gmhTODAY 10 gmhToday Sept Oct 2016 - Page 97

falls and cascades. Water seemed to pore out of every crevice in the rocks. Ferns, water lilies, greenery were everywhere. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a must see! The Croatian coastline was picturesque, dropping dramatically into the blue Adriatic Sea, as were the small coastal villages with their red tile roofs and white or beige houses. Our destination that day was the seaside resort town of Opatija, which has been a popular spot for wealthy European aristocrats, dignitaries, and artists since 1844. The hill towns of Istria proved to be an additional scenic joy. From walking the walled medieval hill town of Motovun, to enjoying rakija (brandy) at a local distillery and learning about “truffle- hunting” from a local guide accompanied by his dog, the day was full of enjoyable new experiences. We left Croatia the next day and headed to our final destination, Slovenia. Our trip through Slovenia was high- lighted by a train ride through the 12 mile Postojna Cave with its magnificent display of stalactites and stalagmites, and a stop to see Predjama Castle perched on the cliff above Lokva Stream. Slovenia’s large capital city, Ljubljana, was very tourist friendly. It was easy to walk around in the historic town center, hike up to the hilltop castle, cross the quaint bridges of the Ljubljana River, shop at the many small boutique stores selling lace, crystal, souvenirs, clothing, and take in the ambiance of the many excellent restaurants. Our stay in this charming and thriving university town was only surpassed by our trip through the countryside the next day to the popular resort area of Lake Bled. Lake Bled is another must see. In the middle of the lake is an islet featuring a 17th century church and an 800-year-old castle clinging to a majestic cliff over- looking the calm, deep blue waters. As word spreads about the beautiful scenery, the many UNESCO Heritage sites, the depth of history, the friendliness of the people, the great food, and the low cost compared to similar tourist areas, I am positive these less traveled countries will find their rightful place on many more travelers’ bucket lists. GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 Photos Clockwise: 17th Century Church on Lake Bled Plitvice UNESCO World Heritage Site Predijama Castle, Slovenia Tunnel of Hope, Sarajevo Spring Sourcing, Buna River 97