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.