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26 JEWISH TELEGRAPH Friday October 2, 2009

Where exactly is it, they asked me,
writes Paul Harris

F you’re planning a trip to Slovenia
don’t expect the chance to emulate
those world-class ski-jumpers who
seem to defy the odds – and gravity – as
they fly through the air in seemingly
impossible manner.
Even Eddie the Eagle was refused permission to
take to those daunting slopes which are reserved
for the top pros.
Indeed, Slovenians themselves, other than
those at the very top of the profession, have to
content themselves with alpine skiing, the coun-
try’s number one sport.
Slovenians can give us mere mortals an inferi-
ority complex.
Most look fit and well-toned, probably the
result not only of their skiing exploits but the
outdoor life which includes cyclin g, hikin g,
mushroom picking (every Slovenian is allowed by
law to collect 2kg daily) and the more extreme
sports like climbing, kayaking and rafting.
But today visitors to the country can also
enjoy the healthy side with wellness spas at
many of the hotels.
The Republic of Slovenia isn’t part of Croatia
and it was never a member of the Soviet Union.
It was actually a constituent of the former
Yugoslavia, albeit with very moderate commu-
nist ethos.
Its inhabitants mostly speak Slovenian,
although you will hear some Hungarian and Ital-
ian due to its geographical location. The two mil-
lion Slovenians actually speak 47 dialects.
I raise this because so many people seem
unaware where Slovenia actually is, what lan- SHEEP graze calmly in the foothills of the Julian Alps. Seconds later they surrounded our correspondent
guage is spoken and even the fact that it is a
member of the European Union.
It actually shares

Slovenia’s a country
borders with Italy,
Hungary, Austria and
Croatia and as a result
enjoys the best of its
neighbours’ varied cli-
mates and cuisines.
Slovenia is a choco-
late box country with

of ever-changing
beautiful alpine views
of snow-topped or
cloud-kissed moun-
tains and picturesque
villages with wooden-
framed houses.
It’s actually the sec-
ond greenest country
in Europe after Fin-

landscapes and moods

land, and the fourth in
the world with 64 per
cent afforestation.
You feel the clean-
ness of the air and you
can drink water quite
literally from source.
It’s definitely better
than the bottled vari- BUSY BEES: Beehives
ety. used to be decorated with
Thomas Hardy’s nov- attractive designs like this SOUTH AFRICA FIFA WORLD CUP 2010
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Slovenia is similar
with its seasonal land- Email:
scape changes. Tel: +27 82 8876897
Hot summers accord
tourists sunbathin g
weather, while dramat-
ically snowy winters
offer superb skiin g
The country seems
to have it all. The
great outdoors has an
abundance of hostels
and other budget
accommodation for Hikin g can be as nia is a place of spec- Gora. It seemed quite
cyclists and hikers. easy or hard as you tacular beauty. normal when dozens of
It can cost as little want and with 10,000 It’s the Julian Alps inquisitive sheep sur-
as eight Euros in a dor- kilometres of marked in the north-west rounded me to inspect
mitory or 15 Euros for routes, the opportuni- though whose sheer my camera and ruck-
a room in what are ties are manifold – not magnificence takes sack before wandering
known as huts but bad for a country span- the breath away. off to find something
what we would describe ning just 20,000 sq km. Set beneath them more interesting.
as refuges. With a backdrop are Lake Bled, with its
■ Continued on next page
There are more than dominated by the own island and castle.
70 in the Julian Alps Julian Alps, Kamnik In the Julian Alps’
alone, the highest at and Savinja Alps and foothills is the fairy-
2,500 metres. Karavanke Alps, Slove- tale town of Kranjska


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Friday October 2, 2009 JEWISH TELEGRAPH 27

■ Continued from previous page
THE glorious setting of Lake Bled. Right, an old lady collects
grapes for wine-making just outside Maribor. Locals are paid
25 Euros a day plus lunch and two litres of wine
vibrant and combines ancient
and modern. The castle with
It is the energy beneath, they
Slovenia’s just that type of
place. stunning views of the city has its say, which promises various cures
There is also the dauntin g origins as far back as 1220. at differently marked points. Om,
world championship ski-jump Restaurants and bars line the for instance, pledges to alleviate
slope although there are simpler, banks of the river as young and “lack of self-confidence, anger
alpine runs to be enjoyed by the old enjoy a variety of food and and women’s difficulties in part-
entire family. drink. nerships”.
Try the 1,500 metre toboggan Slovenian wines are surprising- Slovenia has just a handful of
run on a fixed rail. It’s safe, you ly good but not yet available in five star hotels, but the latest,
control your speed with a brake, this country. the Bohinj Park in Bohinjska
but it’s still pretty scary as you Tourists can p articip ate in Bistrica is eco-friendly to the
take steep curves at some speed. grape-picking. Locals themselves ultimate degree.
The Oca Valley with its water- are paid 25 Euros a day for the It’s a hotel which offers fine
falls and ravines brings you to privilege with a meal and two cuisine, excellent standards of
Most na Soci. From there, a litres of wine thrown in. accommodation, a massive adja-
unique car train transports you Wellness in Slovenia takes cent aquapark and its own bowl-
in 30 minutes to Bohinjska many forms, from the obvious ing alley.
Bistrica. You stay in your vehicle facilities of the hotel spas to the
and enjoy the passing scenery less obvious at, for instance, the ■ Further information:
from the open wagons. Hotel Spik in Gozd Martuljek ■ Bradt Travel Guide, Slovenia by Robin
There’s also Kranj in the west with its themed treatment rooms and Jenny McKelvie (£13.99)
with its medieval layout and hun- which promise “a healthy balance
dreds of metres of Second World of the mind, body and spirit”. ■ The Rough Guide to Slovenia by Norm
War tunnels which are open to The forest a few metres’ walk Longley (£12.99)
the public by appointment. from the Bellevue Hotel in Pohor- ■ Adria Airways flies regularly from Lon-
The capital Ljubljana is je, near Maribor, boasts special don Gatwick

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