So I suppose I'll start from the beginning. Last year around this time, my dad got really into ancestry.com and found out that a lot of his mom's family came from Slovenia, a tiny little country East of Italy and South of Austria. The more he learned about the history of the region and our family, the more he talked about Slovenia. Every time I came home, he'd tell me about another new book he got, or another new ancestor he found. Basically, his enthusiasm for this tiny country became a running joke! But fascinating to learn about at the same time.
Somewhere during this time, he found out that there's an American chapter of the Slovenian Genealogy Society, AND that they were making a trip to Slovenia this fall! Obviously, he signed up. Somewhere along the line, my mom, and my dad's brother and his wife were roped into it as well. At one point they asked if Ross and I wanted to join, but too many things were up in the air with work and finances, so we declined.
Then when I resigned from my job and hadn't found anything after a month, my dad offered again. I took him up on it! Sadly Ross couldn't join because he didn't have enough time off, but I'd really love to go back with him as well, because Slovenia is pretty perfect. All the guidebooks say it's a hidden jewel in Europe and I'm now inclined to believe that's true. I've seen all of two European countries (Slovenia and then Croatia for a day) but from what everyone else was saying, Slovenia was cleaner, less crowded, and more charming than most other European capital cities.
Please know that when I use words like "cute" and "charming" I'm not being trite or patronizing. These are high compliments coming from me, and they're perfectly descriptive of Ljubljana and Slovenia as a whole.
My trip was essentially split into two parts. The big group spent a few days in Lake Bled, but I met up with everyone in Ljubljana and just made a day trip to the lake another day. The second part of the trip entailed my parents and aunt and uncle splitting from the group and driving through numerous small towns that were genalogically significant per my dad's research at home and in the archives of Ljubljana.
Without further ado, here's a VERY brief overview of the first half of our trip:
When I first arrived on Sunday morning, I was on my own for a few hours. I was delighted to find myself in a small, tidy capital city. Downtown was easy to navigate on foot, with very little car traffic. The sun was shining and the old buildings were perfectly accentuated with flowerboxes and ivy and riverside charm. Love at first sight. I met up with everyone before dinner and promptly went to bed afterward.
The second day we were there, we had lunch and Polka lessons at a famous old guest house, went on a boat tour, and trekked up to the Ljubljana Castle, which was amazing.
The third day, my mom, Aunt Karen, and I went to Lake Bled and spent a few hours walking around and hiking up 200 steps to glimpse another castle. I can't even imagine what it would've been like to live in a big, cold castle on a sheer cliff. That view would probably make up for it in Bled, though.
The following day, we joined the tour group for a day trip to Piran and had a blast. I could've easily spend a few days there!
It was hard to pick just a few pictures from these adventures...
//across the river//
//the view from my hotel room//
//even the streetlights are cute//
//the Ljubljanica River runs right through Old Town//
//Butcher's Bridge-- one of three main pedestrian bridges//
//Our hotel (the Grand Union Executive) was amazing//
//reflections on the river//
//Ruins of a Roman wall in one of the squares. Mind blowing.//
//I was thrilled with the number of cafes offering gluten-free and vegan treats//
(((insert castle pictures here)))
//My hotel breakfast every morning: roasted veggies, eggwhite frittata, Carniolan sausage...//
//...gluten-free toast with strawberry jam...//
//day trip to Lake Bled//
// look how clear the water is! //
//so many charming gardens//
//Beautiful church in a beautiful setting. What a place to worship!//
//castle + St. Marten's from across the lake//
//infamous chapel on an island in Lake Bled//
//Vintgar Gorge. Worth the windy road trip. Pictures don't do it justice.//
//more crystal clear water and a meticulous path along the edge of the gorge//
//Dad, Mom, Aunt Karen, me, Uncle Pete at dinner//
//one of the most phenomenal meals we ate in Slovenia//
//The staff was so sweet and brought me a stack of soft gluten-free bread//
//many of the foods were simple and naturally gluten-free and our tour guides were always kind enough to double-check for me//
//award-winning Carniolan sausage, mustard, and sauerkraut//
//another foggy morning view of the castle from my room-- this made me smile every morning//
// SO excited to see the ocean! //
//salt flats in Piran//
//at the salt museum//
//more of our daytrip to the sweet coastal town of Piran//
//view from the belltower//
// Adriatic Sea. 3 oceans in one summer? So blessed. //
//be still, my heart//
//vegan chocolate gelato + sunshine//
//+ the pier//
//the water was so soft and smooth//
//I like to eat my souvenirs, apparently//
//panoramic from my room//
Ljubljana, I am sufficiently charmed. I'll be back!