Category Archives: Slovenia

Saturday, August 21st, Slovenia to Zagreb, Croatia

Another beautiful day for driving as we chose to take the normal roads rather than the highways on our tip from Ljubljana, Slovenia to Zagreb, Croatia. At one section we came to a stop light that is red for 20 minutes as it shares a one way street. For 20 minutes all the cars go one way and then for the next 20 minutes the cars can go the opposite way. Interesting. No wonder a one-way bridge is called a waiting bridge here.

At another spot, Russ noticed a little cable car that traversed over the river Sava (same name as my horse). It held two people one on each side who sat facing each other.  A wheel is turned on the shore to wind the cable getting the people from one side of the river to the other side. It was like a mini manual gondola cable car. Lulu said it was a creek to creek instead of a peak to peak. We had lots of fun going back and forth across the river. Then we happened to ask Tatiana to translate a sign written on the side of the cable car.  It said “This is for transportation only; not for playing”. OOPS, we had too much fun playing with it already so we got back into the cars and drove off.

We stopped for lunch at a small village called Bristoneca (or something close to that). Russ and Terry gave hats to everyone there and took photos.  We are starting to call Terry the Canadian Ambassador because he hands out Canadian pins, stickers and hats to everyone he sees, even the people who collect money at the toll stations.  He even gave out two Canadian hats to police women! And then took their photo.

We ate lunch outside on the patio and it was wonderful.  Two of the tables had dogs sleeping under the tables. It was fun and relaxing. We need more of this in Canada. After lunch we stopped at a nuclear power plant built right between two beautiful churches. Then before we knew it we were at a border crossing. Croatia is not in the EU so we had to pass through a border crossing, leaving Slovenia and then again entering into Croatia. The Border Guard at Croatia asked me if I had anything to tell the policemen. I said “what policemen?” and he said “in the back”. I looked behind me and said “there are no policemen back there. What do you mean?”  He meant did I have anything illegal in the car? Too funny. He even cracked a smile when I was looking for the police. We got through without any problems and I gave them hats.

Immediately upon entering Croatia we noticed a difference. Slovenia is definitely more affluent than Croatia. Taking a closer look as we drove along we noticed that many of the homes in Croatia are not finished. There are lots of brick homes without the plaster over the bricks to finish it off or the second floor was not finished.  All these homes were occupied and lived in. We guess that the reason for this is that the people build as they can afford it. Not like in North America where we take out a mortgage, finish the house and take twenty-five years to pay off the mortgage. It looks like they pay as they go here.

The hotel we checked into in Zagreb was fantastic. “Regent Esplanade Zagreb Hotel” I highly recommend it.  It was built for the Orient Express patrons and it is the best hotel in Zagreb.  Zagreb is the capital and largest city in Croatia. For dinner we took taxi’s up into the Gradec hill area which is residential filled with lovely 19th Century homes. (Looks a little like the Shaunessay area of Vancouver). We ate at a tennis club owned by a famous tennis player from Croatia.  Marcellino was the name of the restaurant and it was the best meal I have ever eaten. They had a Greek salad made with feta cheese sorbet and a red pepper reduction sorbet covered in chopped up fresh cucumbers and dill.  Delicious! 

The restaurant was painted a dark grey colour with one wall a lime green and opposite the lime green wall was a glass wall looking out into a forest of lime green trees and vegetation. The forest was all lit up. It was beautiful.  This restaurant was spectacular and if it was in Vancouver I am sure it would be packed full with people but tonight we were the only people in this restaurant.

Friday, August 20th, Ljubljana, Slovenia

We got up early to a beautiful sunny day.  We were all a little excited because this morning we were on our way to the original and first Lipizzaner stud farm.  It is over 430 years old and still going strong. The farm is located in a small town called Lipica which is the last stop in Slovenia before Italy . Who would think we could actually ride a Lipizzaner horse, this was fantastic!! 

There were only 4 riding spots, so Lulu and Terry kindly volunteered to not ride.  Instead they took a carriage ride with Lipizzaner mares around the property. This farm is amazing.  Every single horse was beautiful. We saw fields of yearlings in all colours from black to white.  Most Lipizzaner horses are born black and turn white by the time they are seven years of age.  They were bred with the Spanish Andalusian horses and Arab horses.  The breeders wanted a diversified animal who was smart, pretty, docile enough that it could be ridden and driven.  They also wanted white because it is majestic looking (Napoleon rode a Lipizzaner Horse) and because of the hot weather.  White reflects the sun’s rays so a white horse does better in a hot climate. They also did not want any pink pigmentation because that skin colour burns and the horse could get melanoma.

We put on our riding caps and went into the ring to have an hour’s dressage lesson!!! Heaven but hard.  Russ was surprised at how much work a rider has to do to keep in contact with the horse properly. It was hard work and very hot.  But the best time! I loved it. We noticed that most of the riders were Italian probably because this town is so close to Italy and there are no borders now. Brings up the question why we need borders between US and Canada?

After our ride we left the farm and drove to Postojna Caves.  We had to really hurry because we only had 5 minutes to get from the parking lot up to the mouth of the cave. It was boiling hot and we just made it with about 1 second to spare. Down we went on trains, four kilometers into the cave which was now cold! These caves were amazing with thousands of stalactites (hollow things hanging down from the ceiling) and stalagmites (solid columns growing up from the cave floor). When the train stopped we were grouped into different sections by language. Then a tour leader took us another kilometer down walking further into the cave. We couldn’t believe the amount of people down in this cave; 100’s of people were on this tour. No wonder they needed trains to bring everyone down and back up. 

It was well worth the effort, these stalactites and stalagmites came in all different colours, shapes and sizes. They gleamed in the dim light. Sometimes water dripped down from them and sometimes there were lights shining through them.  It was very magical and hard to describe. Some stalagmites looked like jewels others looked like ice cream or foam piled up into a column or even huge melted candles. Some stalactites looked like little spaghetti noodles others looked like draperies billowing in the breeze. Some even looked like they could be used as weapons. They also came in all colours. White = calcium; Red = iron; Black = magnesium and Green = algae. Your imagination could go wild in here describing the shapes and what they looked like. Much like lying on your back in a meadow and describing the shapes of clouds only these shapes you could actually touch. Nature is amazing.

We were not allowed to take pictures much to Russ’ chagrin. But believe it or not, 5 km. beneath the surface of the earth and without light (it was pitch black when they turned off the lights to demonstrate), there are living creatures. Beetles and a human worm for example. They call the worm human because it is a flesh colour and has arms with little hands.  It also can live for 3 years without food. That is definitely not human!! That is supernatural. I need to eat at least 3 times a day or my son says I get “Hang-gry”, that’s human.

There are 10,000 caves in Slovenia. This cave Postoina is not the biggest but it is the longest.  It was discovered in 1880.

We went back to the Lipica Stud Farm and had lunch (a very fast pizza) and then went to watch a dressage show put on by the stable.  It was a short half hour but well worth it. Then we had a mini tour of the facilities.  I fell in love with a horse named SAVA!! She was grey, four years old and beautiful. There are over 400 horses on this farm, lined with Linden trees. The name of the horse is important because they feel it is important to breed 5 generations away from the parents.  So all stallions have two names, a stallion foal takes the first name of his sire, as his first name and the name of the mare for his second name. For example if a stallion is named E. RUSSELL and the mare is SAVA XX. A stallion foal will be named E. SAVA XX.  All mares have one name with a number which is sequential. So if a mare is named SAVA XX and a female foal is born her name will be SAVA XXI.

At least that is how I understood our guide’s explanation. Correct me please, if I am wrong.  Also each horse is tattooed with a number and the year of birth is on their name plate in the upper right hand corner.

We had a very full day.

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