+ DAY TRIPS TO SOME OF THE MUST SEE PLACES IN SLOVENIA
This house has it all: it is covered in healthy herbs, located near the turquoise water of the Soca river, surrounded by beautiful mountains, is well decorated, its inhabitans are friendly people. Well, this house must be really lucky :) Wouldn't you like to spend some time in a house, where you can finally migle with the locals, get some meaningful knowledge and have the chance to relax? It sounded great to us, so naturally, we did it :)
But let's start from the beginning: As you might know, Jerry and I have a passion for cooking and herbs are an essential part of our meals. Hence, each year we try to grow different kind of herbs on our small balcony in Switzerland. I always felt, my knowledge about herbs is very limited, that is why, I was so overwhelmed when I got an invitation e-mail from Vesna, the founder of Slocally, saying, if we like to come around one day! We couldn't say no, packed our stuff and drove all the route down to Plave. Here is, what we have experienced during our stay.
First, we were warmly welcomed by Vesna, her mother Karmen and her father Ivan. The only one who apparently couldn't make it and is a dear member of the family - Vesna's boyfriend Robert (we'd love to meet him next time!). Vesna and his boyfriend live in Ljubljana, but due to her job and especially her close connection to her parents, she loves to return 1-2 per week to the calm environment, where she grew up - the village called Plave. But back to our experience - When we entered their house, we could make our first impression on how they live. The family lives in traditional yellow house facade with doors, balcony fences and window shutters made out of wood. It seems that each corner outside and inside the house is being decorated with a lot of attention and great taste, and this is, what makes you feel as if you'd be at home.
We arrived with way too much luggage (had to pack for everything - trekking, swimming, for cold and warm nights), so one of the first things was to set our stuff down in the bedroom. There are two separate bedrooms available in the Herbal House. One is suitable for a couple or for a family of 4 (one double bed with a twin bed close by), meanwhile the other is meant to be for a single person. See the pics below. It was important for Vesna to point out that they welcome only one kind of guest at one time (single and double room are not occupied at the same time) in order to enjoy a calm stay. There is also a traditional bathroom in the same floor.
She also explained the special details in our double room. The non-allergenic pillows are filled with herbs, such as hops, fern and linden with its goal to make the guest feel relaxed and fall asleep immediately. One of the cool things what she also showed us, were the wooden boxes in the corner of the room. They are home-made by Vesna's father Ivan. Imagine, you can use them as a chair, place them next to your bed as a night closet or make it act as a cupboard! The next thing you are allowed to use are the books - they serve you if you're interested in some reading about Slovenia. For example, the famous author Hemingway wrote a part about the battle in the Isonzo Front.
What I've hidden from you so far, is while we entered the room, we immediately got attached to its wonderful smell, coming out from this jar, full of self-picked flowers! Mmmmmmmmmm........
We were also amazed by the welcome gift, waiting for us on the top of the blanket - two home-made herbal soaps and a magazine about Slovenia (with an article about the Herbal
Rooms!). Vesna told us afterwards, that she makes her soaps, balms, shampoos and washing powder all by herself! Well, Vesna, could I rent you for a day? :)
I'm a big fan of balconies with views (I could not live without a balcony at home!). And look the herbal room has even a balcony with the view of the vegetable garden. The balcony is decorated with many kind of herbs, such as dill, waiting to be picked by the next visitor! :)
As an evidence, have a look at the picture of the balcony with its lovely decoration. Also made with love, a bird house made of wood in their garden!
Back inside, we were greeted by Vesna and her mother with a welcome herbal tea. The tea was made out of Lemongrass, Mother-of-Thyme and Lemon Balm. It tasted very good (You see, I don't drink only coffee!). It was nice to get to know also Vesna's family. While Vesna is rich in knowledge about gardening, herbs, cooking and Slovenian history (+she has much more to offer - I've read, she dances even Cuban salsa etc.), her mother is also skilful with hands. She likes to knitt laces! Look at that cloth in the picture! As already mentioned before, Vesna's father Ivan is talented with crafting out wooden objects. What a talented family!
After the nice chat over a cup of tea, we decided not to go collecting herbs (due to extreme heat) in the nearby hills, which is a common activity, offered by the Herbal House and instead, Vesna offered to teach us how to make lavender garland! We placed ourselves outside around the garden table where we had to prove our manual dexterity. As it turned out, some of us have it, some don't. I'm terrible. Beside of concentrating on our project, we also had some great talks with Vesna. She shared some personal stories about her travels to Pakistan, Oman and Cuba. She has always loved travelling but she also likes to spend time in her own country Slovenia. One day she decided she would like to promote her country to other tourists and provide them a unique experience with the locals - this is how Slocally was created. But back to her roots, when she was still living with her parents in Plave, she welcomed many international guests via Couchsurfing. She said, her parents had never really bordered a plane, so she was trying to bring some internationalism to their house. Meanwhile, they are really enjoying all the visitors from abroad and their English is getting better! We found it funny, when she claimed, her parents speak Slovenglish :) It was nice just sitting there and listening to all her stories..
Vesna passed on the knowledge also about how herbs are stored and kept fresh. She invited us to go with her to the basement, where they store jars of herbs with. She told us, that herbs in a jar can be obtained a max. of 1 year. After that, they lose their flavour and medical effects. Nearby, I noticed a few glasses of Jägermeister! Vesna showed me this long list of herbs that are needed to make this alcoholic drink. Each month they have to pick up specific flowers and put them in that jar.
Back in the sunlight, Vesna gave us a quick introduction of the process of drying herbs. She pointed out the places where the herbs dry on its best a how it's properly done. Man, she is truly an expert on this!
In the afternoon, Vesna took us on a garden tour, where she explained what herbs, flowers and vegetables grow in their garden. She also gave a deep explanation on how to multiple rosemary and other herbs. What is more, we gained knowledge on how to make different kind of herbs oil, what individual herbs are good for and when to sow broccoli, kale, red beet and other vegetable products.
This is another creation of Vesna's handy father! A wall of stones which gives the surrounding a decorative overtone! His latest project is to build a Green Room (a space for relaxation) beside the Herbal House Homestay. We are looking forward to it when it's ready!
The next morning, we were welcomed by the family to eat breakfast together. As many other things too, they make their marmelades and other kind of bread spreads on their own. We were also invited to try their self-made herbal curd cheese and the cornel spread.
We asked Vesna if we could take some herbal tea back home as a gift for our families and ourselves - and look, we received these 4 packages of their favourite herbal mix. Awesome, I guess I will have to stop drinking coffee for a while! :)
For a detailed overview of the Herbal Rooms experience, have a look at the video presentation, made by Slocally:
The Herbal House is suitable for all kind of tourists - individuals, families, couples, sports people (activities such as cycling, hiking and kayaking), backpackers, hitchhikers.. Plave is a very peaceful village, you will feel relaxed and calm. You can take some walks in the surrounding forests, climb the hills, eat some delicious trout meals in the restaurant called Gostilna pri Mostu (Vojkova ulica 3, 5210 Deskle, Slovenia) or, all pizza lovers out there - the pizzeria Vinazza is a good choice too (Bevkova ulica 5, 5210 Deskle, Slovenia). If you start missing the city vibe, go and explore Nova Gorica, a town on the border with Italy, built according to the principles of modernist architecture.
Day Trips from Plave
Why not staying at Herbal House a bit longer? It is a perfect basis for the several day trips to the must see places in Slovenia!
Kanal ob Soci
One of the places you should consider to visit is Kanal ob Soci! It is a lovely village with the 17 metres high bridge from where you can jump off into the turqouise water of the famous Soca river. The best thing is, that you can go for a swim here since the water is not as cold as in Bovec or Tolmin. The village is only a 10 minute drive from Plave!
Do you remember my blog post about the One of The Best Secret Spots in Slovenia? Well, I have good news for you - this spot is just about a half an hour away from the herbal house! You can go for a kayak trip, do some slacklining or just lay in a hammock all day long! A truly unique place!
Imagine, 12 minute drive from Plave and you're in this area full of vineyards, plains, hills and medieval villages. One of the villages I'd like to point out is Smartno! It is so small but at once so cute, a village, worth a visit. While being in Goriska Brda, you can't skip vine tasting, so plan ahead and get someone who will give you a lift back to your accommodation! This photo below was taken in Gonjace, where amazing views can be savoured from the observation tower.
You can't visit Slovenia without a drive to the seaside! If you choose to take the scenic 1h 30 min drive to the Slovenian coast, I'd suggest you to visit Piran. In my opinion it is the most cute city at the Slovenian seaside. Go for a fish meal in one of the restaurants with a view, ascend to the church and have a swim in the Adriatic sea.
Thanks to Vesna, founder of Slocally, and her family for the invitation and, of course, for this distinctive experience! All opinions are, as always, my own.
Website: www.slocally.com; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Phone: +386 (0) 41 432 488;
Room rates: Double room - 27 EUR per person per night; Single room: 30 EUR per person per night
In price included: Fresh bed linen, welcome herbal tea, herbal soup, free internet access (no WIFI though), fresh towels, balcony, books for holiday reading
Are you interested in visiting the herbal house? What are your thoughts about it? Do you grow your own herbs? Please share
your opinion in the comments below!