And so our Slovenian journey continued with the kids; After an amazing day visiting the Postojona Caves and Predjama Castle we returned to Ljubljana in the evening to pickup dad at the Airport. He arrived on time and was excited to see us all, looking forward to showing us the country where he was born. We returned to our apartment and made plans for the next week over a bottle or two of Slovenian wine and got caught up on what was happening back home.
The next day we had less than an hour drive from Ljubljana to reach the iconic scenery of Lake Bled. The weather had turned, alternating back and forth from drizzle to downpour but it only added to the ambiance of this beautiful place. We started our tour up on the hill at Bled Castle, although it provided some of the local history the museum/castle itself was a little underwhelming except for the incredible views of the lake below. It offered the perfect location for capturing a great photo of this fairy-tale like place and for me, the real value of the price of admission.
We spent the better part of the morning slowly wandering through the castle grounds before packing up and driving towards Lake Bohinj in the Triglav National Park. The drive was spectacularly beautiful as we made our way past Lake Bled, through the mountains and pristine valleys, past idyllic towns and twisting rivers before reaching Lake Bohinj.
We drove past the lake (to which we would return on our way back), onto a narrow road that twisted and turned under a canopy of trees into a fairy-tale forest towards our destination of Savica Falls (or ‘slap’, the Slovenian word for ‘waterfall’). We parked the car just past the restaurant near a small hotel that was just being built and ventured out into the forest for a hike up to the falls. Just past the parking lot you’ll reach a small gift shop/café where you’ll have to pay $3 euros pp. to cross the bridge and continue up to the falls on a relatively easy 20 minute walk, although mostly uphill. We soon reached the observation hut just across from the falls that were thundering loudly with a stronger than normal flow from the days rain. We were soaked from the mist that poured off the falls and when we ventured outside the protection of the hut the volume turned up like the inside of a car wash.
The falls were breathtaking, the hike was lovely, the park was stunning and we all thoroughly enjoyed this little expedition. Here is the address should you want to visit yourself: Savica Falls :4265 Bohinjsko jezero, Slovenia. Also nearby the falls and Lake Bohinj is the Vogel Ski Resort which has a cable car you can ride to the top of the mountain, we had grand plans but the day wasn’t long enough or the weather all the suitable. If it fits into your plans here is a link and let me know how it goes, looks like some great hiking, mountain biking and incredible view points.
We left the falls driving back the way we came and stopped for a short visit along the shoreline of Lake Bohinj. With some photos on the memory card we continued on a mission back to Lake Bled in search of the famed Lake Bled desert called ‘Crème Snita’ or Kremna Rezina.
Every Slovenian will tell you that it’s a must to try the Bled Cream Cake when visiting Lake Bled and we searched high and low to find the real deal. Running from bakery to bakery, to restaurants and hotels in the pouring rain until we finally found the home of Cremesnita. Although many cafes serve it and you can order it at any Sava Hotel, the original comes from the Park Restaurant and Café situated on the main Bohinj-Bled road, next to the Hotel Jadran and opposite the Grand Hotel Toplice. The address is Cesta Svobode 15, 4260 Bled, Slovenia (You’re Welcome!). It was so worth the expedition after sinking our teeth into the creamy, sweet desert that melts into a delicate, flaky pastry causing us all to whimper in pure enjoyment. We loaded up and took some home for our hosts to enjoy at our next home base in Smeteoz, Slovenia.
After an hour or so journey from Ljubljana the next day was spent visiting and settling in at our stay with some relatives in a small village just off the highway between mountains and a rolling valley, a lovely place to stay for the remainder of our sojourn in Slovenia. The next day we remained close to our home base venturing out for a short visit to the town of Zalec which is in a region known for growing hops and producing beer. The town has a public beer fountain in its central park which our kids thought was brilliant, for $8 euros you purchase a glass beer stein that is micro-chipped to dispense 6-100ml servings of various beers on tap. The fountain is self serving and half the fun as you visit with your friends, locals and other tourists over a pint in the park and when done you get to keep the mug. Feeling a little famished you can also indulge on a variety of local foods at the adjacent kiosks and market.
The next day we were of to Konjice, a typical Slovenian town that lies under the northern slopes of Mount Konjice and the wine growing Skalce Hills. We wandered around town, visited the prerequisite church and café before heading to a rustic cabin styled restaurant well known with the blue-collar crowd. Lunch started with the local specialty of beef noodle soup, then a plate of wiener schnitzel with fried potatoes and steamed vegetables, all washed down with a Slovenian beer. This delicious meal was very reasonable, I think about $8 euros per person and highlighted the value you can get when venturing off the tourist paths. After lunch we drove up into the hills and made a pit-stop to try a glass of the local white wine amidst the vineyards and rolling green hills. That evening we were lucky enough to spend the night at a small private vineyard, the getaway place for a friend of dads who entertained, feed and watered us for the evening- Thanks Franci for the hospitality!
We arose in the morning with a continental breakfast of meats, breads and cheeses laid out by Franci who had planned the days itinerary for us which started with a drive to Maribor. We wandered its shopping district making our way to Glavni Trg, the old town’s main square surrounded by renaissance-style buildings dating back to the 1500’s. Here we had morning cappuccinos with a pastry while watching a band and the crowds that gathered for a small festival. From our seats, you could see across the square to the historical spot where Hitler stood on a balcony overlooking the square and declared that ‘Maribor would be a German city’ in his speech to the occupied city. A reminder of all the changes and history that this city has endured.
We continued walking along the riverfront to the spot where the oldest and still producing grape vines in the world got a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. These ‘Zametovka’ or ‘Modra Kavcina’ vines are confirmed to be over 400 years old, a symbol of the rich wine culture here in Slovenia. Off coarse there were wine bars all around here so we had to stop for a sample.
After leaving the town we ventured high up into the mountains above, stopping at the top for a spritzer on the sunny patio of a chalet style restaurant that was across the road from a church and small ski resort closed for the summer. The scenery was magnificent, reaching a climactic peak after we accidentally turned onto a logging road for a hair-raising drive. We made our way up and then back down into civilization, living to tell the tale.
From here we returned to Smeteoz for the evening. The kids packed up their bags as tomorrow would be their last day before starting their return journey home out of Venice, Italy. After saying their goodbyes, we packed into the car and drove about 2 hours to the seaside town of Portoroz for a relaxing day of swimming and sunning at a beach club. It was an incredibly hot day that kept us drained of any energy and despite all the sun lotion applications we had a few burns. We had to pull ourselves from the beach and continue our journey, a few more hours to the hotel for a night in Venice, Italy. We checked in to an expensive, tiny and anything but comfortable hotel for the night (the price for close to the airport), the only plus being a superb meal at a family run Trattoria across the street.
In the morning, we sadly drove to the airport taking the kids to their departure gate. From here they would fly to London, spend the night and then continue on direct to Calgary. We had missed them so much during our months away and now the fabulous three weeks we spent together was at its end. Standing at the gate we them kissed goodbye and although we would be home in a little over a month the emotions came flooding threw. We embarrassed them with our tearful waves, following them and sliding along the barrier as they made their way through the meandering lines to the final security gate. One last wave and they were gone!
Alone again we left Venice and journeyed back to Smeteoz where we would join dad again for 9 more days touring the Slovenian countryside.
Here’s a video of these adventures where you can see it all come to life, just click on the photo below;