Our friends Megan and Ian wanted to make one last trip to Slovenia before they move back to the States. They came up with the (semi) crazy plan of driving there for a long weekend and we, of course, signed up immediately. We started late after work and flew through the German countryside and we made it to Austria in the middle of the night. The hotel we booked sent us a picture of where to find our key and it was right where they said. This system cracks me up. Can you see the little envelope just below the chalk board?
This little town in Austria, called Hallstatt, is on every "must see small towns in Europe" list out there. So I have been wanting to visit for quite a while. You can see why by the pictures. Turns out that it was only an hour round trip out of the way of our route. The town has a really unique history as it had access by only one road until the early 1900s. There was a lot of information about the renovation of the road but Ian, our group historian, is not writing this blog so you are stuck with my basic knowledge of it. Anyway, I will let the quaintness of the town speak for itself.
My lunch looking at its previous home
The picture postcard shots; fall was really a great time to visit this locale
I think this is an advertisement for gummie bears
Part of the drive popped into Italy and passed through some old mining towns that seem more reminiscent of Poland than the Italy I am used to. The mountains of this area are absolutely fantastic and are an extension of where the Dolomites run into the Julian Alps. Crossing the border into Slovenia, we ran into an old border crossing and military outpost. There are a lot of these in this area from World War I. Ultimately, we arrived at our final destination of Bovec, Slovenia. This town was picked off the map for its proximity to the mountains, and it could not have been a better choice.
Our first restaurant that evening was quite the experience. The Slovenian and Italian forestry services were doing a joint exercise and all of the service members were eating at our restaurant. In the middle of dinner they broke out into song. I kid you not. They had phenomenal singing voices and were doing different harmonies together. Then they came over to chat with us and buy us rounds of schnapps. One of the guys (likely in his early 70s) was a professional rock climbing guide who had climbed many impressive mountains including Half Dome. Another was an Italian forestry man who had lived in the States and Canada and was a professional helicopter pilot. They regaled us with stories and basically made the evening. It was a little weird to just whip out the camera and take a picture so we only have a picture of the food. The food is a combination of Italian, Austrian, and Slovenian. There were so many things on the menu and it was delicious down home kind of cooking.
We rented a little apartment with the most death defying staircase. It had feet specific stairs that required the utmost concentration, not an easy task when you wake up in the middle of the night and have to go down to the bathroom. Our view was fantastic.
The next day we went for a hike. We really enjoyed seeing all of the leaves changing colors.
Clearly a leisurely hike in the woods is not complete without shots of schnapps. I have never seen this as a "thing" until moving to Europe. Apparently, this is the norm around here. Here is a series depicting how delicious this tasted.
Our trail was a little difficult to follow and kept dead ending into different people's cabins and sheep.
Photos from the hike
Along the way, we ran into an ICECREAM truck! Are you kidding me? We flagged him down and were so happy to have ice cream. How often does this happen on a hike?
I will call this color, "glacier blue."
The leaves were spectacular the whole weekend. We must have timed this trip right, because the colors were at their peak, and all day long the scenery changed as the sun moved through the sky.
We hiked the next day in Kobarid. This hike had beautiful views including waterfalls and fly fishermen, historical sites, and spinach pies known locally as burek. YUM!
We also found a wine shop/fancy restaurant/fancy hotel that let us do a wine tasting. The wine tasting itself had a lot of flair with the sommelier swirling wine in the glasses to clean them before we tasted, a roaring fire in a very swanky fire place right in front of our table and locals coming in to sell their freshly picked mushrooms and wild produce to the chef for the evening meal. She paid them in cash and wine! It was quite the experience and we all made our purchases of the unique wine of the region.
It was such a fun weekend, albeit a long drive, and we bid farewell to the area with one last amazing view as we drove through the Italian side of the Julian alps. This is likely our last trip with our friends before they move back to the States and we will miss our adventurous outdoorsy couple duo immensely. All the best in Denver! We will be there to visit soon!