Festive and Green

Fun times at Lake Bled

Fun times with friends (thanks for the photo, Clare) and a festive Slovenia made for a very special time when we visited recently. As you can see Bled was both festive and green, and being a garden blogger it's natural that I should celebrate both with this post about my travels there.

Let's see what I found...

Christmas lights looking towards the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation

We loved the Christmas lights in Ljubljana, with each street having its own theme. One had musical notes to accompany the classical music being played there; another had planets, comets and galaxies which made the crowd go 'Oooh!' when they were switched on in the early evening.

The pictured street was more intriguing, with it's double DNA helix, a sperm, a nucleus, and a female egg. Too bad we found out just a few hours before we were to leave that there's a guided walk around the lights, which reveals the artist Zmago Modic's intentions. I'm speculating that as a Catholic country, this represents the immaculate conception.

There are lots of different walking tours around Ljubljana - more than one a day for the length of your stay, no matter what time of the year you visit.

St Nicholas parades through the crowds in Ljubljana

Ljubljana also has lots of free festive events, from the lights switch on at the end of November to the fireworks from the castle which see in the New Year. We were there for the St Nicholas parade - like many European countries, St Nicholas is a key figure in the festive season, who brings presents on the eve of December 5th to children who've been good, and objects such as coal to those who've been bad. I used to work with a Dutch lady who insisted we leave a shoe out on December 5th, for us to find it stuffed with sweets and a small gift when we went into work on the 6th.

The angels ready to hand out their gifts

Ljubljana's St Nicholas parade is very dramatic with explosive fire at first followed by red devils rattling their chains at you and screaming in your face - a good way of keeping a pathway clear for the man of the moment! After St Nicholas's float are the angels who distribute sweets, biscuits and fruit to the crowds. The Slovenian language is unlike any other I know, but there was no mistaking St Nicholas asking the children if they've been good and the 'Daaaaaaa!' they yelled in response.

Decorative gourds

There are Christmas markets to explore in the traffic-free city centre (not as vast as those of e.g. Bath or Bristol, but more charming) with plenty of mulled wine and hot gin for winter warmth. The plentiful street bars often have heaters or fires to huddle around too, plus blankets and rugs to keep everyone toasty. It means everyone spills out onto the streets to have fun no matter how cold it is, and there's a most convivial atmosphere. The street stalls are decorated too and I particularly liked the pictured gourds.

A cafe's window dressing in Ljubljana

There's also plenty of stylish greenery adorning windows and doors...

Mistletoe adorned with festive lights

... and lots of mistletoe.

Lots of mistletoe for sale at the market in Ljubljana

Unlike the UK, mistletoe is sold on the market in whole 'balls' as you would see them on the tree. Judging from the trees we saw around the castle, there is still plenty of mistletoe left 'in the wild'

A collage of festive greenery, flowers and berries

There are also traditional wreaths like those we know and love for sale on the market, but I liked these more unusual variations, especially those being made on the spot using strawflowers.

Raw milk for sale in a vending machine - over 70 of these outlets available across Slovenia

The market had other surprises, such as this vending machine for raw milk. On our fab guided walk we were told the milk is supplied by local farmers. A friend told me this week a similar local scheme may become available in Dorset soon, subject to it passing food hygiene standards.

An attractive recycling area in a shop/cafe in Bled

We can learn a lot from the Slovenians about recycling, where it's enshrined in law and residents can be fined for not doing so. I liked this arrangement I saw in Bled, where the food clearance and recycling areas have been made to look attractive with a simple green wall of planters.

I can't wait to go back and explore the green spaces and gardens when they're at their finest, especially Ljubljana's botanic garden which contains examples of most of the 1,500 species that are endemic to this small country. That's a mind boggling number when you consider that's close to the total number of species which make up the native flora of the UK. The total Slovenian flora is around 3 times greater than our own.

In the meantime I'll leave you with some more of the festive lights and decorations to celebrate the season.

Have a wonderful Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

Festive lights and decorations collage from Ljubljana and Bled



You may also like:

  • My original postcard post which shows wonderful Lake Bled
  • A Friday Bench or two - also from Lake Bled
  • A Rhea roaming the streets of Ljubljana - a common sight on Fridays apparently
Dusk view of Ljubljana from the Skyscraper

Comments

  1. Wonderful and beautiful. A trip worth doing

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    Replies
    1. Most definitely! My friend who organised the trip went there in the summer and couldn't wait to go back again with three of us in tow this time :)

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    2. Lovely to see lots of friends here in the UK and USA are thinking about Slovenia for a holiday after seeing my photos on social media. I'm still smiling from our trip :)

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  2. Going to Slovenia is on my wish list, as I've beeen very impressed by their wine. Looks as if a summer and winter visit is needed!

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    Replies
    1. Oh yes, the wine is amazing! We went by the waiter's recommendation, white for me and red for another of us and each recommendation was wonderful. The local food and cake are excellent too, as was the local cider I tried. It's worth trying the local beers as well and the foodie tours! Summer AND winter visits won't disappoint :)

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  3. Slovenia looks a most appealing destination VP. Wishing you and NAH a Merry Christmas and a happy and peaceful New Year! xxx

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Anna, and you too! I think you'd love Slovenia - perhaps a road trip destination for your camper van?

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