Off to the Balkans

12 May 2018

It was finally time to leave Salzburg and the comfort of a nice city apartment and move on to the Balkan states, starting with Slovenia.  Cornelia was quite sad to leave, and I can understand it – we just settle somewhere for a few nights, then uproot her again.  However, she adapts really quickly, and was keen to start spotting Slovenian cars.  In fact, every time she saw one, she shouted “Slovenia!” which is hilarious the first thirty or so times…

As we drove through the Alps, we were listening to Laendler from The Sound of Music and it all felt very appropriate and atmospheric.  Being surrounded by the Alps really filled me with a sense of nature and spiritual contentment – it is all so serene yet grand.

Cornelia declaring her need to “stop for a wee immediately because it’s actually going to start coming now” meant that we diverted off the Autohbahn, and what a great thing that was!  We stopped in Zederhaus, a tiny village south of Salzburg, and it was picture-postcard pretty:  Beautiful wooden alpine houses nestled in the valley; a wooden trough with fresh water pouring into it from a spout; a terrific little playground with swings, pulleys with buckets and a climbing frame; and a small church with an immaculately-kept graveyard.  We were able to sit on one of the benches on the green, enjoying our homemade sandwiches and stretching our legs in the playground.  It was (as always) hard to drag ourselves away, but Lake Bled was calling, and as it was due to thunder later that day, we were eager to get there as soon as we could.

What a treat Lake Bled was!  It is absolutely stunning!  The water was extremely choppy as the wind was picking up pre-storm, but that didn’t stop a few swimmers from taking the plunge.  I was quite envious, and am slightly regretful that I didn’t nip off to change and join them, but my kit was so well packed into the van, that it would’ve taken too long to find it all and get changed, and I think the weather would’ve turned before I’d managed to sort myself out.  Cornelia thoroughly enjoyed watching the ducks and the local tourist boats, as she tucked into yet another chocolate ice cream.  Coming from the child who had horrendous tantrums if an ice cream came anywhere near her a year or so ago, she really has changed her tune!

The thunder started bellowing, and we could see the dark, low clouds rolling in, and legged it back to Bluebell just in time.  The heavens opened and I think it then rained almost the whole way to Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia.

Ian had booked us into a “Sport Hotel” which was slightly outside the city, so it was easy to find.  But it was so peculiar!  It was literally a huge fitness/gymnastics club, with guest rooms on the third floor.  You check in at the gym reception, are given a key card and off you go!  It was all spick and span, and we had a spacious triple room (three single beds, much to Cornelia’s amusement) so it had everything we needed.  It just felt a bit like university accommodation.  Bugsy was completely engaged with the gymnasts who we could see practising from the corridor outside our room.  They were teenage girls who were extraordinarily flexible and talented, throwing hoops and balls and ribbons.  She was feeling quite inspired by the time we left the next day.

There was no restaurant on site, so having looked on trusty old Trip Advisor, we aimed for a local trattoria, and once again, we were in luck.  The food was utterly delicious!  The Trip Advisor reviews had all said how wonderful the pizzas were, so Ian and I both had one, with a beer, and Cornelia wolfed down her tortellini with cheese sauce.  The reviews were spot on – we both agreed it was one of the best pizzas we’ve ever had.  In fact, the main course was so tasty, we couldn’t resist a dessert.  I had hot sour cherries with ice cream (yum) and Ian had a local dish of steamed suet mini pasties filled with spiced apple.  We rolled back to our hotel room, feeling very full and very happy, and while Cornelia chatted herself to sleep, Ian and I curled up on one of the beds watching Eurovision!

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