April 12, 2012
Today we drove to the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana. We easily found parking close to the city center and made it to the Tourist Information just in time for the two-hour guided town walk. We had a good guide who was knowledgeable and interesting. We spent the most time at the castle. The tour included admission to the castle tower where our guide was able to show us the city from above. We were again lucky to have a sunny day!
After the tour, we ate lunch at Restauracija Pri Vitezu, which was recommended by our guide. Unfortunately, by the time we got there Brandon was starving, the few tables outside were taken, the menu was only in Slovenian and the man at the next table was talking so loud we could barely hear the waiter’s explanations. Needless to say, it wasn’t our most pleasant meal in Slovenia, although the food was good.
(Ironically, that man at the next table was Giancarlo Guerrero, the music director for the Nashville Symphony, who was in town conducting the Slovenian Philharmonic. I found it interesting to hear what he was saying about the symphony management and musicians. I kinda miss that world sometimes…)
After lunch, we explored more of Ljubljana. A short rain shower passed over, but we were prepared with our rain coats and umbrellas. We checked out the market hall and the main market square and also visited the Serbian Orthodox Church. While Ljubljana is a nice city, it didn’t impress us like other European cities we’ve visited. Everything seems to revolve around Jože Plečnik, the architect, or France Prešeren, the poet. And the only time the city rose to prominence was the four years it was the capital of Napoleon’s Illyrian Provinces.
Since there wasn’t anything else we felt the urge to see, we did what we enjoy doing the most in European cities–sitting at an outdoor café watching the people.
After our drinks, we found a quaint wine shop where we were able to buy some requested bottles for a friend and then we drove back to Bled for dinner at Okarina Etno.
April 13, 2012
Our last day in Slovenia was grey and overcast, but we still walked by the lake one last time after we checked out of the hotel. The weather didn’t seem to bother the swans!
We stopped for one more piece of the delicious kremna rezina cream cake and then we headed out of town.
As we drove through the countryside, we saw lots of the distinctive roofed hayracks. Because of the frequent rainfall, the hayracks are covered by a roof that allows the hay to dry thoroughly.
We drove back through Austria to Berchtesgaden, Germany. Brandon and I had spent a lovely four days in Berchtesgaden during his R&R from Iraq in 2008. We stayed at Hotel Bavaria and still remember the delicious meals prepared by the hotel’s gourmet chef. At one meal, Brandon had a side of baked potato smothered in an herbed sour cream that we have since referred to as “Death by Potato.” We returned to Hotel Bavaria in hopes of finding “Death by Potato!”
We knew that the hotel is now under new management, but when we got there, we discovered that they don’t even serve meals unless half-board has been reserved! Needless to say, we were disappointed, but the new owner did direct us to another restaurant that serves something similar.
Unfortunately, when we arrived at Gasthaus – Cafe “Am Luitpoldpark,” they were preparing for a large celebration and had no available tables. We understood enough of the hostess’ German to come back in an hour. So, we walked to the pedestrian area to try to find a place to have a pre-dinner drink. We stopped at Goldener Bär and ended up having pre-dinner spargelcremesuppe in addition to a drink. One of the best parts of spring in Germany is the white asparagus crème soup!!
We went back to the gasthaus and they still didn’t have a regular table, but they converted one in the front of the restaurant to accommodate us. The food was worth the inconvenience! Brandon had a decadent potato with plenty of garlic sour cream and bacon and I had käsespätzle.
April 14, 2012
The next day we still couldn’t see the top of the Mount Watzmann, so we decided to simply drive home.
We had a lovely time in Slovenia over Spring Break. We wish the weather had cooperated in Berchtesgaden, but we have wonderful memories of that area from 2008. As it turned out, it was good that we arrived home earlier than expected on Saturday because Brandon ended up driving to Belgium on Sunday for a meeting in Brussels on Monday morning! Thankfully, little recovery was necessary from our nice relaxing vacation.