Sunday, 11 April 2010

Slovenia Part 1

Hello all! So as promised, here is a recap of Slovenia Part 1. It began on Wednesday at 5:30am for our 9:45 flight. Despite catching the 7am Gatwick Express and arriving over 2 hours before our flight, we found ourselves running to our gate as they announced that all passengers report to gate 103 as the flight to Ljubljana is ready to depart. Whoever heard of a flight leaving early?!? Certainly not in the States! But we made it, and after 2 hours in the air we landed in the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana and were greeted with a torrential downpour. Yes, the weather was not pleasant at first but did get better thank goodness. We checked into our hostel and were out the door about 3 to explore the cute, quaint and virtually deserted old town. Yasna had a bit of an issue getting money out of her 2 blocked accounts, but luckily we got that taken care of and then had our 1st burek of the trip. Imagine a flaky pastry made with about a block of butter filled with either a ricotta/cottage cheese type filling or minced meat. Yasna was very familiar with these because they are very popular around this region and her mom used to make them. But this was my 1st taste of the artery clogging decadent treats. And they were delicious!!!

The center of town was very cute and had about 5 bridges over the river in 1 spot. We walked up to the castle overlooking the city and had some great views. We took the "thrilling" funicular down and explored one of the gorgeous churches, then walked the length of the river before finding a cafe for a cold beverage or 2. I tried one of the local beers Union which was pretty good. We then found a dinner spot (after several attempts because everything had pretty much shut down by 9) and ended up at a great restaurant called Goldfish. I tried a traditional dish of turkey in a cream sauce and for dessert we split this ridiculous 10 layer cake which included cottage cheese, walnut, raisins and probably another pound of butter. We couldn't finish it. We decided to call it a night and head to bed because we were exhausted and it was still pouring and now lightning out. We had a very fun but wet 1st day!

We checked out Thursday morning and hit up the local markets where we got some fresh fruit and saw the 4 dragons that guard the city. We then took a bus up to Bled in the mountains about an hour north of Ljubljana. We checked into our Alp Pension and had a great room with huge bathroom and balcony! We headed into town and took a boat into the center of Lake Bled to the little picturesque island with a church on it. We had 30 minutes to walk around and explore and had some great views of the snow-covered mountains and castle perched on the edge of the cliff. Back into town we tried the famous Bled cream cake which was actually invented at the Park Hotel in Bled. Very good!

Dinner that night was included in our room and our 5 course meal was excellent. They served us a starter of little toasts with various toppings such as egg & anchovies (actually really good), soup, beef & dumplings, apple strudel and then schnapps. Yazz was a bit put off by the boiled meat that was used to make the soup ("a bit cheeky") but I thought it was fine for my unrefined pallet. :) We also shared a liter of red wine. :)

The night's main event was hitting up the Bled casino. We walked into town in the rain and wandered in hoping to find some lively, fun atmosphere. Now quick backstory on Yazz...she went to Vegas over Christmas last year and LOVED it! She's obsessed just like Sam and I, so we both had high hopes for this casino. But alas, we were a bit let down when we discovered it was silent like the grave and everyone playing roulette had paper surrounding them where they were keeping track of what had hit and looking for patterns, trying to beat the game I assume. We rolled up with our red wine and laughter and after about an hour or so were told by this rude German or Russian dude to "SHUT YOUR MOUTHS!" Which of course made us laugh even more. Did he really just say that? So after our 2nd glass of wine was gone we decided it was time to blow this joint, only down 10 euro so not bad. We found the only other life in town at the Bled Pub. We were happy to find some music and noise and then realized everyone in the joint was under the age of 20. Haha. Well, we had a few drinks and talked, then couldn't take the dj anymore so walked home in wait for it, wait for it...more rain. Yes, it's still raining. Back in our room we thought it would be a good idea to eat a whole bag of crisps (chips) before turning in. UGH! Got into bed about 3:30 after another wet but incredibly fun day in Bled. More to come tomorrow...

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