Friday, 28 March 2014

Hiking in hills over Izola

Spring is an excellent time for visiting Slovenia. It is one of those seasons during which you can go skiing in the morning and afterwards enjoy a warm afternoon by the Adriatic sea. For the brave ones even a dip in the sea is not out of the question.


Sunny weather was reason enough for M. and myself to drive to the coast and have a walk in the hills above one of the charming coastal towns of Slovenia. We chose Izola where we left our car and started our circular, 16 kilometre walk.




We got the idea for this hike from a local website (www.izola.eu) where you can check out a few walking/biking suggestions. Maps and GPS directions are available for free download.


After we left our car at a free car park just outside the Izola old city centre we started our walk towards the nearby hills. Quickly we left city streets behind us and found our way amongst old vineyards and olive groves.


Beautiful views of the coast were there to admire all the way around the path. With the exception of occasional wind gusts it was pretty warm for this season. Some trees and flowers were already blooming in bright colours. A branch of rosemary we picked on our way provided a natural aromatherapy opportunity. It smelled even better as it looked.




When we were done with the first half of our walk we stopped for lunch. In the town of Šared we stumbled upon a restaurant called Panorama. The first impression was not too promising, but they offered really good value Sunday lunch menus, which to our surprise were prepared individually - even rice for the shellfish risotto was not cooked in advance.

This meant the lunch stop took quite a while, but it was definitely worth it. We washed the food down with a glass of local wine, made from grapes that grew on a nearby hill. Delicious!




After lunch we continued our walk past a small church dedicated to St. James. It is situated on the outskirts of Šared. From there we followed distinct yellow markings, that can be found on various pilgrimage routes leading to sacral objects dedicated to St. James.
I have a feeling we will be seeing many more of such markings sometime in the not so distant future. More about that in one of the future posts...


From Šared the path led us downhill towards the sea. We passed a few more vineyards on our way and enjoyed beautiful views of Izola below.



We entered Izola through the town's marina and enjoyed a beautiful sunset just as we walked past rows of many moored sailboats and yachts.


One of the most interesting sights on this trip was definitely a small entertainment park (Lunapark) by the seafront. Although it was closed at the time we walked by, it was interesting enough just to look at from a distance. To me it looked like a scene from a horror movie. That huge chimney at the back and graffiti painted old walls sure don't help with the inviting look of the place.
I suppose at night with all the lights on, it might even look a bit more inviting.



For the grand finale we stopped for a glass of wine in the old centre of Izola. There are a few enotecas with great selection of wines. We chose Wine Bar Manzioli, operated by the Zaro family. Apart from owning the charming bar, they also produce some great wine themselves.


It was a great day in the warm spring sun. We are planning to explore the coastal region of Slovenia again as soon as possible.
Actually this Sunday a "Culinary walk of Istria's delicacies" (Kulinarični pohod Istrskih dobrot) is taking place and it might serve as a perfect excuse for another trip to the region.


Clicking on any one of above photos will reveal them all in a much more flattering resolution.

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Thursday, 27 March 2014

Terra Magica

A few days ago I stumbled upon a documentary teaser well worth sharing. It is about something everyone should experience by himself: Slovenian wine.
There are just so many excellent winemakers in Slovenia but mainly due to small production most of them are completely unknown to the global market.


If you ask me, it is just one more reason for spending your next vacation exploring Slovenia. Yo can drop me a line if you need some local advice somewhere along the way.


Feel free to share your thoughts on the video in the comments below.



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Wednesday, 26 March 2014

View of Izola, Slovenia



Clicking on the above photo will reveal it in a much more flattering resolution.

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Wednesday, 19 March 2014

On the slopes of Civetta ski resort






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Friday, 14 March 2014

A glass of wine in a traditional trattoria

Every time we find ourselves in this area of Dolomites, we make stop for a glass of wine at the same place. It is a small restaurant - trattoria, in the village of Mezzocanale. It is called Trattoria da Ninetta.




From the outside it does not look all that special, but there is a very pleasant, local atmosphere waiting for you inside. They offer mostly local dishes for a reasonable price. When you add a glass of good wine you have a winner.




An old fireplace is the main attraction of the place in my opinion. The massive stone fireplace stands in the middle of a cosy seating area. At its side there is a stand with a number of iron tools for poking the fire and keeping it at just the right size to warm up the place.



When we stop at this place and order a glass of Cabernet Franc I always get the feeling my skiing vacation has finally began. It was no different this year.

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Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Another ski season coming to a close

Even though my friends keep posting photos and videos of their recent ski adventures, spring is definitely coming to town. It might take a while for all that snow to melt high up in the mountains but at lower altitudes spring flowers are already blooming.


Despite of all that, my next few posts are not going to be about spring. Instead they will feature a report from our annual skiing vacation in Italian Dolomites (you can find previous reports if you follow the Dolomites label in the right column).




We enjoyed another great week in the snowy mountains of northern Italy. We had a few sunny days, then clouds rolled in and brought some snow. After that the skies cleared again for a while.

There was more than enough snow - we actually had to skip our last day of skiing due to massive amounts of fresh snow. It was so bad they did not even start the lifts for a couple of days.




Since we obviously were not able to ski throughout the last day, we decided to leave a day early. Well... as it turned out instead of leaving a day early, we left a day and a half later.


The end of our week was marked with constant snowfall. On one particular morning a look out of the bedroom window revealed more than a metre of fresh snow. It has been a long time since I saw people shovelling snow from their rooftops.

You can see a morning photo of my car below. I was driving it the previous evening and yes, it was all clear of snow at that time.




In spite of everything, I can say we were quite lucky compared to thousands of people a few valleys to the north. In addition to heaps of snow, they were stuck in their homes without electricity.


Those snow avalanches can definitely cause a lot of trouble. Although power lines were not broken, avalanches blocked all roads going out of the valley we were staying in. In spite of some army troops helping with clearing the mess, roads were being blocked again as soon as they had managed to clear them.




In addition to all that the weather forecast did not look very promising either - it was more snow for the whole next week.


As luck would have it, during our second day of waiting it stopped snowing and in the afternoon when we were already making plans for the next day of waiting, the information about an open road arrived. In a matter of minutes we got our stuff together and left.


Since the road was almost clear of snow our ride was pretty smooth and uneventful. As we got home to Slovenia we saw the power of nature in another form.
It was sleet, which would cripple half of the country in the following days...

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