First stop on our Adriatic cruise with Celebrity Silhouette was the city of Koper, Slovenia. This city is Slovenia‘s only commercial port and only major city on the 47 kilometre stretch on the Adriatic coast and only five kilometres from the Italian border. Instead of taking a ship’s tour, we arranged our tour in advance, online, with a company called “Slovenia For You”. They offer specific Off Cruise day tours for Slovenia, Croatia, Italy and Montenegro. We chose the Lake Bled and Ljubljana tour with Piran added extra. Via the “roll call” on the website Cruise Critic I advertised the tour and within no time had six excited people wanting to join us.
When we disembarked the tour guide was waiting for us and escorted us to a bus which took us an hour and a half into the county to Lake Bled. Unfortunately the weather was bad – rain and limited visibility. When we reached there it was almost impossible to see the cute little church on the island on the lake. The plan was also to visit the castle at the top of a very steep precipice. It was also barely visible through the mists, but since we had come all that way, we continued on. From the car park at the base of the castle to the main gate the path is very steep and slippery in the wet, but it was worth the climb. At the entrance there is a drawbridge over a (filled in) moat. From the lower courtyard there are various Renaissance style buildings which would have housed the servants and a Romanesque tower. This connects to an upper courtyard via stairs where there is a recently renovated Gothic chapel and museum chronicling the history of the castle and its occupants. The views from this courtyard were unfortunately lost to us that day but photos in the display showed us what we were missing.
As well as a gift shop and printing shop there is also a wine cellar where we were fortunate to taste a few samples and a restaurant where we had morning coffee. Our guide assured us we should have the local dessert delicacy – Blejske Rezine – which we recognised as a creamed vanilla slice. I was also fascinated by a frieze along the top of the wall, depicting Death in the form of skeletons, claiming people from all stations in life.
Half an hour away in the capital city of Ljubljana the sun at last shone, enabling us to enjoy a walk through the streets. The central part of the old city is quite beautiful due to its Baroque and Art Nouveau architecture.
There are even archeological remains of the Roman city of Emona visible as you go down the underpass steps off Kongresni trg square.
The view along the Ljubljanica River reminded me very much of Bruges in Belgium.
The central market was a welcome and colourful sight. Stallholders were preparing to pack up their fresh fruit and vegetables, but the food stalls were still busy with customers who, like us, were keen to try the local specialities such as Kranjska sausages.
On the way back to Koper we took a detour to Piran as it is such a cute town. Formerly a fishing village, the old inner marina was filled in and is now the Tartini Square, with a monument in memory of Giuseppe Tartini, violinist and composer. Nearby are located various important buildings, such as Tartini’s house, first mentioned in 1384 and one of the oldest in town.
The city is walled and bears some resemblance to Venice with its narrow winding alleys and medieval architecture. On the hill above the town is the biggest and most important church, the Church of St George, from where there are magnificent views over the Piran peninsula.
- There’s more to a rejuvenating break at a Slovenian health spa than lying caked in mud (dailyrecord.co.uk)
- Traditional Slovenian Towns (theepochtimes.com)
- Rick Steves Ljubljiana (aroundtheworldwithliz.com/videos/)
- Biggest attractions in Slovenia (sloveniaholidays.org)
- The Culinary Delights of Slovenia (theepochtimes.com)