Slovenian and Croatian 9/13/2007-10/7/2007

Steamboat SpringsàDenverà BostonàMilan, ItàZabreb, CroatiaàSamabor, CroatiaàLjubljana, SloveniaàBled, SloveniaàBohjni, SlàJulian Alps, SLàBohjni, SlàIzola, SlàOpitja, CroatiaàPlitvice, CràStarigrad-Palenica, CràZadar, CràZagreb/Samabor, CràMilanàBostonàDenveràSteamboat Springs


Journal Part II

9/16/2007: Monday, Bled, Slovenia:  Had a rental car delivered to the hotel this AM and with good directions and a map started our auto odyssey.   First stop was Samabor, only 15 km from Zagreb.  This quintessential Croatian village is built along a small trout creek.  After parking we walked through the main town square and along a trail that followed the creek.  The trail crossed a foot bridge and then followed the creed through a long park in to a beech forest.  Our goal was the 14th century Stari Grad castle.  We had beautiful fall weather and the ideal conditions seemed to appeal to the locals who were out in large numbers.  We were especially taken with the number of families who were out together walking the path. 

After ascending a steep trail we came to the ruing of the castle over looking the modern day town. 










On the path through Samabor






















Mo and I descended and headed to the square for some coffee and Samabor’s world famous cream cake.  The people watching was world class.  Even in this small town the Croatian woman are knock outs.  Stylish, tall, thin and walking with an air of confidence.  The foods of choice are pivo (beer), coffee and cream cakes.  It doesn’t appear that most people eat real meals out, they sit, talk, drink and smoke.  Samabor is also the home of some ancient secret recipe mustard and the local drink, Bermet.










On the path to Stari Grad Castle

























Left Samabor and got back on the highway heading north to Slovenia.  We passed the border check with barely a check.  Some how we went through the high security border station with out ever showing our passport.  They did ask us where we were from and if we were having a good time.  Canada and yes.

Forty five minutes later we were in Ljubljana, the educational and artistic center of Slovenia.  The entire center of town along the Ljubljanica River is closed to cars, so we parked and walked along the river walk through the city.  The river is lined with flowers and vines and the river walk on both sides is lined with cafes, restaurants, shops and small artisan stands.  Sat and had a bite to eat and a beer along the river.










The scene along the Ljubljanica River
























We have been impressed with how easy it is to communicate.  Since my Slovenian and Croatian is limited to about four words is was a relief to find that almost everyone under 30 speaks English as well as Chuck Norris.  The mystery was solved when we came across the ad for “Free American English” on a street post which asked “Chuck Norris knows English, do you?”











There is a very interesting architectural dichotomy in Ljubljana.  Many of the buildings are old, even gothic looking, like the famous Ljubljana Dragon that guards the city. 

The dragons history can be tracked back to Greek mythology.  The story goes that the Greek hero Jason and his companions from the ship Argo, stole the Golden Fleece from the Colchian king. In an effort to escape his pursuers Jason took a wrong turn and instead of sailing south on the Aegean Sea found himself and his crew at the mouth of the Danube river.

As there was no way back for them, they continued on up the Danube, the Sava and eventually the Ljubljanica. At the source of the Ljubljanica they stopped, took the ship apart, put the pieces on their shoulders and carried the ship to the Adriatic sea, where they put it back together and continued their way back home.

Between the present-day Vrhnika and Ljubljana the Argonauts found a big lake surrounded by a marsh. It was here that Jason came across a terrible marsh monster, which he fought and eventually slew. This monster was the Ljubljana dragon.  For the past several hundred years the dragon has guarded the Ljubljana Castle tower and become immortalized on the Ljubljana coat of arms.

Many of the buildings in the old town buildings have the classic European look, but there are several other building in Ljubljana that have a very different appearance and feel.






Left, the Ljubljana Dragon.

Right, the classic Euro look







At the turn of the 19th century, many European cities saw the development of a new artistic style, known by the names of Art Nouveau, Jugendstil, Modern Style, École de Nancy, Glasgow Style, Modernisme, Liberty Style and Sezession. The style was seen in all art forms including architecture, fine and applied arts, theatre, music and literature, as well as fashion. In Ljubljana the new style particularly affected architecture. Having developed under the influence of the Viennese Sezession, it was known under the name of "secesija" (Secession).

To me the geometry, distinct colors and patterns looked like a fusion of American Southwest with Islamic art.

Viennese Sezession or Art nouveau style in Ljubljana.  The famous façade of the People's Loan Bank building

From Ljubljana we headed north to the fairly tale setting of Lake Bled.


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