Friday, April 22, 2011


Apart from our unfortunate run-in at the youth hostel in Ljubljana, Slovenia turned out to be a very cool place.

Slovenes pride themselves on being right in the middle of Europe, part of the EU, very cosmopolitan, and multilingual - many speak Slovene, Italian, German and English as a minimum. They have a long history - early human settlement dates back over 250,000 years - although Slovenia as we know it today is very young; it declared independence in 1991.

Ljubljana is an awesome city, with funky street art everywhere, cool cafés and nice buildings, all presided over by a medieval castle. It just oozes Parisian artsy café culture, with a side of Eastern European grit.

The ever-busy Prešeren Square, with Ljubljana Castle above

Hot chocolate and cherry chocolate cake at one of Ljubljana's many cafés

Statues by Jakov Brdar adorn the Butchers' Bridge

Monster heads on the bridge

Totally heavy metal mannequin

Inspired, I bought some "fierce" boots

The rebuilt courtyard of Ljubljana Castle

View from Ljubljana Castle

We visited the karst cave system at Postojna, a limestone cave not unlike the Jenolan caves back home (although as the most visited show cave in Europe, it is much more touristed - 500,000+ visitors per year!). We saw the cave's mascot, the small and illusive Proteus anguinus, similar to a salamander, along with a host of other endemic cave-dwellers, mainly insects, at the cool Proteus Vivarium near the cave entrance.

This formation is thousands of years old

"Ribbon" formations

Wide walkways protect the caves. With so many visitors every year, you can't let them wander!

An aquarium within the cave holds a few Proteus anguinus for people to see

Proteus anguinus, commonly known as the olm or proteus, is completely blind and lives its whole life within the karst caves

Deciding it was time to treat ourselves, we went to the picturesque town of Bled for some R&R. We spent an afternoon at the amazing Živa Wellness Centre, first getting a massage and then relaxing in the series of saunas. The dry laconium with heated tile seats at a pleasant 40°C (ambient temperature) was a favourite, but we also enjoyed the very humid, pleasantly scented caldarium and hamamm saunas (about 42°C), the bio sauna (50°C, 50% humidity) and the scalding Finnish sauna (90°C - whew!), as well as the various warm and cold pools, showers and lounge areas.

Fully revitalised, we spent some time sampling the local cuisine, walking around the lake, climbing up to the castle and rowing (well, Jace rowed) to the island in the middle of Lake Bled.

Tasty Bled Cake

Even the beetles are funky in Slovenia

Our first couple of days in Bled were very misty

Bled Island, shrouded in mist

Bled Castle and St Martin's Church

Inside St Martin's Church

Modern portrayal of hell in St Martin's - very heavy metal

Dinosaur head made from machine parts - more heavy metal

Another Brdar statue

View from Bled Castle

Rebuilt courtyard of the castle

Looking over the town of Lesce, near Bled, to the mountains

Jace rowing. Our penzion is the yellow building on the left

Heave! Our goal: Bled Island and the Church of the Assumption

Jace about to pull the "wishing bell" on Bled Island

The remains of the frescos that once adorned the Church of the Assumption

Bled Castle, as seen from the island

We definitely felt the love, Slovenia!

1 comment:

  1. WOW. Just came across ur blog via facebook and stumbled onto to a subject dear to my heart - The ANZACS. how amazing to travel there and good on you for travelling now... With three small children, it is a dream of mine to honour those who have fallen with the same pilgramige and one day I will. For now, I read your blog and see your photos and feel like crying with emotion as you bring this solemn service home.