Natasha Blair samples the gastronomic delights
Slovenia promotes itself as green and safe, and has officially been recognised as the first green country in the world for its sustainability and gastronomy. The country borders with Austria, Hungary, Italy and Croatia which influences the food and the local architecture.
Named European Region of Gastronomy 2021, the country has one 2-Star Michelin restaurant, six one-star restaurants, and 39 Plate Michelin restaurants which recognise places that serve food made from fresh ingredients.
Slovenian vineyards are located in the centre of the European wine-growing belt with three wine growing regions, and 52 grape varieties. Producers, predominately boutique winemakers, are gaining international awards for their wines. In Maribor, a vine more than 400 years old still produces grapes which are made into wine, and is in the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest vine in the world.
The centre of Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia is pedestrianised with the Ljubljanica River running through it. Cafes with spacious, outdoor seating, filled with people, line the banks of the river. Kavalir, a green cart, similar to ones used on golf courses, buzzes around transporting people who find it difficult to walk. Perched on a rock high above the city Ljubljana Castle, originally a medieval fortress, can be reached on foot although the easiest way is by funicular. 400 metres above sea level, the castle’s Viewing Tower, reached by climbing a steep, spiral staircase, gives visitors a panoramic view of the city and its surroundings. Within the Castle’s grounds Strelec, a Michelin Plate restaurant also has views of the city without having to climb the Tower.
With a church dating back to the nineth century in its midst, Lake Bled is a favourite spot for weddings. The church is only accessible from the mainland by pletna, a traditional boat. Legends form part of the history of the country and where-ever you go, you are likely to hear one. In Lake Bled those who ring the bell which stands beside St Mary’s Church are likely to have their wishes heard. Overlooking the lake, Bled Castle is only accessible by climbing a steep path. With the Julian Alps as a backdrop, the views make the climb worthwhile. Its restaurant, which is of a high standard, has outdoor seating in an idyllic spot overlooking the lake.
The longest zip-line in Europe can be found in Bled with seven lines covering 4 kilometres. While I was not brave enough to participate, I was able to watch the initial coaching session. The two instructors accompanied the group so that there was always one experienced person at either end as they swished from one side of the River Dolinka to the other.
Partake in one of the country’s Unique Experiences. At Firbas Farm guests can sleep on hay in a barn, see animals in their natural habitat, and enjoy the environment of a working farm. The food and drink served comes either from the farm or one of its neighbours.
Chocolate lovers won’t be able to resist glamping at the Chocolate Village. Where possible chocolate has been incorporated into everything, even the sausage served at breakfast, as well as a variety of locally brewed beer. Sadly, I didn’t have the opportunity of having a chocolate massage or tasting any of the numerous ice-creams, but I did learn what to look for when buying chocolate during a lesson where I made my own bars of chocolate crushed from cocoa beans.
Slovenia has a diverse landscape from mountain peaks to coastal plains. A large expanse of the country is a haven for anyone who loves cycling or hiking with miles of paths and trails. There are also over 500 square kilometres of karst topography with thousands of caves and sinkholes.
The country is in the Eurozone and many of its inhabitants, particularly the younger ones, speak English. I flew to Ljubljana, Slovenia courtesy of British Airways. easyJet also flies there from Gatwick.
For further information, go to slovenia.info/en
Natasha travelled as a guest of I Feel Slovenia.