STA, 8 March - Young Slovenian businessman Damian Merlak, who has made more than 100 million euro with last year's sale of Bitstamp, one of the world's largest crypto currency exchanges, has bought four run-down hotels in the Alpine valley of Bohinj, north-western Slovenia, for 8.4 million euro.
Merlak bought Zlatorog Hotel, Bohinj Hotel, Bohinj Apartment Hotel and Ski Hotel Vogel, at excellent locations near Lake Bohinj, from businessman Zmago Pačnik and his family, news portal Siol reported on Friday.
While it did not report how much Merlak paid for them, business newspaper Finance said the deal, involving the purchase of three firms managing the hotels, was worth 8.4 million euro.
Back in 2016, the Pačniks wanted to sell them for 15 million euro, putting the highest price tag of seven million euro on Zlatorog Hotel, which needs the most repairs.
Merlak told the STA he had bought the hotels to renovate and re-launch them. The ones being leased will continue to operate in the same way, while the rest will be managed by his team after renovation.
He also noted the 43-room Zlatorog Hotel, located above the lake and closed since 2011, would be the most demanding project.
It is not only in an extremely poor condition, having been stripped bare over the past few years, "but also unsuitable for 2019 in terms of design", he added.
The value of its renovation will depend on which of the variants architects are working on is chosen, but "I'd be very happy if Zlatorog is ready for use in two years' time".
Bohinj Hotel, situated by the lake, has 20 rooms and 34 suites. Bohinj Apartment Hotel with 27 self-catering units is said to be in a state similar to Zlatorog's.
The 28-room Ski Hotel Vogel is located some 50 metres from the ski slopes on Mount Vogel above the lake.
According to Siol, the hotels used to be managed by the Alpinum company, which the state sold cheap to the Pačnik family in 2002.
The Pačniks had been leasing them and invested practically nothing into them, so the Bohinj municipality had urged the state to take measures to save them from ruin.
For Merlak, the hotels are not his first investment in Bohinj. In 2016 he bought the Tuba self-catering units near the well-known Savica waterfall.
Even before that, he and his former Bitstamp partner Nejc Kodrič bought several farms with 1,300 cattle. He also bought a veterinary clinic.
All out stories on blockchain and Slovenia are here
STA, 10 March 2019 - Ramon Zenhäusern from Switzerland won Sunday's World Cup slalom in Slovenia's Kranjska Gora. With 1.15 seconds behind him, Norway's Henrik Kristoffersen failed to secure a double victory in Kranjska Gora after winning giant slalom on Saturday.
Austria's Marcel Hirscher was third (+1.17), but nevertheless sealed his eight overall World Cup victory, which makes him the skier with the most overall wins in history.
Despite not winning today's race, Kristoffersen is the overall winner of the two World Cup races in Kranjska Gora, which are in Slovenia known as the Vitranc Cup.
Saturday’s podium runs
Today's winner Zenhäusern, who finished the first run only seventh, made up for the gap from the first run in a phenomenal second-run performance, outdoing the strongest rivals by more than a second.
Speaking to the press after the race, he said he would like to move to Kranjska Gora because he liked it here very much so he won the third World Cup race.
Last year he placed third in the Kranjska Gora slalom, behind archrivals Hirscher and Kristoffersen.
This is, however, the first time in 20 years that a Swiss won a slalom race in Kranjska Gora. Before Zenhäusern, the feat was achieved by Didier Plaschy in December 1999.
Štefan Hadalin, the only Slovenian in the finals, finished 21st (+3.57) to place 18th in the overall slalom standings.
1. Ramon Zenhäusern (Sui) 1:39.54 51.97 47.57 2. Henrik Kristoffersen (Nor) 1:40.69 +01.15 51.07 49.62 3. Marcel Hirscher (Aut) 1:40.71 +01.17 51.88 48.83 4. Manuel Feller (Aut) 1:40.77 +01.23 52.04 48.73 5. Daniel Yule (Sui) 1:41.06 +01.52 51.71 49.35 6. Manfred Mölgg (Ita) 1:41.39 +01.85 51.64 49.75 7. Alexis Pinturault (Fra) 1:41.45 +01.91 51.69 49.76 8. Andre Myhrer (Swe) 1:41.56 +02.02 51.86 49.70 . Clement Noel (Fra) 1:41.56 +02.02 52.59 48.97 . Stefano Gross (Ita) 1:41.56 +02.02 52.64 48.92 ... Overall World Cup rankings: 1. Marcel Hirscher (Aut) 1,508 2. Alexis Pinturault (Fra) 999 3. Henrik Kristoffersen (Nor) 988 4. Dominik Paris (Ita) 750 5. Beat Feuz (Sui) 653 6. Vincent Kriechmayr (Aut) 634 7. Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (Nor) 587 8. Mauro Caviezel (Sui) 566 9. Marco Schwarz (Aut) 560 10. Daniel Yule (Sui) 491
Below is a review of the headlines in Slovenian dailies for Monday, 11 March 2019, as summarised by the STA:
"Emonika project enters second phase": The plans for a new bus and railway station in Ljubljana are ready. A construction permit is to be obtained next year. (front page, 4)
Public opinion poll
"Support for LMŠ down, SMC gets less than 1%": The latest public opinion poll carried out by Mediana shows the first drop in government support since Marjan Šarec took over as prime minister. (front page, 2)
"After 406 days Prevc jumps among top three again": After struggling with his form for the past year due to his ankle problems, former World Cup winner Peter Prevc placed third in Sunday's ski-jumping event in Norway's Oslo. (front page, 13)
SDS, NSi anniversary
"Rivalry between SDS, NSi during their 30th anniversary": The European People's Party (EPP) Spitzenkandidat for the EU vote, Manfred Weber, made a stop in Slovenia on Saturday to express support to the opposition Democrats (SDS), New Slovenia (NSi) and the non-parliamentary People's Party (SLS). (front page, 2, commentary 16)
Vitranc Cup in Kranjska Gora
"Vitranc brings back memories of the golden age of Slovenian skiing": A total of 16,000 people gathered in Kranjska Gora the past weekend for the 58th Vitranc Cup. (front page, 17-18)
Slovenian crypto millionaire
"From cyrpto to Bohinj": The paper analyses the decision of Damian Merlak, who has made more than 100 million euro with last year's sale of Bitstamp, one of the world's largest crypto currency exchanges, to buy four run-down hotels in the Alpine valley of Bohinj. (front page, 6-7)
ECB interest rates
"Will ECB interest rates go up or down?": After Thursday's surprise decision of the European Central Bank (ECB) to start printing cheap money, one of the main questions is whether ECB could now raise interest rates, the paper says. (front page, 4-5)
"Biggest rise in car prices in Slovenia so far": The paper brings an overview of the prices of cars in Slovenia, saying that the prices of cars went up by 5% on average last year, which is the biggest rise so far. (front page, 2-3)
"For little patients": The Medical Faculty in Maribor is working on two projects aimed at improving asthma treatment in children. (front page, 6-7)
Row over memorial ceremony
"Gurk Diocese against Ustasha": The Croatian Bishops Conference expressed its deep disagreement with the decision by the Roman Catholic Church in the Austrian federal state of Carinthia to withhold permission for this year's memorial mass near Bleiburg. (front page, 2-3)
"Doctor guilty, but gets away with probation": A court has found a doctor in Lenart has sexually abused a 16-year-old but would not strip him of his licence. (front page, 13)
Spring’s almost here and the chairs outside cafés and bars are starting to fill up again, giving you the chance to sit and watch the life of the city unfold before deciding to re-enter the stream. One indoor event to consider this week is the 21st Documentary Film Festival (13 – 20), this year's produced in cooperation with Amnesty International and featuring a Werner Herzog Retrospective. More details are in the cinema section, below, while the programme is here.
Want to practice your English by giving or hearing science presentations? Then learn more about Science Bites, who organise such events for free and hold them at ŽMAUC. This week, Tuesday 15, from 19:00 to 20:00, there will be talks on "Sex with the wrong female: Causes and consequences of reproductive interference", "Particle detectors: the way we can "see" particles!" and "Arts in education and the power of abstract thinking". The events page for this group is here.
If you're not in town for the week of this guide (March 11 - 17, 2019) then you can see all the editions here, and you can enhance your stay in the city and impress or annoy friends and companions by learning some obscure facts about the city here, and the Castle 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 at this place in whatever week you're here. 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
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 if they can't understand Slovene. Parents should also pay attention to Kinobalon, which is Kinodvor's regular weekend series of film screenings and events for children, from babies on up, with special parent/child events, "first time in a cinema" screenings, and babysitting. Learn more about it here, and see the current schedule here.
Kinodvor – The arts cinema not far from the train station is showing, among other films, Green Book, Colette, Faces Places, Beautiful Boy, Vision, Climax, #Female Pleasure (with the Wednesday, 17:15 screening followed by a talk with the director), Sakawa (Thursday 18:15, also followed by a talk with the director), and Putin’s Witnesses (Saturday, 20:30, talk with the director).
Kinoteka – This revival cinema isn’t far from Kinodvor, at the train station end of Miklošičeva, is showing, among other features, Mike Leigh’s Naked, John Huston’s Annie, Alfonso Cuarón’s Y Tu Mamá También, and a short Werner Herzog season (that continues next week) with Fata Morgana, Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World, Land des Schweigens und der Dunkelheit, Little Dieter Needs to Fly, Echos aus einem düsteren Reich, and Lektionen in Finsternis.
Kino Bežigrad - A little out of town, but not more than short drive or bus ride away, you can see Captain Marvel and a dubbed version of How to Train Your Dragon 3.
Kolosej - The multiplex out at BTC City Mall is playing all the big movies, which this week include Captain Marvel (2D and 3D), How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, Green Book, Vice, Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 (dubbed), A Star is Born, Bohemian Rhapsody, Escape Room, Lego Film 2, Cold Pursuit, Alita: Battle Angel (2D and 3D), Qu'est-ce qu'on a encore fait au bon Dieu?, Happy Death Day 2U, Instant Family, Mia et le lion blanc, a dubbed version of Liliane Susewind, The Favourite, Replicas, Izbrisana, and a dubbed version of The Queen’s Corgi. New this week are Colette and Posljednji Srbin u Hrvatskoj. Note that there are far more movies than screens, so some of the older ones may only be playing once or twice a week. Click on the theatre name to see the actual times before making a date.
Komuna – The cinema in a basement behind Nama department store is showing Collete, The Upside and Green Book.
Compared to some European capitals it can seem that nightlife in Ljubljana ends rather early, especially along the river, 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 considerable variety to found within the various clubs there, from death metal to electropop, gay cabaret to art noise. You can read "the rules" of the place here. And if you're curious about how the place started then read our story, and look at some pictures, about last year's 25th anniversary.
Channel Zero – Friday, 23:00 to 06:00, there’s a Mushroom Magic Lights event called Mami's Magic Domačica, with “dance” being the music on offer to go with the visuals. See below for details and take care with the ones that stain blue.
Cvetličarna – Saturday is PURE Oldies Goldies, with DJs Shift, Sylvian (+ live drums) and Devious.
Gala Hala – Friday, March 15 – the Ides of March – there’s the Outlook Festival 2019 Official Ljubljana Launch Party, playing drum'n'bass, dubstep, reggae, jungle, grime, dancehall, traphall, and dub, with the beats lined up by Gardna (UK) w/ DJ Fat Stash (UK), DubDiggerz (Artikal Music UK, Navy Cut, PlantPower, Gourmetbeats, DeepEnd), Bushee (Gonobeats) and Roots In Session Soundsystem, with visuals from MESEC.
Klub Cirkus – Wednesday there’s an all-nighter called Welcome to the Jungle w. Krankšvester, which seems to be offering an actual jungle atmosphere rather than drum’n’bass. A video from Krankšvester promoting something like gabber is below. Friday it’s Vision - Premiera!, with dance anthems & party hits, with the mix provide by Catch!ness. The week comes to a close with El Fuego, with Latino flavored pop, r&b, dance, reggaeton, Latin house, tropical, and island beats played by Cirkus’ resident DJ, Matthew Z,
Klub K4 – Friday night the klub 4 kool kids has K4 Gibanica, with Torulsson Live! (RF, Wave Riders!), Electronic Badminton King (Scienceofuse), DJ Dado (Šlagwerk), Ian F. (Luckison) and Teo (Dirtyspeakerz). Saturday the dancefloor will be bouncing to the music arranged by Symann & Ulix, Zergon and Utti, in an all-nighter called Synaptic.
Klub Gromka – Friday there’s an all-nighter called Back to the 90`s: Eurodance.
Klubs Monokel & Tiffany – The gay bars in Metelkova have a DJ event on Saturday, with Ustanova • Slikback, A7ba-L-Jelly, and mapalma. See and hear a little more in the LGBT+ section further down.
Koncertna Dvorana Rog – Friday there’s an all-nighter in this venue inside the squat at the heading out of town end of Trubarjeva cesta, with the event called Analogue Sex × Bruce (Hessle Audio / Timedance, UK), which will also feature Roli, Jaša Bužinel, and Blažen DJ.
Orto Bar – Friday, 21:00 to 05:00, you can step back in time with Orto 90s Hit Mix Vol. 2.
Cankerjev dom – Tuesday evening there’s Camerata Salzburg, with conductor and soloist François Leleux on the oboe, and soloist Lisa Batiashvili on the, violin. The programme will feature Mendelssohn, Giya Kancheli and Ludwig A. Lebrun. The same evening, in a different hall there’s JUNEsHELEN & Alja Petric: Zvočne Krajine – Spevi & Arije + Joshua Abrams & Natural Information Society. Wednesday it’s Irena Kavčič on the flute leading the Quatuor Zaïde playing Mozart, Sibelius and Ligeti. One of the Mozart pieces is shown below, as played by a different group.
Cvetličarna – Friday, 20:00 to 02:00, Nipke & the Nipples will be performing live here, a hip hop / rap event with support from DJ Dej.
Kino Šiška – Thursday the Polish prog rockers Riverside are playing here, then Friday it’s “Young Folks” hit-makers Peter, Bjorn & John. Note that the show by The Game due for March 18 is being postponed to sometime in May.
Klub Gromka – Thursday there’s a concert with a line-up featuring Agregat, Suzi Soprano and CvetoRamšakBodiroža. Saturday the stage is then taken by Russia’s The Dead President (ska-core) and Slovenia’s The Ferminants (punk).
Ljubljana Castle – Friday is Jazz Night, with this week being the Marko Črnčec Quartet featuring Jonathan Hoard.
Orto Bar – Monday, 20:00, there’s a battle of the bands with Tooth in the Sky, Manifest, Smoking Cactus and FTD. Thursday Infected will be presenting a show to promote their new album, with support from Macbeth. Friday it’s the turn of Metropolis to take the stage, while on Saturday there’s a St Patrick’s Party with Happy Ol’ McWeasel.
Slovenska filharmonija – Thursday, March 14, there’s a concert focusing on the work of Živko Živković. Saturday morning, 11:00, there’s a children’s concert, while on Sunday there’s a concert with the chorus playing Howells, Pizzetti, Poulenc, Brahms and Mahler, including the piece shown 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 there’s a new show, Koda L - Milko Lazar, based on the work of Roland Barthes. Saturday it’s then Smetana’s Bartered Bride.
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, and our story on the group is here. You can find the latest warnings on fake drugs and high strength pills and powders (in Slovene) here. However, be aware that all the usual drugs are illegal in Slovenia.
CBD is legal, though, and our retailer of choice can be found on Trubarjeva cesta - read more about Sena Flora here.
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, pizza and ice cream. With regard to the latter, take a look at our guide to six places that serve good ice cream in winter.
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, while our stories about the community can be found here. One recent post: Slovenia ranked #28 for LBGT travellers, highest in ex-Yugo
Klub Monokel – This lesbian bar in Metelkova is open every Friday, and this week there’s also a DJ event (hosted with Tiffany, below) with Ustanova • Slikback, A7ba-L-Jelly, and mapalma. You can see and hear Slikback up in the clubbing section, while a set from the fabulously named A7ba-L-Jelly is below.
Klub Tiffany – And the gay bar next door is also open on Fridays, while every Monday until June 2019 there's tango at 18:00. This week, on Thursday evening 19:00 to 23:00, there’s a night of card and table games, while Saturday afternoon (15:00 to 18:00), there’s a workshop on online communication that seems to be aimed at lesbians and feminists, with details here.
Pritličje – This seems to be the only "always open" LGBT-friendly cafe / bar / events space in town, and perhaps the country, so it's a good thing it's such a good one, open from morning to night, and with fliers and posters letting you know what's happening outside the narrow confines of, say, a general interest online what's on... guide.
Screenshot from Google Maps, showing the location of the Castle vineyard
The city’s main attraction is said to be the top tourist draw in the country overall, and to my mind it earns a spot near the top just for the history and views. But beyond that the current owners, the City of Ljubljana, have laid out a varied, interesting and enjoyable programme of events, one that rewards regular revisits.
I try and get up there every Saturday morning to clear my head and move my feet on the trails, and never tire of that end of the hill. At the other end, where the Castle sits, there’s a lot more than fresh air on offer. There are guided tours, restaurants, a café, Castle museum, puppet museum, a Watchtower you can climb to the highest point in the city, art shows, dances, live music, movies under the stars, festival days and more – enough to reward multiple trips up the hill through the year. All of these activities and events can be found on the Castle website, while on TSN you can see “25 things to know about Ljubljana Castle” here, and “Ten Ways to Enjoy Ljubljana Castle” here.
Most public galleries and museums are closed on Mondays, although not the National Museum, and - as noted at the start
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, and it's also in a really nice part of town, Trnovo, just a short walk or cycle upriver. Read about our guided tour here.
Balassi Institute – The Hungarian culture centre has an exhibition entitled “Encounters in Visual Art” introduces works of selected visual artists, painters and sculptors, who define today's art scene in Hungary and Slovenia, as promoted with the image below. Free to enter, this venue is next to a Spar and Hofer, and not far from Dragon Bridge, and always has something interesting going on. Learn more here.
Cankerjev dom – Showing until the end of March is a selection of specimens (in Slovene, English and other languages) from The Newspaper Museum, while there are also some architectural models and plans on display.
City Museum – The Museum in French Revolution Square an 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 visit here.
The Faces of Ljubljana in the City Museum. Photo: JL Flanner
City Gallery - Not far from the Robba Fountain and running until March 24 is a show presenting drawings by Iztok Sitar, the original pages that were used to make his graphic novels over the last three decades. Rather adult in nature – think Robert Crumb in terms of sex, drugs and religion, in places – it’s free to enter and has much to enjoy. One of the pictures I took on my visit is below.
Photo: JL Flanner
MAO – The Museum of Architecture and Design has much of what you'd expect, and until March 25, 2019, has a show on Ljubljana and it's relation with water.
Rafikun Nabi: Poet, 1980, print, 96.5 x 110 cm. Courtesy of the Contemporary Art Center of Montenegro. On display at the Metelova branch of the Moderna galerija
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. Running until March 31 is a major show on young Slovenian painters, Time Without Innocence – Recent Painting in Slovenia, where you’ll see works like the following. You can read about my visit here (I loved it). The museum's Metelkova branch also has a big new show, runing until at least September 2019, an the art of the Non-Aligned Movement, with an example shown above.
Iva Tratnik, Mating Season Totalitarianism, 2014, oil on canvas, 210 x 194 cm
Arjan Pregl, from the Carnival series, oil on canvas (6 paintings 120 x 100 cm; 3 paintings 80 x 60 cm), 2018. Mr Pregl was recently voted "worse than Hitler" on Twitter.
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. You can read about our visit to the room containing sacred art from the Middle Ages here.
The real Robba Fountain can be found in the entrance to the National Gallery - the one you see in the Old Town is a genuine fake, as seen below and reported here.
Photo: JL Flanner
National Museum of Slovenia – There’s plenty to see in the permanent collection here, from Roman times, Egypt and more. Meanwhile, the museum's Metelkova branch, located between one branch of the Moderna galerija and the Ethnographic Museum has some rooms on Church art, furniture 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 items.
Natural History Museum – On until the end of June 2019 is Our Little Big Sea, which takes a look at the oceans.
Slovene Ethnographic Museum – The museum currently has a temporary show on Bees and Beekeeping, on until June 16 2019, 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.
Union is "the Ljubljana beer", but now both it and Laško are owned by Heineken. There are many local brews on offer around town, though, if you want to explore IPAs, stouts, wheatbeers, sours and so on 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: JL Flanner
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,
If you want to see some antiques, then check out the wonderful Antika Carniola, as discussed here. The man behind it, Jaka Prijatelj, has a fine eye for life on this street, as you can see on his Facebook account.
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.
maxpixel.net, public domain
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. Note that these close when the snow starts, if it ever does this year, in which case you might be interested in what's new at Slovenia's ski resorts for 2019, as reported here.
Photo: maxpixel.net, public domain
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
Photo: Google Image Search
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. Manual wheelchair users can also borrow, for free, an attachment that will motorise their equipment, as reported here.
Screenshot from a Twitter video
If you’re driving into town and don’t know where to part, our guide to how to park in Ljubljana is here.
There aren't many places to eat after midnight, and most of them are by the train station, as reported here.
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.
Photo: JL Flanner
March 9, 2019
Human history is a story of migration, and Slovenes are no exception.
In the last century and a half many Slovenes emigrated to various New Worlds, especially North America, with the diaspora finding new homes far from the land of their birth. As such, over time and with each generation their hometowns became more and more distant, until their descendants lost touch with their roots.
As such, tor many who would like to reconnect with their family origins and explore their roots a little, or a lot, of help is often needed. And this is where Urban Gulič Tomšič comes in.
Urban, what exactly do you do?
I am an ancestry guide, sometimes I also call myself an ancestry detective as my job involves a lot of investigative work.
Say I was a USA citizen who had just discovered I had some Slovenian roots and would like to learn more. How could you help me?
My help would almost certainly begin with an exchange of emails. You would need to give me all the information you’ve got so that I can have some grounds on what or who we are looking for. I advise clients about the time they might need in Slovenia, locations to stay and visit, and information to help them travel hassle free to Slovenia. However, my actual services begin with data-gathering and investigation, be it on my own or together with my clients.
We begin with gathering the information in your country, in the example of someone in the US one of the resources is Ellis Island records of immigrants, and then proceed with our work in Slovenia. In many cases the names of towns and villages are in German and also in various fonts, such as Gothic script. It happens as well that five or more villages of the same name emerge while looking for a person’s place of origin. I clarify all this and prepare the grounds for our common investigation.
The next step is to go and visit the related archives. I sometimes do this task on my own in case my clients don’t have enough time for a long enough visit.
Equipped with this data we then go on our trip around Slovenia. We visit local parishes and check their archives as well, old cemeteries, we knock on people doors and pieces of information start to come together.
Most of the times we meet living relatives, find old houses or their ruins, even neighbours in possession of old photos and oral history.
Photo: Ancestry Slovenia
How come you decided to do this?
My friend and a fellow tour guide Barbara once called me to help with ancestry guiding, because one of hers colleagues got sick. I took the tour and got immediately hooked. I enjoyed the company of my clients but also the research, it made me feel like Sherlock Holmes. I also felt very happy when we found what we were looking for. I wanted to do more of this so I launched my own Slovenian Genealogy website.
Where do your clients mostly come from?
Most of my clients come from the USA, mainly Cleveland and Chicago, as well as California, but I get people from everywhere Slovenians moved long enough ago for their descendants to have lost touch with the old country.
Which part of Slovenia do your clients mostly originate from, is there a region that stands out in this respect?
Many people emigrated from the areas of Posavje and Dolenjska (Lower Carniola), as the living conditions at the end of 19th century were really bad in these areas. In general the majority of my research is conducted in the eastern part of Slovenia.
My clients are mostly descendants of this first wave of emigration (roughly between the years 1880 and 1920), which was predominantly economic in nature. Those who emigrated for political reasons following the end of WWII mostly haven’t lost a touch yet, as this wasn’t that long ago.
As a tour guide, what are the places you would recommend to visit in Slovenia besides the usual destinations of Bled, Ljubljana Castle and Postojna Cave?
Basically in Slovenia whether you head in one direction or another you can stumble upon a place of beauty: Soča Valley, the lovely city of Piran on the coast, the wine region of Goriška brda, Lake Bohinj, Velika Planina, the Mercury mine of Idrija and Škocjan Caves, to name just a few.
Urban, thank you for talking to us.
For more information please visit Ancestry Slovenia.
STA, 8 March 2019 - Health Minister Samo Fakin has notified Prime Minister Marjan Šarec that he is stepping down because of ill health, after being on sick leave since 18 February. Šarec told the press that he would inform the public about Fakin's successor in the coming days.
In his resignation note to Šarec on Friday, Fakin said he was resigning because his recovery had not been progressing quickly enough. Šarec, who visited Fakin at home yesterday, said today that "this move was necessary at this moment".
Šarec also said that the outgoing minister's illness was "nothing that can't be treated, but things have piled up. He suffered an extended bout of bronchitis, followed by pneumonia."
Fakin told the newspaper Finance over the phone that "changing health legislation is very demanding. It requires a healthy person and I am not. When deciding what to do, health took priority."
"I haven't thought about a successor and I'm leaving that up to others," he told Finance. While he remains on sick leave, State Secretary Pia Vračko will continue to stand in for him, the Health Ministry said.
When asked how the change at the ministry will affect the reforms planned by his government, Šarec said that the goals remained unchanged.
He also said that he was happy with Fakin's work. "The minister is one of few people who know the entire system. He identified the real problems and addressed them. There can be no quick solutions in this ministry."
"Because he set such high goals, he now realised that he will not be able to see it through, being ill. We need a person capable of seeing things through."
But this will be no easy task. The next minister will have their work cut out for them. "The tasks are really tough," said the prime minister.
Fakin is the fourth minister in the Šarec government to step down after Environment Minister Jure Leben, Cohesion Minister Marko Bandelli and Culture Minister Dejan Prešiček.
Health ministers who last an entire government term are few and far between in Slovenia. Several said after leaving the position that they gave up on health reform, a project in the works for many years, due to strong pressure from various lobbies.
STA, 8 March 2019 - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec told the weekly Mladina that UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt had raised the issue of a UK company's gas extraction project in the north-east of Slovenia during their talks in Ljubljana at the end of February. Šarec said he found the manner of inquiry unusual.
The fracking attempts in the Petišovci area were stopped by former Environment Minister Jure Leben after UK company Ascent Resources had been pressuring the country to issue an environmental permit and even threatening with a lawsuit before an EU court.
Several environmental NGOs and parties had also accused UK Ambassador Sophie Honey of lobbying and putting pressure on Slovenian authorities to secure the permit for fracking.
Šarec said in an interview with Mladina that the case had come up in the talks with Hunt in Ljubljana on 21 February.
Asked whether Hunt had lobbied during the talks, Šarec replied in the affirmative. "Yes, his questions regarding this case were, I must say, unusual.
"I believe that such talks do not become a foreign secretary, because it makes the whole thing resemble horse-trading."
Šarec said he had told Hunt that "in Slovenia we operate in line with the law."
"I'd like to point out that the permit for fracking is not a matter of a favourable political stance toward this or other party but a matter of legislation.
"I am also personally convinced that these procedures for extracting oil or gas undoubtedly entail certain environmental risks."
Šarec also noted that lobbying was usually reported to the Commission for Corruption Prevention but it this case this was not necessary, because he had publicly spoken about it now.
STA, 8 March 2019 - Slovenia ranks high among EU member states in terms of the proportion of women in senior management positions. However, even as the rate is increasing, it is still far below targets set a few years ago.
Data released by Eurostat ahead of International Women's Day indicate that almost half of managerial positions in Slovenia are filled by women (47%) and one in four senior executives is female.
This places Slovenia fifth among EU member states, with EU average at 36% and 17%, respectively. The data take into account positions in public and private sectors.
While still above EU average, Slovenia is not among the leaders when it comes to the percentage of women on board members of publicly listed companies, which is at 27%, only a percentage point above EU average.
Similarly, data from the European Institute for Gender Equality show that the proportion of women in senior positions in largest listed companies in Slovenia is increasing.
The proportion of women CEOs, executives and non-executives in such companies rose to 24.7% in 2018, the highest in recent years.
Commenting on the figures, the Manager Association said that this was still far from the target of 40% by 2020, set in a EU directive proposal in 2013 by the then Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding.
The association has been advocating legislative changes to improve gender equality in top corporate positions, pointing to surveys showing companies with gender-balanced managements perform better.
This is also evident from the the Women in Work Index, a survey conducted by Pricewaterhousecoopers, where Slovenia gained one spot to place 4th among the 33 OECD countries.
Consultancy Bisnode has surveyed 18,300 businesses whose chief executives are women, finding that while those represented 25% of the economy, they generated 37% of total revenue and 39% of total profit in 2017, employing 37% of the workforce.
The analysis also showed above-average efficiency of "women businesses", having turned one euro into almost 1.3 euro of profit, which compares to the overall average of 0.9 euro.
Melania Seier Larsen, executive director of Boston Consulting Group and vice-president of the women manager section at the Manager Association, noted disparity between women university graduates and those in senior positions.
"Women represent as much as 58% of graduates, but then there are only 20% women executive directors and only 5% of women are chief executives," she said.
Trends in science are similar; while about as many women as men graduate or even win a PhD degree, the proportion of women as they pursue their careers to regular professorship drops to 17%.
Larsen noted that gender inequality in decision-making positions was huge, quoting World Economic Forum in projecting that at the current pace it would take 100 years to close the gender gap.
The full report, in PDF form, can be found here
To an entire generation of Slovenes, the name Angela Vode would have meant nothing. Even today bringing up the name of Ms Vode in the company of Slovenes may result only in confused stares and faces of disinterest, confused as to why you interrupted their coffee to talk about some dead woman from the past. But Angela Vode isn’t just some dead woman from the past, far from it. Angela Vode was one of those unfortunate souls who gave their entire life over to helping their fellow humans only to be consistently arrested because of it. Her life story isn’t a million miles away from mirroring Slovenia’s own in modern times.
Angela Vode was born on January 5, 1892, the third daughter of five children in a poor, working-class family. Her father was a chap by the name of Anton, who worked as a railwayman until his death in 1904. Little is known of her mother, other than the fact she passed away in 1919. Angela’s upbringing was fairly typical of a working-class Slovene girl in the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the time, which means her future job prospects were ‘teacher’ or ‘wife’, or maybe even ‘wife of teacher’. ‘Wife and teacher’ legitimately wasn’t an option, unless it was ‘teacher and wife of teacher’. Married women were forced (by law) to give up their jobs unless they were teachers marrying teachers.
This is the societal system that Angela Vode was born into, and therefore you can understand why she was just a little bit miffed about it all. Angela graduated from a teaching school in 1911 and worked as a teacher in and around Ljubljana all the way up until 1917 when she was fired because of her ties to a youth movement known as Preporod (Rebirth), who were openly anti-Austria and all in favour of a future Yugoslav state. Despite being considered a ‘red feminist’ Angela continued on the educational path post-firing, studying special education in Prague, Berlin and Vienna before returning to Slovenia to work as what was then called a ‘teacher-defectologist’, which basically means ‘teacher of children with disabilities’. Angela actually published a number of articles on the education of disabled children, as well as a book in 1936 titled ‘The Importance of Auxiliary Schools and Their Development in Yugoslavia’. Well, it was called ‘Pomem pomožnega šolstva in njegov razvoj v Jugoslaviji’, to be precise.
The education of disabled children wasn’t Angela’s numero one focus however, no matter how forward thinking she was on the matter. The 1920s saw Angela Vode fast become one of the most vocal supporters of women’s rights in what was first the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes and then the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (from 1929). The history of women’s rights organisations in Slovenia was not a long one, the first such organisation being established in the city of Trieste (now in Italy) in 1887. Angela was elected president of the Women’s Movement of Yugoslavia, as well as president of the Female Teachers’ Society of Slovenia (established in 1898), which carried the slogan ‘for equal work, equal pay’. The mid-1930s saw her publish a number of works on the subject of women’s rights and social injustice, although the events of the 1940s in Yugoslavia meant these books would cease to exist until after Yugoslavia had itself ceased to exist.
Again we must travel back ever so slightly. In 1922 Angela joined the then-illegal Communist Party of Yugoslavia, in what she described as an act of idealism born out of a sincere belief in the fight against injustice. She stuck with the party until 1939, when she was expelled for openly criticising the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact that saw Hitler and Stalin agree to carve up Eastern Europe. World War Two soon came to the Yugoslav lands, and despite her frequent warnings about the importance of a united anti-fascist front, the resistance in Yugoslavia split into many parts. Despite her expulsion Vode decided to join the commie-led Liberation Front of the Slovene People, quickly becoming the top representative of the Slovene women’s movements. In late 1941 Vode joined Stara Pravda (Old Justice), but the expulsion of this group a year later signalled misery on Angela’s horizons.
She continued to do her bit to help the resistance however, organising collections of food and clothing for Slovene refugees and those in labour camps. How one gets food and clothing into a fascist labour camp I have no idea, but I digress. Vode was in Italian-occupied Ljubljana at the time, and whilst this wasn’t the greatest place in the world it was simply heaven compared to the existence of the Slovenes in the Nazi-occupied areas of the country. This led to a whole heap of Slovene refugees moving into Ljubljana, and in late 1942 the Italian authorities decided the best way to deal with this was to start executing whomever it deemed unnecessary. Like any human with a heart, Vode decided to appeal to Italian leader Benito Mussolini to stop the executions, but her protest was destroyed by the Slovene communists who wanted to be the sole source of protest and resistance in order to enhance their claim to power when the war was over.
The war was soon over (well, a couple of years or so later anyway) and things didn’t look too rosy for Angela. She went back to working as a teacher, but as the communist stranglehold on power increased her future looked increasingly bleak. The fact that she was one of the few who tried to organise legitimate political opposition to the communists didn’t help, and her standing as an intellectual on the other side of the fence all but guaranteed her a visit from the secret police. That visit came in the autumn of 1947, and Angela was arrested and imprisoned for two months. After two months of torture and abuse, Angela Vode was put on trial, by which I mean after two months of torture and abuse Angela Vode took part in a show trial. She was charged with treason, accused of being an enemy of the working class, a western spy and any other stereotypically 1940’s communist thing one could be arrested for. These were the Nagode Trials, named after the leader of the aforementioned Stara Pravda movement, Črtomir Nagode. The ‘trials’ saw 15 intellectuals found guilty of treason and sentenced to death or life imprisonment.
Vode got 20 years, and whilst she only served six of these years thanks to international fury, she didn’t exactly return to a free and joyous wonderland in 1953. Vode was declared a ‘non-person’, that is a human being without any rights whatsoever. She wasn’t allowed to find employment, enjoy a personal income or get medical insurance. She was denied her passport, and her name was prohibited from public life. Her works, such vital and important works concerning women’s rights in the country, could not be quoted in any way, shape or form. It was as if Angela Vode had never existed, and this vibrant and revolutionary mind was reduced to being completely in the care of her sister Ivana. In the late 1960s, Angela began work on her memoirs, finishing what was known as ‘The Hidden Memoir’ in 1971. It wouldn’t see the light of day until 2004.
After the death of Tito in 1980 there began to be small ripples of interest in her oft-whispered about works throughout the Slovene republic. On the 50th anniversary of her book ‘Women in Contemporary Society’, she gave a low-key interview to the magazine Nova revija, marking her first public appearance in over 30 years. One year later she passed away at her home in Ljubljana, dying in May 1985 at the age of 93. She didn’t live to see the Slovene court annul the verdicts of the Nagode Trials, although after being robbed of her final 30 years justice would be nigh on impossible.
Vode has been posthumously rehabilitated, and slowly but surely her works have begun to reach more people. Despite being written almost a century ago they are still relevant today, with Vode expressing a desire to cherish the natural differences of the genders whilst putting forward the necessity of equality at the same time. She attacked subjects that were almost holy at the time, such as the role of husband and wife in parenting, stating she did not understand ‘…why a wife by nature would be more destined for motherhood than a husband for fatherhood’. She wrote extensively about gender roles as well as the influence of nature and nurture in those roles. Vode urged women to learn about the past, believing that only by understanding society could one improve one's position. She implored that a healthy marriage could only exist with love, friendship, mutual respect, understanding and economic independence. She stripped down the question of gender roles in society, saying that ‘…a woman is as integral a part of human society, nation, state and family as a man, and her life and position are equally dependent on all political, economic, and cultural developments, and a demand for her participation in public life is absolutely natural and necessary’.
Angela Vode was and still is a vital voice in the women’s rights movement in Slovenia, and it is a tragedy that she simultaneously became a poster girl for the abusive and criminal side of the semi-totalitarian dream that was socialist Yugoslavia.
If you enjoyed this story, then consider picking up a copy, in digital or paper form, of An Illustrated History of Slavic Misery from Posh Lost Books or following the related page on Facebook, while you can read more of John’s work on his personal website.
STA, 7 March 2019 - Slovenian banks recorded a cumulative net profit of just over EUR 496m in 2018, the highest since the pre-crisis year 2007 and an increase of almost 17% over the year before on the back of robust growth of non-interest revenue.
Whereas net interest revenue rose by just 3% to EUR 672m due to persistently low interest rates, non-interest revenue surged by over 14% to EUR 482m, shows a central bank report released on Thursday.
The figure confirms earlier findings that banks have been increasing service fees to offset low interest rates.
The sector also profited from the cancellation of provisions for non-performing loans, though that contributed only EUR 48m to the bottom line, a tenth more than in the year before.
Operating costs increased only marginally, by 0.6% to EUR 700m.
Total assets increased by 2.2% to EUR 38.78bn, in what is the second consecutive annual increase.
Non-banking deposits were up 5.3% to almost EUR 30bn, mostly due to a EUR 1.2bn increase in household deposits.
Loans to the non-banking sector grew at a rate of 3.3% on the back of robust lending to households, which now account for a quarter of total outstanding loans.
Asset quality improved last year as banks reduced exposure to non-performing loans to 4% from 6% measured by the broad definition of the European Banking Authority.
Despite the rapid improvement, the share of non-performing loans to the corporate sector remains high, at 8.4%. This is however a 4.5-point improvement on the year before.
All our stories about Slovenia and banks can be found here
STA, 7 March 2019 - The Ljubljana District Court acquitted Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković of bribery charges in the Gratel case on Thursday. The prosecution sought a three-year prison sentence and a EUR 50,000 fine for Janković. It also wanted the Ljubljana municipality to return the donation it received from the company Gratel.
The ruling is not final yet and prosecutor Blanka Žgajnar announced an appeal.
The case concerns EUR 500,000 which the mayor demanded from construction company Gratel in March 2007 to allow it to dig roads to install optic cables.
Gratel then transferred two EUR 250,000 instalments to the municipality as a donation for the renovation of Ljubljana Castle.
This enabled it to resume its work under a new development permit after Janković had initially banned Gratel from digging on public premises.
Janković argued that the payment had been made in compensation for the damage incurred by the city because Gratel had dug up wider conduits and installed more cables than agreed.
He maintained throughout the trial there was nothing wrong with a company making a donation to a public institution, saying it caused no harm to anyone and nobody except the prosecutor was claiming anything back.
Gratel owner Jurij Krč backed up his story, saying the donation to Ljubljana Castle was not a bribe but a payment in line with the contract, while former Gratel CEO Drago Štrafela said he did not understand why the money should be paid to the municipality, arguing the city suffered no damage.
In presenting closing arguments today, prosecutor Žgajnar said Janković had used his power to pressure Gratel into the donation. "When they did that, he allowed them to continue the work," she said.
"Donations are not forbidden if they are voluntary," she stressed, adding that three witnesses had confirmed that the defendant had demanded money. She believes that the one witness who did not confirm this was not telling the truth.
But Judge Vladislava Lunder said today that the evidence presented had not corroborated the claim that Janković had demanded a bribe and that none of the witnesses had confirmed this.
"None of the witnesses confirmed the claim that Janković made obtaining the permit conditional on the payment of the damages," the judge said.
The problems of the project as part of which Gratel was building an optical network for operator T-2 had started in 2006, which is before Janković became mayor. According to Lunder, not only testimonies of witnesses but also documents presented as evidence showed this.
The judge was not convinced by the prosecutor's claim that Janković had revoked the permit to Gratel only to allow it to continue work once it paid a bribe.
Žgajnar moreover said that Štrafela had softened his statements compared to those he had given to police during the investigation. She believes it was him who had made the deal with Janković.
Janković's lawyer, Janez Koščak, said that no proceeding had been filed against the person who allegedly paid the bribe so technically there was no bribe to be accepted by Janković or the municipality.
He said Janković was on trial for acting with due care and diligence by demanding compensation after a contract partner had violated the contract. "If he hadn't done that he could be indicted for negligence."
Janković said today the had been the target of a political campaign by four persons, including Žgajnar, for the last four years. He believes this attack had been triggered by a "pamphlet of the parliamentary enquiry which was led by Alenka Jeraj of the SDS."
Jeraj of the opposition Democrats led between 2009 and 2011 a parliamentary inquiry into major public construction projects and other major investments funded from the Ljubljana or state budgets.
The final report of the inquiry commission, which had also investigated construction deals of companies owned by Janković's family members, suggested that Janković abused his power to allow his sons to profit from a re-zoning plan that opened agricultural land for construction.
All our stories on Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković can be found here