You've Slovene one, you're Slovene them all....
Last Tuesday Drew and I headed off to 'London' Stansted Airport at the crack of noon. We were Slovenia-bound for our quick fire trip around the Balkans. We parked in the long-term car park and took the Pink Elephant transfer bus to the terminal; £7-20 a day thank you very much - and that was the cheapest rate. The flight was smooth and we arrived at Ljubljana in glorious sunshine - weather that was to follow us around for the next five days.
What a beautiful country Slovenia is; handsome cities, lovely countryside and lots to do. We visited mountains and lakes, castles and monasteries, caves and beaches. We even went up a cable car that was a mile higher at the top than at the bottom - yes, a mile.
We stayed in a lovely hotel - the Grand Hotel Union Executive - a stone's throw from the river. Perhaps not quite the five stars it advertised but certainly four and a half. The river runs through the centre of Ljubljana spanned by picturesque bridges, river-side restaurants and bars. It was quite delightful to walk through this old part of town on the warm evenings and take in a beer and do some people watching. The Slovenians are a handsome bunch and Drew and I we happy just to admire the view. Or wiew (sic) as one ad sign said.
In the evening we met up with Goran and Marco (hi guys!) for beers, a bit of friendly chatting and some invaluable tourist advice.
On Wednesday we headed up to Lake Bled - world famous for it's scenery - and then on to the far end of Lake Bohinj for the head spinning cable car ride up the Vogel. I bricked it. We headed back into town to see the Ljubljana Castle, climb the tower and sent pictures by e-mail back to friends and family. In the evening we went to Pri Skofu for eats and then more beers with the boys.
On Thursday we headed down to the world famous Postojna Caves, carved out by the River Pivka over the centuries. There is an electric train which took us 5km into the caves but the untraversable and most breath-taking part we saw on foot. In the caves there are marvellous stalactites and stalagmites, which must place these caves amongst the most beautiful in the world.
Later in the afternoon we crossed the border into Croatia and headed for the coast. Eventually we stopped at the Millennium Hotel in Opatija. Now Croatia is worlds apart from Slovenia - the infrastructure is dreadful out of the cities and it is definitely a work in progress. Having said that, the seaside resorts are very well developed - having been a much sort after tourist destination for hundred's of years. It reminded me a bit of Brighton or Nice.
On Friday we drove to Zagreb and stayed at the fabulous Regent Esplanade Hotel - a truly well deserved five stars; chilled champagne when we arrived, heated marble floor in the bathroom and staff who could just not do enough for us. It was heaven. The city itself was interesting and defo somewhere I'd like to go back and explore.
On Saturday we drove out of Croatia and back into Slovenia. En route back to Ljubljana we stopped off at the Cistercian Sticna Monastery. It just so happened there was a festival on and if I didn’t know better I'd have said they were worshipping the sun! Beautiful place though and a real find.
Continuing our journey we legged it back to the capital for a relaxing sauna (me) / walk through the Old Town (Drew) and then dinner by the river. Goran and Marco joined us once again for beers at Lan (?) and then a night-cap or three at Tiffany - tucked away in Metelkova, a sort of artists area where a few bars, discos and clubs come alive after dark in broken down barracks abandoned in the 1990’s by the disappearing Yugoslavian army. Tiffany bar was a rough as anything but great fun. The music was 'dance' with little 'd' with Slovenian and Croatian pop thrown in for good measure. We showed them some moves.
Sunday we crawled out of bed severely hung over and to the airport ready for our trip home. Great holiday. great holiday destination.