Written by Indra Laxminaryayan.
Slovenians love their wines, and so did we. They make some of the finest wines in the world. Small independent farmers and wine growing associations together produce and sell barrels and barrels of the finest wines, only small percentage of which are exported. The rest is consumed by the Slovenians themselves! They truly hold the opinion that,
Alcohol will not solve your problems. But neither will milk!
I so agree!
“Smoking Kills!” shout out the warnings on cigarette packets.
“It sure does,” agree the Slovenes, most of whom enjoy their poison. “Since we can only smoke outdoors, pneumonia will do that anyway!”
Never ever ask a European what to expect in terms of weather.
“Pleasant at this time of year.”
10 degrees and pleasant? And what about the temperatures in the Alpine region of the Triglav National Park which we kept crisscrossing? 7 degrees! I’m surprised I didn't turn into an icicle being so inadequately clad – eight layers and still needing more.
Ljubljana (pronounced Lyublyana – J is a Y in the Slavic tongue), the enchanting elegant capital, is warm, welcoming, a place where one is always greeted with a smile and a “Dober dan” (Good day). Unique among the capitals of Central Europe, it’s very safe to go around.
It boasts a castle from the 12th century that one can access by cable car; its river, Ljubljanica, divides the Prešeren Square from Old Town, and the entire area is a pedestrian zone, thus making strolling around easy and fun to discover. Truly, Ljubljana is “made to the measure of man”. Among the bridges that straddle the river, the most fascinating for me was the Dragon Bridge, which has a wonderful legend.
‘Tis said the four dragons guarding the bridge slumber peacefully only waking up to shake their heads, wriggle their tails, and flap their wings every time a virgin crosses the bridge. Needless to say the dragons haven’t moved in hundreds of years.
We had our first Slovenian lunch, a treat from Gregor Födransperg, the Big Boss of Slovenia-Explorer, who had welcomed us at the airport. Home processed cheese, milk straight from the cows, vegetables and fruits all organically grown. Gregor thoughtfully gifted me with a bottle of the "second most potent chilli in the world"; one drop and you start dancing “Gangnam Style”.
The Bled resort is famous for its cream cake and you shouldn’t dare leave the country without having a taste of it. Gregor saw to it that we had our taste. Two huge pieces of that sinful stuff – what was he thinking?
We weren’t adventurous enough to try out the local venison, but we went crazy over the best trout we’d ever tasted. That alone is worth going back to Slovenia!
(to be continued...)