Rocky & Sarah's Travel Diary
Officially REPUBLIC OF SLOVENIA, Slovene REPUBLIKA SLOVENIJA, country in southern Europe. It is a small, topographically diverse country that abuts the northwestern Balkan Peninsula. Slovenia is bordered on the west by Italy's Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. On the southwest it is adjacent to the Italian port city of Trieste and occupies a portion of the Istrian Peninsula, where it has a short but important coastline along the Gulf of Venice. On the south, southeast, and east, Slovenia shares a long border with Croatia, and on the far northeast it touches on Hungary. The northern boundary separates it from the Austrian states of Burgenland, Styria (Steiermark), and Carinthia (Kärnten). Its surface area is 7,821 square miles (20,256 square kilometres), and its capital city is Ljubljana.
A relaxing jaunt in Slovenia should satisfy us for a few days while I visit relatives. Slovenia is a very small country but more than makes up for it in adventure, excitement and hospitality.
Ljubljana Train Station
Slovenia Information Links
Slovenia - Useful site that has a bunch of information (like
timetables) for planes, trains and boats.
The public transportation system is excellent and simple. There is only a bus network for Ljubljana but it is both efficient and cheap.You buy tokens (zetoni) at kiosks or you can pay as you get on the bus. Fares are good for one ride only and cost 70SIT.
SLOVENIAN TOURIST BOARD SI Dunajska 156, Ljubljana Tel.: +386 61 189 18 40 Fax: +386 61 189 18 41 http://www.tourist-board.si/
More tourism information can be found on the national tourism board site (including tourism agencies in other countries)
October 20, 1999. SLOVENIJA.
Well, this is our last day in Slovenija, we will be taking the 3 am train to Budapest in the morning and are not really looking forward to the 8 hour ride. We've had a great time though and did lots. On the weekend of my birthday (the 15, 16 and 17th) Rocky's family had a big party for me, bless their hearts and it was really fun. We stayed up in the vinelands for a few days and relaxed. On October 12 we went up to Kamnik and walked up to an old, old site of a castle where there really is only old stone pieces left, it was really pretty though and Rocky carved our initials into an old tree - he really can be quite the romantic sometimes! We had a little picnic up at the top and unfortunately it was pretty foggy so we didn't get to see the mountains really well. But, to make it all better we went up to Kranjska Gora on the wednesday and spent the day in the mountains with Rocky's aunt and had a great time with beautiful views of all around, it was really quite incredible, especially for me who has never been on a mountain before!
Then of course we had the birthday party and this week we have been getting ready to head out. Yesterday we drove to the seaside city of Koper where Rocky has a great Aunt who was ecstatic to see him and then on the way back to Ljubljana we stopped in Lipica to see a dressage performance of the Lippizinger Stallions. Unfortunately the brochure we had said they were on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays, but they weren't so we had to settle for watching the beautiful horses graze around in the field. But, the day was not lost, we ended up going to a castle built in the wall of a huge rock hill (like an eagle's nest) and went exploring in that! It was really neat and mysterious, very medieval feeling. Today we will be packing (ugh!) but are looking forward to hopefully a little warmer climates, it has been really cold here lately! We keep looking at the weather and it is still in the 20's in Turkey so we can't wait to get there (yesterday it was 2 degrees here - brrrrrrr!).
Well, my time is almost up, hopefully we will have a chance to update in Budapest before we head out to Turkey, I'm a little worried about internet connections there, but hopefully we will be pleasantly surprised. Happy Thanksgiving (I know a little late). We are missing Canada, especially the beautiful fall trees. The leaves do change colour here but not like they do at home (it might be the lack of Maple trees, or just the fact that it goes from warm to cold, no inbetween). But, at least we don't have to see snow this winter!!!
October 11, 1999. NOVO MESTO, LJUBLJANA, SLOVENIJA.
I'm going to make this quick because I want to go check my email soon. Today I got 5 different letters, it was great - it felt like Christmas and an adorable photo of my niece which I loved, I'll be sure to carry it with me. Thanks for everyone who wrote (and especially for the picture). On the weekend we went to spend some time with Rocky's dad's side of the family on the farm. It was great fun, with baby cows, chicks, kittens, puppies, pigs - they are all cute when they're young. It was a fairly relaxing weekend, with more roasted chestnuts (I don't think I'll ever get sick of eating them). We stayed one night with Rocky's cousin, she has a beautiful home and a jacuzzi tub, needless to say I spent some time in that! Probably the best bath I'll see for a long time. On the train back it was so clear, when we got to Slovenia again we could see the Austrian alps crystal clear, they looked like they were minutes away, it really was great! Today we went and had a little picnic in the park and then climbed up to the castle in Ljubljana for a great view of the city.
October 5-7, 1999. VENICE, ITALIA.
Our little detour and spontaneous trip to Venice was quite the success. We had to get up at 5 a.m. (that was painful) to get the train and then arrived in Venice around 1 p.m. The train ride wasn't as exciting as I thought, it's a pretty flat area but then I did sleep through most of the ride. It took us about 3 hours to find a place to stay that we could afford - it was really busy and the youth hostel is supposedly always booked (we tried calling them in advance even with no luck). We found a place called Archie's rooms, not much to brag about but it was near the train station, cheap and a place to sleep which at that point was all we really cared about.
First thing you learn very quickly about Venice, is that unless you are the master direction person, you might as well through away what is probably a useless map and just wander, if you want to see something touristy, follow the swarms of people with cameras. That is how we navigated through and it worked really well. We found some cheap non-touristed areas and then the big stuff. The first day we wandered around the quieter areas, had a quick bite and headed in for an early night. It is really romantic and neat there, as engineers we are still wondering how they built it in the first place. Everywhere you go there are canals, taxi that are boats, buses that are bigger boats, gondolas, even construction equipment attached to boats. The neatest thing is that there are no cars (or I didn't see any while we were there). It makes is quite peaceful. It was pretty cold so it didn't really smell all that much and I was pleasantly surprised by that, as well as it wasn't nearly as dirty as I thought (or was told).
On our second day in Venice we went to the main square (it is said to be one of the most romantic places in the world - too bad it would cost about $30 CDN for 2 coffees there!). It was incredibly beautiful though, a big open space leading your eye to a just magnificent building on the water. Venice really is a sight to see. We took a gondola ride (watch your pocketbooks though - about $100, we shared with the two girls we shared a room with at Archie's). It was an experience in itself though, very peaceful and relaxing, with great views of the city from the canals. I went to the Galleria D'Accademia (and I'm sure I spelt that wrong) with a first class collection of Renaissance Venetian Art. It was fabulous. I really wanted to go to the Peggy Guggenheim Museum (Modern Art) but we ran out of time because of our gondola trip - but that was o.k. Just gives me a reason to go back. We ate at a great restaurant, had a fabulous meal, although, to warn anyone going there, I wasn't that impressed with the food. I was expecting great pasta etc. but it was mostly all pizza and spaghetti. Eating out is o.k. but for lunches it is great to just eat sandwiches sold in shops, they are very tasty and much cheaper! After dinner we wandered the city at night which is beautifully lit up, reflections in the canals etc. It is very romantic and as I've said a few times, very peaceful, and Rocky sung Slovenian songs to me.
We left pretty early the next day, to make sure we could get a train all the way back to Ljubljana (you have to change trains in Trieste, which in itself looks like a very nice place). It was funny because the Slovenian customs guy looked at our passports and then asked us where we were going in English. Of course, in perfect Rocky attitude, he replied in Slovenian, the customs guy started laughing, gave us our stamps and moved on. The funny part of the story is that all down the train he hassled everyone else, what did you buy? how much money do you have? etc.. It was funny at the time. Especially considering Rocky was drinking wine from the bottle at the time, and we got not one question - good thing for Rocky's language skills I guess. Not that we had anything, just lots of prezzies I bought for people. So, in a nutshell, that was our trip.
October 1-3, 1999. CRNOMELJ, SLOVENIA.
I'm going to do this update in a couple of dates because it's been awhile. Over this weekend we went back up to the wine area for some more serious grape picking! It was lots of fun once again but there were a lot more grapes also. There wasn't as much of a party afterwards because I think everyone was pretty exhausted by the time all the grapes had been picked. We ended up going to a bar and meeting with some friends that Rocky used to hang out with and then went for a well deserved sleep. We will probably head up to this area again before we leave to say good-bye to his relatives, and maybe even for my birthday!
September 30, 1999. LJUBLJANA, SLOVENIJA.
Well, there isn't a whole lot to add but we came to write some emails so I will write a little. On Tuesday we went to the Postojna caves (I think that's how you spell it). It was really fabulous and I just don't know how to explain it. You cover almost 6 km. on the tour (only 1.5 you have to walk) and caves just doesn't describe it. There are like huge caverns underground (often about 20 metres or so high). And there are huge stalamites and stalagtites absolutely everywhere and in lots of different colours (shades of white, red and black) and tons of different shapes, my favorites looked like drapery on the walls. Some of the large ones go from the ceiling to the ground (they are called pillars or columns) and are 2 feet wide (pretty impressive considering they grow 1 mm in 10 years. They say the caves are over 2 million years old. anyways, it just really is undescribable(?) - I didn't even get pictures or postcards because even they didn't do it justice - it really is something you have to experience yourself to understand the feel. It's very overwhelming, and beautiful, and totally unspoiled! Well, we have to go meet Rocky's friend for a drink, then this weekend we will be picking more grapes and eating lots no doubt and off to Venice on Tuesday! Don't know when we'll get on next, either Monday or when we get back from Venice on Friday. Take care everyone!
September 27, 1999. LJUBLJANA, SLOVENIJA.
Before I have to send anymore emails - we're fine!! Here's the scoop. We spent a couple of days wandering around Ljubljana, went to Rocky's cousins (a great house with horsies in the backyard - their neighbours, and surrounded by hills and went to Bled. Which was absolutely beautiful. It's an emerald green lake at the base of the Julian Alps with a church on an island in the middle and a castle along the outside overlooking everything. We went with Rocky's aunt and had a little picnic there. Then, we kept trying to update the page but couldn't get on, and then we had about 20 minutes notice at which point we went up to Crnomelj to stay with one of Rocky's uncles in his cabin for a week and there was no phone, and definetely no internet access. It was really great though, nice and peaceful and relaxing, picking wildflowers, eating wild mushrooms fried up for breakfast, roasting chestnuts and eating hazelnuts freshly picked, and the best of course, drinking homemade wine while overlooking the city (the cabin is really high up) and sitting in the vines (oh, and eating fresh yummy grapes).
I have to make this as short as possible because we're running out of time here (I just spent over half an hour checking and replying to emails - but that's o.k. I love them). We helped pick grapes and another of Rocky's relatives which was lots of fun too. The actual grape picking is secondary to having everyone there celebrating, lots and lots of food and homemade wine to share around and at the end of the night we sat around singing old Slovenian songs. Times like that when you wish you had a video camera.
Are plans are to spend this week exploring parts of Slovenia, then we will be picking grapes again on the weekend, then probably to Venice for a few days and then....well who knows after that. Hope the weather is as great in Canada as we have been having here! We will probably be updating the page later this week, but nobody panic if it takes a little longer. Ha!
September 15, 1999. LJUBLJANA, SLOVENIJA.
We are now it the happy land of Slovenia, and I must say we got quite the welcoming. Lots of food and chatter (only some of which I understood) and a great place to sleep. Our last days in Graz were fun, we finally saw the cuckoo clock thing that we wanted and it was very cute! Mostly we just sort of relaxed and talked about our trip. We have found free internet here, at the library which is fabulous and we're back to cheap beer and living - yah!
We have been talking about maybe taking a couple of days and going to
Venice to check it out seeing as we are ahead of schedule and it's not
really that far from here. We've also been tossing around the idea (just
briefly, as a thought) of after Budapest, taking a train to Romania
(Bucharest) and Bulgaria (Sofia) and spending a couple of days in those
cities making our way to Turkey. Don't know if it'll happen yet, we need
to look into Visas and other stuff, plus, being not very touristed areas
it might be tough travels. We will keep you up to date. Well, not much to
report and Rocky has nothing to say (as usual) so until next time... Ciao!