Friday, March 22, 2013

Slovenia is my favorite

If Cinque Terre is my favorite place in Italy, Slovenia is my favorite country we've visited (so far). We first decided to go to Slovenia when we met the lady who handled our Soggiorno (essentially an Italian visa for people who are living in Italy but aren't residents).  She is from Slovenia and she would always rave about her country.  She was so nice to us (and still is--we see her all the time) and she even brought in a Slovenian travel book.  Slovenia is only a couple hours from here--just north past Trieste.  We saw a "commercial" for it on AFN and decided to give it a go.  We booked a chalet in a tiny mountain town named Kamnik from a nice British couple.  Kamnik was centrally located since we wanted to visit places all over Slovenia.  We watched the Rick Steves video on it and were off the first week in June after school got out.  It was hot as hell, unseasonably so for Slovenia.  We were able to stay 5 days and loved every minute.  It was a wonderful country, only 20 years out of communism and the people were the nicest we've met yet (except for the lady at the toll both who almost strip searched Steve at the boarder over our vignette--it's a long, but hilarious story). Everyone was thrilled we were in their tiny country for a vacation! They loved that we were on a family vacation and that we had decided to come to Slovenia.  Everything was very, very cheap and wasn't crowded in the least.  It was very clean--even in the city--and reminded me a little of Germany, except with less people.  I'm not sure if Slovenia is  country we will get back to, but I would recommend it to anyone.  We had a great time.  Here are the highlights of our trip (the exact days we went places are hazy...):

The sign crossing into Slovenia.  I was surprised that they weren't more special but all the signs look like this from country to country in the EU.

This is the chalet we rented in Kamnik.  It wasn't much to look at from the outside but the view was amazing and the inside was awesome.  It was three stories--the kids were on the top floor and they had a need balcony that looked out over the mountain.  There was a big table on the outside patio where we ate most of our meals.

This is Jack the dog.  He came to visit us the first night we arrived and stayed around the whole time.  He was the nicest dog and the kids loved him--especially Delilah. He loved her because she would leave an unintentional trail of food everywhere she went.

 The view from our front porch.

 View looking down into Kamnik from our house.

View from the back of our house. 

This was the house across the street from us.  We loved to watch the older couple who live there work in their yard all day.  Their yard was perfect.

We read about these racks before we went to Slovenia.  They were everywhere.  The Slovenia people use them to dry the hay that they cut from the fields for their animals.

A bigger picture of the drying racks.

Trey being silly at the restaurant where we ate the first night.

The family in front of the castle at Lake Bled

Family shots at Lake Bled 

Jackson on Lake Bled in front of the castle.  He really wanted his picture taken here.

Our boat "driver" who rowed our boat out to the island in the middle of Lake Bled.  They build the boats themselves by hand and are in great shape. 
Steve and Trey on the boat.  It was hot but not unbearable. 
 Tory on the boat.
Our boat rower. He rowed us across to the island and then waited for us while we toured and then rowed us back across.  The whole trip cost our €40.

 Former home of the Slovenia President Josip Tito.  He died several years ago and was instrumental in getting Slovenia out of communism. The Slovenia people loved him.  The house is on Lake Bled and is directly across from the island church. 

 Views of the island church as we row out to it.
Almost there...

Church on the island from up close. 

Delilah sitting on a carved out chair. She carried that blanket everywhere.  

Steve and Jackson inside the church. Rumor states that if you can get the church bell to ring in only 4 pulls, your wish will come true.  It was super easy..apparently, Slovenians want tourists to be happy.

The front of a boat parked at the island.

 Views from the island over Lake Bled.
Tito's house from the church.

Next, we headed out the to castle on the lake.  We were able to drive up to the top of the hill and park pretty close to the castle.  We had a steep walk up the hill but it wasn't a bad walk.

Tory waiting for me.  Her face says it all...

View from of Lake Bled and the island with the church from the top of the castle. 

 View from the castle on the lake.  Look at all the boats rowing out to the island...
 Yes, she's on was the first time we had wifi on this trip...
Our family at the castle with the lake and the island church in the background.

 View of the other side of the castle. It was breathtaking.

 They actors at the castle did a little reenactment for our family.  It was close to 30 minutes long and after they finished, they let the kids play with some of the props.  It was awesome and everyone had a great time.  One thing that surprised us was that it wasn't crowded at all. We were literally one of the only families there at the castle.

One of the actors with Trey. Trey had a great time.  I love this photo of him. 

One of the two monks at the castle helping me bottle the wine I just made.  The funny thing is that both of the monks are named Andrej.  

This is one of my favorite pictures I've ever taken.  I took it from the car with my iPhone.

 The family standing at the mouth of the Postojna Cave. It was hot outside but got colder and colder the closer we got to the mouth of the cave.

 It was very cold inside the cave--48 degrees--which is why everyone looks so cold.  We rode to the center of the cave on this little train. 
Delilah eating gelato after we went in the cave. Naturally it's strawberry gelato.

the family in front of the Predjamski castle--know as the castle in the cave. 

Our embassy in the Slovenia capital city of Ljubljana.  It was our first time getting to see an Embassy and we kept driving by it until the security workers became worried and started to point and talk on the walkie talkies about us.

View of the city of Ljubljana.

The Dragon's Bridge in Ljubljana.  It's a famous site that we wanted to see and we stared at a map and walked around looking for it for 10 minutes before we realized we were actually standing on it. (True story regardless of what Steve will tell you) 

Trey made an American flag out of his goldfish.

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