If you are, Istria won’t hold it against you – why not visit Slovenia or ski resort Platak? They used to take me there all the time when I was a child, but when I discovered my favorite kind of skiing took place on water, I stopped going. On the other hand, I find speleology thrilling any time of the year, and like any bookworm who likes to get around a bit, I adore everything connected to mountains and writers.
Karst landscapes are a part of all Croatian national parks, so it is easy to forget that this unique phenomenon also appears in Slovenia. Škocjan Caves became a world-renowned attraction while I was still a child – in 1986 it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. But I just know it as a national park that Slovenia founded when it first became independent. It is also the spot where the Slovenian river Reka disappears beneath the mysterious caves, right underneath the village of Škocjan, which lent them its name. Listening to stories of long ago times when cavemen lived there, I always hoped that I would see some mythical creatures on my visits to the caves. I never stopped believing, and I don’t intend to stop now!
Nobody likes required reading at school, and most people erase the memory of poets they have studied as soon as they are out of high school. I have always had a special place for authors in my heart, especially those who have written about places dear to me. I fell in love with Trieste on shopping excursions, which left me with memories of a town perfect for long strolls. That is why I was thrilled about the four-kilometer-long promenade with beautiful lookouts that shares the name of the Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke. At the beginning of the 20th century, the poet was a guest of Princess Marie of the noble house of Thurn und Taxis at the Duino Castle, which is where he started the Duino Elegies. This piece is worth reading before you head for a tour around the Trieste Gulf on the route taken by Rilke himself.
In Pula, everyone always scrambles to see the Pula Arena. I usually head there myself for the Pula Festival of Books and Authors, but the first time I ever came to Pula, it was for a motorcycle event in Šijana forest, which I immediately fell in love with. You will find this beautiful park between the county road and the neighborhood of Šijana in Pula. At the beginning of the century, when it used to be called Kaiserwald (Imperial Forest), soldiers and townspeople would visit it in chariots, on bicycles and in cars. Today it is a protected natural reserve with maintained paths, trim trails, and entertaining features for children.