Monday, July 17, 2017

Summer Travels - 2017: Slovenia Road Trip (Part 2)

Such a nice Slovenia weekend! After touring Škocjan Caves and nearby Piran on Friday, I awoke Saturday for a quick drive to Hrastovlje’s Holy Trinity Church, a 15th century (some say 12th century) Romanesque holy place surrounded by stone fortifications that once protected against Turkish invasion.

Outside is a bleak, forbidden place. Inside, though, Johannes de Castua’s frescos, most notably the "Danse Macabre,” practically glow with color. Amazingly they had been covered with plaster and only rediscovered in 1949. The dance is a reminder that no one, beggar or king, escapes death. We are fated to face our mortality, and not one or a thousand and one pieces of gold will save us.

On that happy note, I drove north in search of the emerald waters of Triglav National Park, hiking to visit Slap Kozjak waterfall and take a swim before staying the night in Bovec, a charming alpine village. My apartment was far enough from the central part of town that I needed to walk a narrow footpath alongside flocks of sheep grazing on viridescent grass. At night, I joined the crowd for a concert of accordion players and folk-dancers.

The next morning I tackled the 50 hairpin turns of Vršič Pass. Twisting the narrow path alongside bikers and the occasional tour bus, the summit and descent was easily the scariest drive I ever made. A highlight was the chance to visit the wooden Russian Orthodox chapel built to commemorate the WWI POWs who died in their efforts to construct the road.

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