16 Dec,2017 By jagabond
“Too soon the fruits of knowledge did I eat!
Where dripped their poison, faded all delight
I saw how honesty and truth could meet
Among the human kind with scorn and spite.
I sought true love – an empty dream and fleet,
Which disappeared as dawn broke into light!
And wisdom, justice and the learned mind
Were dowerless maids – no suitors could they find.”
Welcome to Slovenia, a country whose national hero is not a military man or political figure, but a poet. France Preseren not only wrote about loneliness, flawed humans and somber matters of the heart, but also love of his motherland. His home country eventually used his words for the Slovenian national anthem.
The secret is out on Ljubljana, the unique Slovenian capital city where dragons are revered and super-friendly locals have crafted an exciting nightlife and cafe culture. Less people know of the coast, probably due to its small size, stretching only 43 kilometers in length. Although nearby Croatia catches more eyes from tourists, this was still a stunningly scenic drive with memorable sights.
You can fly into Ljubljana, rent a car and drive ninety minutes to the coast. Alternatively, take a cheap flight to the little known Italian city of Trieste, set less than an hour from the Slovenian border. There are few issues crossing from Italy into Slovenia, in fact many Italians still live in this region and the two cultures have effectively blended together.
May is the start of the European festival season. My mates and I stumbled upon one right after crossing the Slovenian border, in a pretty town called Izola. The beer and artichoke gelato were enticing, but what I kept focusing on was the live band showcasing the traditional regional music. Being a former player myself, the single-string washtub bass was the real highlight!
The coastal views were incredible. I witnessed a mix of seaside bliss and lush greenery. I’ve heard the Slovenian landscapes are some of the best in Europe, and I can’t disagree.
What is this song? I know I’ve heard it but I can’t place where. I caught this free show in the main square of Piran, complete with an enthusiastic composer and a beautiful backdrop of the colorful buildings.
First experience with truffles
And maybe the last? I love the idea of truffle hunts, where dogs or pigs sniff them out and start digging. However, this expensive, upscale cuisine is just a bit too strong for my palate. The intense mushroom flavor predominates over the taste of other ingredients, and the odor even wafts onto adjacent plates.
Playtime at the beach
Slovenia isn’t typically known for its beaches, but a local pointed us in the direction of a really nice one. It was packed with sunbathers and multiple cafe options, and also a playground for kids…and adults? I never pass up the opportunity to act younger!
For those who dislike driving, put Piran on your bucket list. This is the most picturesque town on the Slovenian coast, maybe in part due to the lack of automobile pollution. Before arriving in Piran, you need to park your car in a garage and shuttle into town. For a serene seaside experience, this is the perfect place to spend the night.
Underrated drink culture
Slovenia is already known for Lasko, one of the best local brews in Europe, in my opinion. On the coast you can also find the famous Istrian wine, and the ‘Hugo’, a refreshing summer drink that combines Prosecco with mint.
Piran was beautiful this time of day. The light radiated off the water perfectly, completing the transition from the chill vibe of daytime to the more vibrant nightlife.
I wrote previously of the kolo, a traditional folk dance in Slovenia that involves people forming a circle and dancing within its framework. Following an intimate dinner in Piran, a midnight walk was made more magical by witnessing a kolo in the main square.