First of all, getting to Slovenia from Heviz, Hungary can be a very-very-very long trip. For us it consisted of having to stand under the mid-day sun with no shade to be found; getting dropped off in the middle of cornfields after misled to believe it was the BEST place on Earth to hitch-hike from; and ended in cursing our heavy backpacks that we had to carry to the nearest village for 3km.
After 8 rides, 12 hours and 100 km (!!) we made it only as far as Croatia, Varaždin- that as well using the train. Consider it as a luck or a bit of good planning, we got a ride by our Slovenian host Aljaz, who was visiting one festival at the town. A night was spent already in a soft bed (that we missed so dearly after camping) in Ptuj
7 days is not particularly a long time to visit one country, but it’s long enough to get a first impression and enjoy at least few good local meals with the crowd. Just to give heads up, the weather was dictating our stay in Slovenia so no camping or hiking, and no breath taking mountain view pictures included.
But we did see and discover something and here are our highlights of the travel:
Wonder in medieval Ptuj
Let be taken back in time and find a day to wonder around the Slovenia’s oldest city. If you have ever been in Tallinn, Estonia, then this is place that’s almost alike. Red rooftops, cobble stoned streets, and architecture pointing back to 14th century. Ptuj welcomes you open handed with corner cafes and ice-cream shops. Also for a great view, you don’t have to go far, as the castle is easy to climb to and will be on „the way“ anyway. Also few art galleries and churches, and you pretty much have an idea what this place is about. Best time to visit Ptuj is in spring, when ten days long Pagan festival Kurentovanje takes place. Kurenti’s dressed up in sheep-skin and scary masks go from home-to-home, town-to-town and make a lot of noise to keep bad spirits away. For the gratitude, bars offer them free drinks, which makes the creatures pretty rowdy as crowds gather to celebrate with them.
Visiting locals and sneak-peeking their everyday life
Honestly, there is nothing greater when travelling, than getting invited over to locals homes and having a chance to see how they spend their Saturday afternoons. On our way to Ljubljana, we had an unexpected snack break with Aljaz girlfriends family on the hills of Haloze. Once again we cannot get over the Slavic hospitality that fills the table magically with food and makes you feel like home from the first second on. We got a chance to taste homemade berry schnapps that was sweet and tasty but strong as hell. Also a taste of very traditional regional food “meso iz tunke” that is basically smoked pork preserved in lard and eaten over a bread loaves with freshly picked veggies. And of course, a good meal deserves always a good bottle of local wine with some sparkling water added to it.
Have nights out in capital Ljubljana
Zig-zag in the old streets; cross the Dragons bridge; climb the castle; or enjoy SUPER good ice-cream in one of the many newly opened gelato ice-cream cafes. Like the city name promises, you will love the place and its diversity, where the old meets the new and the city is very lively with all the art works and students roaming the streets. The place has it charms, whether you will find it in the graffiti filled streets or from the banks of Ljubljanica river. The very popular urban and alternative street culture is worth to discover and helps you to understand better why you see chandeliers or umbrellas hanging down random places and what the vibe is about.
If you have ever been to Christiania in Copenhagen, then you will enjoy Metelkova neighborhood that is close by to Museum of Modern Art and Museum of Contemporary art. This artsy Freetown of Squatters offers a visual dessert during the day and crazy Sodom and Gomorra like atmosphere at night- but don’t be afraid, it’s all in its great and positive means and easy going crowds make you feel pretty safe.
Every night is a party night for a university town, so something is always going on, and there are bars always open to bang some Balkan pop.
Olimpia Burek – so much more than just a pie filled with meat
There is burek- originally from Turkey called bürek, that refers to a type of pie filled with meat. Somehow in Slovenia, burek gets a totally higher rank if foods and seems to be a most talked dish with its meat, spinach or cheese filling. They even have a song about it!
But there is difference between a burek and THE burek. Last one you can only get from Olimpia Burek that specializes on Pizza Burek (yes mushrooms, sausage and all that stuff). For 2.30 € it offers you a filling meal before you go home from night out. The small kiosk for the fatty meal is at Prazakova Ulica near the Bavarski Dvor bus station, and you will find it easily by looking for the queue of people lining up on the street at night.
Gelato Ice – cream
We already mentioned the ice-cream, but one picture can say more than thousand words.
Beat the bad weather and scuba dive at the cost in Piran
Piran is a place worth to visit even more with a nice weather. This costal town reminds you everything you would expect to see in Italy, and more so, even the signs on the streets and around are in Italian. The maze like old town center and its neighboring towns Portož and Lucija, can keep you busy for days with walks up and down the coast line. Bear in mind, that Piran is the low-priced location compared to others, so finding a place to stay in Hostel Piran to save some money.
With the showers of rainfall alternating with heavy winds, we were not able to see and do as much as possible, so we almost figured to cancel our 3 day trip and move on. But, thanks to lucky coincidence we found Nemo Divers and it did take us just a second to decide to go for PADI AOWD course and see the coast from under water.
And as it is, the weather is always nice under water and you cannot get more wet than this anyway.
To wrap it up
What we planned but missed due to weather was a hiking trip to Lake Bled and Julian Alps, that is the crown jewel of Slovenia nature – so another good reason to go back an revisit the country.
Also special thanks goes to Aljaz and Klaudija who were just perfect hosts to us!