Monday, 16 April 2018


On the crossroads of three worlds

The magnitude of the forests and meadows that spread in every direction and the richness of its underworld are only a few blessings that Ocizla offers to its visitors. This sunlit village that houses a little over a hundred inhabitants is so special due to its geographic position – it lies directly on the juncture of the Karst, Istria and Čičarija regions of Slovenia. Though the infamous bora wind doesn’t spare us there in the wintertime, it won’t reach us once we step into the woods, thus we can peacefully enjoy the natural jewels. 

@Author - Photo Sandro Sedran S-Team
If we hike along the three-hour memorial circular TIGR path, which takes us mainly through the woods, we learn a lot about the village of Ocizla.

The hike starts in the middle of the village at the pond, which gets its water from the nearby spring and once served to water the cattle. Water remains our faithful companion down the route and we are constantly cradled by water sources – some visible, others gone because of draught or disappeared underground due to limestone bedrock. The path will lead us alongside various streams; some we will meet, others cross, and for some we will bear witness to their disappearance underground. Small waterfalls and ponors won’t fail to astound us along the way, and nor will the impressive underground world, especially upon crossing the natural bridge. Luza, a natural spring that will greet us after several minutes of walking, is sure to impress, freshen and fuel us for the rest of the hike. The waters in the area are very clean and the first to prove that is the European crayfish, or the noble crayfish that still live here. The purity of the water is due to our ancestors, who exploited the water resources, but also nurtured them. Our ancestors were aware of the water’s importance, so they duly cherished it; they tended and tidied the surroundings and they put up watermills to alleviate their own work – the remains along the trail will testify on that. Our ancestors would catch crayfish in the streams, at certain points the women would gather and do laundry together and in time for koline, the pig slaughtering festivities, people would wash the animals’ bowels in the streams. The water was furthermore used to make slaked lime and many of our ancestors learned how to swim within the water pools.

@Author - Photo Sandro Sedran S-Team
So, as we hike this circular TIGR trail, let us think about the most precious of all worldly goods and the cradle of all life on Earth, water. And just as the water moves to make a water cycle, we will move and round up our hike right at the village pond of Ocizla, where we first started.

@Author - Photo Sandro Sedran S-Team
After the trail you are most welcome to spend the night at Ocizla’s Youth Hostel called Ociski raj, which translates as ”Ocizla’s Paradise” in English. We offer accommodation with a rich breakfast, and everyone with the Hostelling International Slovenia membership card is granted 10% discount on accommodation. Upon seeing the tremendous opportunities for hiking, rock climbing and cycling, we are sure you will want to extend your stay. For those of you who are keen on exploring on wheels, we rent bikes, while the hiking buffs we can always direct to explore the astounding Glinščica river Valley – or the nearby mount Slavnik, if you’re more of a daredevil. Rock climbers will especially enjoy the Karst Rim, where you can find two world-renowned climbing faces: Mišja peč (or “little mouse”, as it is affectionately known among climbers) and Osp. The beginners will appreciate the Črni kal route, which is only a few kilometers from the two aforementioned faces, Risnik, which is quite shorter, and the famous cave for bouldering, Črnotiče.

@Author - Photo Sandro Sedran S-Team
There is something for everyone in Ocizla or near, so we’re pretty sure you’ll enjoy your stay here.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

A stop in the capital

Greenery in the concrete jungle

Ljubljana Tourism and other tourist providers promote the tourist offer of Ljubljana and the rest of Central Slovenia region. The institute was founded by the City of Ljubljana as a local tourist organization. More information about Ljubljana and Central Slovenia is available at Ljubljana Tourist Information Centers (TIC). You can also hire a local guide there. Ljubljana is proud of its title the Green Capital of Europe 2016 and you can also use wi-fi across the city.

@Author - B. Kladnik,
So what do we recommend you visiting in our capital? Take a look at some of the masterpieces of our architect Plečnik: the Triple bridge in the very centre of the city, listen to jazz, rock and classical concerts in the Križanke outdoor theater, which is the former monastery of the Holy Cross and take a walk along Ljubljanica in Trnovo. There is a former freight port and nowadays you can socialize, relax and sunbathe on the staircase and wide benches. You can do the same in the Tivoli Park where there are even more trees, flowers, sculptures and fountains. It's good to get out of the concrete jungle a bit to charge your batteries. Don't forget to take a look at the castle. Go there on foot or with a funicular where you'll have a wonderful view of the city.

@Author - B. Kladnik,
In between you'll get hungry and thirsty. Here are a few solutions. Try štruklji (sour stroodle), kranjska sausage with excellent mustard, beef tongue, ričet stew, bograč stew, roasted potatoes, frog legs, deer's back, pancakes with curd, a traditional Slovene dessert potica… For easier digestion of the consumed food try local beers and wines. In the warmer months that are coming you can also refresh yourself on the way at public drinking fountains because the tap water is good quality and drinkable. In addition, every Friday on nice weather between April and November you can taste Slovenian food as well as food from other countries at a culinary event called Odprta kuhna (open kitchen). If you get some unwanted kilograms, continue your exploration of Ljubljana with a borrowed bicycle for a symbolic price. You know the saying: mens sana in corpore sano!
Of course I shouldn't forget that the HI card holders have a 50% discount on regular tours in Ljubljana!

If you want to see more of what Ljubljana can offer, then the best idea is to spend the night at a hostel. Hostel Vila Veselova next to park Tivoli is a good spot to explore our capital because the main attractions are close, there is also hostel Tabor which has a hall for different events near the main train and bus station. Affordable hostel Ljubljana is located in the suburbs of Ljubljana near the BTC shopping center. We shouldn’t overlook hostel Tresor, which lies in the heart of the very crowded Čopova street and only 50 meters away from the Prešeren Square and hostel DIC, which is located in the shelter of the castle hill and offers accommodation only in the summer. Everybody with the HI membership card get 10% off.

This time we talked more about nature, architecture and culinary experiences of our capital city. Next time, let's take a look at other hidden gems, shall we?

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Natural wonder

Relaxing all senses
Savica waterfall or should I say, the source of the Sava Bohinjka in Bohinj valley, originates in the steep wall of Komarča area. It's the most famous and visited Slovene waterfall. It's special also because the water flow is divided into two parts. The A-shaped waterfall has 2 parts. The right one is 25 metres high and the left one is 78 metres high. The highest comes to the surface at an altitude of 836 metres. The water flows from the Valley of the Triglav Lakes and from Pršivec. The waterfall never runs out of water and the most beautiful scenery of it is after heavy rains and when the snow melts. It's not possible to access the waterfall in the winter but in the spring, hikers open the path to it with a traditional hike. You can see a beautiful rainbow above the waterfall in the summer at dawn when the sun's rays touch the falling water.

Slovenian poet France Prešeren also talked about Savica waterfall in his poem Krst pri Savici, as well as Janez Vajkard Valvasor.

There are also excellent hiking trails nearby. The starting point is the Koča pri Savici, which is the starting point for Komna and the Triglav Lakes Valley. From here, we can walk to the Dom na Komni for about three hours. At another one we cross the bridge over Savica and follow the signs for Komarča. First we reach lake Črno jezero and then continue to the hut at the lake Dvojno jezero. It takes us four to five hours to walk there.

A small fee is to be paid to see the natural marble. There are many ways how to get to the Savica waterfall. Read how here. When reaching it, it takes you another 20 minute walk on stone steps.

After a pleasant and tiring day make a turn to the hostel pod Voglom in Bohinj which is located just by the Bohinj Lake. Let me emphasize that this is the biggest hostel in Slovenia with 119 beds. There is also the Pac sports outdoor agency that offers sports activities. In the summer refresh yourself in the cold lake or explore the surroundings with a bike or a boat. In winter go skiing, snowboarding, skating, hiking, snowshoe walking or try rafting, this time in the snowy version. You can use a free ski bus to the Vogel ski center which is 2 kilometres from the hostel. There are even more ski resorts nearby so there is no shortage of choices. One important reminder here – in the hostel pod Voglom with the HI membership card you get a 10% discount on the overnight stay!

I advise you to take a minimum of a week's break and see the waterfall, choose a sport activity at Bohinj Lake and live with the nature in our beautiful mountains where hospitable hosts will serve you real Slovenian food at our mountain huts. After that you will definitely visit Slovenia again.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Let's go to hell

Fortunately we can come back

A charming karst cave created by the Ponikvica stream running through limestone over several million years. Why Pekel cave? To get you out of the uncertainty with the name: pekel means hell. I have found several explanations why the name hell and I chose the most interesting ones. 1. It got the name by an interesting scene above the cave entrance. Well, we have to make some effort to see the image of the devil up there. 2. Local people were afraid of the cave because they thought that the black hole was the residence of the Satan. 3. The following I like the most. When there's lower temperature outside of the cave than inside in the winter, vapours are coming out of the cave at the entrance. It's the only cave in our country where human bones from prehistoric time were found, which is proof that people liked to visit it and even organized parties inside. I'm just wondering what it looked like in the dark but let's leave that for now.
In 1969 during the exploration, Anton Suwa lost his life in the cave and a memorial plaque in the cave is reminding us of him. The Tourist Association Šempeter in the Savinja Valley has illuminated and installed more than 1159 metres of secure routes. In the cave you can also find an underground waterfall. It's 4 metres high and is the highest underground waterfall in Slovenia. Diverse flora and fauna can be found in the cave. Of course you can't miss the bats. The cave temperature is about 10 degrees Celsius and the tour takes one hour. You can see live crib in the cave around Christmas.

Worth visiting here is another landmark. Through Šempeter the Roman road Oglej-Ljubljana-Celje-Ptuj was used for many years. In the vicinity many powerful Romans were living and part of them were burried in the tombs of the Roman necropolis in Šempeter. It's interesting how they discovered it. Almost 70 years ago they found a statue of a woman sitting during a work in an orchard. After the excavation they discovered the entire archaeological sitem, which is still considered one of the most beautiful preserved monuments of the Roman period in Central Europe where over 100 family tombs were found. Among them are also tombs made out of marble from Pohorje with depictions of the buried people.

From this part of Slovenia also come two successful basketball players, brothers Udrih. Now they train in different parts of the world; Samo in Spain and Beno in the NBA, USA. Each year in the summer they are co-organizers of the basketball tournament in the time of the local community's festival.

You can take some rest in the hostel Celje located in third largest city in Slovenia, in Celje, near the main railway and bus station. The rooms are thematically furnished, as the younger artists from Celje took part in the construction of the hostel. They furnished rooms on the basis of legends and myths of the local environment. The hostel also has a laundry room, a winter garden, a larger hall and wi-fi is available everywhere. You can rent a bike for free to see the city. Holders of HI cards have a 10% discount on their stay
I think that this kind of hell is the only one from which it's still possible to return. Especially in the summer it's lovely to freshen up in the satanic underworld. When visiting the Roman necropolis you get a sense of how much the Romans appreciated the afterlife or perhaps you'll get some idea of how should your future tombstone look like. Never mind the last part, it is just a harmless joke.

Monday, 2 April 2018

An inspiration for a poem in the treasury of the First World War

Explore the natural gem of our turquoise region with a light step!

A part of the Triglav National Park are the Tolmin Gorges. They represent the lowest entry point to the park. These are the gorges of the waters Tolminka and Zadlaščica. Around the water is a circular path where you can see the gorges from all sides. The most magnificent attractions are the thermal spring, the Zadlaška cave (Dante’s cave), a large triangular shaped rock (the Bear’s head) which got stuck between the walls of the Zadlaščica canyon and of course the Devil’s Bridge which hangs 60m above the river Tolminka. Dante’s cave is named after Dante Alighieri, a known poet from Italy. Supposedly the cave inspired him to write the famous Divine Comedy. The Devil’s Bridge was built by Austro-Hungarian soldiers during the Isonzo front. 

@Author - Matevž Lenarčič
It’s worth visiting the gorges in July and in August 2018 because then you can have a guided tour. Of course you can also visit them now too because they opened at the end of March already. Members of Hostelling International Slovenia get 20% off when buying a ticket.

It is estimated that you walk 4km in one hour and a half. Rest your eyes on the beauty that surrounds you, listen to the roaring water as the strength of mother nature and in the meantime you exercise. Don’t forget your hiking shoes for the best experience.

@Author - Matevž Lenarčič
You can relax at the Paradiso hostel in the center of Tolmin, on the first floor of the Paradiso bar. As you can see, its name reflects the location – paradise. The common living space contains 2 computers, a TV, board games and a few books to read. Breakfast is included in the overnight stay. Rested and with a full belly you can explore Slovenia easier. HI Slovenia members get 10% off the regular rate

Enjoy hand in hand with mother nature where time simply stops!

Friday, 30 March 2018

How do mercury and lace go together?

You can find both of them in the same city which proves that sLOVEnia is a little nuts!

Visit the Idrija Municipal Museum to culturally feed your mind. The legacy of the mercury mine there was put on the UNESCO list of world heritage in 2012. We're talking about the second oldest and the biggest mercury mine in the world. The Gewerkenegg castle houses the Museum’s main permanent exhibition which is Five centuries of the Mercury Mine and the Town of Idrija. 20 years ago, the museum received an award from the Luigi Micheletti Foundation as the best European museum of technical and industrial heritage for its work and this exhibition

@Author - Dunja Wedam
In the castle you’ll also find the permanent exhibition entitled Idrija Lace, A History Written In Thread which is meant literally. This is the history of the lacemakers, women, who were contributing to their family budgets with their skilful fingers. Today the lace is in the spotlight on runways as an important part of famous fashion designers’ creations. Among other things in the museum, you can do the shortest 5-minute lacemaking course, presented in a video. In 2008 the Museum got the Valvasor award for this exhibition which is the highest Slovene award for achievements in museology. Among other collections, let us also mention the homestead of the writer France Bevk, Slovenia Partisan Printing Shop and the Franja Partisan Hospital. While you're there, try the local speciality, called žlikrofi

@Author - Dunja Wedam
Members of the Hostelling International Slovenia are again treated better because they get a 40% discount when purchasing a ticket to the permanent exhibitions. How cool is that! To best anchor the freshly gained museum knowledge in your heads and to unwind, I recommend staying in the Idrija hostel. It lies atop a hill above the city where a bed awaits you for only 9€/night. The closest cafes to seize the day are only 5 minutes away by foot. They offer you free bed linen, a towel, as well as free internet and parking. If booked in advance, an all-inclusive package is a great deal. If you decide to be their guest, remember that with the HI Slovenia membership card you get 10% off.

@Author - Foto Video Coppo di Marco Coppo
Here the heavy and dangerous work in the mine is splendidly intertwined with the extraordinary work done with the female fingers where the breathtaking creations are produced. They are also suitable for high fashion. You can no longer try the first one because the mine is closed. Still you have the opportunity to try the second one to appreciate more the manual work of our women and perhaps get a new hobby.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Full of adrenalin in the company of world champions

Without much thought get your body moving in no time!

In 2001 two six-time world rafting winners founded Aktivni planet (in English the Active Planet), a sports-tourist agency which is located in Bovec. Bovec lies between the majestic Kanin mountain chain and the gorgeous daughter of the mountains river Soča. Guides come from different parts of the world and are ex-competitors in rafting and white-water kayaking.

At them you can reserve rafting where you can choose a classic or a long slide. They say they adjust the tour to your wishes. They do it for the fearless musclemen as well as for the gentle girls, skeptical grandmas and for the mischievous grandchildren. If this is not a nice presentation, so they are good with words and they know how to safely enjoy on the river Soča. You can experience canyoning in the steep riverbeds of the torrents. In the Krnica valley between Mt. Rombon (2207m) and Mt. Kanin (2587m) expands one of the biggest zipline parks in Slovenia. You fly freely like a bird 1300m above sea level and you are 200m in the air. 

See the nature in its most primal form when going white-water kayaking also in a kayak for 2. Test your survival abilities with an eskimo roll. Hold on to your boogieboard and cruise through the river rapids at hydrospeed. Discover the underground world which has the shape of a »Swiss Cheese«. Take a hike with the tennisrackets on your boots by day or by night. Enjoy in the amazing views while shaping your body at climbing meanwhile the kids distract themselves on the »slackline«. Last but not least look at this part of Slovenia through the perspective of a bird at the tandem flight. The best is yet to come because the HI Slovenia card-holders get 15% off of the sporting activities

To recharge your batteries after exciting adventures in the Soča valley go to the Bovec hostel with a free wifi. You will find it in a more than a century old but now completely renovated house in the traditional provincial style. So that your legs won't tire out, it will take you only 5 minutes from the main square or from the bus station to get to the hostel. In the Bovec hostel you can get a 10% discount on the overnight accommodation with your HI membership card!

After the activities on Soča you will feel like being reborn and wondering why you didn't do that sooner. So it was about time!

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Hop on the train of our ancestors!

Let's go 100 years back!
The well-known Bohinj railway has been celebrating 110 years. With the help of the company ABC rent a car in turizem d.o.o. you can take a ride with a steam train that used to be used there. Departures start in May and last until November 2018. In the morning the train takes off from Jesenice and ends the journey in Nova Gorica. On the way you can of course get off at the following stations: Lake Bled, Bohinjska Bistrica, Most na Soči and Kanal. In the afternoon it goes back on the same path. During this time you can admire numerous bridges, viaducts, ravines, grapes, emerald river Soča, see the lake Bled and the Bled castle and drive through the longest tunnel which measures about 6km. You can also see planted vines, figs, almonds and persimmons on the way. At Solkan the train crosses the Solkan bridge with 85-meter stone arch which makes it the biggest stone bridge in the world. There is also a restaurant carriage on the train. Pets are not allowed and bicycles are.
In 1906 the mentioned route connected central Europe with the Adriatic part of Austria-Hungary. The Bohinj route is only part of the entire Transalpine line connecting the Czech Republic in the north and Trieste to the south. Since part of it leads through the Julian Alps, at the time it was a great construction achievement. It was opened by the emperor Franz Ferdinand. Today it connects Slovenia, Austria, and Italy for tourism purposes.
In addition you can indulge yourself in a bus trip through the beautiful Goriška Brda. You get off in Kanal, climb up an observation tower in Gonjače where you can see Friuli, Italian Dolomites, Julian Alps, the Karst region and the Vipava Valley. You might take a look at one of the wine cellars too. This landscape is also very fertile throughout the whole year. Sweeten your days with local cherries, persimmons, peaches, grapes, chestnuts ... Make a toast with excellent wine or have a taste of first-class olive oil.
Of course I shouldn't forget that the HI card holders have a 10% discount on the train ride with the steam train along the Bohinj railway.

After a pleasant and tiring day make a turn to the hostel pod Voglom in Bohinj, which is located just by the Bohinj Lake. Let me emphasize that this is the biggest hostel in Slovenia (119 beds). There is also the Pac sports outdoor agency that offers sports activities. In the summer refresh yourself in the cold lake or explore the surroundings with a bike or a boat. In winter go skiing, snowboarding, skating, hiking, snowshoe walking or try rafting, this time in the snowy version. You can use a free ski bus to the Vogel ski center which is 2 km from the hostel. There are even more ski resorts nearby so there is no shortage of choices. One important reminder here: in the hostel pod Voglom with the HI membership card you get a 10% discount on the overnight stay!
The region that connects several countries and observing it while taking a steam train ride is truly breathtaking and picturesque. The experience will not be exactly the same as in the Harry Potter books where the train picks you up on the platform 9 and three quarters but it will be still exciting, especially for the children!

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Lace with mercury?

Fortunately, it's just a joke!

Idrija is famous as the oldest mining town in Slovenia which has the second biggest mercury mine in the world. You can see Antonijev tunnel which is the oldest part of the mine. The cultural and technical heritage of the town can be found in the Gewerkenegg castle where the Idrija municipal museum is located. Of course here you can find also the worldwide famous lace. You can see the exhibitions in the lace school in Idrija where they take care of the preservation and development of lace making. The school also works with companies that apply lace to furniture.

@Author - Jani Peternelj;
The Idrija Geopark lies at the edge of the Alpine and Karst worlds. Due to its unique characteristics on a worldwide scale, in 2015 it acquired the name UNESCO Global Geopark Idrija. You can visit the war museum where soldiers as dolls are in original uniforms and you can see more than 100 pieces of weapon used in the fights. Stop at the Slovenia partisan printing shop which was operating in a hard-to-reach location. They printed the only daily newspaper ever printed by some resistance movement during the occupation of Europe.

@Author - Jani Peternelj;
TIC (Tourist Information Center) Idrija provides us with general information about the city, its surroundings, its sights and events. From the events choose the international Idrija Lace Festival. If your stomach begins to rumble, then you should try žlikrofi, zeljševka and smukavc. The first ones are prepared from dough and stuffed with potato filling, the second one is potica (roll) stuffed with chives and the last one is a stew made out of cabbage, potatoes, garlic and dressed with minced lard. If you are still hungry, order ocvirkovca and štruklji. The first one is potica (roll) stuffed with cracklings and the last ones are made out of dough with a sweet filling of raisins and nuts. Hire a local tourist guide for a more authentic experience of Idrija. If not you, you can still choose a postcard, a souvenir or take some brochures. To genuinely start or finish your culinary research, sip a few drops of geruš which is a bitter absinthe drink. Back in the days the wine was expensive so with the help of methylated spirit, absinthe and spring water the miners created a drink that made them feel happier and more carefree.

@Author - Geopark Idrija;

I recommend staying at the Idrija hostel. It lies atop a hill above the city where a bed awaits you for only 9€/night. The closest cafes to seize the day are only 5 minutes away by foot. They offer you free bed linen, a towel as well as free internet and parking. If booked in advance, an all-inclusive package is a great deal. If you decide to be their guest, remember that with the HI Slovenia membership card you get 10% off

A city that is truly versatile. For lovers of history, underground, fashion, food ... I'll bet anyone can find something here to fall in love with!

                                                                                                               Saša Sladič

Monday, 5 March 2018

Caught in the labyrinth in the middle of Ljubljana

Unique adventure game in the dark labyrinth

Fun and adrenalin? Yes, please. And what if we add some inventiveness, moving walls, dark, flash light with a timer and different challenges? Yes, yes and yes! Then come to Ljubljana for an adventure. Labyrinth Ljubljana offers the first interactive adventure game in Slovenia and Europe and is everything described above.

My sister, friends and I visited Labyrinth Ljubljana on a Sunday night. We were hoping for two hours of fun and left filled with adrenaline, higher heart pulse, some bruises on our legs (if you’re clumsy like me, you get that for free), but most importantly happy that we got out of the labyrinth with our wit and wishing that we come back again, as it was really fun.

If you’re an explorer by heart, you’re not afraid of the dark and a timer will get your adrenalin flowing, then Labyrinth Ljubljana is a great adventure treat for you. The labyrinth is located in an old, abandoned house, about 4 kilometres from the Ljubljana city centre (you can get here by buses 7 and 7L) close to the northern bypass to Kranj. The house isn’t anything special until you get a peak inside and see what is hiding in it. A two story house is also an old gallery of the artist Aleksander Novak. You can see it only if you enter a huge labyrinth on 500 square metres and find a way out of it on the other side. It sounds simpler than it is. You travel around the labyrinth in dark and only a flash light with a timer and your friend will help you get out. On your way to the exit you will face challenges, which will see how inventive, courageous, skilful and cooperative you are.

There are two labyrinths available. Gallery on the ground floor and Workshop on the upper floor. The concept of the game is the same, but the labyrinth and the ambience are different. First you have to watch a movie with your team (there can be 3 to 5 people in your team) and then you go to your base – a room where you and your team will spend most of your time. We chose the labyrinth Workshop, which is on the upper floor and we had to climb a ladder to get there. That explains the bruises on my legs. Two members of the team go to the labyrinth at the same time and have a flash light with them, which turns on for only a certain number of seconds and then turns off. It makes sense that friends help each other in the labyrinth. They have to search for challenges in the dark labyrinth where it seems that there are countless turns and crossroads. When you think that you know your way and that you’ve been walking on it before, something changes, the door that you’ve already unlocked, get locked again. What the hell? To get even hotter, the flash light signals that you only have half the flash light time. Then you and your friend head back. If you don’t... you and your friend’s breath (and scream) will be the only thing you hear in the dark labyrinth. Yes, the first adrenalin adventure that gets your blood really flowing.

Labyrinth Ljubljana offers great fun for family and friends where you will be scared for each other, encourage and help each other and solve the clues and riddles together. With some luck and inventiveness, you will find the exit in 120 minutes and rescue yourselves from the dark labyrinth and be able to breathe the fresh air again. Do you dare? All you need is a team of fearless people, sports clothing, two hours of time and the fun can begin. Don’t forget, HI membership card brings you a 15 percent discount on the adventure game Labyrinth Ljubljana. What are you waiting for? The timer will start any second now.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Home of excellent Slovene winter sportsmen

Let's ski on the white slopes!

RTC Žičnice Kranjska Gora d.d. provides enjoying on the snow on one of the oldest ski resorts in Slovenia for 70 years. The ski resort received the World Ski Award in the years from 2013 to 2015. You can even go night skiing. In the Alpine Park try the giant slalom where you are tested for driving on time and "fun park" is waiting for all fans of "freestyle" skiing. Alpine ski club Kranjska Gora trains young competitors and organizes matches on European and global scale.

For the youngest is taken care of in the children's snow park where the little ones can relax, ski and have snowball fights. Children can also enjoy in playful learning to ski at playing park Planica. When not skiing children can sled, create sculptures from the snow or look for hidden elves. At the Alpina Hotel is a winter kindergarten where children are being animated and they can play with each other so their parents can fully enjoy in their winter vacations.

For all those who are just getting to know skiing there is a wide choice of ski schools. There you will learn alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, etc. You can rent skis, bars, helmets... In addition to all of the above it will be also taken care of hungry stomachs and dry throats with their catering offer.

You can take a free ski tour bus connecting the places in the Upper Sava Valley. The bus's route in the morning is Gozd Martuljek - Kranjska Gora - Rateče. In the afternoon you can return to the starting point with it. The bus also takes you to the cross-country skiing tracks in Planica and Rateče as well as to skating rinks and to the ski slope Velika Dolina.

HI card holders have a 10% discount on summer tubing Besna Pehta and a 10% discount on panorama trip to the top of Vitranc. The track is 1.5 km long and you can take a ride alone or together with your child.

After snow adventures and putting your ski equipment in the corner you can take some much needed rest in the hostel Barovc which is only 10 minutes walk from the city center. More precisely on the edge of the Triglav National Park above the lakes Jasna. Its surroundings are a paradise for all sports enthusiasts. There is a wi-fi in the hostel, a heated area for ski equipment, a restaurant where you can enjoy in excellent home-made dishes, a bar with an exceptional view and a 24-hour reception desk. The hostel has 11 rooms, each with its own bathroom and toilet and some also have TV. They also accept your four-legged friends. Everybody with the HI membership card get a 10% discount on the overnight stay.

Fortunately, artificial snowmaking also works if there is not enough natural snow, so you can really make the most of the winter. Just make sure you don't run into a tree or a skier!

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Beer from the world's first beer fountain

Refresh yourself with a drink made of hops (green gold)!

Since 2009 the Lower Savinjska Valley has become richer with the opening of the Eco-musem of hop-growing and brewing industry. Follow the steps of the ascent of hop growing and successful breweries of the famous brewer Simon Kukec in Žalec. Hops is a green climbing plant. In the summer its cones become golden and first-class beer is produced out of them. They will also serve you with a homemade hop drink and you can enjoy the lunch of hop pickers.

Slovenia is one of the world's largest producers of hops, as it produces 2-3% of the world's total produce. Around 5-10% of the produced hops is consumed by domestic brewers, while the rest is exported to the west. In the plantations we mainly find Slovenian species, grown at the Institute for hop-growing and brewing in Žalec. 

Hops is mostly connected with the production of beer. Beer is a naturally fermented beverage made out of cereals, hops and water, made by welding and alcoholic fermentation with the addition of beer yeast. Hops tips can also be used in pies, omelettes, pastry, salads or even put in bread.

The main purpose of the Institute of hop-growing and brewing in Slovenia is research and development in the field of hop production. The Institute has a collection of over two hundred different types of plants planted in the garden and the institute also has a gene bank of seeds, where there are more than three hundred different species. It also expanded its activities to fruit growing, viticulture, vegetables and crop production.

The best thing is that HI Slovenia members have a 15% discount on museum tickets.

You can have a rest in the hostel Celje, located in our third largest city of Celje near the main railway and bus station. The rooms are thematically equipped, as the younger artists from Celje took part in the construction of the hostel. They furnished rooms on the basis of legends and myths of the local environment. The hostel also has a laundry room, a winter garden, a larger hall, wi-fi is available everywhere. You can rent a bike for free to see the city. Holders of HI cards have a 10% discount on their stay. Here you can find even more discounts, depending on the country you are traveling to.

In Žalec city park, you can enjoy in a glass (or more) of beer from the first beer fountain in the world, which is a gift to the Slovenian hop plant heritage. Cheers to that!

Horses, adrenaline and beer. An interesting combination, isn't it? I suggest that you save the hop drink for the end so that you are sober while enjoying the horses and water sports.

Monday, 5 February 2018

You Only Live Once – A Trip Full of Adrenalin

Fear is hollow inside and empty outside!

Awake your senses and body on Soča river with TOP extreme rafting center Bovec, which is also the only organizer of bungee jumping in Slovenia! Experience the adrenaline in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere with guides who know Soča river as their own pocket. On their website you can also find the section Why Choose Top: 10x BECAUSE to make your decision easier! Here are some of the key reasons: 

  1. Sport activities on the Soča river have been carried out since 1993. 
  2.  They are the only ones who have changing rooms at the beginning and at the of the destination of your trip. 
  3.  They are the only providers of bungee jumping in Slovenia. 
  4.  In almost 25 years 50,000 of adventure enthusiasts have visited them and they still like to come. 

The Soča river is truly one of the most beautiful European rivers. You can try rafting, canyoning, hydrospeed, bungee jumping, kayaking, zip line, tandem paragliding and sledding from Mangart.

I would like to point out bungee jumping, which is the also the best for those who believe that they have already went through everything in their lives. Jumps are made between May and September once in a weekend. Your body will shiver at least a little which is understandable when jumping in your dreams. Those are always on the other side of your comfort zone. Take a leap from the 55m high Solkan bridge which magnificently and proudly rests above the green-blue Soca. Believe me, the time simply stops and your job is just to let go and enjoy! After doing it you have a huge smile on your face and you are proud of yourself as much as you can be. The liberating feeling is definitely guaranteed.

Of course I shouldn't forget that the HI card holders have a 15% discount on rafting and canyoning and a 10% discount on kayaking, hydrospeed, caving, climbing and of course on bungee jumping.

To fill up your batteries after exciting adventures in the Soča valley go to the hostel Bovec with free wi-fi and much more. You will find it in a more than a century old but now completely renovated house built in a traditional provincial style. Hostel is only 5 minutes away by foot from the main square or from the bus station. And one reminder, in the Bovec hostel with the HI membership card you get a 10% discount on the overnight accommodation!

After doing all these adrenaline sports you will no longer be the same. You will get the urge to do even more things that you are afraid of because fear doesn't really exist. But you already know that.

Monday, 29 January 2018

White Magical Creatures

In contact with nature while riding.

The gracious breed of the white Lipizzaner horse attracts even the most demanding visitor. Highly trained, elegant and proud horses leave no one indifferent. Of course, I am talking about the Slovenian Stud farm Lipica, the place of Slovenian pride. Take a carriage ride across the property or take a riding course. You can also enjoy a picnic in nature or try golf and archery.

Lipica has become the oldest European stud farm in the 16th century, when the summer residence of the Trieste bishop in Karst has been abandoned and transformed into a stud farm. It breeds one of the oldest cultural breeds of horses, which was decided by archduke Charles. The decision is also the reason that the Lipizzaner horses are very much connected with the Habsburgs. He liked the place because the Karst reminded him of Spain and the Spanish horses were a key strategic factor for the Habsburgs back then.

We can witness a classical dressage. Its goal and starting point is the preparation of a horse and a rider to show harmonised moves performed by horses in free movement not using any force. This scene is definitely a balm for our soul. The Lipikum Museum, however, beautifully depicts the image of our Slovenian pride, as it is interactive and contemporary, so children will also enjoy it.

Even before visiting the stud farm, you can download the Guide to Lipica application on the Google Play or App Store to your mobile phone, making it easier for you to visit the stud farm. Your four-legged friends are also warmly invited to join you.

HI card holders have a student discount on a guided tour of the Lipica stud farm, to see the performance of the classical riding school and on the Experience the Lipizzaner horse programme.

There is the hostel Ociski Raj near Lipica in the village of Ocizla, where you can stay after the horse's adventure. In addition to the beds and breakfast options, the hostel has a large common area with a kitchen, wireless internet and bike rental is also possible. Everybody with the HI membership card get a 10% discount on the overnight stay. More active travellers can take a walk on the marked Tiger circular memorial path, visit the Socerb castle or visit the only underground church in Slovenia – the Holy Cave. Yes, believe it or not, we also have that. Choose one of the climbing spots on the Kraški rob or take a hike to the famous Slavnik hill. On the UNESCO list there are also Škocjan Caves which are 12km away from the hostel. If you want to experience how to smoke the meat, take a hike in the Dimnice cave in the devil's meat smoking room. Here you will also find the oldest European tourist cave Vilenica. 

One, two, three and we're going! Well, now we experienced another adventure in nature on the white Lipizzaner's back!

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Coffee Stories from Ptuj

I don’t really know when my love for coffee started, but I can remember that my weeks in high school always ended with a coffee with my three best friends in an extremely popular coffee house Maček in the little city at the end of the world. Through years, drinking coffee became a ritual – a time, when you get to talk with people, hang out and just be with them, which is much needed in today’s crazy world. Maček coffee place closed long time ago and I haven’t seen my friends from high school for many years, but the memories are still alive. Travelling around the world always includes drinking coffee and every espresso brings me back to a nice coffee house near Milan cathedral where I met four international friends. We made a joke that every time someone says expresso instead of espresso, an Italian falls off his Vespa. 

Author: Boris B. Voglar
And of course, I was really thrilled that the third Festival of coffee and coffee culture was held in the oldest Slovenian city Ptuj. The festival is the first coffee festival in Slovenia and was held from 28th of September to 1st of October in many places in the city. 1st of October is also the international coffee day. The main theme of this year’s festival was Bosnian coffee and coffee drinking culture. The organizers said that the festival joins historical, cultural, social and culinary elements of coffee and emphasises that coffee is also a reason for socialising. Many events were held. In the monastery of Dominican Order we were able to see the biggest Turkish coffee pot (džezva) in the world, which made sure that the visitors could enjoy in the coffee flavour, named Zlatna đezva. The visitors could also visit the photography exhibition named Skodelica kave (Cup of Coffee) by Boštjan Bračič. 

Author: Boris B. Voglar

Some people may find it weird that the coffee festival is held in the city, famous for its wines but the fact is that Ptuj has an interesting and long coffee house history. The first coffee house was established on Prešeren street in the middle of 18th century. Enterpreneur Jožef Kipertz bought a building where the hotel Mitra is now located from a famous cafe owner Janez Mihael Reitter in 1785.  Kipertz even married his stepdaughter and soon began to import coffee and roast it in his own roasting mill near the city. Because of him we can still enjoy a cup of real Kipertz coffee in today’s cafe in the hotel. The coffee is still roasted by its original recipe and is a great visiting point for every coffee drinker.

Author: Boris B. Voglar
Don’t forget to walk around the city and see for yourself that Ptuj is full of history. If you decide to stay for a few days, you can find an accommodation in hostel Poetovio, which is part of Hostelling International. It’s a cute hostel with 60 beds, which is located in the student dormitories and is only a kilometre away from the city centre and a great starting point to explore the oldest Slovenian city.