Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Ljubljana and Jason - Golden Fleece

This is Ljubljana, capital of Slovenia. A kind of Venice. Many squares, canals, waterways. Wonderful for walking, with canals coming together with bridges all over.

We are told that Ljubljana was founded by the Greek hero, Jason, who arrived with his Argonauts seeking the Golden Fleece. More at www.ljubljana.si/en/ljubljana/history/default. Find the Ljubljana -Jason connection.

There is more on Ljubljana's past also at that site. Slovenia is a Western Balkan country, but its connections flow strongly to France and Austria.

More blogs about Slovenia Road Ways.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Ljubljana Castle - Ljubljana (city) Austrian-French influence; Jewish history

Ljubljana Castle. Two cameras, slightly different angles, looks like two different seasons - one shows a tree with the leaves all out, another shows a neighbor just budding. We were there in early May. Travel with a buddy.

Lubljana dominates the view of the capitol city, Ljubljana, as it should. Still, finding the way up is not simple. Go through a park drive, leave the car, and then walk. Detail to check out, next trip: What is the history of using angular towers instead of round? Which came first? The square tower in the background was built in the 1800's. The earliest beginnings of the castle area: 1100's. See www.ljubljana-calling.com/ENG/inCallingZnGrad.

The castle has a cafe, and reception halls - used for many cultural events. See www.virtualtourist.com/travel/Europe/Slovenia/Mestna_Obcina_Ljubljana/Ljubljana-688015/Things_To_Do-Ljubljana-Ljubljana_Castle-BR-1.
Wear good walking shoes - parking on the way up the hillside is limited, and the road hairpins.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Links, posts

References to third-part sites here are in written form, not the direct quick-click link in the familiar blue underlining. This appears prudent, see www.bitlaw.com and other sites on the convoluted area of copyright, internet and the like. A loss. Writing out web addresses instead of linking defeats the speed-access, hop-around exhilaration, of the web. Surely somebody smart can work out reasonable copyright protections for the internet setting in a better way.

Posts: These are laid out in the itinerary order, not necessarily by actual date. This made more sense in a travel-site. A new post may appear at the beginning, but will probably be incorporated elsewhere later on.

Technorati Profile

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

People conflicts; Gypsies (Roma) - And Music

Gypsies. Beautiful music, background still misty. Here is some of the music: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6077876602430937809". This particular bit is Russian, but you can search for gypsy music and get many nationalities, and there are broad similarities.

The most beautiful, neat settings can foster deep-rooted prejudices, people against people, like anywhere. Here is a New York Times article, nytimesagency.com/preview/NTA2006112674803, that reports on one particular Slovenia Roma family forced out of home.

A simple search of news for "Slovenia gypsies" produces many more articles on the overall topic. We saw gypsies (known as Roma) mostly in Romania, and Croatia, but we were also looking for them more there. There is a wide variety of economic situations among them, as with any group, and some are in traditional costume, others blend.

Here is a site to remember: www.politicalgateway.com/news/read/47348. This site lets you click on the different countries for overviews on Roma and progress (or not) and learn about the history.

Also see our country-blog, Romania Road Ways.

Here is a site where you can scroll down to the music part - click, and enjoy. Go to www. worldmusic.nationalgeographic.com/worldmusic [the rest of the address would be /view/page.basic/genre/content.genre/roma__gypsy__music_778]. One of my favorits is this traditional Balkan singer - sounded very familiar after hearing radios and groups in pubs. Excellent.

Friday, September 15, 2006

New thinking- President Janez Drnovsek

A government's leaders can set the tone and priorities that citizens value. See and compare the tone of this country through an interview with Mr. Denovsek when he was Prime Minister: at www.nekdanji-pv.gov.si/2000-2002/en/elementi/vsebina.php?&v1=../&v2=vsebina/&v3=mediji/&v4=clanki/&v5=el-mundo.php.
See his book, below. Not that all his ideas are implemented, but he spearheads more than consumerism.

The President of Slovenia, Janez Drnovsek, joins the many in Slovenia's history, and those of other countries, who periodically emerge to change the Powers. People like him may lose ultimately when they go against the power-finance tides, but keep watching.

Mr. Drnovsek's book. Janez Drnovsek, in taking on the Powers, takes a different tack - he has written a new age-type book, "Thoughts on Life and Awareness," that references his survival of kidney cancer and that he attributes to a vegetarian diet, positive thought processes, natural remedies and other means, including fasting. The book is reviewed in the New York Times 9/9/06, in "the Saturday Profile" section. This includes human interest stories including his discovery that he has a 19 year old daughter, and their now close relationship. He seeks to apply his new vision to world affairs.

Read the review on line at that author's blog, try the long form first, then keep shortening it until you get it. How much easier a direct link would be. www.mojavas.blogspot.com/2006/09/drnovek-profiled-in-new-york-times.

Rethinking leaders? Yes.

An interview with Mr. Denovsek when he was Prime Minister, his articles and speeches, are at www.phnekdanji-pv.gov.si/2000-2002/en/elementi/vsebina.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Slovenia, history overview, and the old Yugoslavia

This black bear was in our yard in US (tagged B-4 and later sedated and moved 10 miles away, to bigger woods). We thought of him as we read of the bears in Slovenia mostly brown bears, I understand. Slovenia is bear-friendly. See www.slonews.sta.si/index.

Slovenia is a beautiful and very tidy-looking country. Strong alpine influence, efforts to improve and restore habitats for wildlife. Do a search for walking tours, natural history tours, and the photos and accounts are splendid.

Slovenia was part of the Austrio-Hungarian Empire until WWI. The country then joined the Serbs and Croats as part of Yugoslavia in 1929. There is a good historical overview, a photo gallery and easy-to-read map at www.uvi.si/eng/. Click on the presentation and photos sections especially. This is the government Public Relations and Media Office.

Slovenia consists of varied cultures, related to a broad range of geographic features. For an overview, see www.rtd.si/sycp/documents/discoverSlovenia/area_by_area. If you cannot get that site, then try just the "rtd.si/sycp." There also is a beautiful poster under a search for "rtd." Alps, skiing, all beautiful and mostly prosperous-looking.

Groups have struggled for centuries with invaders and internal ruler issues, as did the rest of Europe. The Balkans were at a particularly divisive crossroads, and now part of the Balkans, like Slovenia, and Croatia seem to look north, to France and Austria-Hungary; and other parts of the Balkans seem to look south, to Turkey, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Serbia, Albania.

Recommendation: Find a copy of the old Baedeker's Yugoslavia (Jarrold&Sons Ltd., Norwich, Great Britain 1987-89) complete with old map. Baedeker's alphabetical list and pictures of all the main places for all the countries, not by separate country, and excellent understandable history, make for easy reading. Roads different, of course, but cultural descriptions remain.

The listing of previously separate ethnic groups/countries there are: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Vojvodina (now part of Croatia), Beograd (as its own listing), Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Macedonia. Baedeker at page 9.

After WWII, Yugoslavia began to identify less with Russia, but remained communist. In 1991, it declared its independence from Yugoslavia, after a brief war; and by now - 2006 - all the former Yugoslavian states (Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Slovenia) are independent. There have been horrific wars and ethnic-religious killing in those other areas.

Some regions within the original Yugoslavian states are also in process of determining whether to be independent (such as Kosovo, from Serbia). See CIA informational website, with map and factbook, at www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/si. From the map, you see a small port access area south of Trieste (part of Italy), but the rest of the country is landlocked, much within sight of the Alps.

The tourist board has set up several recommended tourist routes -- as in Germany, taking themes and showing you where to go for those theme. Those sound good if you are focusing on Slovenia for a larger part of your trip. See map and info at www.slovenia.info/?stranske_poti=0.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Kranj - for a local overnight instead of crowded Lake Bled

This is an old industrial town, now revitalizing itself by renovating the old area. See www.randburg.com/si/kranj. It is a "regular" business center and residential town, close to the touristy Lake Bled - so it is good for the overnight. It has a lovely old pedestrianized square, and - as we have found each time no matter where we were, a good hotel. The earliest settlements there date from the 1st Century BC, says the site.

Although Slovenia is part of the EU, there had not been the full shift to the euro. Be prepared to have to use local currency, with the exchange rates, etc. Check it out first. You will lose out with each exchange.

Lake Bled

This is picture postcard - holiday card country. It has long been a resort, with walks and drives all around. There are other fine photos at websites from a search for photos Lake Bled. The site also gives the historical overview. The country has a shorter history as an independent land, but its roots go back to Roman times, and before. A search for history Lake Bled should show a site identified as "Bled Through History." That leads to a large information place - back to the Ice Age when the lake was formed.

See also www.resort-bled.com. For logistics - where necessities are in the Lake Bled area, see www.itisnet.com. Festivals, hotels, bus and stations, police, prices for tickets.

Our photo is the required view of Lake Bled, with the Church of the Assumption on the island. It www.uvi.si/eng/slovenia/photos/tourism/. The Church is 17th century, and the bell rings often. Each time, the wish of the ringer will be granted. Yes. Other tourist sites are listed at www.itisnet.com, under "Sight" as you scroll down.

More Lake Bled - you can't help it

Lake Bled. Pictures, pictures. We did not spend the night, because of all the touristy hotels, but moved on to our preference for less-pricey places. We found Kranj instead, and it had a real-town feel to it.

Slovenia is the ultimate Christmas card country, with the tidy villages and onion dome churches. For us, it was visually much like other parts of Europe, so we focused on other Balkan states. For more photos of the area, you may want to visit this website: community.webshots.com. Plug in Slovenia in the Europe category. People post pictures on that site from all over the world. There are also other album-type sites, but we liked the Slovenia photos on this one.

Itinerary After the Fact

We incorporated parts of Slovenia into our Croatia trip. First, we landed in Zagreb, Croatia, and headed to Rijeke, Croatia; and further east to the Istrian Peninsula, where Croatia, Slovenia, and Italy (Trieste) share boundaries. From Croatia's Istria we went on to Trieste; then back to Slovenia across and south, again to Rijeke, Croatia. This makes sense if you look at a map - just search for Istria.

Then, after being a length of time in Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro, we drove from the crossroads at Karlovac, Croatia, back to Slovenia, through Ribnik, Metlika, Toplice, Novo Mesto, and Trebnje. There we got on the motorway to to Llubljana, the capital of Slovenia, and on to Lake Bled. Return trip: another way, back through Kranj for the night, and then the motorway to Zagreb, Croatia.