After our perilous journey over the Julian Alps left us blocked in Slovenia, we found an alternate path around through Italy and Austria to get to Lake Bled. We first spent a little time in the Austrian city of Villach. Villach is not a city you visit on purpose, but after the day we had we needed to stretch our legs just as much as we needed a travel win. We parked in the city center and used some Euro coins to buy us an hour on the parking machine. We explored by foot, starting with the old town. Right next to this interesting playground we spotted what appeared to be an old Medieval wall that was re-purposed as a World War II Memorial. I later read that Villach was a Nazi stronghold that was bombed 52 times by the Allies and mostly destroyed. It was also one of the locations that participated in Kristallnacht. We later came upon a memorial for those persecuted during WWII across the from the town’s museum. We walked down to the river Drau – not much of a view on a dreary day. Nonetheless the old areas of the city still had some charm….
After Hisa Franko‘s glorious breakfast, we hit the road on a very windy and damp day to go north through the Julian Alps mountain pass towards picturesque Lake Bled. We decided to take the Vrsic Pass to pass by the tallest mountain in Slovenian, Triglav, which stood at around 5,200 feet. Not too high as Colorado mountains go, but the sheerness of it was a sight to behold. Mulling over the plan while at Hisa Franko, an alternate plan started to emerge – to actually cross the border in to Austria and spend an hour or two in the border town Villach so that Brendan could get another country in. Since I had already been to Austria, this was a great strategy to help him close the gap in countries (even though it wasn’t a competition, it was kind of a competition). We would then hit up Lake Bled on the way back from Villach, retracing our steps from Slovenia through the Julian Alps, spending a few hours at Bled, and then making our way to our AirBnB in Ljubljana for two additional nights. As we left Hisa Franko, we saw the Julian Alps looming high ahead, snow capped and….
After reaching Kobarid, we already began to fantasize about our 11 course dining experience and wine tasting at a Chef’s Table featured restaurant, Hisa Franko, in northwest Slovenia. We also had booked the B&B portion for one night ti breakup our visit to Ljubljana. #traveltip: Hisa Franko is closed Monday and Tuesday so if you are thinking about visiting, plan your travel accordingly. Hisa Franko itself was only a few kilometers from Kobarid and was easy to find through Google Maps. We pulled up in the very windy and slightly rainy weather to check in – it looked a bit like a Tuscan villa, but slightly overgrown and with more homely charm. We were competing with the front-desk, which was busy processing check outs, at our 1600 arrival. We had to wait about 15 minutes, so we took some time to walk around the property and get our luggage. Shortly after we were checked in to room #2, one of the “My Africa” room. It had some odd bugs – maybe features? (such as no shelf in the shower, little to no usable outlets, no bathroom door that completely closed, and a shower that leaked). Nonetheless it was a comfortable….
Getting an early start (0900) on our first full day allowed us to get out of Ljubljana and on the road towards the Predjama Castle and Postojna Caves in the northwest area of Slovenia with time to make it to Kobarid by nightfall. Our plan was to spend a few hours in each place, and then make it for our big 11 course meal at Hisa Franko at 715PM without feeling rushed. The plan worked, and here was our route for the day. But first, we had to pick up the car at the local Sixt office near the Ljubljana railway station. Luckily we had already scoped it out the night before and found the way passable by foot – so we spent about 15 minutes after breakfast rolling our suitcases towards the train station. Other than a little excess noise which we didn’t expect over lightly pebbled streets, the plan went flawlessly. It was such a quiet, green city, we felt bad about our noise pollution contribution. The Sixt office was a little difficult to locate, on the railway side of the station, but we found it after asking for help. We only had to wait a short while….
We took the new United 787-8 DEN-FRA route for the first leg of our trip to Ljubljana, departing at 1545. It was about an hour late due to having to drop off passengers at the International terminal first (and then drive it to B). We got to use the United Club in advance despite having booked award tickets (which made it ineligible to use my complimentary upgrades or GPUs). Beyond a slight delay, the only other minor nuisances of this otherwise pleasant flight were 100%, and a non-functional entertainment system at Brendan’s seat (which they comped him 7,500 miles for). We watched “First Man” during dinner, consisting of quinoa salad, ravioli, and lemon sorbet (which was an odd choice we felt), slept a little, and read a little. We landed more or less on time in Frankfurt at 0930. Uncharacteristically, the flight attendants on this United flight were extremely pleasant and dare I say friendly. After very quickly passing through immigration (and never having to collect our checked luggage, scan them, and re-check them), we scoped out our gate in A, before making the trek back to B for the Lufthansa Senator Lounge (accessible via my United Gold status). We….