Below is a review of today’s news in Slovenia, summarised by the headlines in the daily newspapers for Tuesday, 6 November 2018, as prepared by the STA:
"Whole world watching the decision of American voters": Millions of Americans have the last opportunity today to decide on the political orientation of their country in the next two years. The Democrats claim that democracy is at stake. (front page)
"Vaccination hurts less than sick leave": Health Minister Samo Fakin was vaccinated yesterday for influenza A virus subtype H1N1, calling on all Slovenians to do the same, as prevention costs less than sick leave. (front page, 2)
"Sharpened pencils where trees used to stand": The strong winds in Črna na Koroškem in northern Slovenia left a trail of devastation last week, which is the third natural disaster in the woods of Koroška in the last four years. (front page, 4)
Ljubljana election debate
"Janković and Logar make good on their promises": Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković and his main contender in the coming local elections, Democrat (SDS) MP Anže Logar, had their first debate yesterday, facing off their viewpoints and programmes. (front page, 2, 14)
"Official Journal of the EU reveals Slovenia's lawsuit against Croatia": The legal action brought by Slovenia against Croatia over its refusal to implement the border arbitration award was released in the Official Journal of the EU, revealing some parts that had been previously unknown to public. (front page, 5)
Pricey consultancy contracts
"A price rise of more than 200%": The paper looks at why the value of the consultancy contract between the government and the state-run DRI investment management company has increased from EUR 1.3m to EUR 4m. (front page, 4)
"These are the new candidates for Banka Slovenije governor": The paper presents the new candidates for the governor of the central bank - economists Igor Masten and Jože Damijan, Eva Lorenčič of the European Central Bank, former KAD chairman Tomaž Toplak and Boštjan Vasle, the acting director of the IMAD government macroeconomic think-tank. (front page, 5)
"In which municipality it is the easiest to get an apartment?": Ljubljana is the last among the eleven urban municipalities in terms of affordability of apartments, although wages are the highest in the capital. (front page, 6)
"Fallen forests": The strong winds left a trail of devastation in the forests of Koroška in northern Slovenia, with first estimates suggesting that more than 100,000 m3 of timber has been damaged. (front page, 5)
Slovenia's position in EU
"Uninfluential, absent and inactive": While its presidency of the EU in the second half of 2021 is nearing, Slovenia is doing little to shed its image as an uninfluential and inactive member state which is focused only on the border arbitration with Croatia. (front page, 2-3)
"Chinese want state aid for Aerodrom": The Chinese owners of Aerodrom Maribor, the operator of the airport serving Slovenia's second city, have unsuccessfully applied for more than EUR 3m in state aid. (front page, 6)
A conversation with the woman behind the only restaurant with Lebanese food in Ljubljana
I’m a Trubarejva cesta partisan, decidedly on the side of this short street in downtown Ljubljana that still manages a mix of high and low, rich and poor. It starts in Prešeren Square with the fashion labels of Emporium, and ends with the graffiti-covered squat of Tovarana Rog. Most of the businesses are run by the owner / managers, and the diversity seen in its food offerings – European, African, Asian and Middle Eastern – is reflected in the people who live, work and play there.
Having moved here after two decades in Asia I love the colour and activity of this street, the grassroots entrepreneurialism and its multi-racial, multi-ethnic character. For me, it’s a model of what a more vibrant Slovenia could be if it looked to the future and took the opportunities that seem to be left on the table for a more interesting, brighter and open life.
The subject of this edition of Meet the People is someone who exemplifies all of the good qualities I see here, and who has turned them into a successful business. It’s Alja Hafner Taha, who runs Libanonske meze in drugi užitki (Lebanese meze and other delights), a very popular restaurant that’s slightly hidden away in a basement, between a building that houses a sex store and another that offers marijuana growing supplies. Walking through the door and down the few steps feels like you’re moving down into another world, an effect aided by the décor, music and – of course – the aromas of a Middle Eastern kitchen, which you’ll have to imagine as you look at the pictures and read my interview with Alja…
What’s your background?
My father is from Palestine, and he came here to study mechanical engineering in the 60s, then fell in love with a blonde, green-eyed Slovene, my mom, a Slovenian from Trieste.
A couple of years after I was born we left the country, and my dad was an engineer for various foreign companies in Arabic countries, and so for the next decade or so our lives revolved around his work. We started in Algeria, then Iraq, England, then Italy, then to Jordan, and then back here.
I went to eight schools in 11 years,. It’s hard to keep track of it all, but I went to English, French, Italian schools, although in an Arabic environment. I didn’t go to any Arabic school, but my father made sure his children had private lessons in the language.
What language did you use at home?
At home I used to speak Slovene with my mom, Arabic with my dad, but since both of them spoke Slovene I eventually switched to that with my father.
How did you end up back in Slovenia?
I studied in Venice, then in the States. When I finished there I got an offer of an internship in America. Now I liked the university system in America - in Italy it was ridiculous, you were left to your own devices, and if you lacked discipline then it just dragged on forever, like in Slovenia –, but I really wanted to come back here for the lifestyle and the culture, which in the States I really didn’t like, and I did that in ‘97
I spent the first couple of years in Koper, then I moved to Ljubljana and worked in marketing, specifically in advertising.
Did your international experience help with that?
I don’t know. The industry in Slovenia is as good as anywhere in Europe, so perhaps not, but certainly my background helped me be more flexible, adaptable, less surprised by things.
So how did you make the move to running a restaurant?
Well, I had a good career, but I wanted a change, and food – the hospitality part if it – was the thing I really felt a passion for. This is something from my upbringing, we always had a full house.
My mother was a great cook, so was my father. When we lived abroad our home was like a hub for dinner parties, garden parties, and I loved it, the whole thing, the preparation and so on, was very fulfilling, emotionally. It was also very eclectic, because we had my mother’s cooking, my father’s cooking, my mother cooking my father’s food, and vice versa, plus all the dishes we picked up on our travels.
What about your cooking?
I didn’t really start cooking and enjoying it until my mid-20s, but then I really got into it. I’d have, say, 50 people over at my place.
Is it easier to do that with Middle Eastern food?
No, Slovene food’s actually easier to cook for big groups. The food that I cooked then, like the food we cook here, takes a lot of preparation, which is true for most Middle Eastern food. For example, the restaurant opens at 11:30, but work in the kitchen starts at 07:00, because we make nearly everything fresh here, including the pitta bread, every day. We don’t have a lot of space, we don’t have huge refrigerators and freezers to make it all days in advance. We make everything fresh every day, apart from harissa (a chili paste) and makdous, which is small pickled eggplants with walnut, and those are Lebanese, which we get from Vienna.
Is sourcing ingredients difficult?
At first it was difficult, but now it’s easy because we have all our contacts. If you want to make it at home you can buy the same stuff in Ljubljana, but if you’re a restaurant you need to get it closer to the source, and get it cheaper. For our vegetables and meat we get those from the market. We have a small scale butcher so we know where it comes from. For things like tahini, makdous, beer and wine we have a Lebanese importer in Vienna.
Do you make many changes to suit local tastes, or is this authentic Lebanese food in Ljubljana?
Being authentic is important to us, but the name Lebanese Meze & Other Delights means we have some room for food that’s not from the Levant. That said, the only things we had to adapt were the level of sourness in some dishes and the amount of garlic, which are both a lot higher in Lebanon. But if we get Lebanese guests we make sure they have a plate of lemons, or if, say, we have Palestinians we put some olive oil on the table.
And has the menu changed much over the years?
The menu changes a little with the seasons, but in general it stays the same. Because I’d experimented with this food on friends for years beforehand, I was pretty confident about the dishes were going to have, so I had a strong vision, which is one we still follow.
Did your background in advertising come in useful?
One thing I learned in marketing was that the worst thing you can do is panic and make big changes in direction or the basic concept, plus my background in events management transferred pretty well to the restaurant business. That’s not say it was easy, because I had a lot to learn, but when there were problems or challenges I either had the skills needed to deal with them, or knew people who could help.
But the main problem in running a successful restaurant isn’t anything big, it’s consistency, its doing things extremely well day in day out. And that’s all in the details, not just the food but the way it’s served, the way the place looks, the music that’s played, the cleanliness, the energy that permeates the whole team.
What about the staff here?
We’ve been very lucky with our team. At first we looked at bringing in a cook from abroad, but that involves a lot of paperwork, and is quite risky, because maybe they come here, you help set up a new life, and then they don’t like it. So we got a local guy, a great chef, Matjaž , who’s been here since day one. He manages a staff of Middle Eastern cooks, and the rest of the staff have all been the same for the last year and a half, so they really know what they’re doing. I help out sometimes, when needed, but managing a restaurant and cooking there too is the way to madness, it’s impossible.
Do you have any changes to the menu planned for winter?
Yes, we always change it a little with the seasons, with some heartier food in the winter, but not too much, as there’s always a danger you end up disappointing regulars, which we have a lot of, because you’ve taken a favourite off the menu. Like I said before, quality is paramount, but consistency is the key to success here.
If you’d like to try some of the Lebanese food shown here, which is highly recommended, then you can find Libanonske meze in drugi užitki at 45 Trubarjeva cesta, Ljubljana 1000. The opening hours are Opening hours: Tuesday - Thursday: 11:30 - 22:00; Friday, Saturday: 11:30 - 23:00; Sunday, Monday: Closed. The website is here, while the Facebook is here.
STA, 4 November 2018 - Slovenia is among the least influential countries in the EU, but it is also deeply committed to integration, according to study by European Council on Foreign Relations, a London think-tank.
Slovenia placed alongside Latvia, Malta and Croatia as the country with the least influence on EU policy, with the four countries tied at 25th place among 28 member states.
Slovenia is also 25th along with Bulgaria, Croatia and Malta in terms how influential it is in general in the bloc.
The study, called EU Coalition Explorer, singles out Germany, France, the UK and the Netherlands as the most influential countries overall.
Slovenia ranked high when it comes to fighting for deeper integration, placing 14th and beating the likes of Sweden and Finland.
When it comes to priorities, Slovenia is most active in common asylum policy, single fiscal policy, single market and single eurozone supervision.
Indeed, it is the most vocal advocate of the notion that all member states should be involved in a single fiscal policy.
Overall, Slovenia is of the opinion that the majority of common policies should be shaped by all member states.
It sees Germany as its best partner in policy making, followed by France and Italy.
Slovenia also ranks high, in 16th place, among countries that disappointed the least in the past two years; Hungary is seen as the country that disappointed the most.
The ECFR compiled the survey, which was released earlier this week, based on questions posed to 877 experts from all member states who are active in EU policy, be it in media, government or institutions.
You can find a PDF of the full study here – it’s 1113 pages long
STA, 5 November2018 - With the United Kingdom being one of the key markets for Slovenian tourism, some 35 Slovenian companies and organisations are being promoted at London's WTM, a leading global event for the travel industry, which runs from Monday to Wednesday.
We are delighted to announce the iconic #Ljubljana Castle is our official #WTMLDN partner.— Slovenia Tourism (@tourism_slo) November 5, 2018
The partnership is part of helping preserve the historic @Ljubljanskigrad, which has provided panoramic views of the city for 900 years.
⤵️Visit Stand EU1400 to learn more ? @WTM_London pic.twitter.com/Y9yHLlFFKq
Slovenia is being promoted under the auspices of the Slovenian Tourist Board (STO) as an attractive destination offering "five-star experiences".
A special emphasis is placed on culture, which is the main theme of the STO's promotional campaigns in 2018 and 2019.
The country's exhibition area, spreading on more than 175 square metres, features Ljubljana Castle as the main partner.
On Tuesday, the Slovenian pavilion will feature a meeting of Slovenian tourism industry representatives with British and global tour organisers plus global media.
Slovenian food will be served by chef Igor Jagodic and the author of the best article on Slovenia written this year will be declared.
STO director Maja Pak says that "as as one of the most important and globally recognisable fairs, the WTM is a unique opportunity to consolidate the existing and create new business opportunities as well as to connect with the tourism industry in the UK and wider."
Slovenia is recording a rise in arrivals and overnight stays by British tourists, according to Pak, who said that a 27% increase in arrivals was reported for the January-to-August period compared to last year.
In 2017, British tourists accounted for 370,000 nights in Slovenia, whose tourist industry has posted strong growth over the past few years. They are mostly interested in the country's mountains, cuisine, ski resorts and culture.
See all of our TRAVEL stories here, and follow us on Facebook for the latest news and views from Slovenia
STA, 3 November 2018 - Andrej Šiško, the leader of a self-proclaimed local para-military formation, will remain in custody after the Supreme Court upheld the argument of lower courts that he represents a danger to the constitutional order.
"There are reasonable grounds to believe that the suspect formed a para-military unit and called for the formation of other militias across Slovenia that would, when the time is right, bring down the highest authorities of the state," the Supreme Court.
The decision, announced on Friday, comes in response to an appeal by the defence, which argued that Šiško's conduct did not amount to instigation to the subversion of the constitutional order, the crime Šiško is suspected of.
Save for a brief intermission, Šiško has been in detention since early September, a week after video surfaced of him lining up several dozen men, some armed, wearing balaclavas and conducting what appeared to be basic military training.
Šiško, a former ultras who served prison for attempted murder, has argued that this was a provocation meant to disclose how Slovenian media work, but at the same time he called for the establishment of other such militias around the country.
The Supreme Court said the suspect's conduct, from the utterance of a threat against then Prime Minister Miro Cerar in January 2017 to the formation of the para-military unit, was sufficient at this point in proceedings to warrant his detention.
In making the decision, the court went against the argument of the prosecution, which held that whether Šiško should be remanded in detention should be re-examined by lower courts.
The prosecution's 27 September opinion caused uproar. It was penned by Supreme State Prosecutor Barbara Brezigar, who has for years been close to the opposition Democrats (SDS) and once ran for president with their support; one of Šiško's co-defendants was a member of the SDS's youth wing.
While Šiško is in detention, the investigation continues. Darko Simonič, the head of the Maribor branch of the State Prosecution, told the STA earlier this week that additional witnesses would be interviewed next week.
Šiško has been active in politics for years and ran in last year's presidential election. This year he is one of 18 candidates for mayor of Maribor.
Ljubljana Castle is the most visited attraction in the city, and – so it’s claimed – in Slovenia. While an earlier post looked at 25 things to know about the building that has watched over the capital for centuries, below we present a list of ten different ways to enjoy your visit there.
The Romans had a wooden fort on Castle Hill when Ljubljana was known as Emona, and built a well that still exists, just outside the entrance. What’s more, some of the stones that were used to build the Castle were repurposed from the ruins of the Ancient City, and can still be seen with their Latin engravings or decorations. Ljubljana Castle has almost 2,000 years of history, and the time you spend their can be used to link that with your own – a sobering thought to encourage you make the most of however much time you have left.
Roman stones in Ljubljana Castle. Photo: JL Flanner
Ljubljana is a green city. Photo: JL Flanner
The best views of the city are from the highest point in Ljubljana, which is the watchtower that a ticket to the Castle (or any of the tours) gets you into. However, note that the old architecture means there’s no disabled access or elevator here, so you’ll have to climb the steps. Still, if you can’t make it up, or don’t want to buy a ticket, don’t despair, as there are many other fine spots on Castle Hill from which to look at Ljubljana, from where it’ll be clear that this city really is set in the middle of a forest.
Most of Castle Hill is forested. Photo: Google Maps
While the Castle is large it still covers only a small part of the hill, which has many trails through the forest to explore, as well as grassy clearings, benches, small meadows and even a vineyard, making it an easily accessible escape from the city. Depending on the time of day and weather, expect to see joggers, dog walkers and others getting some fresh air, nearby by but far away from the tourists.
Tradtional Slovenian food at Castle restaurant. Photo: nagradu.si
While the fine-dining options of Strelec and Castle Restaurant (Restaurant Na Gradu) get the headlines when talking of food at the Castle, there’s also a café for more casual fare, and beyond that the old place makes a great location for a picnic, if not within the walls then in a quiet spot along many of the trails that run along the top of the hill, where you can enjoy a sandwich along with, as noted above, the view.
The Puppet Museum is full of colourful and interactive exhibits. Photo: JL Flanner
As part of Ljubljana Castle’s mission to preserve, present and promote Slovenia’s cultural heritage it hosts a number of exhibitions, both permanent and temporary, all year round. While some of these are free, such as the one on the renovations to the Castle that have taken place since the 1960s, to be found under the courtyard, others require a ticket, though luckily this ticket will also get you access to the watchtower and other features of the complex. One thing of special interest to families – a permanent exhibition showing some of the history of puppetry in Slovenia, a trip to which perfectly complements a visit to the Puppet Theatre in Krekov trg, just by the funicular station. Learn more about the Castle’s current exhibitions here.
The Castle and its halls can be hired for private occasions, and thus it plays host to conferences and presentations throughout the year, providing a memorable setting for many business events. More personally, it can also be used to weddings, with a dedicated office set-up to make the big day into a magical one. Learn more about hiring a venue here, and having a wedding or engagment partY in Ljubljana Castle here.
Lights make the place magical after dark. Photo: Branko Čeak for Visit Ljubljana
Medieval buildings come after dark, when the shadows playing on the walls light up the imagination and romance of the past. Ljubljana Castle is no exception, and is a great place to visit after dark at any time of year. In addition to all the usual charms in the evening the Castle often hosts concerts, such as the regular Friday night performances, while in the summer months there are also films shown in the courtyard and under the stars, as well dances and other special events. You can learn more about the various events held at the Castle here, and you can visit it until 20:00 in January, February, March and November, until 21:00 in April, May and October, until 23:00 in June, July, August and September, and until 22:00 in December 10:00 to 22:00.
An event at night in the courtyard. Photo: D Wedam for Visit Ljubljana
December is one of the most popular times of year for people to visit Ljubljana, drawn by the festive decorations in the city and the market stalls selling mulled wine and hot food, and the Castle is an essential stop on such trips. Not only can people get a great view of the Christmas lights in the streets below – with the evening these are switched on being an especially busy time – but they can also the decorations in the Castlem as well as other events, including Holy Mass in the chapel, at 22:00 on December 24.
The Castle may be old, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t keep up with the times. You can download an app that introduces the place based on your location in the complex, and all you need is a smartphone and pair of headphones. The app is available in Slovenian, English, Hungarian, Croatian, Italian, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Russian, Japanese, Chinese and Korean, and for both iOS and Android devices. The activation code for the app comes with a ticket to Castle, and can be collected at the Info Centre. More details here.
Perhaps best of all for regular visitors, much of what the Castle has to offer can be seen for free, with only the watchtower and certain exhibitions requiring a ticket, while the other areas remain open to all. Combine a walk up one of the various paths that take you to the top from the Old Town with a stroll around the Castle walls and courtyard, perhaps settling down for a rest on a bench or snack, and you’ve got an adventure that’ll fill a few hours in fine style without breaking the bank. What’s more, there’s always something new to see, whether related to the changing seasons, an event on the day, a detail you’d never noticed before, or a group of visitors from a land you long to visit, delighted at the a place you know well – there’s always a good reason to go back to Ljubljana Castle.
The Castle is open all year, although with some changes with the seasons. January, February, March and November its open 10:00 to 20:00. April, May and October from 09:00 to 21:00. June, July, August and September from 09:00 to 23:00. December 10:00 to 22:00. However, now that these times are for the main Castle complex, and not necessarily for all the attractions, with more details here.
Entrance to Castle courtyard is free, but if you want to see more you'll need to buy a ticket at the entrance, funicular station or Info Centre, with a basic ticket currently 7.50 euros for adults and 5.50 for children, students and pensioners, and there's also a family ticket for 19 euros. Note that tickets to tours also include entrance to all parts of the Castle, with more details here.
Below is a review of the headlines in Slovenia’s newspapers for Monday, 5 November 2018, as prepared by the STA:
Coalitions in EU
"Slovenia, alone on the margins of Europe": Slovenia plays a marginal role when it comes to EU countries connecting among themselves, according to a study by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR). (front page, page 3)
"Larger systems should be supported too": Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec says that the food self-sufficiency rate in Slovenia cannot be increased by investing only in traditional family farming, though family farms should be preserved. (front page, page 4)
US Congress elections
"Divided US ahead of election Tuesday": Analysts expect an exceptional turnout in the 2018 US elections, which will be held tomorrow, with the main reason certainly being President Donald Trump further dividing the country. (front page, page 5-6)
"Kalan Živčec banned from performing virotherapy": The medical institute Master Doctor, which is headed by Gordana Živčec Kalan, the former boss of the Medical Chamber, has been banned by the Medical Inspectorate from performing virotherapy for treatment of cancer. (front page, page 4)
"22 billion euros in cash on Slovenians' accounts": According to the central bank, financial assets of Slovenian households in banks amounted to EUR 44.5bn. Almost half of the total was bank deposits and cash (EUR 22bn), which means EUR 11,000 per capita. (front page, page 5)
"Memory of fascism has still not faded in Trieste": Italy celebrated on Sunday the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI, but a day earlier a pro-fascist and an anti-fascist rally were held in Trieste. (front page, page 14)
"What is going on in seven key export markets for Slovenia?": The growth of GDP in the eurozone in the third quarter of the year was one of the weakest in the recent years, and not very optimistic projections are coming from Slovenia's key export markets. (front page, page 2-3)
"How high dividends are expected from NLB?": While many people have been attracted to buying shares of the NLB bank by the expected high dividend yield, experts are warning that they should bear in mind that the bank needs to maintain a high ratio of capital adequacy. (front page, page 4)
"How strong are European banks if a new crisis comes?": The results of the latest stress tests in systemic banks in the EU, published by the European Banking Authority (EBA) last week, show that in general, banks are strong enough and ready to sustain a possible new crisis. (front page, page 6)
New skiing season
"When to hop on skis": The skiing season is probably about to start for Slovenians as Kanin, the country's highest ski resort, is fully covered in snow and the operators plan to launch the ski lifts at the weekend. (front page, 2-3)
"A decisive no to CasaPound fascism": A counter-rally was staged on Saturday in Trieste after a rally of the neo-fascist political group CasaPound in the Italian city, sending anti-fascist messages and calling for inclusion of all people. (front page, 4)
National football championship
"Maribor increase advantage": Maribor have increased their lead on Olimpija to four points after demolishing Celje on the road 5:0, while the Ljubljana club eked out a 4:4 draw with Domžale at home yesterday. (front page, 16-17)
STA, 3 November 2018 - President Borut Pahor held up peace and the persistent building of democracy as ways of countering fascism as he responded to a far right manifestation in Trieste on Saturday.
"In the previous century, three totalitarianisms left behind a terrible trail of suffering, including fascism, which they plan on reviving at the rally in Trieste today."
"We can counter them by persistently building democracy, which facilitates the freedom of speech and the expression of different beliefs but not the freedom of hatred," he wrote in a message on Twitter.
He warned that peace and democracy may not be taken for granted and are not passed down genetically, they are handed down with actions.
"We have the right to freedom, but that freedom is circumscribed with the freedom of others. Let us therefore act tolerantly and build harmony, within and among nations," he said.
Predsednik Republike Slovenije Borut Pahor: pic.twitter.com/dCbBmOMN3H— Borut Pahor (@BorutPahor) November 3, 2018
In a separate tweet, Pahor said that he would expound on this issue at a speech marking the centenary of the end of WWI he plans to deliver at Žale Cemetery on Friday.
His statements come in reaction to a rally by the extremist CasaPound group in Trieste, which ostensibly marks the centenary of the end of WWI but is seen as a show of force of a resurgent extreme right.
A counter-rally was staged today by anti-fascist groups.
Other Slovenian officials, including Prime Minister Marjan Šarec and Speaker Dejan Židan, have expressed concern about the far-right rally.
STA, 3 November 2018 - Parliamentary Speaker Dejan Židan expressed concern ahead of a rally by Italian far right group CasaPound in Trieste, arguing that the rise of neo-fascism risked undermining good cross-border cooperation.
"Fascism needs to be resisted - with tolerance, cooperation and courage. We have to be harbingers of cooperation and reject practices that had caused so much evil in Slovenia and Europe," he said in a video message posted on Twitter.
He said he was "concerned to see neo-fascists rallying, concerned about the lack of condemnation of neo-fascism, not least because this is not a phenomenon confined to a single country."
Židan's statement came ahead of a rally in Trieste that it seen as a showcase of resurgent far-right extremism in the country. The rally was condemned yesterday by Prime Minister Marjan Šarec.
Slovenian officials have been urged to reach by the Slovenian minority in Italy, which fears that the sentiment, though ostensibly targeted at unchecked migration, may end up being channelled against members of the minority.
One answer to the question “What’s on in Ljubljana this week?” is Martinovanje / St Martin’s Day / the Ljubljana Wine Road, joining events taking place across Slovenia at the end of the week to celebrate the year’s new wine. In the capital these will happen around the Old Town of Ljubljana from 10:00 to 17:00 on Saturday, with producers from all the wine-growing regions of Slovenia, along with food and performers. In order to taste wine by the glass you’ll need to buy or rent an official wine glass at the Info stands, where you can also buy coupons for purchases.
Another big event this week starts on Wednesday, and that’s LIFFe, the Ljubljana International Film Festival, which runs until November 18th and offers a long list of varied features, shorts, documentaries and works of fiction. You can see the official site and schedule here.
As ever, clicking on the venue names in the list below should get you more details with regard to the time, price and location, as well as other events on this week in the same place. Finally, if there's something you want to promote in a future edition of What's on in Ljubljana please get in touch with me at flanner(at)total-slovenia-news.com
If you want to get a Ljubljana Tourist Card, which gives you travel on the city buses and entry to a lot of attractions, then you can read more about that here, and if you want to use the bike share system, as useful for visitors as it is for residents, then you can learn more by clicking this. Visitors with reduced mobility will be pleased to find that downtown Ljubljana is generally rated as good with regard to accessibility, and that there’s a free, city-sponsored app called Ljubljana by Wheelchair highlighting cafés, attractions and so on with ramps, disabled bathrooms and Eurokey facilities, which you can read about and download here. If you’re driving into town and don’t know where to part, our guide to how to park in Ljubljana is here.
The city’s main tourist attraction is the Castle, and you’ll enjoy your visit a lot more if you know what you’re looking at, so take a look at our 25 Things to Know about Ljubljana Castle and learn, among other things, why Rome lives on in it’s walls.
Want / need cigarettes but the stores have closed? Here's an incomplete list of bars downtown that will satisfy your craving for the demon weed. While if you’re having trouble with the ATMs then here’s a guide to the Slovene you’ll see on screen. If you get a hangover then find out where to get paracetamol (and prescription drugs) in Ljubljana here, while details on emergency birth control can be found here.
Ljubljana is a small and relatively safe city, but if need to contact the police then there’s a special number for foreigners, and that’s 113.
You can read about all the cinemas in town here, while a selection of what’s playing this week is below, and note that kid’s movies tend to be shown in dubbed versions, so do check before driving out to a multiplex and dropping off the young ones. That said, parents should pay attention to Kinobalon, which is Kinodvor's regular weekend series of film screenings and events for children, from babies on up, witrh special parent/child events, "first time in a cinema" screenings, and babysitting. Learn more about it here, and see the current schedule here. (And if you like watching trailers with subtitles as a way of learning Slovene, then catch up on some from earlier this year here and here).
As noted in the intro, the Ljubljana International Film Festival starts on Wednesday, with a long list of varied features, shorts, documentaries and works of fiction. You can see the official site and schedule here.
Kinodvor – The arts cinema not far from the train station, but still rather tucked away, showing, among other features, The Children Act, Cold War, Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe, and Jusqu'à la garde. For children there’s The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo's Child, albeit in a dubbed version.
Kinoteka – The revival house at one end of Miklošičeva is showing, among features, a number of classics from Czechoslovakia, such as Černy Petr, Nejkrásnější věk, O slavnosti a hostech, Ostře sledované vlaky, Ecce homo Homolka, Lásky jedné plavovlásky, Hoří, má panenko, Rozmarné léto and Spalovač mrtvol.
Kolosej – The multiplex out at BTC City Mall is playing all the big movies, which this week include Bohemian Rhapsody, Hunter Killer, Halloween, Hell Fest, Johnny English 3, Posledice, The Children Act, Venom, A Star is Born, Gajin svet, Night School, Mamma Mia! 2 and The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Starting Tuesday you can enjoy The Girl in the Spider's Web, while from Wednesday on there’s Overlord.
Komuna – The cinema in a basement behind Nama department store is showing Bohemian Rhapsody, Johnny English 3, and A Star is Born.
Compared to some European capitals it can seem that nightlife in Ljubljana ends rather early, but there are still bars that stay open late and clubs were you can dance until dawn, and perhaps the best place to stumble across something interesting is the legendary Metelkova. Be aware it's a grungy kind of place and not for all tastes, but also that there's consideable variety to found within the various clubs there, from death metal to electropop, gay caberet to art noise. You can read "the rules" of the place here.
Channel Zero – Monday night is Dub Lab, this week with an event called Domaćica Original. Friday is an all-nighter called Everything GOES with DJs Rope, Jerry, Sunneh, Fogy, and Stojc. Then on Saturday there’s drum’n’bass with DJs Dub_Tone, Fornax, Trdee,Yoo Ron, Yaa, and Rak3ta.
Gala Hala – Friday there’s funk with Zeleno Sonce #118: Jesenski ogenj, as played by DJs Kool S and Udo Brenner. The on Saturday there’s Versus: Shekuza / Roli, playing what I think will be techno.
Klub Cirkus – Plan your outfit for Friday for an all-nighter called BLACK MOON – Black Light Gathering #3, with the glowing colours being moved to the sounds of dance, future house, edm, house, r&b, hip hop, and trap. Then on Saturday it’s house music with Housekeeping: PEZNT ft. Who Am I? VIP Experience.
Klub K4 – The klub 4 kool kids that’s entwined with the history of electronic music in Ljubljana has two nights this week. On Friday there’s K4x4 w/ Ichisan, Stascha & Past Present, with a shimmering mix from Ichisan below. Saturday there’s the intriguingly named 666 Trillity 666, playing trap, memphis rap, chopped n screwed, and phonk (sic) from Bor$aleano, Cookie and Some1Else.
Harm reduction and drug testing
Drogart is an organization that aims to minimise harm on the party scene, and offers drug-testing services and reports on their webpage. It’s in Slovene, but you can Google translate it or work things out yourself. One thing they recently warned of were pink Pharaoh pills with around twice the normal MDMA content (measured at 261 mg). See pictures and learn more here, but do remember that all the usual drugs remain illegal in Slovenia, while our in-depth profile of the group is here. We've also heard increasing reports - albeit anecdotal - of women's drinks being spiked in the city, so take care and let friends know where you're going.
You can find our Top 12 list of things to do with kids in Ljubljana here. If want to read more about the philosophy behind the wonderful House of Experiments look here, while our trip to the Museum of Illusions is documented here, and there’s always riverside walks, ice cream and pizza.
Photo: JL Flanner
The city’s main tourist attraction is the Castle, and you’ll enjoy your visit a lot more if you know what you’re looking at, so take a look at our 25 Things to Know about Ljubljana Castle and learn, among other things, what the holes shown below were used for.
Photo: JL Flanner
If you want to learn more about Ljubljana Pride, then take a look at our interview with its president here. If you're looking for more general links on "gay Slovenia", including a history of the scene and various projects, then you can find that here. We recently also published an interview with the LGBT activist and writer Suzana Tratnik, talking about - among other things - the occupation of Metelkova.
Klub Monokel – No events are being promoted this week, but that’s no reason not to head to this lesbian bar and see what’s happening on Friday night.
Klub Tiffany – The gay bar next door to Monokel is also open every Friday, but this week there’s also a very special Thursday event, from 20:00 to 23:00, Kavarniški večer: Salome, featuring Slovenia’s most famous transgender personality.
Pritličje – This is the closest Ljubljana comes to a "gay bar" so it's a good thing this LGBT-friendly cafe / bar / events space is such a good one, and open from morning to night. You can read more about it here.
Most public galleries and museums are closed on Mondays, although not the National Museum.
Ljubljana Castle has an exhibition on the history of dragons in Slovenia and around the world that runs until November 11, and there's plenty more to see and do when up there, including some nice walks in nature. Note that the bathroom is in the basement and rather difficult to find.
Plečnik's desk. Photo: JL Flanner
Plečnik’s House is worth a visit if you want to learn more about the architect who gave Ljubljana much of its character. Read about our guided tour here.
The Balassi Institute (The Cultural Centre of the Embassy of Hungary) – This is at Barvarska steza 8, Ljubljana, not far from Dragon Bridge, and until November 9 you can see a show with works from Igor Andjelic (1961) from Slovenia, Dénesa Farkasa (1974) from Estonia and Hungary and Pétra Mátyásija (1982) from Hungary.
Cankerjev dom – Running until the end of February 2019 is an exhibition titled Ivan Cankar and Europe: Between Shakespeare and Kafka. This is “An examination of Cankar’s art through an analysis of influences and interpretations, and juxtaposition with contemporary European writers. The visually elaborate architectural and graphic layout, supported by audio-visual media, installation art and diverse visual highlights, offers a vivid account of Cankar’s excellence, his comprehensively exquisite aesthetic and artistic vision.”
City Art Gallery – Tadej Pogačar’s CODE:RED project will be presented here until November 4, including documentary material, texts, interviews, videos, photographs, and newspapers. It’s being promoted with the following image.
CODE:RED Venice, Red umbrella march, public action, 49th Venice Biennale of Contemporary Art, Venice, 2001 / on the picture: Carol Leigh
City Museum – The Museum in French Revolution Square has an exhibition on the writer Ivan Cankar that’s on until the end of February 2019, with pictures, books and manuscripts, all presented in Slovene and English. It also has a very interesting permanent exhibition on the history of Ljubljana, from prehistoric times to the present day, with many artefacts, models and so on that bring the story alive.You can read about my recent visit here. Until March 2019 there's a show highlighting the work Elza Kastl Obereigner (1884-1973), a pioneer Slovenian sculptress, with an example of her work shown below.
Photo: M Paternoster
The Faces of Ljubljana in the City Museum. Photo: JL Flanner
International Centre of Graphic Arts – Running until November 11 is an exhibition of works by Riko Debenjak, including prints, drawings, paintings and illustrations.
Ljubljana Exhibition & Convention Centre – Just outside the centre of town, at Dunajska cesta 18, you can see a lot of plasticized bodies at the Body Worlds Vital show, running from October 20 until January 20 2019.
Photo: Body Works Vital
MAO – The Museum of Architecture and Design is showcasing Slovenian designers in a show called Made in Slovenia, lasting until the end of 2018: “The selling exhibition aims to present good practices of Slovenian designers and companies in the creative sector.” The same venue has an exhibition based on Slovenia’s Pavilion at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, called “Living with Water”, and on until November 25.
Sam, 1966, fotografija na srebroželatinskem papirju. ©Stojan Kerbler
Moderna galerija – The main branch of this gallery, to be found near the entrance to Tivoli Park, has a good collection of modern art, as well a nice café in the basement, and it's latest exhibition focuses on the photographer Stojan Kerbler, which runs until January 13, 2019, and shows rural live in Slovenia for the recent past.
Museum of Contemporary History – The museum in Tivoli Park has two new shows. One is called Museum's (R)evolution 1948-2018, marking the place's 70th anniversary with an exhibition tracing its evolution through artefacts, photographs and personal stories and running until January 6 2019 (details here). There's also In Search of Freedom: 1968-2018, looking at the 1968 student protests.
National Gallery – The country’s main gallery has “the best” of what’s on offer from the Middle Ages to non-contemporary modern visual arts, and is in a great location for exploring other areas, just by Tivoli Park and opposite the main branch of the Moderna galerija. Running until February 10 2019 is a show called Ivana Kobilca (1861-1926): But Of Course, Painting Is Something Beautiful!, featuring works like the one below. You can read about our visit to the room containing scared art from the Middle Ages here, and see a picture from our trip after the two girls.
National Museum of Slovenia – There’s plenty to see in the permanent collection here, from Roman times, Egypt and more, with the big draw this season being the exhibition of over 140 items of gold from Ming Dyntasy China, as reported here, and with an example below.
Photo: Wang Wei Chang
Meanwhile, the museum's Metelkova branch, located between one branch of the Moderna galerija and the Ethnographic Museum has some rooms on Church art, funiture and weapons, with the latter including more guns than you'll see anywhere else in town, and quite a thrill if coming from a nation where such objects are not household objects.
Slovene Ethnographic Museum – The museum currently has a temporary show on Bees and Beekeeping, as well two permanent exhibitions. One of these is called Between Nature and Culture, and has a great collection of objects from Slovenia and around the world, well worth the trip up to the third floor to see it (as recounted here). This place is located near the newer branch of the Moderna galerija and Metelkova.
Photo: JL Flanner
Union Experience – The Ljubljana-based brewer has a museum showing the history of the company, with the ticket also including access to part of the factory and a few samples of the product. You can read about our visit here.
It's not a formal museum, but if you're interested in "Yugo-stalgia" then you'll enjoy a trip to Verba, a small, privately run space that's crammed with objects and pop culture items from the era, and is conveniently located at the start of one of the short walks to the castle. It's also a great place to take pictures, if you leave a donation, and you can read more about it here.
Verba. Photo: JL Flanner
Alternative Ljubljana isn't a museum or gallery, as such, but instead turns the city streets into a museum and gallery. Learn more about their tours of street art, history and LGBT Ljubljana here.
Photo: Alternative Ljubljana
Cankerjev dom – Tuesday, 20:30, there’s a show from Secret Chiefs 3, part of a series curated by John Zorn, which we’ll use as an excuse to slip in Little Bittern (and to note that the man himself will be in town summer 2019, headlining the Ljubljana Jazz Festival).
Channel Zero – Thursday you can enjoy post-industrial noise from Australia’s Kollaps.>
Klub Gromka – Wednesday, starting at 20:30, a silent movie (Aelita – Queen of Mars) will be accompanied by live music from Marc Ribot, as played on acoustic and electric guitars. Friday night there’s change in mood, with a live show from Ruinas, MatraK AttaKK, and Ascidie, with the headlining act offering “misanthropic stenchcore crust” from Argentina. Forewarned is forearmed, so check out the third video below.
Kino Šiška – Monday there’s RE_HUMANIZACIJA V, from 20:00 on, playing “interdisciplinary sonic works that are the result of the vision of the youngest generation of Slovenian musicians” – details here.
Ljubljana Castle – Friday night is music night at the Castle, and this week sees a show from Nas3, as hear below.
Orto Bar – Thursday there’s live death metal from Beyond Creation, Gorod, Entheos, and Brought by Pain. Friday there’s then another Kadilnica of Death event, with SkyEye, Hangar 55, and Sketne. Saturday there’s then a Muse tribute band by the name of GeMÜSE.
Slovenska filharmonija – Thursday and Friday you can hear the orchestra lead by the conductor Dmitrij Liss and playing along with Duo GrauSchumacher on the piano. The music will be Messiaen, Poulenc and Tchaikovsky.
Tivoli Hall – Sunday night the Pink Floyd tribute band, Brit Floyd, are coming to town. You can get tickets here and get some idea of how good they are below.
Gledališče IGLU - IGLU Theatre – Saturday night this group is usually putting on an English improv show somewhere in town, but it’s generally promoted after this is written, so check the Facebook before putting on your shoes.
SNG Opera and Ballet – Thursday, Friday and Saturday you can enjoy ballet from Kompozicija in a show called Moški z nožem , while on Sunday there’s Madame Butterfly.
Slovensko mladinsko gledališče – Tuesday and Wednesday evening you can see a stage performance of Lar von Trier’s Idiots, as presented with English surtitles.
Open Kitchen is now over, but from November 2 to 30 there’s the Gourmet Ljubljana Festival, with a full programme of culinary events, as detailed here, as well as the St Martin's Day wine festival in the streets on Saturday, as noted in the intro.
If you'd like to spend an evening painting with others, then take a look at Design with Wine, which organises painting parties on Trubarjeva cesta,
Breg Embankment, just opposite the Old Town and by the river, has a small flea market open every Sunday morning. Learn more about it here.
If you can't make it to Breg on Sunday morning, but still want to see some antiques, then check out the wonderful Antika Carniola, as discussed here.
Photo: JL Flanner
If you’re in town and want to go jogging or walking in nature, why not take another look at the Castle, with a brief guide to the trails here. If you want something bigger, head to Tivoli Park.
And if you're bored with the Old Town, why not take a walk, cycle or boat ride to nearby Špica and enjoy the riverside life. Learn more about that here.
Flickr - Dave Rosenbaum CC by 2.0
Want to stretch and breath? Then check out our list of drop-in yoga classes for tourists, visitors and the uncommitted. If you're heading to the coast, check out our interview with a yoga teacher who offers breakfast sessions there, while if you're staying in town (or nearby) and want to try some "family yoga" then you can learn more about that here and maybe get your kids to calm down a moment or two.
There are some golf courses near Ljubljana, but even ones further away are not far, as seen in our list of all the golf courses in Slovenia.
Photo: maxpixel.com, public domain
Photo: Google Image Search
Most of Slovenia is only a few hours from Ljubljana, and you can easily visit Lake Bled, Lipica Stud Farm, Postojna Cave, Predjama Castle, the coast and other locations, while if you'd like to take a photo of from that bench in Bled, then you can learn how to get there here. If you’re looking for something more ambitious, then check out our recent guide to the 17 members of the Association of Historical Towns of Slovenia
If you want to try some interesting candies, or other Russian products, then consider a visit to 1000 Slaščic, tucked away by the main library in the centre of town (and this isn’t a paid ad or compensated content, I just happen to visit once every three weeks so I’ve something to chew on while choosing my books, as I did this morning). And if you'd like to join the library and enjoy its huge collection of books in various languages, as well as CDs and DVDs, then you can find out how to do that here.
Photo: JL Flanner
With 59 major rivers and 321 lakes within its small and varied topography, it’s no wonder that fishing in Slovenia is a popular activity, one that provides a way to explore the great outdoors, commune with nature, and hopefully bring something home for dinner. Still, it’s part of the nation’s tourist offering that we’re relatively unfamiliar with, and so when we came across Water Man Adventures, a company that organizes vacations with a focus on fly-fishing in Slovenia, we jumped at the chance to ask Robert Redding a few questions about the business.
Where are you based, and how did you discover Slovenia?
Water Man Adventures has a presence in Colorado, USA, where I’m based, as well as in Slovenia where my business partners are.
I fell in love with Slovenia and its fly-fishing when I was posted to the US Embassy in Ljubljana from 2006 to 2009. I began the business last year in anticipation of my retirement from the military in 2019. I expect to be based in Slovenia once that happens.
What makes Slovenia especially attractive for people who enjoy fly-fishing?
The country’s geography and weather make it a very special place, and there’s good reasons why fishing in Slovenia is increasingly popular. Primarily, there is tremendous diversity in terrain and rivers in Slovenia – with a high concentration in the western part of this small country. In the northern/alpine region, the streams and rivers are cold all year long, and this makes them a highly oxygenated and suitable habitat for cold-water fish like trout (and fishermen too) even in the hottest time of the year. Additionally, fly-fishing in Slovenia is normally a bit easier because of the low-nutrient (oligotrophic) nature of those streams - fish just have to eat all the time in order to get ready for the cold winter. Therefore, summer usually means dry fly action practically all day, not just during mornings and evenings, as is typical elsewhere.
The best part of Slovenia for fishing expeditions is that the distance between alpine and limestone waters is only a one hour drive. In fact, there are only two hours needed to drive through the whole country from north to south. Given both types of rivers, along with the lakes that are available, fly fishermen have a great opportunity for good fly-fishing conditions practically every day of the season. To make things even better, we can (and do) change regions and rivers during the fishing day in order to give clients the best opportunities to fish.
Where in Slovenia do you operate?
We take our clients primarily to places where there are trout in the rivers – and thus the water is clear and cold. Our current favorite rivers are on the Sava Bohinjka, the Krka, the Unica, and of course the Soča. Because we offer excursions other than fishing, you’ll find us at other hot spots like Bled.
What services do you offer?
Water Man Adventures provides an outstanding fly-fishing experience for the discriminating fly fisherman on the world-class waters of the Republic of Slovenia. We are a hands-on, destination fishing outfitter operated by an experienced team of completely focused on arranging a custom fishing and travel experience in Slovenia. So, we put together total packages for our clients. Beyond the fishing, we set up lodging and culinary experiences based on the desires of the client.
What kind of fish can people catch in Slovenia?
Brown Trout, Marble Trout, Rainbow Trout, and Grayling are what we fly fish for. You can also catch pike and the famous huchen (Danubian Salomon) on traditional fishing gear.
In addition to the fishing, what do people experience on your tours?
Our clients typically fish only part of the day – the rest is filled with the best that there is to experience in Slovenia. Of course, Ljubljana’s old town and Bled are on everyone’s itinerary. But we customize based on what the client is looking for. For example, some recent clients were very excited to have the opportunity to take one afternoon and have lunch at Hiša Franko.
When are the seasons?
The season for fishing in Slovenia kicks off in April and May, with it best when the first hatches of the year come in the various streams – it’s a different time depending on where you are fishing. The season continues through the summer, though it can get crowded in August during holidays. When fall comes, the best fish to look for are grayling. Of course, Huchen (Danubian Salmon) offer the greatest prize in late fall and early winter.
What’s your favorite spot to fish in Slovenia?
Really? I'm not telling… However, the smaller streams that are away from the Soča provide some of the best experiences for fly fishers – to include the Unica, Krka and Idrijca Rivers. We look to take our clients away from the crowds to places like these.
How far in advance do people usually book?
We take care of clients whether they want to fish tomorrow or next summer. Optimally, those who want to fish in Slovenia in the summer of 2019 with us will be booked by January.
What’s are the general profiles of most of your customers?
Most of my clients are Americans. When they are in Slovenia, Americans typically want to see and do what a lot of general tourists want to do. So, we provide turn-key vacation packages for them that include lodging, meals, and excursions – even completely separate itineraries for spouses (Rogaška regularly comes up!). Water Man Adventures also has European clientele, and they are typically more comfortable taking care of their own extra activities. Regardless, we custom design each tour based on what the client wants – no is rarely an answer for us.
Any changes innovations planned for 2019?
We are looking to continue to define this sector of the tourism industry, while conforming to what Slovenes want in the future. Our goal is to provide clients with fantastic experiences fishing in Slovenia, while minimizing impact on the environment and culture of Slovenia. While seeking that balance, we want to ensure that Slovenes are able to benefit, so we’ll use local resources every time that it’s possible to do so.
When you’re not leading tours, or fishing, what do you like to do in Slovenia?
I really enjoy exploring the variety of Slovenia’s regions; whether it’s on a wine road in Primorska or looking for bears in Dolenska – you’ll find me at the end of a dirt road somewhere.
If you’d like to learn a lot more about the trips Richard and his partners offer, then visit the Water Man Adventures website or Facebook page. And if you’d like to see some other ways to spend your holiday in Slovenia, then check out our Ten Ways to Enjoy the River Soča.
Špela Vodovc, the woman behind Culinary Slovenia, has made it her life and work to share kitchen secrets of the country with people curious to learn more about the food and drink enjoyed in this small but varied nation, with its diverse climates, neighbors and history all leaving their mark on the table. For the last few years Špela has been organizing food tours of the country, as well as cooking classes, but now she’s got a project that will bring the edible cultural heritage of Slovenia to an even larger audience, wherever they are in the world - a book of Slovenian recipes.
100 easy to follow Slovenian recipes are introduced with inspiring pictures and clear instructions
It’s a work that present the culinary tradition of the nation, based on the family recipes that Špela learned from her parents and grandparents. The book, called Cook Eat Slovenia, presents tried and true recipes and tips that will quickly enable you to turn out a tasty jota, štruklji, potica or any other of 100 dishes that are enjoyed in homes and restaurants across the country, including traditional Easter food and other seasonal feasts.
Špela Vodovc and one of the most requested Slovenian recipes - potica
Well aware that the recipes that people are most likely to use in cook books are those that come with a photo, the team behind the book, including designer Gregor Žakelj have worked to ensure that Cook Eat Slovenia will get maximum use, as every dish is illustrated with beautiful photos by Mateja Jordović Potočnik, whose work can be seen in the images accompanying this story, with the dishes styled by Špela and her mother, Branka.
The coast isn't neglected
St Martin's feast
More than just a collection of recipes, Cook Eat Slovenia aims to take you on a tour of the country and all 24 of its culinary regions. The book will be available to order on Kickstarter from November 14th to 13th December 2018, for an early bird price – not the €24.99 that will be charged in stores -- and you can sign up to get more details here, with the finished book scheduled to be released in July 2019 Those interested in a more hands on approach can learn about Culinary Slovenia’s tours here and workshops here, while you can read our interview with Špela Vodovc here.
And if you’d like to see our own growing collection of Slovenian recipes, then check out this page.