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Rick: That's worse than "Your mother wears army boots.". And then you can see here the true representative of a strong woman carrying a child and proudly waving the flag. For good or bad workers, the wage was all the same. With over a million casualties, it was nicknamed the "Valley of the Cemeteries.". Rick … Today the city is filled with university students — making it feel very youthful — and ensuring that most of the locals speak excellent English. The experience builds and builds as you go into ever-more-impressive grottoes, until you reach the truly colossal final cavern and its thundering river. They are fresh. Tina: Here we are. The first half of the experience is the "Silent Caves" (so called for the lack of running water), with a wide array of wondrous formations and what seem like large caverns. It was all over Eastern Europe, and if you look at the picture, you can see the proud workers, you know, carrying their tools. Rick: I find this propaganda so stirring. In ancient times, Ljubljana was on the trade route connecting the Mediterranean (just 60 miles away) to the Black Sea. Its café terrace is open for visitors, but there's not much to see. Not nostalgic, because now we live better than in former Yugoslavia. While no motorized boats disturb the tranquility of Lake Bled, it does have its human-powered speed boats. It’s also home to two of our talented guides, Tina Hiti and SaÅ¡o Golub, who lead Rick Steves’ Adriatic tours, offer custom tours of their own, and co-write a blog about all things Slovenian at Private Guide Slovenia… Tito, a larger-than-life, strong-arm dictator, was the only leader who could hold that troubled union together. In this unpredictable climate, hay is hung on the rack to stay dry. Like Gaudí shaped Barcelona and Bernini shaped Rome, Plečnik made Ljubljana what it is today. Vendor: Pol kilo. This time, it's beaches, caves, and Alps — enjoying a cultural workout…in Slovenia. Gorazd: It's good, yeah. Tina: I will say I was happy that I could live a part of Yugoslavia, but I am happy to be living in European Union as well now. One of Ljubljana's most insteresting sights is the house of the architecht who redesigned much of his city. Chiseled into the wall, the scant remains of century-old trails evoke the early days of tourism here. The Ljubljanica River, lined with cafés, restaurants, and a buzzing outdoor market, bisects the city. Villages gather around Baroque bell towers amid rich farmland. Little Slovenia is the least visited and most underrated of Europe's alpine countries. For coronavirus (COVID-19) travel information, Sašo: Absolutely. The island has been a special gathering point through the ages. Rick: Thank you. Rick's guidebooks are also available as ebooks that can be read on any Apple, Android, Kindle, Nook, or Kobo device, or on your computer. A short drive south takes us into a totally different landscape: Slovenia's Karst region — a high, fertile, and windblown plateau. The castle is striking, as are the views from the castle. The Triple Bridge — where the main square joins the river — is both a popular meeting place and a beloved symbol of the city. The riverfront market is a hive of activity, where big-city Slovenes buy directly from the farmer. Also enjoying dramatic lake views are handsome villas, mostly from the 19th century. Rick: This is great! Ljubljana remains a treasure trove of engaging architecture. This striking bank building was designed by an ambitious local architect, hoping to forge a uniquely Slovenian style. Roughly five miles outside the town of Soča, the WWI-era Kluže Fort keeps a close watch over the narrowest part of a valley leading to Italy. Rick: In four months? Rick: Dober dan. Predjama is a hit with tourists for its striking setting, exciting exterior, and romantic legend. The most romantic route to the island is to cruise on one of the distinctive pletna boats (catch one at several spots around the lake — most convenient from in front of Grand Hotel Toplice or just below Hotel Park, replaced by enclosed electric boats in winter — unless the lake freezes). (photo: Cameron Hewitt) Ljubljana's riverfront promenade is lined … He was famous by that hat. Above Grandma and Grandpa's! From its prosperous capital of Ljubljana, we enjoy the mountain resort of Lake Bled, venture into the Julian Alps for natural thrills mixed with WWI history, go spelunking in a gigantic cave, and swim with Slavs in a charming Adriatic port. Centuries of rule from Vienna under the German-speaking Habsburgs seems to have both inspired an appreciation of the good life and strengthened the local spirit. With a lazy Old Town clustered around a castle-topped hill, Ljubljana is often likened to Salzburg. Sašo: Sašo, yeah. Škocjan offers fantastical cave formations and a spectacularly vast canyon with a raging underground river. Rick: Today, are you happier with or without Tito and Yugoslavia? I will be going on a tour and wanted to decide which side trips to take and things to do during free time. Explore the evocative back lanes. Along with the Triple Bridge and market colonnade, Plečnik's brilliance for urban design — the ability to connect Ljubljanans to their city and river — is evident in his Cobbler's Bridge. There's really no better way to get to know a place than a meal with a local family. Get inspired with Rick Steves’ recommended places to go and things to do, with tips, photos, videos, and travel information on Slovenia. Rick: Pol kilo. As with most towns on the Adriatic, it was long ruled by nearby Venice, and retains its Venetian flavor. But still, you know, it's a propaganda of Eastern Europe — but it was so different over here. The road switchbacks down into the valley of the Soča River. Before posting, please read our Community Guidelines. Architecture really lives, even nowadays. Then they flip over the cart to turn it into a sales stand. Terms of Service | Privacy, Ljubljana: An Underrated Gem in the Heart of Europe. The market provides a great opportunity to connect with the locals. Rick: Dober dan! Rick: Whoa. All the bridges are crowded, you know. That's because the architect recognized that Ljubljana is located midway between Venice and Vienna, and the city itself was — and still is — a bridge between the Italian and Germanic worlds. As Yugoslavia broke up into separate countries in the 1990s, Slovenia became independent after a 11-day war. Rick: Half kilo. It is, with only about a quarter-million people. There was only side trip in Slovenia … Rick: Pol kilo… This is your farm? Still furnished with unique, Plečnik-designed furniture, one-of-a-kind inventions, and favorite souvenirs from his travels, the house paints an unusually intimate portrait of an artist. This is where we spend rainy afternoons. The traffic-free harborfront — lined with Slovenes enjoying fresh seafood — is made-to-order for a stroll. FREE Shipping on orders over $25 shipped by Amazon. It's worth an amble any time, but is best on Saturday mornings, when the townspeople take their time wandering the stalls. They quickly took this valley, driving Austro-Hungarian troops high into these mountains — from where the Austro-Hungarians fended off 10 bloody and uphill Italian offensives. The Soča continues to cut its way deeper and deeper into this gorge. Ljubljana feels small. Sašo: That's the usual thing around here. While neighboring Croatia is famous for its coastline, Slovenia enjoys its own 29-mile stretch of Adriatic seafront — that's about one inch per resident. Sašo: It doesn't show from the outside, does it? As usual, Steves provides detailed information that allows you to get away from the basic tourist places once you have been to them. To purchase Rick's ebooks, please visit your favorite digital bookseller and search for "Rick Steves." But the big name in local architecture and urban planning is Jože Plečnik. During most of the 20th century, Yugoslavia was on the other side of what was called the "Iron Curtain." Gorazd: No, no. It looks just like a loft. The Cobblers' Bridge encapsulates Plečnik's style perhaps better than any other structure: simple, clean lines adorned with classical columns. ©2020 Rick Steves' Europe, Inc. | After Tito died in 1980, his villa was converted into a classy hotel, offering guests a James Bond ambience. The statue of France Prešeren, Slovenia's greatest poet, reminds locals that their language and culture are both distinct and worthy of pride. But Slovenia… The house is filled with furniture and bric-a-brac he designed, as well as souvenirs from around the world that inspired him. Ljubljana is on the cutting edge when it comes to architecture, public art, fashion, and trendy pubs. Rick: Yes, they look good. The main square was once a protected harbor…until it began to stink so bad, they had to fill it in. Karel: Don't stick your bloody pinky in the air! The social system was good… When you come in, you don't realize how much is here. Bled is the rowing capital of Slovenia. Exploring the Slovenian countryside, you get the feeling that things work. Sašo: It's a secret compartment of our house. By Rick Steves Ljubljana's exquisite architecture reflects its history as a crossroads of Germanic, Mediterranean, and Slavic cultures. In this high-end suite, you can actually sleep in the dictator's bed. 99. Everything you need is here. In honor of Holy week, I’m sharing daily clips from Rick Steves’ European Easter, my one-hour public television special that’s airing now nationwide (check your local listings) and streaming online.. On Good Friday, we attended two of Europe’s most poignant passion plays (re-enactments of the Crucifixion, dating back to the Middle Ages) in Å kofja Loka, Slovenia… There's been a castle here for nearly a thousand years. In 1915, neighboring Italy declared war on the empire. Legend has it that Jason and his Argonauts founded Ljubljana when they stopped here for the winter on their way home with the Golden Fleece. Sašo: Built-in babysitters. Rick: And…? It memorializes 7,000 Italian soldiers — victims of just one battle. Rick: Anže will have a roommate. Sašo: Yes. see our FAQ. Rick: So, Yugoslavia was good for bad workers. And the hearty local food provides a good foundation for a lively conversation. He left such a strong mark, not only in Vienna and Prague, but definitely in Ljubljana, because all the land accesses and river accesses are designed by Plečnik. These wines, from the northeast, are considered some of the country's best. In Rick Steves Croatia & Slovenia you'll find in-depth Rick-tested information on:. Rick: So, Plečnik is very important to the Slovenian people. Rick: Nice to meet you. But the Soča Front was 60 miles wide, and many of the defenses were more crude and remote. While the two families live separately, they share lots of dinners. And how does that affect your culture? As if to make believers out of those who don’t fully appreciate what he … In its relaxed pedestrian center, it seems all roads lead to the main square. The first castle here was actually a tiny ninth-century fortress embedded deep in the cave behind the present castle. Visitors begin by seeing a multitude of formations in a series of large caverns. Piran clusters around its showpiece square, Piazza Tartini. The bridge seems almost Venetian: a nod to the city's unique location — midway between Venice and Vienna, linking the Italian and Germanic worlds. They converted the attic of Tina's childhood home — creating plenty of space for their growing family. Completely revised and updated, this guide … See more ideas about Slovenia, Rick steves, Europe. As home of the country's main university, youthful Ljubljana is busy with students. But one thing that's constant is the warmth and hospitality of its people. In 1916, an avalanche thundered down the mountainside, killing hundreds of these workers. For a more personal look at the architect, visitors can tour his home, decorated exactly as it was the day Plečnik died in 1957. In Slovenia, so small and so laced with modern freeways, virtually every sight is within an hour or two of the capital city. These Alps, with their craggy limestone ridges, bring to mind Italy's Dolomites just over the border. Rick: Sašo. Rick: Cherries? Some farmers still use wooden carts to bring veggies in from their garden patches. Vršič Pass, which comes with 50 hairpin turns, was originally a military road. Vendor: Our farm, yes. Rick Steves: Slovakia’s capital is the fastest-changing city in Europe (in a good way) Rick Steves. ©2020 Rick Steves' Europe, Inc. | Lake Bled's iconic island is the focal point of any visit. Slovenia’s Karst plateau sets upon a limestone foundation honeycombed with caves. This special episode is a sonnet to travel - an … Slovenes are particularly fond of their famous local pastries. His mom was a Slovene, his dad was a Croat, and his wife was a Serb, so he was the only true Yugoslav there was. Tina: Sašo. The hotel that was once the summer residence of the Yugoslavian dictator, is now less tolerant of curious tourists than it was when this episode was filmed. We end at the Adriatic resort of Piran. Sašo: We will curse. This northwestern corner of Slovenia — within yodeling distance of both Austria and Italy — is crowned by the Julian Alps. The Kluže Fort keeps vigil over the narrowest part of the valley, which leads from Italy, through Slovenia, toward Austria. With all it has going for it, it's hard to believe that Ljubljana continues to glide beneath most tourists' radar. We were never inside the Warsaw Pact. Rick: Anže. Terms of Service | Privacy, Lake Bled, Slovenia: Exploring a Dictator's Villa, Slovenia: Julian Alps and Soča River Valley. Sašo: We are almost halfway through. Most folks zero in on Croatia, but don’t overlook what Slovenia … In this tiny country, it seems like everybody knows each other. Every ridge was strategic. Springy suspension bridges offer a memorable roadside stop. Many Adriatic towns are overwhelmed by tourists and concrete, but Piran has kept itself charming and in remarkably good repair while holding the tourist sprawl at bay. Little Slovenia is the least visited and most underrated of Europe's alpine countries. Natalija: Yes, absolutely. Here in what was Tito's ballroom, a mural survives, telling of WWII heroics. Slovenia is one of many Catholic countries that observe the Day of the Dead (also called All Saints Day, All Souls Day, or Remembrance Day). Because he loved his town, walked to work each day, and had to live with what he designed, Plečnik was particularly thoughtful about incorporating aesthetics, nature, and people's needs into his work. This little Russian chapel, built where the final victim was found, offers today's visitors a chance to pay their respects to those who made this scenic drive possible. There in former Yugoslavia, there were good things and also bad things. A local superstition claims that if you ring this bell three times, your wish will come true. Some kind of a muse, you know. Since the limestone upon which everything around here sits is easily dissolved by water, the Karst is honeycombed with a vast network of caves and underground rivers. Ljubljana feels small and low-key, and it is — but this is no sleepy backwater; the city is by far the country's largest city and its cultural capital. Post questions and answers about travel in Slovenia. Just as New Orleans celebrates Mardi Gras, much of Europe celebrates Carnival — and each country has its own way to party. Tina: These are my mom and dad. But Ljubljana's single best activity is sitting at an outdoor café along the river and watching the vivacious, fun-loving Slovenes strut their stuff. Locals still build their pletnas by hand with larch wood from a design passed down from father to son for centuries. A generation later, architect Joze Plečnik remodeled the city in his distinctive classical-meets-modern style. But behind the gate, in his garden, the creative world of Plečnik opens up. Tina's mom: Dober dan. Vastly outgunned, they fought back valiantly, eventually defeating the German invaders. Rick: So, how was communism in Yugoslavia different from all the communism we think about with the USSR? by Rick Steves and Cameron Hewitt | Jun 7, 2016. Today, the square is enjoyed by visitors and locals of all generations — savoring the good life where the Slavic world, the Alps, and the Mediterranean all come together. And much like the country as a whole, its capital city of Ljubljana is a delight to explore, yet remains relatively undiscovered. In stock on … Rick: Tito had some magic ability to bring it together. Like the more famous Alps of Austria and Switzerland, the Julian Alps are busy with nature-lovers, both winter and summer. A museum in the town of Kobarid tells the story of the Soča Front, and humanizes the suffering of this horrific but almost forgotten corner of World War I. There's no keel, so the skilled oarsmen work hard to steer the flat-bottomed boat with each stroke. In 2006, he became a syndicated newspaper columnist, and in 2010, his company released a mobile phone application called "Rick Steves… Nearby, market vintners proudly share their wines. In fact, the town's officially bilingual: Slovene and Italian. After being leveled by an earthquake in 1895, the city was rebuilt in the Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles that were so popular in Vienna, the empire's capital at the time. English descriptions are sparse in its dull interior, but for most, the views of the place alone are worth the drive. The room is soon going to be shared by another baby, which is due in four and a half months. The Habsburg days left locals with the old saying, "Trust is good; control is better." Rick: This is very comfortable and very spacious, really. This would be just about our worst. For coronavirus (COVID-19) travel information, This lively market area in the Old Town — with produce, clothing, and souvenirs — is best in the morning, especially on Saturdays. Maybe one of the better things was for young families, because they can get apartment, they can get a job. These days, Piran's walls are inviting rather than defensive, and the town is simply an enjoyable place in which to relax. The cave finally widens, sunlight pours in, and visitors emerge — like lost creatures seeking daylight — into a lush canyon. Croatia Dubrovnik and nearby (including Cavtat, Mljet National Park, PeljeÅ¡ac Peninsula, and Trsteno Arboretum) Split and … Swimmers frolic, while sunbathers claim more than their share of the national coastline. This is our living room. The mouth of the cave provided a strategic place for some feudal lord to stick his fortified manor house. My favorite was once the vacation villa of Yugoslav president-for-life, Marshal Tito. Crews stroke rhythmically through glassy waters, merging natural and human grace. From its prosperous capital of Ljubljana, we enjoy the mountain resort of Lake Bled, venture into the Julian Alps for natural … See the Travel Details above for recommendations highlighted in bold, excerpted from Rick's guidebooks. The most dramatic cave to tour is Škocjan. He was always wearing it and always dressed in black. A colorful mix of work and pleasure boats fill today's harbor. The market's picturesque colonnade is designed to link the town and the river. The best-known variation is Mexico’s Día de Muertos, with its colorful skeletons on parade. In this tiny capital of a tiny country, you may even see the president searching for the perfect melon. This was unimaginably difficult warfare — waged in the harshest of conditions. Ljubljana's single best activity is simply strolling the riverfront promenade and sitting in an outdoor café watching the stylish Slovenes strut their stuff. Slovenia was one of six republics united to make Yugoslavia — a country that existed basically from just after World War I until the 1990s. Guides tell the story as, drip by drip, stalactites grow from spaghetti-thin strands to mighty sequoia-like stone pillars. Locals claim that you're not a true Slovene until you've climbed Triglav. In the center of this region is Mount Triglav, Slovenia's symbol and tallest mountain. Vendor: Dober dan. This peaceful river valley was known as the "Soča Front," or the "Isonzo Front" in Italian. Gorazd: Good for bad workers, yes. Natalija: No, he was married to the architecture. Since the Habsburg days, this is where Slovenes take their guests — whether kings or cousins — to show off their natural wonders. Tina: Well, we chose our way. An eighth-century Slavic pagan temple dedicated to the goddess of love and fertility once stood here; the current Baroque version (with Venetian flair — the bell tower separate from the main church) is the fifth to occupy this spot. The most dramatic is Å kocjan, featuring endless formations, a breathtaking footbridge high above the echoing river, and a … Trenches were carved into ice and rock instead of mud, and many ill-equipped conscripts froze to death. During one winter alone, some 60,000 soldiers were killed by avalanches. But, we're right in the middle…Italy, Germany. Just above town, a somber memorial to the Italian attackers was built in the stern Fascist style under Mussolini. When Tito ran Yugoslavia, he huddled with foreign dignitaries — from Indira Gandhi and Nikita Khrushchev to Kim Il Sung — right here. We will be on schedule when we need to be on schedule. At the crest of the 5,000-foot-high pass, there's snow even in late May — and a commanding view. Prolific Plečnik essentially remodeled his hometown with his distinctive classical-meets-modern style. The Austro-Hungarians knew if their enemies could break through this front, it was a straight shot to their capital, Vienna. He left such a strong mark, not only in Vienna and Prague, but definitely in Ljubljana, because all the land accesses and river accesses are designed by Plečnik. Rick Steves does a very good job of describing things to see and do in Croatia and Slovenia. Sašo: Alright, and this is the little kid's room… With this guide, you’ll explore charming towns and undiscovered natural … Sašo: I would say, "may you get kicked by a horse." Paperback $23.99 $ 23. Nearby, wedged into another Karst-region cave, is Predjama — one of Europe's most photogenic castles. And much of the fighting was actually done way up high, on the frigid mountain cliffs. After relaxing at Lake Bled, we loop through the Julian Alps and the historic Soča River Valley. Ladder rungs fixed to the cliff face (across the road from the fort) allowed soldiers to quickly get up to the mountaintop. Lake Bled's little island (Otok) is capped by a super-cute church that is pretty to look at from afar but also fun to visit. An earthquake leveled the city in 1895. see our FAQ. The bridge seems almost Venetian. This fascinating and offbeat corner of Europe is one more example of the Continent's many hidden charms. Many of those buildings have gotten a facelift recently, as a spunky mayor has been spiffing up the place and creating gleaming traffic-free zones left and right — making what was already an exceptionally livable city into a pedestrian's paradise. Tina's having us over for dinner to meet her family. Rick: In Slovene? In the 15th century, the Italians had a fort here to defend against the Ottomans. The poignant reality: costly battles eventually fade into the history books…like the Soča Front. Walking through its cobbled Old Town in summer, you'll share the pedestrianized streets and riverside promenades with plenty of fellow stollers — but relatively few tourists. While the valley is a favorite for nature-lovers today, it has its dark side. As if turning its back on its hard-fought history, the city playfully straddles its sleepy river. Natalija: That is the most important. The market is a perfect opportunity to connect with the locals. Rick: And his heritage lives on today as the people enjoy his city. I'm Rick Steves. With this guide, you'll explore charming towns and undiscovered natural … Oct 26, 2018 - Explore Slovenia with Rick Steves' Europe. We'll enjoy the playful architecture and lively café culture of its capital city, row to a church-capped island, explore the Julian Alps, descend into a grand, underground canyon, and sunbathe with Slavs on the tiny but inviting Slovenian coast. The museum's focus isn't on the guns and heroes, but on the big picture of the front and the stories of the common people who fought and died here. In its relaxed pedestrian center, it seems all roads lead to the main square. And as Slovenia is small and laced with modern freeways, virtually every sight in the country is within an hour or two of its capital. The tasteful exhibits, with fine English descriptions and a pacifist tone, take an even-handed approach to the fighting — without getting hung up on identifying the "good guys" and the "bad guys." All the full length Rick Steves Europe PBS Episodes that I could find. Since 1973, Rick Steves has spent about four months a year exploring Europe.His mission: to empower Americans to have European trips that are fun, affordable, and culturally broadening. My friend and Slovenian tour guide Tina Hiti is joining us to help sort out the Yugoslav puzzle. Tiny Slovenia — with just two million people — is one of Europe's most unexpectedly delightful destinations. Valleys that just a generation ago were industrial wastelands are green and getting greener. It feels made-to-order for conviviality — enjoying a drink or observing the market action. Rick: If you're angry what would…? Rick Steves is America's leading authority on European travel. Spanning the river are several distinctive bridges designed by Plečnik, who walked to work each day and had to live with what he designed. It was the scene of some of the fiercest fighting of World War I.

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