Wednesday, 31 July 2013

August, a month soaked with music

There are still many hot summer day ahead of us, which you can spend at numerous music festivals at various Slovenian locations. Apart from enjoying different music styles, you’ll get to enjoy the beauty of Slovenia as well, for the settings of the festivals themselves are extraordinary. The Kolpa River offers you a nice swim’n’fun if you decide to visit the three day Schengenfest festival. If you decide to visit the Overjam in Tolmin – the international Reggae festival – you can dip in the crystal clear rivers of Soča and Tolminka. Being in midst of the Alps and near to the Slovenian sea you’ll be able to enjoy the nature as well. All old music lovers, who’ll visit the medieval town of Radovljica, are welcome to spend a few days at the Lake Bled, which is the Slovenian natural crown jewel. 

Schengenfest 2012; http://schengenfest.si/web/en
In the beginning of August a three day festival of sound, sun and fun will take place in Vinica on the banks of River Kolpa. Sixth year in the row in the hottest month of the year (between 2nd and 4th of August) in the beautiful surroundings of Kolpa River at the border between Slovenia and Croatia, the sexiest music festival, by far, is taking place – the Schengenfest 2013. There’s a tree day joy with a rich programme with performances from a cult band Skunk Anansie and other famous groups such as Plavi orkestar, Dubioza Kolektiv, Triggerfinger, Hladno pivo, Mi2, Diskobajagi, S.A.R.S., Manouche, Sausages and Kill Kenny. Not to mention other music groups and D.J.s who’ll make sure you won’t get bored. More about the event at http://schengenfest.si/web/en.

After three days of parting hard we suggest you take a few more days to explore the region of Bela krajina. With its variety of century long cultural influences it is a dynamic and colourful area. You can see the cultural influence in the heritage buildings of the countryside and the towns, as well as in the objects of worship and the talk of the people, who are very kind and friendly and will welcome you with a glass of good homemade wine and pastries. You should check out the Hostel Črnomelj in the heart of Bela krajina for sleepover.

Kolpa river (Author-Dunja Wedam); www.slovenia.info
Just a few days later the Festival Radovljica starts beginning on August 10th. It is the oldest Slovenian festival of old music. The first one was organized in 1982. The festival features quality music with a carefully selected programme and musicians. There are always top notch performers from all over the world, performing a selection of reconstructed music from the time before musical notes were first written and up to the 21st century compositions. Even though the festival is dedicated to old music, the programme always includes interludes, theatre and dance.

Radovljica
The added value of the festival is also the perfect setting of the city itself. The city architecture and the beautiful baroque hall at the mansion of Radovljica, with its entrance and historical instruments for old music. To get a full dose of history we also suggest you stay at the local hostel, which is located in the very centre of the town in a renaissance mansion from 1634. There is also a café and an ice-scream shop in the building to cool you down with a homemade ice-cream.

And all who enjoy swimming and dipping are invited to visit hostel Bledec, only 6 kilometres away from Radovljica, which is more than close enough to allow you to visit the festival. The hostel is in a quiet part of the town and only 5 minut’s walk from the lake. There is also the walking path leading right by the hostel that leads to the castle, which you can reach on foot in 10 minutes.

Bled ( Author - Anja Žepič )
And in conclusion, let us go to Tolmin, where the Overjam festival will take place between the 14th and 17th of August. The International Reggae festival Overjam will take place where the Tolminka River enters the Soča River. The biggest reggae stars (among them also Inner Circle and Groundation) promise you unforgettable four days of music, sun, culture and fun. Since reggae is not just music, but a lifestyle Overjam also provides following cultural activities. This year’s motto is "Think green / Mislim zeleno" and dedicates to the sustainable development and economy hand in hand with nature. It covers many themes which concern all of us, despite the country we live in. Conferences with international speakers, daily workshops of crafts, raising awareness about nature, animals and fellow humans – it’s all part of the Overjam University. During the festival many day events will take place, including a workshop of non-governmental organizations, dance workshops, yoga, drums, street performers and sport activities. You can find more at www.overjamfestival.com .

International Reggae festival Overjam; www.overjamfestival.com
And you can lay your head down at the Hostel Paradiso in the very centre of Tolmin, above the bar Paradiso. It welcomes all travellers, young and old, alone or with families. There are 26 beds awaiting guests.

Welcome to Slovenia, where there will be no August lack of music and fun! 


Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Medieval market Ankaran 15th of August

Ankaran is a village, which belongs to the Municipality of Koper. The area of the village was already settled in the Roman times. At the place of Ankaran hospital they found a mosaic, which was part of a Roman villa (villa rustica) and is now in a museum in Koper.

Medieval market in Ankaran
In the Middle Ages Benedictine monks built the monastery of Saint Nicholas, which had many merits for the development of wine and olive growing in the area. In 1573 monks went away, because of the plague and only returned to Ankaran in summer months. In 1775 the building was bought by a nobleman Madonizza. The family later built the palace in Koper and moved paintings and decorations from the monastery. During Illyrian Provinces the monastery served as a military hospital.

Today Ankaran is known as a summer tourist location. Around the village there are walking paths and many cycling opportunities. In the summer time they organize many events such as the medieval market and Ankaran night. The nearby Valdoltra is a well-known orthopaedic hospital.

This year Ankaran will host the 13th annual Medieval Market in a row. It will offer many special costumes and medieval games and events, as well as a presentation at the colourful stalls selling various old objects, furniture, clothing, and more. The market will participate, divination, knitting coils in the past, embroidery, basket weaving, wedding wooden spoons making chain, home pharmacy, replica stone mortars, “klekljanje” of lace, pottery making, land register, clerk, blacksmithing, carpentry, cobbler, a magician, ... At 8 p.m. they will even convict witches at the guillotine.

Where to sleep?
We recommend the Hostel Debeli rtič. The hostel can offer you accommodation in 43 comfortable domestic rooms with a total of 132 beds (each room has its own bathroom with shower - most of them have a balcony or a terrace with a sea view or a view of the surrounding vineyards). The hostel can also fulfil any requirement guests with special needs may have. They provide you breakfast or half-/full- board, a room with fresh linen and towels free parking and free WI-FI.


Youth Hostel Debeli rtič
Information and reservations:
Hostel Debeli rtič
Jadranska cesta 73, 6280 Ankaran
T: +386 (0)5 909 7000


Monday, 22 July 2013

Idrija, the oldest Slovenian Mining town on UNESCO’s list

Idrija, the Alpine and EDEN town of the year 2011, is known for one of the largest mercury mines in the world, which, while it was in operation, attracted researchers and travellers from all over Europe. Last year the mine was put on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Author: Jani Peternelj
Idrija is also known for its enchanting bobbin lace that is held in high esteem all over the world. Today Idrija bobbin lace is a significant Slovenian decoration and business gift while modern lace accessories adorn the wardrobe of every modern woman. 

The culinary offer is also rich, particularly the local specialty ‘idrijski žlikrofi’ (dough with a potato filling), which has been protected as a traditional specialty by the European Union. Idrija will inspire you with its unspoiled nature and it is a true paradise for hikers, cyclists, mushroom pickers, fishermen, photographers and the inquisitive who want a break from their everyday concerns and to relax in nature’s picturesque embrace.

Author: Jani Peternelj
Experience and taste
• take a trip to the Antonijev rov Tourist Mine. Look out for the mischievous gnome, Perkmandeljc (4€ discount for HI members)!
• check out the collections of the Idrija Town Museum, at the beautiful Gewerkenegg Castle (40% discount for HI members).
• explore nature with a hike along the Rake Natural Trail and Learning Path 
• visit the Idrija Geopark, enter into hidden nooks, narrow ravines and gorges and get to know our unique geological heritage
• visit the most beautiful and bio diverse public aquarium in Slovenia.

Author: Jani Peternelj
Events 
The International ALTER ART Festival-9th August - www.idrija-turizem.si
The festival presents performers from the areas of amateur culture, alternative youth subcultures and ‘serious’ culture, young alternative musical groups from Slovenia and abroad, art exhibitions and photographic artists, dance performances and literary evenings.

The Assumption aka Prfarski štrukljevc-15th August - www.idrija-turizem.si
Attracting a great number of visitors and pilgrims, the Church of Mary on the Rock is the stage for an annual holy mass. During this holiday, štruklje and wreaths are made alongside dancing and singing.

Author: Jani Peternelj
Where to sleep?
We recommend you Hostel Idrija.  Hostel can offer you a double room, three or four bed rooms or a group room for 8 people. They provide you with fresh linen and towels free parking in front of the hostel and free WI-FI. If notified in advance, they can arrange a breakfast or half-/full- board.


Information and reservations for guided tour groups:
TIC Idrija
Vodnikova 3, Idrija
T: +386 (0)5 37 43 916


HI members have 10% discount on preparation and/or implementation of tourism programs, for categories Family and Group, 20% on regulator tours of the Idrija for all categories and 20% for visit the Centre of Idrija lace for all categories.

Friday, 19 July 2013

A trip to the Slovenian coast

It's nice to have a week or two off at the coast, but sometimes we only have a day or two to spare. A great thing about a small country like Slovenia is, we can visit the coast and experience everything from the traditional crafts to the glamour of city life in a really short time! 

Piran, Seagulls(Author-Ubald Trnkoczy); www.slovenia.info
The unspoiled Debeli Rtič
Looking at the map at the top of the Slovenian coast you’ll see the last cape before reaching the Italian border. This is where my trip started. Most people will recognise the name as a health resort for children, but apart from that there are some local houses and a few governmental resort buildings here. Because it is rather unspoiled it is also protected. You can swim freely and walk freely around. The health resort Debeli Rtič also offers hostel rooms, but unfortunately you’re not allowed to camp here.

Environmentalists also made sure there’s a renovated natural park here. Plants like the olive tree, chestnut, bitter orange, lemon, tangerine, walnut, banana and date palms, plumbs, pomengrades and berry bushes grow here, with a few decorative plants like the asparagus. The park is done according to all the environmental laws. And next to it there is a fresh smelling coast with the sounds and smells of the sea. Sounds phenomenal, right? 


Sporting Ankaran
This coastal sea is known for healthy tourism. I’m not talking about the rehabilitation centre, a camp with swimming pools or the kayak-canoe club. I’m talking about the sport park the locals are trying to keep alive to the best of their abilities. Coming to Ankaran from Debeli Rtič (like I did) you pass the sign saying you’ve just exited the town and turn a sharp right towards the coast. You’ll find a bay with a small marina and a camping place with a wakening sporting facilities for beach volley ball and soccer. 

But Ankaran also has rich history to offer. It was settled already in Roman times, which is evident by remains of the Roman outpost at the Srmin hill. The responsibility for the first tourist activities fall to the monastery of St. Nikolaj. In the past, already, the area was known for wine and thus the monks who had to find a way of making money, boosted the agricultural life of the area. Even before the monastery was abandoned the word got out this is a very healthy place to recuperate, so the health tourism has started – which boosted all sort of tourism latter on.  

Author - Matic Užmah
Seemingly quiet Izola
I don’t remember Izola being mentioned much. I get a feeling it’s somewhat forgotten between other more glamourous coastal towns. Maybe because it’s right between Koper and Piran, or maybe because they’re still a little isolated for they used to be an island of their own. The town got connected to the mainland in the 18th century so it’s today just a limestone peninsula.  

But it’s still a lively town. The people are known to be really cheerful that’s what they take two days to celebrate the olives, wine and fish. Sounds delicious – right? But the city is also a cultural treasure, for it was never taken by Turks and kept the classical ancient narrow streets a coastal town should have. The main cultural attraction is the church of St. Maver, the palace of Besenghi degli Ughi, the house of Manzioli, the Lovisato house and the growing street museum of Izola – check it out for your self!

Izola ( Author - Matej Vranič); www.slovenia.info
I’d also like to point out the town beach. The end of the peninsula is a real grassy park with some trees to provide the shade and a swimming facility of the urbane standards. You can enter water on the concrete platform, by stairs or simply jump in. The beach is really neat and free, so you will not mind if the water is not so crystal clear as you’d prefer. 

You can sleep in a Hostel Alieti which is located in the heart of historic town centre of Izola. It offers 25 beds in small dormitories on three floors and is situated near Izola’s main square Trg Manzioli, 100 meters from the sea, 500 meters from Izola’s town beach at Svetilnik and 300 meters from the bus station.

Youth Hostel Alieti
Dreamy Piran
Piran is closed for tourist traffic, so you should respect this and park in one of the parking houses (or if you know a hidden free of charge spot) and take the gratis bus to the centre of this protected coastal town.

I don’t know how to describe one of the most beautiful Slovenian cities, but everybody who was there can easily picture the narrow labyrinth of streets, the stairs, passages, colourful houses and the main Tartini square. And even if it seems this town sleeps most of the year, the tourists in the summer make it come alive again.

The Saturday market and seasonal stands offer Slovenian and imported articles, and you can always try something local (which you can also afford) when shopping for a souvenir. This will also be of help to the local economy.

Piran, Cape (Author -  Ubald Trnkoczy); www.slovenia.info
The beach is open to the public and your dreams to sit down for a cup of coffe and then simply jump into the sea become a reality here! On both sides of the peninsula a bay with a beach opens up. If we look from the peak of it towards Fiesa (or the bay of Strunjan) we can see where the wall marks the end of the town beach and from then on you’ll find more intimate corners where you can sunbathe topless – or even bottomless. Towards the bay of Piran the beach is more touristy and more commercial, because it’s right next to the city hotels.

The salt plants of Sečovlje
My last stop was in Sečovlje. I’ve never saw them in person and didn’t care much about the route (didn’t have my navigator anyway). I just followed the coastal road through Portorož (a bit too shinny for me to include it in the natural-cultural route) I passed Lucija and just before the Croatian border I saw a sign for Sečovlje. This was a steep and paved road, maybe even built by ancient Romans, but it was leading in the right direction. At the foot of the hill I drove down I found a free(!) parking and for the entrance to the salt plant I payed the student price of 3€.

Salt Pan(Author - Ubald Trnkoczy); www.slovenia.info
You get to see everything – from the museum to the protected wetlands and the traditional art of getting salt, which proves how they’ve got it in the past. There are 45 protected species of plants in the natural park Sečoveljske soline and 80 different kind of birds nest there regularly with 200 other species of birds coming here from time to time.

There are also other abandoned salt plants in Slovenia and many among them are protected, but the one in Sečovlje is the most famous and visited. In the Lera part they still produce salt, but the rest is protected as a natural monument. Not to mention the whole area is a giant open air museum.

Salt Pan - Secovlje (Author - U. Trnkoczy); www.slovenia.info
When I talked to the people here a few year ago, they said that local students are not too keen to work here over the summer, so they have to look for workers from all over the continent. If you’re among the people who have to work through the summer you might look into this option, for at least youo’ll get a change of scenery. True, the people here are very particular about their food (and above all about their coffee), but you can learn everything and what’s better than a nice swim in the refreshing sea after a day’s shift?

Or, you can visit the sea just for fun. I’ve left out some other places, which you can also explore, from the relaxing Strunjan to always loud Lucija and the glamourous Portorož… but there’s probably something else as well.

Patricija Turnšek
Translation: Borut Jurišić

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Much happening in Slovenia during the summer

The month of July is the month with most festivals you should visit or at least know about them. Don't worry about high temperatures, for most festivals take place along water and offer a nice cool down in the warm summer days and nights. So the conclusion of the famous Maribor festival Lent only starts the festival season in Slovenia. Here are some festivals that will not leave you cold!

Festival MetalDays; http://metaldays.net/Home
Festival MetalDays in Tolmin takes you in the world of heavy metal between 21st and 26th of July at the place where two mountain rivers (Soča and Tolminka) meet. During the festival the town becomes a metal heaven, where you get 7 days of thrills with the world renowned groups. The great location of the festival also offers more than just musical pleasure, for you can also get a relaxing and friendly atmosphere only 65km away from the Adriatic coast in the Alps. Let us just tell you that the Soča river is among the cleanest in Europe, which also says a lot about the town. More about the festival can be found at http://metaldays.net/Home .

Just a few days after this festival Tolmin starts the creative camp of Sajeta, which offers many workshops and lectures for the visitors. Spending time in nature in the heart of Tolmin will bring forth many creative pleasures for every visitor between the 30th of July and 4th of August. You can read more about it at www.sajeta.org. And don’t forget that in August the Tolmin hosts the international Reggae Festival beginning on 14th of August, inviting all lovers of Jamaican rhythms to get a dose of beat. You can find more info here www.overjamfestival.com

International Reggae Festival; www.overjamfestival.com
For all who need a safe, comfortable and budget friendly board, we invite you to check out the Hostel Paradiso in Tolmin. It is in the centre of the city, with 26 beds and a bar Paradiso on the first floor. 

From Tolmin we’ll take you to Lake Bled, where with the beginning of July the international music festival Bled also starts and offers the right melody for you. Between 19th and 21st of June there are the Bled days. Tourists can see how homemade crafts are produces and listen to the promenade concerts. But most people gather for the traditional Bled night when the lake and castle flair up. The boatmen place around 15.000 lights in eggshells to light up the lake and its surroundings and then start a few minutes of fireworks. We suggest you stay at hostel Bledec, just a few steps from the lake and under the old castle of Bled. More info at www.bled.si/en.

Jurjevanje in Bela Krajina, www.jurjevanje.si
We also invite all lovers of folklore to visit the Jurjevanje in Bela Krajina. Between 19th and 23rd of July the oldest folklore festival in Slovenia takes place. The five day festival in Črnomelj (in Bela Krajina) in the land of with lime trees, warm river of Kolpa and rich cultural heritage. In the past few years the festival hosted excellent groups from Mexico, Germany, Italy, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungaria, Lithuania, Latvia, Serbia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Turkey, Poland, etc. If you’re interested in what they offer this year visit the www.jurjevanje.si. For a budget friendly stay you should check out the Hostel Črnomelj, where they’ll welcome you and offer you an unforgettable stay.

Let this summer take you to the world of music, culture and dance. Welcome to Slovenia.



Wednesday, 17 July 2013

The Walk of Peace from the Alps to the Adriatic

The Soča Valley area was part of the Isonzo Front during the First World War, between 1915 and 1917. Along the Soča, youths and men of many nations fought, suffered and met their death. Preserved from this time have been numerous remains which constitute cultural and historical heritage of national and international interest.

Italian charnel house above Kobarid; Photo: Željko Cimprič
“The Walks of Peace in the Soča Region Foundation” is in charge of the protection, preservation and presentation of this heritage and has, consequently, arranged six outdoor museums in the Upper Soča Region. 

Kolovrat, the cross-border museum which continues from the Slovenian to the Italian side, is the most frequently visited and the most easily accessible outdoor museum. It offers an exceptional view over the onetime battlefield of the Isonzo Front, all the way from Mt. Kanin and the Krn range to Sveta Gora/Monte Santo on the one hand, and on the other from Slavia Veneta and Friuli to the Adriatic Sea. 

Outdoor museum Zaprikraj; Photo: Tamino Petelinšek
In 2007, the outdoor museums of the Isonzo Front, its more prominent monuments and memorials, as well as the natural beauties of the area were interconnected into the Walk of Peace in the Upper Soča Region. It is dedicated to the memory of the great number of casualties of the First World War. Trekking along the Walk of Peace offers to visitors an active relaxation in the beautiful, tranquil, unspoiled nature which is characterized by the river Soča, medium-high and high mountains, flocks of sheep and goats, mountain pastures still alive in summertime, and by the history of the First World War. The Walk runs past military cemeteries and chapels, the Kluže fortification, outdoor museums, the gorges of the Koritnica and the Soča, idyllic mountain pastures, the Kozjak waterfall, two charnel houses (at Kobarid and Tolmin), the gorge of the Tolminka, and the memorial church of the Holy Spirit on the Javorca plateau.

Memorial church of the Holy Spirit on the Javorca Plateau; Photo: Tomaž Ovčak
The  Walk of Peace in the Upper Soča Region has lately acquired new dimensions, since as the Walk of Peace from the Alps to the Adriatic it extends along the Kolovrat  range of the Val Canale, the Goriška Brda area and Mt. Sabotin, to Vodice, Sveta Gora and Škabrijel, across Slovenian and Italian Kras/Carso, all to Duino by the Adriatic Sea. The Walk of Peace from the Alps to the Adriatic has become synonymous for successful collaboration and linking of the cross-border area.

Waterfall Kozjak; Photo: Željko Cimprič
The Walk of Peace Information Centre is located in the premises of the “Walks of Peace in the Soča Region Foundation” at Kobarid. Here, you can find all the information about the Walk of Peace, you can view a free-of-charge interactive exhibition on the heritage of the Isonzo Front and buy some products of local, i.e. Slovenian, handicraftsmen in the souvenir shop.

All the members of Hostelling International Slovenia are entitled to a 10 % discount for guided tours along The Walk of Peace in the Soča Region. You can get more information on www.potmiru.si or info@potmiru.si.

You can sleep in two hostels which are not far away from Kobarid. If you go to north you can find Hostel Bovec. In the other direction just a few kilometres away, you can sleep in a Hostel Paradiso which is located in the centre of Tolmin. 

Monday, 15 July 2013

Bovec, the valley of inspiration!

Bovec is a small town in Slovenia, located between high mountains and famous Soča river. It is a great destination for people looking for adrenaline release, river and land sports, tasty traditional food, historical and natural monuments.


This year will open a new hostel in Bovec, located in Klanc 27. The hostel will be very cosy, with 9 rooms for 2-12 persons, apartment for 4 persons, and a common place for socializing.

We are tourist and sports agency, who organizes trips and courses in the surrounding mountains, rivers and canyons. On the following activities we offer HI members 15% discount.

Adventures on rivers
On the rivers we organize rafting trip for families, beginners and also for experts, the extreme rafting on the most pristine river in Europe- Soča. This is a team experience for all ages.

Hydrospeed is a good workout. Bounce the waves, both hands on the controls of your boogieboard, flip and roll back. Our safety kayakers help you to navigate while you surf down the river. Different levels available. 

Canyoning is the way to relieve your childhood. A true refreshment contains funky slides, gorge hiking, jumps, plunging pools or a rope descent. Different levels of canyons are available, from easy ones which are fantastic world for children to the difficult ones with over 40 meters waterfalls.


Soča is possibly the best river to learn how to kayak. She offers clean calm waters for beginners and steep currents for the experts. Aktivni planet offers from guided trips to multi-day kayak courses. Our professional instructors adjust to your skill and knowledge.

Adventures in the mountains
Our newly built, biggest Zip-Line park in Central Europe knocks you off your feet. We offer you a safe and fast flying in the majestic Julian Alps. An unforgettable experience: zipping through more than 2 km of fresh mountain air with fabulous views of the Soča valley.


Caving in Kanin mountain is a new dimension of your life. Over millennia rain and snowmelt seeped into the cracks of this soft limestone turning Kanin into ˝Swiss Cheese˝, now a Mecca for cave explorers. We have designed several excursions for the inexperienced. At Aktivni planet we would like to take you inside and give you a healthy bite.


For those experienced climbers who visit our valley without a climbing partner wanting to add some climbing miles to his or her portfolio, we offer guiding at the best crags around. If you need to buy or rent equipment, or for any questions related to climbing ask at our CLIMBING SHOP downtown Bovec.

For additional information please call or write on the following contacts:

Trg golobarskih žrtev 19
5230 Bovec
+386 40 639 433

Friday, 12 July 2013

‘Warning! This road goes through Slovenia’

“Ever since the first time we came, we felt that this is a very different place and we wanted to come back” said two Americans who fell in love with the Europe. Since 2006 they were coming on again of again to the old continent. But Carolyn and Tyler have another passion. Cycling. They combined their love for travelling around by bikes and excitement about Europe. Now I would say they live a dream life. They are cycling around, making notes and as a result their first guidebook iBike WAWA – A Bicyclist’s guide to Warsaw is already available. They are a god team: Carolyn is a note taker, a trip planner and a map maker while Tyler carries the luggage and camera and does outwork communication. He also takes care for their website and blog. Now their focus is expanded to Slovenia. In 3 months they will make app. 3000 kilometers on small, backside roads in Slovenia. In the near future we can expect first and only bicyclists guide to Slovenia written by Americans. But why Slovenia? And how did they come up with the idea to write a guidebook for bicyclist at the first place? Read an interview and find more about their adventures and tips for young and old enthusiastic bikers. 

Let them inspire you.

Two Wheel Travel; www.twowheeltravelblog.com 
What attracts you here in Europe?

Tyler: It is different, it is not America. We like the European social model a little bit more than the US. Of course there are some things we miss about US. But we like it here.

Carolyn: You have very livable cities. We are very spread out, suburban; we have to drive everywhere, and what we love is the bicycle. Even cities that are not known as bicycle friendly, like Warsaw, for example, it is a hundred times better than most cities in the US. We like that part. And also the history, the culture and the diversity. 

Tyler: And the typical approach to life. Europe is more relaxed in a lot of ways. You are very formal in a lot of ways that we are not. But at the same time, if you have a job, you get 4 or 5 weeks of holiday. For the same job in the US I would get 5 days in a whole year, maybe 10, if at the management level. Europe is a big place, countries are not the same. However, the approach to the quality of life is a consistently different than in US. You still have connections in small towns, to this quality of life where food is grown locally, where people go to the town square, get a coffee, and socialize. In the US, people got in a little ‘me’ box and they really don’t think about ‘us’ that much. 

About your love for bicycles; when did this love started? 

Tyler: I’ve been riding a bike since I was a little boy. I grew up in the country side where we had a network of streets, and a bike was my means of transportation. There were no busses. For me, the bike was a way to get somewhere. In a college, I got into mountain biking and then for a long time I didn’t bike at all. When I met Carolyn, she got me back to a biking. 

Carolyn: Same thing - in childhood a bicycle was a ticket to freedom, a way to escape parents, and to meet friends. Then together we started mountain biking while living in a rural community in the US. When we moved to Netherlands in 2006, we sold our car in the States and bought old, used city bicycles. We soon realized that you can do that anywhere you live. When we moved back to the US, we bought bicycles instead of buying a car again, and that is where we are today with our passion. 

Two Wheel Travel; www.twowheeltravelblog.com 
Tyler: In Europe bicycle tourism is not the most common thing, however, it is not unusual. In the States people are completely freaked out: “What are you doing? Is something wrong with you? Did you lose your car?” Here is more acceptable. Europe is so small; why not go around by bicycle? 

Carolyn: And together with the fantastic train system. That is a part of a reason, why we are doing it. Usually we were just cycling around the city and then we wanted to go longer distances in Poland. The countryside is beautiful but it’s very difficult to get there. You need a car unless you take the train. 

You also have your website and blog, right?

Tyler: The blog slowed down for a bit while we were writing the guidebook for Warsaw. But now we are back at it as we travel around Slovenia.

How did you come up with an idea to write a guidebook for bicyclist?

Carolyn: When we first moved to Warsaw we again bought bicycles as that is how we like to explore the city. And once you get out of the city center, there are tons of nice roads that are not difficult to ride and are very low traffic. But there was not much information about it, especially in English.

Tyler: Even the information in Polish was incomplete and contradictory. On the map there would be a cycle road and if you went there, there was no cycle road. We started thinking we can’t be the only people to see this. Probably foreigners would be more interested than Polish people, so we started to write some of these things down. At one point Carolyn said: ‘We’ve got 20 good different bike rides we’ve done, I just need to refine them.’ And then it turned into 24 in the end. 

And how goes the story about a guidebook for cyclist in Slovenia?

Tyler: Last year, when we were looking at this mass of information about Warsaw, we also did a trip from Prague to Dubrovnik. We wanted to see Czech Republic and we also wanted to go to southern Europe – Croatia, Slovenia, and Austria. We knew what to expect in Czech, Austria and Croatia. We had no idea what to expect in Slovenia. Because when you look at the roads at Google Maps you see these very clean roads. But when you come here, you see a spider web of roads! There are roads everywhere and I thought: ‘Man, this is going to be a mess.’ Another thing was that when I started mapping our route, Google said: ‘Warning! This road goes through Slovenia.’ And that was weird. However, when we got here in Slovenia, we were completely blown away by the natural beauty, friendly people, the quality of the back roads, and cycling through the mountains… It is really small and it is completely different from one side to another. And that is really cool.

Two Wheel Travel; www.twowheeltravelblog.com 
Carolyn: At the same time we’ve seen some maps about cycling in Slovenia that was a good eye catcher for us. But it was not quite so easy to find the best routes. That is why we came back.

Tyler: Yes, and maybe we can help identify those roads and make them more consumable to the foreign market.

Carolyn: Especially longer distance routes because everything here is localized. This is good. People will come and do smaller routes. But if you do the connections people will spend a little more time across the country. Now people have to go to so many resources to find the information. We are hoping to contribute to bring all the information together. 

Tyler: Here is also something that you may not see – it is so cheap comparing to Western Europe and USA. It feels like a very good value for money as Slovenians are very friendly, well organized as far as accommodations and it is a great place for cycle. For foreign tourists who come here it is a very good value. 

You make a good point on your website that bicycle tourist creates five times economic impact of someone travelling by car over the same distance. Cyclist has to sleep, eat and spends more time in a country.

Tyler: You are not quite aware of that, right? We did not come up with this idea. But it is true. Besides, the more time spent in a place, the more things you get to see things and the more often you stop. 

Do you have to be in a good shape to do a trip like yours?

Tyler: You have to be in some shape, but you do not have to be a super athlete to do it. That is what we like about it. However, in Slovenia you have to have strong legs as the roads are going up and down all the time. But you can go slow, plan and stop. Part of our idea is to make these routes with places to eat, sleep, things to see like churches, museums etc. Maybe we will cut down on churches, as you have so many of them. First when we came, we were blown away as they are all on the small hills and so picturesque. 

Two Wheel Travel; www.twowheeltravelblog.com 
About kilometers… We will probably make around 3000 kilometers in 3 months through Slovenia. Afterwards is writing, mapping etc. and then a guidebook. Writing a guidebook for entire country of Slovenia will be a bigger process than writing a city cycling guide for Warsaw. 

As I see it, you have a dream life… But how do you make your living?

Tyler: We have a lot of savings that we were saving a lot of years to be able to do it. We are selling guidebooks, we sold an article recently. Now we are living from savings and we are hoping to invest in our future and try to have it pay us back at some time.

What do you think about HI Slovenia?

Carolyn: We’ve stayed in HI hostels in other countries. I think it is sort of a brand name and you know what to expect. So far high standards and good hostels are also in Slovenia. I’ve always trusted HI standards and I’ve never been disappointed. Wherever we go, we try to stay in HI hostel because we know it will be clean, comfortable and good quality for the price. 

Tyler: If you stay in hostels it makes biking lighter as you do not have to carry camping gear.

What can happen during the bicycle tour like yours? Any traps, adventures?

Carolyn: There are three main highlights for me. There are the days when you are so tired, I mean physically. But then you hit some point when you see a beautiful view, or the sun shines after the rain…it’s this magical experience of being in the moment. Then there are the people. That is a huge part of it. People are so interested in you, even if you are just cycling by; you can see people stop, turn, and look. That is because we cycle on the back roads away from major cities. For example, just recently we’ve had an hour and a half conversation with a Hungarian guy in a language none of us really spoke.

Two Wheel Travel; www.twowheeltravelblog.com 
Tyler: We have a lot of different experience. For example cycling in Israel. We met people who stopped with their car, offered us food, accommodation. We made many new friends; you are more approachable as a cyclist. And in Poland, when we arrived to a city that had 10 hostels and a camp, all was full as there was some concert. And the campground was not there. It was getting dark and it started to rain. We went on and noticed a camp fire and small pavilion. I asked if we can camp there. They said: ‘No, come with us.’ It was a summer camp for blind children and they gave us accommodation in the dorm. Those are important, small moments.

Carolyn: And there is a third thing: a sense of accomplishment at the end. 

Tyler: Yes, when you think, you will not be able to do that. Especially going up some of the hills. Your body can do more than you think it can. But it is not a race, just have fun.

Two Wheel Travel; www.twowheeltravelblog.com 
Is that kind of a travel also for youngsters? What would you advise them, if they decide to do a trip with bicycle?

Tyler: I think it’s great for youngsters. 

Carolyn: They are fitter than we are. 

Tyler: When you are young you are more tolerant to do with diversity, I think. People who are challenging themselves, who are interested in adventures outside the norm, for them it’s great. Slovenia is good for challenging yourself. It is inexpensive way to travel, meet other people and have exceptional adventure.


Anja Turk

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Slovenia’s largest museum

Behind the gates of a former Carthusian monastery you can find Slovenia’s largest museum – The Technical Museum of Slovenia. It is located in the most beautiful natural surroundings - on the south-western margins of the broad and flat Ljubljana Basin, some 22 km from the nation's capital and 4 km from Vrhnika. You can visit it on your way from Ljubljana to the seaside. In Ljubljana you can stay in Hostel DIC, Hostel Ljubljana, Hostel Park, Hostel Tabor or Hostel Tresor. Coming from the the opposite direction, the nearest hostel is located in Postojna (Hostel Proteus). 

Technical Museum of Slovenia photo archive TMS; www.tms.si
The Technical museum of Slovenia is housed in what was originally a monastery but later became a grand mansion. Both settlement and manor take their name from the clear karstic springs, which issue forth from under the adjacent wooded hillside. Rebuilt and refashioned on several occasions, Bistra has enjoyed a variety of cultural, political, economic and social roles over the centuries. From 1260 to the dissolution of 1782, it was a Carthusian monastery; following renovation in 1826 Bistra served as manor house, and since 1951 it has been the home to the nation's Technical Museum. 

Hunting depratment photo Blaz Zupancic; www.tms.si
Nowadays several collections can be seen in the museum: from forestry, woodworking, hunting, fishing and agricultural departments, to textiles, printing, traffic and electrical engineering. The attention of most visitors is drawn towards the water-driven elements -the flour mill, blacksmith’s workshop, fulling mill and veneer sawmill. Road vehicle fans won’t be disappointed either. You can admire the oldest surviving car from Slovenia or enjoy the sight of the limousines that once belonged to President Tito, Premier of former Yugoslavia. 

Tito's limousines photo Blaz Zupancic; www.tms.si
Apart from the guided tour in Slovene, English, Italian, French, Croatian, Serbian and German languages through the museum collections, you can weekly attend several workshops (such as restoration, bread baking, bookmaking ...) and demonstrations (Nikola Tesla's experiments, demonstration of basket weaving,  of flax breaking,  of bobbin – work, felt making ...), through which you can truly experience the technical spirit. Annually the Museum organize special events such as science events (Days of Physics, Days of Electrical Engineering, Days of Mechanical Engineering) at which the researchers, professors and students from the various educational and research institutions present their field. For further information about all the events visit: www.tms.si.

Blacksmith's workshop photo Blaz Zupancic; www.tms.si
For workshops and special guided tours advance booking is obligatory. You can book by phone +386 1 750 66 72 or e-mail: programi@tms.si .


Bistra 6, 1353 Borovnica, Slovenia
Tel: +386 (0) 1 750 66 70 

Museum’s opening hours:
Tuesday–Friday:  8.00–16.00 (July and August: 10.00–18.00) 
Saturdays: 9.00–17.00
Sundays and holidays: 10.00–18.00
Every Monday and from 4. 12. until 1.3. the Museum is open only for groups announced in advance (+386 1 750 66 72, programi@tms.si).