Slumming In Slovenia
Otocec Travel Blog› entry 58 of 94 › view all entries
Hiring cars give you a lot of freedom to do what you want to do, when you want to do it and best of all, you can get off the beaten path and Jacq and my adventure through Croatia was not to disappoint.
After wining and dining in Dubrovnik, the sites of the city made way for adventures in the countryside. Our destination – Lake Plitvice. This well-known area is for its karst systems, wildlife and waterfalls and it is a real naturalist paradise.
The trees of the national park line the lakes and provided a lovely backdrop to the other scenery and there are several walks you can do around them. Established as a Croatia’s first national park in 1949, it was put onto the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979. Entry to the park is 110 HRK (which equates to approximately €15 but once again the sneaky student card came out and it only cost me 80HRK.
There are several walks you can take, but the only that took our fancy was Route F, the 3-4 hours hike. Now, not being much of a hiker, I wasn’t sure how I would go on this trek, but after walking for just under two hours, we had managed to walk down to the lake, take the boat to the waterfall, walked around the waterfalls, posed for photos in front of the largest one, Veliki Slap, and walked back to the entrance. Clearly the noodles were a particularly good preparatory meal and perhaps the Olympic Committee should think about outlawing them for their speed enhancing qualities? Or, and here’s a crazier idea, I’m not as terrible at hiking as imagined.
The walk was stunning – leaves in the process of turning red and orangey for the coming autumn, a breeze in the air rustling the leaves, little kittens on the path.
After all this dilly dallying, cat playing, and stopping to take endless amounts of photos we still managed to finish the trek well before the expected time. Which leads me to wonder … who are these times based on?
After completing the walk, we had planned to travel down to Split and have a look around the city, but there were other plans afoot.
As I’ve mentioned in an earlier blog, I am a fan of traveling to as many countries I possibly can, and to full up my passport with as many stamps as possible. We were too close to Slovenia to pass up the opportunity and luckily for me, Jacq is an adventurer as well who is just obsessed with stamps as me, so it was settled. We were going to forgo time in Split in favour of a vino in Slovenia.
Driving through the border we were greeted by a lovely young man, who was quite bemused with my request for passport stamps (Jacq, traveling on a Canadian passport automatically got one, but me with my Dutch passport, did not require one.) The puppy dogs eyes and pitiful please seemed to work, much to our delight – we were in Slovenia!
After doing the obligatory “Guess what? Guess what? We’re in Slovenia” homage to Janet, we drove through the countryside, which for fear of sounding like a broken record, was beautiful.
After about an hour of driving, we had not encountered anything that screamed ‘vino’ to us until we got to a place called Novo Mesto. It was bolded on the map, which indicated that this was a large-ish town and would be a perfect place to stop, take in the surroundings and relax.
Jacq and I blinked at the first sign of Novo Mesto and when we opened our eyes, we were out of the town limits. ‘How could this be?’ I wailed. It was bolded on the map.
Driving through the blink town had led us to see another sign, this time with a picture of a castle. Right, we’d go there, stretch our legs until we could come up with our next plan of attack and find a place, some place, any place to have a celebratory vino. And then we turned up to the castle.
I’ve been to castles before, being the romantic soul that I am, I’ve always had visions of castles and of being a princess, but even I wasn’t prepared for what we encountered. I know there are more impressive, larger castles out there, but they weren’t here in Slovenia. What I was standing in front of was the castle in Otocec built in 1252 and having recently been restored to it’s former glory, it didn’t disappoint.
Now a hotel, it boosts a restaurant. We had only planned to stay for a wine, but since we had driven for a while, it seemed like a nice place to eat something - after all we didn’t want to appear rude.
I went a little crazy – pumpkin soup, shrimp risotto and blueberry strudel for dessert all along with endless amounts of homemade bread and two glasses of sweet white wine (I’m such the wine connoisseur!)
I know fast food giant KFC prides itself on being ‘finger licking good’, but this food deserved the same treatment, along with the plate. Compliments to the chef. Years ago I was told that if you really liked the meal, you’re meant to leave some food on the plate as a way of being polite. I’ve never understood that and I thought ‘stuff that’ as I stuffed myself on deliciousy goodness.
Therefore I have decided that although I have only had a small taste (forgive the pun) of Slovenia, I will return; hire car in tow and explore more of the castles this place has to offer along with the vineyards that I have seen on the drive over.
Now if only I can get the waiter’s attention to sample some more of the sumptuous delights ... Oprostite, natakar?