Austria, Weinstraße July 2017
Friday 21st July
It Dylan’s birthday and I’m feeling bittersweet. He turns 25 today and I have not spent many birthdays far away from him, but really he is a grown up now and I should be getting used to it. But I give him a ring and I wish him and its all ok.
We had plotted a route in the general direction we wanted to travel, so off we went.
Today we are going to leave Austria for Slovenia, what had been intended to be a two or three day drive straight through Austria has turned into the most delightful, enjoyable ( and yes, expensive😉😳) meander through a truly wonderful country.
Our friend Marius had suggested we try the weinstrasse ( sort of like our wine route)and with some tips from Harry and Eva we postponed our border crossing in favour of a search for wine and buchenschanke ( platters if food made with local produce).
Driving in this area right along the Slovenian border reminded us both of parts of Tuscany, with vines planted on every little parcel of land, often on impossibly steep slopes.
So close to the border, on one stretch of really narrow road there were markings on the road showing where the border actually lay. Rose in Slovenia, driven by me in Austria! 😳 One of the really marvelous results of the open borders EU.
Obviously the pursuit of the perfect buchenschanke meant that we had to pass a number of farms before the perfect one was found. In my defence we also noticed that most of them only opened at 14:00, not great at 12:30. We surmised that most likely all the hikers and cyclists only started looking for sustenance, after their endeavours, around mid afternoon.
A glass of Savignon Blanc and apple juice spritz with a farmersplate for one. Friendly Waiter suggested this would be enough for us both, he was right.
Large plate with local cheese, cured meats, pates, sliced apple and quince, tomatos, gherkin and bread. . . Heaven.
Crossing the border was seamless, with a stop for the almost inevitable vignette. More and more countries are seeing this as a great way to raise money. €8.90 in Austria, €15 in Slovenia.
Fairly uneventful 1.5 hour trip on the well maintained highway, lots of tunnels, and we are approaching the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana.
Ljubljana, Slovenia July 2017
Until recently Slovenia was known for.. not much.. only country in the world that has the word ‘love’ in it.
Recently this all changed with Donald Trumps favorite immigrant, his wife Melania, having been born here. This has led to an unexpected surge in American tourists finding their way here.
We searched online and found this really cute site.
Rose: this sosta was outside town attached to guesthouse and restaurant. They call them Gostilna. Small but so cute. We parked in a small place and went into register. So we got electric and some tokens for showers and it was €10 a night. But even better if you ate dinner at the restaurant then the accommodation was free. What a barg? The bus stop was right outside and it was the last stop so you could not miss your stop and there was almost always one waiting to go. And just 15min into the heart of Ljubljana.
Ljubljana was a delight. Really vibey and full of restaurants along the river banks.It was Friday and full of tourists and locals hanging out.
Drinking and chilling at the sidewalk cafes. We decided to start off with an ice cream. Chris was totally conned by the pretty girl serving to take an upgrade in cone! When the bill came he was quite annoyed. But anyway…we took a walk around town and admired the Triple Bridges and all the architecture designed by Ljubljana’s very own Gaudi, Joze Plecnik.
He was a busy man and he had built most of the beautiful buildings in town. It’s a university town and one can feel it in the atmosphere. After walking a bit we found a lovely bar at the side of the river to have our usual Radler and beer or did I have a white wine spritzer , can’t remember anymore. And then more walking until we came upon a beach volleyball tournament. International woman’s volleyball championships with Sweden playing against ????? And to make chris even happier, as we watched the dancing girls came on for half time. That was us , sitting down to watch this very serious match. Chris cheering his new found team , Sweden on with great gusto.
It was fun and the music and live DJ made for an electric atmosphere. Eventually after the game fibsjhwd and his team came 2nd, and he realized no more dancing girls we moved on. To his next favourite thing. Gelato! So we had found a article which praised this artisanal gelato shop and it was just around the corner. gelateria Romantika. Oh my word. Lovely lovely in love! We decided to have a Belgium waffle with scoop of ice cream. And swore we would come back the next day. Ok so now 2nd ice cream of the day and we are full!
Wandering along we had decided to find somewhere to have drink on our way home. We walked back on the other side of the river and came upon a good market. What a good discovery and now rats we were full full of ice cream. The market was a bit like Woodstock Biscuit mill only much much bigger and better. Ok maybe closer to Borough Market. We walked in circles admiring the different goods on display. Fresh mussels, keiserschmarren and pork ribs. You name it, they had it. The locals are out in full force. Buying drinks and food and just plonking down on the steps of the church square. We had the best time people watching. Of course when we decided to sit down and have a drink we could not find one single open table to plonk ourselves it was so so busy we had to circle like vultures and swoop down as we saw someone move.A beer and an Aperol spritz and we were ready for the bus home.
The next morning we were up , showered and into town for the grand tour. We took the funicular up to the castle and did our own self guided tour. It was very interesting with a lot to see including an exhibition violins. We almost got taken for a ‘you know what’ when we went to buy water and they were going to charge us €3 for a small bottle. No ways. Most of Ljubljana has free water fountains everywhere but of course this was the only day we left home without a bottle. We would rather die on the top of the hill than pay €3, I mean AATB.
We walked down the steep slope and into the town where we decided to have an iced coffee on the market. I mean how much can an iced coffee be? Ok note to self. Check the menu first cos clearly there was a reason everyone was drinking beer and wine instead of iced coffee. €7 for two.
Chris grunts and we move on.
There is a fresh food market on where the previous night food market was, so we spent some time wandering around admiring the fruit and veg and the fresh flowers. We decided to buy some white beans, so we asked, well no English , so we used hand gestures to indicate a handful of beans. She promptly scooped 2 handfuls, so Chris said no no, just one. She shakes her head and says no no, so he accepts and ask “how much?” No she says nothing, take it. What ? No we will pay. She refused to let us pay and then added 2 onions to the bag. See her pic below cos this is truly a kind soul.
It was sort of lunch time, and we had planned to find somewhere for a bite. Parsleys pursuits of the perfect restaurant often results in us eating lunch quite late, but surprise surprise, we see next to the fish market a restaurant when has a “fast food” counter. We sit at the counter and a lovely lady called Maria comes to serve us. Once again hand gestures and pointing. What a lovely meal, I had fresh sardines and chips and Chris fish. All freshly cooked right in front of us. Nice glass of white wine, a beer and we were very happy. See Maria below, another of Ljubljana’s lovely souls.
We had chosen to visit the National Museum of Contemporary History, why you ask? no idea cos it was the one the furtherest away from the city centre. Chris the bright spark says, how far can it be, everything is only 15 min walking. So we take a slow wander taking in the many sights. Really there is a lot to see in Ljubljana , botanical gardens, galleries, a beautiful university library, bridges and squares. And we walk and walk and walk, its quite hot so we are sweating a little…but how far can it be. Well 1hr later we are still walking , through a forest so we not sure where it could be , but now we are committed so we keep going. We did find it eventually, very quietly stuck away. We were the only visitors, we had to hammer on the glass door for them to open. We paid for a ticket, ( must tell this story…he asked Chris if he wanted the pensioners ticket, over 6o!!! haha love it. Chris took it of cos, AATB.
We enjoyed the museum as it filled us in a little about Slovenia and the effect of the war as well as communism on this country. It has been pushed and pulled around a lot this little country of amazing beauty.
After that we deserved an ice-cream, so all the way back to Romantika for another go. Then of course a drink on the riverside, this time I tried a new drink. Its called a Rosato spritz, I chose it for the color, but its actually a spirit(notes of hibiscus) from the maker “Ramazzotti” mixed with prosecco and a slice of orange.
It was a lovely day, ending off with dinner at the Inn back at the sosta (parking spot). Here we met the innkeeper Anton. His story was so interesting as his family had owned the inn for many generations. It was taken away from them in the communist era, but lucky handed back. We love the stories, told in broken English, a bit of Italian and then German. I followed along best I could. He had been to SA, so that was a whole conversation on its own, we stayed till midnight just about talking. It was him that advised us to change our plan( or sort of plan) and so we made a complete new approach to Slovenia. After a lovely evening, we headed off to bed with the intention of a fresh start the next morning…
God I love this city..