A traditional holiday, celebrating St. Gregory (Gregory the Great), he passed away on March 12th 604. An immensely respected Pope, a scolar and the man behind Gregorian Chants. St. Gregory is the patron saint to students, teachers and musicians.
In many towns and villages in Slovenia the day was regarded as the beginning of Spring time. The so called “spring works” would start at about this time. Since the day was getting longer and longer, lunch would be brought to the man working on the fields, the reason being that the time between breakfast and dinner was getting too long.
in the black smithing and shoe-making towns and villages of the Upper Carniola (Kropa, Kamna Gorica, Tržič, Železniki) there was a special tradition, that was kept alive until present time. The most common name is “Luč u vodo”, literary meaning: “Light in the water”.IS is a celebration of the day getting longer allowing the craftsmen to work at day light, forgetting the unpleasant winter time when especialy the shoemakers had to work in bad light conditions.the people of the village would gather at dusk on March 11th and put small improvised “floats” in to the streams of water that run trough the place (driving the water wheels in the past). The design was limited only by ones imagination and it would vary from one village to the other. From simple wooden planks to more elaborate designs. With the later they would build imitations of local churches or other important buildings. In the past the “floats” would be left to burn at the end, in modern times the owners usualy have them on a string, allowing them to be used another year.
This post has been in my mind for a very long time now. Certain things are hard to put in words.
When we talk with our friends they would often say, since we do what we do, there are not many secret places we do not know about. Frankly they are wrong. Here is one place we knew nothing about until we first went there.
There is a small village in the SW part of Slovenia, right on the border of the Karst plateau galled Goče. A little over 100 houses that have so many stories to tell. There are still people that live there, but they all say, that life in a place like this is not easy. Running everyday errants can sometimes be complicated. On the other hand they love their slower pace of life and would not trade it for anything. The all stone houses have been family homes for generations and they will stay that way. The village was first mentioned in a document from 1440, yet there has been life in the area much before that. Some say since the Roman times. Why? Well there are two main reasons, one is the position of the village, quite easy to defend and the second is the fertile surrounding area.
Goče are best known for the great wine. It may not come as a surprise, that there are records of 85 wine cellars in the village, 60 of those can still be visited today.
There was a reason for us to go to Goče. There is a restaurant called Cejkotova domačija. The plan was to go there for lunch. We did. We sat down for it at 13.00 and left the place at 18:00. In those 5 hours we were served the best meal I have ever had in my life. There are several reasons for that statement. The homegrown ingredients, great home made wine, the ambiance, the story of the homestead and most of all the owners, Davorin and Jelka Mesesnel. Their
passion and love for what they do, and do well, is simply amazing and inspiring.
It would be a great pleasure to take some of our future travellers there. For lunch or just to walk trough the village.
There is something about the Eiffel tower. I realize that every time I visit Paris. No matter how touristy it is, how long the queues are, how much they charge for the entrance, and how long the wait for the elevator is, how many merchants compete for your attention and wanting you to buy the replicas in all colors and sizes… it is all worth it. As soon as my eyes set on the tower, I know I am in Paris. And the longer you look at it, the cooler it is. And there are so many ways of enjoying the tower. You can climb numerous stairs and enjoy in spectacular views from the top. You can ride up with the elevator and dine in a fancy Michelin star restaurant. Or just buy a beer at the snack counter on the second level and enjoy the same view – but with a less charged credit card. My favorite Eiffel way is definitely sitting on the grass of Champs du Mars, having a glass of Bordeaux and enjoying the vista. It is even more special at night, when vista suddenly starts to twinkle. A special twinkle to the tower on my last visit there, was added by a marathon runner from Germany, with whom we rode the elevator together to the second level. After accomplishing the 18 km long run through the streets of Paris, the last part was running up the stairs of the Eiffel to the first level. There was a finish lane. If that would be me, I would drop down from tiredness that the run brought. But no – all sweaty, exhausted and tired to the bones this man from Germany gathered the strength, took an elevator up one level and went for the view and captured it on his camera. And when I congratulated him for the run, his answer was simply: “ I am so happy now!” Truly, there is something about the Eiffel tower. It makes as happy.
On my travels, one of the most common questions I get is:” Where do you come from?” And for years and years I was almost scared to answer. Slovenia was not a country that people would know or hear about. I was always acting as a good tour guide, trying to explain and tell people where exactly we are on a world map. Lately I don’t bother that much anymore. Those, who want to know, will come. They will do their research, mark the maps and make the effort of visiting this small part of our world. A small part that represents home to about 2 million people. It represents my home as well. And there is no place like home, they say. I think Slovenia is a wonderful country. It offers a great diversion on a very small scale. It is all manageable over here. The distances are short, the landscape is diverse, the history is rich and the culture is varied. We live in a small part of Europe, which is a crossroad of different worlds: Germanic, Romanic, Ugro-finn and Balkan. Here we also have a continental divide between Mediterranean, alpine and continental climates. All varieties left a mark on our architecture, food, language, culture and people. So we like to brag – you see it all when you come here and visit. And you don’t even need to take a long holiday; everything is so close and so available. Language barrier is almost none existent – except in some remote parts of Slovenia. So it is truly an inviting destination, with specialties on almost every corner.
But why I like to be a Slovene? Cause it is safe. And my kids can play outside if they wish all day long. It is green. And my kids can enjoy the nature and fruits from it. It is varied. From mountains to sea, from winter to fall. It is delicious. Can be fattening or nutritious, can be homemade or bought. It makes me proud whenever I cheer for our sport athletes – they are darn good. And because it has my favorite spots and people that make me call Slovenia my home: a hug from my honey, the laughing faces from my boys and little pranks they do, my beloved walk, my mom’s cuisine after coming from tours, talks with my dad, a cinema evening with my best friend, my favorite cup of coffee… and last but not least, it surely has my favorite and the most comfortable bed in the whole world, that makes me happy every time I return from one my travels.
Travelling has always been my biggest passion. Looking at the maps, searching for countries and places, imagining how it is over there – was one of my biggest hobbies. And already as a little schoolgirl, age 11, I started guiding school kids around my neighborhood – known in Slovenia as a cultural melting pot of the country. Followed the school kids came my friends which I always took around, drove around and explained things they see. The real guests started appearing when I was age 16 and as a pupil on a practical work I took them around local places and sights. Days were turning into months, and months into years and soon I realized my job is a job of a tour guide. Another thing stroke me later, when winter months came along – even though some days were hard, the winters were always too long and I missed my microphone, the bus rides, chats with drivers and people. A friend of mine said to me at the beginning of my guiding career: « Beware Tina, this is an addicting job! Once you start, you cannot stop!« How right he was. To me tours are almost as fulfilling as the food, they make my brain work at full speed, my eyes see the immense treasures of this world, my nose smell the seasons and seasonings and my soul enjoy and rest in the beauties we have on offer. And no matter how many grumpy guests I had throughout the years, how many times buses failed us, we missed directions and had emergencies along the way – today I look upon these things with a thankfulness that each of the hard moments I had to deal with, made me stronger and helped me on my travelling journey. It was lately that I was put on a stand and needed to decide between a real, stable, secure job and a job of a tour guide. I don’t think I need to explain which one I chose.