the voice of a pilot tester

Eden55+ Pilottest to the EDEN-destinations Northern Velebit in Croatia, Kolpa and Idrija in Slovenia, 25—29 May 2017. Six couples from Trieste and 6 evaluators from the destinations participating in the project (Tanja and Marko, coordination, Sebastiano und Francesca from Trieste, Nina from Idrija, Helga from Vulkanland) started their journey on 25 May 2017 at 8 o’clock in de morning. Our guide Luka picked us up in Trieste on a bus chauffeured by Igor. If necessary, Luka translates from Croatian and Slovenian to Italian or English.
Our first stop is the truly marvelous natural paradise National Park Northern Velebit with a wide a varied flora and fauna. Tatjana (responsible for the program), Dragic und Ivan drive us by mini-bus to this region. Nina serves as our guide in the region. Very open-hearted people welcome us. They live in a very simple style in harmony with nature. We taste the energy of wild herbs in delicious products such as cheese, meat, jam, vegetables and grappa. A lot of work in the gardens and fields is done manually – a very small-structured agriculture – and biological quality is produced almost exclusively.
The harsh climate – winter spreads over 7—8 months here – is compensated through a lot of high quality grappa, either clear or with herbs or fruits. This was served at every welcome and before and after every meal. The guided tour through the bear compound is awe-inspiring. Boris, founder and philosopher about nature, enthusiastically talks about his job. On the one hand he wants to offer a stress-free living space for those bears, which are no longer able to survive in the wild, and on the other hand he aims to showcase what is really important in life to young people: A simple life in unimpaired nature. Easy as well as more demanding hiking tours through the national park offer active rest and relaxation. The view from the tops of Velebit to the sea and the islands on the one side and the other peaks on the other side is stunning. Those who prefer to spend their time on a bike may rent ones from Dragic in Krasno and, if necessary, can arrange for a pick-up to return them.
Folklore, music and traditional dances with women from the village were mostly appealing to the female testers. Northern Velebit is a region for revitalization in untouched nature, a place that connects us to the primeval energy of the earth.
I personally would wish for a more comfortable accomodation. The music during the meal was perceived as disturbing. It became almost impossible to talk to each other.
Our 2nd stop is the EDEN-destination Kolpa in Bela Kraijna in Slovenia. Igor from now on is totally committed and brings us – a very open-minded, flexible and interested group of travelers – to Metlika, the capital of the region. Silvia serves as our regional guide here. Kolpa is the river forming the border between Slovenia and Croatia, the region is shaped by fertile rolling hills and sink holes. Here at almost every welcome we are served the traditional Bela Kraijan Pogaca – a white flatbread, seasoned with salt and caraway. This substitutes the Grappa-ritual we became used to in Velebit. The inhabitants proudly present their products and their culture to us. We experience touristic perfection, but most of all outstanding presentations, from which we can learn. Especially Majca, with her entertaining and informative presentation on how to bake a Bela Krajna Pogaca, and the wine tasting with superb snacks adjusted to the taste of the wines have impressed us. One of the highlights was the joint dance with a folk-music group after having dinner in a renovated house, where old and new were linked together very sensitively. The slogan “I feeld Slovenia” can be felt, but most of all one can taste the region. Here, tradition, music, dance, wine and culinary delights are at the centre. I found it quite a pity that the program was dominated by such a high number of tastings. We were too replete to show every producer the appropriate appreciation.
I also found it unfortunate that we didn’t have time to enjoy the wonderful nature.

Kolpa-handicraft
handicraft – River Kolpa

The 3rd stop is Idrija. Here we are guided by Nina. Idrija is a city and EDEN-region near Lubljana, which became known world-wide in the past due to its quicksilver resources. During the monarchy and until the 90ies the men of Idrija were working under the hardest conditions in the mines. Joze, a former miner, tells us about it in very impressive words during a guided tour through a mine and the modern museum about history and processing of the mined resource. Not only quicksilver, but also the art of lace making employed by the women contributed to the degree of familiarity of the region. This handcrafted inheritance is explained to the youth in schools. About 100 girls and boys are learning the traditional craft that also inspires fashion designers to wonderful creations. This is presented in a very creative way on Castle Gewerkenegg, which was converted into a museum. We visit the sensitively revitalized mountain farm Stumajce, where we insert our breads into the stove of the smoke room and make small herb-bags. Here we get a first idea about the wonderful nature surrounding the city. We sleep in the modern Hotel Jozef in very nicely equipped rooms. The surprise was the lunch at the Relais Chateaux-Hotel Knedov dvorec, in a completely quiet location in the middle of nature. We enjoyed an excellent 4-stars-menu, after which the chef demonstrated the production of traditional Schlikrofi to us. Tradition and innovation are linked together in Idrija. A nicely compiled program, but for me once again the enjoyment of nature is underrepresented. All in all it is a very inspiring program, but too tight for five days. We had almost no time for ourselves. Sometimes there was also too little time for shopping at the producers – we were constantly too late. It was great, how nice everything was organized from the region guides. I’d like to especially emphasize the flexibility of the producers, restaurants and music groups, which often had to wait up to two hours for our arrival.        Helga, 29th May 2017

velebit_1000x500
North Velebit National Park
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