winter : ljubljana : slovenia

winter : ljubljana : slovenia

Ljubljana definitely knows how to do winter. It knows how to do summer as well, but in the colder months – especially as you can pretty much guarantee snow – it is very, very pretty. The old part of the city runs along each side of the river, and up to the castle and is full of cobbled streets, baroque buildings, churches, candle lit restaurants and bars, twinkling lights, Christmas lights and trees and beautiful independent shops. Just outside the old city centre, parkland takes over and this is always magical in the snow, especially as there are many ornate and elaborate churches and old buildings, on the fringes.

The centre is lively and buzzing, both during the day and in the evening, because Ljubljana is set up to function all year around. Bars and restaurants still offer the al-fresco experience, because they also offer heaters – some overhead, some under the tables but usually both – and complimentary blankets and faux sheepskins. It does seem unusual to opt to sit outdoors when it is snowing, because in the UK we’d have retreated indoors well before the arrival of the snow. But not in Ljubljana. And this makes it a very magical city.

 

 

vander urbani resort : ljubljana : slovenia

vander urbani resort : ljubljana : slovenia

Image credit : https://www.designhotels.com/hotels/slovenia/ljubljana/vander-urbani-resort

Image credit : https://www.designhotels.com/hotels/slovenia/ljubljana/vander-urbani-resort

On the banks of the Ljubljanica River stands a very elegant townhouse, which has been renovated and is now the the Vander Urbani Resort. Part of the Design Hotels Group, it is described as having :

Plush amenities and interesting design quirks create sophisticated, airy spaces in subtle yet sensuous colors. The interior design follows a steady line, which runs almost imperceptibly from building to building. All spaces are light and airy with a careful selection of colors and materials. The rooms and suites, as well as the restaurant, wine cellar, and lounge, feature high-end materials, exquisite design pieces, and plush amenities that culminate in highly sophisticated yet homey comfort.

A beautiful traditional Baroque townhouse externally, internally it is super modern, sleek and effortlessly cool. Its location is pretty hard to beat – overlooking the willow tree fringed river to the front and just below the castle on the hill. Cobbled streets wind along and around the hotel. Set up to function in all weathers and seasons, outdoor seating and tables provide the perfect setting for alfresco dining. It’s absolutely beautiful in the winter especially, as all tables have heaters and complimentary blankets and faux sheepskins are provided. I’m not sure if it’s a permanent winter fixture, but we even managed to bag the ski lift for outdoor drinks on one visit. Quirky and beautiful, especially as it was snowing.

However, warmer months are as special too, in this hotel, as it has has the advantage of having a rooftop infinity pool. This really is the star of the show, offering sweeping views out over the city and up to the castle. No one from the street below can see you, and it’s only for guests, so it really feels like a relaxed, private oasis.

The room we were allocated was funky in design and style – with the thing that I hold above everything else in a hotel room. A super comfy bed, with exquisite bed linen.

Breakfast is a bit special, too. As well as an extensive continental fare, cooked options are also available, enabling you to have e leisurely start to your day in Ljubljana.

I think the hotel is well worth a visit in the summer, but if I’m to be honest, I think it’s in the winter, in the snow, when it shines brightest. It’s not a budget hotel, by any means, but if you can plan ahead, there are deals to be had, and in any event, it’s the kind of place where you might visit if you wanted to treat yourself, or if it was a special occasion. Go for it, if you visit Ljubljana – you won’t regret it.

 

 

 

The Honey House, Ljubljana

The Honey House, Ljubljana

The lovely story of The Honey House in Ljubljana…

A respectful attitude towards nature allows us to maintain the harmony of life. We are proud to offer you a piece of nature that has been prepared with the utmost care, immersed in tradition and knowledge, which has been transmitted from generation to generation. Our grandfather had kept bees since childhood. As an 11 year-old boy, with straw basket in hand, he asked a neighboring beekeeper for a swarm of bees. The number of hives grew over the years and stayed with him throughout his life. While observing the life of bees and other animals on the farm, he built a respectful attitude towards nature and life. He carried-over his attitude and knowledge to the family with great enthusiasm, and raised the next generation of beekeepers. Thus, our father also lovingly cared for bees. In a more stressful and fast-paced life, he found pleasure, tranquility and contact with nature though beekeeping. He “infected” the entire family with his dedication and love for bees, and invited us all to participate in beekeeping. A small beekeeper thus slowly grew into the Krevs family beekeepers.

We love this shop and its products. The honey is absolutely exquisite, and comes in a variety of flavours – acacia, chestnut, flower, forest and fir. We’ve sampled them all and bought a few, but the stand out favourites are forest and fir. They smell divine – woody, and foresty and intense and deep, but are much lighter than you’d imagine to taste. The Forest Honey always go quickly. We can’t wait to get back to Ljubljana to stock up, as we have none of this left and are sparingly using our last jar of Fir Honey. If you close your eyes and inhale it, you are transported to the mountains…

But it’s not just the honey we’re fans of. On our last trip before Christmas, we also purchased some intensive, hydrating cream – not knowing how valuable this little pump action bottle would be! Now that vigorous and regular washing of hands is the order of every day, we’re finding that hands are a little drier than usual – and this nutrient packed cream is amazing. Made with beeswax, aloe vera, shea butter, propolis and honey, only a small amount is needed to re-hydrate dry skin. If only we’d been able to see into the future and realise how much we’d be using it, we’d have bought a few more pots of it. However, it can be purchased online, so as we’re fairly sure we’re not going to be getting to Ljubljana any time soon, I’ll definitely be placing an order for delivery.

This is not a promotional blog and we paid full price for the products. Just wanted to share some lovely products…

Maribor : Slovenia

Maribor : Slovenia

Maribor is Slovenia’s second largest city, but that doesn’t mean it’s big, by any stretch of the imagination. Up until now, we’ve overlooked it, in favour of the capital, Ljubljana, whose appeal is immediate. It’s beautiful, full of well restored and well maintained historical buildings, with a winding river, fringed with weeping willows and a fairytale castle on top of the hill, looking down on the red roof tops of the old town. But, we decided to stop over in Maribor last weekend (Sunday evening) on our way back from Graz, in Austria. Although in two different countries, the two cities are only about half an hour from each other, so we arrived in good time in Maribor, hoping to get out and about and explore the city. Unfortunately, Sunday was grey and cold, unlike the previous day in Graz, which had been very spring-like – warm and sunny. The weather obviously didn’t help, but the outskirts of the city were a bit on the grim side. Very down trodden, and with definite reminders of the austerity of the not too distant past. We did wonder if we’d made the right decision, and whether we should just head home – but we’d made a booking and decided to give Maribor a go…

4 Flats, Slomškov trg 11, Maribor, Slovenia

4 Flats, Slomškov trg 11, Maribor, Slovenia

We booked an apartment online, and were delighted to find it was located in the above building (our apartment was the one on the bottom right, with the two big windows). 4 Flats is just what it says – four converted apartments, off a communal entranceway. However, before getting into the apartments, you have to go through the arched doorway, just to the left of the tree. The door is ancient – and could be described as delapidated, BUT it became immediately clear, once through the doorway, that this was a building with real history, and hence the doors…

Internal courtyard : 4 Flats, Maribor  Internal courtyard : 4 Flats, Maribor

Internal courtyard : 4 Flats, Maribor

Look at those walls! If these were in England, they’d probably be being preserved by English Heritage, but these are the communal entrance way, behind the great big delapidated wooden doors. There’s a cobbled accessway, and once the exterior doors are opened wide, residents drive their cars through here, to park in the internal courtyard. Amazing that a building like this, is just, well – there…

Our apartment was actually fab – quite minimalist, but all the right colours for me! Plus, lots of the original features had been retained, including the huge windows – which had an inner frame of double glazing, so absolutely no noise when they were closed.

Two of the other apartments were obviously not booked, and the doors were open, so I did have a bit of a nosey – and can confirm that the images on Booking.Com are completely accurate. All very lovely and well renovated.

It’s worth mentioning that there are parking bays all around the little park just outside the flats – and it’s free on a Sunday. (Payment – very inexpensive – begins at 8am Monday morning). Just across the park, with a view from our apartment windows, is the Slovene National Theatre, with performances of drama, opera, and ballet annually attracting the country’s largest theatrical audiences. We saw the audience leaving after the Sunday evening performance and it’s very clear that the Slovenes like to dress up for the theatre. Very grand, indeed!

The owner of the apartments met us and tried very helpfully to suggest where we could eat on a Sunday evening – although he did struggle, by his own admission, as many places, at this time of year, are closed on a Sunday evening. Nothing for it, then, but to get out and exploring Maribor. The historical centre is very small – and very, very, very old. You can really imagine what life must have been life in medieval times, as many of the buildings are literally teetering on the brink of collapse. We did spot one for sale, so if anyone fancies a bijou residence in Maribor, hit us up and we’ll get the details to you.

Narrow cobbled streets, like the one above, lead off one of the main sqaures – Glavni Trg – down to the Drava River, and the area of Lent. It did look as if the bars which line the river would be lovely in the summer, with plenty of evidence of outdoor seating, terraces and umbrellas already being put out, but it was a bit chilly – even with blankets – outside The Piranha Cocktail Bureau. The logo led us to this very stylish bar…

The interior is very striking, including backlit wall of bottles of spirits and liquers, and furnishings with lots of accents of black. I think I was most impressed by the toilets – scrupulously clean, and everything high gloss black. No photos unfortunately, as I still find it too weird to take photos of loos ? We were lucky too, to get a very pink sunset – much welcome after the gloomy afternoon.

Just next to Piranha Cocktail Bureau – and this has been verified by The Guiness Book of Records – is Stara Trta, the world’s oldest vine, growing outside an old medieval house called Hiša Stare Trte, also known as The Old Vine House.

We did eventually find somewhere to eat – Ancora, an Italian restaurant. Suffice it was a pretty surreal experience, but I’ll leave that there.

Monday morning was bright and sunny, so we took the opportunity before heading off, to scoot around the historical centre. One lap of about 30 minutes and you’re done, but there are some sights really worth seeing, especially if you look up, above the street level shop fronts, which are mostly fairly dreary. But look above street level, and this is what you’re greeted with…

Glavni Trg, Maribor’s second largest square

Also in Main Square is The Plague Column. Erected in 1743 to replace an older version, this monument commemorates the end of the plague, which killed over one third of the city’s inhabitants between 1680-81. The large monument, designed by Jožef Štraub, dominates Glavni Trg (the main square) and features a golden Virgin Mary on top of an eight metre column surrounded by six saints. It’s really very, very impressive!

So, what did we actually think of Maribor? To be honest, I’m still a bit undecided. There’s a definite palpable sense of history, and parts of the old historical centre are undoubtedly beautiful. It doesn’t have the sassiness of Ljubljana, or the coastal aspect of Koper. But, there’s something about it. It’s raw and a bit rough around the edges and feels like it’s not quite in 2019. It feels like a city that has a bit of catching up to do. However, when it does, I think that Maribor will be somewhere that should be on your destination wish-list. Until then, if you love history, you will like Maribor. And, if you need a new hat, you’ll definitely like it…