Christmas trip 2004
Slovenia was the pleasant surprise
of our whirlwind trip through central Europe. The scenery is lovely,
the pizza fabulous, the wine plentiful, the beer cold, the roads good,
the mountains stunning and the history amazing. We went through eastern
Slovenia on our way to Vienna and drove through the central part of the
country on our way home to Belgrade.
Reflection of the Ptuj old town waterfront
in the river Drava. Alea found these extra special as she had just
been a swan for her holiday school program.
Ptuj (pronounced Ptooyee - really!)
is an old medieval (built on Roman ruins) town along the banks of the Drava
River. The whole area abounds with springs and the Roman affection
for spas is telling in the communities to this very day. The hill-top
castle in Ptuj is also the regional museum. It held a fascinating array
of armor and weaponry. It also had a very interesting display on
the history and evolution of the piano.
As we hiked up to the castle/museum,
we gazed over the Ptuj town tower, which has stood watch under many moons
since the 13th century.
Breck's naturally curly hair grew a bit
since you last saw him:)
Alea loves the Magic Tree House books
and one of the first ones she ever read was about a Knight. She was
enthralled with the ones she 'met' in Ptuj.
Breck's keen eye for dragons kept us safe
the entire tour of the museum. He spotted this chandelier all by
himself from another room.
We marched through the Old Town at
night which was (at the same time) an eerie and delightful experience.
It didn't take much imagination to see why people not so long ago were
superstitious and prone to fantasies about what dwelled around the corner.
Around one corner we ran into a real Santa handing out lollipops to the
kids and around another we found him practicing his 'through-the-window'
Our first night stay was in the town
of Maribor, Slovenia. It is Slovenia's second largest city (and most
industrial), though we couldn't tell that by walking around its pedestrian
old town area. Our hotel was smack in the middle of the walking street.
We had pizza at the Anchor - a great 'brick and vines' kind of place.
This part of Slovenia boasts a 2,000 year old wine making industry. Our
travel guide said that one vine has been producing grapes for over 400
in Vienna (where we broke our new camera, these are all taken with
a disposable), we went to Lake Bled, a lovely resort area just north of
Ljubljana. The lake has an old monastery on an island in the middle
of it and a medieval castle perched on an outcropping of cliff overlooking
it. We were expecting snow and skiiers, but found only rain and spas.
So, we joined the trend of others adjusting to global warming and hit the
water amusement park instead. There were four heated indoor pools;
one with zero-depth entry and toddler fountain, one with a slide and waterfalls,
one with access to the outdoors and one with mirrors and trees all the
way around it. We had three hours of tremendous fun and were all
prunes by day's end.
Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia.
It is a lovely city and we were all very impressed with its history, architecture,
markets, waterfront and 'feeling'. It feels much like Paris (a lot
more in control) with gorgeous Rococco and Art Nouveau buildings riding
either side of the banks of the Ljubljanica River. There had been
so much rain we were not able to take a night cruise, though it sure made
crossing the famous Triple and Dragon bridges that much more interesting.
We were fortunate to enjoy Ljubljana's christmas markets, as well, given
they were still open for those who celebrate Orthodox Christmas on January
6. The photo on the left shows Castle Hill towering over the old
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