Prathima and Kiran are a cosmopolitan mid-age couple from Udupi, a city in the state of Karnataka, India.
Their daughter Aditi is a student of beautiful arts, a prodigious artist, and a designer.
They love traveling, they have already been on all continents.
They always go for private tours, in this way they can focus more on what they are interested in.
Kiran is even creating a blog of visiting 100 countries in 50 years.
Usually, he said, the treasure is always hidden away from beaten paths.
After getting in touch through the Loopy website we decided on the basics of our Slovenia itinerary.
Already at the beginning, we cleared up we are not going to specify the itinerary to details, but leave some of it to improvisation.
We sorted out also the details of the vegetarian and non-alcoholic diet.
It's true that Slovenia is known about its delicious meat products and excellent wines, being part of our diet not just for centuries, but millenniums.
On the other side though, there is a sea of other top-quality products that have been part of our diet for the same long time as Refošk wine or dried ham from Karst.
I speak about buckwheat, rye, barley, wild asparagus, wild garlic, and other innumerable herbs, fruits, berries, vegetables.
We went through very interesting situations.
Prathima, Kiran, and Aditi managed to inspire certain hosts to be creative in a bit different way they were used to.
They welcomed the vegetarian challenge with great passion and interest and were proud to show the diversity in the food they produce, also for vegetarian tastes.
The dishes were all delightful.
We even had vegetarian cooking sessions a la Slovenian with an Indian touch.
There always has to be an exception, in our case a funny one in terms of food.
One of the hosts at the end of the dinner, somehow still not getting the fact somebody doesn't eat meat, kindly asked: not even a slice of dried ham with a glass of red down in the cellar, maybe as a sweet?
We couldn't resist laughing.
Summa summarum, in the end even I was surprised about the supply of vegetarian, or even vegan food in my homeland Slovenia.
Let's see some other aspects of our Slovenia in 7 days itinerary.
Kiran attended a conference in Ljubljana, which lasted for 3 days, in the month of November.
After the conference, they took a private multi-day tour with me.
Important information in terms of creating the tour was that they have the visit of Postojna Cave with Predjama Castle, Lake Bled, Lake Bohinj, Radovljica, and Kranjska Gora already arranged in the context of the conference, so I could concentrate more on other attractive destinations around Slovenia.
Prathima and Aditi complimented Ljubljana very much.
They had a bit longer time to explore it while Kiran attended the conference and didn't focus just on the city center.
In the mornings they went for a walk to Botanical Garden, Tivoli Park with Rožnik and Šiška Hills, Koseze Pond, and Golovec Hill on the other side of the city.
All are popular green relaxing areas of Ljubljana.
At this point I have to mention that you will always see somebody jogging, doing exercises or practicing some other sports everywhere around Slovenia, especially in the towns and cities.
This expresses the active spirit of Slovenians.
Not surprisingly, one of the modern Slovenian national heroes is Leon Štukelj, a multiple Olympic gold medalist who exercised regularly until even just before he passed away at the age of 100.
On our tour we visited his birthplace, the city of Novo Mesto.
Kiran joined the ladies with the compliments to the old town, located between the Ljubljana Castle hill and the Ljubljanica River.
Afternoons and evenings they spent together around there.
They loved the fact all the city center is a pedestrian area.
Kiran, a passionate photographer, found innumerable details that even I haven't been aware of, passing by million times as a half-local in Ljubljana.
Meanwhile, Prathima and Aditi were curiously exploring all those tiny cute boutiques where the shop owners try to amaze future customers with funky products for all sorts of uses, often local and handmade.
All were fascinated by the pleasant feeling of being in a clean, safe place where people are kind, but not intrusive.
I have to confirm, we are not natural born merchants. See the blog about the business.
Aditi had in mind to visit the National Gallery and dislocated pavilions of Modern Art Gallery and Contemporary Art Gallery.
The latter one is next to the Ethnological Museum, which was Prathima's choice.
After all, they had a look also to Metelkova Autonomous Cultural Center. A former military area was squatted in the '90s by alternative and youth organizations, united into the Network for Metelkova.
If you'll visit it one day, don't be surprised if you will smell some 'funny' smells. The statues and creations you're going to look at are real too.
Kiran complimented the organization of the conference, which I was glad to hear about.
Ljubljana, together with Portorož and Lake Bled, is a known conference destination with proper infrastructure. Recently, the Goriška Brda wine region is becoming one of them too hosting culinary and wine meetings.
A big plus in terms of international meetings is the central geographical position of Slovenia.
Conferences and meetings are an essential part of Slovenia's tourism.
Hence, the organization always has to be at the highest level.
Not just that.
Every year Slovenia is hosting plenty of sports events, including the world championship races in skiing, rowing, kayaking, canoeing, in 2013 even the European Championship in basketball.
We met a day before the tour in Ljubljana and went for dinner to one of the restaurants around St Nicholas Cathedral.
It was an enjoyable evening, the time passed by quickly.
We traveled first to the eastern part of Slovenia.
The base of this part of our Slovenia itinerary was a bit modified East Loop.
After morning coffee and tea we departed towards the southeast, to the village of Velike Lašče, about 40 minutes drive from Ljubljana.
The nearby hamlet of Rašica is the birthplace of Primož Trubar, a Slovenian national hero.
He was a protestant priest who fought for the official recognition of the language, spoken by people who lived within the historical region of Carniola, within the Holy Roman Empire of Germanic Nations.
He was the first to name them Slovenians, he also wrote the first books in Slovenian language in 1551, the Alphabet and Catechism.
In the Bled Castle, perched on the rock above Lake Bled on the other side of the country, there was an important secret printing room where the reprints of these books were coming from.
Trubar was the son of a miller.
We visited Temk's Mill, the reconstruction of his birth house.
In the museum, we had a look at the copies of his books and other artifacts and documents, related to his life and work.
Nearby barn and Venetian sawmill are explaining the farming background of the area.
Kiran took many details of the Kozolec, a wooden hay-drying construction.
Over 80% of all existing Kozolci you can find in Slovenia.
This simple but efficient farming construction has been the most significant feature of the Slovenian countryside for centuries, if not millenniums.
Studor village close to Lake Bohinj is known as 'The Valley of Hayracks', as you can find most of them in such a small area.
The visit lasted about an hour.
The drive to the next destination Ribnica regularly takes about 40 minutes, to us it took a bit more than one hour.
Ribnica makes also part of the Inner Carniola day trip.
There were so many details attracting Kiran's photo spirit and I loved to stop at every single one of them.
Random photo stops were one of his requirements.
So it was my big pleasure to pamper him with stopping at the most incredible locations to take a perfect photo.
In Ribnica we visited the Handicraft Center, a complex composed of few units.
In the museum, we learned all about the pottery and woodenware, the oldest traditions of the region where forests cover over 90% of the total area.
The virgin forests in the Kočevje region are some of the very few still existing in Europe.
The abundance of wood is high, but the land is tough to cultivate due to rocky ground.
Consequently, people developed great skills and knowledge of woodenware.
In medieval times, the emperor Frederick III granted the inhabitants of the region the Peddlar's Patent, which was an exclusive right to free trade in these domestic products all around the Holy Roman Empire.
Ribnica Woodenware is still widely known as a top-quality one.
Ribnica is also known as one of the last witch trials sites in Slovenia, hosting the last one in 1701.
In the museum, the original documentation from that period reveals the bloody fight against witchcraft in Europe.
Aditi loved the Mikl House Gallery with the exhibition of contemporary Slovenian fine art, while Prathima fell in love and purchased a small baking tray for the famous Slovenian sweet Potica Cake in the Museum Shop.
After roughly an hour and a quarter, we were ready for the continuation.
It was lunchtime, but we didn't stop for any big lunch.
We had some sandwiches and what we call a student food, so various nuts and dried fruit.
In the evening they booked dinner in Otočec Castle, which was also the accommodation place.
Kozice viewpoint is not a usual destination, but I took advantage of splendid weather and drove up there.
We were amazed by the view of the Kolpa Valley, one of the European Destinations of Excellence (EDEN).
Another EDEN destination, characterized by a river, is the Soča Valley in the western part of the country.
From there we crossed part of Bela Krajina, the region with particular white folk costumes, made of hemp and linen.
Črnomelj, one of the region's main towns beside Metlika and Semič, is home to Jurjevanje or Georgisation as I literally translated the name of the feast dedicated to St George, the oldest folklore festival in Slovenia.
The city of Novo Mesto was a good option for a relaxing stop, drink, and a walk around.
We parked close to the Main Square, strolled the streets of the old town, and crossed the bridge to take a photo of it from the other side of the Krka River.
Novo Mesto is one of the industrial hubs of Slovenia with pharmaceutical, caravaning, and car industry.
The farming suburbs are complementing the city into one of the areas with the lowest unemployment rate in the country.
Before the decline in the ancient times, the region apparently was an important center in the Iron Age.
In the surroundings of Novo Mesto, most pottery and jewelry from that era were found in one spot. It is exposed in the Dolenjski Museum.
This fact classifies the town among the most important heritage sites of that historical period in the world.
In the late afternoon, we arrived at Otočec Castle, the only castle on the island in Slovenia.
It slightly associates with Lake Bled, where the church on Bled Island is the only church on the island in Slovenia.
Now five stars hotel with a fine dining restaurant was a lively place in history.
It is said that the former owners had so wild paries, that attracted the Devil himself.
An old lady once told me her grandparents told her that their grandparents told them they once saw in the morning the furious Devil with a captured young girl in the saddle, riding a black horse leaving the fire behind.
We didn't go for a wild party, but an exclusive vegetarian dinner.
Already on the way to Otočec Castle, they insisted I join them.
We checked with the restaurant, they didn't hesitate to prepare one more meal.
The dinner was mindblowing.
To be honest, I don't remember well all the ingredients the waiter mentioned, but it was a fantasy created of fruit juices, herbal pastes, stir-fried vegetables, crunchy legumes and cereals, condiment gels, milky souffles, and a bunch of other foods I've seen for the first time in my life.
The atmosphere on the Otočec Castle is magic in the morning.
The light autumn humidity was extending from the Krka River when we were departing towards Kostanjevica na Krki.
The attractive town on the artificial island I already described in the previous blogs, there is also a day tour to this iconic destination of southeastern Slovenia.
We stopped in the Božidar Jakac Gallery, the biggest in Slovenia, and strolled the quaint little town.
The next stop was a perfect example of revived tradition, which also fits the economical context of today.
Kukovičič Mill in Podsreda village is a reconstruction of an old mill that was in use for few centuries, until the late '80s.
For roughly two decades the mill didn't operate due to the trends of mass production.
Recently, the self-sufficiency is becoming again an important topic.
We have to know that self-sufficiency is one of the main goals of Slovenians, the nation of farmers, or at least their descendants.
The milling tradition in the Kukovičič family is passing from generation to generation.
The present owner and miller, Mr Toni, is the son of the last miller.
He introduced us to all the details of milling once and today.
We all agreed that going back to the roots in certain aspects gives better results for living.
We tasted the bread made of different types of flour, spreads, jams, marmalades, and other delicacies from their eco-farm with a certificate.
By previous agreement, Mrs Maja prepared also some special vegetable cakes and sauces, which was enough until dinner time.
Slovenian portions, you'll get used to it when you'll be here.
We passed the village of Rogatec and sure, stopped in the Rogatec open-air museum.
The biggest ethnological park in Slovenia is a mirror of Slovenian farming history and a 'temple' of vernacular architecture of the area.
It's like a village with houses, different farming objects, and even a shop as in the old days.
Nearby Strmol Manor was the seat of the landlords, today a venue for the workshops and celebrations.
Workshops include traditional craftwork, such as waving of wicker, bast, handlooms.
We arrived on Sunday when they coincidentally had a workshop of Žulika bread, a perfect snack for vegetarians and vegans.
A bread made of local flour was once a reward for diligent kids.
Kiran was enjoying this collage of impressions and documented every step, while Prathima and Aditi were deep into the imagination, evoked by the images around us.
Stunning panoramas on the drive over the hills of Donačka Gora and Ptujska Gora followed us until we got to Ptuj in the afternoon.
Ptuj, reportedly the oldest town in Slovenia with a well preserved medieval center, is home to the Ptuj Castle, where you can find the biggest museum collection in Slovenia.
Ptuj Carnival is one of the main carnivals of Europe and the biggest public event in Slovenia, hosting over 60.000 visitors, mostly in costumes.
We explored the old town with Minorite Monastery and Plague Statue, the Town Square with the Town Hall and St Florian Statue.
We went up the street to Slovenian Square with the St George's Church, Bell Tower, Theatre, and Orpheus monument, the biggest Roman monument made of a single stone piece.
The picturesque old town is full of medieval houses with colorful facades.
We took a peek into one of the opened courtyards, typical for continental Slovenia.
In the middle of the houses, similar to the ones in Škofja Loka on the other side of Slovenia that we'll visit a bit later, there are courtyards offering a pleasant shade in the hot summers.
In the underground cellars, they were storing the goods.
We went to see the Dominican Monastery and the town's panorama from Ptuj Castle.
We returned to the visit the castle the next day as we did with Caroline and Drew.
From there we went on towards the Prekmurje Region.
In the Terme Ptuj thermal spa, they booked the accommodation and, as they said the next day, an excellent vegetarian dinner.
In the morning we visited the Ptuj Castle with its huge collection of medieval tapestry, stoves, furniture, paintings, glass decor, weapons, musical instruments, and even a castle cellar, now a mini wine museum.
They were all amazed about the simplicity and on the other side professional care and devotion to keep and maintain the local heritage, which at the end co-creates the identity of a nation.
In general, we don't have monuments like in the big cities or medieval capitals of city-states.
But what we have, we keep as the apple of our eyes.
And Ptuj Castle was not the only site of the day with an excellent presentation of local heritage.
The next destination was Središče ob Dravi, more precisely the pumpkin seed oil production site in this village.
By previous agreement, kind hosts provided us a detailed explanation of the production process of the region's liquid gold.
In the shop beside the production plant, we purchased some of their products, from cold-pressed oil to roasted pumpkin seeds, from pumpkin soap to pumpkin chocolate.
Passing the area of Jeruzalem I explained to them the funny story of how the village got the name.
This special place, considered to be among the world's best terroirs for white wines, got its name when the German crusaders met the locals back in the early middle age, in times of crusades.
Tired knights got hosted in the kindest way.
After trying the local wine they decided not to move on anymore.
To justify their decision in front of God they named the village after their final destination in the Middle East.
Slowly we got to Prekmurje Region.
Lendava is the northeasternmost town of Slovenia, just before the triple border with Hungary and Croatia.
This was one of the main reasons to build the Vinarium Tower, a wonderful 53,5m (about 175ft) high panoramic tower from where you can see the 4 countries.
By standing in Slovenia, your view extends as far as to Austria and already mentioned Croatia and Hungary.
In the groundfloor, a modern-style looking wine room is inviting to have a closer look and a wine tasting of splendid local varietals and blends.
We skipped this experience as the wine tasting in Slovenia was not in our itinerary.
We enjoyed the view though very much on that splendid summer day.
About half-hour drive away, near the village of Ižakovci, we visited the Bujranje Museum on the Island of Love.
Another local heritage site with proud people keeping the tradition alive.
The site is about the Mura River, a vein of life for the entire Prekmurje region, the only flat region in Slovenia and part of Pannonian Plain, extending towards East of Europe.
Mura River is a still river, but with the constant and big flow.
It was an important medieval transportation vein in Central Europe.
In the Springtime, when the ice melts up in the Alps, or in the rainy times, the river becomes torment and would erase everything our of its way and create massive floods and damage if the riverbanks are not fortified.
This constant fortifying is called Bujranje.
As the railway workers are needed to maintain the railways, the Bujraši were needed along the Mura River to maintain the riverbanks and support the millers.
Today the fortifying process is advanced and requires fewer people, but all still relies on the knowledge of the past.
Another interesting feature we were able to see in the museum park was the reconstructed floating mill with the living and working rooms.
The mill is fixed to the two floating timber rafts, all are adapted to the river flow.
Yet until a few decades ago, there were over 40 mills on the Mura River.
Aditi loved it.
Prathima and Kiran were mesmerized by the place in general, not by something specific there.
They said it has some romantics and loving energy that reminds them of some beautiful moments of their lives.
Like in sweet dreams we departed towards Maribor, the second-largest city in Slovenia.
Once an important trading hub on the riverbanks of Drava River developed into one of the main industrial centers of former Yugoslavia.
Maribor is home to the oldest vine in the world, over 400 years old indigenous Žametna Črnina.
We stopped in the Old Vine House by the river as Kiran was curious about this remarkable plant and wished to know more about it.
He doesn't drink wine but collects the wine corks.
We met my friend wine expert, another Jernej, who works there.
Soon Kiran and Jernej figured out they have the same hobby, wine corks, and Jernej offered to show us around as he was about to finish the shift in a few minutes.
Sure we agreed.
We walked together first to the Synagogue of Maribor, passed a beautiful mansion of Vetrinjski Dvor, and had tea on the Castle Square.
On the Slomšek Square, we saw remarkable city buildings such as St John the Baptist Cathedral, Maribor University, the building of Slovenian Post, and the Slovenian National Theatre of Maribor.
Few steps away down Poštna Street we walked and got to the Main Square with the Town Hall and the Plague Statue.
We turned towards the Maribor Market and then back down towards Drava River.
Jernej said hello to us there.
So far I know Kiran and Jernej are still in touch for the wine corks they collect.
We had the overnight in the Hotel Bau, a family-run hotel in Maribor, with great hosts.
Before we arrived Mrs Simona, the owner, took a lot of care that the vegetarian menus she proposed are OK to Prathima, Kiran, and Aditi.
She has experience in preparing healthy meals, as her children are very successful in sports.
I was also invited to have dinner with them.
I didn't refuse.
It was a fantastic dinner with delicious various vegetable soups, freshly grilled vegetables, baked beans, and young potato, fresh salads, and curd with fresh fruit in the end.
Our point was to see the unknown. This was also one of the reasons we split 7 days of our Slovenia itinerary to 4 days on the east and 3 on the west.
We chose to do the local roads and avoid the highways.
We often stopped to take a photo of the details that in the end enhanced my own knowledge of my country.
This day was special due to the unusual experience we had in the depths under the peaks of the Karavanke Alps, kayaking the flooded excavating sites of the former ore mine.
We prepared for it ourselves already a day before by keeping some additional clothes in the backpacks.
We started our way a bit earlier than usual.
Passing the towns of Dravograd, Ravne na Koroškem, Prevalje, and others we reached Mežica just before our meeting with the guide at 09:30 am.
In hundreds of years, our ancestors dug over 1000 km (over 620 mi) of tunnels and rooms under the Mt Peca.
In the '90s the excavation of ore was over.
Consequently, the water was no longer drained from the underground so it flooded all the parts up to the water shaft where it finally flows out.
The tour is perfect for small groups of visitors.
You just have to be brave and have no fear of closed spaces.
The guide equipped us with all the necessary equipment including neoprene boots, life jackets, mining helmets, flashlights, and took us through the system of tunnels and room where once the miners were doing their tough job.
After roughly 4 hours we finished this memorable experience and went on towards the Logar Valley, where we arrived after some hour and half of driving.
It took a bit longer because we drove the Solčava Panoramic Road, another European Destination of Excellence (EDEN) in Slovenia.
I and Kiran simply had a photo show, me as a driver and logistics support, him as the director and photographer.
I don't know why, but Prathima and Aditi laughed a lot.
We got to the Logar Valley enough soon to admire its epic beauty.
A scenic path leads to the majestic Rinka Waterfall, one of 20 more or less constant waterfalls in the Logar Valley.
Rinka Waterfall is also among the highest in Slovenia with its 105 m (about 330 ft) of height.
Slowly it was time to go to the Firšt Guesthouse in the nearby village of Solčava, where we organized one of the cooking sessions and the accommodation.
The cooking class was unforgettable fun and, in the end, delight at the highest level.
It was a slow-food style of a cooking session with the participation of all of us.
Not too late in the morning, we started another unusual route towards the other side of the Alps, towards the Soča Valley.
We crossed a 1339 m (about 4393 ft) high Pavlič Pass, drove the scenic Alpine route, and for a short time passing over the land of Austria.
Sure we took many photos at the border, with all the statal signs of Austria and Slovenia.
After this stunningly panoramic ride, we entered back in Slovenia in the area of Zgornje Jezersko.
I will not be describing all the beautiful details on the way.
Imagine a fairy tale Alpine scenery from some kind of Heidi movie and all the idyllic that belongs to it, and you will be close to what we went through.
Soon we arrived down to the area of Kranj, the capital of the Gorenjska region.
As already mentioned in the introduction, famous destinations such as Lake Bled, Lake Bohinj, and Kranjska Gora we skipped because they've already visited them.
We also didn't take the famous mountain passes of Vršič and Predil on the far northwest.
We agreed on entering the Soča Valley in a different way, over the least used Soriška Planina Pass leading to Baška Grapa Valley first.
Before getting to the serpentines of the mountain road we stopped in the town of Škofja Loka, once a bishopric of the Loška Valley, a fertile flat region between the capital Ljubljana and the Lake Bled towards the northwest.
From the historical point of view, the town is important for the Slovenian national identity.
The first play in Slovenian language took place in Škofja Loka at the beginning of the 18th century, named the Passion Play of Škofja Loka.
It presents the Biblical stories, especially from the life of Jesus.
It makes part of the Baroque period.
The director's book is the oldest preserved in the world, now kept in the Škofja Loka Capucine Monastery.
The reprisals of the play in recent years were the largest open-air theatre productions in Slovenia, engaging over 600 actresses and actors.
We meandered the streets of the old town, compressed between the Škofja Loka Castle and the confluence of the Poljane and Selca source branches of Sora River, from that point on.
We discovered certain similarities between Škofja Loka and Ptuj, already mentioned courtyards, and the same way of storing the goods.
Both towns belong to continental Slovenia, even though each of them under a slightly different climate.
After crossing the Soriška Planina Pass we entered the Baška Grapa Valley, the tributary one to the more known Soča valley.
Rugged, with steep slopes, is not the most pleasant to imagine living there.
Well, until you try life in-situ and realize that with disciplined work, a lot of love and passion the life there can be a heaven on Earth.
We had a booking for another vegetarian cooking session at the Flander Farmhouse in the hamlet of Zakojca, the birthplace of France Bevk, a remarkable Slovenian storyteller and writer, describing the life of the locals back in the old days.
We were warmly welcomed.
After the vegetable starter and fresh tomato juice, we had a presentation of the farm.
The whole evening we discussed the food chain in these areas, known as the most remote in Slovenia.
Flander Farmhouse is known for its homemade delicacies.
The cooking session was another memorable event.
The hosts were splendid, the evening extended in the same way as in Logar Valley.
The sleep was amazing.
Comfortable, clean rooms are a signature of the farm stays in Slovenia in general.
If we add the fresh air also in the summertime in most of the country, we get the perfect constellation for a tight sleep.
Our mission for this day was Soča Valley and the western part of Slovenia.
First, we had a short stop in Most na Soči.
The artificial lake at the confluence of Idrijca and Soča rivers with intense bright green color is an attractive spot for photographers and a pleasant hidden summer destination for families and easy riders.
Then, we went for a loop around the Soča Valley by visiting Tolmin Gorges, the town of Kobarid, the Kolovrat Hill, and come back down in the valley at the town of Kanal, the hub of the lower section of the valley.
We had the accommodation with the dinner a bit further on, at the tourist farm Pri Bregarju at the foot of Goriška Brda wine region hills.
Tolmin Gorges are the lowest and southernmost part of Triglav National Park.
The canyon is carved into the steep slopes of the surrounding mountains, providing always fresher breeze than it is in the village above.
The walking path is considered semi-difficult.
To us, the hour and a half walk didn't cause any troubles, as we walked slowly.
This was one of the spots where we often just stopped and petrified listened to the silence.
Kiran's wish was the Kobarid Museum, dedicated to World War I and the Soča River Frontline, one of the toughest battle lines in the war history.
This museum is quite specific and requires a special interest in the topic, so I accompanied Prathima and Aditi to the nearby local inn, where we had a delicious cabbage stew with no meat.
Kiran was ok with the snacks he brought with himself so he was ok with the food until dinner.
After we met again, we went to see the nearby Kozjak Waterfall, one of the wonders in the middle section of the Soča Valley.
The walking path through the forest with the views to the incredibly photogenic Soča River made Kiran busy with the photos, while I, Prathima, and Aditi were discussing the rich flora and fauna of the area.
We arrived at the Bregar's farm stay in the Goriška Brda area at about 7 pm, after having a drive over the ridges of hills including Kolovrat, an open-air museum with preserved military points and trench lines.
The entire area is part of the Walk of Peace, a trail following the geographic line of Soča River Frontline.
Kolovrat hill makes part also of one of my day trips to the Soča Valley.
The cooking session at Bregar's was another culinary story not to forget.
We all had the feeling of getting to the Mediterranean.
Besides the delicious Mediterranean vegetarian dishes coming in different colors and compositions one after another, our intense talk about all kinds of topics extended far long into the evening, despite the fact it was day six of our Slovenia itinerary.
After a scrumptious breakfast, we went to take a few photos of some of the highlights in the Goriška Brda wine region.
We walked around the historical village of Šmartno and had a surprise stop at the renaissance 16th-century Dobrovo Castle, where they could not believe to see the statue dedicated to India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, a big friend of the Yugoslavian president Tito.
The nearby village of Medana was home to Alojz Gradnik, a remarkable Slovenian poet.
He was another bond with India, dedicating a great part of his life to translating the works of the great Rabindranath Tagore.
We departed towards the region of Karst merry and willing to get as many impressions as possible for the last day of our Slovenia in 7 days tour.
Kiran had a specific wish for this day.
In the process of creating the itinerary, we discussed Karst and its natural phenomena.
We got to the point we agreed it would be fun to visit some cave that is not regularly opened.
It's always a big pleasure for me to do the extra mile that leads to a richer experience.
I contacted Mr Franc, a professional speleologist an official provider of the educational tours to the Dimnice Cave.
He was available, the visit was possible.
The Dimnice Cave is particular due to its geological location between the two bedrocks, the limestone and flysch.
Consequently, the diversity of the rock formations and other phenomena in Dimnice Cave is higher than in other caves, even Postojna Cave and Škocjan Caves. It is even among the highest in Slovenia.
The cave got its name after a column of smoke, 'dim' in Slovenian, coming out of the cave in the wintertime.
The smoke is actually condensed warmer, pushed out of the cave by the cool air due to the shape of the cave.
In the past, superstitious people were sure the smoke is coming from the Devil's kitchen.
Dimnice Cave is one of the important winter habitats for the bats, with over 20 documented species.
The visit lasted for almost two hours.
The cave was opened just for us.
Mr Franc left a deep impression on Prathima, Kiran, and Aditi also because he knew plenty of geological details about India.
They said you don't meet this kind of person every day.
Let me add at this point that the term Karstology derives from the word Karst, the region in Slovenia where they started to study the underground world related to limestone.
Speleology, the science of the caves, is the branch of Karstology.
Almost half of Slovenia is karstic, which means with limestone bedrock.
From Dimnice Cave to the coast is just about 45 minutes' drive.
By stopping in the village of Socerb we were able to admire the view of the wider coastal area, including the city of Trieste (Italy), and the three Slovenian coastal towns of Koper, Izola, and Piran.
We continued our way to the village of Hrastovlje, which boasts the remarkable frescoes of the 'Danza Maccabra' from the end of the 15th century, depicting the simplicity of natural selection in the time of plague, the Black Death.
The frescoes were found just about 70 years ago, during the reconstruction of the church.
Soon it became clear they found some of the best-preserved frescoes of that time in the wider area.
It was time for lunch.
In the local restaurant, we had a tasty meal on the base of wild asparagus and wild garlic.
Pleasantly full we took the way across the Šavrini hills, the picturesque rolling hills of Slovene Istria.
After plenty of photos stops at marvelous locations we arrived in Piran in the afternoon.
Piran is a gem of Venetian architecture in Slovenia.
We parked the vehicle in the garage house outside the old town and entered it with the free shuttle bus.
We were dropped at the central Tartini Square.
From there we started our walk up to the medieval Piran Walls, where Kiran got the best photo of Piran from.
A bit lower, the panoramic spot in front of St George's Church offers another splendid view to the multiple countries, like the Vinarium Tower in Lendava on day three.
Standing in Slovenia, you are able to see Croatia and Italy.
We were lucky with the weather so we even saw the mountain peaks of Austria.
Below, the compressed old town of Piran with its labyrinth of alleyways.
We dove into it and that's when Aditi felt in love with this charming little town.
It was late afternoon, and time to go to Ljubljana after 7 days around Slovenia.
We passed the towns of Koper and Izola on the way so we enriched the mosaic of the coast with two more spots at a glance.
The farewell is always a bit hard task after such a great time as we had.
The farewell was actually not needed.
We are already planning new adventures around Slovenia and the Balkans in the future.
Slovenia in 7 days
Loopy tour we did with Prathima, Kiran, and Aditi
Prathima and Kiran are a cosmopolitan mid-age couple from Udupi, a city in the state of Karnataka, India.