It was my first visit to Ljubljana (and Slovenia for that matter) and though my trip was focused on checking out Ljubljana (which I absolutely enjoyed!), I wanted to also explore a bit of the Slovenian countryside. There are lots of day-trip opportunities from Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. Being in the centre of this small country, it’s easy to plan a day trip and be back for dinner in Ljubljana. Most first-time visitors to Slovenia would choose a trip to the famous Julian Alps and Lake Bled I guess. Me being me, I chose something a bit off the beaten path: the western hinterland of Ljubljana that’s often referred to as Blagaj’s Land. Only a 30-minute drive from the Slovenian capital, this is a land of undulating landscapes, with green meadows interspersed with patches of forest and picturesque villages.
It was a lovely drive to the village of Šentjošt nad Horjulom on the western edges of Ljubljana, past verdant, hilly landscapes, farms and orchards. Our first stop was at a farm where we were met by two young sisters. They showed us around the farm and told us their story. The farm has been in their family for several generations but their parents had chosen different careers. The two sisters and their younger brother took it upon themselves to manage the farm and their livestock. I often hear stories of youngsters who choose a life in the city above staying back in the countryside so it was refreshing to hear how they made a deliberate choice to remain at their farm and produce dairy products.
They have a sizeable herd of goats, and from the milk, the youngsters produce all sorts of organic dairy products, from fresh goat’s milk to cheeses and yoghurt. The yoghurt and cheeses were delicious! It was very cool to see how they do everything themselves: from taking care of the herd to production, marketing and sales!
My next stop was lunch at Gostišče Grič, a rustic-looking restaurant situated on a hilltop above the village. Gostišče Grič turned out to be the biggest surprise of the day! The restaurant specialises in traditional Slovenian dishes, prepared with locally-sourced ingredients, with a contemporary twist. The contrast between the modernist presentation of the food and the restaurant’s traditional wooden interior was certainly striking!
Lunch was a delightful affair complemented by gorgeous views of the surrounding hills and the village below.
After lunch, we moved on to our next stop: the village of Polhov Gradec. Situated in a valley and surrounded by forested hills, this village can trace its roots back to the 13th century. In its heart is the Polhov Gradec Mansion, the former residence of Count Blagaj, a renowned botanist and the first mayor of Polhov Gradec (19th century). Before visiting the mansion, we walked up the road to a bee-keeping centre where we got to learn about the region’s bee-keeping tradition and taste some of the fabulous honey products.
The Polhov Gradec mansion has been in existence since the 14th century but rose to prominence in the 18th/19th centuries when it was inhabited by the Blagaj family. These days, the mansion is home to the Postal Museum and several beautifully-restored rooms.
We were greeted at the door by an actor and actress in period costumes (representing Count Blagaj and his wife). I chuckled but quickly began to admire how well they stayed in character as they gave us a tour of the mansion. We were even treated to a little opera, performed by a young singer with a remarkable voice! After the tour, we sat down for afternoon tea with the Count and his wife. It turned out to be a fun, rather surreal tour of the mansion, which ended with a sip of the ‘elixir of youth’, a herbal liquor which the Count served to us in the mansion’s cellar.
It was a lovely tour of the countryside and we were back in Ljubljana in time for pre-dinner cocktails. Hehe! This was just a small taste of the Slovenian countryside but it reinforced my resolve to see more of this wonderful country. I’ll be back for sure! 🙂
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Note: my trip to Ljubljana was part of the #EuroCityTrip campaign organised by iambassador with Ljubljana Tourism. As always, all views mentioned above are mine, and mine only.