Before I got involved (through work) in Douzelage European Town Twinning, I had never really given Slovenia much thought, let alone had a desire to visit it. However, I’ve recently returned from my third trip in as many years there and I’m already looking forward to my return visit next May!
Through Douzelage, I have been lucky enough to visit many countries that I would never have thought about before including Latvia, Romania and Bulgaria and have had amazing experiences in each one. Bundoran is twinned with a small town called Škofja Loka in Slovenia which is located 23km north west of the capital Ljubljana but even closer to the airport which makes travelling there all the easier! This beautiful historic town sitting on the confluence of two rivers is guarded by the majestic Loški grad (Škofja Loka Castle) and is home to the oldest preserved bridge in the country – Kapucinski most (The Capuchin Bridge).
They talk about “Ireland of the Welcomes” but the Slovenians could not be more hospitable – warm, genuine and welcoming people who want to ensure your stay is as pleasant as possible. From first meeting my friend Luka on a Douzelage trip to Siret in Romania and Jaka in Bulgaria, they said “you must come to visit” so finally in 2017 I flew to London and from there to Ljubljana to begin my adventure.
Two years and three trips later I feel almost like a local (without being able to speak the language except to say “Dober dan” which means “Good day”!). Having the most amazing friends in Luka, Jaka, Sergej, Bor and Jan has made the decision to return each year a no brainer with the welcome complete from former mayor Miha and current mayor Tine as well as school principal Gorge.
Last year I was kindly invited to launch the prestigious “4 Bridges Run” which attracts athletes from all over to compete in this annual event which criss crosses the Poljenska Sora and the Selska Sora rivers via the 4 bridges. What a wonderful experience and a great honour!
As far as history goes, you can’t escape it in Škofja Loka and the museum in the castle is crammed full of stories and artefacts of the area from many hundreds of years and more recently the gloves of Atlético Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak who hails from the municipality.
A stroll through the town gives a real feel of walking through time with some very old but well maintained buildings as well as quaint side streets and walkways that will bring you to the castle or to one of the bridges.
There are lots of cafes and eateries with my favourites being Homan (for their amazing homemade ice cream), Jesharna for the lovely staff and pr’Pepet just off the new square – a really nice cosy family run restaurant.
Škofja Loka – you undoubtedly have a piece of my heart. I can’t wait to see you again.
This year’s trip was part of an inter railing journey through Germany, Austria and Slovenia. Read about 24 hours in Berlin here