Dober dan (hello from Slovenia),
Slovenia has been a wonderful place to spend our valuable vacation time. The landscape in this country is very diverse, from the scenic Julian Alps to the Adriatic Sea with shorelines bordering six other countries. Cycling at a pace allows you to enjoy the environment and see, smell and hear things you would never notice in a car. It’s interesting how many people strike up a conversation with you when you’re on a bicycle.
Cycling to the Goriska Brda Wine Region in Smartno For Olive Oil and Wine Tasting!
After spending the afternoon with Miss Josephine, we continued cycling on small, gently rolling country roads taking us into the wine country of Slovenia (formerly belonging to Italy). Our ride ends in the Goriska Brda wine region in the town of Smartno. Our hotel overlooks miles of vineyards and the Dobrovo Castle is just a few feet away.
Touring The Lipica Lipizzaner Stud Farm and Skocjan Caves
Once the bikes are stowed, we head directly to an olive oil tasting inside the once fortified walls of the old castle. Olive trees have recently been reintroduced into this region, and the Bucinel olive oil was awarded the World’s Best Olive Oil for 2019. We were also introduced to pumpkin seed oil which was served on vanilla ice cream…yum! We’re all bringing a bottle home with us. Our dinner meal includes a wine tasting featuring the local wines produced in the area. Yes, we had to buy a couple of bottles to enjoy and take with us. Thankfully, our motorcoach has room for all our purchases. Besides, that wine isn’t going to last too long!
We continue cycling through wine country, crossing into Italy for a short time and then back into Slovenia. We spend some time at the medieval Castle Stanjel, that towers over the small town of the same name. We cycle on toward the town of Divaca and stop at the Lipica Stud Farm, home to hundreds of the magnificent Lipizzaner stallions. We have time to enjoy the presentation and tour the stables. After lunch, we continue on to Skocjan Caves for a tour with underground chambers considered to be the largest in the world. Tonight’s dinner includes another wine tasting where we were introduced to one of the owners of the winery. It’s been an action-packed couple of days!
A Fast Cycle Downhill to the Adriatic Sea For Lunch and a Swim
Our last day of cycling takes us into the small seaside town of Muggia. It was a fast 25 miles of cycling as it was mostly downhill. After surrendering our bikes, we set off for a relaxing lunch on the Adriatic enjoying the beautiful sunny day watching the sailboats and swimmers. We had plans to take the ferry to Trieste and visit the Miramar Castle, however, the waters were so inviting we decided to go for a swim instead.
We spend our last evening with our guide Vlasta, and our driver Jonko. Our tour was so much more enjoyable because of them. Vlasta was our cycling guide and so much more, always thinking about a little something extra adding to each day’s adventure. Janko was always nearby with our motorcoach providing a sense of security, and shuttling us to and from those out-of-the-way sights.
Stopping at Postonjia Caves, Some of the Best Caves in the World
Our last full day in Slovenia was spent at the Postonjia Caves and Predjama Castle. The Postonjia Caves are among the best in the world with towering columns formed by slow dripping water and stalagmites that grow only 1 cm every 100 years. Some of the columns were more than 15 ft tall. This subterranean cave system is beautiful with the formations taking on the appearance of cities. It’s also home to the baby dragon known as Olm which captivated the world in 2016 when 21 new babies were born for the first time in captivity.
The nearby Predjama Castle is an amazing site, a medieval castle dating back to 1274 and the world’s largest cave castle built on a cliff 400 ft off the ground. We are able to walk through and see the various rooms and cross over the draw bridge built within the castle to hinder any invaders. It had its very own Robin Hood character, Knight Erazem, who spent years inside the secret walls while being hunted by the local authorities.
Slovenia is a beautiful country and we look forward to returning next year. We cycled approximately 200 miles across diverse and scenic landscapes. We met some new friends along the way and enjoyed many of the local specialties including some very nice wines. I think all will agree that we’ve had a terrific tour thus far!
Are you coming with us next year?
Gotta go, we are off to Croatia.