In September, I flew to Europe for a few weeks with the intent of getting familiar with Slovenia. In the 1990s, I had spent a year in Austria, where I quickly grew to love the Austrian Alps and the people of Vorarlberg, and in the time since, I’ve spent more time in Germany and Switzerland, with brief treks into the Italian Alps. Slovenia, though, remained a mystery. I had heard that it was something like a Slavic version of Austria, with beautiful mountains and historic cities, but I’d never managed to visit. This was my chance.
Unfortunately, not long after reaching Europe, I came d0wn with something. I was miserable enough that I assume that it was the flu or COVID, but I didn’t visit a Slovenian hospital to find out. I wasn’t bed ridden, exactly, but I also had very little energy for exploring, so I didn’t get far off the beaten path.
But I didn’t have to stray far to find some stunningly beautiful places. We had rented an amusingly gutless car in Ljubljana and drove about an hour north to a cable car that took us up to Velika planina, a mountain plateau and village in the Slovenian Alps that serves as a summer home for shepherds. With cable-car access, it is clearly a bit of a tourist attraction, but hidden in a bank of clouds and outside of tourist season, it felt like I was in the middle of nowhere at the top of the world.
Several days later, my energy was returning but a bit of warm weather and sunshine still sounded really good, so I hopped into old gutless and drove down to Piran on the Adriatic Sea, just a few miles away from the Italian border.
And I’ll leave this story here, with a note of advice for all of you: even if you can’t read the street signs in Slovenia, take the time to translate them when you park. They’re serious about parking tickets in Piran.
It’s true: none of these photos are particularly spectacular. On this trip, I was happy to come back with proof that I survived.
J. Matthew Gore Looking over Piran, Slovenia from the old city wall.
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