There's really no better way to get to know a place than a meal with a local family. It looks just like a loft. We end at the Adriatic resort of Piran. Tina: Yeah, this is a very typical socialist realism propaganda. While the valley is a favorite for nature-lovers today, it has its dark side. Along with the Triple Bridge and market colonnade, Plečnik's brilliance for urban design — the ability to connect Ljubljanans to their city and river — is evident in his Cobbler's Bridge. Rick: Cherries? Five hundred years later, during World War I, Austrians used it to keep Italians out of their territory. But it's by far the country's largest city, cultural capital, and a charming place to kick off any Slovenian trip. Fancy facades and whimsical bridges ornament daily life with a Slovenian twist. This special episode is a sonnet to travel - an introspective love story, set in Europe, that vividly celebrates the rewards of exploring our world and the joy that awaits those who travel. Rick Steves (ricksteves.com) writes European guidebooks, hosts travel shows on public TV and radio, and organizes European tours. This is quite a surprise. From its prosperous capital of Ljubljana, we enjoy the mountain resort of Lake Bled, venture into the Julian Alps for natural thrills mixed with WWI history, go spelunking in a gigantic cave, and swim with Slavs in a charming Adriatic port. The main square was once a protected harbor…until it began to stink so bad, they had to fill it in. Rick: In four months? Sašo: …Anže is his name. It was built during World War I by 10,000 Russian prisoners of war. In this unpredictable climate, hay is hung on the rack to stay dry. The decadent kremšnita artfully sandwiches layers of cream and vanilla custard between sheets of delicate crust. Rick: This is great! Rick Steves Travel Talks 16,344 views 17:25 Piazza Armerina, Sicily: Villa Romana del Casale - Rick Steves’ Europe Travel Guide - Travel Bite - Duration: 2:55. This peaceful river valley was known as the "Soča Front," or the "Isonzo Front" in Italian. Rick: Tito had some magic ability to bring it together. Rick Steves' Europe | Episode | The Best of Slovenia. But behind the gate, in his garden, the creative world of Plečnik opens up. With this guide, you'll explore charming towns and undiscovered natural wonders. In 1916, an avalanche thundered down the mountainside, killing hundreds of these workers. Crews stroke rhythmically through glassy waters, merging natural and human grace. These days, Piran's walls are inviting rather than defensive, and the town is simply an enjoyable place in which to relax. Natalija: That is the most important. The most popular month to go is September, which has the most number of tour departures. Locals claim that you're not a true Slovene until you've climbed Triglav. Italy. In Rick Steves Croatia & Slovenia you'll find in-depth Rick-tested information on: Croatia Dubrovnik and nearby (including Cavtat, Mljet National Park, Pelješac Peninsula, and Trsteno Arboretum) Split and nearby (including Trogir and Krka National Park) Korčula; Hvar Tiny bits of limestone — the geological equivalent of sawdust around here — reflecting under the brilliant blue skies gives the river its rich turquoise color. But one thing that's constant is the warmth and hospitality of its people. You can email Rick at rick… For good or bad workers, the wage was all the same. He left such a strong mark, not only in Vienna and Prague, but definitely in Ljubljana, because all the land accesses and river accesses are designed by Plečnik. While no motorized boats disturb the tranquility of Lake Bled, it does have its human-powered speed boats. An eighth-century Slavic pagan temple dedicated to the goddess of love and fertility once stood here; the current Baroque version (with Venetian flair — the bell tower separate from the main church) is the fifth to occupy this spot. But the Soča Front was 60 miles wide, and many of the defenses were more crude and remote. Before independence, before Yugoslavia, Slovenia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. A short drive south takes us into a totally different landscape: Slovenia's Karst region — a high, fertile, and windblown plateau. As if turning its back on its hard-fought history, the city playfully straddles its sleepy river. The Kluže Fort keeps vigil over the narrowest part of the valley, which leads from Italy, through Slovenia, toward Austria. At the intersection of the Slavic, German, and Italian worlds, Slovenia is an exciting mix of the best of each culture. Ladder rungs fixed to the cliff face (across the road from the fort) allowed soldiers to quickly get up to the mountaintop. Sašo: That's the usual thing around here. Rick: Nice to meet you. Lake Bled's little island (Otok) is capped by a super-cute church that is pretty to look at from afar but also fun to visit. In the grand cavern, the sound of a mighty river crashes through the mist. Until next time, keep on travelin'. ▲ Logarska Dolina and the Northern Valleys Remote mountain valleys with grand vistas and traditional farming lifestyles. There in former Yugoslavia, there were good things and also bad things. By Rick Steves and Cameron Hewitt But, we're right in the middle…Italy, Germany. I really wish I had more time in Slovenia. Karel: Don't stick your bloody pinky in the air! The bridge seems almost Venetian. But the big name in local architecture and urban planning is Jože Plečnik. And the hearty local food provides a good foundation for a lively conversation. Swimmers frolic, while sunbathers claim more than their share of the national coastline. Visitors begin by seeing a multitude of formations in a series of large caverns. The island has been a special gathering point through the ages. 57 Slovenia holiday packages with 82 reviews View Map. On summer Saturdays, a steady procession of brides and grooms, cheered on by their entourages, heads for the island. That's why, unlike his Eastern European neighbors, Tito could and did chart his own course — independent from the USSR. It was rebuilt in the Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles so popular in Vienna, the empire's capital at the time. The first castle here was actually a tiny ninth-century fortress embedded deep in the cave behind the present castle. Marijan — who leads tours all over Europe for Rick Steves — knows more than anybody about Ljubljana, and Slovenia, and the Balkans, and Europe…and, basically, everything. Maybe one of the better things was for young families, because they can get apartment, they can get a job. The road switchbacks down into the valley of the Soča River. We booked an 8AM departure but found out on arrival that was changed to 6:30AM. Natalija: No, he was married to the architecture. The first half of the experience is the "Silent Caves" (so called for the lack of running water), with a wide array of wondrous formations and what seem like large caverns. As Yugoslavia broke up into separate countries in the 1990s, Slovenia became independent after a 11-day war. Rick: So, how was communism in Yugoslavia different from all the communism we think about with the USSR? That's why maybe the faces are a little happier. When to Go to Croatia and Slovenia At the height of the tourist season, Split, Croatia, is jammed with daytime cruise ship visitors. This striking bank building was designed by an ambitious local architect, hoping to forge a uniquely Slovenian style. Sašo: Absolutely. Rick: And a single bed — was he never married? When I’m working on a guidebook, I can barely scribble fast enough to capture all of the insights that tumble out of Marijan… Then they flip over the cart to turn it into a sales stand. These scales allow buyers to immediately double-check the arithmetic…just in case. Vastly outgunned, they fought back valiantly, eventually defeating the German invaders. Rick: You wouldn't know, looking up here. The mouth of the cave provided a strategic place for some feudal lord to stick his fortified manor house. A colorful mix of work and pleasure boats fill today's harbor. The defenses included a web of tunnels that went all the way to the tops of the mountains. As with most towns on the Adriatic, it was long ruled by nearby Venice, and retains its Venetian flavor. Bad things about Yugoslavia was maybe because there was no good stimulation for good workers. These wines, from the northeast, are considered some of the country's best. Rick Steves Classroom Europe® is a free online video library for teachers, students, and parents. Rick: Pol kilo. Gorazd: Good for bad workers, yes. Edmonds resident Rick Steves writes European guidebooks, hosts travel shows on public TV and radio, and organizes European tours. see our FAQ. Ljubljana remains a treasure trove of engaging architecture. (37:02), Little Pleasures in Slovenia Rick: Anže. Guides tell the story as, drip by drip, stalactites grow from spaghetti-thin strands to mighty sequoia-like stone pillars. This was unimaginably difficult warfare — waged in the harshest of conditions. Tina's having us over for dinner to meet her family. The art in the Lady of the Rocks church was special, the one Euro tour a bargain and the guide refused a tip. Natalija: So, this is Plečnik's room, where he worked, and he slept here. Get exclusive mini-episodes on Our Patreon Account For more, find us:Chris MitchellFind him at travelingmitch, Ultimate Ontario, & His Writer's Portfolio. Above Grandma and Grandpa's! Rick: So, Plečnik is very important to the Slovenian people. Join our Facebook Group: Rick Steves Over Brunch Podcast Listeners. Rick: This is very interesting to me, because this is food I would think about in Germany or Austria or in the north. Rick Steves takes a cultural voyage through this charming, former Yugoslavian country, starting at its lively capital then heading toward the Julian Alps and to the Slovenian … Rick: Anže! By the 16th century, Predjama had become a castle for hunting more than for defense — explaining its current ­picturesque-but-impractical design. Rick: That's worse than "Your mother wears army boots.". This time it's beaches, caves, and Alps and enjoying a little cultural workout in Slovenia. A small, friendly group of 24 people — half the size of most tour groups; The services of a professional Rick Steves guide and local experts who will make the fascinating history, art, and culture of Eastern Europe come alive for you; All group transportation from Prague to Lake Bled, Slovenia; 14 nights' accommodations in memorable, centrally located hotels It was the scene of some of the fiercest fighting of World War I. Tito and his Partisan Army booted the Nazis without Soviet help. (18:20), Do-over for my Poland trip - adding a little countryside. Since the Habsburg days, this is where Slovenes take their guests — whether kings or cousins — to show off their natural wonders. Guides, passionate about his work, give meaning to his home. Škocjan offers fantastical cave formations and a spectacularly vast canyon with a raging underground river. Located where the Germanic, Mediterranean, and Slavic worlds come together, Slovenia has a unique appeal. It was all over Eastern Europe, and if you look at the picture, you can see the proud workers, you know, carrying their tools. With over a million casualties, it was nicknamed the "Valley of the Cemeteries.". Vogel for some amazing views of the Alps. Rick: If you're angry what would…? Vendor: Yes. Natalija: Absolutely. There's no keel, so the skilled oarsmen work hard to steer the flat-bottomed boat with each stroke. The Soča continues to cut its way deeper and deeper into this gorge. In fact, the town's officially bilingual: Slovene and Italian. He left such a strong mark, not only in Vienna and Prague, but definitely in Ljubljana, because all the land accesses and river accesses are designed by Plečnik. This northwestern corner of Slovenia — within yodeling distance of both Austria and Italy — is crowned by the Julian Alps. Little Slovenia is the least visited and most underrated of Europe's alpine countries. Sašo: Yeah, ha ha ha. Dec 22, 2014 - Slovenia & Croatia Itinerary: Where to Go in Slovenia and Croatia by Rick Steves | ricksteves.com An earthquake leveled the city in 1895. They converted the attic of Tina's childhood home — creating plenty of space for their growing family. This is where we spend rainy afternoons. We’ve been playing host to an invasion of more than a hundred tour guides from all over Europe and beyond, in town for our annual guide summit and reunion — 10 solid days of strategy sessions, business meetings, reconnecting with tour members, and, of course, parties. Chiseled into the wall, the scant remains of century-old trails evoke the early days of tourism here. ©2021 Rick Steves' Europe, Inc. | Our first stop is the country's top alpine resort: Lake Bled. Rick Steves Travel Gear Day Pack - Lightweight Backpack - Black. Sašo: I would say, "may you get kicked by a horse." The house can be toured only with a guide, whose enthusiasm brings the place to life. Rick: Today, are you happier with or without Tito and Yugoslavia? But still, you know, it's a propaganda of Eastern Europe — but it was so different over here. But on the other hand, you have here a gilded sculpture on the top of the ceiling. Sašo: We are punctual when we need to be punctual. In this tiny country, it seems like everybody knows each other. For coronavirus (COVID-19) travel information, Natalija: Yes, absolutely. The house of Ljubljana's favorite son is on an unassuming street. Over the centuries, different castles were built here, and they gradually moved out to the mouth of the cave. After Tito died in 1980, his villa was converted into a classy hotel, offering guests a James Bond ambience. See the Travel Details above for recommendations highlighted in bold, excerpted from Rick's guidebooks. Tina: Sašo. For coronavirus (COVID-19) travel information, Sašo: Anže. Rick: Anže will have a roommate. 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