Bogenšperk castle with my mobile phone

So it happened… I went to some awesome place and I didn’t have my camera with me, just my mobile phone that doesn’t really have a great camera. But at the end I think in general photos are ok, just image quality is poor. Now I have a reason to return with my dSLR camera and make better photos.
Anyway, this was my first time to this castle and we really didn’t plan this trip, we just randomly decided to go there when we were already in a car. I knew this castle was renovated and that it looked nice, but when I’ve seen it myself I was surprised because this castle is truly amazing if you ask me. It is gorgeous, everything is so well done, grass is like that British green lawn that everyone loves, surrounding park is clean and in general everything is as some great lord would still live there. I can imagine weddings there must be really amazing.
For now, only few photos, but I’m sure I’ll write more about it and post more photos when I will re-visit the location. =)

Kočevski Rog – WWII footsteps

Ok, so I’m a bit late with this second post… But it’s a long post… Sorry. =)
As I said in previous one – Camping in Griblje, Kolpa, these two topics are totally different.
Second day of our weekend away from typical civilization, we packed our tent and stuff a bit early. We thought about going in a water for a swim before we leave, but we decided we will swim at some other location, a bit more upstream. We had a plan to eat at some well known restaurant at the river bank, about half hour drive from where we were. We drove through some god forsaken villages and woods, and when it seemed the road leads nowhere, you get to that restaurant where parking lot is full of cars and water front is crowded with people. Restaurant was so packed we couldn’t get a table, so we waited in the nearby shadow for a free table. Finally one table was free and we headed in that direction. When we were about 1m away from the table a guy in his 60’s ran around the corner and practically threw himself on a bench and said to us: “Ha! You were too late!” We were so shocked that we didn’t really knew how to react on such egoistic act! Then the guy said that he actually had a table inside the restaurant so we can eat in there… At that point we were still shocked and hungry and this got on our nerves so we just left and decided to head somewhere else.

Our next stop was at Kočevje, a city I’ve never been to before. To be honest, I had no reason to go there, and now that I’ve been there, I must say there is not much reason to return, though the countryside there seems pretty nice and we even found a huge lake that we had no idea it was there… Slovenia – we live here for our whole life and we still find places we had no idea they exist! You have to admit, we are small, but we are really diverse country. =D So my idea about Kočevje is that this is another city that started to die when its industry began to fail… I wouldn’t know for sure, I never read about this part of Slovenia so I have no idea what actually happened to the area, but yes, it seems like it’s dying.

Anyway, we had lunch at some restaurant just out of the city and after that we decided to return home through Kočevski Rog. It was a larger distance and more or less nobody would pick this road unless they wanted to see the forest itself. Here is the oldest forest in Slovenia, and it’s by far the largest and most remote. I’ve never been to this area before, I just knew there is forest everywhere you look and that there are bears. So hey, why not, a road trip (with fear of crossing roads with some bear…)! My boyfriend knows quite a lot about this place, unlike me, so he was able to tell me a bit about the area and he knew which direction signs we had to follow (not that you have many options).
When you are driving on those empty woodland roads deeper and deeper in the forest, the more uncomfortable feeling you get. You know that there is more or less no people in the area, maybe some lumberjack here and there and maybe about five tourists like us in the whole 500km2 of forest. Suddenly freaky large wooden statues appear along the road that really make an impression. They all show some sort of suffering of people. All this is because of large caves full of few thousand dead people that were killed after the World War II. For decades people that knew about these caves had to be quiet, then the truth slowly got out and much later, about 20 or 30 years ago, some of these caves were actually discovered, or better to say, they were allowed to be found. There is still no one that would take the responsibility for all these deaths, though there are some proofs and speculations, but you know, when it comes to war and politics everything gets complicated. All I know about it is that Partisans killed the people that were considered the traitors, or traitors families, but if you ask me, nobody really had much choice. Either you joined one side or the other, if you didn’t obey you were good as dead. I am not here to judge or to point fingers, because I am no expert on this topic, all I know is that it is a fact many people were killed there.
At Jama pod Krenom – the cave with the largest number of victims – there are some ceremonial grounds, a pavilion and some place that I think it’s a church. I must say, these two buildings are impressive, almost amazing, though mosaics obviously tell a cruel and sad story. You are reminded of the deaths on every step because there is a cross almost everywhere you look. And when you look at the caved in grounds under which you know there are so many bodies you can’t stay emotionless. The whole empty forest makes the whole experience even worse.
The second cave we went to see, Jama pod macesnovo gorico, is a few kilometres away and you have to walk about 200m on a path through forest to reach it. The feeling there is even worse, because there are no buildings, only few statues, so you feel even more isolated. The sign there says that few people actually escaped from this cave and few others, so they survived and much later told their stories.
As we were driving through the forest from west to east we passed few more signs for these burial grounds, or better to just save caves, but we only stopped at two or three smaller ones, though they all look pretty much the same. To be honest, it’s not much to see, it’s just the whole story behind it and the feeling you get when you realize there are so many bodies in those holes… Man, women and maybe even some children.

After these depressive caves we made a stop at Baza 20 (Base 20), that was once a hidden military camp of Partisans, probably the ones that did the killings at those caves. The camp is on the east side of Kočevski rog and even though you almost get to see the valley and surrounding hills, you actually can’t. It is still well hidden and if there wouldn’t be any signs you probably wouldn’t find it. There are few wooden houses and on every one of them there is a sign describing the function of it. All the different signs tell the history and describe the life in that camp during the World War II. Quite interesting to see, though it’s hard to imagine people actually lived there. Buildings are scattered around the hill and once they were probably even better camouflaged so they were not visible from the air our the ground. There is also a bunker, but we didn’t go to see it because it’s much further into the forest and I was already panicking at every suspicious sound behind the bush, though usually it was just some bird jumping around… Stupid brains, telling me there must be a bear nearby… =D
At the main road that leads to this camp nowadays there is a huge parking lot and some large modern building that used to be a restaurant or something, but it seems that plans to make this a tourist attraction didn’t worked out as they wanted to, because the building is closed and parking lot is empty most of the time.

Ok, enough said, I’ll rather post some photos to give you a bit better perspective of what I’m trying to say, though I think all the feelings and fear reach you only when you are actually there.

Camping in Griblje, Kolpa

Finally some summer time out for me! I’ll divide this weekend into two posts, because their topics are totally different. This one is about camping in Griblje, small village at Kolpa river. I always liked the river banks at Kolpa, there is always green grass and many trees, it’s much different than the sea side. We put our tent in a shade, just few meters from the water. We got a bit mad when we noticed tent pegs were missing. They were not packed in the same bag and yes, it was a bit stupid of me not to check that at home, but I was sure they must be there, they always are! Obviously not… So we went to Črnomelj to see if we can buy some tent pegs in any store there, but no luck with that, so we had to improvize with different branches. So in the end we solved this problem, though tent probably wouldn’t stand in some weird weather, luckily this weekend was sunny.

Ok, so I just have to say some stuff about this camp and our whole experience. We were laughing all the time, because there were so many funny and unusual things. In general we were happy to be at such beautiful place, we had nice weather, we were swimming, playing badminton, reading, relaxing and had nice time. I even left my dSLR camera in the car, so I took photos only with my compact waterproof Olympus. I guess that camera was the best choice around the water anyway. =)
Well first thing was when I came out of water and I wanted to take a shower, but I realized there isn’t any. Ok, no problem, I can take a day without a shower. Then when I was walking back to the tent I passed a guy taking a shower outside, it was hidden between rocks. So it’s an open outdoor shower, but there is no sign so you have to know where to look or you have to see someone taking a shower to know that.
Then I asked at the reception (that is actually not a reception but a bar) if the toilets at the bar are open all night and we were told that the whole building is closed, usually it closes around 2 a.m. and opens in the morning. Ok… so I guess I have to pee somewhere in nature if I have to go in the middle of the night… Well at around 7:30 in the morning I wanted to go to the toilet and to brush my teeth, but the bar was still closed and I noticed the sign that it opens at 9:30. What the hell?! Where am I supposed to pee now?! And there were already people walking around the camp, so I couldn’t just go behind some tree… Then I came across some lady and I asked her if she knows where could I go and she said there are some portable toilet cabins at the parking lot. Where?! I didn’t see them when I was walking around there a day before, then she said they are hidden behind some wood. And yes, they really were… Why was there no sign?! I was just supposed to know there are hidden toilets or something?! So weird. =)
Then in the morning the camp owner came and he started to hammer some stakes in the ground, just on a path where all camp visitors walked to the beach. It got even weirder when he started to pull some warning strips almost from the river, around those stakes and all the way to the parking lot. He basically closed the whole camp with it, although he did lowered it at some places so we were able to step through. We had no idea why was that, it just felt like he doesn’t want us to go anywhere. So weird and very unwelcoming.
After that the owner started to walk around with a “BEACH” sign and he put it on the beach. Wow, what a surprise for the visitors, they see a beach sign when they are obviously already on the beach… =D Not to mention that the same sign at the road is visible about 2 meters before you have to turn into a narrow alley, so there is a lot of chance you will pass it…

Ok, enough whining, it was a great weekend in general, but these situations were just so random and unusual that I had to write about it. I could write some more but I decided it’s probably enough. =D So this is a great weekend location if you feel like enjoying the nature, just don’t expect too much hospitality or luxury and you’ll be ok. =)

Zatočne jame / caves

Lucky for me, my boyfriend knows some very unusual places and he comes up with not so common trips sometimes. He came up with this idea when we didn’t have much time and didn’t want to go too far away from home, so we went to these caves that are close to his town. I would never know about them, they are hidden between the trees, and just to reach the first trees you have to go off the main road, walk down the rocky road and then suddenly even that road ends and you keep on walking through a field of grass (and yes, it was full of fertilizer, so I can say I walked through a lot of sh*t that day). And there is just a random sign in the middle of nowhere where it is written something about the caves, and you go under some trees and “wow” effect hits you. You are suddenly in front of this huge cave entrance that is totally black, it has iron fence in front and is overgrown with moss. And it is not just black because it’s dark, that moss is actually black, or at least dark grey. Trust me, these photos I posted are not even close to showing the real feeling. It was raining and I really wasn’t prepared for shooting something like this, but I think I’ll have to return some day and take more time for photography because this location really is unique.

Anyway, all I know now about these caves (we visited two of them, there should be another one but we couldn’t find it) is that river Grosupeljščica is flowing in when there is a lot of rain. The whole fields in the area are under water at that time and water level rises to the top or even above the caves you see on photos. That is why those iron fences are there, to prevent large objects to clog up the caves.
It looks very impressive.

Ljubljana castle – Ljubljanski grad

This weekend I went to the castle above Ljubljana. I’ve been there quite a few times and I’m always impressed by the amazing renovation they did. I simply love how they combined this medieval complex with some modern touches and it still feels castle-like. I know some people complained at first, saying it doesn’t fit, but I think they did a great job and it seems tourists like it too.

Anyway, at the moment there is an exhibition of National Geographic 50 best photos in the last 126 years since the magazine exists. It is simply amazing! Some photos look almost unreal, but others simply hit you with reality. If you have a chance, go and visit the exhibition, it is worth those 2€ entrance fee.

Since I was at the castle anyway, I used the opportunity to take some photos, though many tourists kept on jumping in front of my camera so I couldn’t do as many photos as I would like to. I guess I’ll have to go there some other time again, not Sunday afternoon.