Sunday, May 25, 2014

Ljubljana - Brought to you by the letter T

May 1st - May 7th. Traveling from Dubrovnik, Croatia to Ljubljana, Slovenia was a Trek. In fact, we decided that May 1st was brought to us by the Letter T, just like on Sesame Street. After all,  it was a Travel day, and because during our Travels that day, we Took Transportation that included Taxis, Trams, a Take-off and a Train. And it Took all day!

Thankfully, Our delightful host Irena met us weary Nomads at the door of our new home. We arrived on Europe's Labor Day and in Slovenia that extends to a two day event so we were out of luck as far as our usual provisioning was concerned. Knowing that would be the case, Irena stocked the fridge with a few basics (including beer) and we had an interesting collection of snacks leftover from our long travel day. Cookies, cheese and Gummie bears for breakfast? Why not? Now I know why I've carried that powdered tomato soup mix with me all these months - that along with crackers and a can of tuna discovered in the back of Irena's cupboards made for a lovely dinner. And think of the money we saved! The apartment was in a great location and full of books and warm touches.

We took our usual free walking tour the next day and got to know this beautiful city. It is a fairy tale setting. You can easily walk it from end to end, crossing the Danube back and forth as you go. It's like a little Vienna surrounded by medieval walls topped with a wedding cake castle, and for contrast some stark communist overlays.

The entrance to the Parliament building was adorned with scores of nudes representing a good days work by the people

Our tour guide was a college student was enthusiastic about his city and proud of his country. We found that Slovenians in general are very proud of their heritage and their recent independence.Of course they are annoyed by the constant confusion between Slovenia and Slovakia. They even played the wrong national anthem during the Olympics - and you'd think Russia would know the difference!

Ljubljana was a city of contrasts
We heard about a website called from a friend. It's purpose is to connect visitors with locals offering unique experiences outside the typical tourist fare. For example, we found an opportunity to enjoy a traditional Slovenian meal in a private home.

After e-mailing back and forth with our hosts and sharing our story, they invited us to test a Vayable offering they were considering. It was a  trail walk and wine-tasting in the Karst region. No hesitation on our part - other than we didn't know these people and we were committing to at least 3 hours in a car together and a day of hiking to who knows where, and if we didn't like it we couldn't sneak out the back door. But hey, wine and food were involved so we were in!

Our day with Vesna and Robi turned out to be one of the best experiences of our trip. We headed out on a very scenic drive to the Karst region famous for it's Teran wines. We stopped for a stretch in Stanjel a village that seemed to have stopped in time.

Stanjel was a step back in time. This was the main street!

Our hostess, Vesna. She was a full of knowledge about wines, vines and herbs.
Then we were off to Pliskovica. We parked near a popular hostel and picked up a trail map. Then we were off on our 4 mile trek through pastures and vineyards along the Pliskina Pot (Pot translates to trail). It was mostly flat terrain through bucolic fields of wildflowers and crumbling stone walls. Every now and again we found little red circles with a sheep drawing to help us stay the course. Just near the end we stopped for lunch at a gastro farm (Turisticana Kmetija).

On the Pliskina Pot trail. Follow the sheep!
A most memorable feast and a game of dominoes with our new friends.
We were happy to get off our feet in the courtyard around a rustic wooden table shaded by grape vines. There was no menu - you were offered the home-cooked meal of the day. Our repast included a generous pitcher of the farm's own Taran wine, a just picked salad,  seemingly unlimited slabs of crusty bread straight from the hearth,  homemade pickled vegetables, and a huge platter of prosciutto, sausages and salami Next up - Thick cabbage soup studded with potatoes, carrots and fresh herbs! Large dumplings in berry syrup were offered for dessert but sadly, we'd had our fill and had a long drive back on a holiday weekend Sunday. The total for this lovely lunch was $35. for the four of us.

Before we left the village, we stopped at a couple of farmhouses to taste the local Taran. It would appear that just about everyone makes this delicious red wine at home. Just ring the bell and bring your 2 Litre jug and for about $10.00 you have heavenly wine to go. Get thee to Slovenia.

Robi filling a jug with delicious Teran wine to enjoy with our dinner
The next evening we dined with Vesna and Robi in their home as planned. It was nice to be able to continue our conversations from the day before. They were knowledgeable on so many subjects, and Michael was happily able to indulge his political curiosity. Vesna is an herbalist so the menu was replete with interesting dishes that incorporated wild greens including asparagus just picked along the roadside that morning. Here is her website

Nothing like a selfie! So glad we met this delightful couple.
I have to say both of these experiences, were indeed unique, and you would be hard pressed to find them in any travel guide. We will add Vayable to airbnb for all future travel planning. 

We also took a day trip to Bled, just a short train ride away. It is famous for it's lovely lakeside setting and the chapel on an island, and a decadent dessert called Bled Cake. It was a tranquil day and we savored being out of the city and enjoying our nomadic life.

I love the graffiti on trains and this coach to Bled could be my favorite!

Lake Bled. Our tranquil day trip destination.
Good thing we had a hike around the lake before Bled Cake!
Thanks again for following along. Next up Vienna and then to Paris for the arrival of Baby.

Debbie and Michael
Senior Nomads

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