I have known Jessie for years. We went to high school AND college together in Maine and New Hampshire, and then happened to live in the same region across the country near Seattle for three years. It had been about five years since we saw each other, but what better place to reconnect than eastern Europe? Jessie came to visit us before her conference in Sweden (where she presented her thesis in front of big name environmental economists!). Her original plans to hut hike in Slovenia were hindered due to her traveling companion’s recently broken ankle, so we got to spend extra time together which turned out to be positively perfect!
Day 1: Trip south to Szigliget ruins, where we enjoyed the most delicious gelato around! (Salted pistachio was to die for, but the mulberry, cappuccino and lavender were rich and memorable too)…and the Szászi Birtok winery at the bottom of the hill was a real treat! Then we had a delightful lunch at Villa Kabala, including complementary elderberry champagne, watermelon soup, a vegetable pie as an appetizer, and of course I had the duck (see Hungry in Hungary #HinH for Villa Kabala food). After a bee-buzzy pitstop at the gorgeous Lavenderium (lavender farm) in Dörgicse and a final destination in Tihany, where we browsed the touristy shops, enjoyed flavored lemonade at Echo hilltop restaurant (see #HinH), and stopped for a few panoramic photo ops. We REALLY wanted to jump in Lake Balaton but it turns out it’s tricky to do that stealth-style in the Tihany area. We would’ve had more luck down near Szigliget!
Day 2: Road trip to Slovenia! We drove straight to Stara Fuzina, Slovenia near Bohinj to drop off Jessie at Vogar trail so she could get a little hiking in. After seeing both Vogar viewpoints, she met up with us at Lake Bohinj for a chilly glacial dip in the clear green mineral waters. We had a yummy bite at Apartments-Restaurant Ukanc (I want to go back just for the delicious jumbo chicken burger with roasted vegetables on top! #HinH) and then took a sunset stroll around the lake for some beautiful evening views. We stayed at Apartments Lake Bohinj in Ukanc – very comfortable.
Day 3: It was drizzly and chilly, so we decided to do some bee tourism! Jessie LOVES all things that bumble and Slovenia is abuzz with api-fun! We headed to Radovljica where we explored the Čebelarski muzej (Beekeeping Museum) and walked the hillside streets. Then we went to taste some honey at the Bee Shop (čebelarska trgovina) in Lesce, see the bee hives up close and personal, and try the honey-ginger lemonade (spicy!) and honey beer (so-so). The honey, though…ohhhh the honey! Every single honey was to die for, so it was hard to decide! I ended up with sweet Acacia, rich Chestnut, and flavorful Linden honey. From there we went back up to Lake Bled for a brisk walk around the lake, and then it was back to Papa for the night.
Day 5: A self-guided walking tour in Budapest! We got up early and headed straight to Budapest. We parked for free halfway up Citadel hill and walked EVERYWHERE from there! First we saw the liberty statues on Citadel hill and walked down towards the castle district where the Fisherman’s Bastion and St. Mathias Church were a sight to behold! Buda Castle was in the distance as we walked along the river and got great views of the bridges, and the entire city was arranged for the Red Bull Air Race so we caught glimpses of some impressive flying along the way! We enjoyed the Parliament building and then headed to find lunch. We had a delicious selection at a Greek restaurant near Oktober Utca, and then went straight to St. Stephen’s Basilica (all the classic spots!) and had the best gelato in Budapest at Rosa Gelato in St. Stephen’s square. It started to sprinkle so we did a little souvenir shopping and headed up the spiral staircases of the Basilica to get a marvelous view of the city from atop the grand dome. This is about when my phone died, our feet were blistered, and it was time to think about getting to the airport. We walked all the way back to the car via Vaci utca, so Jessie got the full-monty tour of Budapest on her last day! Come back soon, Jessie! Thanks for an memorable visit!