Last week brought some exciting news regarding the corona situation in Slovenia. We had very low number of new cases lately and can now finally and slowly start to go back to our, probably new, but still, normal life, which also meant that the restriction of traveling between municipalities for anything that wasn’t totally necessary (like work or going to the nearest store or pharmacy to your municipality) was lifted and now we can go visit our parents without worries and also finally start weekend wanders around Slovenia that we were planning to do when we get a car.
So this Sunday we decided to drive to Dolenjska region, that I more or less only knew from my previous job at Seviqc Brežice festival, because we had most of the concerts in this region. The region is known for the beautiful river Krka, yes the one that creates those stunning waterfalls near Šibenik in Croatia, but here it is still a slow emerald river that will take you through charming towns and breathtaking nature surrounding it. Here you will also find many castles and monasteries, vineyards and tourist farms offering delicious homemade food and wine. Unfortunately we weren’t able to have any food or wine on this day trip, because everything was still closed due to corona pandemic, but from my previous experiences in this region, you can be in for a real treat when it comes to food and wine.
We made few stops on our half-day trip and first one was at Otočec Castle, which in my opinion is one of the most romantic and beautiful places in Slovenia, even better than Bled, and Bled is amazing. Otočec Castle is build on one of the islands created by the Krka river, making it the only castle in Slovenia surrounded by water. First mentions of the castle are from 13th century, when it was occupied by the Knights of Otočec, vassals of the Bishops of Freising. During the II World War it was burnt down, and was then renovated in the 1950’s under the supervision of the heritage protection service and turned into luxury hotel. Even if you can’t afford to stay in a hotel here, you can still enjoy the beautiful park around or maybe splurge a bit on a lunch here, the restaurant is also supposed to be amazing. Will let you know when I try it out.
From Otočec Castle we went to Novo mesto, which is the capital of Dolenjska region. With everything closed due to corona pandemic, we just wandered around the city, went to the main square that was renovated last year and we could only imagine how it looks like when cafés and shops are open and people are outside. The square led us down to the river and across the Kandija Bridge and we went on a very short hike through the Ragov Grove to reach another charming bridge where we had a little photo session, since there were no people around.
The next stop was the Devil’s Tower in Soteska, which I really wanted to show to my boyfriend, because I’ve been there few times for the concerts we had at my previous job and it is just such a fascinating place. Standing in the meadow with a little path leading from once great Soteska Castle, that is now in ruins, with a name that casts chills, is this beautiful garden pavilion. According to a local legend, noblemen from the castle demanded extortionate taxes from his underlings during feudal times. Since the peasants weren’t able to get the money, due to poor harvest, they were forced to hand over their daughters to entertain guests when they had parties in this pavilion. Locals of course hated the place and called it the Devil’s Tower, because ungodly things were probably happening there. You cannot enter the pavilion even when there is no corona virus, unless you try to arrange so with a tourist office in Dolenjske Toplice but even so the place is so beautiful from the outside you won’t regret making a quick stop.
I would say that was Sunday morning well spend and I do believe that we will come back to Dolenjska few more times this year, because there is just so much more to see and hopefully on our next visit we will also be able to visit some castle, get something to eat, maybe do some activities (Krka river is perfect for swimming in the summer and also kayaking which I’ve been wanting to do for a while now). When the traveling will be possible again, this will make a wonderful half day trip trip from Ljubljana, especially if you decide to rent a car.
Have you been to this part of Slovenia? Do you also plan to explore more of your home country this year?
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