Though now we wait and wait in Munich for our 2nd flight that apparently has technical difficulties. No problem, please fix those, we'll wait...
Sunday, May 4, 2014
Saturday, May 3, 2014
One more sleep and we'll be heading home. Taxi is arranged to pick us up at--are you kidding me?--5 a.m. Flight is at 6:45.
Said goodbye to Venice.
Crammed 9 people and one "Ferrari"(ride-on toy) into a van headed to Ljubliana.
Went for our last meal in Ljubliana.
Saw even more cool things in Ljubliana:
Came full circle as we walked the same lane to our hotel after dinner as we did from our first hotel in Ljubliana.
Tucked in early in our triple room. Did I mention 5 a.m.!!
Now here's the best of the best. Cue the tear jerking, triumphant music and imagine the images of these great moments projected in slow motion.
Most crowded: Venice
Most unique: Postojna caves
Most surprising find: Piran salt pans
Most awe inspiring: Murano glass demonstration
Most verklempt moment: Ratzendorf
Most serendipitous: Baroque concert in Maria Saal
Most old-world elegant hotel: Quattro Fontane, Lido
Most high end hotel: Arcotel, Klagenfurt
Most beautiful terrace: Miracolo de Mar, Piran
Most able to charge anything electronic anytime: Mike
Best farmer's market: Klagenfurt
Biggest pretzel: farmers market, Klagenfurt
Most stairs: path to slap Savica (waterfall)
Highest heights: Bohinj gondola
Lowest depths: Postojna caves
Best alarm clock: Mike (needs a snooze button)
Best blogger: Karen
Best editor: Dianne & Mike
Best server: George at Julia's
Most gassy: Mike
Most disappointing: seeing a McDonald's on Venice
Most bossy: Karen (no she's not)
Most snotty (ie congested): Dianne
Best navigator/map reader: Karen
Best decipherer of street/water travel: Dianne
Best expression: Mike's: What is that, a ham sandwich?!
Best breakfast: Quattro Fontane hotel, Lido
Best chocolate: salted dark chocolate, Piran
Best pizza: Dvor Pizzaria, Ljubliana
Most inviting city centre: Ljubliana
Best transportation: Venice's water busses
Most enthusiastic travel info lady: Novo Mesto
Most pastoral: Pollandl & Obcice
Best laugh: Mike spitting out his first taste of Gorgonzola
Best purchase: umbrellas & wellies
Best main course: Michael's smoked Gouda and pancetta ravioli, Julia's in Ljubliana
Best appetizer: raw scampi & sea bass, Piran
Best chocolate cake: Cacao, Ljubliana
Best bread: Bohinj
Best oil: pumpkin
Best panoramic view: Ljublianski Grad overlooking entire city
Best showerhead: hotel Pri Mraku, Ljubliana
Best ice cream: Piran
Best smell: Jasmine bushes, Piran
Best bouquet: lilacs from Ratzendorf, lily of the valley from Klagenfurt and jasmine from Piran (our own bouquet)
Most blisters: Dianne with 5 in one day on two feet
Best drink: Borovnicevek
Best beer: Slovenian Union
Best shopping: Murano
Most lost: Venice day 2
Most spontaneously helpful: Guesthouse Stari Tisler
Most eccentric artist: Bobi, Lake Bled
Most gracious: Quattro Fontane, Lido
Best insider knowledge: Miracolo de Mar, Piran
Best idea for 3 travelling: putting meals, hotels & attractions on one credit card
Best fortress: Predjama castle
Best hotel booking website: booking.com
Best prepared: Dianne: pharmaceutical collection and blister relief
Best sounds: birds & church bells
Best travel companions: US!
Most fearfully anticipated visa bill: OURS!! Mike is wanting to start a non profit "Siblings See Slovenia Society" to off-set travel expenses
Friday, May 2, 2014
There is a great Canadian band, Spirit of the West, whose lyrics actually reads: If Venice is sinking, I'm going under. Cause Beauty's religion and it's christened me with wonder. Couldn't help singing the tune as we walked into this fantastical island. This is how we did it:
THURSDAY HEADED TO VENICE
Woke at 4:45 in Ljubliana. A.M. Ack
Knocked the fuzz out of our heads (we're all a wee bit bushed from the whirlwind pace of adventure).
We had packed up our suitcases and prepared our small carry ones, laden with a few necessities.
Headed for the bus station and locked our suitcases up.
Boarded a small bus that whizzed us up into Austria and into Italy, plopping us in Mestre.
Dianne, armed with the handy tips from Rick Steves (the guru of European travel), quickly got us our 48 hour bus/waterbus passes and we waited for the city bus. Great system here: the bus terminals have a digital readout of the ETA of the next busses to come.
Finally in Venice!!
With map in hand we managed to get to our hotel in Lido (staying in Venice would have cost us a small fortune!). As soon as we got through the crazy busy city and onto the very cool waterbus ("vaporetto").
Mike announced that he was done with Venice! He'd seen enough, thumbs down. I believe at that moment there was no sound, the world stopped spinning and there was a giant cosmic gasp. But Michael, I said, how can you say this? This is a city built that birthed: Vivaldi & Marco Polo; a city of great art, artists (Bellini, Titian, Tintoretto); a city of fabulous architecture; a city whose patron saint is St. Mark (look into the story of how his body hidden under pork fat reached Venice).
This is when we banished Mike to the isle of Lido to wander the large, uncrowded streets streets alone, face time his family and find a sandy beach to dip his sore feet in. Wait a second...what kind of punishment was that? Meanwhile, Dianne and I reboarded the waterbus and headed back into the crowds and hot sun. We were baffled at how many young children there were, how many strollers (even a double wide) pushed through the frenetic streets as we moved like sheep along the passageways, ducking into various shops along the way.
It's a stunning place to visit. And Mike actually rejoined us for dinner near San Marco square.
Day one in Venice was crazy. Taking the waterbus back to Lido was lovely. I felt just like a pirate since I didn't even realize the waterbus had departed. I officially had my sea legs, but then it lurched and I saw myself like Captain Hook running on the water as the tick-tock crocodile chases him. There was also a drunken sailor--no, this is true, a man... In a sailor suit (striped blue and white shirt, hat and all) teetering but never falling until he fell into a deep sleep. I can't make this stuff up. We came to the end of our line but I did wonder: at the end of the boat's line, what do you do with a drunken sailor?
DAY 2: MURANO & VENICE
Awoke to the knocking of Mike's hand on the door, then the clap of thunder outside.
Mom perched herself atop the window still and announced that it was indeed raining. But who brought her wellies to Venice? Yup, me.
Yesterday the nice man at our hotel told us we could take a water taxi (provided at no cost by the hotel) to Murano, the glass making capital of the entire world.
And, sure enough, after a "pretty" breakfast (we each had wee coffee pots), we were whisked away like rock stars to the island of Muano, lifting our noses just a tiny bit at the poor slobs drifting alongside in the plebeian waterbus (yes, today the waterbus was simply pitiful. Oh, who were we kidding? It was a treat though). We are still not sure which boats have right of way! I think the fancy taxi ride, the cooler temperatures and less people changed Mike's opinion of Venice.
Then, exiting the taxi onto the glass isle, we were greeted by a host who offered us a tour of a glass factory. We spent A delightful hour watching a master (and his apprentice and helpers) create an incredible piece! Feeling the heat even from a distance, I can't imagine how they could tolerate it so close.
(This artist was literally swinging a 10 kg piece of molten glass at one point!)
I was a tad worried we'd be obligated to buy the piece he created! Apparently his creations sell for upwards of 2000 euros. They make 4 of each design, choose the best and smash the rest. They film the making if the glass and send it with the buyer.
Murano...even in the pouring rain is one of the most beautiful places. I think Heaven will be laden with Murano glassworks--probably mixed into those streets of gold. Dianne was certainly in heaven. How wonderful to have had seen the glass piece being created right before our eyes. We one could truly appreciate the process and art involved.
Popping in and out of glass shops, admiring the different styles of the artists and wandering the island at our leisure made for an unforgettable day for all three of us.
Glass installations outside. No hail here:
Venice in the rain was a completely different experience than yesterday. No crowds! We spent a couple of hours so off the beaten track that when we asked a local where we were on our map, she pointed to a point off it. Funny!
Ended the day with our first taste of Italian pizza (inside the restaurant cause it was poring!) then headed to bed.
Only 2 more sleeps till we're home.
Today was a great day.
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
A beautiful sunny day in Ljubliana!
Another great day for our second "finding our roots" field trip to the Gottshee region of Slovenia.
Hit the road first thing to find a laundromat for Mike to do his delicates, so we opted to forage for breakfast in a little grocery shop (bought a bit of bread, cheese, fruit & sliced meat) and coffee to go from those fancy dispensers I like.
Then we headed south-east near Novo Mesto to find the birthplaces of Oma & Opa. After driving the pristine and speedy A2, I (the trusty navigator) got us onto the "scenic" route through small villages. This made Dianne quite carsick in the backseat driving the winding roads. The landscape is quite beautiful: rolling hills, lush farmland, big skies and dense forests.
In no time at all, we found our first destination: Kocevske Poljane. This is the place our Oma talked about--but it was called Pollandl: a German settlement until 1941 when it was "resettled" by the German occupation forces. Quite a history lesson and lots of information on the net too.
Unfortunately, though we saw twin girls and a man mowing his lawn (uncanny parallels to our Klagenfurt visit), there were no English speakers to help us with the history. But we did see...
A lovely church:
Some houses old and new:
A hip and happening Main Street:
Driving on to Opa's birth town we found a small graveyard with some Samida graves (looks like it was Opa's cousin, August's family). The grave seemed to be kept up, so I'm a little disappointed we couldn't find someone nearby who may have known the family. The few people we did see in Poljane spoke only Slovenian.
Arriving in Opa's hometown--Obcice--we were greeted by a bull crossing the street. Mike refused to get out and pose next to him--what a spoil sport (Mike, not the bull).
I think we got pretty close to someone who could explain some of the history to us when we came upon "Kulturverein Deutshsprachiger Jugend": a place where Gottscheers could know their heritage. Alas, no one was there. But we nosed around taking pictures.
Found some strange looking garden fellows:
Off we went, our tummies grumbling, to Novo Mesto to find grub. Enjoyed the sunshiny, warm weather. Walked around the town and headed along the river for a lunch.
The day ended back in Ljubliana with our final quest: finding the nectar of the Slovenian blueberry that we'd come to love...Borovnicek. If I love you enough, you may taste this divine drink at my house. I have a sneaking suspicion that it will not last (the drink, not my love for my friends).
Just a few more Ljublianna pics (we just love it here!!):
Hanging out on the river...
Heading to Venice at the crack of dawn tomorrow.