Thursday, 26 April 2018

Visit the Museum of Illusions

Our senses can cheat on us

Sometimes when things go wrong we think, well, at least we have brain and eyes, they cannot let us down and we can trust them. But we can also put our own senses on the test. In the Museum of Illusions our confidence in the infallibility of the brain can quickly be dispelled. Again, we can ask ourselves the old question: Is everything in our life just an illusion?

There is nothing as it seems in the Museum of Illusions. In fact, this is not even a real museum. It's not a boring museum where you can only see exhibitions of old things or paintings. Museum is different especially in the fact that it is open every day from nine in the morning to ten in the evening, when other museums are already closed. There is no tour guide there since each visitor is guided by himself. Each exhibited object, whether it is an image, an installation or a room, has an explanation in Slovene, English, German and Italian. Instructions are the guide of what to do with the object and it is a must to follow for the perfect experience. Then it is explained exactly how the relationship between your mind and your eyes works in an object and why the brain does not always understand what the eyes are telling it. This is a great way of entertainment and of learning to understand our vision, perception and brain. The museum gives us the opportunity to discover complex science in a simpler way. All illusions are the result of some scientific research. In the museum we can take a photo, in fact, there are many highlighted photo points from which you can make unusual photos of your co-visitors in all possible poses. And a great photo that cannot be taken anywhere else can be also taken here. Perhaps you've always wanted a photo of your head on a tray on a setting table. Or photos on which you are jumping or sitting on the ceiling. But you can also take a picture with a special camera that works like a kaleidoscope.

There are dozens of paintings in the museum which seem perfectly normal, but of course, when you look closely, they are not. They put your eyes and brain on a test. You can study for hours and think which line is longer than the other. We also find special 3D holographs that change right before us and even Einstein’s heads are waiting for us. There are also some kind of rooms that literally rotate your gaze and give you the opportunity to see things from a new perspective. You can go to an endless disco or to a room where gravity does not work where the ball rolls upwards and even you can get dizzy for a moment. 

With their special features these rooms create an illusion. One of the main stars of the museum is certainly the VORTEX tunnel in which you feel like the whole world revolves around you and you lose balance while trying to not fall down every time you make a step. You can also play with basic colours and observe their inflow. The Ames Room, however, allows us to follow people’s size changing only by walking around the room. The specialty of the museum is that each of the illusionist rooms has its own hashtag with the name of the room which gives them even greater interaction. In the end you are invited to play in a smart playroom which is also very suitable for the youngest as it encourages you to exercise your brain cells through playing with special wooden toys and other games. This way you can further test your brain cells and give them new challenges. Some games can also be bought at the store. There are so many things in the museum that your head can start spinning. All this can come from all optical scams and sloping rooms or simply from all the experiences in the museum. The Museum of Illusions is the largest museum of its kind in this part of Europe.

The museum is such a great, fun and educational relaxation from everyday life. It surprises us and makes us think. Perhaps we can be overwhelmed by how easy it is to influence our brain. It is also suitable for connecting and meeting new people since it is important to cooperate and interact with each other for the perfect experience. And of course we can interact through photo shooting. The museum is located in the centre of Ljubljana, on the Congress Square, near the University of Ljubljana and has two floors. It is in the immediate vicinity of other sights which also means shelter in the rain or on too hot days. The museum was opened in the autumn of 2016 but thanks to all its characteristics, it quickly gained popularity and is certainly worth a visit. It is perfect for every generation and it is also suitable for group tours.

And now the great news: holders of HI cards have a 5% discount on the price of an adult ticket, which costs 9.5 euros. Did you know that the face you see in the mirror is not the same as that seen by other people when they look at you?

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!