Monday, 24 June 2013

Festival Lent - Explosion of Flavors

It is that time of the year again. It is time for Maribor to wake up and smell the fresh summer breeze of the most crazy, vibrant, exciting and colorful festival – Festival Lent. In the end of every June, since 1993, every citizen of Maribor knows where he will be in the evening: by the river Drava, sipping a nice glass of vine, listening good music and enjoying the energizing atmosphere of the capital of Styria. Festival Lent is unique; the largest outdoor festival in Slovenia and one of the largest in Europe attracts over half a million visitors a year, which makes it the most recognizable cultural event in Slovenia. It has started on 21st of June, the last day is 6th of July.

Festival Lent:
I’ve decided to present you Festival Lent comparing it with the Fuzl. Never heard of it? Yes, maybe because it is Styrian invention, a cocktail with special taste and even more special serving. So, I’ll present the receipt for this tasty cocktail, and give a slight taste what Festival Lent is all about. So, let’s check the ingredients.

Centaury liquor – basic ingredient
Or as the literal translation from Slovene – thousand rose liquor. This drink has a special taste that gives the cocktail unique hint of that now rather rare herb. Centaury flower has thousands of healing effects and is often used in medicinal purposes. Yes, we could say that 1,200 events at 40 venues on Lent Festival could represent this basic ingredient of Festival Lent. Let’s check some highlights of this year’s festival. Along the river Drava numerous stages close the road and the biggest one, where the Slovene and world stars perform, is the Main Stage. It is worth mentioning that legendary Uriah Heep will be performing this year. Ghanaian-British cast Osibisa, Austrian Mnozil Brass and international FOLKART festival will fill the grandstands of the Main Stage. Jazz fans will gather on Jazzlent and for creativity on Maribor streets will be taken care of by Festival Ana Desetnica. Outstanding concerts will blow you away on Večerov Stage. American cast OPM, Edo Majka, Repetitor, TBF and many others will rock on Lent this year. There is also Mladina Stage (in jazz club Satchmo) that provides grounds for future stars. In Judgement Tower is an intimate venue for lovers of good music. Not to forget Jurček Stage for solo performances, Classical Music Salon with a choice selection of classical music and Stand-Up Comedy Stage that will provide the biggest stand-up comedy event in Slovenia. Old radio (Jazzlent, Comedy) is the place that lives until to the morning hours. The organization team did not forget to take care for sport fans. For more information see: As centaury flower has many restorative powers, so do the numerous events on Festival Lent – laughter, fun, joy, excitement, pleasure, etc. What more do you need?

Festival Lent 2013: , Photo: Saša Huzjak 
Cockta - must try it
We could say Cockta is a Slovene version of Coca Cola; however it has exclusive, slightly sweeter taste. And it is also indispensable ingredient of Fuzl. So are the stands along river Drava that offer a culinary travel round the world. Typical Slovene food is obligatory. You can try prekmurska gibanica (cake in layers made of chees, apples, poppy), kranjska sausage etc. Of course you can get Balkan best čevapčiči, lepinje (grilled minced meat), burek and kajmak (cheese). The offer would not be complete without sea food and like on almost every corner in the city fast food is offered – kebap, hamburgers, French fries. The ones with sweet tooth will not be disappointed either. The selection of sweets is rich: pancakes, cakes, ice cream, typical Slovene delights. Gourmets will certainly enjoy the street food festival Sladolent, where 34 best Slovenian chefs are taking part in the biggest culinary event in Slovenia. The cooking show on Lent starts every evening next to the Main stage and is hosting three chefs who will prepare their own street food dishes that are accompanied with high quality vines.

Festival Lent 2013: , Photo: Boštjan Lah
Lime – to improve the taste
Lime gives a special hint to our Styrian cocktail. It would not be the same without it. Just like Festival Lent would not shine in all its glory without Art Camp. There is nothing sour about it, right the opposite; it is an adventure for the whole family in the beautiful Maribor city park. With its artistic and creative character Art Camp attracts the visitors with a combination of fun, sports, creativity, science, culture and relaxation. Relax surrounded by old trees, green grass and the sound of birds singing; the activities will bring out the child in you. Every representative of his generation will find something for himself as Art Camp provides you with free knowledge, healthy lifestyle and leisure time.

Festival Lent 2013:
Ice – for cooling down
It is summer, it is hot. And in this intense heat ice in our cocktail is very much needed. Just like cold drink. Seating by the river Drava after sunset, sipping good Slovenian vine, beer or cocktail, and listening good music coming from live performances – it is priceless.

Festival Lent 2013: , Photo: Saša Huzjak
Serve it in a jar
That is right; Fuzl has to be served in a jar that the experience is complete and it is that jar that makes Fuzl exceptional. Just like all the content people marching up and down the street from one stage to another. Yes, Maribor is during the Lent Festival alive as no other time in the year. The crowd, the happening, the vibes… the visitors are the one, who make the experience fuller and complete. Do not miss it, be a part of it, you will not regret it.

Festival Lent:
P.S. Maybe you like to drink trough the straw. That is no problem. It is, let’s say accessory. Not to forget, Festival Lent offers two special accessories: fireworks. First is at the end of FOLKART festival on Saturday (29th), and at the end of the festival (6th July).

Need a place to stay in Maribor? Check out Youth Hostel Mlada lipa, Youth Hostel UNI or Youth Hostel Pekarna

Anja Turk, Volunteer of Hostelling International Slovenia 

Friday, 14 June 2013

Wonderful Nature of Pohorje

It was sunny Sunday, perfect for one day trip in the region of the Natural Park Pohorje. In the shadows of hundred old trees Lobnica stream runs through the center of the Pohorje primeval forest. Until the mid-19th century this area was unspoiled by human acts; now on 19 hectares beech, pine and fir trees found their secret refuge. The slopes are quite steep, in some places almost impassable and here some rare plants found their secret habitats. If the path takes you to Maribor you certainly should make a trip to canyon Lobnica where two picturesque waterfalls, Small and Big Šumik, will enchant you. From the direction of Maribor head along the river Drava valley to Ruše then head towards Smolnik. The last part of the macadam road is quite bumpy; however, you can choose to go through Hoče up to Areh, from where there leads a local path to Šumik.

Born and raised in Maribor it is almost a sin I’ve never visited one of the pearls of Pohorje. It is just 20 minutes’ walk from the parking lot through densely planted beech trees that raises high towards the sky. Jet, if you want to reach one of the most beautiful waterfalls, you definitely need suitable footwear as the path is quite dangerous. I’ve heard people talking how scared they were descending the rungs and walking on narrow path next to precipice. I never thought Pohorje hides such difficult pathways. But it does. However, it is worth all the way. The stunning surrounding nature, the rare sunbeams that breaks through dense treetops and light cold breeze that comes from the humming stream Lobnica captivates everyone with its beauty. After a challenging forest path, where first you have to cross over the stream by jumping on few stones that are jutting from the rushing water, you reach first and one of the mightiest waterfalls – Big (Veliki) Šumik. Water falls down numerous plaques that were formed after the tectonic break. Just a little further on is waterfall Small (Mali) Šumik.

For the ones who love hiking in embrace of a forest, the path that leads to another marvel in Pohorje is just perfect. From where you’ve parked your car to see waterfalls you can take another forest path that will lead you to Black Lake (Črno jezero). Through the tunnels of like an arrow straight deciduous trees, across the clearings in the middle of the woods, along many anthills you will in the distance notice shimmering lake. Two hour walk in the shades of forest is a nice way to escape summer heat. And the lake…the lake is magnificent. Unique ecosystem of high peat bog gives to water a specific black color. At the bottom of a Black Lake have organic waste accumulated for a centuries and eventually created a thick layer of silt that is almost black. The lake therefore looks as if it was filled with the ink, although the water is crystal clean. It is a great picnic site, so do not forget a blanket. 

As it is with almost every nature wonder that enchants the locals, there are also many wonderful folk tales regarding the creation of the lake. However, the true story is that the Count Windischgraetz, the owner of the greater part of the Pohorje forests, made a dam more than 150 years ago and thus create an artificial lake to harvest timber in the valley. 

If you prefer not to walk too much you can reach the lake also from Osankarica or Trije Kralji. For all nature lovers I advise to book Youth Hostel Videc that is situated 1050 m above sea level, in the hotel-apartment settlement Bolfenk on Maribor Pohorje. It is excellent starting point for numerous hiking tracks all around beautiful Pohorje. However, at the foot of Pohorje Youth Hostel Mlada lipa is situated.  Just five minutes’ walk up to foothills of Pohorje hill and ten minutes’ drive to the city center is perfect location for all travelers that like to sit down after the sunset and have a drink in the bustling streets of the town core. 

Anja Turk

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Festival Brežice, my town!

Brežice, a small town on the bank with magnificent architectural heritage, specifically lives up before the summer in June when a multi-day festival named “Brežice, my town” is happening. Therefore the end of June will be marked with a rich cultural and entertainment program dedicated to all generational groups. The event will be held at various venues in the center of Brežice, starting on Wednesday 26th of June 2013. 

In early hours hikers will start a special hiking tour called ”Marš v Bresce” from Ljubljana to Brežice which is a good opportunity for recreation and to socialize with other hikers. The evening event is located in the Town hall, where there will be an opening of the beautiful exhibition named "Brežice my city" created by Igor Ribič, known as »Beeback photography«. Just a few meters down the main street by Rafter’s pub at exactly 10:00 pm a special event will take place - stand up performance by the comedian Tine Vodopivec.

Thursday, 27th of June, will be marked in the name of music, because from 8:30pm onwards different musical events will be held along the head street of Brežice. On Friday we will first await participants from the hiking tour “Marš v Bresce” and then the streets will once again be fulfilled  with music. First by an a cappella choir Perpetumm Jazzile, and then by vigorous men from the group MI2. 

Different events will be held during the whole Saturday. First a unique Antique Market will be prepared in the castle Brežice and meanwhile the youngest will have fun in the park nearby Mc Brežice. Children will be able to express their artistic skills, spend energy in sporting activities, see a show and even meet small animals from a MINI ZOO. At 19:00 pm the third Brežice run will take place in center of Brežice attended by Primoz Kuzmin, a Slovenian Olympian. The evening of course is reserved for musical treats. Fist we will have the pleasure to hear the charming Nina Pušlar and the star of the evening is an ex-yu rock legend Momčilo Bajagić Bajaga with his group called Instruktori.

Last day of the festival will take place on Boršt in the First Wake Park, where sport and entertainment are combined. For the final act of the festival we move into the castle Brežice to see a theatre show, which for the moment remains a secret. More info on web page: .

Hostel Brežice
Mc hostel Brežice offers a special "festival" discount, 30% discount on overnight stays during the multi-day festival for our visitors and other guests. Thus, we invite all guests which are eager for a good time and great music to book a room in the Mc hostel Brežice and experience unforgettable moments during the festival.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Charterhouse Žiče

There comes a time, when students have enough of their obligations. Exams are tough and the exam period quickly turns from one to two, or even three months, so the beginning of the new semester is a great time to relax a bit. And there’s nothing better than to go out “in nature.” The problem is, we often don’t know where to go. There are many places, which are interesting in any season, so I’ve chose Žiče, the former monastery of the Chartusian order, with its special and rich history.

What to do, when you’re travelling from Celje to Rogla, with the motorway closed and the regional road clogged up with traffic? Easy, you take the side way pass Žiče. That’s what I’ve did and it was incredible!

Author: Paticija Turnšek
The relaxing monastery

Maybe you’ll be wondering why I’m inviting you to a monastery, for all the church stuff is for the older generations. But that’s not how I’d categorise the Charterhouse Žiče. It’s an important historical and cultural sight. The manuscripts of the monks were the only written document of our history of these parts. And the entrance fee is also just symbolic. But not to forget that the Hostelling International membership card will give you a 10% discount.

So what to expect? Before you enter you can already see the beautiful herbal garden and an orchard outside the opened gate of the monastery walls. Through it you will enter the abandoned complex first built in 1160 in the likeness of the French monasteries of the order. It was closed down in 1782 by Emperor Joseph II. With the help of mighty – partly restored – ruines, we can picture the life like it once was and you’ll be able to relax your senses with exhibitions and other events. They do not offer only relaxation on the grassy meadows and the view (the complex is on a hill slope, so from the inside you get a great view of all the buildings) but it’s also a great place for open air concerts. Unfortunately the old manuscripts, which would be the crown jewel of the monastery, are safely tucked away - abroad.

Author: Paticija Turnšek
The ruines themselves have signs and explanations interpreting their functionality. You can visit the church of St. John the Baptist, which gave the name to the whole valley. It’s has interesting gothic architecture, seen by some of the preserved windows. The foundation also shows the chapel of Otokar, the refectories, cellar, kitchen, upper floor, the hall and the funeral chapel.

If you’re still unconvinced and don’t care for it, because it’s something churchy, than let me tell you about the old guesthouse (right next door) where they still prepare food according to the traditional receipts. This used to be the place for the guests, who hadn’t had the entrance to the monastery grounds. Yes, in the times of the monks in the valley, they only allowed a few people to get in. But then again, with all the riches and historical wealth produced there, this might have been a good idea. It was a way to protect their manuscripts, texts, herbal knowledge… all of their intellectual properties.

But history is not all that attracts you here. Summer music events started by hosting Stefan Milenkovich and Edin Karamazov in 2009 Naturally 7, and last year the more famous Manouche. I’m sure, you’ll be able to find something here that will be worth listening or seeing. And girls (also romantic boys), you can get married there as well!

Patricija Turnšek