Welcome back, everyone! We hope you’re having a great week! We want to share with you some more of our travels to the east of Slovenia, Croatia, and France. After spending time in the capital of Slovenia we headed to the east of the country to the town of Maribor. This is a large town that is located near the border of Austria and Hungary. We had some time booked at Hotel Betnava which is located a little bit outside of the city center of Maribor. We were looking forward to relaxing and enjoying some of the located sites that Maribor had to offer.
The staff at Hotel Betnava were super friendly and helpful. The hotel is mainly for business clients but they are good for families and couples because of their location and their offerings. One of the highlights of the hotel was the breakfast buffet. Unlike other hotels, Betnava focuses on local ingredients and offerings. We were able to try local pastries, bread and other things that were new to us. They also have a real espresso machine which the staff uses to make your cappuccinos or other coffee drinks fresh. This was amazing! They have complimentary wi-fi in all the rooms which we found to be super fast. From the hotel, we were only about 5-10 minutes away from the city center which was nice. We really enjoyed our time at Hotel Betnava. If you’re interested in staying here you can check out their website here http://www.betnava.si/en/.
We enjoyed out time in Maribor even though it is not as well known as other towns in Slovenia. We were able to visit the only Romani restaurant in Europe which was a unique experience. It’s called Romani Kafeneva. The restaurant was set up to help break down prejudices against the Romani people and also as a way to support their community. We tried the traditional Romani food and found it quite tasty. If you want to learn more about them you can visit their site here http://romani-kafenava.si/. We recommend a visit to Maribor as you explore more of Slovenia.
After a few days in Maribor, we decided to head to Croatia to visit the branch office in Zagreb. This was our first time in Croatia so we were looking forward to it. We took a tour of the branch and learned a lot about the work that the brothers there are doing. The branch is small but they have an interesting section focused on music and how it relates to our worship which is kind of a self-guided audio tour. Our guide was very laid back as were everyone that we met. After the tour, our guide invited us for coffee and snacks with her in the break room. We appreciated the hospitality and also getting to know more about Croatia from a local perspective.
We enjoyed our time in Croatia as we were able to do some sight-seeing in the capital of Zagreb. There are tons of restaurants and really cool buildings to see. One thing to remember when visiting Croatia is that they use a different currency than the Euro. You will also be required to show your ID at the border when crossing into the country.
After enjoying a couple days in Croatia we headed back to Slovenia. It was about this point when we had our first unfortunate incident with our camper car “Mr. Bates”. He got a flat tire. Thankfully, we were parked in a shopping center when we discovered it so we weren’t in danger. After calling our insurance company they sent over a mechanic to change the tire with our spare since we didn’t have a jack. The whole thing took about an hour and we were back on the road. In all our travels this was the only thing that happened to us which isn’t so bad.
As we arrived back in Slovenia we headed towards one of the highlights of our stay in this country, BIG BERRY. BIG BERRY is a property which has glamping cabins and a variety of activities for its guests. They are located on a river that divides Croatia and Slovenia. The location is super peaceful and relaxing. When we arrived we were greeted by the staff and shown the house that we would be staying in. Everyone there is super friendly and welcoming. They even gave us a welcome basket! After we settled in and checked out our home we got ready for dinner with the staff. They invited us to share a meal with them which was nice. We had many activities planned throughout our stay that we were looking forward to.
One really cool thing about BIG BERRY is that they work very closely with the local community and providers. Every day you are given a sheet of paper for you to select your breakfast from a list of items produced by local providers. Everything on the list is delicious and it is delivered to your house in the morning on the patio table like a present! The house is just a couple minutes away from the river so when it starts to warm up you can go for a swim or just dip your feet in the water. We really enjoyed those quiet, tranquil mornings on our BIG BERRY patio!
After a yummy breakfast, Kanicia had a massage lined up by the resident masseuse. The massage was done outdoors with the river and nature as the backdrop. She really enjoyed it and it helped her to feel more relaxed. We then headed to our first activity which was a tour of the Oljarna Pecaric shop and a demo about all of their oil products. The shop is family-run and has a vast variety of oils made out of everything that you can think of. We sampled a several and picked up a bottle for ourselves. It’s amazing the amount of things that oil can be used for and its health benefits.
After this, we went to the Homestead Skof and bakery. This was one of the local providers supplying our tasty bread every morning. We were able to talk to the husband and wife bakers and learn about their process. We talked, ate cookies and drank wine and got to know them during the private tasting. They don’t speak English so our translator would tell us what they said in Slovenian. Even though our languages were not the same we still could feel their warmth and passion for what they do. Their bakery was even written about in the local newspaper because it’s that good! We also were able to visit a museum which is located next to the bakery. It basically shows what life was like in the past in Slovenia.
After this, we went to visit Wine Cellar Malnaric. Here we learned about Slovenian wines as well as sampled some different varieties. This was paired with local cheese, bread, and oil. The wine owner was very enthusiastic and really enjoyed his job.
During the next day, we were able to enjoy some time in nature as we took the BIG BERRY canoe out onto the river. The river is so calm and quiet that it is a real joy to be able to just soak everything in on the water. BIG BERRY was hosting a photography day where local photographers were invited to talk about their craft and there was also a contest with entries submitted from the community. There were some chefs from restaurants present who prepared great food for all in attendance. We enjoyed learning more about photography as the photographers were interviewed by BIG BERRY.
For those of you interest in staying at BIG BERRY in Slovenia, you can check out their website here for details http://www.bigberry.eu/. In our next post, we’ll share some more things that we did at BIG BERRY as well as our trip back home traveling through France and Spain.
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Antoine & Kanicia
Here are links to the providers and companies that we mentioned in our post: