Slovenia is a must-visit sleeper in a hidden corner of Europe. When Anne and I first traveled there with our friends, wine-experts, and culinary co-trip leaders, David
Slovenia may compare in size to New Jersey, but what it encompasses in landscapes and beauty is more representative of the continental US and western Europe combined. Our 10-day adventure included hut to hut hikes in the Julian Alps, riding e-bikes on back roads of the Soca River Valley, exploring underground cavernous formations, wine tastings among vineyards, and walks along pristine rivers flowing into picturesque lakes surrounded by medieval towns and castles in the sky. Waterfront promenades on the Adriatic coast of the Istrian peninsula and pedestrian walks along the banks of the Ljubljana River in the capital city are teaming with cafes.
Everything we anticipated about the 8-course wine-paired dinner served up by Celebrity Chef Ana Ros was beyond belief. Ana had just been declared the Best Female Chef in the World, and together with her husband
While Ana and Valter rocked it at Hisa Franko, we were delightfully surprised throughout our journey by the vast range of memorable gastronomic experiences including hearty soups, breads and fresh local cheeses in mountain huts and the traditional Slovenian dishes in country restaurants like Gostilna Lector in the village of Radovljica, a 13-15C village old town where owner Jože Andrejaš played harmonica that brought us to tears.
Hiking among the craggy peaks, pine forest and alpine meadows of the Julian Alps in Triglav National Park, we felt like we were in the Austrian Alps but without the flood of hikers in the more popular northern range, so we designed our new trip Trekking the Julian Alps Hut-to-Hut. Our guide Ursula is definitely one of the 250,000 Slovenians, out of just 2 million inhabitants of the country, who are members of a mountain hiking club. The first day out of the beautiful capital city Ljubjiana it becomes obvious why this is a nation of mountaineers: little more than 30 minutes away from the city is a gondola that whisks you up and away to a scene from the Sound of Music on the alpine plateau of Velika Planina. We hiked around and then warmed up over a hearty lunch in a mountain hut (barley stew with beans), then drove down to our mountain lodge in the Logarska Valley in a Yosemite Valley-like setting. Ruth dined on venison stew served over a croquette of wild mushroom with a Movia red blend from region of Brda.
Dropping down the western flank of the Julian Alps, the Soca River Valley and wine region of Slovenia takes on the air of the Adriatic and Venetian influences of Italy on its northern border. Italian is widely spoken here in the Goriska Brda region where Slovenia is making a reputation of international fame for its world-class Rebula, Pinot Grigio, Merlot and Cabernet Franc by small vintners welcoming visitors to share their knack for combining ancient techniques with new technologies. The beautiful villas, vineyards
There are so many
Less than an hour drive southwest is your opportunity to visit the Venice of Slovenia, but without
Trips to Slovenia are easily combined with nearby cities and bordering countries. Flights into the capital city Ljubljana are 45 minutes from Paris or two hours from London. It's just a two-hour drive from Zagreb, Croatia, a ferry across the Adriatic between Piran and Venice, and you can easily connect by land or air to Salzberg, Vienna, or travel south through the Istrian Peninsula to Rovinj and the Dalmatian coast of Croatia.
For more information about trips to Slovenia, don't hesitate to give me a call at 800-345-4453.
Keeping it wild,