Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Christmas in Ljubljana

Christmas holidays are upon us and cities are filled with holiday spirit that we look forward to so much. Buildings are covered in lights, trees in ornaments and everything suddenly became more romantic. Our capital city is no exception as it shines in all its beauty.

Christmasy Ljubljana
The look on Ljubljana in Christmas time is certainly worth your time to visit it. If that doesn’t convince you, they arranged a series of events that would be a shame to miss. We can visit many concerts, workshops or see a play or an exhibition or we could just enjoy a cup of mulled wine or a plate of hot stew that you can buy on many stands on Prešeren Square or while walking by Ljubljanica river. ‘’Christmasy’’ atmosphere began with an event ‘’People, Turn On the Light’’, the peak of the events will happen on 31st of December with many New Year’s Eve parties. There is 64 km lights across Ljubljana, in front of Zois Mansion there is also a Christmas crib made of hay. On 4 places there are also Christmas markets. If you would like to celebrate New Year’s eve in Ljubljana, you will also not be disappointed as there are many celebrations outside, as well as in clubs where you might have to buy the ticket before as it can be sold out.

If you want to spend the night in Ljubljana, there’s a lot of choices. HI Hostels are all around the city so you can choose the nearest hostel from where you’ll spend the longest night in the year. There are 4 HI Hostels in Ljubljana – Youth Hostel Ljubljana, Youth Hostel Tabor, Youth Hostel Tresor, and Youth Hostel DIC which isn’t open in Christmas time. Hostel Tresor is right in the centre of Ljubljana. It used to be a home to bankers which is also seen in furniture. All hostels have free wireless internet, luggage room, kitchen and quick access to buses.

Christmasy Ljubljana
What can we actually see in Ljubljana? Old city centre is beautifully decorated in lights and worth seeing in day and in night. We can see city hall there, SASA (Slovenian Academy of Science and Art), University Library, Križanke Theatre, Ljubljana Castle, Triple Bridge, churches, etc. Every sight has its own story and history and is therefore worth seeing.

Ljubljana Castle is located on top of the hill. It was first mentioned in 1144 as a seat of Duchy of Carniola. Today it has a wide cultural programme. The observation tower is in Christmas time opened also in the evening. You can walk to the castle or you can ride with funicular railway. In December a project Stories of Ljubljana Castles began when you can visit all 4 Ljubljana castles and find out more about their history, visit museums and connect the stories of all 4 of them.

Ljubljana Triple Bridge is a place where people crossed Ljubljanica even in medieval times as it connected City Square with the left hill. Bridges were damaged by many accidents – there was a fire, floods, etc. Jože Plečnik gave it the look that it has today. Bridges were reconstructed and closed for traffic in 1992.

Christmasy Ljubljana
Prešeren Square is the heart of Ljubljana. It is named by France Prešeren, a Slovene poet and it arose from medieval crossroad in front of the city door. In 1905 there was also a railway that was leading through the square. After the war the square was rearranged by Jože Plečnik.

Holiday Ljubljana is giving us many choices but a walk by Ljubljanica river and mulled wine or tea is a must in this time of the year in this city. You can also buy a hat or a souvenir on one of the stands to finish your trip. Holiday lights and ornaments are unforgettable.

Kaja Kren

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Affordable package offers at Hostel Pekarna in Slovenia

Hostel Pekarna is situated at a beautiful location in the immediate vicinity of two parks near the centre of Maribor, Slovenia’s second largest city, which, with it’s surroundings is an ideal destination to spend your winter and summer holidays. 

Youth Hostel Pekarna
 The city is surrounded by dynamic scenery of hills and the wonderful Pohorje mountain, inviting hikers and cyclists to its green paths in summer and offering snow and skiing during the winter.

The new Hostel Pekarna is intended for travellers, sportsmen, adventurers and families, who want to stay in modern rooms and suites at extremely reasonable rates.

Hut on ski slopes - Pohorje - Maribor (Author-Marko Petrej)
The accommodation offers in seven four-bedded rooms with private bathrooms, as well as studios and apartments. Guests of the four-bedded rooms may use the common kitchen, where they can prepare their own meals. Next to the kitchen is a large dining room. The apartments and studios have their own kitchens and bathrooms. The dining room at the hostel is equipped with 2 computers, where guests can use free Internet access. A comfortable clubroom, equipped with a TV is at the disposal of guests for socializing and enjoyable evening hours. 

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Spend Christmas In Radovljica

Experience Radovljica's Christmas atmosphere, with hundreds of lights twinkling in Linhart Square and green garlands surrounding the entrances to houses. Whilst the winter air might be cold, the holiday spirit warms and awakens sleepy Radovljica.

The stalls on the advent market, which are set up in the shelter of the Baroque Mansion House, will sag with all the products produced by Slovene craftsmen. There is nothing more pleasant than a meander through rows of stalls, walking among the numerous visitors, towards the smell of hot tea and freshly baked delights. Something inviting is coming from the Renaissance Vidic House – Hostel Radovljica. It is not only the tempting smells which will lure you. Open the door and find yourself in a warm place which will evoke memories of visits you enjoyed once upon a time to your grandmother or aunt; where each of the thousands of objects remind you of something, maybe a special moment from life or an interesting story, which you don't want to forget. Without hesitation you can choose one of the delicious treats on offer, sit on one of the old, comfy sofas and then be transported back to those old, safe times. Those feelings are also experienced by the visitors to the Youth Hostel in Vidic House as the rooms are also similarly pleasant, warm and spacious. On every table in the house, you will be able to read through a list of the varied programme of December events in the Radovljica area, none of which are far away; in a neighbouring village or just a few metres away in the town square, in St. Peter's Church, in the Radovljica Mansion House or in Linhart Hall.

Youth Hostel Radovljica
Performances by individual musicians and larger concerts with masters await. Orchestras will play and the voices of the harmonious choirs will resound. In the square, in front of the rectory, children can ride fairytale horses, wonder at the St.Bernard shepherds or even spend the morning playing traditional games under the sparkling Christmas tree.

Cuisine, culture, tradition and good company, all come together at this time in our small town, creating a wonderful Christmas, which you can spend in Radovljica.

Radovljica Tourist Information Centre
Linhartov trg 9, 4240 Radovljica
T: + 386 (0)4 531 51 12,
M: + 386 (0)40 460 675

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Slovenia as one of the top 10 destinations in 2013 according to Lonely Planet

I was peacefully reading the morning news the other day, when a nice little surprise made it much more exciting. It doesn’t happen very often that a country as geographically small as Slovenia would get the worldwide attention. Guess which country is the hottest tourist destination for 2013 according to the world’s leading travel guidebook publisher, Lonely Planet? Yes, that’s right – Slovenia. In the category of Best Value Destinations, Slovenia is listed among the top 10 destinations, where travelers can really make the most out of their traveling budget.

Kobarid, Drežnica (Author-Paolo Petrignani);
Together with Rio de Janeiro, Göteborg, Cambodia, Bolivia, Portland (Oregon, USA), Spain, Nepal and Georgia (the former Soviet republic), Slovenia is included in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2013 guidebook. This is an important accomplishment for such a young country, especially in times of economic uncertainty. In fact, the popularity of Slovenia as a tourist destination is rising, as this year there were 6% more foreign guests than the year before.

Autumn in Bohinj (Author-Dunja Wedam);
Lonely Planet compares Slovenia with Switzerland because of its picture-perfect landscape, but points out that it’s much nicer to a traveler’s wallet. It says that its frequent public transport connections between the most visited tourist attractions and its affordable accommodation make it a perfect destination for those who want extraordinary experiences for reasonable prices. Authors recommend sports as the number one activity in Slovenia, such as trekking, skiing, rafting or simply observing the beautiful nature.

Kranjska Gora - skiing (Author - LTO Kranjska Gora );
As a local who has visited many countries around the world, I must say that I totally agree. The beauty of Slovenia lies in its small size and impeccable diversity which leaves no soul untouched and it makes you want to revisit it soon. It is clean, cozy, small and easy to get around. With a unique mix of diverse cuisine and an interesting tray of natural beauty it surely stands out. People are nice, the weather is pretty good and you feel safe. Life runs at a slower pace and people enjoy their cup of coffee. This is a quick impression from travelers who have traveled to Slovenia. It would not be an exaggeration to say I actually haven’t met a traveler who wouldn’t love Slovenia. And I met quite a lot of them. To conclude in a way I never think I would, as a passionate lover of other cultures and an enthusiastic discoverer of the unknown as I am, but now I finally believe those people who say: “It is only when you leave your home country, that you begin to see and appreciate its beauty”. It’s a cliché, but it’s true.

Maruša Galič

Friday, 29 November 2013

Slovenian hostels appropriate for groups

Marry December is a perfect time to visit Slovenia, which offers active snow holidays, wellness, festive towns in holiday spirit, and much more. Hostelling International Slovenia can help you out there, for we can ensure you a budget friendly board for your group in one of our Youth Hostels in Slovenia

Ljubljana is beautiful on its own already, but come Christmas and festive lights the beauty spills over. With cooked wine aroma on the streets it welcomes you to visit its stands and warm up in one of the pubs, which are especially active in the holiday season. Hostel Ljubljana, located near the motorway close to the centre offers you a comfortable stay in a partly renovated building. There is a large parking space in front offering also the parking for buses. 

Festivelly illuminated City Hall (Author-D. Wedam);
Sport fans are welcome to come to either Gorenjska or Štajerska, where there are numerous snow covered peaks. Bovec is the place with an adrenalin rush and your group is more than welcome to stay at hostel Bovec, located in the centre of the town. The interior of the over 150 year old house is completely renovated and full of fresh and modern design of rooms and bathrooms, incorporated in the traditional country type of housing, with the smell of an open fire and wooden coverings on the walls and ceiling offering you warmth in winter days. In the other part of Slovenia we offer you the view of the city of Maribor and a stay at the hostel Videc, right in the middle of the ski resort and perfect for groups who want to be active outdoors.

And all of you who feel cold and do not like snow, are invited to warm up in the hot bath spa in Radenci, where they will spoil you in winter time. You can choose to stay at the hostel Radenci, which is part of the High school for catering and tourism and is more than happy to host large groups and organize field trips and prepare homemade meals for them. Or, in order to avoid winter, you can go to the Slovenian coast. The Mediterranean town of Izola will offer magical December days, which you can spend at the family hostel Alieti

Youth Hostel Alieti
Although it’s the festive time, some of you will still have to think business and cannot avoid work meetings. You should go for the Hostel Trbovlje, being part of the youth centre and has all the infrastructure to offer meetings for groups. They can take care of your board, but also offer rooms for seminars, meetings, workshops, events…

We invite you to spend a few December days with us!

1. Youth Hostel Videc
A charming hostel Videc is located at the elevation of 1050m above sea level in a hotel apartment village Bolfenk on Pohorje above Maribor. It offers 28 lively decorated rooms with makes up 114 beds all together (58 basic and additional 56 beds). All rooms feature satellite TV, telephone, free WiFi, bathroom with a shower, toilet and a balcony with a view of the beautiful Pohorje. The hostel has a reception with a café (open if necessary), and a small lobby along with a storage for skies and a large restaurant which can accommodate seminars and festivities. Right next to it is the wellness centre Bolfenk, a shop, cable cart leading down to the city, ATM, football field, ski slopes and many hiking and biking paths.

Youth Hostel Videc
2. Youth Hostel Bovec
Hostel Bovec in the center of Bovec. Bovec is a small town in Slovenia, located between high mountains and famous Soča river. It is a great destination for people looking for adrenaline release, river and land sports, tasty traditional food, historical and natural monuments. Our staff will help you to remember your journey in Bovec. The hostel is located in a big renovated house just in front of Kaninska vas and can host a maximum number of 50 guests. You can choose to stay in different rooms, we have from double room to twelve beded dormitory with sharing bathrooms.

Youth Hostel Bovec
3. Youth Hostel Radenci
There are 60 rooms in the hostel Radenci. Most of them are double rooms, some of them are triple rooms. There are collective bathrooms for 4 or 6 rooms. The guests can use: fitness, outdoor playground, multimedia classrooms for big or small groups and a multipurpose hall with the stage for cultural events, seminars, special meals and other meetings. We can organize a rent of the sport hall for recreation (near school), organize rafting on Mura river, swimming in the Health Resort Radenci. Besides the nice rooms the guests can have the breakfast, lunch, brunch and dinner. We can also accept and accommodate big groups (100 people).

Youth Hostel Radenci
4. Youth Hostel Trbovlje
Hostel Trbovlje has 24 beds, which are sorted in dormitory, apartments and double rooms. All rooms have a private bathroom and free Wi-Fi. On arrival guests receive free linen and towel. In hostel is also a fully equipped kitchen for guests. In Hostel Trbovlje is Cafeteria and a big multipurpose hall with stage for concerts, talk shows, workshops and exhibitions. Bicycle rental is also available. On the first flour is a Tourist information center, where guests and other visitors can get a tip what to do and where to go in our region. Besides making your own trip across Zasavje, you can also receive a free map and brochures to research area by yourself. In the vicinity of hostel is restaurant, market, museum, theatre, library, shops, stadium, bus station, stadium, basketball court and volleyball court.

Youth Hostel Trbovlje
5. Youth Hostlov Ljubljana
Hostel Ljubljana is located in the hotel wing of the building.  Hostel has 35 beds (2-bed room, 3-bed room, 4-bed room, 6-bed room and two 10-bed rooms). The bathrooms are in the same hallway as the rooms and were renovated this year. Should the bathrooms be busy hostel guests can also use those in our sports centre. The rooms are equipped with the lockers. Ask for the locker keys at the reception. Bed linen and towels are included in the price. Groups can combine staying in the hostel rooms with hotel rooms (1, 2 or 3 bed rooms) with extra capacity for 100 guests. All hotel rooms have bathroom and TV inside.

Youth Hostel Ljubljana
6. Youth Hostel Alieti
Hostel Alieti is located in one of the old town houses in the historical centre of Izola. It offers 25 beds in common rooms. Hostel Alieti is near the Manzioli Square, just 100m from the sea and 500m from the lighthouse beach. Near it are bars, restaurants, shops, bakeries, market… and only 300m away is the Izola bus station. There are 5 rooms with 4, 5, or 6 beds, 2 bathrooms, dining room and a kitchen. Rooms have air-conditioning. They offer breakfasts (two fresh beagles and coffee or tea) and free WiFi. You can enter the hostel with your key any time of the day. It can accommodate groups of up to 20 people. It is not appropriate for loud parties, as it is in the old town centre and groups are expected to respect the surroundings.

Youth Hostel Alieti

Thursday, 28 November 2013

All they have, they carry with them

Simon and Erin are on a Never Ending Voyage. They sold everything they had in England, packed light and went into the world. Imagine to just pack up your stuff in 10 minutes and move anywhere in the world! That is how they live. And Erin says, it is liberating, nice feeling. 3 years later they are still on the road and write an amazing blog. In the moment, when I spoke to Erin on Skype, they were in Palermo, Sicily. They call themselves digital nomads, so where there’s internet, they live and work. On the way from UK to Sicily they bumped into small country – Slovenia. Read what Erin has to say about pretty Ljubljana, amazing Bled and their different life style, full of adventures.

Never Ending Voyage;
You and Simon are on a 'never ending voyage', as your blog is also called. One day you've just decided not to live like all the others. What contributed to the decision? What is your story?
I always wanted to travel. We did short trips in the past. And in 2008 I took a year out of my job, we saved up money and travelled around the world for a year. We got back to England in November and it was cold, rainy and dark. We really struggled to settle back to life in England. It was hard going back to working in an office, and having a normal routine life, when we had experienced so much when we were traveling. We were quite miserable and knew we wanted to travel again. Around this time we discovered digital nomads and found some people who were able to work from anywhere, as long as they had an internet connection. At the same time Simon started to do web design. We realised there is no reason we couldn’t do that anywhere in the world. Then we just worked towards that, saved some money, sold our last stuff. We had the idea to start the travel blog, but we didn’t start it until 10 days before we left the country. We just decided to head off with a one way ticket to Rio and figure it out as we get along. Now, 3 and a half years later we are still figuring it out.

How do you make your living? You call yourself digital nomads. What do you do?
It has changed from the beginning. The first year's main income was from Simon doing web design and development. Then after a year the blog started picking up and we started earning some money from advertising and sponsorships. That became the main earner, so Simon decided he wanted to do less client work and now makes iPhone apps. Those are our businesses at the moment, however, we are always thinking of new things.

Never Ending Voyage;
What advice would you give to young travellers who would like to change their lifestyle and make it more similar to yours?
I think you just have to make the commitment that you want it to happen and stop making excuses. Look at the problems and start making solutions. Most people don’t have enough money to go travelling for a year. But it is about making travel the priority in your life. So the first thing you have to do is to write down every single thing you spend. In the early days we used to have a spreadsheet where we wrote it all down. Now we've made an app for it. It’s called Trail Wallet; it’s for travellers to track their expenses but you can use it before you leave as well. We think it is really important to know exactly what you’re spending. Because then you find out, you spend so much money on coffee or going out drinking or buying clothes and stuff like that. You realise you are wasting money on things you do not really need, when you could be saving that towards travelling. Even for our first trip we saved up for about two years. That was quite a long time to cut out all of these things. But it was completely worth it… for us. It really depends on how important it is for you. It is not going to happen right away. But it gets easier. As you go on you don’t even want to buy things anymore, you get out of the habit, and you realise why it is worth saving money.

Never Ending Voyage;
You've travelled all round the world. And you've stopped in Slovenia also on your way from UK to Sicily. What did you like about small Slovenia? You’ve even called it “Europe’s Best Kept Secret”!
It is just that you do not hear much about Slovenia. We were surprised by how beautiful it is. The scenery is just astounding. The mountains, the lakes, the emerald waters… It is just amazing. We haven’t been anywhere else in the world that has such beautiful coloured water that really makes it feel magical. And the architecture in Ljubljana is also beautiful. It is a beautiful country and also relaxed and laid back, it is easy to get around. People were very friendly. It just felt like an easy place to travel. We also love the food and wine. That was a surprise, because we’ve never heard of Slovenian food or wine till we got there. But we really enjoyed it. We are vegetarians and that can be a struggle when we travel, but Slovenia was easy for us.

Never Ending Voyage;
Was there something that impressed you that much, that you will return (I saw your plan for 2013 and Slovenia is mentioned)?
Yes, we’ve had that in our head for a while. A lot of things for 2013 changed, but Slovenia was in our minds. We really wish to go back. Basically everywhere we went in Slovenia, we were like: “Oh, we should come back here and spend a month.” After our post about Slovenia everyone has been giving us recommendations of other places we should visit in Slovenia. We could spend a year there travelling. We were thinking how lake Bled would be a nice place to work, because is so beautiful and there is lots of hiking and other things we could do. The other thing we liked about Slovenia is that it is so affordable.

Never Ending Voyage;
What every tourist should try, see, and visit in Slovenia?
The obvious ones are Ljubljana – it was really beautiful. We were saying it is the prettiest capital in Europe. We love how small and laidback it is. Of course lake Bled – we fell in love with it, because it’s unique, it is no ordinary lake. There is just tons of stuff to do in the area. You can go horse riding, you can rent a boat. We did the emerald river adventure, went into the Julian Alps, and went rafting on the river Soča. That we definitely recommend. We also loved Vipava the wine region – a cute little village, no tourists around, excellent wine, and great food. 

Never Ending Voyage;
What about people, Slovenians? Were they hospitable?
We did find people friendly; most people speak English so it is easy to travel. Maybe it did help that we did things like the Ljubljananjam food tour in Ljubljana. We had local guides that took us to the vegetarian restaurants and round the city. It was really informal, like we had friends showing us around. Those experiences certainly helped. Everyone we met was nice to us.

Never Ending Voyage;
What is the most important thing when living 'on the road' like you two?
One thing I would say is to pack light. That makes your life so much easier if you’re not carrying around too much stuff. We travel just with a carry-on bag, so we can take it on planes and we do not have to worry about checking it in. That made our life so much easier. Also on budget airlines we’ve saved a lot of money as we do not have to pay for our bags. If the bag is not heavy, it is also easier when you are walking around and trying to find a hostel.

You two are like Cicero who said “Omnia mea mecum porto” (All that's mine I carry with me).
It is very liberating. We sold all our stuff in England. It was hard at first but once you do it, you feel really free. We can just pack up our stuff in 10 minutes and move anywhere we want in the world. That is a nice feeling.

Never Ending Voyage;
I ask that question every traveller and always get an inspiring answer. So, what would be your advice to all the youngsters that would like to travel the world like you, but are scared or think that money is a problem?
Travel does not have to be expensive. When you start looking into it, you can find lots of ways to travel really cheaply. You can go to places like India or Thailand, where you’ll be amazed how cheaply you can live. There are other options we did like renting an apartment for a month. Or working in exchange for accommodation when you get a place to sleep and food. Often they are in the country side and there is not much to spend your money on anyway. It can be an amazing experience because it takes you to places where tourists do not go, you get to meet locals, and live like them. If you really want to travel there are lots of options you can explore. Money is not an excuse.

Anja Turk
Volunteer of Hostelling International Slovenia 

Monday, 25 November 2013

Opening a new hostel in Bovec, Slovenia

August has seen the opening of a  new hostel in Bovec, a town situated in the middle of the Julian Alps and overlooking the Soča river. The interior of the 150 years old house that hosts the Hostel Bovec has been entirely renewed in a fresh and modern style, but still keeping a touch of traditional, having the walls and ceilings coated with wood, thus giving the place a warm feeling even in the cold days. By doing so, the owners managed to obtain a good synergy between modern and old.

Youth Hostel Bovec
The first Hostel in the Bovec municipality disposes of more than 50 beds in 8 rooms and has found its place just 5 minutes of walk from the main town square towards the Kaninska vas.

Bovec with its surroundings (at an elevation of 483m) offers a variety of activities in pleasantly warm summer days and even in winter: from rafting, kayaking, canyoning on Slovenia's most beautiful river – Soča, zip-line over the Soča landscape, sport flying, parachuting, paragliding, cycling, hiking and climbing in the Triglav national park, to skiing, sledding and more. The modest industry in the area allowed Bovec to preserve an intact natural environment with very clean waters (rivers, lakes and waterfalls). The Soča valley is narrow and curvy and includes the following valleys: Lepena, Vrsnik, Zadnjica with Zadnja trenta and Koritnice with Bavšica, Možnica and Loška Koritnica.

Hostel Bovec, besides a nice stay with view on the Bovec airfield, also offers warm breakfasts that have become well known among guests, a common room with a fireplace and tv where guests can hang out in the evenings and a well equipped kitchen available for all guests and big bathrooms. Guests can access to Wi-Fi in the whole hostel area. A big terrace facing south is also available for all wanting to enjoy the sun as well as a shady fresh space behind the hostel. All adrenaline addicts, cyclists, motorcyclists and skiers can store safely their equipment and vehicles in the hostel garage.

Youth Hostel Bovec
The first guests upon Hostel Bovec's opening were delighted by the stay and its helpful and friendly staff, always ready to assist and give information. They promised to return and will recommend the place to their friends. So, if you are looking for an interesting destination and a nice place to stay, welcome to Hostel Bovec!

Friday, 22 November 2013

Treasure hunt in Prekmurje

It is like it would take a brush and mixed the range of the golden yellow, orange, wine red, dark green and several shades of brown. Then just left the imagination to take over and began to paint. Autumn is as if nature took the role of the best painters that play with a variety of colors and create beautiful creations. That was going through my head as we drove along the narrow roads through vineyards and forests, nearly infinite plane and hills. We were surrounded by nature, prepared for winter sleep. But before snow blankets cover the land, autumn makes an image that remains enshrined in the memory. On a beautiful autumn day, when the sun was still quite low, we went to the north-eastern part of Slovenia. We were on the treasure hunt, on the hunt for great landscape photographs, on the hunt for new stories, delicious food, fine wines and pleasant experience. We were on our way to Prekmurje.

"Prekmurian geographical position is, God ’nd God, good. We are behind the God’s back, that’s true, but that means, we are his neighbors," says Štefan Koltaj’s aphorism. Yes, Prekmurje is in the middle of nowhere God’s neighbor. When you're driving through the empty road of Goričko Nature Park, it pops to the mind that you are in the middle of nowhere. However, neighborly relations are regulated here. God has treated Prekmurje well and created a beautiful landscape. On sunny hills lush vineyards grow that bear sweet berries. In autumn, when the harvest is collected, it is especially exciting. Harvest, even though if it’s hard work, it is a time of joy, tasty food and fine vines. But when we drove through the vineyards, it seemed as if all the real work has already been done. The vine has been harvested and the wine was ripening in barrels. Only burgundy and golden yellow leaves were left. Those covered the floor among the vines. When stepping on those soft leaves that were lightly blown by the wind... Really, there are no words to describe this creation of nature. It is simply wonderful. However, it would be much better if the chosen means of transport for exploring Goričko would be a bike and not a car. On the narrow road now and then you meet just tractors and there are rare cars that are not disturbing at all. However, pay attention to animals if you decide to go with a car. "Chicken, chicken, chicken," I could not stop screaming when one brave chicken appeared from nowhere and jumped in front of the car. Fortunately Anja stopped the car and began a long discussion about how chickens are basically dumb animals that can eat almost anything but they give us eggs and so good meat that we all love. "Fascinating, isn’t it?" she envisioned.

Volcano, castle, and churches

Not only chickens, we were also fascinated when we drove up to the Castle Grad, which is located in the eponymous village on a steep hill consisting of basaltic tuff. Archaeological excavations of the first building there date back to the 11th century. According to oral tradition, the castle was built by the Knights Templar, for who aroused the interest when the bestseller The Da Vinci Code was published. The castle had many owners over the centuries, between the years 1960 and 1990 it was left to fall into ruin. Renovation work started 18 years ago, so now part of the castle sparkles in a renewed disguise with luxury apartments, wedding hall, lounges, the Black Kitchen, the Castle’s round cellar, and workshops for old handicrafts like cartwright’s, blacksmith’s, weaver’s, potter’s etc. But part of the castle remained intact and is still waiting for better times to come. From above it looks like a triangle which sides are not settled and to the longest the bell tower was added. In inner courtyard mighty trees provide shade, and from there you can climb the stairs to a small hill inside the yard, where on the freshly cut grass in company of beloved ones many couples got married.

Castle Grad
Slightly lower in the village Grad stands a modern glass building, where they re-awakened the volcano that erupted in Goričko 3 million years ago. Amusement park Vulkanija is an experience for young and old, for families, schools and large groups. Interactive and educational resources are surplus from the standpoint of interpretation and application of modern technologies. Oli, a small mole, will lead you throughout geological history and interesting facts about volcanoes. You will walk through lava’s tube, experience a volcanic eruption, descend 6000 meters underground and view 3D movie about the origin of the universe.

Amusement park Vulkanija
Probably the Templars really dwell in Goričko. There are testimonies that in the village Selo in eastern part of Goričko, they built the rotunda in the 13th century. The Romanesque Rotunda Church is certainly worth a visit, as it is Plečnik’s Church of the Ascension in Bogojina that lies a bit to the south. The building isn’t modern just in its shapes, it is distinguished by deliberate plan with a thoughtful design of the old building, which was enlarged by well-known Slovene architect Plečnik. Massive stone pillars support the immense snow-white arches. Brown ceiling, so dark it appears almost black, is made of round beams and boards, which Plečnik decorated with pottery of local potters. The main altar, made of oak, is designed in antique spirit and again testifies how Plečnik respect the cultural traditions of this part of Slovenia. The altar is like the ceiling decorated with pottery.

The Romanesque Rotunda Church
In search of the typical Prekmurje food and products, we stopped in Murska Sobota. Even if it is a small city, it is possible to get lost. Situated on a vast plain, there is no hill or mountain for orientation. In the center, close to the city park, is a small shop Šklojca. Every morning the surrounding farmers bring fresh rustic homemade goods. The offer represents the hard work of peasant women such as products of organic farming, traditional dry meat products, spreads, homemade bread, ‘pereci’ (bread) from the wooden oven, ‘gibanica’ (cheese cake with apples and poppy), homemade biscuits, dried fruit, fresh vegetables, teas, various liqueurs, homemade pumpkin oil and fancy goods.

Shop Šklojca
The entire Prekmurje is simply not possible to explore in one day. Affordable accommodation is offered in the Youth Hostel Murska Sobota that accepts individuals and large groups for shorter or longer stay. Athletes, various societies, the elderly... they all have a pleasant stay in the heart of the Prekmurje plain, where in 4 floors 152 people can spend the night. Some beds are occupied by students, as the building was originally designed as dormitory. But with kindness, hospitality, willingness to help and a good cuisine, YH Murska Sobota has attracted a lot of individual tourists and groups. Whatever room you want, you get it. There are rooms with private or shared bathroom; they are offering total use of kitchen, room with TV... Apart from accommodation and culinary specialties they also offer rooms for seminars and social events, guest can also use the fitness center and rooms for table tennis or aerobics. If you own a dog and he accompanies you wherever you go, by prior arrangement HY Murska Sobota will allow having it with you.

Youth Hostel Murska Sobota
Only a stone's throw from Goričko Nature Park, on the left bank of the river Mura, Youth Hostel Radenci is located. It operates within SŠGT Radenci, which educates students for jobs in catering and tourism, so they also accept bigger groups and organize trips and offer excellent homemade food. YH Radenci provides peace and tranquility for their guests, however, for those looking for fun, it is also not denied. The guests can use multimedia classrooms for bigger and smaller groups, the hall with the stage and sports enthusiasts can train in fitness. The rooms are comfortably redecorated students rooms with shared facilities. Personal approach, homeliness and good reputation make this hostel unique. Not far from the hostel spa Radenci with thermal water is located. Radenci is an excellent starting point for hiking and biking in Prekmurje and Prlekija, wonderful exhibition of orchids is in the neighborhood and here wellness and spa tourism blossom. Not to forget the delights of the local cuisine and fine wines.

Youth Hostel Radenci
Anja Turk
prostovoljka Popotniškega združenja Slovenije 

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

»Repnice« - undiscovored sandy world

There are still places, which can suprise and charm us. In Municipality Brezice travelers can find a very special and still not discovered sandy world. Skilful locals recognised nature's generosity and took what it offered. »Repnice« were made, more than 200 years old. In the overcrowded daily pulse they mean a return of tranquilitiy and peace, to secrets of nature and man’s creativity today.

»Repnice« are caves, dug in the flint-stone, which was washed up by the Pannonic sea millions of years ago. They got their name after turnip (=repa; repnice), because the locals stored turnip and some other products of the field in them. They are not only one of the most interesting sights on Bizeljsko-sremiška vine tourist road but they are a part of the autochthon, historical, ethnological and cultural heritage in this region.

Because of the need of naturals stores for their products, locals dug into flint-stone caves of different sizes. More and less fine sand got joint together and so made it possible for locals to dig out natural stores without using any building materials. They used a mattock, a shovel and a special scraper for smoothing and shaping the walls and the ceiling. They had to hammer the mattocks every day, because they got totally blunt and useless during digging.

Sandy caves are decorated with the sunny door, which leads us to the underground sand world. »Repnice« were originally used for storing the products of the field, because in the times, when there were no refrigerators and no cold-storage installation, they were the most appropriate storage places. In »repnice« the constant humidity is around 95% and the temperature around 8 deg.C. People tell, that apples stored there stayed fresh and firm until the next crop.

A lot of these sandy caves are in the middle of the wine-growing regions and because of the appropriate climate conditions, today people mostly use them for ripening and storage of wine. Also they are an ideal place for tasting the specific wines of Bizeljsko-sremiška vinicultural area. They represent an important tourist characteristic of this area. At the moment there are six “repnice” opened for visitors. The most attracive are Najger’s “repnica”, “repnica“ Graben, “repnice“ Pudvoi and “repnica“ pri Peču.

Winegrowing region invites you in the winter, so in Mc hostel Brezice we prepared a special winter package EXPERIENCE “REPNICE” for 20€/person. More than favorable price includes accommodation with breakfast in a double room, entrance fees and wine tasting in “repnica” and rent bikes or Nordic walking poles. Experience repnice, where the past meets the present. 

Gubčeva 10a
8250 Brežice
+386 (0)5 908 37 90

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Autumn on Karst

Karst ... There aren't many places where nature paints the landscape in the way it does on Karst. The stone walls that are covered with multi-coloured sumac make the walks in the nature an even more memorable experience. The temperatures are suitable for spending your leisure time in a recreational way. 

Just like every autumn, institute ŠTIP made sure that we will be in a good shape. On the 9th of November there will be a running event in Sežana called "Greet the Autumn While Running". This year's run will be even more special because the 10 km route was renovated in a way that it leads along the asphalt roads and macadam country roads through the Living museum of Karst to Orlek and back again. To experience Karst in all its beauty, you can stay on Karst with the two-day package which besides starting fee includes a visit to the Lipica Stud Farm, Škocjan caves, Pepa's Karst Garden and wine tasting. For more info:

At the Youth Hostel Pliskovica we also provide unforgettable experiences. Through the two suggested packages we want to show Karst to you in ways that best correspond to your wishes. With the selection of one of them you can get to know Karst through its cuisine, typical crafts, cycling, hiking, visits to the typical Karst sites like Lipica, Škocjan Caves Park, Štanjel and more.

Youth Hostel Pliskovica
In addition, you can still go on a guided cycling tour or visit one of the Karst restaurants that through the traditional "Month of the Karst Cuisine" offer menues with an autumn flavour.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Skiing on grass?!

You could say that the Camp Menina is miniature world; several types of accommodation, several ways of relaxation, several choices of culinary delights, many forms of sports activities ... More opportunities for all, who are looking for a real, active vacation in the heart of the breathtaking natural beauty.

Youth Hostel Menina
For more than fourteen years in a small village in the Upper Savinja valley grows a "resort", as the owner Jure sometimes calls entire complex of Campa Menina. He drove into his own little world, jumped out of the car and spread high spirits with a smile and jokes. Full of crazy, interesting and attractive ideas, with the help of his Katja and the team, camp complements, extends, and improves all the time. We’ve stopped before the "old-new" reception, which used to be the granary. When entering the wooden house stuffed eagle welcomes you, and afterwards…get ready for a mass of information.

Youth Hostel Menina
When entering the camp, it is quite clear that there is no time for boredom. Great Adventure Park is spread over a children's playground. Around the camp the stream runs, filling the lake. During the summer, it is full of bathers, especially children, who are excited about the large inflatable pillows on which they are jumping until the night falls. Meanwhile, in a nice shadow parents barbecue, girls sunbathe, and fallows enjoy with a beer in a hand. "The only thing we do not have is the sea," says Jure, "near runs Savinja River that during the summer heats up to a comfortable 26 degrees. Otherwise, we have it all. Only five minute walk away is the airport where we throw interested from the plane." When he lists all the activities offered, from guided hikes, bike tours, hiking, kayaking, snorkeling... my attention caught skiing on grass. "Have you not heard of it? You have some kind of caterpillar on your foot. Otherwise it is fu**ing hard, but with some practice it is OK. We have also ski slope on grass."
Youth Hostel Menina
Katja added that during the summer, months when they are almost completely full, they organize concerts, they even hosted Elvis Presley impersonators, they have danced Zumba and have lots of activities for children. Everything for a perfect family, active, adrenaline vacation in Menina. Of course, Camp Menina did not forget the relaxation. When the sun sets, torches are lighted up. They cast a light on a wooden, enclosed cottage in which the temperature is very high. Wrapped only in sheets, guests relax in the pleasant evenings in the Finnish sauna. Experience full of romance. For those with empty stomachs, they bake pizzas in the restaurant or prepare snacks. For more demanding guests they offer typical food of Upper Savinja Valley such as žlinkrofi. In restaurant they prepare you fresh trout or bograč, golaž (soups with lots of meat).

Youth Hostel Menina
Large complex, which extends below the treetops and where in the mystical, quiet mornings you can almost hear the murmur of Savinja, includes accommodation for every taste and pocket. 26 modern mobile homes with kitchen, bathroom and terrace are perfect for families. Among them are hiding four treker huts - small wooden houses, which were originally without showers and electricity but were upgraded later. On the spacious lawn you can select the location for your caravan or tent. You can spend the night in the hostel, which is perfect for groups. Jure says it comes in handy when the guys decide to have the bachelor party there. Not only bachelor parties, they had several marriages also. It would be utterly wrong to expect a typical wedding in Camp Menina. Jure is full of crazy ideas. The bride on her big day in a beautiful white dress sails in to the camp in canoe. The groom in his best dress rocks with a swing in the Adventure Park above his bride in a canoe. What a scene! "One bride was shouting: "Give me back my husband, give me back my husband!'" Jure explains with a laugh.

Youth Hostel Menina
In the autumn they host athletes who come to preps. When we were there, they were just preparing for the arrival of American football team. Dear girls, Camp Menina make sure you can relax your eyes. Also when winter comes, in Upper Savinja Valley it is not boring. Skiers and boarders can ski on the snowy slopes in Golte. Do not forget sledges for all kinds of winter joy. There are quite few waterfalls in the Upper Savinja Valley that fall from the mountain peaks. During the winter time waterfalls freezes and they are full of climbers who are climbing the majestic ice walls.

Anja Turk
Volunteer of Hostelling International Slovenia