Friday, January 9, 2015

Slovenia...Part 1

Day 1 and 2
Our flight left Atlanta at 3:40, and we flew to Paris.  We checked in a bit early so we headed to the Delta Sky lounge to enjoy some snacks and drinks before boarding.  We walked right on the plane and got settled in before taking off.  We started watching a movie before dinner was served, and then Joe enjoyed some dinner.  After the meal, we tried to fall asleep after a couple cocktails.  They helped for a bit, but after two hours of sleeping, both of us were back up and awake.  We finished the movie we were watching, played some games, and finally landed.

In Paris, we had a 3 hour layover so we wondered the airport before making it to our terminal where we caught up on the world thanks to the free internet and then enjoyed a quick bite to eat.  I managed to get my hands on a smoothie (they are not nearly as popular as in America!) and Joe had a wonderful French pastry.  Then we hopped on the plane to head to Slovenia!  We hadn’t slept on the first flight since we were landing in Paris at midnight EST, so the lack of sleep that night and the night before was finally hitting us.  Both of us were asleep before the flight took off, and woke up just before landing.  We woke up just in time to see the beautiful view of the Alps as we flew into Slovenia and it was such a clear day that the landing was amazing!

Once we landed we were met by my cousins Jana and Peter, and we got packed up in the car.  We stopped by my grandmas house where my aunt and uncle were there as well as some cousins and enjoyed a couple snacks and drinks before starting the drive to Davca.  Joe was enjoying the scenery and said the mountains looked way bigger than on Google Maps! We arrived in Davca just in time, and sat down for a huge family meal!  It was my cousin’s 30th birthday, so the whole family and all of the baby second cousins were around!  We loved meeting the new babies, and Joe wasn’t too overwhelmed by meeting the whole family just an hour after landing in Slovenia!  Dinner was amazing, and a very traditional meal.  It was all homemade meats and potatoes so they were so flavorful.  The farm that my family has is “Bio” or organic, so the food is always amazing.  First we had the soup portion, which is standard to start a meal in Slovenia.  Then we had chicken, pork, and beef, that was all from the farm and amazingly good!  We also had potatoes and a salad all home grown!  We enjoyed some desert and cake to celebrate Tomaz’s birthday and opened some presents.  After dinner, we chatted with our cousins, took a house tour, got unpacked, walked a little of the property, and just relaxed.  We visited the barn when it was time to milk the cows and Joe got to see the chickens, pigs, horse, and the cows get milked, as well as the stock of hay to feed them in the winter.  After that, we stopped by my cousin’s place which is connected to my aunt and uncle’s place where we were staying.  We looked at their wedding album, talked about the weddings and honeymoons, and enjoyed some cooked wine, shots, and potica!  We had a lot of fun spending some time with them, and before we knew it, it was bed time.   We stayed awake until 8 PM (it was VERY hard to stay awake) and when the clock hit 8 PM we both headed to bed and enjoyed 12 hours of sleep!  It was MUCH needed!  We were determined to get the most out of the trip and get use to the time difference ASAP, and that was the best way to do so!
Delta Lounge
Wheels Up
Slovenia :)
Day 3
We woke up at 7:30 and got moving early in the morning.  After breakfast and getting ready, Jana drove us to my aunts and uncles house in Logatec which was about an hour drive.  We knew there was a lot of snow heading our way and were super excited, so we wanted to make the most out of the day before it all landed.  It started snowing at around 10 AM, so we knew we were in for some excitement!  Once we got to my aunts and uncles house, we enjoyed some drinks, (homemade chocolate liquor and Refosk Liquor).  After some drinks, we headed upstairs to see my newly married cousin’s new apartment that they had just finished!  We enjoyed some time with them talking about weddings and honeymoons, before hitting the road.  

Our first stop of the day was Postojnska Jama, the most beautiful cave in Slovenia.  The caves are huge here and a large tourist attraction.  We got to the cave, and they take you on a small train into the inside of the cave.  From there, you start walking and enjoying the vast beauty of the cave!  It is such a unique sight to see, and we really loved hearing my aunt and uncle give us some history on it.  Since it is Christmas, Slovenia is also known for their live nativity scene.  As we walked through the cave (it was about 2 miles of walking), we saw scenes of the bible acted out and then the final scene was a nativity scene!  It was beautiful to see.  The only thing that we missed was the tour guide speaking about the cave, but we did get some of that from my aunt and uncle!  Once we wrapped up there,  we headed to the coast of Slovenia.  We met up with my  cousin in Koper where we went on an amazing late lunch.  We enjoyed Refosk wine, which is native to that area, and a Ombolo (a traditional food to the area which is meat and some topping wrapped in a bread, almost like a calzone but meat and whatever else you would like)  The food was amazing, but WAY too much food.  By this time it was dark,  but we headed to Piran.  I had never been there, and unfortunately, it was dark and rainy because it is a beautiful city.  It is unique because there aren’t really roads, so we had to park in a garage outside of the city and take a bus in.  The houses are so close together but are separated by small cobble stone paths.  It is also right on the river so there is a beautiful square that is right off of a boat marina.  Even in the rain and night time, the city was beautiful.  After that, we headed home.  We stopped by my aunts and uncles house to pick up some chains for the car since it was snowing on the coast (that never happens) and we knew we were in for an adventure. 

We hit the road and  were doing just fine on the hour and a half drive until we got to the last HUGE hill to get to my aunts and uncles house.  It is about a 1 km hill that is SUPER steep.  We got a very small portion of the way up and got stuck.  With that,  Joe, my Aunt, and I hopped out of the car and started pushing!  Needless to say we got our workout in.  The car would start moving and making progress then would hit a slick spot and slow down.  We ended up pushing a portion of the way, then the car got moving, but we walked the rest of the way to not lose the momentum of the car, and so that we did not weigh the car down!  We got to the house all tired and worn out, ready for bed!  We are grateful for my aunt and uncle for braving the weather and bringing us back!  We warmed up with some tea before showering and heading to bed.  
Postojnska Cave

Day 4
We woke up to SO MUCH SNOW!  They had about 40+ cm, and the most snow that I have seen in a really long time!  The whole place is covered in beautiful white snow!  We bundled up and walked to church (it is just a couple steps from the house) and enjoyed a very personal mass since we were almost the only people there.  After church, Joe and I enjoyed breakfast, then found some winter gear that fit us and bundled up to enjoy the snow!  We loved playing in it!  We had a snow ball fight, threw each other in the snow, fell straight back to make snow angles, made a snow man,  jumped in huge show piles,  sledded on our butts, and just enjoyed the outdoors!  It is such a workout playing outside!  After we finished up playing, we headed in for lunch.  Today’s lunch was another classic Slovenian meal.  We had blood sausage, home made sausage, potatoes, and homemade sauerkraut and the equivalent to sauerkraut but made with turnips!  We also enjoyed an acorn squash soup which was amazing, as well as an egg drop soup!  Once we sufficiently ate enough, it was time for Joe’s first nap of the trip!  As he napped, I wrote what we had done until know, because I knew we had a busy couple days ahead!

After nap time, it was time to play in the snow again.  This time we walked down to an area of the property where there is a steep drop off from the fields.  The walk was a good walk, especially since we were trekking through all the snow!  Once we got there, the fun began!  We didn’t need sleds to slide down and roll down the hill!  We had so much fun, but the trek back up was HARD!  We only went down two times because the walk back was all up hill and brutal.  We were sufficiently worn out once we got back to the house.  We took Joe to the Davca museum that shows how flax is grown and turned into clothing.  This is how Davca traditionally made all of their clothes, and to this day they hold a fair to remember this process that draws 4000+ people each year.  After that, we took him to my grandmothers house where he got the grand tour, and I even learned a thing or two about the house!  It was built in 1822 and is quite old, but still beautiful.  They currently dry a lot of the meats in the house so Joe learned all about the drying and cold smoking process.  After that, we had explored all there was to see of the property,  so it was time to warm up before heading to my cousin’s house to celebrate his Saint’s Day.  Saint’s Day’s are the most important holiday for my family, and it is almost like a birthday celebration so we enjoyed cooked wine, cake, and deserts!  We also got to go see his sheep since he has a whole lot of them!  After that, we headed home and skyped with the family before heading to bed since we had a full day ahead of us!

Day 5
We woke up bright and early and hit the road for a trip around Slovenia!  My cousin was our wonderful tour guide today.  We left and went to Skofja Loka to see if I could get my passport.  They started complicating things with my name change, so we decided it simply wasn’t worth our time since we had other things we wanted to see.  After that, we went to my second cousin’s house and had some tea and blueberry shots before heading out for the day.  The first stop was Planica, which is the world famous ski jump.  It is the largest natural ski jump in the world, and the second largest over all.  They are extending the ski jump so that they will once again be the longest!  Bine, my second cousin, works there as a trainer so we got a wonderful behind the scenes tour.  We took the lift up to the tallest one then made our way down.  There is a Slovenian coach training a US National Team female who was training today so we got to see her practice and asked questions about jumping.  We spent some time in the press box and then made our way back down.  

From there, we stopped for Kebab, which is Slovenian fast food, so that Joe could enjoy some authentic fast food.  We then went to Bled, which is the most known area and city in Slovenia.  We then took a boat to the island where the church is.  It is traditional for a newly married couple to have the husband carry his wife up the steps to the church, and then you ring the bell three times.  Joe was a good sport and participated in the tradition!  After that, we walked the remainder of the island before we headed back to the mainland.  Once we got back, we went to eat the traditional desert of Bled, kremsnite.  They are a cream pastry, which has filo type bread, whipped cream, and pudding.  It is absolutely amazing!  After desert, we stopped in Bohinj, which to me is one of the most beautiful areas of Slovenia.  It is a lake that is surrounded by mountains, and has the most beautiful green water!  Unfortunately, the sun was almost down so the green water wasn’t quite visible, but the view was still amazing!  I can’t wait to go back next time and go swim!  

The last stop of the day was my cousin Marija’s farm.  They have a farm with about 150 cows and produce milk.  The dairy farm has an automated milker, so after seeing Marija’s and her boyfriend’s new apartment they built, we went to explore how the farm works.  We saw how the barn was laid out and how the cows are keyed and tagged.  The whole system is automated based on the tags on the cows.  They record how much the cow eats, when it is time for the cow to get milked it opens the door for the cow to get milked, how much milk they produce, what type of milk they produce, and so much more!  All of this is stored and logged.  The automatic milking machine needs no human assistance, and if it messes up, it sends an alarm to the cell phone of the people living there.  The milk is then processed and stored to be picked up every other day.  The amount of milk that is moved in one day is crazy!  They differ the recipe of food that is given to the cows to optimize the milk and it is automatically mixed and distributed off of a truck.  We were definitely fascinated by the process.  After that we headed home for PIZZA!!!  At my aunts and uncles house, they have a wood burning brick oven so the pizza is amazing and pairs perfectly with Lasko, Slovenian beer!  After dinner we relaxed before heading to bed. 
Ski Jump
Carrying his Bride up the Steps
Bohinj at SunSet

The next half of our Slovenia trip is still to come!

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