Experiencing Hypomania & Reminiscing – Slovenia Part III

I have had a couple of weird weeks. Hypomania has been a rollercoaster. I have been ridiculously hyper, energetic, productive and focused. Basically, I am laser-sharp focused and doing 10 things at once beautifully. I am sleeping less, and I feel an urge to do something always. During the first few days, my entire body was warm (like what I would imagine hot flashes would feel like) and my heart raced frenetically. I am an introvert unless I know people really well. During the last few weeks however, I have been talking up Uber drivers, unfamiliar co-workers, and even a bit of strangers. My confidence has been like never before, or at least not like it has been for a while. This euphoria and exuberance is, at the end of the day, scary. Every day I expect it to crash, and I will cycle back into depression. I do not know how to prepare myself for it. All I know is that I am riding this high, and it feels like I am on drugs (well, I am….but in this instance, I am referencing other drugs), or like I drank a whole bottle of wine. I am craving wine as I write this.

This week, there was one instance where I ran really hard, and when I was done, I went to lean over the condo balcony we have access to and let the air hit my face. I imagined jumping, and the graphic I had of my head bleeding out with my eyes open, legs and arms spread out, led me to burst into tears. I sobbed for twenty minutes and then I had to get my shit together in order to get to work. Mind you, I was listening to this pop cover (I never listen to pop but hypomanic me will) – Robyn – Dancing on My Own. The song has no relevance to me because it is about a girl watching her ex presumably across the dance floor with another girl, and is so frustrated that she breaks out into her own dance party. In my fuzzed up head though, my translation from listening to that song was that – I am eerily watching a copy of myself dancing with normalcy, while depression wraps itself around my head hissing, with a knife around my neck. I try to fight off the depression with almost epileptic-like dancing. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Even with hypomania, my head just goes down a dark hole into something a bit rabbit f’d up.

Really, the scariest thing is knowing that at some point, the depression will come back. I am not going to work as fast, I will not be craving going out and seeing people, or be addicted to talking to people anymore. I am afraid to disappoint my family and friends again. I am afraid that I will be weak, fatigued and docile at work. Right now I feel so abnormally strong. But, despite my psychologist’s protestations against forward thinking, I imagine hospitalization again. I wish so badly that I could talk about this at work and there was no stigma, so if I was ever hospitalized again, I would not feel paralyzing fear and insecurity of judgment and repercussions.

I saw this story recently about a girl who had been overt about her mental health problems, her boss was supportive, and the story went viral. JH and I talked about this afterwards, and the reality of the situation is that every environment, co-worker, culture, organization is different. This girl was just really lucky that her workplace was so accepting. Stigma was not an issue. It was not an issue….and my head hurts, just thinking about that. But all that aside, I am happy that progress for mental health and erasing stigma is occurring somewhere in the world, especially the corporate world.

People out there who do not know about mental health sicknesses really just do not know. I was having a ‘trying’ conversation with co-workers recently about power and control. One person said that everybody has the ability to will their own power and control in any situation (as if helplessness does not exist). All I wished I could say to him at that point was for him to experience the days, minutes and seconds before a person (“oh hello, me”) tries to commit suicide. There is no power and control there in those instances. It just does not exist.

My anti-psychotic has been increased because of my expressed fear of this “new me”. I think my psychiatrist is afraid to raise my Lithium. Quite frankly at this point, I do not know what is best anymore. I am just waiting to be herded to the next decision, and accept all the consequences along the way. In the meantime, I will just ride this high hard until I hit the next low.

Now, let’s get back to Slovenia.

And so, the last part of the Slovenia story continues here. Before we left Kobarid, I had allocated time for us to walk to Kozjak waterfall in the morning. JH and I however had walked the trail the day before; and Dad seemed to be fine with not hiking anymore, given the traumatic hike from days before.  So, we ended up driving approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes to Idrija. Idrija is a mercury mining town. The mercury mine is closed, but it is considered (in conjunction with another mercury mine in Spain) a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tourists can walk through an underground mine in the town – Antonijev Rov or Anthony’s Shaft (Kosovelova ulica 3, 5280 Idrija).

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JH and I only decided to add the mercury mine to our agenda the night before. We did not thoroughly research the timings on tours through the mine. So, when we arrived to the tour site, a tour group had left already (with another one not leaving for the next while). We did not feel too lost on the mine, so we decided to go to the neighbouring town for lunch. We had booked tours in the afternoon, so we needed to move on and leave the mine tour behind.

We ate lunch in the cutest little town of Spodnja Idrija at a restaurant called Pizzerija Na Vas’ (Spodnja Idrija 36, 5281 Spodnja Idrija). I was dying to try Zlikrofi – Idrija style dumplings. Me and dad both ordered Zlikrofi (one mushroom, one roasted meat), while JH tried a horseradish cream pizza. The zlikrofi was really good. The potato-bacon-herb filling was so soft and warm, and the dish just oozed comfort (i.e. I wish I had piles of this in winter). It was also a really big portion. JH’s pizza was also a really big portion. We were pretty bloated after. Our waitress was a bit abrupt, and I think she really stared hard at JH when he ordered the horseradish cream pizza (i.e. “what a stupid tourist”), but the food was really delicious.

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At this point, we were running out of time because we had to get to a cave tour by 1PM. Postojna Caves was located an hour away, and GPS predicted we would get there by 12:45. When we got there, we had trouble accessing any of the parking lots. It turns out people were not following instructions carefully, creating a queue at the automated ticket collectors. At first, we thought the machines were broken so we ended up circling around a number of times until we realized people were getting in. Once parked (for 5 EUR), the three of us then sprinted like crazy to the front entrance. By that time it was 12:55PM, and they would not let us in (15 minutes ahead is the expected arrival time), because we literally had too little time to exchange our e-mail confirmation for physical tickets and run to the entrance. JH ended up exchanging our tickets for a 3:30PM tour, and we ended up going to the sister tourist site first (Predjama Castle). The cost of both tours together was 31.90 EUR per person. I booked this ahead back in Toronto.

Predjama Castle is really close to Postojna Caves (approximately a ten minute drive away). It is a renaissance castle located within the mouth of a mountain, with access to caves underground. It looks really stunning as you walk up to the entrance. It reminded me a bit of the Bird’s Nest in Bhutan (though I have never seen that in person, just in pictures). The tour of the castle is conducted by audio guide. You go through approximately 25 ‘sections’ – where rooms and areas are described with a little bit of renaissance music in the background. I think most of the castle is generally blocked off, but we were able to climb to a viewpoint of the villages below, see the bottom ‘depths’ where torture took place, and then walk to a closed-off area where people back then would access the caves. There was one really huge group of tourists who took up a couple of rooms, so we decided to skip those areas and move on. The castle was otherwise generally not that crowded, and we enjoyed the audio guide. I found I paid a bit more attention to the audio guide than I would an actual guide. We went through the tour fairly quickly, so we ended up back at the caves early. Lesson learned – get to a booked tour before the scheduled time (which I usually do).

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I think dad and Jon loved the cave tours (we ended up doing another one another day), but I like seeing and experiencing things outside in light instead. That’s not to say the caves were not beautiful. They were, and the tour for the most part was quite enjoyable. Postojna is one of the longest (or may actually be the longest) caves in Europe. It is pretty grandiose, and the country has commercialized the sight a bit. There are sturdily constructed paths to walk on with handrails, lights everywhere, and in one section, we even saw chandeliers where apparently, concerts and weddings are hosted. The tour starts with a 10 minute train ride, and then the group needs to walk 1 km to see just a little bit of the cave. The cave is 10 degrees (approximately), so a jacket is appropriate for the tour. The walk is pretty easy, and our guide Kevin was very enthusiastic about stalagmites, stalactites, the geology, and explaining the different levels of the cave and how they came to be. At the very end, he describes (and you can see them in an enclosed aquarium) “Human Fishes”, a type of salamander. They apparently can live up to 100 years, and can go without eating for a really long time. They were given that name by Slovenes because their skin colour resembles the colour of human skin. When we got outside, we all embraced the warmth. I at least was not used to being in shorts in 10 degrees Celsius, and all I wanted was sun.

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From here, we drove 30 minutes to the Vipava Valley area. Our next hotel was a tourist farmhouse – Turistična Kmetija Pri Rebkovih ($86 per night). When we drove up, it smelled like cows. We saw a lot of cows – it all made sense. The building looked empty at first and we were not sure how to check-in. However, with incessant knocking at the dark reception office, a lady finally come to the door. She had broken her leg and was having trouble moving quickly. She showed us to our unit (B) a few floors up. This was not as bad as our Ljubljana hotel, but it was also a bit small again. There is a main room with one bed (a sofa bed) and a small kitchenette and dining table. The bathroom is decently sized, and they provided us with soap and shampoo, and an abundance of towels. There is also a hair-dryer. A second room has three beds.

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The unit was really musty, as if a window had not been opened, or the rooms were not aired out in a really long time. We turned on the air-con right away to ensure circulation. We unfortunately stayed there for two nights, and even on the second day, the bedroom was warm with a smell of musty furniture. We asked for a fan (which they provided), which kept the room from feeling as warm. The Wi-Fi was extremely spotty but we managed to survive.

The general atmosphere of the hotel is quite pretty. There are fruit gardens all around – with apricots, apples, lemons, kiwis. You can see a beautiful view of the countryside especially at sunset. The hotel is located a few minutes from a small town, Lokavec (which apparently has a lavender farm – it was closed when we went there), and a short drive to Ajdovščina (you need a car to actually be able to do anything quickly). In Lokavec, there was a bakery just a short walk away. We tried Gibinica here –  another layered pastry. It was also not very sweet.

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The streets were so quiet, and both mornings, I went for a run. I love running in the mountain countryside area – there is much more uphill for a better workout, and the air just feels so much fresher. Slovenia though is a biking haven for hordes of (crazy to us) cyclists. All we saw while we were driving were groups of cyclists ruling the road, and dominating switchbacks and up-hill like it was nothing. JH and I could not even fathom trying out one set of roads in the Slovenian mountainside. I would probably be sweating in anxiety the whole way.

That night we walked to Ajdovščina for an unmemorable, unplanned dinner at a restaurant linked to a casino. We basically ate a bunch of huge-portioned fried food. It rained too much for us to explore, so we ended the night. I reminisced that night about June 25th (2016) and had a really hard time sleeping, so it was just an awful night.

The next day, we booked a wine tour with Winestronaut based on the recommendation from Iva in Ljubljana. The tour was 100 EUR per person, and the tour lasted a full day from 10:30AM to 6:30PM. Overall, we sampled 14 types of wines across two wineries. It was a really relaxed day, and every place we visited was darling and beautiful. We were with another group from the US, and they were friendly companions for the experience. I was happy that I even got my dad to try some wine (and some vile-tasting cognac). Our guide was Jani, and he was cheerful, talkative and really relaxed. He told us he started the business with his friend Matjaz. Matjaz focused more on the winery side, and Jani would coordinate outdoor activities like paragliding, biking, etc. Whenever one was too busy, the other would help each other out.

We drove a little bit to our first winery, and actually crossed into Italy for a little bit because the routes that way were easier. The wine regions in this area of Slovenia anyhow reminded me very much of the Italy wine country. The regions were beautiful, rolling and sparkling green. You could literally see vineyards for miles, with the odd adorable building somewhere in between, and spots of horses, sheep and cows on the adjoining pastures. Our first vineyard –Scurek  (roughly translated to “cricket) – was located in Brda. Both vineries were family-owned. We were given a tour by one of the sons in the family. He walked us through their process and what machinery they use. He then took us to this beautiful room facing the valley where he had laid out plates of bread, cheese and meats.

We tried 7 wines here:

  • Rebulah 2016 – This was a white wine, and my favourite. It resembled a pinot grigio, which is my favourite back home.
  • Jakot – Also a white.
  • Pinot Grigio – It tasted stronger than pinot grigios I am used to.
  • Stara Brajda – A blend.
  • Rebulah Grape 2015 – An orange wine.
  • Pinot Noir
  • Another Stara Brajda blend

By the end of this, I was feeling pretty tired and bloated. Even though I was taking the tiniest sips, and mostly throwing the residual wine in the jug they provided, I kept on eating cheese and bread because I felt warm and a bit dazed. The son had a very thick accent, so I had trouble concentrating on what he was saying. JH looked at me worriedly a couple of times, but I assured him I was just fine. I got up twice to step outside for air. While doing so, I explored the property slightly. It was really, really beautiful.

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The second winery we went to was Cejkotova Domacija Mesesnel in Goce. Here, we had lunch in the owner’s house / fine dining restaurant out on the balcony patio, which had a lovely view of the mountains in the distance, and the magical village outside.

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This property felt like a dollhouse. Every room had dining tables, and they were meticulously set. It was really great just to sit outside with a coolish-warm breeze, and re-set with more wine and a really well-cooked lunch (prepared by his wife and talented teenage daughter).

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Here, we tried (7 wines + 2 Cognac related drinks):

  • Rose 2016
  • 5 Day Mascerated Rebulah – Organic Orange Wine – 2011 (we ended up buying this for 8 EUR)
  • White 2016
  • Cabernet Sauvinon
  • Merlot
  • We missed (and misspelled) 2 wines at this point
  • Cognac Wine & Grape Juice Mix (Very sweet)
  • 26 Year Old Cognac (This tasted vile and burned) – We drank this in his cellar. He asked us to blow out these lit candles for good luck.

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For lunch, we had:

  • A cheese plate with an herb frittata. The cottage cheese was just melt-in-your mouth. It was so good.

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  • Meat plate with zucchini from the garden.

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  • A vegetable soup – very soothing after all the wine.

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  • Bean salad – this was more of an afterthought.

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  • The main course – very tender pork tenderloin with roasted potatoes and sautéed vegetables. This was so homey and comforting. I wish there was more.

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  • The dessert was an apricot and cottage cheese tart. It was so good that I asked the owner to bring his daughter out to give me the recipe. I felt a bit insufficient as a baker after I tasted this girl’s tart. We were told that she is headed towards culinary school. I think she will do well, and maybe she will be the next Ana Ros.

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When I initially booked the tour, I was not sure how an 8 hour wine tour was going to play out since dad does not really drink, and I am not supposed to really drink. However, the day turned out to be really relaxing, informative and we all enjoyed ourselves. We ate ourselves silly with delicious food, tasted some good wines, and it was just a really great time overall. We spoke to Jani on the way back, and he said they have over a hundred wineries they work with for their tour company, across a couple of wine regions. The second winery we visited is popular on their route because it is one of very few locations that also serves a really good lunch. He said that while tourism is on the rise, the wine regions are not seeing a voluminous increase in tourists year-over-year. I hope that, as Slovenia becomes discovered as a hidden gem, this will change. Companies like Winestronaut deserve a shot at doing really well.  I still feel very lucky for us though, to have come while we can still experience the country pretty much all to ourselves. Slovenia was a blessing to visit.

The next day, we drove 30 minutes to Skocjan Caves. We were hesitant to go to another set of caves, but we had read that this set of caves is a UNESCO World Heritage Site; and actually, the more unique set of caves to visit even though it is smaller than Postojna. There are two different packages, one with a guided tour only, and the other with the guided tour plus a self-guided walk through another extension of the cave (there is a senior price discount). Once again the walk is fairly easy. If I remember correctly, the first part of the tour was about 45 minutes, and the second self-guided extension was another 30 minutes. Cameras (even without flash) are not allowed. Dad and JH both tried to sneak pictures, but they ended up being blurry.

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We all collectively felt that this set of caves was much more special than Postojna. It was definitely less commercialized. The lights were dimmer, and it just felt more dark and quiet. The depth of this cave goes very deep, and at points, you are walking from high up looking into what feels like a deep canyon. You can see the water / waterfalls below, and you feel very small in such a spectacular place. I also liked this one bridge that was set up from very high-up; it was trippy to walk over. I think it would have made for some very amazing pictures with a good camera. You could see some make-shift foot-paths and ladders, and it looks like the cave was really fun (and dangerous) to explore. We enjoyed the walk throughout. Dad wanted the extension because he thought there was something historically significant about what we would see. It ended up being a nature walk, with some short spurts through a cave. I am not necessarily sure I would recommend spending more on that extension.  There were a couple of viewpoints though of the surrounding forests, and cave enclosures jutting out from the green. We took a couple of pictures, just because it was so pretty.

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At this point, we debated which coastal city to drive to for lunch. We ended up going with Koper because I had read that Izola was saturated with tourists (even maybe moreso than Piran). Koper ended up feeling very suburban and industrial. We walked the main medieval city for a little bit, but it did not feel like a pretty town. We ended up eating at this small little restaurant called Gostilna Pri Tinetu. The restaurant’s menu was really small. They basically offered a grilled calamari dish, a fried calamari dish, and pork (we ordered one of each). All dishes came with some form of potato side dish. At first, when we got there, the patio was completely full. We ended up stalking a table, and moved outside right before our dishes arrived. It was so nice to sit on the patio. It rained slightly, but they had a nice cover protecting us.

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Before we went to Piran, we stopped on the walk to hike to Strunjan cliff. We parked at the bottom by the lake. It turns out there is a cobblestone street (one of the middle Strunjan streets on the map) that takes you to parking right at the top. Google Maps got us lost however, so we turned backwards down to the bottom parking lot before we got stuck in a tight situation again. We ended up starting a trail path behind the Hotel Svoboda. It was not a hard walk. Once again, we may have walked for just 10 to 15 minutes before we reached the cliffs. You can climb over the fences, and take ‘prettier pictures’. Jon refused to let me dangle my legs over the cliff, so it was not the prettiest picture. Dad stood nervously behind the fence telling us to hurry up. The cliff was really pretty but it would have been prettier on a sunny day. We walked past the parking lot at the top, and went downwards the way we think we should have went up back to our parking lot. It was a good walk.

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We then drove to our apartment in Piran – Apartments VIP Residence ($155 CAD per night).  This was by far my favourite hotel (which is why I took pictures). To add to that, Piran was my favourite place along the entire trip. I wish we had stayed there for more than one day. The apartment has four or five units. The owner, Cjelko, lives next door with his family, a number of dogs and some adorable turtles. The place has some ‘interesting’ décor but it is a beautiful, spacious unit. There is one bedroom with a queen bed. In the main room there is another queen bed, leading to a patio / balcony overlooking the town and beach in the distance. There is a TV in front of this bed. The apartment has both a large kitchenette and bathroom. This place provided the best soaps and shampoos throughout our trip. There were a lot of towels provided. The shower was good. There were no issues with Wi-Fi. It was a really comfortable stay. Cjelko was also really nice and gave us a big bowl of fruit. My dad loved this.

Dad wanted to take a nap, so JH and I ended up walking to the beach, and ordering some ice cream. It was a cloudy day, so the Adriatic sea was not that beautiful. Barring that, there was a path leading around the sea and beach back to the town. Walking this path was really nice and scenic. You could see all the pebbles and rocks below, with tinges of really dark turquoise water shuffling in and out of the beach. JH and I did not walk the full extent of the town, but we visited the bell tower (1 EUR – I think it is near the church Zupnijska Cerkev sv. Jurija). You have to walk up a bunch of crickety (some low-hanging) wooden stairs, but the walk to the top is so worth it. You get a view of the town, the main square, the coast, and the beautiful buildings. I wish so very much that I could see this iconic view on a sunny day, but I could not complain. It was just so beautiful. We took our time taking photos. JH then had us walk to the Town Walls (Obzidje), which you can see from the bell tower. The cost to enter here was more expensive (2 EUR). We asked the ticket vendor which view was better. The guy was monotone and expressionless. He said a very curt – “it is better here”. JH tried very hard to make friendly conversation with this guy, and he gave us stone face every time. Anyhow, we ended up not being super cheap and went up. The views were definitely not as good. I would recommend the bell tower any day.

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Later that night, dad walked with us back to town. We managed this time to pass the beautiful town square – Tartinijev Trg.

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We ate at a self-serve restaurant – Fritolin Pri Cantini – hidden inside the town, and close to the coast. Dad and JH both ordered fish, while I ordered these cheesy mussels (that JH ended up being obsessed with because the sauce was really garlicky). We also shared some stuffed fried olives. For one of his last beers, JH tried the local brew – Union, and it was pretty disgusting.

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The place was really popular, so we ended up sharing a table at first with this really nice old couple. The table in front of us finished after a bit, so we swiped it up. All throughout dinner I was super anxious because really dark clouds were moving into the city. Luckily for us, the raining did not stop until after we had eaten and left. I really liked my mussels, but the addition of the cheese once again did not help with saturation. To my disappointment, the rain became heavier. It stopped slightly at one point, in which we walked around the coast line. JH took some sunset photos, but we have seen much prettier sunsets (Myanmar) in the past. As much as I wanted to walk more of the city, we were getting cold and wet, so we headed back and rested for the remainder of the night.

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The next day, I ended up waking up with the sun at 6AM. The sun shone brightly into our apartment, so I felt no inclination to sleep. We ended up walking back down to the beach with our swimsuits, and we swam a bit in the Adriatic. The water was a bit of cool and warm and I enjoyed the swim. Dad forgot his swimsuit, so he did the loop-around walk that we had done the day before. After all was said and done, I am glad I got one swim out of this trip (I had brought 3 swimsuits after all).

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After this, we checked out, and began our last day on the road. Today, we were going to head north-east. There was no-clear route directly east from Piran (largely because there are many forested regions to the south-east), so we headed back to Ljubljana in the direction we came from originally. As we were heading out, we saw packs of cars heading into Piran for what we could assume was the beach since it was so nice outside.

From Piran, we drove almost two hours to Otocec Castle near Novo Mesto. We did not stay here for long, but I just wanted to see this castle because the pictures I had seen of it were so stunning. The castle is actually a five-star hotel. It also looks like a good place for locals to take their children. A number of parents were with their children by the stream feeding ducks and swans. A swan sniped at me.

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Driving for another 30 minutes (through more switchbacks and beautiful countryside villages), we reached the hometown of Melania Trump – Sevnica. Dad was so excited about this; we had been making jokes with him about this for days. Sevnica looks to share a river with another town right on its border. The river is a murky green, and for the most part, this was not one of the prettiest places we had visited during the extent of our trip. Along with Koper, it was probably the least attractive city we went to.

It looked very working-class, but not in the rustic-country type of way like most of the little mountain countryside villages we had passed. While here, we were as “touristy” as you could get. We did not take the alleged tour around her childhood home / school/ etc. which exists, and the billboard we had hoped for with her face was gone (her lawyers got to it), but we researched all the Trump / Melania related dishes and souvenirs, and made our way to find them:

  • Presidential Burger with Million Dollar Potato “Coins”Pizzerija Rondo – Dad had this. He refused to eat Trump’s hair (the fried cheese topper on the burger). The same restaurant has a Melania dessert in a jar – we did not try that.

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  • Melania Pie – We tried to get Apple Pie at Kruhek Sevnica, but the bakery was closed from 1-3PM. It turns out you can get it in the Sevnica Castle. This was not very good. I felt really heavy afterwards, with a salty taste in my mouth.

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  • Melania Torte / First Lady Cake (white chocolate mousse cake) can be found at Slascicarna Julija Sevnica or at the castle. This was absolutely delicious. It was such a beautiful cake.

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  • Souvenirs – First Lady Wine, Tea, Chocolate can all be found at the Sevnica Castle gift shop. We were such tools. We bought all of it. I think my dad bought five bars of chocolate.
  • Things we did not get to: Apparently, if you go somewhere into the mountains near Sevnica, there is a man that makes a Melania crepe, but from what we read, it sounds pretty random. He might also not be there; it is not a legitimate restaurant.
    • There is also apparently a salami festival where there is a salami named after Melania. Only men are allowed to attend.

We took the castle tour for 5 EUR but it was not really worth it. The castle houses a bunch of oddities throughout their history – it goes from Baroque furniture to pottery to a fireman’s museum to puppets. It was just odd.

The town overall was really quiet. Dad frequently commented how a town could survive with absolutely no people walking on the streets. We did note that it was a Saturday, and it was really hot outside, so everyone could be resting at home or on vacation. At this point, we were bored of Sevnica, so we headed on to our very last stop – Cerklje na Gorenjskem, where our last hotel – Room and Apartments Kepic ($92.99 per night) was located. At first, JH and I were thinking of staying in Ljubljana, but we had a 7:45AM flight the next day, so we opted for a hotel 5 minutes away from the hotel. It was really convenient to drop off the car and get to the airport without waking up at a super ridiculous time.

I admittedly loved the area. It was in the mountain countryside, and JH and I ended up taking a few walks into the neighbourhoods, and into the farmland. We played in the cornfields and that was a lot of fun. The vividness of the green cornfields was just stunning. I was just happy to see the sun set in the mountains for the last time.

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The last hotel was nothing special, but the price and distance was good for what we were looking for. The owner / reception person insisted we e-mailed when we were about an hour away. She was a bit curt, but we got through the check-in process quite quickly. The room felt like it was in a basement. It was very dark and a bit warm, but it became cold at night so the room cooled down. The TV was broken, and because the basement was slightly underground, the Wi-Fi was a bit spotty. There were three beds, and a reasonably sized bathroom.

For our last meal, we went to this cute little place that served local food called Gostilna Ancka just a bit past the airport. We sat out on the patio, there was a light breeze and sun, and it just felt perfect. I felt a bit sad for the trip to end (which turned into heaving sobs on the flight back as I thought about returning to “what” in Toronto (who knew it would be hypomania)). I also felt sad not to see my dad every day again. I mean, I can see him whenever I want when I am in Toronto. We do not live so far apart, but I had not seen so much of him in a while. I forgot all his little personality quirks, and how strong and amazing he is. Sometimes, kids forget how amazing their parents are.

By now, we were all super saturated, but we wanted a good last meal.

  • Dad ended up ordering pasta. It was too creamy for his liking.
  • I ordered what I thought was a stew. It was two big heaping portions of beef, cooked down so it was completely tender. The beef was served with chive struklji. The whole dish was so comforting.
  • JH ordered struklji as well. When asked whether he wanted it plain with breadcrumbs or with a cheese sauce. He chose the cheese sauce. The cheese sauce was so thick that if you tried to move it with a spoon or fork, it took literally 10 seconds to move back down. I laughed at him for being a fatty.

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The one dessert we never tried (and was their national dessert) was Potica – a bread-cake. In pictures, it looked like a cross between a bundt, roulade and bread. We never found it at bakeries. We tried to order at this restaurant, and they finally told us that potica is typically made in the winter because it is such a heavy dessert. I have since tried to make it at home. I am not sure if it is authentic but whatever I made tasted pretty good.

Ten days later, our trip had ended, and I left Slovenia with a heavy heart. As I looked at the mountains for the plane window seat, I felt nothing but anxiety for what awaited me back at home – uncertainty, depression, and negativity. But placing all those things aside temporarily to re-live these memories, I had a wonderful trip. I had a wonderful trip with my dad and my husband. I have never been the hugest Europe fan, but Slovenia has left me wanting more. I think that if a person wants the outdoors, those stunning turquoise rivers, good food and a sense of adventure, then Slovenia is just a plane ticket away. Because my bucket list is so long, I am not sure when I will be back, but I hope that even with its burgeoning popularity, the country stays this beautiful.

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Author: Roro

Home baker. Sugar obsessed. Casual traveller. Fighting a fight. All photography and content are copyrighted by Roro @thechewishkitchen unless otherwise stated and referenced, and cannot be used without permission.

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