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July 11-12, 2011



Monday July 11, 2011


            Today we will leave our vacationing and meeting with colleagues in Italy and begin our touring through the Eastern part of Europe starting with the Republic of Slovenia, the little country colored red in the map below.

            We will begin in the western most Province of Primorska, also called the southern half of the Slovenian Littoral.

            The traditional regions of Slovenia, based on the former four Habsburg crown lands (Carniola, Carinthia, Styria, and the Littoral) are listed in the Table below.

English Name Native Name Largest City
Slovenian Littoral 1 Primorska Koper/Capodistria  
Upper Carniola 2 Gorenjska Kranj  
Inner Carniola 3 Notranjska Postojna  
Lower Carniola 4 Dolenjska Novo Mesto  
Carinthia 5 Koroška Ravne na Koroškem  
Lower Styria 6 Štajerska Maribor  
Prekmurje 7 Prekmurje Murska Sobota
Ljubljana 8 Ljubljana Ljubljana

            I will mention it often, but the reason we wanted to come here was that on our Honeymoon direct flight from Frankfurt, Germany to Belgrade, Yugoslavia in 1970, Tito forced us to have a surprise landing here in the capital, Ljubljana, for inspection of the plane.  As we flew off, I remember how pretty it looked here and vowed to someday return and see it.  During our Honeymoon we visited all the divisions of Yugoslavia except Macedonia and Slovenia.  Now we will see Slovenia.


            I woke at 4:15, 9:50 and got up 10:40 but then fell asleep again at 11:00 until Marcia woke me up at 12:00 to shower and pack up.  At 12:30, we checked out of the hotel and loaded the car.  At 12:55 Franco at the desk gave me free WiFi to do my AOL email and get the crossword puzzle.

            At 1:05 Marcia went shopping and bought some shoes and postcards at Tabaccheria di Busetto Marina [Gran Viale 32] while at 1:30, I stopped at the Bounty Bar [6-B Gran Viale S. M. Elisabetta] for a relaxing cappuccino which only cost €2.  At the same time Marcia had a hot dog for lunch at Bar Garbisi [Gran Viale 51.]  On the right is a stock photo of what I missed by not going to the Lido Beach for a swim.

            At 2:35 we got the car out of the hotel back parking lot and I drove to where you catch the ferry.  Uh Oh!  Perfect timing; there are hundreds of cars waiting in this very long double line.  We got into the line at 2:40 and we crept along inch by inch for the next hour and 5 minutes.  This was torturous.  Better planning next time.

            We finally drove on to the ferry and 10 minutes later it took off and dropped us at Troncata; a trip of five miles.  At 4:45 I drove the entire 119 miles northeast then southeast (below) around the Gulf of Trieste to Izola.  We originally planned to spend a night in Trieste, but since we had been there in 1997 and I was worrying that we had spent too much time in Italy already, we just sailed right around it.

            At 4:50 we did have to get gas again and stopped at an AGIP station to spend €92 for 60.6 liters of diesel @ €1.52/L which converts to $8.22/gal, a lot higher than we had been paying.  We were back on the road in 5 minutes and then at 5:55 we had to pay an Autostrada toll of €8.3.

            We slipped around Trieste and have now entered Slovenia (they spell it Slovenija) and into their little northern sliver of Istria that allows the country access to the sea.   We spent a total of €88 ($126) on Italian highways and another €87 ($124) on Italian ferries.

            As mentioned above, we are entering the Province of Primorska (red, above.)  We went past the major port city of Koper to the middle city on the coast.  The other towns are Piran and Portorož, which we will see later.  The remainder of the Istrian peninsula belongs to Croatia (below.)

 

            We arrived in the port city of Izola at 6:30 PM.  Below are stock aerial photos of this beautiful little place.  I'm glad we stopped here first.

            Isn't this nice?  Below is a closer aerial shot.  Our hotel is the dark brown building second from the left near the trees in the park.

            We arrived at the hotel I had booked on Booking.com; the Hotel Marina [Veliki Trg 11, +386-5-660-4100, recepcija@hotelmarina.si.]  I looked at where we were located (below) and decided that this was surely an excellent choice.

       

            Parking right now was a bit of a problem, so I just left the car sitting in the center of this crowded parking area (below) while I went in to see if they really did have a reservation for us.  It was my first try with Booking.com and I had no way to print out their reservation form as they instructed I do, so I was a little worried.

            To my surprise and great relief, Annja said they had been "waiting for us."  She also told me not to worry about the car because when their restaurant empties out they will give us our own spot out there.  Maybe this Booking.com isn't bad.

            I quickly checked in and then unloaded the car to our room.  At 7:10 I walked around the marina neighborhood to get a lay of the land.  I took a walk out on the pier which allowed me to get some views of the marina and the park at the tip of the peninsula.

            Near the hotel was a restaurant offering Ribe (fish) and Kalamari (calimari.)  I figured we would need some soda, so I went into their Mercator, which are like the Slovenian version of a 7/11 but with a little more in groceries.  It was interesting to look at their varieties of Slovenian beers (pivo,) soft drinks and wines (below.)

            I bought six diet-cokes for €4.5 ($1.06@) and I had to pay €0.06 for a plastic bag to carry them in.  I was really killing time, waiting for it to cool down a little because it was much to hot to run.  At 8:30 I took a sunset run on the lungomare along the beach to the park.  It was just beautiful with a nice breeze blowing from the sea.

            I changed after my run and based a recommendation by Annja, we headed off for dinner at 9:10 to Gostilna Sidro [24 Sončno nabrežje, +386-5-641-4711] (ß below.)  [Gostilna is the Slovenian word for trattoria.]  Below are stock photos of it.

       

            We sat at a table across the street in their seating area on the marina looking at all the boats and the port.

 

            We had to pay a coperto of €1.4 each and ordered their local sparkling water called Radenska and then a bottle of Slovenian Malvazija wine.  Both were very good.

 

            We looked over their extensive multi-language menu.

   

   

   

   

            I had to try the local Slovenian beer so I ordered the first one which was a Laško lager and it came in a 0.5 L bottle for €4.  It was very good.

  

            Since we were now in the northern part of the old Yugoslavia where we honeymooned in 1970 and learned to love Raznjici [Razz-knee-chi] (below,) we both ordered that immediately.

            It is like a grilled kebob of lamb or pork and here it came with uncooked chopped onions and a red bell pepper puree.  We also had fries with it which only cost €0.50 and some spinaca (spinach.)

   

            I just had to try the other popular Slovenian beer called Union which I also liked.  I then had my second course which was a tagliatelle con frutti di mare (Slovenian: Rezanci z morskimi sadezi in.)  It was a huge plate of pasta with calamari, mussels and clams and I had to admit it was pretty good.  I ate the whole thing.

            Our very pretty waitress was named Diana and she was very good.  She recommended that we have a local red wine aperitif (apertiv) called refoskov liker (above right.)  We rated the dinner from good to excellent and the whole thing cost us €47 ($67.)

            It was such a lovely evening, we sat and relaxed there looking at the many boats bobbing in the sea.  Here are some photos Marcia took.

 

   

            She couldn't resist the "California Queen."  We finally left and walked leisurely back to our room.  We got to bet at 1 AM.


Tuesday July 12, 2011

IZOLA to KOPER


            First a little about this Republic of Slovenjia, the first of the five countries we are here to explore.  It is surrounded by Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia.  [Coat of arms, right]  It has an area of 7,827 mi2 (20,273 km2) and a population of 2,050,189 people, about the same as Houston, TX, our 4th largest city.  Over half of the country (~4,000 mi2) is covered by forests, making Slovenia the third most forested country in Europe, after Finland and Sweden.  Also there are 83 mi2 of vineyards.  Slovenia has a high-income economy and enjoys the highest GDP per capita of the new member states in the European Union, at $27,654 in 2009, or 88% of the entire EU average.  It was the first new member of the EU to adopt the Euro (dropping the Slovenian tolar) in January 2007, and it was also the first new member to hold the presidency of the EU during the first half of 2008.  Incidentally, it is the country with the highest percentage of gambling casinos per inhabitants in the EU.  The Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport in the central part of the country is by far their main airport.  56% of Slovenians speak English.

            The land has four distinct landscape types; Alpine in the north, Dinaric in the south, Mediterranean in the west and Pannonian in the east.  The Slovene territory was inhabited in prehistoric times and there is evidence of human habitation as far back as 250,000 years ago.   In the transition period between the Bronze age to the Iron age, the Urnfield culture flourished here.  In the Iron Age, present-day Slovenia was inhabited by Illyrian and Celtic tribes until the 1st Century BC, when the Romans conquered the region establishing the provinces of Pannonia and Noricum.  What is now western Slovenia was included directly under Roman Italia as part of the X region they called Venetia et Histria.  The Romans established posts at Emona (Ljubljana), Poetovio (Ptuj) and Celeia (Celje) and constructed trade and military roads that ran across Slovene territory from Italy to Pannonia.

            In the 5th and 6th Centuries, this area was invaded by the Huns and Germanic tribes during their romps into Italy.  After the departure of the last Germanic tribe (the Lombards to Italy) in 568, the Slavs from the East began to dominate the area.  In 626, the Slavic people here united with King Samo’s tribal confederation which fell apart in 658 so they located in present-day Carinthia and formed the independent Duchy of Carantania.  In the mid-8th century, Carantania became a vassal duchy under the rule of the Bavarians, who began spreading Christianity.  Three decades later, the Carantanians were incorporated, together with the Bavarians, into the Carolingian Empire (under Charlemagne.)  The Magyar (Hungarian) invasion of the Pannonian Plain in the late 9th Century effectively isolated the Slovene territory from the western Slavs.  Thus, the Slavs of Carantania and of Carniola began developing into an independent Slovene ethnic group.  After the victory of Otto I (912-973,) the Holy Roman Emperor (right) over the Magyars in 955, they became border states of the Empire (gray, left.)

            We are now in Istria and its history is also interesting.  It is a peninsula that juts into the Adriatic Sea and is shared by three countries: Croatia, Slovenia, and Italy.  The name is derived from the Illyrian tribe of the Histri.  The Romans described the Histri as a fierce tribe of pirates, protected by the difficult navigation of their rocky coasts.  It took two military campaigns for the Romans to finally subdue them in 177 BC.

            Slovenian cuisine is a mixture of three regional cuisines, Central European (especially Austrian and Hungarian,) Mediterranean cuisine and Balkan cuisine.  Prekmurska gibanica (prekmurian layer cake) originated in the Prekmurje region.  It contains poppy seeds, walnuts, apples, raisins, and ricotta fillings (below.)  Although native to their Hungarian-speaking province, it has achieved the status of a national specialty of Slovenia.

            Izola  (flag below left, coat of arms right) started out as an ancient Roman port and settlement known as Haliaetum which stood to the southwest of the present town as early as the 2nd Century BC.  The present town of Izola was established on a small island by refugees from Aquileia (Italy) in the 7th Century.  The name izola comes from the Italian word for island, isola.  The city was always an island before it was joined to the mainland by Napoleon in 1810.  The population is 14,549 with marginally more females (50.76%.) The ethnicity of Izola is: Slovene 69.14%, Croatian 8.24%, Italian 4.26%, and Serbo-Croatian 3.86%.  It has an area of 11.0 mi2 (28.6 km2) with a population density of 1,317.5/mi2 (508.7/km2.)  The coastal areas of Istria came under Venetian influence in the 9th century.  The Venetian part of the peninsula ultimately passed to the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation in 1797 with the Treaty of Campo Formio, until the period of Napoleonic rule from 1805 to 1813 when Istria became part of the Illyrian provinces of the Napoleonic Empire. During these eight short years, Izola's city walls were torn down and used to fill in the channel that separated the island from the mainland.  Then the newly established Austrian Empire ruled Istria for the next 100 years until November 1918.

              After the end of WW II, in 1947, Izola was made part of Zone B (left) of the UN mandated provisionally independent Free Territory of Trieste (left.)  After the dissolution of the Free Territory in 1954, basically Italy got Zone A and Yugoslavia got Zone B which was incorporated into Slovenia.  It thus became a part of the Communist Yugoslavia ruled by Broz Tito (above right.)  He was the ruler when Marcia and I were there for our honeymoon in 1970.  The newly defined Italo-Yugoslav border saw the migration of many people from one side to the other.   In Izola's case, many Italian speakers chose to leave, and in their place Slovenians from neighboring villages settled in the town.  Croatia got most of the southern part of Zone B thus leaving Slovenia with just a sliver to get to the sea.


            I woke at 3:00 AM and then Marcia woke me at 8:30 AM so I could run before it got too hot again.  And I mean it was hot!  There had to be a good reason to get me up this early in the morning.  I got into my running outfit and when I came downstairs, I found Marcia in the dining room having a breakfast of orange juice, two eggs, cereal, an apple and a cappuccino.

            By 9:15, I was running the lungomare along the beach again (red line below) and at the end I turned right near the big gray building but because it was getting steep, I turned back and then headed into the park.

            I got back to the start (below left) but just before the hotel, I went left up this little side street (below right) into town.

 

            As I explored the central old town, I discovered the open fruit and vegetable market on Etbina Kristana Trg.

            As I continued running, I also saw the church towers in the town.   This one, on Manziolijev trg, is the Cerkev Sv. Marije Haliaetum (Church of St. Mary of Haliaetum.)

  

     

            I arrived on Piranska ulica and came across this monument with a red star at the top, probably from the Soviet era.  It had dedications on three sides.

     

            The monument was dedicated to those that fought the Nazis in Spain (below left,) died in Nazi concentration camps (center) and those persecuted by the Fascists (right) all in the mid-1940s.

   

            I passed by the City Hall for the Občina Izola (Italian: Comune di Isola).

  

            I went by the offices of the Slovenian Red Cross and then made my way over to the big flowered traffic circle in Republike Trg.  I don't know what the building was but it was sure cute.

            I came across this map of the wine route through Slovenian Istria.

 

            Past the traffic circle, and to the right, I wound up on this walkway with shops on one side and an inviting green park on the other.

            I ran into the park called Padlih za Svobodo Trg which had a fountain.

 

            At the end of the street, which was heading out of town, I turned around and ran back by this building with a sign saying "Floramy Antikvariat" and I still can't find what it is.

            I headed back on the store side and saw this pink city municipal building (right.)

 

            Above are seven stock photos of city sights, L-R: Park Vodome fountain in Veliki Trg , Obcinska Palace (City Hall) in Veliki Trg, the Church (Cerkev) of St Katarine, the Trg Republike, the front stairway of Palace Besenghi degli Ughi, the Cerkev St. Marije Haliaetum in Manziolijev Trg, and the Trg Padlih za Svobodo.

            I funny thing happened as I was fast walking past this bakery shop (Pekarna) (below left.)  A man standing in the door (seeing my camera) yells to me "Want to take a picture of a really pretty girl?"  I was going to keep going but instead asked where she was.  He told me she was hiding so I couldn't photograph her.  We both finally persuaded her that she was pretty and worth a photograph (blow up, right.)

   

            This was just my first of many experiences with Slovenian women being very, very self-conscious about having their photograph taken.  I didn't buy any pastries however.  I had realized when I got back to the hotel last night that I had completely forgotten to give our waitress, Diana, a tip after dinner so at 9:45 I stopped into the restaurant and left one for her.  I then headed back and got to the hotel at 10:00 and had a cappuccino there in their indoor area and with their free WiFi I did AOL email and the LA Times puzzle.

            I then went out looking for a phone chip store because now we are in a new country and need new SIM cards with new phone numbers.  At 12:40 I found a nice store for the Slovenian phone system named Si Mobil [2 Sončno nabrežje, +386-4-041-0743.]  I talked to a young man there who spoke perfect English and he was very helpful.

   

            The two new SIM cards with numbers were €12 each and I bought a €20 top-up for my phone and a €10 one for Marcia's for a total of €54 ($77.)  On my way back I saw these maps of Izola in a store window.

            In another window was this large photograph of a €6 bill which, of course, doesn't exist.  I don't know what the point was but it was beautifully done.

            There were many houses that were very decrepit (such as #8 below right) and right next door to it (#10 below left) was one that had been beautifully rehabilitated.  It was such a marked contrast, I had to photograph them.

            I headed deeper into the old town and found this bake shop selling franks wrapped in various baked dough; some with cheese.  I went past this little tiny church which was all closed up.  There was a cafe next door.

 

            I walked around a little more and then felt like having a cappuccino.  So, at 1:00, I stopped into a cute, inviting little place at the convergence of two back streets near the fruit and vegetable market on Etbina Kristana Trg.  It is called Caffé Alla Porte [1 Koprska ulica] (below) and the cappuccino only cost me €1.3.  Things are a sure cheaper here in Slovenia even with the Euro.  A street in Slovenian is an ulica.

   

 

            I walked back to our room and then at 2:30 I took another one of my unusual naps and slept.  That's what I get for getting up so early.  I woke up at 4:10 and took a walk on the beach planning to go for a swim.  I tried to swim, but it was just too rocky so I gave up and at 4:50, I couldn't pass up getting one of these delicious looking watermelon ices called lunesci granite for €1. 

      

            It was delicious.  I relaxed in one of their chairs near the beach until 5:15 when I just had to get another one for Marcia and took it back to the room for her.  She loved it as much as I did.  We realized that in our plan to come down here to Izola, we had missed the larger more important port city of Koper.  So at 5:45, Marcia drove the 4.5 miles to Koper ...

   

... and we enjoyed the pretty views of the bay along the way.


            Now for some background on Koper [flag below left, coat of arms right.]  Koper (Italian: Capodistria) is the largest commercial port in Slovenia, on the coast of the Adriatic Sea.  The city has a population of 47,539 and is the main urban center of Slovenian Istria.  It is officially bilingual, with both Slovene and Italian as official languages.  Sights in Koper include the 15th-century Praetorian Palace and Loggia in Venetian Gothic style, the 12th century Carmine Rotunda church, and the Cathedral of St Nazarius, with its 14th-century tower.  Below is a stock aerial panorama of Koper...

... and one taken from the sea.

            Below is a stock aerial photo of their huge important port.

            One of Koper's famous sons was Pier Paolo Vergerio (left & right,) an Italian religious reformer who was born in Koper and studied jurisprudence in Padua, Italy.  After his wife died, he became a priest and in 1533 he was named papal nuncio to King Ferdinand in Germany.  Vergerio was papal secretary to popes Innocent VII (1404–06) and Gregory XII (1406–09), and from 1414-18, he helped organize the Council of Constance.  He next was in the service of the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund from 1418–37.  His work with the church council brought him into a personal encounter with Martin Luther in Wittenberg.  He was convicted of heresy on 34 points, deposed from his episcopal dignity, and made subject to arrest.  He had already left Italy for good before that, so he was never arrested.  He died at Tübingen, Germany.  There are contradicting stories about him.  The above is from Wikipedia and the other is from New Advent Encyclopedia which states that he was born in Koper in 1370 and died in Budapest in 1444 or 1445.  It also says he was never married and was not really a priest.

            Koper rose from an ancient settlement built on an island.

            The photo above right shows the seashore prior to any land reclamation (red line) and the original island of Koper (light blue circle on the left) and the former island of Sermin (blue circle on the right.)  We are going to the old town in the circle on the left which was once called Goat's Island.

            In Ancient Greece, the town was known as Aegida.  Later it became known by the Latin names of Capris, Caprea, Capre, or Caprista, from which the modern Slovenian name stems.  In 1278, it joined the Republic of Venice and it was at this time that the city walls and towers were partly demolished.  Koper grew to become the capital of Venetian Istria and was renamed Caput Histriae ("head of Istria") from which comes its modern Italian name, Capodistria.


            We arrived in the port area on this previous island at 6:00 PM and we luckily found a place to park the car.  Knowing absolutely nothing about the place we went to explore the beach area right in front of us.  It was beautiful here.

 

            In the park was this pedestal statue of Icarus; why I don't know.

 

            Then as we crossed the street I photographed this odd looking nude bronze.

  

            It was a beautiful day and Marcia enjoyed taking pictures of the port scenery.

            From this vantage point we could see that people were having a good time in the water and could also see the huge tankers in the port nearby.  I guess they keep it pretty clean, I hope.

            We then walked over to the private beach facility called Mestno Kopališče.

 

            They had all kinds of activities for summer fun here.  But we were here to see the city and not to relax at the beach.  From inside the facility, here below is their "beach."

            We then meandered our way to find the ancient central area of the city and we walked down this street (below.)  They fly the Slovenian flag everywhere.

 

            This banner above the street was announcing their Jeff (Jazz erno funky festival) taking place from July 7 to August 17.  I guess "funky" is a Slovenian word.

            We wound up on Kidriceva ulica, in front of the Totto ex Gavardo Palace (stock photo, below left) with its Venetian lion symbol, indicating control by Venice.  This is seen on many buildings.

 

            Nearby stands a medieval house with a protruding first floor, one of the oldest in the city, which is known as the house “a gheffo.”  “Casa a gheffo” or “casa a gueffo” means corbelled house.

            It appears as if the patterns on the wall (above) are tiles but its really painted.  You can see (above) the difference between the parts that have been kept up (right) and that which has deteriorated Left.)  Below the beams holding up the upper floor are really old.

            This street is quite historic because there were ancient churches all along the way.  The first one we saw was the Church of the Holy Trinity built in 1735.  The doors were barred and it was dark inside but I got a good shot (below right) using the flash.

            Just up the street al little was the Church of St. Nicholas of the Brotherhood of Fishermen and Sailors built 250 years earlier in 1594.

    

            As you can see Cerkev is the Slovenian for Church.  Its interior was a little bigger and more elaborate and you could push a button to turn the lights on which lasted about 10 seconds.  Below are my shots.  There were beautiful 3-D murals on the ceiling (below right) creating an impression of depth.

  

            Here are stock photos of the two above churches: left is Holy Trinity and right is St. Nicholas.  Most of these stock photos are thanks to the Kraji Slovenia website.

  

            I had to get this shot of this optical shop and a window full of old TV sets.

            This must be tourist row because all along the way were tourist information posters in multiple languages describing various sights to see in Primorska.  Below is what they looked like.  The first was of the Krkavški Kamen (stone) you can read about below.

            Below left is the shot from the poster and on the right is a stock photo of the actual 4 ft 11 in (1.5 m) 3,000 year old dolmen near the city of škarljevec.  You can see on the stone the image of the man with a halo and his legs crossed.  We never got to see it.

      

            The next poster described the škocjanski zatok Nature Preserve which contains the largest salt marsh (below right) in Slovenia.

            The third poster invited you to go see the 13th Century Socerb Castle which is the one sight we did later go and see.

            It also discussed the nearby Holy Cave (below right) of St. Socerb, a martyr of Trieste, which we missed when we visited the castle.

            At 6:40 we finally arrived in the center and stopped in the main plaza of the old town and sat down at Loggia Caffé [1 Titov Trg.]  A square or piazza is called a trg [turg] in Slovenian.  The café is on the first floor of the Loža Palača (Loggia Palace) (below left) which was a Venetian Gothic palace dating back to 1462.

            I had a Union beer and Marcia (below right) had a glass of local wine.  They named this piazza for Broz Tito, the communist dictator who ruled Yugoslavia during the Cold War (when we were there.)

            Following a plague outbreak in Koper in 1553-55, the facade of the Loggia was embellished with coats-of-arms, and a terracotta statue of the Madonna and Child was erected in a niche above the left corner column (above left.)  Further work was carried out in 1698, when a second storey was added and the facade was extended with two additional arches taken off from the west side of the palace.  Below is a stock photo, mine is above.

            From here we had a complete view of the whole piazza with all its historical sites.  Below is the main one directly across the piazza called the Pretorska palača (Praetorian Palace.)  Today it again houses the Koper city government and has a wedding hall.  It is considered one of the city's architectural landmarks.  The cogged Ghibbeline addition along the top was placed above the main facade in the year 1664.  In the center stands a stone statue of "Justice" armed with a sword.

            The first municipal hall was built on this spot in 1254, before the piazza existed.  The piazza was created in 1268 and called the "Platei Comunis."  After the original building was destroyed during a major revolt in 1348, they began this one but before it was complete it was again destroyed in 1380 by a Genovese raid that sacked and burned the city.  The current structure was built between 1452-53.  Below are two stock photos of it.

            This building (below) forms the next side of the trg and houses official offices.

            I finished my beer and at 6:50, I headed out to see the sights while Marcia stayed and relaxed.  On the way, I passed the ancient (12th Century) Rotunda Janeza Krstnika (Rotunda of St. John the Baptist) which was not open to visit.

    

            I arrived at the front of their Stolnika or Duomo (main cathedral) (right) with this sign (left) out front for the Gallerija LoŽa Koper.

   

            I first went into the Cathedral of St. Nazarius or also called Our Lady of the Assumption where St Nazarius (524 AD) is buried.  He was the first Bishop of Koper and its Patron Saint.  It was very nice inside.  The pulpit (below right) was created in 1758 by Lorenzo Farolli.

  

            Below is a closer shot of the altar (left) and looking back at the organ (right.)

 

            The side altars (below) were quite elaborate.

     

            I came outside and looked up at the tower called Zvonik in Slovenian or Campanile in Italian which is from the 13th Century.

     

            Note that the Cathedral and Campanile are right next door to the Praetorian Palace.

       

            Like an idiot, at 7:00, I chose to climb the Municipal Tower (above) which is 160 ft (49 m) high but the climb is 110 ft (33.5 m) and takes 200 steps to get to the top.  They charge €3 for the privilege to climb it.  The views were rewarding however.  As I got to the area where the bells are, I got the best photos of tower bells I have ever been able to take.

  

            Note that birds must sit above them.

            On the way up the tower, they had this clock apparatus on display but the only good photo I could get of it was at a sever angle (below left.)  So I manipulated it a little to get a better view of it (below center) and then even more, to see the mechanism (below right.)

            I finally got to the top of the tower and had these great views of Koper.  First I looked straight down at Tito Trg where Marcia is waiting for me in the Loggia Palace building on the lower right.  Look close and and see if you can find her.

            Here are the panoramic shots I got of the city from up here.

  

            These are looking out toward the sea and the port.

 

            Here is a closer view of some of the buildings and housing.

            Here are views of the sea looking west toward Izola.

            On my way down I saw this bell sitting on the floor and some kind of compass dial which I didn't know anything about why it was there.

  

            I left the tower and walked back to the Loggia to pick up Marcia and we started to walk back to the car.  They have there own bank here, the Banka Koper.  I then noticed on the big municipal building in Tito Trg, this emblem with a fist over the map of Slovenia for the Volunteers for International Liberation (1936-9.)

  

            Below it were three stone plaques listing names of people in the group.

     

            We took the same street back (below left) so I could get a decent shot of the 16th century Palazzo Belgramoni-Tacco (below left & right.)  This building now holds the Koper Regional Museum (Pokrajinski Muzej Koper) detailing the history of Koper and Istria.  It exhibits pottery, weapons, archaeological exhibits, paintings, sculptures, old maps and photographs.

  

            The above are photos from Kraji Slovenia and I want to thank Steve's webpage for many useful bits of information about what we saw in Koper.  Below is the best shot I could get of the building and it took PhotoStitching to even get this.  Of course it was just closing when we got there.  They were celebrating their first centennial.

        

            From here we took a slightly different route to the parking lot and came across this plaza (below left) which on the right side had this open market building (below right) which I will guess is a fish market.

 

            Below is a final parting stock shot of the City of Koper.

            Marcia made the 15 minute drive back to Izola and when we got to the hotel, they had saved a spot for our car by locking the plate in an upright position.  I merely went inside and they came out and unlocked it so we could park.

            Tonight we had to find another place for dinner and we heard good things about the place right next door to the hotel.  So at 9:05 we wandered over to have dinner at Gostilna Ribic [3 Veliki Trg, +386-5-641-8313, ribicizola@yahoo.it.]

            Pivo is the word for beer and a is a place you can get beer.  We sat down at one of the outdoor tables (below right) and it was getting quite dark.  Here are some stock photos of the restaurant.

       

         

            We looked at their extensive menu (below.)  I wanted to show the whole menu in a size that it can be read so excuse all the space it takes.  This gives a good example of Slovenian Istrian food with photos and translation in several languages.  Just skip past it all if not interested.

     

            We shared a bottle of local wine called Korteze Malvazija 2010 (above) and they gave us an amuse bouche which was a plate of ham and olives.  Somehow the flash stopped working on my camera and I could not get any photos of our meals.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

            I ordered spaghetti Bolognese (spageti po bolonjsko) followed by a mixed grill meat (Mesano meso na zarv) (below) and then a sorbetto.

            Marcia had Wienerschnitzle (Dunajski zrezek) (below left) with a salad (solata) and then a desert dish similar to Hungarian palicinta (pancakes) called palacinke po zelji.

     

            Our waitress wouldn't tell me her name so I wheedled it out of one of the other waitresses inside.  It was Fanni and she took good care of us if not a little brusque and aloof.  We rated the dinner as OK to good.

            We walked by the marina and then at 11:10 Marcia had a sorbetto at the hotel patio while I got online and did AOL, downloaded Rush and did a JRS journal article review.  I got to bed at 12:10 AM.  A good time for our first in Slovenia.

KJH                                                   Go To -> NEXT DIARIO #7 

Kenneth J. Hoffer, MD

KHofferMD@AOL.com                        RETURN TO INDEX

Izola, Slovenia

Sent 3-6-2012

 

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