It wasn’t a good night….the air-conditioner wasn’t able to cool the room and opening the windows let in traffic noise and streetlight glare. We were still tired when the sun finally beckoned us out of bed. I stumbled over to the shower, got in, closed the doors behind me, turned on the water and waited for the water to warm…..waited and waited and waited.
There’s nothing like a cold shower to quickly shake off sleepiness and bring one swiftly into cognizance…..angry, but cognizant. While Craig tried to find out what was wrong with the shower, I tried (unsucessfully) to log-in to the internet….upper case, lower case, whole name, partial name….no combination of the passcode would work.
After returning from his cold shower, Craig was as incensed as I. With the exception of the 5-star hotels in Zagreb and Dubrovnik, this was the most expensive room we had booked for the trip…..and, with none of the amenities working (if you can call hot water an amenity), there was no way we were going to pay it’s €120 fee. Craig called the bicycle-man, telling him we were ready to check out and that, with no air-conditioning, no internet and no hot water, we were not going to pay the stated price.
Bicycle-man had Craig call the absent owner, who assured us that there were no problems with the room….the air-conditioning had just been checked, the hot water could be turned on by a switch next to the door and the internet was only available on the terrace. Craig calmly told her that although this was good information, it was, unfortunately, being given to us too late……we had spent a night without air-conditioning, internet or hot water. He became increasingly agitated as this woman argued with him….saying she didn’t negotiate room rates but finally agreeing to a 20€ discount. Our introduction to Slovenia was less than stellar.
We paid bicycle-man more money than we thought was fair and he, looking befuddled, returned our passports. We loaded our luggage into the car and, hoping to find something redeeming in Piran, walked into town.
We’re always comforted by the sea….so our first daylight views, of boats in the marina, soothed our jangled nerves. By the time we reached the town square, filled with young artists on a field trip, we were pursuaded to give the town another chance.
local fishermen and odd “cement” beaches, Piran redeemed itself.
In a better frame of mind, we drove through beautiful, verdant countryside to the Škocjan Caves. I’m not a fan of dark, confined spaces, so when I read there would be a strenous hike involving 400 steps and a bridge 150 feet above a raging underground river, I wished Craig a good time and settled into the coffee shop (with it’s free wi-fi) to catch up on emails. Craig returned exhilarated a few hours later, confirming that, with it’s slippery stone steps, the cave would have been a challenge for me.
It was too early to check into tonight’s lodging, so we pushed on to Predjama Grad, a castle built into a mountain. We drove along small country roads for miles, keeping our eyes peeled for this majestic sight. It remained hidden from view until we were right in front of it……taking our breath away with it’s paradoxical grandeur.
It’s most noted owner was Erasmus Lueger, a 15th-century robber baron who fled here after killing a relative of an Austrian emperor during an argument in the Viennese court. The Emperor’s army laid seige to the castle, but Eramus (with the help of a series of secret passages through the caves) stayed safe in his refuge for months on end…..until a servant betrayed him by marking the location of the water closet and he was knocked off his ‘perch’ by a cannonball.
Our guidebooks agreed that the castle’s interior was of little of interest so we snapped our pics and moved on to tonight’s destination….Tourist Farm Hudičevec……a combination B&B and working farm.
The farm was nestled in fertile countryside, placid donkeys and cows grazed in it’s green pastures and the family garden still brimmed with fruits and vegetables. It was as idyllic as a Rockwell painting…..except for the four-lane highway that overlooked it. Well, on the bright side, the highway gave it easy access.
We checked in and were given the key to our room. “Plum” was a nice-sized room with a private bathroom, a view of the pasture (through double-paned windows that made the highway noise a distant memory), hand-embroidered linens on a comfortable bed and free wi-fi! All this, with dinner and breakfast, for €64! Slovenia was getting better and better.
We took a stroll around the farm before dinner, chatting (or trying to) with Grandma, who was pushing a carriage that gently held an adorable, pink-cheeked baby (her 10th, she proudly exclaimed). Then, resting on a large porch outside the dining room, we were joined by a couple from England. Our charming hostess proffered glasses of a local white wine, which we savored as we watched the sun slowly set behind the trees.
Meals at Hudičevec are homemade using farm-grown ingredients. We entered the large dining room with avid anticipation….and weren’t disappointed.
Our main course was beef…..not quite a goulash but more than just a gravy…..served with potatoes, cabbage and butter-drenched carrots and green beans. It was so delectable, we wanted to ask for seconds…..but we knew dessert was on the way.
Slovenia had won us over.
“Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the
most independent, the most virtuous and they are tied to their country and wedded to its liberty and interests by the most lasting bands.” ~ Thomas Jefferson