Museum with Mary

Author: Kali

In Skofia Loka, we stayed in the large family home of an elderly lady called Mary. She is 86 and had lived in Skofia Loka all her life.  She is still totally independent and every Saturday and Sunday she drives to the Stari Grad (Skofia Loka’s castle) and works in the museum as a guide. Of course, if anyone would know about the history and traditions of Skofia Loka, it would be dear Mary!

Mary speaks no English, however, using a lot of sign language she told us about her life and surroundings.  She immediately felt like a grandma to us. After she told us that she worked at the castle museum, Mum promised that we would come to visit there.

On our last Sunday morning in Slovenia, we drove to the Skofia Loka castle to look around and visit Mary. As we entered the museum, Mary cried out in joy for seeing us. She welcomed us excitedly, grabbed her handbag and led us towards what she called ‘The Old House’. She looked really pretty in a beautiful blouse and white trousers. A story book grandmother.

As we got closer to an old black wooden cottage, Mary started explaining that it was a historic family home of four hundred years ago. Eight children, their parents and grandparents lived in this two-room structure at the time. She showed us the loft where the bigger children slept on the hay each night, the fire place, the adults’ bedroom (with a crib for the baby), the sewing table, and a special game the children used to play, among a number of other fascinating things.

Mary pulled me towards her and gestured that I should sit down at the table opposite her. She started to explain a game to me that the children used to play. She handed me twelve white beans, she took the twelve brown beans and then she laid out a sheet of paper on the table that had a pattern of dots and lines printed on it. The game was loads of fun and the more experienced player won in the end. It was a precious experience. As we finished the game, she neatly folded up the sheet of paper and used another brown paper sheet to make a sort of cup, or cone and slid twenty-four beans into it. Next, she placed it in my hand with a big smile.

I am sure that we will play this game many more times, and each time we play, it will be a reminder of dear Mary and our time together.

Until next time,




Škofja Loka

Author: Mariza
August 2017

Škofja Loka is a gorgeous old village in Slovenia. The old walled city is a charming place that contains old buildings, churches, squares and a castle. Not too touristy, which is nice.

Mary, our 86 year old hostess who doesn’t speak English, lives all by herself. As she serves us strong coffee, homemade biscuits and nuts from her own walnut tree on the deck, we somehow exchange details about our lives. As we watch the sun sinking lower and lower until it disappears behind the mountains, we are once again overwhelmed by how blessed we are. And our hearts have a new Mary shaped corner. So precious.


From Mary’s deck we can see three little churches on three separate hilltops. And beautiful green meadows sloping down towards the river that runs through the village. Slovenia is truly an unbelievably beautiful country.

We enjoy a lovely dinner on a terrace on the riverbank. It feels a bit unreal as we peer over the old city wall. This is such a different world! And here we are, the six of us, enjoying it together.

Since Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia, is only a short distance away, we take one day to go and explore it and do a walking tour of the city. Very nice. And very interesting. But we’re happy to be back under Mary’s roof by bedtime.

Our morning runs take us on windy little trails up the mountains, to castles and churches and gorgeous green meadows. Nicely tiring and super stunning. We even squeeze one in on our departure day.

Mary works at the museum at the castle every Saturday and Sunday from ten to two. Before we leave our beloved Škofja Loka we go and visit her there. Big hugs and happy chattering. She gives us a tour of an ancient house, perfectly restored to what it used to be hundreds of years ago. Fascinating!! We end up visiting there with her for a long time. She teaches the kids a traditional game, which they’ll be playing a lot on the rest of our travels.


The highlight of Škofja Loka was meeting and falling in love with Mary. What a fantastic way to end our Slovenian adventure.

– Mariza –

Picturesque Piran

Author: Kali

While staying in the forgotten old village of Truske, we visited the historical centre of a costal town called Piran. It is located on a peninsula, jutting out sharply into the Adriatic. We had to park our car in a parking garage, about a kilometre from the city. Many towns and villages in this area have this same system, as the streets are too small and narrow for cars to enter- only bikes and scooters can get in and out.

Today was once again one of those days you wish you were backpacking Antartica instead of facing a heatwave in Istria. The sun, in the cloudless sky, blazed down on us as we walked to the city

gates. Esto, having had a terrible tummy bug for the last three days, refused to walk even a single step. With no other choice, mum hoisted him onto her back. Dad and I also took turns carrying him through the streets.

 We wandered through cobble stone streets with old pastel coloured buildings on each side. Without being too touristy, or overcrowded, Piran had a charm to it that I immediately loved! The little street side cafes and restaurants were filled with people. Each little street and alleyway lead to a small square, with yet another café or two. We lost our selves! We simply couldn’t take enough pictures, even though they could not capture the charm of the place!




Now, once again starving of hunger, dying of thirst and melting away in the scorching midday sun, we aimed for shade, cold beer, ice cream and the cool waters of the azure Adriatic! We flopped onto the couches at the cafe and Dad ordered two ice cold beers, three ice creams and a large jug of water. Esto, feverish, nauseous and totally out of it plonked down next to me. I wet his hair a bit and fanned him with a brochure on the table. (Isn’t that what big sisters are for? I recon I need a big sister!)

It was such a relief and so refreshing to dive into the glorious water. It was crystal clear and the rocky bottom was visible beneath.  I couldn’t get enough of it! Even the salt tasted delicious on my lips.

We spent hours moving between the ocean and having cold treats in the shade. In my heart I wished this time would never end.

 Until next time,





Author: Mariza

2 August 2017

Truške is our home village in Istria, Slovenia for the moment. Our hosts moved here twenty years ago when their eldest daughter was one. They were the first people to live here again after the village was abandoned many years ago. They bought an old stone house and cowshed and transformed it into a beautiful home and two apartments.


The wife is a civil engineer who drives to either Koper (a harbour city nearby) or Ljubljana (the capital an hour away) for work. The husband is a mountaineer who leads expeditions and works for the British military. The eldest daughter goes to university in Ljubljana and the sixteen year old au pairs in England for the summer holidays. For school and other activities they simply have to drive. Not even as far as we drive in big cities, but for Slovenians it is to the other side of the earth. Slovenia is a tiny country with a population of only two million people.

There have been big changes over the past few years in this country. Wars in which its people were greatly affected and then breaking away from Yugoslavian rule. People suddenly had a much harder existence and most really struggled to understand what was happening to them. Suddenly there were consequences to many things that didn’t matter before. No more same perks for everyone, no matter what you did or did not do. People’s lifelong hard work resulted in a pension on which they cannot survive.

We had insightful conversations with Denis, our hostess, about all of this. So refreshing to hear the perspective of an intelligent, thinking woman on matters that shaped and and are still greatly affecting a nation. Communism had a very different outworking in different places.


Truške now has a few families and a small school. And of course a church on a hill, just outside the village. No shops or restaurants.

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Villages in this part of the world are only a few kilometres apart. What a joy it is to go for morning runs, exploring several villages and rural roads in just one go. And to see the locals out and about tending their vegetable gardens or small  fields of corn or olive groves or little vineyards.


My absolute highlight was stumbling upon a completely deserted village with the remains of beautiful stone houses one morning. It is literally at the absolute end of the road / earth. There is nothing beyond the village except a river down in the valley. One little dirt road takes you in and to the end of the village. Tiny. And gorgeous. I imagine what it was like when people lived there. I wonder how it got to this. I feel sad and happy and in awe. I love places like this.

Despite a heatwave and a sick child, our time here has been really special. We will be sad to say goodbye, but I am confident that we will see these people again. The instant connection between us is something to treasure. Truške and surrounds – forever in our hearts.

– Mariza –




Source of the Soča

Author: Ruzow

After our Soča River Trail hiking expedition, we drove the two kilometres to the bottom of the waterfall that leads to the source of the river. We started our ascent on the mountain next to the waterfall. Slowly but surely, we climbed up, clinging on the the thin metal cord for dear life, while carefully placing our feet forward on the edge of the cliff. A little while later, we reached the top.F5506AE7-A725-4916-928A-1FD632B99258 (2)

I climbed over the rocks to get to the ancient mountain spring. Then in front of me in a damp cave, I gazed into it and saw the most amazing water I have ever seen. The colour was so beautiful it took my breath away. Amazing!!! I was awestruck at the thought that these drops of water had been slowly creeping through the cracks in the mountains for hundreds of years! Then I knelt down beside one of the rocks and drank the purest water I have ever tasted, right from an alpine mountain spring!!!!! I had achieved something I have always dreamed of. Best of all, I didn’t have to pay a fortune for it, it was absolutely free!

– Ruzow –


A Rare Find

Author: Jarik

When you have travelled overland through 11 countries, passed through too many cities, towns, villages and hamlets to number and completed more than 1100km of hiking and running, you get to see a lot of places. Some spectacular, some pretty and some very ordinary. We jokingly started referring to the Patagonian landscapes and hikes as ice-cream and that we have started with dessert as the first course of our travels. That was until we came to Slovenia.

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Only a speck of a country, Slovenia’s natural scenery is truly spectacular. It is also rich in cultural heritage, spanning thousands of years. The Julian Alps with its deep valleys, white cliffs, towering peaks, deep green forests and rivers that seem too clear to be real have been an absolute highlight in our travels. Our hike down the Soča River Valley was nothing short of breathtaking.

We had to conquer a mountain pass with fifty switchbacks (they were numbered) to get to the upper reaches of the river where we started our hike. For 18km we followed the water as it formed rapids and slowed into pools, narrowed into magnificent gorges cutting through limestone and broadened into inviting oases where we braved the icy waters for a swim. We crossed it many times over rickety suspension bridges as the river hugged the mountainside and shaped the valley as it went. We also hiked up to its source –  gushing from a cave high up in the mountains. Add to this dramatic landscape summer foliage that colour every meadow bight green and red geraniums to adorn every window and balcony, and you can start to imagine the Slovenian Alps.

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It seems as if the country straddles two worlds. The first, a peaceful lifestyle centred within quaint little villages not more than 5km from each other, but each with its own character. A lifestyle where there is still enough time to keep your own vegetable garden and make your own wine. This is juxtaposed within a Slovenia, connected by large freeways, fantastic communication infrastructure and with access to the best of every modern convenience.

We were off to the Slovenian part of the Istrian peninsula next – but we all hoped that we would have the opportunity to spend more time in this amazing part of the world again. Slovenia should be on everyone’s “must do” list – it will definitely remain on ours.

– Jarik –


Our First Day in Slovenia

Author: Kali

Mum and Dad rented a Skoda, Fabia station wagon, making us thankfully less dependant on public transport in Slovenia. There are a lot of these cars in these areas. The Skoda is a comfortable five seater, with a nice big boot, however, it is still a tight squeeze for six. By this time through the journey, we are however, used to squeezing into impossibly small spaces. In South America all four of us, along with mum, were shoved into a back row of a taxi. This time, we nearly had a whole seat to ourselves!

We drove along small dirt roads in between villages, some long forgotten. From the second I set my eyes on Slovenia, I loved it! Every home and garden is a flower pot. Flowers colour absolutely everything, everywhere. No matter how big or small the house, you will always find a vegetable garden, squeezed into the yard. These are well kept with vegetables like tomatoes and beans. There are fruit trees everywhere. Plums, peaches and apples hang over every fence ready for passers by to pick and enjoy. This is amazing! You never see this in Australia. Here I am walking through the forest, picking wild berries for a snack. This is like in fairy tales.

We visited many small villages, each with it’s own unique and special character. I have noticed that people in Slovenia are not like people in Croatia and Montenegro. Even after they’ve seen you’re a tourist, they greet friendly with a smile: ‘Dober dan!’ It was lovely visiting the neighbourhoods and seeing how the people actually lived – and the sheer beauty of everything that surrounded us.

Lunch on the first day consisted of cold meats, cheeses and bread. The lunch itself wasn’t so special. It’s the setting that has found a place in my heart. We sat in the middle of a secluded, flowery meadow. The many wild flowers brought colour to the brilliant green of the grass. It is quite hard to describe in a way that you, as a reader, can really even try to imagine what it was like. It was amazing!

We were hoping to find somewhere to stay for a few nights near Bled and Lake Bled. We asked at a few villages nearby, but there was no accommodation available. After what seemed like years of asking and moving on, we came to a little village called Ribno. Neat gardens surrounded the beautiful homes, everything covered with a bouquet of coloured flowers. Everything seemed alive, happy and exciting. Somehow, I felt that we would be staying here.

We ended up getting a neat little apartment for a great price from a lovely lady, Nency. She was very kind and told us the only reason why we got the apartment (the rest of the town is full) is because they have only recently finished it and they haven’t advertised it online yet. I was so grateful for this. If it wasn’t available, we would’ve been accommodation scouting through the night. At least we had a car, so if worst comes to worst.

I feel so content as we are sitting outside enjoying the scenery, company and delicious salad. Our first day in Slovenia was no doubt the perfect way to start the next chapter of our adventure. My heart is overflowing with joy and excitement. I cannot wait to explore this amazing place further with my family. I know I will dream of these days once we get shoved back into fast paced reality. We must make the most of these priceless times! ❤️

Until next time,



Unbelievable Beauty

Author: Mariza

31 July 2017

Oh my!! Paradise here we are!!

We spent the past five days in Ribno, a little village just outside Bled (a bigger village on a stunning lake). We arrived by train from Serbia, picked up our rental car in Ljubljana, the Slovenian capital and started driving. We didn’t book anything, even though it is peak tourist season over here. That was a great decision. So far we have stumbled upon two out of this world awesome little dwellings.


Ribno is a very special place and we loved every moment there. We ran and hiked in the mountains and did stunning all day cycling and swam in the emerald rivers and lakes. We had picnics in meadows, on the banks of rivers and in deep dramatic gorges. We strolled through the narrow streets and fed fresh apples to one of the resident horses.

I honestly did not think places like this existed. I absolutely love it!!


After a lovely run and breakfast on the patio, we packed up our meagre belongings and hit the road. It took us several hours to drive around the one and only national park. A stunning drive, but not motion sickness friendly at all!! Up and down steep mountain passes and many switchbacks. Gloriously green and lush. Picture perfect little hamlets and villages along the way.

At exactly 4pm we drove over a bridge and there, right in front of us, was the most beautiful lake we’ve ever seen. Bright emerald water, like something out of a sci fi movie. Honestly unbelievable. All six of us knew instantly that this was home for the night. Only a few houses are scattered on our side of the lake. A little village on the far side. I started knocking on doors and before we knew it, we had a lovely little spot right on the lake.

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Most na Soci means bridge over the Soci (river). That and a handful of cottages is all there is to it. Quiet, peaceful and overwhelmingly beautiful. The kids immediately hopped into their swimmers and then the lake, while Jarik and I enjoyed ice cold beer at our hosts’ little restaurant on the edge of the lake.

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In the evening we had a picnic, while marvelling at the splendour around us. A refreshing swim provided the perfect ending to a day flooded with spectacular memories. Wow!!! My heart can hardly contain it. I am so very grateful.

– Mariza –

Cycling in Stunning Slovenia

Author: Mariza

28 July 2017

Today we cycled almost a hundred kilometres inside a storybook setting. Slovenia is the place where all those classic children stories took place. It is beyond beautiful!

We were on our bikes early this morning, all excited and full of energy. On our backs we carried our picnic lunch, water and a few snacks. Through valleys and over mountain passes. We cycled through the most gorgeous little villages, all consisting of alpine cottages with lush flowers hanging from every balcony, sitting in every windowsill and decorating every vegetable garden. My kind of place, for sure!!


I tried to take pictures, form my bike mostly, but it doesn’t do any justice to what we saw and experienced. It snows here in winter and skiing is the activity of choice then. But in summer, every meadow is filled with wild flowers. The entire place is green and lush. The mountains are spectacular in the background.


For lunch we simply drove our bikes into a meadow and sat down under a tree. The stuff fairy tales are made of. And we kept getting overwhelmed by the beauty around us. It is unreal.

We were really tired and rather sore when we finally arrived home at 6:20pm. We celebrated with delicious ice cream. Home made spaghetti bolognese was the perfect comfort food. We had the most spectacular day and our hearts are full to the brim.


– Mariza   –


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