September Events in Slovenia

Maribor Festival SloveniaThere are so many reasons to visit Slovenia and this September there are some fantastic events taking place which will not fail to lure you to this bountiful Balkan land.  First up is the Maribor Music Festival which is taking place between the 3rd and 12th of September.  The festival offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy a traditional international festival of chamber music against the historic backdrop of Slovenia’s second city, Maribor.

Comprising 17 main concerts together with several accompanying events, the festival will feature performances of masters such as Dvorak, Beethoven and Rachmaninov, as well as world premieres written for the event. They will take place in some of Maribor’s most impressive venues, such as its 12th century Gothic-style cathedral and Maribor Castle, which was first mentioned in the 1100s. Visit www.festivalmaribor.si for more details.

Next up is Bohinj Cow Ball!  The Kravji Bal or Cow Ball takes place on 19 September at picturesque Lake Bohinj in the heart of the Julian Alps and Triglav National Park, and celebrates the return of the cattle to the valley after a long summer pasture. Cows are decorated with wreaths and bells and paraded through the now dry Govic waterfall accompanied by herdsmen, dairy maids and cheese-makers; stalls sell wicker work, wooden products and herdsmen’s cheese. Plus there’s traditional entertainment with folk music, dancing, sling shooting, horse-shoe casting and log sawing.

With lakes, mountains, picturesque coastal towns and a buzzing capital city, there really is something for everyone in Slovenia!  For more information about this Balkan gem visit Slovenia.info

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Wild Flower Festival, Bohinj, Slovenia

Bohinj, SloveniaVisitors to the annual Wild Flower Festival near Bohinj in Slovenia’s Triglav National Park will have the opportunity to make a delicious meal using flowers collected from the area’s burgeoning meadows.

Everything that’s wonderful about flowers will be celebrated at the fortnight-long festival from 22nd May until 5th June, with an array of workshops, photographic courses, art and embroidery exhibitions, guided botanical tours in English, on foot, bicycle and horseback, all against the beautiful backdrop of Slovenia’s stunning alpine region.

Prices for a week’s holiday start from £525 per person based on two people sharing and include flights from Stansted, car hire, seven nights’ bed and breakfast or self-catering accommodation and the Edible Wild Flowers workshop.

For further information, telephone 01373 814230 or visit www.justslovenia.co.uk.

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UTracks: Explore Eastern Europe

I recently came across the company UTracks who offer active walking, trekking and cycling tours throughout Europe, including Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Czech Republic and Romania and Transylvania.  There are tours suitable for all capabilities from those seeking something of an introductory level, all through to those seeking something a little more challenging; yet all offer unique opportunities to discover the untrodden Europe, spanning postcard landscapes, centuries-old culture, rural lifestyles and tempting culinary delights. In short, they’re flexible, unique adventures of undiscovered corners, offering you a great deal of independence yet providing support when you need it. Best of all, they start on virtually any day of the week, so you can combine any tour to create exactly the holiday you want.

The six-day Transylvania Castles and Mountains tour includes a trip to Bran Castle to learn about the legends of Dracula, time for discovering unique villages, a walk along limestone ridges to take in the stunning landscapes of Piatra Craiului and plenty of cultural exchanges with local people.

The tour itinerary:
Day 1 – Arrive Bucharest, train to Brasov and transfer to Zărneşti
Day 2 – Walk in Piatra Craiului (Royal Stone) through the Zărneşti Gorge (5hrs, 15km +800m, -600m)
Day 3 – Continue on foot through Piatra Craiului mountains and rural villages (4hrs, 13km +450m, -450m)
Day 4 – Walk to Bran Castle home to the origin of the character known as “Dracula” (4hrs, 12km, +350m, -600m)
Day 5 – Ascend the Bucegi Mountains with stunning views (6 hrs, 18km, +650m, – 900m)
Day 6 – Transfer from Bran to Brasov where you take the train to Bucharest. Trip concludes on arrival in Bucharest.

During the trip you will be accommodated in rural pensions which are rated as 3 stars in Romania. These are traditional guesthouses which while simple, provide a unique dimension to the cultural experience of travelling in the region.

This May UTRACKS are launching a new trip through Slovenia lasting 10 days.  Slovenia encompasses a wealth of stunning natural features: this self guided cycle journey takes in all of the highlights while allowing for time to appreciate the unique culture and culinary delights. From Lake Bohinj and the delightful lakeside town of Bled, the cycle continues around the Julian Alps, with a white water rafting experience on the vivid blue waters of the Soca River! In the wine growing region of Brda enjoy a special dinner and wine tasting before heading to the massive Skocjan Caves with its underground gorge. Ending in the capital city of Ljubljana, there is time to explore the old town and sample the local cuisine.   Departs: Every Monday from May to September 2010.  Price: £1,190 per person

To book a UTRACKS trip, complete the booking form which can be downloaded from their website www.utracks.com

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Bohinj Park Hotel 5 Star Rating

Bohinj Park Hotel
Bohinj Park Hotel

Being a champion of all things eco, I was pleased to previously write about the new eco hotel located in one of Slovenia’s most beautiful regions.  However, I am even more excited to announce that Slovenia’s eco-friendly Bohinj Park Hotel has now been awarded five stars according to the official hotel classification scheme, making it the highest quality hotel in northwest Slovenia.

The hotel, which opened for business in the summer of 2009, is situated in the beautiful Julian Alps region on the edge of the Triglav National Park. Built mainly from natural materials including timber and stone, the hotel has a range of special energy saving solutions, including being heated and cooled by water from its own well.

Read more…

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Slovenia: The Jewel in the New Europe

just-slovenia-logoWhether it’s mushroom picking, leaf peeping, the annual Cow Ball, helping with the grape harvest or staying on a working farm, there is a plethora of reasons to visit Slovenia this autumn.

The Cow’s Ball, Bohinj – The Kravji Bal or Cow’s Ball takes place between 18 and 20 September at picturesque Lake Bohinj in the heart of the Julian Alps and Triglav National Park, and celebrates the return of the cattle to the valley after a long summer pasture. Cows are decorated with wreaths and bells and paraded through the now dry Govic waterfall accompanied by herdsmen, dairy maids and cheese-makers; stalls sell wicker work, wooden products and herdsmen’s cheese. Plus there’s traditional entertainment with folk music, dancing, sling shooting, horse-shoe casting and log sawing. A three-night trip including flights from Stansted, car hire, accommodation and breakfast at the Pr’Gorjup organic farm, starts from £349 per person.

Stay at the Pr'Gorjup Farm for the Cow Ball
Stay at the Pr’Gorjup Farm for the Cow Ball

Mushroom Picking – join Joze and Damjana and their family at Mulej Farm (pronounced ‘moo-lay’), north-west of Ljubljana, approximately ten minutes’ drive from Lake Bled. They know the best times and places to find wild mushrooms in the area and will happily take their guests on a foraging expedition to discover them. Later guests may join their hosts in the farm kitchen to prepare soup or other dishes using the mushrooms they have collected. A seven-night stay at Mulej including return flights from Stansted, car hire and a week’s accommodation, starts from £448 per person based on two people travelling in October. This is also the perfect time to go ‘leaf peeping’ and to enjoy the glorious autumn colours.

Mulej Farm
Mulej Farm

Grape Harvesting – Stay in a Vineyard Cottage, traditionally used as a weekend home for families tending their vines, and help to bring in Slovenia’s grape harvest this autumn. At Rataj Cottage near Novo Mesto, close to the Croatian border, guests have wonderful panoramic views across the vineyards, the Krka River Valley and the surrounding countryside. Comfortably furnished accommodation provides an an ideal hideaway for two people, with plenty of outdoor space plus a balcony upstairs and an outside seating area with BBQ. Prices start from £423 per person based on two sharing and include flights from Stansted, car hire and seven nights’ self-catering accommodation.

Vinska Kraljica
Vinska Kraljica

Farm Stays – More than 200 farms across Slovenia open their doors to visitors each year, giving them an authentic taste of rural life in this fascinating central-European country. Visitors are welcome to muck in with the chores or to help out in the kitchen, while children are encouraged to feed the animals. Meals are generally produced using organic food grown on the farms themselves, and are often based on recipes handed down through the generations. Prices for a four-night break with Just Slovenia – leading UK tour operator for farmhouse stays in Slovenia – start from £358 per person for b&b and £388 for half board, based on two people sharing, including flights from Stansted and car hire.

For further details about travel to Slovenia, telephone 01373 814230 or visit www.justslovenia.co.uk.

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Landscapes, Luxury & Facelifts

Kras Hotel
Kras Hotel

This summer has seen the opening of three new hotels in some of Slovenia’s tourist hot spots. The four-star Hotel Kras opened in Postojna, in the immediate vicinity of the world-famous Postojna Caves, the largest known cave system in Slovenia.

The hotel has 24 double rooms and three superior suites, as well as a conference room which can hold up to 50 people. The hotel’s terrace offers stunning views of Nanos Plateau, an area of limestone landscape features popular with cyclists and hikers.

Room prices start from €62 per night and more information can be found at www.hotel-kras.si.

Park Hotel
Park Hotel

The four star Bohinj Park Resort and Spa, situated on the edge of the Triglav National Park, one of Slovenia’s most popular tourist areas, also opened this summer. The Bohinj Park Hotel has been ecologically designed to be energy efficient and have a low impact on the surrounding environment. Every element of the hotel has been designed with the environment in mind, for example, the lights are actually LED lamps which use up to 40 times less electricity than normal light bulbs. Windows in bedrooms are also fitted with sensors that shut down the air conditioning when they are open. A low-temperature regime has also been employed throughout the hotel, with under-floor heating and climate beams helping reduce the energy consumption.

The hotel has 102 standard rooms, seven luxury suites, a honeymoon suite and a presidential suite with its own terrace and outdoor pool. A wellness centre is located at the top of the hotel with a swimming pool offering panoramic views of Bohinj.

Room rates start at €69 per night and more information can be found at www.park-hotel-bohinj.si/eng.

Hotel pik
Hotel Špik

Finally, the Hotel Špik in Gozd Martuljek, northwest Slovenia, has undergone a full refurbishment with a new building containing 56 rooms and two suites added to the original 60 rooms, which have been fully renovated. The rooms in the new wing all have balconies offering views of the Julian Alps.

The hotel is managed by the Hit Holidays group, which also offers accommodation in nearby Kranjska Gora.

For more information visit www.hitholidays-kg.si/accommodation/Hotel-Spik.

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Unforgettable Holiday Experiences at Slovenian Tourist Farms

Triglav Mountain. Photo credit: K. Kunaver
Triglav Mountain. Photo credit: K. Kunaver

Try something different this summer and stay in any of the 200 tourist farms spread across the Slovenian countryside.  Staying at a tourist farm gives travellers a real insight into the customs and traditions of Slovenian life, plus a chance to get closer to the country’s nature and landscapes.

Tourist farms are genuine working farms that welcome help from their guests – including children.  Some jobs which guests can get involved in include fruit picking, egg collecting, mushroom picking, grape harvesting and animal feeding.  As well as traditional bed and breakfast accommodation, evening meals are also available.  These are usually traditional homemade Slovene dishes that are produced from fresh organic ingredients, grown on the farm’s land.

Being based in the Slovenian countryside offers the perfect opportunity for holidaymakers to make the most of Slovenia’s outdoor activities including hiking in the Julian Alps, rowing on Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj, white-water rafting and kayaking on the Soča River, or horse riding and mountain biking in the Triglav National Park.  With over 7,000km of marked mountain trails in Slovenia which vary in difficulty and length, there are also options for everyone from gentle walkers to serious hikers.

Lake Bled. Photo credit: J. Skok
Lake Bled. Photo credit: J. Skok

With a wide and varied mix of tourist farms, visitors will find something to suit all tastes and needs.  The Hlebec tourist farm in the hamlet of Kog, in northeastern Slovenia close to the Croatian border, is the perfect base for travellers wanting to explore the eastern wine routes.  The farm is owned by the Hlebec family, who cultivate 20,000 vintage vines to produce Renski, Laski Rizling, Sauvignon and Chardonnay wines.  There are seven bedrooms and guests are served traditional meals specially selected to complement the different wines.

Travellers in search of an active break in Slovenia’s mountains and national parks might like the Pr’Gorjup Farm near Lake Bohinj.  The farm is located on a wooded mountain plateau and boasts panoramic views across the valley.  The farm has four guest bedrooms and offers home grown produce including traditional Bohinj meats and cheeses.  The Pr’Gorjup Farm is within easy reach of excellent hiking and mountain biking trails, horse riding and canoeing on Lake Bohinj.

Tourist farms can be booked directly, or via a tour operator. A list of tour operators can be found atwww.slovenia.info/en/Foreign-Travel-Agents

For more information about Slovenia and the tourist farms visit www.slovenia.info or call 020 7928 6108

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