Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Ten Days In Slovenia

I'm going to post our planned itinerary for our upcoming trip to Slovenia, then update once we get home, just to see what worked and what didn't.  Visiting any place for the first time is always a learning experience, and there are always variables on a trip, things like rain, or a train strike, or worse yet, a missed train connection.  Sometimes it just takes longer to get from point A to point B, sometimes  you forget that Monday is the day most museums are closed, and sometimes you just stumble into a situation that changes your day, for better or worse, and there's just not a damned thing you can do about it.  Some people might think I over-plan, but obviously that's not how I would phrase it. 

What I try to do is figure out what makes the most sense for the time we have.  I don't want to end up in a city full of museums on the one day of the week they're all closed, do I?  Nor do I want to end up missing a festival by one day if some quick research could alert me to that fact.  What I try to do is to minimize the surprises, while still allowing for surprises!  In my opinion, if I know of ten great things to do in an area, and one doesn't work out because of weather, or because we got lost, or whatever, then I still have nine other possibilities.  For me the most valuable commodity on vacation is time, and I don't want to waste one precious second!

Slovenia offers more of a challenge than other countries might, simply because there's not as much info out there, and not as many people to ask for practical advice.  Still, it's an amazing country and so far we've managed to put together an itinerary we hope will serve at least as a framework.

Here's what we've planned so far:

Day 1 (Friday):  we'll drive from Verona (Italy) to Lipica, which should take about 3 hours.  We'll have to stop and buy a sticker for the car - sort of a prepaid road tax, I guess.  So - we should arrive at the Lipica Stud Farm, where they raise and train the beautiful Lipizzaner horses, before lunch.  We'll stay here for 2 nights.  After checking in and having lunch we'll drive to the seaside town of Piran, about an hour away, for a wander, maybe even relax on the beach for a while.  Because the days will be long there won't be any rush to get back - we'll have daylight until after 9 p.m. 

Day 2 (Saturday):  We'll visit the nearby Skocjan Caves, about a thirty minute drive from our hotel.  After the caves we'll figure out lunch, then decide if we want to drive through the countryside, check out more seaside towns, or maybe just head to the beach if we didn't make it the day before - or maybe even if we did!

Day 3 (Sunday)  After checking to see what days and times the horse shows were offered, Sunday seemed to be our best bet, so we'll tour the farm, see a show at 3:00, then drive to Slovenia's capital, Ljubljana, which should take about an hour.  It's unfortunate that we'll be arriving on a Sunday evening because we won't be able to stock up on groceries for our 3 night stay in an apartment here, but I'm sure we won't starve!  We'll probably have plenty of time to wander through the old part of town on our first evening.

Day 4 (Monday):  Today we'll drive to Valinka Planina, about an hour north of Ljubljana for some hiking.  Hopefully we can put together a picnic lunch, but if not we'll find something along the way. 

Day 5 (Tuesday):  We'll see what Ljubljana has to offer, including either lunch or dinner up at the castle, based on a recommendation by friends who were here two years ago.  Our apartment here will also give us a chance to catch up on laundry, something we'll need to do after having been without a washing machine for 6 days. 

Days 6 - 9 (Wednesday-Saturday):  We'll drive north to Lake Bled, which will take less than an hour, and we'll settle into our apartment here for four nights.  For this part of the trip there are so many things we want to see and do that for now I'm just listing all the possibilities and we'll figure out the specifics as we go along.  We'll probably walk around Lake Bled, and take the boat out to the small island in the center of it.  We'll visit Lake Bohinj, and take the cable car up the mountain.  We'll also visit Triglav National Park and take the twisty, curvy scenic road, and another day we'll check out Kranska Gora.  We'll be in this area for four days, and I'm hoping we can have a nice mix of sightseeing and relaxing.  We'll take advantage of the washing machine here too, and try to leave with everything clean so that we won't have to worry about laundry for the remainder of our vacation (another four nights).

Day 10 (Sunday):  We'll probably drive to the Soca Valley and the Vrisic Pass on our way to our next destination, Nova Gorica.  I've read that this is a big casino town, so I'm not sure what to expect, but this probably won't be a cutesy, charming little village, but it's really only  a place to sleep, since we'll be driving and sightseeing all day.

Will ten days be enough time?  Too much?  Will we wished we'd spent more time in one place and less in another?  Luckily for us the drives aren't extreme no matter where we are, and we're just making the best decisions we can, based on what we know now.  Having a car gives us the freedom to come and go as we please without being tied to someone else's schedule, something that's especially important when you want to see sites that aren't all within walking distance as they might be in a larger city.  Having a car also means we have to figure out how to get there, where the one way streets are, and how to avoid the 'no traffic zones' where we might get a ticket.  Having a car can also present parking challenges, but I think Ljubljana will be the only place we might fact that problem, and I'm counting on our landlord to help us out.  Having a cell phone will prove invaluable for times like that, and having a GPS unit should also be helpful, at least to get us close to where we want/need to be!

UPDATE!  For the most part our time in Slovenia went pretty much as planned.  Weather forced us to rearrange a few days, but since we had a good idea of what we wanted to see and do we were able to easily adjust our plans.  For us ten days seemed just about right, and having GPS was a life-saver when it worked, and a giant PITA when it lost the signal right in the middle of city traffic!

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