Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Try saying Ljubljana three times fast!

Now that your tongue's all in a twist, let's talk about Slovenia. Yes, that little country sandwiched between Austria and Croatia. It's often left out of the Balkan loop because of its historical ties to Central Europe and the lack of Ottoman influence. But if we're going to be technical than perhaps Slovenia has no place on this blog about Balkan travels but it is still a destination country in and around the Balkan region that should not be skipped.
  • Postojna Cave: a network of 20 km of passages and chambers which have attracted visitors for almost 200 years. Take the "cave train" through the labyrinth. There is lighting to you can see how geology records time through its layers and formations. Guided tours last about an hour and a half.  
  • Triglav National Park: "The Kingdom of the Seven Triglav Lakes is a land that does not know how to smile, so deeply serious have the natural forces designed its face and chosen its colours." (Julius Kugy, mountaineer) This national park is best known for its network of walking, trekking and cycling routes through flat valleys and rigorous mountain terrain. 
  • Ĺ empeter: Antiquity is preserved in this town in the form of  a Roman necropolis filled with 1st century tombs. The sepulchres have been reconstructed complete with columns, peaked roofs and griffins guarding the dead.
  • Ptuj: This town is one of the oldest in the country, dating back to Medieval Times. It is worth a day visit to see the museums, monasteries and castles. 
  • Bled: It is crawling with tourists but there is good reason why it's so popular. The island church and the mountain peaks are indescribable.

 Slovenia may be small but there is a lot to offer. The capital, Ljubljana is located in the approximate middle and its the best place to station yourself and then take day trips outside to the different regions. Grab a cheap flight to Ljubljana from practically anywhere in Europe and you won't be disappointed with your choice. The city is quite small of a European capital making it totally accessible on foot or on bicycle. The best places to eat are around the university faculties where more than 50 000 students are studying. There is more than enough choice when it comes to cafes, bars, bistros and restaurants. The pace is laid back and definitely addictive.