Slovenia - a scenic place that offers many, many vineyards, green fields, beautiful landscapes, mountains, lakes and most importantly, friendly and welcoming people.
This summer we had the great opportunity to travel to Slovenia. Although I'm Austrian and Slovenia is our neighbor country, I haven't had the chance to visit yet. I was excited to partner up with BIG BERRY Kolpa and to stay in their Lifestyle camp right next to river Kolpa. Here's our itinerary of all the fun things we did while we stayed there.
Bled Castle & Lake Bled
When in Slovenia, don't miss out on Bled Castle. If you'd like to go when it's not so crowded, I recommend you to go before school vacation starts in Austria and all the surrounding countries. It was a perfect summer day, there were a few people, but it was definitely not over crowded. From the castle you can enjoy a fantastic view over Lake Bled.
I'm a big fan of castles and historic things, so this was a must-stop for me. If it's a sunny and hot day like when we were there, you get to see the glistening water of lake Bled and quite a few boats and people on stand-up paddling boards. Also, not to forget the nice view over the town of Bled, as well as magical Bled island (which I hope to see another time). The water is so clear that you can even spot some fish from the castle. If you look more on the left side, you can see the summer toboggan run. I could only imagine how much fun it would be to slide down and to see over Bled, the lake and the castle in the back. But then again, I could only imagine how it would really be. I am not a big fan of too much speed so I think in my mind it would be fun, but then, in real life, I would probably be too scared to do it.
The castle has a nice museum and in the castle cellar, you can seal your own bottle of wine with wax. If you fancy having lunch at the castle, make sure you book in advance or come early to get one of the best seats with the view over lake Bled.
Vintgar Gorge (Triglav National Park)
The next stop was Vintgar Gorge (or Soteska Vintgar). The gorge is part of the Triglav National Park, which is one of the oldest parks in Europe and is only around 4.7 km away from Bled Castle. The gorge itself is around 1.6 km long. The impressive canyon walls are 50 to 100 meters high. The pools and rapids that were built through the erosive features of the stream are beautiful. The water is crystal clear and sometimes the water color even seems unreal, it's a perfect turquoise. I was standing there watching the fish and it felt like a small meditation to me.
Standing there, holding on to the rail, only listening to the water, watch the fish below and barely noticing the people passing by behind my back. Plan enough time for this special place, you will definitely need it. We had to stop every few meters to take more and more pictures. It's such a scenic place! What I didn't know when I entered was, that Vintgar gorge was also the first mountain gorge in the area which was accessible to tourists.
If locals name their city translated "The loved one", it pretty much tells it all right?
Unfortunately, I didn't have time to spend too much time exploring the city but from what I have seen, I really enjoyed it. And hey, that's always a great reason to come back one day and explore it more in depth. From what I saw, it was a great mix of old and new, a certain vibe that I really enjoyed. I had the feeling that Ljubljana was a mix of Paris and some other European capitals mixed together in a small, cute version. Ljubljana's center is car-free now and they offer free shuttles which can be called. That's one of the reasons you'll see lots of people riding their bikes through old town. One of the best things to do is to sit in one of the restaurants or cafés, sit back, enjoy some food and watch those stylish Slovenians passing by.
I love cities with canals and to watch boats passing by, listening to someone who plays music and watch people crossing the bridge and the experience the vibe of a city. And I really enjoyed the vibe I could feel on this late afternoon in Ljubljana.
As we started our new day, we went and checked out the source of the Krupa river. It's such a quiet and beautiful place. The river flows from under the 30-meter high rock wall. Even though it was a very hot day, our guide told us that the water has only 8°C. The spring comes from the cave Salamander and the water has its color from the limestone. From Krupa, the water flows into Lahinja river and joins later into the Kolpa river at Primostek (where Big Berry is located). We had lunch at Gostilna Müller in Crnomelj before we headed further to our next stop.
Chocolate & liquor tasting at Berryshka
Berryshka is a local company that produces all kind of essential oils. Sava, the owner, was kind enough to show us around. He is the only essential oil producer in whole Slovenia. The total quantity they make each year is around 6 tons. The oil is made in two steps. Each process takes 10-12 hours. In the first two hours, 80% of light oil are gained, in the following hours only the heavy oil, which is 20%. Only the combination of those two makes a good essential oil. From there we headed further to the liquor department.
Later on, we visited the chocolate production. If you like self-made business stories, visit Sava. He learned the essential oil production from his father but what he didn't know was how to make chocolate. But hey, he just watched Youtube! This is how he taught himself how to make good chocolate. His sister has some experience as she used to work as a pastry chef. Now, she helps her brother and is responsible for the chocolate department. We were allowed to enter the room and watched her operating the 'chocolate machine'.
Upstairs Sava built a beautiful wooden shop where we got to try everything. Sava also produces liquor. My favorite shots were blackberry (20%) and walnut brandy (28%) served in a delicious chocolate cup. Also, we got to try out their homemade jam and some different kinds of chocolates. If you look for a nice gift, this is the place to go. Unfortunately the essential oils were not available in the shop yet, otherwise I would have bought some for my yoga classes. They should be available soon though. We had to take some small liquor bottles with us as this is such a great gift. And I love to support local companies.
Linen production & egg coloring
If you are more into the textile or local traditions of a country, egg coloring and the production of linen could be interesting for you in Adlescici. We learned about their traditions in Bela Krajina which is translated into White Carniola. Nada's family takes care of the preservation of historical memory and cultural heritage. She showed us what it takes to make a dress out of linen. It's a whole lot of work. We were showed around her workplace and also took a sneak peak into her own little museum where she has lots of traditional clothes and old photos.
Later, we colored our own eggs. The tradition, like in Austria, is to color eggs for Easter. Except I never did it in such a professional way. Nada was very patient with us and our non-existing skills and helped us to make our own Pisanica (easter egg). If you are a big Easter fan and you're around in Easter, I'd recommend you to go there.
Sunset & wine tasting in Metlika
Something really exciting for me was our trip to the local winery Vinska Klet in Metlika. There we experienced a stunning sunset over the wine fields. When the sun was down, Matija showed us around. The wine cellar is quite impressive and so was the tasting area.
We all enjoyed a few glasses before we headed out (not before we bought some bottles of wine) to have dinner at Pizzeria Spaghetteria Pri Pildu. It's a great place if you're around Metlika.
If you think about Slovenia, it's not all about Lake Bled or Castle Bled. This country has so much to offer, especially in those off the beaten paths where you hardly find tourists. Around Metlika it's not busy at all and still, there are some nice places to visit. I recommend to either rent a car or travel there by car as this is the easiest way to get around. The villages are small and I haven't seen many busses. The people are incredible friendly and warm-hearted. I was quite sad as the days passed by quickly and it was time for us to head back. I know for sure that I will return again to see more of this place. Stay tuned for my next post soon about the lifestyle camp BIG BERRY where we stayed and enjoyed Glamping.
Have you ever been to Slovenia or did you ever go Glamping? Anything you'd like to know additionally? If you like this post, feel free to share or comment or even both. Thanks for reading.
We were invited by BIG BERRY and also a special thanks to Slovenia's Tourist Board for having us. My opinion is as always my own. All pictures are kindly provided by talented Nussbaumer Photography.