Where: Slovenia 🇸🇮; Skocjan Caves, Portoroz, Ljubljana, Lake Bled
When: July/August 2017
What: escaping the crazy summer holiday crowds and exploring another new country
En route to Slovenia we spend one more night in Croatia, in an Air BnB in Gospic, not a typical tourist destination, just the halfway point on the journey. But they have a few things to see; we visited the Nicolas Tesla (inventor of alternating current system) Memorial Centre, pretty interesting, but best bit is probably the playground! In fact the best bit about this stop was the amazing thunderstorm during the evening, and the relief that we weren’t camping.
The next morning we cross the border into Slovenia, another boring, uneventful crossing, especially since we’re now back in the EU. We turn up at a campsite, Dujceva Domacija, a very nice relaxed and informal family run farm and campsite near Skocjan. We spend ages trying to find the exact right spot for the tent on the edge of the field and next to the river that runs around the camp. Do we want sun in the morning or in the evening?! We choose evening (and remember in the morning when it’s cold and damp that that’s the wrong choice!) It’s a really basic campsite, in a massive field surrounded by a river, and it’s great. We sometimes think it will be easier to book a campsite with playground for the boys, but actually, all they want is to be outside, with a big open space to run around in.
In the middle of the night Jess and I are awoken by a really loud creaking sound, followed by a crash…Jess immediately knows what it is and goes outside to help, he finds a pretty big tree that has fallen down onto someone’s camp, luckily their car took the full force of it and saved the tree from landing directly on their tents. First thing in the morning we move our tent into the middle of the field, though no one else seems bothered enough to move.
We head down the road to Skocjan caves; a UNESCO World Heritage site and the largest known underground canyon in the world. It’s pretty busy, and the tour takes about 2 hours. It was incredible down there, and pretty cold. Arto slept through pretty much the whole thing, which is always of a relief to me when we are walking down narrow paths and there are massive drops and a not particularly strong looking fence. Photography and torches are strictly forbidden in the caves, but obviously there are a few people who don’t think that applies to them 😡
After the caves we go on a playground hunt, we find a brilliant one, hidden right between the railway and the motorway (though completely safe), such a weird place for a playground, it’s empty, presumably because no one else can find it.
When we get back to the campsite Jess and the boys collect sticks and build a wigwam made from the fallen down tree.
Next day we head to the small stretch of Slovenian coast, to Portoroz, quite busy, but nothing on Croatia!
Next stop is Ljubljana, we stay in C-Punkt hostel, it is a school dormitory, only open during the summer. We love it. We head straight to the centre and eat at the food market. In the evening we head to Metalkova; an ex army garrison taken over by squatters, and converted into a commune. It has bars and serves food, and was probably much cooler before it appeared in all the guide books.
Anyway, we get there way too early and there’s nothing much going on, but we loved looking around. We find somewhere to give the boys a very late dinner and settle for a burger bar, Pop’s Place, which turns out to be very cool, good food, and really cheap.
Next day we try and find some child friendly activities, unfortunately the kids theatre is closed all summer so we head to the Experiment (science) Museum, the boys are really impressed before we even go in because they have a massive bubble wand at the door. Inside is even better, some really good experiments and really good for the boys, it’s also quite cheap and there were only two other people in there.
In the afternoon we happen upon a really cool street band, the Techno Vikings, so we sit and watch them for an hour.
After the boys are in bed Jess heads back to Metalkova as he really wants to see what it’s like when it’s busy. Not sure if midnight was still too early or it’s just not that busy anymore, but he heads home fairly early.
Next stop…the lakes. Only a short drive to our next campsite, Camping Sobec. It’s a huge campsite, there were 2,700 people camped there, and it’s so big it takes ages to get anywhere, definitely a good place to have a bike. But the campsite is great, they have entertainment that is actually entertaining; a magic and fire show, and a kids club that isn’t really cheesy and shit! And the staff, despite being really busy, are all really friendly. The campsite has it’s own lovely lake, great for swimming, and is surrounded by a seriously cold river with rapids.
We head to Vintnar Gorge the next morning, it is about a two km walk along a wooden walk away, along the river, ending with a waterfall. Jess and I both go on for a dip by the waterfall, but not for very long, it is so freezing I was actually worried that for the thirty seconds I was in there my organs were starting to fail!
In the afternoon we head to Straza Bled, a summer activity centre. We go there for the summer toboggan. We head up in the chair lift and then come down on the toboggan on rails, Jess takes Arto and I take Dylan, it’s absolutely brilliant!
Next day we visit Lake Bled and hire bikes with child seats on the back. Jess takes the mountain bike, I take the city bike, lovely to ride until I get to a hill. Jess spots a rope swing and we stop for a go. We draw a bit of a crowd, and some Irish girls have a go after us, but they both fall into the river, but good on them for giving it a go. They call us Tarzan and Jane!
Georgie gets a stand up paddle board on the lake for a bit of me time, away from the incessant questions and noise! It is pretty incredible. I paddle out to the middle of the lake, dive in a few times and have a very chilled lay down on the board.
Back at our campsite. Dylan meets a new friend, a five year old boy from Sheffield, Harry, who is here with his family in their campervan on a 4 months trip around Europe. His Mum, Dad and baby sister are also super cool, so we hang out with them for the next few days.
We stay for a few extra days as we literally have no idea where we’re going next! And we decide to leave on the day that Arto has a horrible tummy bug. By the time we realise just how poorly he is we’ve already packed the tent up, so we head to Austria without a plan.
- C-Punkt Hostel, Ljubljana
- Experiment museum, Ljubljana
- Camping Sobec, amazing campsite, near Lake Bled
- Vintnar Gorge, lovely walk along the river (get there early)
- Straza Bled, summer activity centre, so much fun!