Nuremberg

As our final stop off on the way back to Frankfurt, we stopped at Nuremberg for a night.  We really didn’t have much time here at all but what I saw I liked!  We managed to get a hotel in the Old Town (The Adina Apartment Hotel) which was particularly well located, had parking and was easy to find!  Win.

The Old Town is really worth a look and it is a short walk from the hotel to the castle and the Old Town walls.  The base of the castle has lots of little restaurants/cafes/bars.  Be aware on a Sunday (we were there then) there is next to nothing open.  You may be lucky to find a couple of bars.  For those that are shoppers (or just like looking), the Old Town has a number of high end brands and in the main square there is a market.  The market is a pretty cool one, selling everything from food, crockery, art and craft and even hairdressing scissors and dental equipment!  I enjoyed a bit of a nose around and picked up a couple of necklaces and a Venetian glass ring.

For those interested in history, specifically history around Hitler and the Nazi’s, there are many very historically signicant and very well put together museums and sites.  We visited the Nuremberg Documentation Centre and the Nazi Rally Grounds.  The Documentation is really well put together and although we have visited a number of Nazi sites over the years and even recently, there is still area specific information here and it is really worth a visit.  You can also walk around the lake (or drive) to the Rally Grounds, which are still there and you can go and stand in the grand stands.  It is quite a moving spot and you can really imagine the rallies in front of you.  Definitely worth the visit.

We were really short of time and this is all we managed but you could certainly spend a couple of days in Nuremburg and look at things properly.

Novo Mesto to Izola

The trip from Novo Mesto to Izola is only a couple of hours by car and there are a number of things that you can check out on the way.  We stopped off at Otocec Castle for a quick look.  It is quite pretty and has been converted to a hotel and restaurant.  It would be a lovely venue for a special event.

From here we travelled down the highway to Predjama Castle and the caves below.  We completely underestimated the time required to see the castle, the caves below and the other caves (Postojna ) which are about 9km away.  You really could do with a whole day for the 3 sites if you are into caves.  You can buy a multi ticket which gives access to all 3 sites and if interested a couple of others.

The castle is really stunning even if you don’t go inside as it is set into the rock face.  You are able to buy tickets to go inside and there are audio guides in a  large number of languages.

The caves while not linked to the castle are directly underneath.  If you are happy inside caves, not afraid of heights and are okay in the dark with a headlamp, it is a great trip.

The cave tour was really interesting and worth a visit.  We didn’t make it to the Postonja caves but they are apparently really worth a visit.

 

Maribor to Novo Mesto

Travelling across Slovenia is easy as the roads are good, the speed limit is reasonable and the distances are short.  It is only a couple of hours drive from Maribor to Novo Mesto so it is worth looking at the sights on the way.

We made our stop off in the lovely town of Celje.  One of it’s claims to fame is a castle on top of a hill just outside the town.  It is one of the nicer castles that hasn’t been over restored.  As we were exploring the rooms, we came upon the castle printers which has a very passionate guy demonstrating how the printing was done in the old days.  For 8 Euro, you can get him to print a castle imprint with your name, the date and the castle seal on your choice of handmade paper.  Maybe a nice souvenir!

The castle also had medieval re-enactment group who are happy to explain life during the times.

Those helmets are heavy!

From Celje, we headed to Novo Mesto where we checked into our hostel.  The guide books talk about falling in love with Novo Mesto, however we struggled!  The Tourist centre was closed when we arrived on Saturday and was still closed on Sunday.  By the time we got to speak to anyone on the Monday, we had spent time in the local thermal pool, walked around the old town and the advice we got from the tourist centre (very abrupt) was that we had seen everything.

Novo Mesto didn’t win us over!

Ljubljana in 48 hours

Slovenia is a small country in Eastern Europe.  Until last week I knew almost nothing about it!

So here goes…Slovenia is a small country (only 2.5 million) and has only had independence since 1991.  The people we have met have excellent English, are really willing to help and are very friendly.  They are very proud of their country, especially the clean, green aspect  and the beautiful landscapes.  Understandably they seem to feel like they are the small cousin to their surrounding big brothers in Europe.  I understand that being from New Zealand!  Slovenia has a fascinating history and it has been great to spend some time here.  First stop Ljubljana.

Ljubljana is both the largest city and the capital and is located in the centre of Slovenia providing access to most parts of the country within a couple of hours drive.  It’s quite a cool little city – very clean, a bit edgy and kind of alternative.  It is strange to see a beautifully clean city riddled with graffiti.  There is also lots of street art (which I love) but the tagging  was seemingly everywhere.

We were lucky that we were able to rent an apartment pretty close to town.  The old town is all pedestrianised so getting somewhere close to town when you have a car is not that easy.  They have a great system where you can sign up to rent bikes from racks on the streets. It is really cheap and you just put them back at the nearest rack to where you are going. A great way to get around town.

In 48 hours, this is what we did…

City tour

We did a free walking tour around the city which explained the history of the town and many of the architectural features.

Boat tour

There are a number of boat tours that go through the central city via the river.  These are worth going on and take about 45 minutes.  You can pay anything between 5-8 Euros to go.  There doesn’t appear to be an audio guide or anyone explaining anything but it is pretty to look at and is an enjoyable time.

Markets

Ljubljana has little squares at intersecting streets, where small numbers of market stalls seem to cluster.  When we were there, there were two art ones scheduled, a flea market and then Central Market which is the main one.  We were also lucky enough to be in town on a Friday evening when the Open Kitchen Market was on.  If you are in town at this time, it is well worth a visit.  Chefs from local restaurants cook up amazing food for people to try.  It is a really bustling atmosphere and a nice evening out.

The Old Town

It is relaxing to walk around the old town and take in some of the sights, grab a drink by the river and wile some time away.  You can visit the castle and a number of museums.  While the castle is well rated on Trip Advisor and in other reviews, we were completely underwhelmed as it has been restored so much it is hard to see much of what it was.  There are lovely views from the top and from that point of view it is worth a visit.

The communist walking tour

This was a really interesting tour which cost 10 Euros.  It was 2.5 hours long and really gave a good insight into the history of the country and Ljubljana specifically.  The guide was knowledgeable and was able to speak from his own perspective about  growing up during the communist era and the impact on him and his family.  If you are a history buff, this is a goodie.

Rent a bike from the city

We rented bikes and biked around town, down the river and into some of the more hidden areas.  We managed to visit the hostel that used to be a prison and Metelkova which is next door.  Metelkova is  located on the site of former military barracks (the Slovenian headquarters of the Yugoslav National Army) and has been occupied since September 1993. In Metelkova City a range of activities are run including an art gallery, bars, artists studios, space for designers, offices of cultural organisations and concerts featuring different types of live music.  It’s also a great spot for taking photos.

Enjoy any of the cafes and bars along the riverfront.

There are loads of bars and cafes to try and just as many ice cream shops.  While we were there, there was a heat wave so this was a great activity!

Ljubljana would be a great destination for a long weekend or a stopover.