Spellbound by Slovenia

Ditya and Arjun love travelling, so they try to go abroad and see a new part of the world a few times a year. Most recently they went to Slovenia, and Ditya told us all about their trip.

My husband Arjun and I are strong believers in the famous quote, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” Travelling is a very important part of our lives, and we make it a point to make at least a couple of trips abroad every year, apart from our domestic ones. Our travel time depends on Arjun’s work and when he gets a break from construction projects. We try to pick destinations we haven’t explored before, often choosing places that are not tourist hotspots. This makes it more exciting to explore on our own.
This year, since we were travelling in May, we narrowed in on Eastern Europe because we’ve already seen most of Western Europe. It was also the ideal time to travel there. We vacationed along with my sister Sunayana and her husband Arvind, with our itinerary set for six countries, beginning with the Czech Republic. We stayed in Prague and travelled to the Cesky Krumlov countryside, from where we visited Warsaw and Krakow in Poland, near the Auschwitz concentration camp. This was followed by Budapest, the capital of Hungary, and Slovenia.

In Slovenia, we went to the capital of Ljubljana, Lake Bled and Piran. From there, we headed to Salzburg and Vienna in Austria, and Bratislava in Slovakia. Every place was beautiful, but Slovenia was the most captivating with its natural splendour. The stunning sights were raw, mostly untouched by humans, but I’m sure it won’t be too long before Slovenia is flooded with tourists! We were lucky to catch a glimpse of the country before this happens.
After a four-hour drive from Budapest to Ljubljana, we checked into the Cubo, a five-star boutique hotel adjacent to the old town, next to the city centre. Since it was a new and small property, we were looked after very well. I definitely recommend the Cubo to anyone travelling to Ljubljana, which means “beloved” in Slovene. It’s a very friendly and welcoming city. Though not a small town, you definitely feel like you’re in one. Unlike most other capitals in Europe, Ljubljana is not a big sightseeing hotspot. Rather, it’s the kind of city you visit without a plan, to explore and discover its wonders at leisure, preferably on foot.

Having said that, the bridges in Ljubljana are world-famous – chief among them are Triple Bridge, Dragon Bridge and Butchers’ Bridge – all of which we got to see. We also paid a visit to Ljubljana Castle, atop of which we enjoyed a stunning panorama of the old and new towns. The most famous square in Ljubljana, located near Triple Bridge, is Prešeren Square. It leads to several shopping streets scattered with eateries and cafés, as well as the fruit and flower markets. We enjoyed a stroll around these areas of the old town.
The following day was dedicated to Piran and Portorož, each just a stone’s throw from the other. These coastal towns lie by the Adriatic Sea, and have a truly laidback feel to them. The seafood in the cafés by the sea was excellent, especially when accompanied by the gentle water licking your feet. It’s a beautiful place for a seaside lunch, a dip in the sea, or a stroll with some gelato. In addition, their location along the border lends these towns a soft Italian influence.

Piran and Portorož were followed by a day-trip to Lake Bled, considered to be one of the most beautiful places in the world; it did not disappoint. The water was a resplendent shade of blue, and the view of Bled Castle overlooking the lake rounded things off. On a tiny island in the middle of the lake lies a church, the Church of the Assumption. Locals believe that if you ring the church bell and make a wish, it is sure to come true. So we did, and there was something so very magical about it. As for food, the speciality known as kremna rezina or kremšnita is highly recommended. A local milk cream cake, it’s available at most cafés around Bled.

Since we had a little time on our hands, we returned to Ljubljana to see the more modern parts, known as BTC City. There’s plenty to do in this area – shops, theatres, casinos and more. We chose to watch a movie and just relax. From Slovenia, we continued onwards to Salzburg with no shortage of memories. If you enjoy different places, especially away from your typical tour-guided destinations, Slovenia is for you!
Slovenia has an unbelievably low (close to zero) crime rate, making it one of Europe’s safest countries. I found the people there very friendly, and the most convenient part was that many of them can speak English. It’s sure to be a tourist hub very soon!     – as told to Saloni