Showing posts with label Slovenia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Slovenia. Show all posts

Thursday 19 June 2014

Idrija Lace Festival 2014

It is time again for the lace makers to take over the streets of Idrija, Slovenia. This weekend (20.06. - 22.06.2014) the annual Lace Festival will take place again.

If you have the chance you should definitely take a trip to this charming old Slovenian town. The weekend will be full of events and the thread used for lace making will be carefully intertwined with rich technical heritage mostly related to half of a millennium of mercury mining and many local culinary delights.

If that is still not enough to get your attention, you can also enjoy relaxing walks in nature just a stone-throw away from the city.

If you are into history, a visit to the Anthony’s mining shaft (a definite highlight) and the town's museum within the Gewerkenegg castle are a must.

You should check out the official web page for the full programme of the 2014 Idrija Lace Festival.

Choose Idrija as a destination for this weekend's trip and have a great time! After the weekend is over, you will definitely want to visit the area again and again...


Friday 16 May 2014

Timelapse video presentation of Slovenia

This is another great piece of work from the hands of a very talented team of multimedia artists at Vizualist. Enjoy the ride!

If you have not done it already, it is time to put Slovenia on the top of your travel list.


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 ( 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.


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.


Wednesday 26 March 2014

View of Izola, Slovenia

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Monday 18 November 2013

Bled and Slovenia promo video

Another great video presentation of Slovenia has been released a while ago. Since I like it a lot I decided to share it with you.

This video mainly focuses on lake Bled and popular activities in the nearby area. Some other beautiful Slovenian destinations are also included in the presentation.

If you like this one, you should probably also check out a few similar videos about Slovenia I posted a while ago.


Wednesday 30 October 2013

Loving cosy, warm and tender places

Cats love warm and tender places. A heap of freshly cut sheep wool is definitely one such place. This photo was taken during Legenda fest - an annual ethnohistorical event in Vrsno, Slovenia.

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


Friday 25 October 2013

Ironing the Old Fashioned Way

One of many things presented within Legenda Fest in Vrsno, Slovenia (check out our last post for more information) was also a presentation of ironing. Ironing the good old fashioned way.

That is the way our great-grandparents did it. The presentation was set up in a style of a workshop. Visitors could try out their ironing skills with the old equipment. There were various models on display and ready for use.

Heavy irons were filled with ember in order to get properly hot. Those holes on the sides are there to ensure ventilation when swinging an iron through the air. This brings the heat a notch up when it is needed.

Since opportunities for trying out things like these are pretty rare nowadays, visitors seemed excited to try them out.

Even children had no problems fitting in the workshop. On the contrary - it seemed like they were having a great time.


Tuesday 22 October 2013

Legenda fest - an Ethnohistorical event in Vrsno

At the end of August we took part in an annual event in the village of Vrsno pri Kobaridu, Slovenia. Legenda fest took place only for the second time in a row, but with the enthusiasm the whole little village put into the event, there was much to admire.

As it is obvious from the post's title the festival focuses on ethnology and history of the region. Since the local area is still pretty much rural, most of the old crafts and traditions are still alive in one form or another. To make sure those are not forgotten and to revive a few others, the local tourist association has set up this great event.

As a birthplace of a famous Slovenian poet Simon Gregorčič, Vrsno has always been a place of culture. Locals have always had a special affection for patriotic, cultural, poetic and similar ideas.

This was also reflected through their devotion to this event and their focus on well-being of every visitor. We really felt welcome.

It seemed like everyone of the 125 villagers (source: SI-STAT) living there today participated in the event. There was a different workshop set up on every corner. Some focused on traditional local cuisine, others on old local crafts and there were even a few workshops suitable for children.

For a visitor coming from an urban area this was a great opportunity to get a taste of a countryside vibe of the times long gone. Everyone participating in the event was dressed up in typical authentic costumes and used authentic, mostly home made tools from the past.

A visitor could witness how cheese and other local dishes were prepared in the time before electricity was introduced to the area. There was an opportunity to taste most of those things on the spot. On the above photo is an example of such a simple dish - roasted potatoes with cottage cheese.
Everything could be washed down with a generous sample of local schnapps at a small improvised distillery set up near the central village square.

One particular yard in front of a random house was almost impossible to pass without making at least a short stop. Smell of freshly roasted coffee was inviting visitors to take a closer look. You guessed it - it was a demonstration of coffee preparation - the good old-fashioned way. Roasting, grinding and cooking were all done using actual equipment used in the time of our great-grandparents. It tasted at least as good as it smelled.

A special kind of an attraction was a demonstration of hay delivery to the village with the use of a steel cable. Since a large proportion of hay is dried higher on the mountain slopes, this was an ingenious idea for transporting large quantities of it directly to the village where it was stored and fed to cattle during long white winters.

There were also other interesting things on display - like for instance sheep shearing. Also the complete process of wool production was demonstrated.

The afternoon was over all too fast. The event was still in full swing when we unfortunately had to hit the road. Hopefully we shall return on another occasion and sample some more of the genuine local hospitality.

If you find yourself in the Posočje area at the end of August I can easily recommend a visit of this event. A genuine experience is guaranteed!

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


Wednesday 16 October 2013

Kozjak waterfall

Kozjak waterfall is just one of Slovenia's many waterfalls. It is located in the western part of the country, near the town of Kobarid.

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


Friday 11 October 2013

A taste of Tolminc cheese

During our last visit to river Soča valley in Slovenia we also climbed to the top of mount Krn (you can read more about that in our previous post). We started our hike at Planina Kuhinja near villages Krn and Vrsno pri Kobaridu, where we had a chance to taste some of their excellent milk products (Tolminc cheese, fresh cottage cheese and whey).

Everything we tasted was delicious but Tolminc cheese was the definite winner in my opinion. This top quality cheese is made from raw cow’s milk according to local traditional methods. It is also registered as Protected Designation of Origin. It tastes sweet and spicy.

Production procedure of this cheese is strictly regulated and should result in a final product with a specific set of characteristics.

To be sold under the name of Tolminc cheese (Sir Tolminc ZOP), cheese wheels have to weigh between 3.5 and 5 kilos, have a diameter between 23 and 27 centimetres and should be 8 to 9 centimetres high. Inside should be lentil or pea size eyes - that is what those holes are called. Cheese has to be produced out of fresh milk, that was milked from a local breed of brown coloured cows. Cows need to be fed grass and hay from the local area. During production milk also has to be heated to exact temperatures.

Cheese made at Planina Kuhinja has been awarded various prizes for excellency for many years in a row. With such reputation and relatively small production, they do not have any problems selling everything they produce. In fact, their cheese is so popular, they are barely able to age it beyond the 2 months.

Since I had a chance to try their cheese of different ages I have to say I liked the 6 months old the best. It does tend to get spicier and harder with every month it ages, but that is just what I like.

It is worth noting that when grazing season is over, cheese supply also runs out pretty quickly. Every year they drive down cattle from mountain pastures in autumn when temperatures drop and those shepherd's huts stay deserted through winter months.

So if you are thinking about stopping by and have a taste of their products, you should do it during summer or autumn months.

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


Monday 7 October 2013

Ascent of mount Krn

Since I have been posting quite a bit about my climbing adventures lately, I decided to also post a few nice photos from our ascent of mount Krn in Slovenia (2244 metres). The ascent this time included quite a steep hike up the mountain side, but there was no actual climbing involved.

We started our day quite early at Planina Kuhinja, where morning cow milking was already in full swing. This is the place where the best of local Tolminc cheese is made. I will post more about that in one of the following posts.

The climb takes around 3 hours and during that time one has to overcome roughly 1250 metres of elevation in order to get to the top.
We left our car with the first morning light. As the sun rose over the top of surrounding mountains, weather looked quite promising. I succeeded in snapping a few nice photos in the morning light.

At first we followed a narrow road that took us through pastures with grazing cattle. Soon enough we switched to a path and almost at the same time the mountain side became a bit steeper. Terrain obviously got too steep for cows since they were replaced by sheep.

There were countless mountain flowers blooming by the path. Some of them would definitely fit perfectly into a herbal infusion mix.

As we were nearing the top of Krn, clouds started gathering and the view from the top was almost non existent. When we stopped for a refreshment at the mountain hut just below the top it got even worse. Considering the weather, we did not linger around for too long and started to descend back towards our starting point.

Half way down the weather cleared again and we could admire a group of parachute gliders enjoying in obviously good wind conditions. They were gaining altitude with ease.

Despite the not so perfect weather at the top, we were all glad we did the climb. When we got to the bottom again, we made a (not so short) stop at the cheese-makers for a taste of their cheese products and a shot of home-made schnapps. They were also happy to give us a tour of the place and an extensive explanation of the cheese-making procedures. More about that in our next post...

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


Wednesday 2 October 2013

Slovenian bees at work

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Friday 27 September 2013

Climbing Košutnikov turn

Mountaineering has been a popular outdoor activity for centuries in this part of the world. Being partly an Alpine country, Slovenia also has many mountaineering enthusiasts.
Even though I do not see myself as one of those, I do climb a mountain every now and then.

I have already posted a report about climbing Montaž (Jôf di Montasio) a few posts ago. All those ibexes and marmots living there make it a great destination. Check out my post about it and visit it yourself if you ever get a chance.

This time we went to the Slovenian-Austrian border to climb Košutnikov turn (Koschutnikturm). It is a 2133 metres high peak in the central Karavanke mountain range. It is a popular mountaineering destination both from Slovenian and Austrian side. Due to a nice ferrata we chose to climb it from Austria.

We started our ascend from Koshutahaus mountain hut (Koča pod Košuto) and continued along the well marked path (ÖTK Steig Neu) towards the mountain. After a while trees and bushes were replaced with a large scree slope. The interesting part began from there on.

That is where the via ferrata starts. It is a very steep section which continues for a long while. Iron rungs are added in some places in addition to steel cables. We followed the ferrata by a suspended bridge, which we crossed only to get a few photos.

Even with many photo stops, we made it to the top a bit earlier than those red signposts suggested we would.

Once we made it to the top, there were Alpine choughs already waiting for us. From the top there is an interesting view of green slopes on the Slovenian side of the mountain in contrast to a much steeper, rocky approach from the Austrian side.

I can definitely recommend this climb but please keep in mind a helmet and a harness are a must. Since the side of the mountain is practically vertical in some sections, you should probably approach the mountain from Slovenia if you have some fear of heights (no need for all that equipment there).

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


Wednesday 25 September 2013

Suspended bridge at Košutnikov turn

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Friday 9 August 2013

Portrait of a lace maker

Mercury and lace. For centuries those were the main two income sources for the ordinary man (and woman) living in a Slovenian town of Idrija. While men were mining mercury, women spent their days making lace. During the last few decades both of those roles have been slowly replaced by alternatives provided by industry and hobbies of modern times.

With constant growth in tourism sector, Idrija has been trying to take advantage of a rich technical heritage, centuries of Mercury mining have left behind. Delicious local food specialities (žlikrofi) and delicate lace products are just some of all the other things this charming little Slovenian town has to offer to a visitor.

In an effort to help Idrija lace reach the publicity it deserves, I recently took part in a photographic workshop titled "Portrait of a lace maker". These are just some of the results I got from a rainy morning photo-session.

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


Wednesday 7 August 2013

Architectural details of Ljubljana

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Friday 2 August 2013

Open kitchen in Ljubljana

If you are a regular visitor of this blog, you have probably read a thing or two about Slovenia before.
If you are still not sure why you should check it out in person, here are the top 10 reasons for visiting Slovenia. As I have mentioned many times before, Slovenia is all about diversity - there is just so much of everything packed in this little gem of a country.

Food is no exception. Being tucked among countries with pretty distinct cuisines, Slovenia draws a little bit from each one of them. Throughout history the country has been influenced by Italy, Austria, Hungary and nearby Balkan countries. This is still quite obvious when looking at many dishes popular today.

All those influences do not mean there is nothing originally Slovenian in Slovenian cuisine. On the contrary, there are quite a few dishes with a unique local signature. In fact thirteen unique Slovenian foods and food products are even protected at the European level.

For locals and tourists alike there is a great chance to taste this uniqueness once a week in Ljubljana. There is an open food market set up every Friday from 8.00 in the morning till 19.00 in the evening in the very centre of Ljubljana (Pogačarjev trg). The food market is called Odprta kuhna literary meaning Open kitchen.
The plan is to keep the market running from May till October every year.

A while ago I decided to try out how the market looks and tastes like from the first-person perspective. I went there with a group of friends and I must say we all loved it!

When we visited the market there were some of the best restaurant representatives from many parts of the country. Local dishes as well as some fine international cuisine examples were on offer. As I learned, vendors change quite a lot and even those coming for a few times in a row try to present a different signature dish each time.

There were some delicious dishes I had an opportunity to taste for the first time. If you are wondering which one was my favourite, let me tell you it was a close call. I guess the fresh, lightly smoked sea bass fillet prepared at the Gostilna Krištof stall was my favourite amongst all.

The interesting part of this dish was its preparation. Sea bass fillet was first smoked with beech smoke using a specially designed smoking device. Then it was thinly sliced, placed on a vine leaf and seasoned with pepper, ginger and olive oil. I guess we could call it a sashimi with a Mediterranean-Slovenian twist.

Their restaurant is located in Kranj and if you are looking for a taste of Slovenian fusion cuisine with an emphasis on fresh local ingredients, they are definitely worth a closer look. They might not be cheap, but offer a great food experience with an extensive selection of wines.

Some stalls dedicated their attention to drinks only. There was not a large array of wines, beers and cocktails to choose from, but almost everything on offer was really good.
I tried an interesting variation of Mojito cocktail with White Plum Rakia instead of White rum.

To spice things up a little, there was a group of belly dancers. They put on quite a show!

We succeeded in visiting the majority of stalls and tasted as many dishes our bellies could possibly hold. We all agreed we need to do it again as soon as possible. Maybe we do it even today.

If you happen to be near Ljubljana on a Friday, you should definitely plan a visit to this food market. It is an ideal opportunity for finding your new favourite Slovenian restaurant.

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