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Phespirit goes to Slovenia
Bled     May/June 2000

Fashionably cynical Westerner that he is, Phespirit rarely finds himself enthused by the prospect of visiting an apicultural museum. Equally remote is the likelihood of a hopelessly unfit Phespirit taking mile long walks around wooded lakes. And what are the chances of Phespirit settling down to a half hour demonstration of equine dressage?

Somehow these things happen in the immaculate sun-trap between the Adriatic and the Julian Alps.

Everywhere in Slovenia is green, with over two-thirds of the country covered in forest, whilst on every horizon is a chain of mountains. Phespirit resided in the lakeside town of Bled, possibly the prettiest picture-postcard scene in Slovenia. An invigorating stroll around Lake Bled takes about an hour and a quarter, during which time it is hard to resist continually gaping at the lake's little tear-shaped island (Blejski Otok) with its old tree-shrouded church and belfry.

More surprising than the beauty of the Slovenian terrain is the widespread beauty and stylishness amongst the two million strong head of population. Here is the cradle of national good looks on the Mediterranean; a rival to the Danes in European terms. Plus there's the fashion, music and a fine synthesis of old/new cultures ..... this is some hip state.

Such effortless sublimity all around leaves Phespirit in need of a drink. To this end he buys a bottle of the local fire water, Pleterska Hruška; a unique concoction made by monks at the Pleterje Monastery. These cunning Carthusians allow a pear to grow into a bottle which is balanced upside-down on a branch, they pick the ripe pear and bottle together, then they fill it to the top with brandy. Sadly the strength and flavour fails to do justice to the special mode of preparation, but at least it succeeds in stimulating lively "how did the pear get in the bottle" debates.

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