In the spirit of hoping to please some of you who are bored rigid with the steady diet of nothing but London Tube closures, I finally completed this post from a couple of years ago to keep you interested until I can do more…
It’s been a couple of years since I traveled to Croatia and Slovenia (and more than a year since my last decent blog post), but some of my most pleasant travel memories are from places in those two countries. Here is one…
One evening when dinner was not included in the tour package, we were offered an optional extra – dinner at a small, family-run restau in the town of Radovljica, not far from Lake Bled in Slovenia. [Note: I signed on for all the optional extras, figuring they would be unique, unmissable adventures]. In this case, it was also easier than doing dinner on my own or trying to figure out who to hook up with for the meal since so many folks were friends already.
Our bus dropped us at one end of the compact main street, allowing us to stroll past the buildings, fountains and churches on our way to dinner. Twilight was settling in, everything looked to be shut for the night, but light from some shop windows added a warm glow to our walk.
I heard no commentary from our guide but Slovenian tourism websites helped me put names to things. Here’s a guide to the slide show below…
Šivec House is a restored 16th century house now an art gallery as part of the Radovljica Municipal Museum. A statue of a boy carrying a book bag and a picture of a woman commemorates Josipina Hočevarjevi, a19th century local woman who had her fingers in a number of business pies and put the profits towards grants for girls’ education (plus ca change…) among other good causes. Thurn Manor is a mid-20th century addition to the town. It contains the apiculture (beekeeping) museum; beekeeping is a very popular activity in Slovenia, going back centuries and is characterized by the folk art of brightly colored beehives found throughout the alpine foothills. Sadly, we didn’t get to see any of these beehives so I had to make do with a postcard. St Peter’s church gleamed even in the half-light.
I forgot to make a note of the name of the restau and searched online without success for a long time. Googling the town, several similar-sounding and -looking places popped up but even after trying to match photos from the web with my own, I couldn’t do better than a weak “maybe”. See, there is Gostilna Kunstelj, Gostilna Lectar and a few others. I thought they might be some sort of chain but Gostilna is simply the Slovenian word for “bar”. Ah. Finally, the Radovljica pages in a Slovenian tourism brochure had some listings. Aha! Gostilna Kunstelj was the one where we ate. OK. Where was I?
We went first to the cellar to taste some of the house’s wines – a Merlot which I’d’ve liked to take home and a surprisingly nice Pinot Grigio (a white that always seems watery to me) – along with bread and smoked klobasa sausage. A short family history related by one of the owners, some accordion music – which continued much of the evening – and finally upstairs for the meal. Barley soup, veal, sausage roll with mild grated horseradish, mashed potatoes and a lightly brined sauerkraut much milder than the German style with white wine that I usually eat at home. More red wine, then an apple-poppy seed strudel for dessert that my Slovak grandma might vaguely have recognized, even though she was born hundreds of miles to the north in Slovakia. A modest meal but very satisfying.
The evening was clear and slightly cool and the town took on a magical air, maybe more so than if we’d visited during daylight. I could easily visit again.