2019-04 [Italy & Slovenia] w/Jan: Day 7 (Sunday) Homeward Bound

Up early to walk to the airport. Yes, that close. The orangeish building all the way back is my lovely guest house. This is taken from the turn into the Venice (VCE) airport. Easy walk. BELLA ONDA Guest House.
It looked precariously like I might not get a seat on the VCE-OSL flight. A short (3 hour)  flight on an old 737. The joys of traveling on ID-standby come also with pains. They were negotiating (in Italian) about whether there were enough jump seats, even. Note: The US-based airlines may not offer the jumpseat to a civilian staff-ticket-holder, but Rhiannon’s airline is in the European flight union, and they allow it. This means that I an usually feel assured that one way or another I’ll get on the flight. It wouldn’t be a comfortable way to cross the Atlantic, and so far I’ve never had to do it. But I like knowing that I won’t miss the flight entirely. Usually. This time, they had two employees deadheading, so all the jump seats were taken.
At the very last second they released the seat of someone who had shown up with an unsigned passport (I think – I was eaves dropping on the Italian conversation and my Spanish, along with years of eavesdropping on Italian, allows me to catch much of it, but I could have it wrong.) At any rate they decided not to give the person the seat and they gave it to me. So … I’m on and have my own seat.  A window seat no less, so I took pictures of the Alps out my window!  Life is good
Long layover in Oslo – a familiar airport to me. Paid for the lounge and this is where I comfortably sit. https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1M_ygbQhSnhYLlB78MeKBZctR7Nzq5deB
The gate lady in Venice said the flight from Oslo to JFK is not as tight so I don’t think I will have such a stressful boarding period there.

2019 April Italy and Slovenia with Jan: Day 7 (Saturday) Castle, Lipizzans and Venice

With sadness we said goodbye to the Celica hostel and the fabulous Claudia.
I actually stayed in the prayer room.

As a parting gift this was going on outside.

       We had tickets to the castle in a cave that came with our cave tickets, but we didn’t find the time to go that day. So we really wanted to see it, and we really still wanted to go to Lipica to see the beautiful horses. So we planned based on opening times, tour times and distances and found a way to hurry and do them both. Storming the castle gate the moment it opened, we did an abbreviated but satisfying tour (with English-audio device) of the castle. Gorgeous views!

The drive up the hill to the castle.

A market near the castle.

Its part elegant castle, part raw cave.

         Off the car and driving as fast as possible to Lipica, we arrived with 15 minutes to spare before the noon tour of the farm. This was conducted with a lovely English-speaking guide. The horses seem happy and well-treated but here are things that I think they are covering and things that I really don’t like. Still, for the most part, very friendly contented horses with a lot of staff working hard and in an organized way to care for them. They keep about 360 horses. Complex breeding guidelines to make sure they have five families represented by 3-5 broodmares, then stallions whose lines are carefully tracked. We did not witness any training nor demonstrations. They do shows on Sunday, but alas we could not be there on Sunday. During the summer they have outdoor training which tourists can observe, but we are here to early in the spring for that. Still fascinating. I didn’t know that the babies are born black!  See pics.
Old carriage trails – they lead to Vienna and Trieste.

Many pregnant mares together. The one on the right here seemed ready to go.

Not old enough to be white.

This brown mare stayed brown. She is a great auntie to all the others.

One of the stars.
Another star of the show – he is black but it doesn’t matter,
he’s well trained, has the heart and mind for it.
The newest stars

Baby sees outside world.
One of the stars – resting on his laurels.
We were able to complete the tour (we allowed for that!) then dash to the car and drive to Trieste – about another 45 minutes. 
It turned out that my iphone cable had failed and my phone died. Tried to do it without – Jan gets mad at me for being ‘dependent’ on google maps, but honestly her map didn’t show the airport and we didn’t know what road we were on. My argument is that you can try to wing it if you have at least one of those information points!  Turns out she had an ipad cable and we swapped to that and made our way to the airport. 
The airport to train station walkway was long and difficult for Jan, so I dropped her with her luggage and my suitcase at the train station, drove to the rental car place (had to circuit three times before I got that right … precious minutes!) Then dropped the car “Okay, can I go? Can I go? Is that all? Can I go?” Then slung on my backpack and hit the stairs at a dead run. I mean a dead run the ¼ mile to the train station. I was coming down the stairs to the platform, trying to let Jan know I’d made it (we would have to wait an hour if we missed that train!) she couldn’t hear me because of the train, but I made it close enough to her that she saw me, jumped up, I grabbed my bag and she grabbed hers and we ran straight on to the train. Fairly close call, you think!? 
We travel in first class on the trains because it’s not much more money and it is often the difference in getting a seat and a quieter area. Often with power. And Jan has a first class rail pass. The power connector was weird though and our standard euro style adapters would not fit. Extremely attractive and kind Italian conductor loaned me a usb/power port that worked. Why didn’t I take a picture of him? We settled in to charge my phone and watch the vineyards out the window on our way to Venezia Santa Lucia.
Hopping off the train and dropping our luggage at the convenient storage place (close by, fast and cheap! So many advantages of traveling with this veteran of the world, Jan.) We wandered out into the wildly crowded streets of Venezia where everyone is different but all the same. 

Wandered quite a ways but I talked Jan out of dinner at a place she wanted to show me because it would be too tight / long walk back. So, we moseyed back closer to the train station and popped into a little place she frequents whenever she is there. Vegetable lasagna and a Moretti Weiss.  Then, of course, we had to stop for gelato on the way to the train. I’ve been pretty good about treats, but come on, I must have gelato in Italy at least once!
We retrieved our baggage and parted company – Jan on her overnight train to Paris, me to the bus station to catch the bus to the airport. 
I planned to walk to my guest house from the airport, so I’d be sure to know the way in the morning, but Camilla, the lovely landlady insisted on picking me up at the airport. Fantastic place to stay and literally I walked 10 minutes to my ticket counter in the morning!

2019 April Italy and Slovenia with Jan: Day 6 (Friday night) Back in Ljulbiana for dinner and a pot festival

Returning to the hostel to leave the car, once again over to the old city and a wander in the opposite direction. It’s Friday night and we unexpectedly came across a giant pot-party reminiscent of the 1960s. It is not clear to us that marijuana is legal in this country, and the questions we posted to the stoned festival participants provided answers that – whether from the language barrier or the level-of-stoned barrier were simply not clear. All fun and happy. Good music, smiling (mostly young) people. Ah, to be that euro-backpacker that I was in 1976, once again!

Then some wandering around the old city.

Tapas for dinner…

Then desert elsewhere.


Sacher is a thing. Look it up.

2019 April Italy and Slovenia with Jan – Day 6 (Friday) The Alps lakes and Radojica

Off in the car to the Julian alps. Goal is Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj.  Arriving in the touristy part of Lake Bled, we were earlier than the crowds so we got a parking spot right in front of a restaurant on the lake. A lovely waiter took great care of us, giving us wifi (so we could use the map,) arranging our boat trip and allowing us to leave our car right there to walk across to the boats. We took the paddle boat (guide paddles, we chat) over to the church on the lake. Church of the Assumption of Maria. Legend has it the original inhabitants of the island 1600s, when the wife was windowed she made a bell of gold and put her most valuable possessions in it. Sadly (supposedly) it was lost in a storm. A replica was created out of standard whatever-bells-are-made-of metal. The story is that if you ring the bell three times, the bell underwater will ring, too, and you will be granted a wish.  

Brekky with a view

Our gondolier

The temple of the ancient Slavic goddess Živa, once stood in the place of the present Baroque church. The temple disappeared during battles between the followers of the pagan religion and Christians, who destroyed the altar and built a church.
On the Bled island, archaeologists have discovered traces of prehistoric (11th to 8th centuries B.C.) and Slavic (9th to 10th century) settlements. In the early Middle Ages a pre-Christian, probably Old Slavic cult area stood at the location of the present day church. 124 graves with skeletons from the 9th to the 11th century were found. The foundations of a pre-Romanesque chapel which was built during the process of Christianisation, also date from approximately the same period – this is probably the only discovered example of a cult building from those times on Slovenian territory. According to written sources, the first masonry church on the island, a three-nave Romanesque basilica, was consecrated by the Aquilean patriarch Pellegrino in 1142.
In the 15th century, it was rebuilt in the Gothic style: a new presbytery, a freestanding bell tower and the main altar were built. The renovated single-nave church was consecrated in 1465 by the first bishop of Ljubljana, count Žiga Lamberg.

We then drove further to the larger less touristy Lake Bohinj and just took a couple of pictures before trying to head back.

Next, our intention was to travel down to see the Lippizan horse farm, but Easter weekend traffic out of the alps was deadly and we were afraid we would not have time. We diverted to a lovely medieval town called Radovjica. It was a pleasant place to walk around. We went into the beekeeping museum which provided information about bees, beekeeping and specifically the fascinating history of beekeeping in Slovenia. I bought jars of three different traditional Slovenian honeys. Two of them are not all that populare outside of Slovenia because people say they are bitter. One of them is their lightest/sweetest one, from acadia. The others are forest (from the earliest traditions when the hives were tree stumps in the forest) and buckwheat, from the earliest agriculture days.

This is about the painted panels, next few pictures. If you can’t read it, some of the important points are that he paintings identified the beehive’s human keeper among other things.

Close up of a cool one.

How they looked in use.

Ain’t I cute?

We went also to the gingerbread exhibit and learned wonderful stories about gingerbread and the various ways it is used in Slovenia and in other countries. These are edible, but you don’t eat them.

Lovely village

Surrounded by hiking trails.

Patron saint of firefighters …
newest one, added after a fire a couple of hundred years ago.

Gingerbread workshop

Lovely views from this village

2019 April Italy and Slovenia with Jan – Day 5 (Thursday) Krizna Jama and dinner in the old city

After the well-developed and fabulous but busy and touristy postojna, we headed to another recommended cave. Much more primitive, a group of eight of us pulled on rubber boots and armed with a powerful torch headed into an underground river to take a small pontoon boat around a lake. You can do a 4 hour and a 7 hour tour to go much further into this cave and I would have really enjoyed that. We were limited do the ‘first lake,’ but it was stunning.
So we did a cave on a train and walking and a cave on a boat and walking.

Here are pictures from Krizna Jama (Cross Cave – named for a cross on top of the mountain above it.) (I am sure you remember from our previous lesson that jam means cave in Slovenian.)

Jan in BOOTS.

Map of the caves, our illustrious guide and group.

The skull inside the case is a cave bear that was found here.
The one on top is a modern brown bear. Quite a size difference!

Interesting mottling on the rock from the constant drip from the river above.

This looks remarkably like a wasps nest, to me.

We took a boat around the lake – a light under the boat our only illumination.

Back to the hostel to drop the car and head over to the old city. I had pasta with truffles & cream sauce. REAL truffles. Slices on top, even. I bought a jar of white and a jar of back truffles to take home early this morning you may remember.