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My Favourite Tour On A 7-Day Bike Tour By way of Slovenia, Austria, And Italy

I do know. I’ve already written two articles about our wonderful bike tour by way of Slovenia, Austria, and Italy (one about biking within the pouring rain and one about biking three nations in a single morning). However, my coronary heart will all the time be tender for one particular evening that mixed native tales and customs with the unbridled pleasure of somebody who felt like everybody’s long-lost Slovenian grandmother.

My husband Dean and I like to bike, and we signed up for VBT’s seven-day guided bike tour by way of Slovenia, Austria, and Italy. Even higher — we had been capable of get pleasure from this journey with Dean’s brother, Kevin, and our sister-in-law, Cheryl.

The itinerary promised a “particular Slovenian night in Kranjska Gora. Study native folklore, track and dance, plus get pleasure from a cooking demonstration within the village’s oldest home, adopted by a dinner of conventional Slovenian fare.”

What VBT did not inform us was that that they had the sweetest, kindest little grandma who hosted us and beloved us like we had been her personal, as a result of I feel we had been. I feel everybody who crosses her doorstep could be.

Listed here are six the reason why this was my favourite tour on the bike tour.

Carved wood signal with a mountain backdrop, Kranjska Gora

Picture credit score: Joan Sherman

1. Music To Our Ears

We took a bus from our lodge in Podkoren, Slovenia, to the little city of Kranjska Gora (journey change: VBT lodging is now proper in Kranjska Gora). As we obtained off the bus and headed towards what is outwardly the oldest home within the village, we heard the intense and comfortable melodies of an accordion. It set the stage for all of the delights to come back.

A tender moment between Ajda and the sweet grandma

A young second between Ajda and the candy grandma

Picture credit score: Joan Sherman

2. Everybody’s Grandma And A Salt Greeting

A candy little “grandma” in a patterned gown, huge white apron, and crimson kerchief stood outdoors and warmly welcomed us. In keeping with custom, company to a Slovenian dwelling are greeted by a lady in nationwide gown with bread and a bowl of salt.

Positive sufficient, she was holding items of hearty bread in a big bowl with an ornamental towel and a smaller bowl of salt on prime. With steering, we took a bit of bread, dipped it within the salt, and ate it. This greeting meant {that a} friendship had been cast between us, however on the time, I had no concept how deep and lasting these emotions could be.

Our VBT information, Ajda, greeted the little grandma with a kiss on the cheek. They should be good mates; they had been so type to one another. It was endearing.

Word that I am simply going to discuss with this darling older lady as Grandma. I guarantee you, I imply it affectionately. She was a delight.

After our salt greeting, we went into the outdated Slovenian home — now a museum. Grandma welcomed us in Slovenian, the one language she spoke (though I feel she was fluent in kindness and hospitality), and Ajda simply translated. Grandma exuded a lot love and pleasure as she proudly informed us about her nation and heritage.

woman making dumpling dough

Getting the dumpling dough excellent

Picture credit score: Matt Thompson/VBT

3. Serving to To Put together Slovenian Dumplings

By way of Ajda’s translation, Grandma talked about making a conventional Slovenian dumpling with cheese inside. Then, she requested us to come back up, one by one, and “assist” her make it (I am certain she may make it in her sleep). The tender dough was ultimately formed into half moons, and the tops had been crimped like pie crust.

4. The Home/Museum Tour

After the cooking demonstration, an older man took us room by room and defined the historical past of the house, the households who lived there, and their lifestyle. We went right into a small room that had been used for smoking and drying meats—it had a really black ceiling, with thick sausages hanging from the beams.

The mythical Krampus

The legendary Krampus

Picture credit score: Joan Sherman

Krampus

Within the nook of 1 room, I could not assist however discover a reasonably stuffed, reasonably scary wanting creature. In keeping with Slovenian customized, Krampus is a horned, half-goat, half-devil determine. Because the legend goes, at Christmastime, he punishes youngsters who’ve misbehaved. I suppose he is the alter-ego to good outdated St. Nick!

Slovenika sign

Slovenika signal

Picture credit score: Joan Sherman

5. The Barn

Subsequent, we had been led to a small barn on the property. It was a giant, open room with wood benches alongside the edges and a big flooring within the center (appropriate for music and merry-making, video games, jigs, and are available what might).

The Cowbells

We had been every handed a big or small cowbell embellished in alpine flowers and patterns. Accompanied by the accordion participant, Grandma led us in track and actions. When she raised her proper hand, these with massive cowbells rank them. When she raised her left hand, these with small cowbells rank these. Chaos? No, it was great!

Slovenian hat game

The lads getting aggressive within the Slovenian hat recreation

Picture credit score: Joan Sherman

The Hat Recreation

Our different VBT biking information, Matija, invited the boys to play a hat recreation. 4 volunteers stepped ahead: Dean and Kevin had been brothers in a aggressive recreation — what may go mistaken? George from California and Scott from Connecticut participated as properly.

Matija handed out black hats, and he defined how the sport was performed. The lads stood in a circle—their left arm on the shoulder of the person to their left. Because the accordion participant offered music, they reached over with their proper hand to take away the hat from the person to their proper and put it on their very own head.

Like musical chairs, when the music stopped, the person with no hat on his head was out. As the sport progressed, Scott, George, and Matija had been out.

Then there have been two: the aggressive brothers! The accordion participant began to play, and there might or might not have been a brotherly shove and a determined seize at a brother’s hat. The music stopped and by some means, Dean had two hats on his head and Kevin had none. They introduced Dean because the winner. Grandma stepped up, Dean kissed her hand, and so they did a little bit jig collectively. Lovable!

The Nationwide Anthem And Firewater

A bit background: we began this trip with a pre-trip in Ljubljana, which included a tour by VBT information, Samo. Throughout that tour, somebody requested him if he’d sing the Slovenian nationwide anthem for us. He prompt we ask our biking guides (Ajda and Matija) whom we’d meet when the biking portion of the journey started (I feel, in a good-natured means, he was setting them up).

All through the journey, we had requested Ajda about singing the nationwide anthem, and she or he stated she would. Now, the time had come. As a part of this salute, we had been provided a shot of sturdy liquor — one other Slovenian hospitality. We held the shot glasses whereas they sang and would toast on the finish.

The accordion participant performed the music, and Ajda and Grandma sang their nationwide anthem for us. Their eyes had been shining, and so they sang out sturdy and true. Do not inform anybody, however I am fairly certain I noticed Matija, as he stood within the doorway, singing too. They’re happy with this nation they name dwelling, and it was heart-warming.

Once they completed singing, we lifted our shot glasses. The Slovenian phrase for cheers is živjo gold na zdravje. What was this liquor? Firewater! It burned on the best way down. Due to an online search, I might guess it was slivovka.

Slovenian blintzes

Slovenian blintzes make an excellent dessert

Picture credit score: Joan Sherman

6. A Slovenian Feast

Then it was time to eat! We walked to a close-by restaurant and the primary course was soup — a beef soup with skinny noodles and garlic soup. The principle course included kielbasa, hen, beef, onions and mushrooms, bread, buckwheat salad, cheese potatoes, and a inexperienced salad. The meals was scrumptious.

For dessert, we loved gentle and darkish blintzes, one stuffed with cheese and the opposite with a hazelnut unfold, served with a giant wave of whipped cream and jams on both aspect. Very candy and superb!

The town square in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia

The city sq. in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia

Picture credit score: Joan Sherman

Buddies, Household, And The Individuals I Met Alongside The Approach

In fact, by now it is apparent that the largest cause this was my favourite tour was the particular individuals I shared it with. My great husband, Dean. Our always-up-for-adventure family members, Kevin and Cheryl. Our 14 fellow bikers who selected a biking trip over all the opposite choices out there, and the short camaraderie that fashioned once we spent every week collectively. Our impeccable VBT guides who appeared to genuinely love what they did and had been good at it. The pleasant accordion participant and particularly, a priceless little Slovenian grandma with glowing eyes who shared her hospitality and coronary heart with us. In my thoughts, she’ll be eternally younger.

Dean and I’ve had many great home and worldwide holidays and plenty of great moments alongside the best way, huge and small, however this particular evening in Slovenia — this little slice of tradition and laughter and love — will perpetually be etched in my coronary heart.

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