Thursday, 8 March 2018

Hop on the train of our ancestors!

Let's go 100 years back!
The well-known Bohinj railway has been celebrating 110 years. With the help of the company ABC rent a car in turizem d.o.o. you can take a ride with a steam train that used to be used there. Departures start in May and last until November 2018. In the morning the train takes off from Jesenice and ends the journey in Nova Gorica. On the way you can of course get off at the following stations: Lake Bled, Bohinjska Bistrica, Most na Soči and Kanal. In the afternoon it goes back on the same path. During this time you can admire numerous bridges, viaducts, ravines, grapes, emerald river Soča, see the lake Bled and the Bled castle and drive through the longest tunnel which measures about 6km. You can also see planted vines, figs, almonds and persimmons on the way. At Solkan the train crosses the Solkan bridge with 85-meter stone arch which makes it the biggest stone bridge in the world. There is also a restaurant carriage on the train. Pets are not allowed and bicycles are.
In 1906 the mentioned route connected central Europe with the Adriatic part of Austria-Hungary. The Bohinj route is only part of the entire Transalpine line connecting the Czech Republic in the north and Trieste to the south. Since part of it leads through the Julian Alps, at the time it was a great construction achievement. It was opened by the emperor Franz Ferdinand. Today it connects Slovenia, Austria, and Italy for tourism purposes.
In addition you can indulge yourself in a bus trip through the beautiful Goriška Brda. You get off in Kanal, climb up an observation tower in Gonjače where you can see Friuli, Italian Dolomites, Julian Alps, the Karst region and the Vipava Valley. You might take a look at one of the wine cellars too. This landscape is also very fertile throughout the whole year. Sweeten your days with local cherries, persimmons, peaches, grapes, chestnuts ... Make a toast with excellent wine or have a taste of first-class olive oil.
Of course I shouldn't forget that the HI card holders have a 10% discount on the train ride with the steam train along the Bohinj railway.

After a pleasant and tiring day make a turn to the hostel pod Voglom in Bohinj, which is located just by the Bohinj Lake. Let me emphasize that this is the biggest hostel in Slovenia (119 beds). There is also the Pac sports outdoor agency that offers sports activities. In the summer refresh yourself in the cold lake or explore the surroundings with a bike or a boat. In winter go skiing, snowboarding, skating, hiking, snowshoe walking or try rafting, this time in the snowy version. You can use a free ski bus to the Vogel ski center which is 2 km from the hostel. There are even more ski resorts nearby so there is no shortage of choices. One important reminder here: in the hostel pod Voglom with the HI membership card you get a 10% discount on the overnight stay!
The region that connects several countries and observing it while taking a steam train ride is truly breathtaking and picturesque. The experience will not be exactly the same as in the Harry Potter books where the train picks you up on the platform 9 and three quarters but it will be still exciting, especially for the children!

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Lace with mercury?

Fortunately, it's just a joke!

Idrija is famous as the oldest mining town in Slovenia which has the second biggest mercury mine in the world. You can see Antonijev tunnel which is the oldest part of the mine. The cultural and technical heritage of the town can be found in the Gewerkenegg castle where the Idrija municipal museum is located. Of course here you can find also the worldwide famous lace. You can see the exhibitions in the lace school in Idrija where they take care of the preservation and development of lace making. The school also works with companies that apply lace to furniture.

@Author - Jani Peternelj;
The Idrija Geopark lies at the edge of the Alpine and Karst worlds. Due to its unique characteristics on a worldwide scale, in 2015 it acquired the name UNESCO Global Geopark Idrija. You can visit the war museum where soldiers as dolls are in original uniforms and you can see more than 100 pieces of weapon used in the fights. Stop at the Slovenia partisan printing shop which was operating in a hard-to-reach location. They printed the only daily newspaper ever printed by some resistance movement during the occupation of Europe.

@Author - Jani Peternelj;
TIC (Tourist Information Center) Idrija provides us with general information about the city, its surroundings, its sights and events. From the events choose the international Idrija Lace Festival. If your stomach begins to rumble, then you should try žlikrofi, zeljševka and smukavc. The first ones are prepared from dough and stuffed with potato filling, the second one is potica (roll) stuffed with chives and the last one is a stew made out of cabbage, potatoes, garlic and dressed with minced lard. If you are still hungry, order ocvirkovca and štruklji. The first one is potica (roll) stuffed with cracklings and the last ones are made out of dough with a sweet filling of raisins and nuts. Hire a local tourist guide for a more authentic experience of Idrija. If not you, you can still choose a postcard, a souvenir or take some brochures. To genuinely start or finish your culinary research, sip a few drops of geruš which is a bitter absinthe drink. Back in the days the wine was expensive so with the help of methylated spirit, absinthe and spring water the miners created a drink that made them feel happier and more carefree.

@Author - Geopark Idrija;

I recommend staying at the Idrija hostel. It lies atop a hill above the city where a bed awaits you for only 9€/night. The closest cafes to seize the day are only 5 minutes away by foot. They offer you free bed linen, a towel as well as free internet and parking. If booked in advance, an all-inclusive package is a great deal. If you decide to be their guest, remember that with the HI Slovenia membership card you get 10% off

A city that is truly versatile. For lovers of history, underground, fashion, food ... I'll bet anyone can find something here to fall in love with!

                                                                                                               Saša Sladič

Monday, 5 March 2018

Caught in the labyrinth in the middle of Ljubljana

Unique adventure game in the dark labyrinth

Fun and adrenalin? Yes, please. And what if we add some inventiveness, moving walls, dark, flash light with a timer and different challenges? Yes, yes and yes! Then come to Ljubljana for an adventure. Labyrinth Ljubljana offers the first interactive adventure game in Slovenia and Europe and is everything described above.

My sister, friends and I visited Labyrinth Ljubljana on a Sunday night. We were hoping for two hours of fun and left filled with adrenaline, higher heart pulse, some bruises on our legs (if you’re clumsy like me, you get that for free), but most importantly happy that we got out of the labyrinth with our wit and wishing that we come back again, as it was really fun.

If you’re an explorer by heart, you’re not afraid of the dark and a timer will get your adrenalin flowing, then Labyrinth Ljubljana is a great adventure treat for you. The labyrinth is located in an old, abandoned house, about 4 kilometres from the Ljubljana city centre (you can get here by buses 7 and 7L) close to the northern bypass to Kranj. The house isn’t anything special until you get a peak inside and see what is hiding in it. A two story house is also an old gallery of the artist Aleksander Novak. You can see it only if you enter a huge labyrinth on 500 square metres and find a way out of it on the other side. It sounds simpler than it is. You travel around the labyrinth in dark and only a flash light with a timer and your friend will help you get out. On your way to the exit you will face challenges, which will see how inventive, courageous, skilful and cooperative you are.

There are two labyrinths available. Gallery on the ground floor and Workshop on the upper floor. The concept of the game is the same, but the labyrinth and the ambience are different. First you have to watch a movie with your team (there can be 3 to 5 people in your team) and then you go to your base – a room where you and your team will spend most of your time. We chose the labyrinth Workshop, which is on the upper floor and we had to climb a ladder to get there. That explains the bruises on my legs. Two members of the team go to the labyrinth at the same time and have a flash light with them, which turns on for only a certain number of seconds and then turns off. It makes sense that friends help each other in the labyrinth. They have to search for challenges in the dark labyrinth where it seems that there are countless turns and crossroads. When you think that you know your way and that you’ve been walking on it before, something changes, the door that you’ve already unlocked, get locked again. What the hell? To get even hotter, the flash light signals that you only have half the flash light time. Then you and your friend head back. If you don’t... you and your friend’s breath (and scream) will be the only thing you hear in the dark labyrinth. Yes, the first adrenalin adventure that gets your blood really flowing.

Labyrinth Ljubljana offers great fun for family and friends where you will be scared for each other, encourage and help each other and solve the clues and riddles together. With some luck and inventiveness, you will find the exit in 120 minutes and rescue yourselves from the dark labyrinth and be able to breathe the fresh air again. Do you dare? All you need is a team of fearless people, sports clothing, two hours of time and the fun can begin. Don’t forget, HI membership card brings you a 15 percent discount on the adventure game Labyrinth Ljubljana. What are you waiting for? The timer will start any second now.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Home of excellent Slovene winter sportsmen

Let's ski on the white slopes!

RTC Žičnice Kranjska Gora d.d. provides enjoying on the snow on one of the oldest ski resorts in Slovenia for 70 years. The ski resort received the World Ski Award in the years from 2013 to 2015. You can even go night skiing. In the Alpine Park try the giant slalom where you are tested for driving on time and "fun park" is waiting for all fans of "freestyle" skiing. Alpine ski club Kranjska Gora trains young competitors and organizes matches on European and global scale.

For the youngest is taken care of in the children's snow park where the little ones can relax, ski and have snowball fights. Children can also enjoy in playful learning to ski at playing park Planica. When not skiing children can sled, create sculptures from the snow or look for hidden elves. At the Alpina Hotel is a winter kindergarten where children are being animated and they can play with each other so their parents can fully enjoy in their winter vacations.

For all those who are just getting to know skiing there is a wide choice of ski schools. There you will learn alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, etc. You can rent skis, bars, helmets... In addition to all of the above it will be also taken care of hungry stomachs and dry throats with their catering offer.

You can take a free ski tour bus connecting the places in the Upper Sava Valley. The bus's route in the morning is Gozd Martuljek - Kranjska Gora - Rateče. In the afternoon you can return to the starting point with it. The bus also takes you to the cross-country skiing tracks in Planica and Rateče as well as to skating rinks and to the ski slope Velika Dolina.

HI card holders have a 10% discount on summer tubing Besna Pehta and a 10% discount on panorama trip to the top of Vitranc. The track is 1.5 km long and you can take a ride alone or together with your child.

After snow adventures and putting your ski equipment in the corner you can take some much needed rest in the hostel Barovc which is only 10 minutes walk from the city center. More precisely on the edge of the Triglav National Park above the lakes Jasna. Its surroundings are a paradise for all sports enthusiasts. There is a wi-fi in the hostel, a heated area for ski equipment, a restaurant where you can enjoy in excellent home-made dishes, a bar with an exceptional view and a 24-hour reception desk. The hostel has 11 rooms, each with its own bathroom and toilet and some also have TV. They also accept your four-legged friends. Everybody with the HI membership card get a 10% discount on the overnight stay.

Fortunately, artificial snowmaking also works if there is not enough natural snow, so you can really make the most of the winter. Just make sure you don't run into a tree or a skier!

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Beer from the world's first beer fountain

Refresh yourself with a drink made of hops (green gold)!

Since 2009 the Lower Savinjska Valley has become richer with the opening of the Eco-musem of hop-growing and brewing industry. Follow the steps of the ascent of hop growing and successful breweries of the famous brewer Simon Kukec in Žalec. Hops is a green climbing plant. In the summer its cones become golden and first-class beer is produced out of them. They will also serve you with a homemade hop drink and you can enjoy the lunch of hop pickers.

Slovenia is one of the world's largest producers of hops, as it produces 2-3% of the world's total produce. Around 5-10% of the produced hops is consumed by domestic brewers, while the rest is exported to the west. In the plantations we mainly find Slovenian species, grown at the Institute for hop-growing and brewing in Žalec. 

Hops is mostly connected with the production of beer. Beer is a naturally fermented beverage made out of cereals, hops and water, made by welding and alcoholic fermentation with the addition of beer yeast. Hops tips can also be used in pies, omelettes, pastry, salads or even put in bread.

The main purpose of the Institute of hop-growing and brewing in Slovenia is research and development in the field of hop production. The Institute has a collection of over two hundred different types of plants planted in the garden and the institute also has a gene bank of seeds, where there are more than three hundred different species. It also expanded its activities to fruit growing, viticulture, vegetables and crop production.

The best thing is that HI Slovenia members have a 15% discount on museum tickets.

You can have a rest in the hostel Celje, located in our third largest city of Celje near the main railway and bus station. The rooms are thematically equipped, as the younger artists from Celje took part in the construction of the hostel. They furnished rooms on the basis of legends and myths of the local environment. The hostel also has a laundry room, a winter garden, a larger hall, wi-fi is available everywhere. You can rent a bike for free to see the city. Holders of HI cards have a 10% discount on their stay. Here you can find even more discounts, depending on the country you are traveling to.

In Žalec city park, you can enjoy in a glass (or more) of beer from the first beer fountain in the world, which is a gift to the Slovenian hop plant heritage. Cheers to that!

Horses, adrenaline and beer. An interesting combination, isn't it? I suggest that you save the hop drink for the end so that you are sober while enjoying the horses and water sports.

Monday, 5 February 2018

You Only Live Once – A Trip Full of Adrenalin

Fear is hollow inside and empty outside!

Awake your senses and body on Soča river with TOP extreme rafting center Bovec, which is also the only organizer of bungee jumping in Slovenia! Experience the adrenaline in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere with guides who know Soča river as their own pocket. On their website you can also find the section Why Choose Top: 10x BECAUSE to make your decision easier! Here are some of the key reasons: 

  1. Sport activities on the Soča river have been carried out since 1993. 
  2.  They are the only ones who have changing rooms at the beginning and at the of the destination of your trip. 
  3.  They are the only providers of bungee jumping in Slovenia. 
  4.  In almost 25 years 50,000 of adventure enthusiasts have visited them and they still like to come. 

The Soča river is truly one of the most beautiful European rivers. You can try rafting, canyoning, hydrospeed, bungee jumping, kayaking, zip line, tandem paragliding and sledding from Mangart.

I would like to point out bungee jumping, which is the also the best for those who believe that they have already went through everything in their lives. Jumps are made between May and September once in a weekend. Your body will shiver at least a little which is understandable when jumping in your dreams. Those are always on the other side of your comfort zone. Take a leap from the 55m high Solkan bridge which magnificently and proudly rests above the green-blue Soca. Believe me, the time simply stops and your job is just to let go and enjoy! After doing it you have a huge smile on your face and you are proud of yourself as much as you can be. The liberating feeling is definitely guaranteed.

Of course I shouldn't forget that the HI card holders have a 15% discount on rafting and canyoning and a 10% discount on kayaking, hydrospeed, caving, climbing and of course on bungee jumping.

To fill up your batteries after exciting adventures in the Soča valley go to the hostel Bovec with free wi-fi and much more. You will find it in a more than a century old but now completely renovated house built in a traditional provincial style. Hostel is only 5 minutes away by foot from the main square or from the bus station. And one reminder, in the Bovec hostel with the HI membership card you get a 10% discount on the overnight accommodation!

After doing all these adrenaline sports you will no longer be the same. You will get the urge to do even more things that you are afraid of because fear doesn't really exist. But you already know that.

Monday, 29 January 2018

White Magical Creatures

In contact with nature while riding.

The gracious breed of the white Lipizzaner horse attracts even the most demanding visitor. Highly trained, elegant and proud horses leave no one indifferent. Of course, I am talking about the Slovenian Stud farm Lipica, the place of Slovenian pride. Take a carriage ride across the property or take a riding course. You can also enjoy a picnic in nature or try golf and archery.

Lipica has become the oldest European stud farm in the 16th century, when the summer residence of the Trieste bishop in Karst has been abandoned and transformed into a stud farm. It breeds one of the oldest cultural breeds of horses, which was decided by archduke Charles. The decision is also the reason that the Lipizzaner horses are very much connected with the Habsburgs. He liked the place because the Karst reminded him of Spain and the Spanish horses were a key strategic factor for the Habsburgs back then.

We can witness a classical dressage. Its goal and starting point is the preparation of a horse and a rider to show harmonised moves performed by horses in free movement not using any force. This scene is definitely a balm for our soul. The Lipikum Museum, however, beautifully depicts the image of our Slovenian pride, as it is interactive and contemporary, so children will also enjoy it.

Even before visiting the stud farm, you can download the Guide to Lipica application on the Google Play or App Store to your mobile phone, making it easier for you to visit the stud farm. Your four-legged friends are also warmly invited to join you.

HI card holders have a student discount on a guided tour of the Lipica stud farm, to see the performance of the classical riding school and on the Experience the Lipizzaner horse programme.

There is the hostel Ociski Raj near Lipica in the village of Ocizla, where you can stay after the horse's adventure. In addition to the beds and breakfast options, the hostel has a large common area with a kitchen, wireless internet and bike rental is also possible. Everybody with the HI membership card get a 10% discount on the overnight stay. More active travellers can take a walk on the marked Tiger circular memorial path, visit the Socerb castle or visit the only underground church in Slovenia – the Holy Cave. Yes, believe it or not, we also have that. Choose one of the climbing spots on the Kraški rob or take a hike to the famous Slavnik hill. On the UNESCO list there are also Škocjan Caves which are 12km away from the hostel. If you want to experience how to smoke the meat, take a hike in the Dimnice cave in the devil's meat smoking room. Here you will also find the oldest European tourist cave Vilenica. 

One, two, three and we're going! Well, now we experienced another adventure in nature on the white Lipizzaner's back!