Second day in Slovenia

We headed out of town this morning at 8:00 for a 45 minute drive to northwest Slovenia. Once out of the old sector, we passed block after block of tall square and rectangular socialist apartment buildings that were built when Slovenia was part of former Yugoslavia. At the time of their construction they were all owned by the state and units were assigned according to family size and special needs. Today the units are all privately owned and though not of much interest from the outside are impeccably maintained inside and out by the residents.

Once we were out of town we saw some medium sized wooden bee keeping buildings … stacks of little cubbies each with a cheerful, brightly painted door. They hold banks of small hives rather than a few large ones like we do in the U.S. Honey production aside, it was a thrill to look out and spot two Lipizzaner horses in a pasture. One was completely white and the other too young to have completely turned. I loved the old school hay drying racks that were designed long ago because there is too much rain for the hay to dry on the ground before it is bailed. They look like a dozen or so clotheslines, each 12″ or so above the other, with a mini-pitched roof on top. Hay is draped over the bottom pole (wood traditionally but some are now metal) first. When that row is full the next row up gets its hay and so on until there is a wall of hay in the middle of the field. Sometimes two of these are designed to be far enough apart so that equipment like a tractor or wagon can be stored between giving it the look of a carport with hay sides. Corn can also be dried on these poles. The husks from two pieces are pulled back, tied together, and draped over the poles. This corn is meant for animal food, of course, not the popcorn popper or dinner. We saw some round, plastic wrapped bales so clearly alternate methods are in use today.

We stopped today at two magnificent glacier lakes, both crystal clear. One was in Bled (blid), a town of 5,000 founded in 1004. Lake Bled, four miles around, has an imposing castle overlooking the water and boasts Slovenia’s only inland lake, home to Church of the Assumption. We hired a boat to take us out to have a look around. Only electric and hand powered boats are allowed; ours was rowed by a hulk standing at the back working two huge oars. We approached the church from the 78 steps in the back and left via the 100 steps in the front, but not before lighting a candle for Aunt Geri, ringing the bell, and trying to capture digitally the wow factor of the interior.

The other glacial lake, Bohinj, was a quick ride away. It, like the first, was in a beautiful setting surrounded by the Alps. Agatha Christie loved it here, actually, and was a regular enough visitor that the library is named for her. A simple church covered inside with frescoes is there which was a sweet contrast to the grandeur of the bedazzled large ones we have seen.

This area has long been known for its cheese, and we had a fun cheese tasting of four distinct cheeses plus a cottage cheese spread. These were complimented by blueberry liqueur and a knock your socks off schnapps that I just couldn’t manage to get down. Dan tossed his back like a champ knowing how proud Emily would be. Before leaving we visited the small Alpine Dairy Museum which fascinated us all. It told the story of how a male from a local family, a dairyman, would take a dozen or so milk producing cows to three summer pastures, each higher than the last. Each man had a small, basic shelter where he lived by himself. During the day he would tend to his cows and maybe a couple pigs and goats. His milk was turned over to a cheese maker who set up production on the mountain with the men. After a given length of time, all the men moved higher and situated themselves in a second dwelling until time to move higher. These men lived in small communities of 20 dwellings or so and were away from their families for six months out of the year. Once the cheese maker sold the cheese, each family got their share of the profit. Pre-World War II, there were 230 dairymen. Today there are 17. This number may well grow with the renewed interest in artisan cheeses, grass fed cows, and so forth.

We stopped in Bled before leaving the area to pick up their signature dessert, cream cake. It’s a layer of custard topped with a layer of whipped cream sandwiched between two layers of phyllo dough. We took it to go since we could not hold another bite after the cheese tasting and an amazing steak and fried chicken lunch. Dan and I had ours in the room for dinner along with peanuts and an apple.

Today’s sidebars: a) Slovenia was named by Forbes magazine as being #1 in corrupted economic elite with Croatia in the #2 spot and Kenya in #3. It’s a bit unfair to compare small countries to large, of course, since corruption is so much more apparent the smaller, less populated a country is. b) Unemployment here is somewhere above 17%. c) Slovenia has been called out as the most taxed developed country in the world followed by the Scandinavian countries. To be considered developed, by the way, a nation’s citizens must net an average monthly income of € 1,000. d) Tea used to be a medicinal beverage. When today’s thirty somethings ask for tea, their parents and grandparents assume they are ill and ask what the problem is.


8 thoughts on “Second day in Slovenia

  1. Love it, that cream cake sounds good!

    Matt Mongeon | Senior Business Analyst
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  2. So neat about the haying drying…and the photos to go along with your blog! The dessert sounds Devine! Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings! Thank you Schele, Suzanne, and Murphy!


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