Before we went there with Travel Department, I knew very little about Slovenia except that it was part of the former Yugoslavia (it was one of the first to declare independence 32 years ago). Yes, I had heard it was a beautiful country and was fast becoming a popular holiday destination.
It lived up to all expectations and then some.
With a population of just over 2 million, it is about one-fifth the size of Ireland in terms of land mass. Its 29 miles of coastline has pristine, clear waters, dotted with beautiful villages, towns and marinas.
We absolutely loved the 4-star hotel that Travel Department chose. It was in the perfect (rocky) beachfront location between the historic towns of Portorož and Piran. Built on the site of an old monastery, the ruins of the Church of St Bernadine still stand there and are pretty well preserved.
All 276 rooms at Hotel Histrion include a private balcony with views of either the Adriatic Sea or the lagoon with a harbour.
Below is a photo taken when we were on our boat trip.
We swam in the sea on several days and also made use of the indoor swimming pools.
The weather was sunny and warm and only on our final afternoon did the famous Bora wind bring thunder and rain, for a short time. So, what did I do? I spent some time in the spa and had a massage in the Wellness Centre. Well worth it.
Our trip included breakfast and evening meal. Self-service was the order of the day and the food was very good with plenty of choice at the expansive buffet.
Breakfasts had everything you would expect. Fruit yogurts, cold meats, cheeses, eggs, bacon and so on.
For the evening meal, I always started with their salads (delicious) and proceeded to vegetarian options or fish, while Graham went for the meat and potatoes with a few veggies on the side. Of course, he indulged in several desserts while I had ice-cream, or cheese and sometimes both!
PORTOROZ AND PIRAN
Walk out of the hotel on the beach side and a fifteen minute walk to the left brings you to Portoroz, to the right Piran. Portoroz was quiet while we were there, but in the summer it is packed with holidaymakers. We preferred the pretty town of Piran (below).
Wandering around its ancient streets and soaking up the atmosphere was the order of the day. Once part of Venice, Piran has managed to keep its historic charm and, of course, the Venetian influence can be seen in its stunning architecture and rich pastel colours.
There is nothing better than sitting in a coffee shop to enjoy some people-watching in the magnificent Tartini Square or taking a walk along the photogenic harbour.
We climbed up to the 14th century cathedral of St George (also has a bell tower) which dominates the town. See below.
And I nearly managed to persuade Graham to climb further to the medieval walls further up. But it was a step too far in the 27 degree heat! And he is 70, after all. Joke! He is very fit.
TRAVEL DEPARTMENT DAY TRIPS
MIRAMARE CASTLE AND TRIESTE
Italy is so near (in fact we flew into Venice) and we had a full day trip to Trieste. First stop was Miramare Castle which has a very interesting history.
Then a walking tour of the city’s historic centre. Of course there was a lot of interest in the Irish writer James Joyce who lived in Trieste for many years. We all had to get a pic with his statue.
In our free time, Graham and I had coffee in one of James Joyce’s favourite cafés and got booted out of another. I had read reviews on Trip Advisor which said the staff were rude and they were. Below is the cafe we liked.
LAKE BLED AND LJUBLJANA
We were all blown away by Lake Bled. A visit to Bled Island on a pletna (flat-bottomed boat) was just magical.
Then our bus brought us to Bled Castle where the vista from the medieval fortress gave us spectacular views over the glacial waters. The castle was pretty, but give the expensive rotten, coffee a wide berth and that goes for the Bled Cake too.
Then we spent a few hours in their capital city, where we were lucky enough to see the beautiful Lipizzaner horses on active police duty.
A university city, Ljubljana is incredibly clean and we saw no homeless people or beggars in the city centre which surprised us. Wandering down by the river is a must and the cafes were buzzing on this warm Friday. We had lovely coffees here!
You can not miss the dragon, the emblem of the city, which can be seen everywhere. Below is one of the four adorning Dragon Bridge.
BOAT TRIP TO IZOLA
Another beautiful town, Izola was buzzing as it was market day and local businesses sold their wares on the dockside. It was lovely to look at the coastline along the way and we spent a couple of hours there, wandering around and, of course, people watching.
WHY WE TRAVEL WITH TRAVEL DEPARTMENT
Regular readers know that we have travelled with Travel Department and its sister company TDActive for the past 17 years.
We love the security of knowing that if something goes wrong with flights etc. that the company will sort it out. Basically, we are lazy people and like someone else doing the hard work of planning.
Guided travel is not for everyone. And the age demographic for holidays like this is definitely over 50. It is a different story with their sister company TDActive; the age demographic there is much younger. You can check out our very active trips to India and Morocco with them. If you fancy something more relaxing I really recommend last year’s Danube River Cruise.
This was the perfect mix. There were two and a half days of organised tours and the rest we spent exploring on our own, or enjoying the wonderful facilities at the hotel.
There is no doubt that they provide excellent value. Check out next years brochure HERE
We met lovely people. The beauty of a trip like this is that you can choose to mingle, or not. On several nights, we met up with like-minded people for a drink in the Taverna a minute’s walk from the front of the hotel. The hotel bar is a bit soulless. However, I must mention that the staff were friendly and helpful and even arranged that we could watch the Ireland vs New Zealand Rugby Match. One couple had the foresight to bring a firestick with them. Some Scottish holidaymakers joined in cheering for Ireland. Celtic brothers and all that!
I have lots more photos on instagram and check out the highlights on stories there too. There is one dedicated to Slovenia. Stories give you living, moving moments of our trip.
Thank you for reading.
Time to plan next year’s holidays I think.
Love Hilda x