubljana ~ Most expensive of my two trips to Slovenia, but it was very nice. Beautiful rooms with free Wi-Fi. Excellent restaurant with outdoor courtyard setting. Quick walk to the train and bus stations. No parking on site, however.

Hotel Plesnik in Logarska Dolina ~ I don’t know how many options there are in Logarska Dolina, but this is most definitely an excellent one. Very warm, welcoming, friendly service. Beautiful rustic rooms with free Wi-Fi. Just in front of the magnificent Palenk Waterfall. Great food in the restaurant.

Turizem Loka in Škofja Loka ~ A bit of a long walk to the old town of Škofja Loka, but not too bad. Friendly service and great breakfast. Simple, but nice looking rooms. Though it is Idrija that is known for making lace, Škofja Loka also makes it. The hotel has a display case for nice pieces of framed bobbin lace available for purchase. (I bought my grandmother a nice angel for Christmas.)

Hotel Bohinj in Ribcev Laz ~ Just a short walk to Lake Bohinj. I got a very nice large room which almost seemed more like a suite to me. Great dinners served in the basement. Only setback is that the free Wi-Fi can only be accessed in the main lobby (and I still had issues connecting.) Maybe this issue will get resolved eventually, but then again, when you’re surrounded by such beauty, you won’t want to spend too much time on the internet anyway.

BEST RESTAURANTS
Very rarely was I disappointed with any of the food I had in Slovenia. Here are my favorite places:

Gostilna Amadeus in Ptuj ~ This may be my new favorite EVER, not just in Slovenia. It is located on the oldest road (Prešernova) in the oldest city in Slovenia. I was told it was an expensive restaurant, but considering how good the food was, and the great setting, I thought the prices were fair. I’ve paid more for food not as good. (Beef steaks in Gorgonzola Sauce was my favorite dish.)

Restaurant Stari Tišler in Ljubljana ~ Located inside the Guesthouse Stari Tišler on Kolodvorska ulica near the train and bus stations. Great soups and pasta dishes. They also serve Cevapcici. Make sure you try Cevapcici at least once on your stay. It is a popular Serbian dish of sausages made of seasoned beef and pork served with bread, minced onions, and roasted red pepper sauce.

Pizzeria Batana in Piran ~ This is my favorite pizzeria of all time. Great seafood pizzas with outdoor seating where you have the choice of looking out at the Adriatic Sea (with a beautiful sunset if the time is right) or watching the activity in Tartini Square.

Gostilna pri Planincu in Bled ~ I’ve never actually eaten in the lower part where the dinners are served, but I did love the pizza served up in the loft. It is also a great “party” setting where you can laugh and make a little more noise than usual with newly made friends. Also a great place if there happens to be an important sporting event to watch.

Jesharna in Škofja Loka ~ Very tight, small restaurant with a low ceiling, but an excellent pizzeria well worth a little discomfort.

Again, I thank you for all your help Sloveniaforyou!

Ryans Review
Slovenia is a beautiful country with diverse terrain and scenery ranging from Mediterranean coastline, beautiful limestone caves, beautiful lakes, magical valleys, and majestic alpine ranges. Even Ljubljana the capital of Slovenia is a charming city. Truth be told we had some initial reservation about visiting Slovenia and had originally intended to go to Hungary, Croatia and the Czech Republic. However there was something about Slovenia that attracted us. After reading up about the place we decided to just confine our holiday to Slovenia and just leave the other places for another visit.

Compared to its neighbours – Italy, Austria, Hungary, and Croatia, Slovenia is a small country. It is 20,151sq km in size with a population of 2 million people. Formerly Slovenia was part of the kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (better known as Yugoslavia). Yugoslavia became a communist republic after World War 1. Yugoslavia started to disintegrate when civil war broke out in 1991. Slovenia does not bear the scars of the civil war that tore apart Yugoslavia. Most of the fighting took place between Bosnia and Serbia. For Slovenia the war was just 10-days and then the Yugoslav army left them alone.Slovenia declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. It joined the European Union in 2004 and changed its currency to Euro in 2007. It was the first former communist country to do so.

Doing research about Slovenia is easy with many websites like sloveniaforyou.com providing useful information about sights and things to do. Many Slovenians speak or at the least can understand English.

We found it helpful to be able to speak some simple words like “Dober Dan” – which means “Hello” or “Good Day”. We found Slovenes polite, friendly, and helpful. The country is very clean with absence of litter in the public areas. Crime rate is low in Slovenia and we learnt from the locals, one of the lowest in Europe.

While Credit Cards are accepted in many shops and restaurants, we found it helpful to bring Euros to pay for food and small items. We found food and lodging in Slovenia cheaper than many other European nations. The cheapest meal (Salad, Pork Chop, and Mashed Potatoes) we had was about 6 Euros and most places we could get food for under 12 Euros. Many towns and villages have food shops selling pizza. Even Slovene food seems to have influences of Austrian, Hungarian, Romanian, and Italian. Slovenian meals are quite hearty and portions rather large. Most meals would have salad and soup for starters. The main course would usually consist of meat – chicken, fish, pork, or beef. Dessert is usually cake or ice cream. I enjoyed Slovenian sausages which I found very tasty.

The 2 Slovenian restaurants that stood out for us were “Marley and Me” in Ljubljana and “Ribic” in Ptuj. For those with a sweet tooth we recommend you try Potica which is a traditional rolled cake available in many parts of Slovenia and the Cream Cake (Kremšnita) at Lake Bled. For Asians planning to visit Slovenia we would warn that Asian food is hard to come by in Slovenia. As we travelled around the country we only saw 2 Chinese restaurants. Needless to say we saw very few Chinese in Slovenia. We only encountered a few Asians, tourists like ourselves in 3 tourist areas, Ljubljana, Piran and Postojna Caves.

If you plan to drive around Slovenia like we did, I would recommend getting a GPS. Most rental companies would be able to rent one with the car or you could also bring your own if you have a European map loaded. Cars in Slovenia are left hand drive. Rental cars come with choice of manual or automatic. We found it helpful to pay for additional insurance cover for damage which saved us some money for scratches and dents that we picked when we drove around.

Coming from a country with right hand drive, there were times when it was so scary, cars speeding from the other direction towards you on the ‘wrong’ side in a very narrow and tight lane. At times, we had to turn round tight corners (literally corners of houses jutting out along the road). We had to hold our breathe screaming at each other to drive closer to the other side! What a relief when we managed to drive thru without causing any damage! Occasionally, we got lost (Yes! Blame it on the GPS! ), but it was fun, just another adventure to drive around and enjoy the country side scenery.

Some of the highlights of our trip were Ljubljana and Ptuj for its charm and character; the Slovenian Technical Museum was an interesting place where we learned about early life in Slovenia - the tradesmen and their trades, and the wildlife; Sticna Abbey and Pleterje Monastery, we learned about the life in a monastery; the model village just outside Pleterje Monastery where we saw how people lived in thatched houses in the olden days;

Lake Bled for its magical island and its church in the centre of the lake, the castle up on the rock, and the wonderful cream cake famous in that area; Vintgar Gorge had stunning scenery; Kozjak Falls near Kobarid; Mt Kobala near Bovec for its panoramic views of Soca Valley; the Soca Valley and LogarskaDolina valley for its beautiful scenery; VolcjiPotok for its beautiful flowers and gardens; the many beautiful villages we passed thru as we drove around the country. We took a drive to Sticna Abbey and the Technical Museum. It was interesting. It gives us an insight into how life was like in the olden days. We enjoyed looking at the miniature models of Slovenian buildings, a water powered saw mill, a carpenter’sworkshop, and various stuffed animals on display.

LJUBLJANA
Our first stop was Ljubljana. We stayed at an apartment (Called Sun and the City) in a nice quiet neighbourhood near the town centre with a supermarket just across the carpark. The owner was really nice. A few days before our booking date, they emailed a map and directions on how to get to their place from the airport. Unfortunately, we left our country earlier without reading the email. Well, it was just another adventure, getting to the accommodation, driving thru the countryside. If we had followed their directions to take the highway, it would have taken us 15 mins to get to the apartment, but since we took the countryside road, it took us around 40 mins before we found the apartment.

The owner met us at the apartment and showed us around. It had 3 bedrooms, living room, dining room, kitchen, a bathroom, a separate toilet and a nice long and wide hallway, all fully furnished. He provided us with a map, and showed us how to get to some of the attractions, where to park and dine and even loan us a stored value card to take the bus if we decided not to drive to town. We found that it was easy to take the bus to town, the bus stop was just outside the car park, very convenient.

The town centre was only 6 to 8 bus stop away. We took a nice walk around the town, which was not too crowded. There were a lot of nice old buildings in art nouveau style. It’s amazing that the buildings are old but look so well maintained. A more touristy spot is the Triple Bridge and Preseren Square in the town centre. There were a lot of small cafes and restaurants around and along the side narrow lanes. We had a nice lunch in one of the restaurants (Marley & Me) along the StariTrg. We had traditional Slovenia food for lunch -Kranj sausages and Zlikrofi. It was yummy! After that, we took a walk up the steep road to the Ljubljana Castle. On the way down, we met a man who lived in a house along that steep road. He was very friendly. He was telling us how he keeps fit by walking up and down the steep road every day, even during the winter when the snow is so deep. No wonder, he looks so young and fit!

Collonades, Ljubljana Old Town, Ljubljana Ljubljana Castle View
Collonades, Ljubljana                                   Old Town, Ljubljana                                     Ljubljana Castle

LJUBLJANA - NOVO MESTO - ZRECE
Next day, we left Ljubljana and headed towards Novo Mesto, a nice new town. We had lunch at a restaurant, Loka, along the river. After that, we set out to find the disappearing river, Temenica. It was a very calm river with nice reflections of its surroundings. We looked for an old hydro-electric dam only to find it had been converted into a fish farm.A fierce dog there prevented us from proceeding further. So, that ended our adventure. Next we decided to set off for Pleterje. There, we came across a model village, with thatched roof houses, farm animals and some very cute rabbits. At the Pleterje gift shop, there were a few variety of brandies and wine being sold – pear brandy, elder flower brandy, plum brandy, etc, so we bought some bottles to bring home.

As it was getting late, we had to rush to get to our next accommodationin Zrece. As we headed up north, we passed thru the town Celje. It looks like a nice town, but too bad, it was getting dark, so we didn’t stop. By the time, we found our accommodation,Ramsak Tourist Farm, it was already dark. After unloading our luggage, we went to look for dinner. We took a drive down the hill and came across a hotel with a restaurant. It was a nice restaurant, however there were not many patrons. Maybe it was because it was a bit late for dinner. Next morning, when we looked around the accommodation, we found that the farm was beautiful with nice scenery. The owner had a very adorable, intelligent and friendly golden retriever puppy.

Bopgensperk Castle Accommodation Ramsak Girl at Ptuj
Bogensperk Castle                                       Ramsak Accommodation                             Traditonal Dress at Ptuj Castle

PTUJ - JERUZALEM - HLEBEC TOURIST FARM
After checking out, we headed towards our next destination, Ptui&Jeruzalem. Ptuj was a nice town. We found this nice restaurant, Ribic. They served very good food -the fish soup was absolutely delicious! Next, we visited the castle in Ptuj, another steep walk up the hill. It happened that they were celebrating and having a medieval fair. There were quite a number of people dressed up in medieval costume. Next, we headed out for Jeruzalem. Jeruzalem is one of the wine growing regions located in the Northeast of the country.

After driving around the area, we decided to stop at a vineyard to try out the wine. The vineyard that we stopped at was owned by a German family. It looks like it was a popular tourist stop too. After a few glasses, we headed off to our next accommodation, Hlebec Tourist Farm. Helbec too is a vineyard. We decided to have our dinner at the accommodation since it looked like a nice place. Dinner was alfresco style, outside the accommodations. Above the dining area were overhanging vines with bunches of grapes. With the sun setting, it gave a very nice ambience, very romantic! The food servings were very generous. In fact, we had too much to eat. They served the best Potica there. We tried a few different varieties during the few days that we stayed.

Ptuj View Andrew and Milan at Hlebec Ptuj Castle
View of Ptuj                                                   Andrew&Milan at Hlebec                            Ptuj Castle

HLEBEC - MARIBOR - LOGARSKA DOLINA
After a few days stay, we headed to our next destination, Logarska Dolina. On the way, we stopped over at Maribor. During our exploration of the town, we came across a 400 year old vine!

After driving a few rounds, we finally found our next accommodation, Gradisnik Tourist Farm. This is a very old farm, with a 400 year old tree! This farm also has an archery trail with many practice targets. They have stuffed animals and target boards spread throughout the grounds. The room that we had was very nice and big with a kitchen and big balcony. In the morning, we have a nice view looking down into the valley. The owner was very interesting. He entertained us playing a swiss zither. He showed us a CD he had recorded of his music and told us he had played overseas in many countries. We loved the homemade Blueberry liqueur! This was our first taste of this delicious liqueur which is called Boronicevec. We loved it so much we bought a bottle to bring home.

The Oldest Vine, Maribor Gradisnik Farm, Logarska Logarska Dolina
The Old Vine, Maribor                                       Gradisnik Farm, Logarska                         Stunning Logarska

KAMNIK - KRANJ - JAMNIK
Our next stop was Kamnik. After checking in, we set off for VolcjiPotok, where we get to see a lot of beautiful flowers and trees. We spent a few hours in the park taking pictures. Next day, we set off forKranj, a nice old town. We took a walk around the town and explored the inside of the church. Next we headed for Jamnik where we visited the picturesque church ofSt Primus and Felician. It was quite a scary drive because the church was on a narrow ridge and the pathway to it was narrow and rocky. I can just imagine if the car slipped, we will be careening down the steep hill. When we finally reached the church, it was closed! Oh well, end of another adventure.We headedbackwards down the narrow driveway because it was too narrow to turn the car around! I guess we should have known better than to drive there! Finally we reached safe ground with God’s blessing!

BLED - VINTGAR GORGE
Next, we headed for Bled, for our accommodation called Hisa Sonca. It is a nice traditional Slovenian cottage up on a hill, with a wooded floor, low ceiling and even a traditional wood stove! The cottage was nicely furnished with colourful tiles that gave the place a cheery feel. The bathroom was big with nicely decorated walls!

After unloading our luggage, we headed for Lake Bled. It was late in the afternoon and the sunlight sparkled like diamonds on the water! We jumped on board one of the gondolas and headed towards Bled island in the middle of the lake. As we neared the island, the boatman Tony proudly told us he built the gondola himself (hence the boat’s name – Antonia). Some of the other gondolas on the lake were also built by him. He also told us that motorised boats were not allowed in Lake Bled. No wonder that the lake was so peaceful. It was very nice to just sit back and enjoy the scenery.

Upon reaching the island, we hopped onshore and headed up the stairs. Some people were sun tanning on the pier. We had a nice view of the lake from the top. The church was small but it had a beautiful ornate altar. Soon it was time to head back to the shore. We decided to try the famous Bled cream cake (Kremšnita) at the Grand Hotel Toplice. The cake was really delicious - not too sweet and very light. Yummy! It was a beautiful moment watching the beautiful sunset and enjoying the delicious cake… life is beautiful!

Next morning, we set off for Vintgar Gorge. It was one of the best walks we had in Slovenia! The walk was easy, the scenery beautiful! There were boardwalks with hand rails built on the side of the gorge, so there was no trouble at all walking thru. The water was gushing past ferociously, but it looked so beautiful and so clean and foamy. At some parts, the water gathered in still pools.Here it reflects the scenery above the waters like a mirror. We just had to stand still, breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the peaceful scenery.

Jamnik Julian Alps Bled
Jamnik                                                        Julian Alps                                                 Pletna at Bled

BOHINJ, BOVEC, KOBARID, TOLMIN
Next, we headed to Lake Bohinj, it was very nice too, especially with the mountains as the backdrop. Some families were having a picnic by the shore while the children were swimming in the waters. Since we were not prepared to swim, after walking around we decided to move on. From there we headed up the mountains to the Vrsic Pass. The pass was a challenge for the driver with 50 hairpin turns going up and another 50 hairpin turns going down. We saw some cyclists at the top of the pass and were full of admiration for the stamina to cycle all the way up. Some of the cyclists even cycled up the pass pulling a cart behind them! Amazing!

As we drove to Bovec, we crossed the River Soca a few times. The waters of the Soca were clear and blue. Next, we headed for Kobarid, there we visited the beautiful Kozjak Waterfalls. It was a nice trek to the waterfall. The waterfall, located in a small cave looked very beautiful. On the way back, we decided to stop at one of the camping grounds for tea, where I had one of the most delicious pancakes! Yummy! At Tolmin, we drove up to the top of Mount Kobala where we watched many people preparing their parachutes for the paragliding. The parachutes look so huge and had so many strings attached. When the paragliderswere hooked up and ready, it was so thrilling to watch them catch the wind in their chutes, run and jump off! It was a beautiful sight to watch them glide into the sunset!

Lake Bled Vintgar Gorge Vintgar Gorge
Pat on Bled Island                                        Vintgar Gorge                                            Raging Vintgar Gorge

LIPICA
We had heard about the famous Lippizaner horses in Lipica. We were disappointed that we were not able to watch the horses perform. The horses only performed twice a week and we had just missed the show! Urghh! So we decided to join the walking tour instead. The tour guide was very knowledgeable and showed us the stables with the retired stallions and mares. There was also a small museum. Alas we were not allowed to watch the horses being trained for the performances. That would have been interesting, Too bad!

Views around Hlebec Kozjak Falls Tolmin Paragliders Views around Hlebec                                        Kozjak Falls                                          Tolmin Paragliders

PIRAN, COAST, POSTOJNA CAVES
In Secovlje, we stayed in an apartment just across from the salt pans. Secovlje is famous for its salt pans and the salt it produces. These salt pans have existed there since Roman times and salt is still produced as it has been since then, We had our best dinner at this place.

Next morning, we tried delicious homemade fig jam. It was so good, that we bought 2 bottles to bring home. We drove to Piran next for a walkabout. It was a nice little seaside town. Although there were no sandy beaches, we saw young school children learning to swim in the sea and diving off the jetties. As we walked on to the market square, we saw some older kids painting a floor mural in the centre of the town square.

Our last stop was at Hudicevec Farm, where they serve very good food there. The place seems to be a favourite lunch stop for tourists as there were many tourist buses stopping there for lunch. Our room there was big and clean, with a big attached bathroom. We also visited the Postojna Caves. It was a humongous limestone cave that stretched over 20 km into the mountain. We saw many amazing rock formations and even creatures that inhabit the caves (like the blind lizard like proteus).

Slovenia is a place we recommend to go to get away from the crowds and get close to nature.It is also a place to go if you are looking for a bit of adventure. Some of the activities you can do are hiking, rock climbing, canoeing, rafting, canyoning, paragliding, ballooning, flying and horse riding.Would we go back again for a visit? Definitely!

Greg and Ronalee, Thank you for your invaluable help and recommendations. Really appreciate it. Patricia and Andrew



Ryans Review
First, I would like to thank 'Slovenia for you' for all of your help. I would never have been able to have such an amazing itinerary without your help. Slovenia far exceeded my expectations. I would like to include some of my own reviews for you.

LJUBLJANA
My first day was spent in Ljubljana. It was a beautiful, but small city, so everything of interest can be seen in less than one day.

I recommend visiting Prešeren Square to take in the beauty of such buildings as the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation, Ljubljana Central Pharmacy, and Triple Bridge. Neboticnik (skyscraper) provides a lovely terrace to enjoy a cocktail, and some great views of the capital city including Ljubljana Castle sitting alone, high on a hill. Dragon Bridge and Robba Fountain are also worth stopping for a picture of two, perhaps on your way to Ljubljana Castle. Ljubljana Castle has a beautiful courtyard for a brief stroll, and I highly suggest climbing the tower to get more great views of the city. I didn't experience very much of Ljubljana's night life, but I did stop in a little bar called Bi Ko Fe where I tried beer with ginger for the first time. It was quite good.

Preseren Square Dragon Bridge Ljubljana Castle View
Preseren Square, Ljubljana                            Dragon's Bridge, Ljubljana                           Ljubljana Castle

POSTOJNA CAVES, PREDJAMA CASTLE
My second day was spent driving down to the coastal city of Piran, but on the way, I would stop to see Postojna Cave, Predjama Castle, and Škocjan Caves. Postojna Cave was nice, but other than the unique "human fish" at the end of the tour, it was not much different than many of the caves we have in the U.S. I enjoyed it, but can definitely skip it next time. Predjama Castle is a must-see. About 9km from Postojna Cave, it is a castle built right into the side of a cliff in front of a cave. It has a very unique history, and seeing how the building is fused in with the rock is really neat.

Predjama Castle Predjama Castle View Inside Predjama Castle
Predjama Castle                                            View from Predjama Castle                             Inside Predjama Castle

SKOCJAN CAVES
Škocjan Caves, unlike Postojna Cave, CANNOT be missed. My tour visited first the "Silent Cave" and the "Murmuring Cave." The Silent cave (named for its silence due to the lack of a river flowing though it) featured large, colorful underground rooms with different types of stalactites. I especially liked the "Organ Hall" named for its large, beautiful pipe organ stalactites. The Murmuring Cave (named for the sound of The Reka which flows through it) looked like something out of "Lord of the Rings." It's great feature was a walk across a bridge spanning one of the largest underground canyons in the world. The beauty does not end upon exiting the caves.
If you so choose, you can choose a self guided, half hour walk back to the start. The trail takes you through many beautiful Karst phenomena such as collapsed valleys and natural rock bridges. You will also see some beautiful waterfalls along the way.

PIRAN
The rest of day two, and three would be spent in the beautiful coastal town of Piran. Piran's beauty is further accented by the way it juts out into the Adriatic Sea.
Because of its narrow streets, driving a car is prohibited unless you live there, and have a special sticker for your car. I was well aware of this before arriving, so I had my GPS guide me to a parking garage on the outskirts. At this point, I was down the coast a little, and around a bend, so Piran was not in my sights, and I had no idea what would be in store for me. I grabbed my luggage, and began walking down and around the hill. A little more than halfway down the hill, I rounded the bend, and all of a sudden, just like that, Piran was there in the distance beyond sea waters.

The view was breathtaking, and I was glad to have come upon it in that way. I had seen so many pictures on the internet, but seeing it there in person was so surreal to me. I could not believe I was actually there. I really enjoyed just walking all around the city, and seeing the kind of narrow streets and compact houses which give the town its special charm. I highly recommend visiting the Church of St. George which sits on a hill on the northern coast. The bell tower also provides amazing views, which are well worth the long climb up narrow steps. Down from the church, there is a nice promenade which takes you east along the northern coast to a little town called Fiesa which is worth a visit if you have spare time. The city walls to the east provide some more great views, and are neat to explore, but they can be skipped if you do not feel like climbing a steep hill. Tartini Square (back on the southern coast) is exceptionally beautiful at night.

Just outside Tartini Square, along the coast there was a little pizzeria which was very good. Sadly I do not remember the name of it. (I did not eat much ethnic food in Slovenia. I will explain that later in a broad overview of my visit.). I got a seaside room in Hotel Piran which offered spectacular views of the sunset over the Adriatic Sea. Breakfast was served on the fourth floor which also provided great views of ships, and sailboats on a blue sea. My original plans were to rent a bike, and ride a trail along the coast to visit Izola, Strunjan, and Koper, however intense heat plus the fact that I was enjoying Slovenian beer a little too much made for a very tiresome combination. (Maybe next year!)

Piran View Piran by Night Piran Tartini Square
View of Piran                                               Piran by Night                                            Piran, Tartini Square

SNEZNIK CASTLE, KRIZNA CAVES
Day four, it was back up north to Ljubljana (and a little beyond) to see the rocking side of Slovenia. Along the way, I made a couple spur of the moment decisions that I would not regret.
As mentioned earlier, the intense heat combined with excessive alcohol consumption altered a few of my plans on the coast, so the fourth day had me heading back up north earlier than originally planned. I was to first go to my hotel in Ljubljana, then another 30 minute drive north to Vodice for a rock concert. (Before my trip, I had learned of the Slovenian folk rock band "Avven." As luck would have it, they would be playing a show during my stay.) While on the road, my GPS indicated to me that I would be arriving at my destination well before I would be allowed to check in, so I realized that I had better find something to do!

Along the highway, I saw a sign for Snežnik Castle, and decided that would be a good way to kill some time. Of all the castles in Slovenia, Snežnik Castle is the most well preserved, so all the goods and furniture are original from at least the last owner. This made for a beautiful tour with all the old, yet well kept furniture and paintings. I especially liked the room with the Egyptian furniture on the top floor.

While on the road back to the highway, my GPS was STILL indicating that I would arrive at my hotel too early. I remembered seeing a small rather unassuming sign for Križna Cave on my way to the castle, and thought I would give it a try as well. Based on the lack of fanfare, the fact that I had never heard of that cave in all my research of Slovenia, and the long, one-way driveway of a road I took to get there, I was not expecting much. When I turned out to be one of only three people on the tour, I was really wondering if it was going to be worth my time and money.

The truth is Križna Cave may very well be Slovenia's best kept secret. Unlike the other caves I had visited, this cave had no lighting, and no walkway built into it. This made rubber boots, and a flashlight necessary, which in my opinion added an extra sense of adventure. The cave is full of natural wonders and history. There were rocks eroded by the ice age, (the now extinct) cave bear bones, unique looking worms, and an underground lake. Unfortunately, I was only able to take the short one hour tour which included a small ride on a raft. For my next visit to Slovenia, I will be sure to make it a priority to take the four hour tour which goes farther down the lake, and must be booked in advance.

Inside Sneznik Castle Sneznik Castle Inside Sneznik Castle
Inside Sneznik Castle                                      Sneznik Castle                                          Inside Sneznik Castle

LJUBLJANA #2
By the time the cave tour was over, I had killed enough time to finally go to my hotel in Ljubljana. After a check-in, a quick dinner, and few hours of rest, it was time for a cab ride up to Vodice to see what the rockin' side of Slovenia was like.
Vodice was hosting the annual "Rock Fest." The four bands playing were SUCCESS, Ne Še, Metalsteel, and Avven. I found all four bands to be very good. SUCCESS was a cover band playing the popular songs of other Slovenians band. Ne Še was a very good melodic rock band which sang mostly in English. Metalsteel had a bit of a throwback rock style much like Guns N' Roses, and Avven was a great folk rock band (including a flutist and violinist.) I made a lot of new friends at the concert. Word got around that I was there, and everyone was intrigued that an American had traveled half way around the world to their small country and was attending their small rock concert. The band Avven even invited me backstage, and wanted me to join them in their post concert photo sessions. At the end of the night, I got a ride back to the hotel by some of the band members!

Vodice Rock Fest Vodice Rock Fest Vodice Rock Fest
Vodice Rock Fest, Ryan and new friends!        Vodice Rock Fest                                    Vodice Rock Fest, Ryan and new friends!

STANJEL, BRANIK
Back to the south and west, it was time to visit the medeival town of Štanjel. The old town up on the hill, was just a neat place to walk around, and check out the medieval ruins mixed with other building perfectly in tact. There is really not much else to say about the place (I forgot to look for Ferrari Park,) but it is certainly worth a visit. It would be a more relaxing part of the Slovenia trip, with just a simple stroll through the narrow streets, to check out the sights. After, I was done walking around Štanjel, on route to the Most na So?i train station, I stopped in Branik to see Rihemberk Castle. It is a magnificent castle high on a hill above Branik. Unfortunately, it is not open to the public, so it is only worth a visit if it is on your way to somewhere else.

Stanjel Branik Castle Stanjel
Štanjel                                                         Branik Castle                                              Štanjel

MOST NA SOCI CAR TRAIN
After Branik, it was on to Most na So?i, where I would begin one of my most unique experiences ever: the cartrain. I would literally drive my car onto the flatbed of a train, and ride 45 minutes to Bohinjska Bistrica. (From there I would drive to Bled for the next leg of my trip.) The ride itself was enjoyable, taking me though many tunnels, and around some breathtaking sites of the Julian Alps. After reaching my final destination, I was to drive from Bohinjska Bistrica to my hotel just outside of Bled.

Car Train Most Na Soci Car Train Most Na Soci Car Train Most Na Soci The Car Train                                                View from the Car Train                                 The Car Train

BLED
I was very fortunate to get to drive into Bled at night. It was one of the most amazing, beautiful sights I had ever seen, and was a great first impression of the town. Both Bled Castle high upon a hill above Lake Bled, and the church on Bled island were beautifully illuminated. I was driving in almost pitch black, not entirely sure where I was, anxious to get to my destination soon, and wondering how much longer I had. (Driving through narrow roads in a foreign land had veen very stressful for me.) As I came down to the bottom of a hill, I suddenly caught a glipse of the lit Caste. I recognized it and immediately knew where I was! As I got to to bottom, and was along the lake, I searced for the Island, as saw the church just as beautifally, lit. My nerves were immediately calmed. I highly regret not having taken pictures of this. :( (Maybe next year!)

The next two days would rain, which was a little disappointing, because it wat the part of Slovenia I had been looking forward to the most. (Northwest in the Julian Alps.) It would be too hard to complain though, because those were the only two days of rain out of the ten I was there. The first day wasn't so so bad. It was more of an off and on light rain, so I was stil able to see some incredible sights. Now I was with other members of my family who were taking me to see several different sights in and around Triglav National Park.

TRIGLAV NATIONAL PARK
We would start by driving from Bled, through Jesenice, and into Italy. The mountains to the left provide an amazing view. (I love mountains.) It is worth a brief stop to see Lake Zelenci, which is a source of the Sava River. Look through the clear water to the bottom of the lake, and notice occasional bubbling coming through what looks like underwater craters. This is the source of the lake itself. The water actually emerges from the bottom from the sediment of lacustrine limestone. It is a natural phenomenon unique to Slovenia. We drove past Magart Lakes and Predel Lake. Both were beautiful, but unfortunately it was raining too hard to stop for photos at this point. Then it was on to Predel Pass back into Slovenia.

After that, we drove up the Mangart Road. At 2055m (6,742ft.,) it is the highest paved road in Slovenia. It was a very windy drive with lots of beautiful scenery until to top in the Mangart Saddle just below Mount Mangart. From there, thanks to a break from the rain, I was able to see Mangart Lake in Italy (which we had passed earlier) from high in the mountains. I would highly recommend visiting the Mangart Road unless you easily get motion sickness. On the drive from Mangart road to Vršic Pass we stopped several times to take in the beauty of the Soca River. Slovenia's purest river, it's water is safe enough to drink.

Triglav National Park Triglav National Park Triglav National Park Triglav National Park

VRSIC PASS
The Vršic Pass is a windy mountain road built by Russian prisoners of war during World War I. The drive provides many opportunities to look around at several different mountains including, at one point, Slovenia's national symbol Mt. Triglav. At the end of the pass, we stopped to visit the "Russian Chapel" which was built by the POW's to honor those who perished in an avalanche during the construction of the road. After that, it was Pericnik Waterfall which is a must on anyone's itinerary in Triglav National Park. A trail takes you up to, and even BEHIND the falls. I would love to see it in winter someday, as I hear it freezes, and people ice climb on it.

We stopped a few more times to get pictures of some more mountains on our way back to their house in Lesce where I was treated Slovanian meats (including the delicous Karst ham) and desserts. The second day was so rainy, there was really nothing I could do. This cost me a visit to Bohinj, Savica Waterfall, and the Vogel Cable Cars which will have to be a priority for my next trip!

BLED #2
For fifteen minutes I had been driving in pitch black on a road through the Julian Alps on my way to my hotel just outside of Bled, Slovenia. However, the stress from the previous days of driving in a foreign land, never knowing what to expect next on narrow roads, cliff side roads, windy roads, and sometimes all three at one time, made the fifteen minutes feel like hours. Up until that point, I had been fortunate enough to avoid driving after sundown. This night, I would not be so lucky. Driving in the dark, not knowing how much farther I had to go made me that much more anxious to arrive at my destination.

With every bend, I hoped to see some sort of sign that would let me know how close I was. Finally, when I began my descent down a long hill, I noticed lights at the bottom, and signs of civilization. I hoped upon hope it was Bled. As I neared the bottom of the hill, I began to see the reflections of lights dancing in the water of a lake directly in front of me. I got a little more excited, but careful not to get my hopes up too much, that I had, in fact, finally reached Bled.
I immediately scanned the lake, searching for the island with the church on it to confirm my hopes. I did not want to take my eyes off the road for too long, so when I failed to find it in a few seconds, I started to worry that I was just passing though another small town with a lake. Then, I took another quick glimpse, this time looking for Bled Castle. I figured finding something up high would be much easier than looking for something low. Sure enough, I spotted the castle illumintad beautifully atop a cliff high above the lake. It was one of the most amazing sights I had ever seen in my life.

The sheer beauty of Bled Castle at night calmed my nerves even more than realizing that I had indeed made it to Bled. I turned right onto a road that ran along side the lake, and was actually thankful for the red lights I got that gave extra time to appriciate its magnificence. Lights were at the bottom of the hill shining up toward the castle so that that rocky cliff could be seen. Lights under the eaves of the castle's roof tops shines back down to make the castle appear as if it were glowing in the clear night sky. It seemed to perfect, too beautiful to be real, and yet there is was right before my eyes. I almost couldn't believe I was there, as exhilaration coursed through my veins. A few minutes later, I took my gaze back down to the lake to see if I could locate the island. That time, I had no problem finding it. Across the water, to my left, the church was illuminated almost as beautifully as the castle. I wish I could have had the opportunity to snap my own pictures of Bled at night instead of pirating this photo from the interenet. It is something I will NEVER forget. I cannot wait to see it again!

So I finally took a look at a map, to try to figure out the route I took around Bled, and apparently it was not exactly as I remembered it. The hill I came down does not appear to be that much of hill, but every little thing on the road was exaggerated to me. The right turn was not a right turn at all, it was a sharp bend to the right. (At least I was correct that I turned to steering wheel to the right) I am starting to think the red lights were not red lights. I remember getting stopped behind a lot of buses. They must have just been loading or unloading, but I really was not paying attention, because my eyes were fixated on the castle upon every stop.

Bled Island Bled Castle by Night Bled Island Church Bled Island                                                    Bled Castle by Night                                 Inside Church on Bled Island

VINTGAR GORGE, BLED
The next day was a day of a lot of walking for me. Because of the rain, I had to squeeze in Vintgar Gorge as well as Bled because of the rain the previous day. Because I was sick of driving, I chose to do it all on foot. (If you don't mind really long walks, I recommend this method. You can see so much more by foot, than by having to pay attention to the road.) From my room, it was a littler more than a 2km walk to Vintgar Gorge.

Vintgar Gorge is another MUST SEE for anyone travelling to Slovenia. Just out side of Bled, it is a beautiful ravine almost a mile long (1.6 kim) with the Radavna River flowing through it. At some times, it is green with trees, other times it is rocky. The river flows rapidly through the gorge, at times so powerful, you can feel mist jumping at you on the wooden walkway which zig zags along and over the river. There are also two wonderful waterfalls well worth a photo along the way. (The second of which will require a five minute walk off the end of the trail.) At the end of Vintgar Gorge, I noticed a sign that said "Bled" and pointed up a path through the forest. This would prove to save me a LOT of time. (I was expecting to walk back through the gorge, and back to the main road into Bled.) I just simply followed the markers through the wooded area, sometimes a little unsure of myself, and wondering if I made the wrong choice, before I finally broke into a clearing at the top of a hill. A little disoriented, I scanned the landscape for a sign that I was still on the right track, and just as it had before, Bled Castle would provide me with the relief I sought. This time in the light of day, I saw it sitting on another hill opposite mine, and knew I was almost there. It would be about another hour walk down the hill, and through the beautiful countryside before I would reach Bled.

Bled was the inspiration for my trip to Slovenia. My mother oftened talked about when she visited Bled when she was fifteen years old. She spoke of the lake, the church on the island, and the castle on the hill above the lake. I found the church on the island to be very intriguing, so almost forty years later, I chose to follow in her foot steps. The beauty of Bled would not disappoint! Once in Bled, I started by walking the promenade around the lake, watching beautiful swans swim in the peaceful water.

Rather than take the traditional pletna to the island, I chose the quicker electric boat. A ten minute ride on the boat gave me nice views of the city, as well as some nice angles of the caste. On the island, I took a nice little stroll, enjoying more of the scenery as well as The of the Church Assumption. I was very excited to know that I had finally got to go to the island my mother had told me about so many years ago. I was finally following her footsteps. (Bled Island was MY Mecca. Perhaps it will be for my brother and sister as well.) There is also a lovely, quaint little boutique on the island. I would eventually make my way into the church where I got to ring the church bell with a long rope dangling in the sanctuary. They say, if you make a wish when you ring the bell, it will come true. (I forgot to make a wish though)
After returning to the mainland, it was time to eat. I went to the second floor of the Gostilna Pri Planincu where I enjoyed a delicous pizza. Then it was on to Bled Castle. I found a path which lead up to the main gate. Bled Castle was much smaller than the other castles I had seen, but it was still worth the visit. It provided some great view of the city below, the mountains all around, and of course Bled Island. The town of Bled is another must on the itinerary of anyone visiting Slovenia.

Vintgar Gorge Vintgar Gorge Vintgar Gorge Vintgar Gorge

SKOFJA LOKA, KRANJ
Škofja Loka, like Štanjel, is a wonderful place to take a relaxing stroll. It is Slovenia's most well preserved medieval town with a lovely array of colorful houses, old churches, and a beautiful castle on the hill. The Škofja Loka Castle garden is small, but worthwile little walk. I wish I could have more to say about Kranj than I do, but buy that time, I was so exhausted, I did not really care to do much there. Much like Škofja Loka, it boasted many medieval colorful houses. In fact, it may have even been more beautiful than Škofja Loka. Some of Kranj's old city walls were still in tact. Perhaps when I return to Slovenia, I will have to be sure to visit Kranj with much more enthusiasm. (I will also have to be sure to visit the WWII Tunnels.)

THE PEOPLE OF SLOVENIA
I found the poeple of Slovenia to be very friendly, and helpful. They excused my American ignorance, and most of them spoke English very well. In fact, when people found out I was American, they were very eager to talk to me. They were just as curious to learn more about my country as I was of theirs. When I had questions about where to eat or what to see, they were excited to tell me. When I explained my itinerary, I was given helpful tips on what to see when I got to certain towns, as well as where I should go that has not been included on my itinerary. (I was given enough information to plan my next TWO trip there!) The people seemed genuinely interested in boasting about their beautiful country, and some even seemed to regret that their jobs prevented them from joining me on my trips to act as my personal guides. The service I got at restaurants and hotels was very friendly and acommodating.

FOOD
I am from Pittsburgh, Pennslyvania which is full of people of Eastern European descent. In fact, the state of Pennsylvania has the second highest number of Slovenians living there. (Ohio, which is right next door to the west, is number one.) I say this to explain why ethnic Slovenian food did not interest me much. It was all pretty much what I grew up eating at home! The different types of sausages, salami, kolbassi, and ham are found everyday in Pittsburgh, so it was a bit of a let down for me when I got to Slovenia. (Given the figures from above, I guess I should not have been surprised at all.) However, I had never seen Karst ham. That was one big, very delicious difference. It was a thinly sliced, very tasty dry-cured ham which I am told takes two years to make.

Because I was already familiar with traditional Slovenian food, I spent most of the time eating in pizzerias. The pizza pies there were very delicious, and much different than the typical pizzas of America. For one, you don't get a large pizza to share with friends or family. Everyone gets his or her own personal pizza, with a fork and knife. The pizzas are not sliced into triangular shaped pieces to be eaten by hand. The toppings are different than what we traditionaly get in America. In fact all the pizzas I had in Slovenia would be considered "gourmet pizzas" in America. (The next time I am there, I will have to make it a point to try as many different pizzas as possible.) These were my three favorite pizzerias in Slovenia.

1. Just behind the inner harbor, where the buses to Portorož stop, and in the side of the Court House in Tartini Square is a wonderful little pizzeria. Unfortunately, I cannot recall the name. You can choose to dine inside, or out on the patio which is opened by large arches. There, I enjoyed two delicious pizzas with different combinations of seafood. From the outdoor seating, you can choose to watch the activity in Tartini Square to the east, or on the swimming piers along the coast to the west.
2. My favorite pizzeria in Slovenia was Gostilna Pri Planincu in Bled. It was not just about the delicious pizza, it was the character and charm of the place I enjoyed. The actual pizzeria is in the back on the second floor of the gostilna. It has the look and feel of an old tavern, and even has a loft. The tavern was adorned with antiuque equimpment including some antique motorcycles, and there were large round talbes with private beer taps for parties of up to twelve. I first ate there on the rainy day when I had nothing else to do. I enjoyed it so much, I returned the next day when I was able to enjoy Bled in nice weather. Removed from the coast, and into the mountains, the toppings on the pizzas here were meats and cheeses rather than the seafood toppings like in Piran. The first day, I enjoyed a five cheese pizza, and the second day I had a pizza which was completely covered in Karst ham. Both were quite delicious.
3. In Škofja Loka, Jesharna came highly recommended, and it did not disappoint. I knew it was a winner when the aromas hit my nose as I crossed the bridge over the Selška Sora. The restaurant was a small and cramped as it was, but being such a popular place, and therefore very busy made it feel even more tight, but that did not ruin my dining experience. The toppings here were mostly vegetables, and sometimes the topping were arranged to create an edible work of art. On top of delicious pizzas, they also served pastas and had exceptionally good dessert crepes. The crepes offered a variety of diffent combinations of fillings. (I chose dark chocolate and cherry.) The crepes are huge, so if you want dinner and dessert, be sure to pack a large appetite! Also unlike America, many of the cafes in Slovenia served as coffee shops, ice cream shops, and bars all at once. These were very pleasant places to stop for rests and/or quick snacks, and a coffee or a drink.
For someone like me who is not into the crazy night club scene, they were also nice places to finish my nights. My favorite was Vahtnca Kavarna in the town square of Škofja Loka. There was outdoor seating in the front as well as an outdoor terrace in the back. My last day in Slovenia, I made it a point to try a horse burger from the Hot Horse in Tivoli Park. It was interesting.The burger was a little tough, but tasty.

Pizza and Lasko in Slovenia Horse Burger and Union Radler beer in Slovenia
Pizza & Lasko!                              Horse Burger & Union!                                             A Radler!

ALCOHOL
I have heard that the wine is very good in Slovenia. Being more of a beer drinker, I did not drink much wine, so unfortunately I do not have much to say about it. I did enjoy one glass of red wine at the A Hotel in Ljubljana, and it was very good. I wish I could remember the name of it.
Some bars in Slovenia did have some of the imports we see in the USA like Guinness and Heineken, but the main brews were Laško and Union. Although both owned by the same company, I noticed their is a bit of a rivalry between "Green" (Laško) and "Red" (Union.) I preferred the Laško myself. It was tastier and stronger while Union seemed weak to me, however I did enjoy something called "Radler." Radler was simply Union beer mixed with Fanta soda. Some bars mixed it for you on the spot, other times you could by it already mixed in a can. It also came in different flavors such as red grapefruit and lemon.

I was also surprised that beer can be purchased EVERYWHERE! In the USA, owners must have liquor licenses to serve alcohol so we are very limited as to where to have drinks, but in Slovenia I could buy some on the beach, in any pizzeria, or any cafe (as mentioned above.)

DRIVING/PARKING
If you do not know how to drive a manual transmission, I recommend you learn before travelling to Slovenia. Although automatics are available to rent, you will very appreciate the control a manual gives you in certain situations that an automatic does not. Whether you know Slovenian or not, the road signs are very easy to follow, and figure out.
Highway driving is pretty easy. The roads were very well maintained, and trucks have a separate lane so as not to slow down other traffic. This means you can step on the pedal, and drive fast (as most do,) and get where you are going without getting stuck behind a fully loaded truck laboring up a grade.
Be sure you have a Vignette Sticker for the toll roads. You do not stop at the toll stations, but make sure you go through the right lane. (It will be marked "Vinjeta") The car rental company I used included the Vignette Sticker in the rental price, so I did not have to worry about that for the duration of my trip.

I have heard that finding a parking space can be very hard in Ljubljana, but that was not an issue for me. The only time I did any driving in Ljubljana was when I picked up my rental, stayed at the A-Hotel for one night, and returned my rental. In each of those situations, I was guaranteed a parking spot. Otherwise, I opted to walk or take a taxi through the city since it is not that big. I have also heard that traffic gets really bad in Ljubljana, but I guess that is a matter of percpective. I found that driving through Ljubljana with bad traffic is like driving through Pittsburgh with good traffic. Pittsburgh does have the same kind of awkward traffic patterns as Ljubljana, so perhaps that helped me to be well prepared.

In Piran, Kranj and Škofja Loka, there is no driving in the old towns unless you live there. In Kranj and Škofja Loka, I had hotels withing easy walking distances of the old towns which provided me with parking. In Piran, my hotel was in the old city, so I had to park in a garage outside of the old city which was not so much an easy walk, but it was convenient and cheap. (I chose the Fornace Parking Garage.) If you do this, I recommend you pack your carry-on bag only with what you will need for the duration of your stay rather than hauling all of your luggage. Driving through some small villages can be intimidating at first, but you eventually get comfortable with it. Roads get very narrow, and sometimes houses will literally just out into the roads. If you should meet a car coming the opposite direction you will have to slow down, and crawl very slowly by each other. In some cases, the road is so narrow, one might have to back up a little bit to the next widest part of the road. However, traffic is so light in these small villages, that you really do not have to worry about that so much. Be ware of mountain driving. Again the roads tend to be very narrow, and you can expect a lot of hairpin turns. (This is where I REALLY appreciated having a manual transmission. I could put the car in low gear, and not worry about it picking up speed going downhill like an automatic would.)

ACCOMMODATION
(All prices I list are from my trip which was in September, so they will be lower than typical tourist months)
Hotel Emonec, Ljubljana: This hotel is convienently located in the old town just outside of Prešeren Square. If you are picky, this is probably not the place to stay. There is no parking, and the bed was small, and not particularly comfortable. Because I did not have a car at the time, I am not that picky, and I was probably too excited about my first day of vacation I did not care, and the hotel was fine for me. The staff was very friendly and helpful. I thought 70 Euro seemed a little high considering the simplicity and lack of luxury of the room.

Hotel Piran, Piran: I had a room on the seaside, and my balcony gave me great views of the Adriatic Sea and the sunset. Breakfast was served in a dining room on the fourth floor with large window also providing great views of the sea as well as the old town. Outside seating was available. The room was large and accommdating, but not very attractive. (No big deal to me.) 80 Euro/night was very reasonable to me, but I was disappointed that wireless internet was not free.

A Hotel, Ljubljana: This hotel was a very pleasant surprise for me. After having paid 70 Euro for one night in the lackluster Hotel Emonec, I was not expecting to much out of a hotel for 75 Euro for one night. It was a very beautiful hotel. In fact, I liked it more than even Hotel Piran. Wireless internet here was free, and the lounge served delicious food and beverages. It was a great, relaxing place. Its one and only setback was its distance from the heart of Ljubljana. It was about a 20 minute walk or 5-10 minute drive south of the center of the city, but the staff is very helpful in acquiring a taxi for you if you do not want to drive yourself.

Hiša Sonca, Zgornje Laže (Just outside of Bled): As far as accomodation goes, this was the highlight of my trip! Located in farm country, it is a quick drive (or long scenic walk if you are like me,) from Vintgar Gorge and Lake Bled. The owner, Petra, was very friendly and very accomodating. She even came out to find me when I got lost. (If you program the correct address into you GPS, this should not be a problem.) This is more of an apartment than a hotel. You get a wide open living room, a small bedroom, full kitchen, and a bathroom which is all in the basement of Petra's house. Free wireless internet was offered here as well. It was such a quaint and beautiful place, I was almost tempted to find a job in Bled, and ask Petra how much she would charge me live there permanantly. 45 Euro per night seemed like steal to me. Anyone spending any time in Bled should stay here (unless it is during the second week of Semptember. That time belongs to me! )

Turizem Loka, Škofja Loka: This hotel outside of the old town was another very pleasant surprise. I got free wireless internet, the room was very beautiful, and the owners where very friendly and helpful. Breakfast was fantastic. Again, I thought 45 Euro/night seemed like a steal.

Hotel Creina, Kranj: I found this hotel to be disappointing and overrated. The room was big, and the bed very comfortable, but my window fram was busted, and though I got free internet, it wasn't wireless, and so I had to go to the desk to ask for a wire. I probably would not have minded so much if it had not cost me 70 Euro.

Slovenia for you would love to thank Ryan for his in-depth review of his recent trip. We can't wait for his next trip!
All photographs are owned by the author and not to be used without his permission
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