National Day

Trip Start Jun 08, 2010
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Trip End Aug 26, 2010


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Friday, June 25, 2010

Today is National Day in Slovenia. It commemorates the Slovenian declaration of independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. The country got out relatively easily with only a quick 10-day war involving limited fighting. This was probably because Croatia declared independence at the same time and, unlike Croatia, Slovenia did not have a sizable Serbian population, so there weren't significant ethnic issues involved with Slovenia separating. Other than a few stores being closed early, I haven't noticed anything special.

My destination for today was the small coastal town of Piran. Because my guidebook had equated it with Koper, which I wasn't impressed by, I didn't have high hopes. I was wrong. Other than limited parking requiring you to leave your car about a 15-minute walk outside of town, Piran was everything I had expected to see in Koper, but didn't.

The old town area of Piran is partly on a penninsula and partly on a hill, with dramatic views of the sea from just about every angle. Like much of the eastern Adriatic shore, Piran was under the control of the Venetian Republic for several centuries during the Middle Ages. Even before that, a lighthouse was situated at the tip of the peninsula to keep Greek ships clear of the rocks.

I spent an hour or two in the morning wandering through the old section, including a climb up to the well-situated Church of St. George (Cerkev sv Jurija). For lunch, I dined outside at a pizzeria just a few steps from the water.

Being so close to the sea made me want to go swimming. The one small problem with that plan was I didn't bring a swimsuit. I did see a nude beach, or at least a bit of the shore where one rather large woman had unilaterally declared a nude beach. It would probably take some time for me to work up to that, though, so I settled for a seat under an umbrella and a small pizza.

In the afternoon, I ducked into the Maritime Museum Sergej Mašera (Pomorski muzej Sergej Mašera). The ticket was cheap, but most of the exhibits were in Slovenian and Italian only. Still, it was mainly just a collection of wooden ship models, old uniforms, and paintings, so explanations weren't really necessary. Luckily, the floor I was most interested in, a section on underwater archeology, added English to it's list of languages, so that part was enjoyable. If admission had been more expensive, I probably would have skipped it.

After the museum, I trekked up to the top of the hill to climb on the town wall. I'm not sure if Piran was ever attacked, but I would have tried taking it by water before I attempted to storm that thing. There was a sign saying admission was 1 Euro, but the gate was open, and no one was around to take the money. The consensus among the tourists seemed to be it was free for National Day. Yay, Slovenian holidays.

I just realized this is my last day in Slovenia for a week or two. Unless something goes wrong at the border with the rental car paperwork, I'll be in Croatia tomorrow. I'm stopping at Ptuj (in eastern Slovenia) later, on my way to Hungary, so I've got to hold off on any "best thing in Slovenia moments" until then. I had a good time here. I recommend it without reservation to anyone planning a holiday. Although not all attractions in Slovenia were created equal, I did get to see some really amazing things, and I never had any problems (other than getting lost a little, but I found my way eventually, and maybe some sore legs).

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