Sunday, 4 August 2013

The Alps to Ljubljana!

Zdravo from Solvenia! Yes, yes we know it’s been a while since our last blog but hopefully this one will be worth the wait as we are blogging from our favourite country so far! The beautiful, clean and oh so sunny- Slovenia!
So, last time I wrote we were still in the Alps and heading to Geneva, Switzerland to go to the CERN facility and then to see the Jet D’eau. The Cern facility was very interesting and even though we didn’t get on to the guided tour of the day there are boards of information, pictures and videos to explain just what is going on there and why- they also have interactive games and demonstrations which are great for kids and those who like to see and touch the concept in order to understand it better (like me!) plus it breaks it up a bit. The CERN facility has different buildings which specialise in different topics so its well worth a visit no matter what you are in to.
Jet D'Eau


After this bit of education we headed to Geneva lake to have a meander and see the Jet D’eau- which is a huge water fountain which you can stand under and get splashed by. We had a walk along the water front to have some lunch and then started to walk towards the Jet D’eau, however, the wind did start to pick up a bit and by the time we were about 200 metres away from the jet… they turned it off. Typical! It was understandable though as the Jet D’eau does reach 140 metres and with those winds it would drench more than a few standersby! So we got an icecream and walked back to the car and headed back to the chalet! The Alps was amazing and the roads were incredible- if not a bit insane at times, but one of the coolest things about it was the thunderstorms- watching the sky light up in purple and white while sitting in the hot tub was exhilarating if not a bit terrifying! 

At the end of a fantastic week with the family and some incredible views and experiences, including Stevens first hair cut since we have been away(!), Stevens family headed back to the UK and we started our way to Slovenia. Our first stop was in Italy by Lake Maggiore but we only stayed there one night as we wanted to be out of western Europe by August and even though it had been a long drive, we hadn’t covered enough ground so the next day we headed off again and found ourselves by Lake Garda, also in Italy. This campsite was pretty full, I think there were two or three spaces left, and we stayed here for two nights as we wanted a break from driving and it was a nice enough campsite, but we would not go there again. The pool was a good size but had a strict rule for swimming hats; we did not have any. And the lake was very close but smelled distinctively like a lake and was full of boats, so wasn’t exactly swim friendly or particularly inviting. It was a nice break and we did have some very friendly Dutch neighbours, so we were nice and refreshed by the time we left for Ankaran in Slovenia.

Ankaran was a lovely campsite which had loads of tall trees in so offered loads of shade, as the days were getting hotter and longer and the nights were not much cooler! This campsite also had a massive pool with lanes in for proper swimming and in the morning and afternoon the reps would come onto the pool and do an aqua-aerobics session which varied every day and got loads of people in the pool. The pool was salt water which was different but we didn’t mind it, actually I quite liked it! It was described as a sea side campsite by ACSI which wasn’t actually that accurate as was actually located on a port. So not the most scenic site we have been on but the pool did make it and we did enjoy our stay there.

After a few days we headed to Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia (pronounced; Lub-yarna), the campsite we stayed on was just outside of the centre and offered a deal if you stayed there for three nights, including one free pass to the pool. The campsite was nice and not too expensive considering where it was, and the facilities were really good, when we first arrived there was even a pig on a spit roast outside being cooked for that nights meal! However its main selling point was the fact that its swimming pool had been rated the best Swimming Pool in Solvenia- due to this claim we thought that we would pay (yes, you have to pay to use the pool on the site) to get in for the afternoon. There were no slides, no wave machine, no multiple pools, no cool gadgets or impressive layout. Well, it was an anti-climax and a half, but with the heat it was worth a dip just to cool off! The next day we cycled into Ljubljana which was about 5km bike ride, it was an easy ride, made easier by the constant cycle routes which were really handy and quickly became understandable as it seems that most people in Slovenia cycle. We locked our bikes up near the main shopping centre and started our adventure! 
Spit roast!

Our first main thought regarding Ljubljana and Slovenia in general, is just how beautiful and clean it is here. The next is how friendly everyone is and how as soon as they know you are English they are keen to show you just how cracking their English is. As of yet, we have not been disappointed- I have had a brief conversation with a six year old who at first I genuinely thought was English until her sister turned up and my jaw hit the floor when Slovenian came tumbling out of her mouth. Incredible!

Ljubljana was a beautiful, modern and quirky city. We really enjoyed our walk around and saw the food stalls and the art work and sculptures around the area and loads of Dragon related art as a Dragon (the one slain by St. George! is the city symbol of Ljubljana, and then we spotted the castle. Once we found it we were at the bottom of the funicular (like a diagonal lift) that went to the castle, so bought our ticket which came with a virtual castle tour as well as access to the castle and the exhibition of Slovenian history and the towers- all for 8 euros each. The castle was very impressive and had restaurants and coffee shops in the courtyard which looked really nice- we had our packed lunch with us and there were places for us to sit and have our picnic in the shade- perfect! We then went up to the towers where you can see everything! Very cool and very high! It was baking up the top though as there’s no shade or real breeze so we took our photos and then made a dash for the air conditioning! The virtual tour of the castle was shown every half hour and was in a little cinema screening room, and while we were waiting we saw the group before us come out and there must have been at least fifty people walk out, all sweaty and red faced, while me and Steven just waltzed in after them and they decided to play the virtual tour just for us! Result! The video was from a dragons point of view and we feel it may have been aimed for a younger audience but did show how the shape and purpose of the castle had changed over the years and why, which was interesting and it was only 15 minutes of film and was included in the price so worth a watch if you go there as it does explain the history of the castle itself which we didn’t find anywhere else.

The exhibition on Slovenias history was really good and had interactive games and videos to cover main topics as well as having replicas of important and relevant artefacts which you are encouraged to touch. It also showed how Slovenia has changed and why, which was priceless as we didn’t really know much about Slovenia before we came.

Ljubljana is really worth a visit as it is a really interesting capital as well as being quite small so you can cover most of it in a day! Another great thing about Slovenia is how cheap it is- and good quality!
We know a lot of people gauge how expensive a country is by the cost of beer or a coffee, we on the other hand are avid icecream eaters so just to put things into perspective:
In France we paid 3 euros a scoop
In Italy we paid 1.80 euro a scoop
In Slovenia we pay 1.30 euro a scoop

We will be doing another blog tomorrow on Lake Bled which is where we are now! We love it here but didn’t want to write all we have done in two weeks as it would be more like a book than a blog! So stay tuned!!!

Much love and happy camping! 

Food market in Ljubljana

One of the many disformed and bizarre
sculptures in Ljubljana

Dragon is the City Symbol of Ljubljana

At the bottom of the funicular

In Ljubljana

View from the top of the castle towers

Looking down down down

Bottles of wine from previous years
(the empty boxes are for the years to come)

Ljubljana Castle

Ljubljana Castle

Ljubljana Castle

Ljubljana Castle

Ljubljana Castle

Ljubljana Castle

A nest in Ljubljana Castle

View from the top of the castle towers

The Holy Trinity in the Exhibition

Old Slovenian money

Old Slovenian money

In the centre of Ljubljana!

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