SKOFJA LOKA IS A HAPPENING PLACE, NOW WITH CREATIVE TOURISM

I’ve lived in Skofja Loka for 2 years now, still speaking basically no Slovenian.  The question I get frequently is “do you speak any Slovenian?”  The language (if you can call it that), is difficult, to say the least, I think that’s why they keep asking me.   It’s split about 50/50 the young people tell me, “don’t bother.”  The older folks say I should learn some, easier said than done.  80-90% of the people I come in contact speak English with me and are fine with it.  I need to speak when there is a group of people, they may speak English, but there not going to just for me, so maybe learn some huh?  Most of the shows on TV are in English, not like in Italy where maybe 1 or 2 channels are in English.
Skofja Loka’s is changing, it’s become bike friendlier, tourist are discovering our town and many coming for return visits.  Our Air B&B is filling up, but we are still planning to close it in October.  I mostly did it so Natasa’s daughter Sara could have a summer job, that didn’t quite work out.  The local hotel’s tell me 1/2 their customers are repeats.  We have a full 5 star rating on Air B&B, but what I don’t have is years to start making it pay.  If you want to visit Skofja Loka and experience life right in the center of old town, BOOK SOON.

Natasa’s work puts together a work trip visiting different parts of Slovenia.  I was in America or somewhere  for the last 2 tours.  I’ve done 2 cave tours, this cave  was different, it’s an old mine tour in PODZEMLJE PECE.  I could still have a great life without going down in the mine, but here we go.  They first mined lead in 1665, then Zinc.  They had over 2000 workers at one time working the 800 km of tunnels.  They extracted 19 million tons of Lead & Zinc over the 3 centuries until it closed in 1994. The tour guide said recycling of  batteries that contained Lead & Zinc helped lead to the closure They stopped pumping out the water so 400 km of tunnels have filled with water, which you can now Kayak through.  They also offer biking through the numerous tunnels, the photos didn’t look that enticing. We had to ride the train in and by mining regulations, close the doors on the train.  It’s not for anyone who is claustrophobic.
We also visited the village of Libelice.  The museum had a huge collection of historical farming implements, I found that super interesting.  The views from the church were the best of the whole days tour.  It’s so close to the Austrian border that my phone kept asking if I wanted to join the Austrian mobile network.

Creative Skofja Loka is officially happening , we rented  a storefront, painted it and agreed on the name.  It’s a little more complicated than I anticipated, but it’s exciting at the same time.
Creative Skojfa Loka’s short history:  I was in the crafts business for 10 years, starting when I was 18.  I traveled around America selling my crafts in different cities and at the Portland Saturday Market.  I’ve always had an affection for quality handmade & unique goods.  While living here in Skofja Loka I learned it’s history is handmade goods.  I took 4 different workshops and noticed there were no tourist in them.  Most tourist who visit us, do the 20 minute loop, back onto the bus and gone.  We wanted them to stay longer so we needed something for them to do, .
We organized the restaurant, hotel, craftspeople, concerned citizens & tourist providers and talked about how we could use Skofja Loka’s history and sell it to tourist.   We invited our local tourist officials to join us several times, they never even came to listen to what our ideas were.  We felt pretty confident we had something.  We finally realized, if we wanted to do it, it was going to be without the  “officials of tourism” supporting us.  I’ve mentioned before that the governments arm of the tourism industry is beyond broken, it is.  Our plan is basically 3 parts:  Craft workshops lasting from 1 hour to 3 days focusing on local & historical crafts,  Demonstrations is our store,  Workshop tours of local craftspeople,  Tours of unique historical parts of Skofja Loka (no church tours).  We want to expand our offers to include: traditional cooking classes, bike tours,  music and  possibly Slovenian language classes (sign me up).
We rented the perfect location, right in the center of town.  We have only  opened our doors once, during Historical Skofja Loka last Saturday.  There’s a rumor that a tour company wants us to put together a 5 hour tour of Skofja Loka.  We think we have something people really want.
So here’s a few photos.(sorry for the bad photo Anja & Lilla but it’s got the champagne)

As advertised, It’s a  Jeffs Bike Tour-bike story.
You have 2 kinds of bike riders here:  the Lycra road rider and the fat tire mt. biker.  They ride then go home get in their cars and drive to the store usually just a few kilometers away.  I try to do most everything by bike, touring, transportation, shopping and exercise.  I get to see so much-up close: wildlife, architecture and most of all it helps you connect with people.  You can reduce your carbon footprint at the same time too!  I rode to Kranj trying to find Tito’s summer retreat lake.  I didn’t find it but it was still a great ride.  Living in Portland I can never remember riding my bike near where my food is grown.  Biking here I ride by wheat, peas, lots of corn &  potatoes.  This is great food security, America’s average plate of food travels ( 2400 km.(1500 miles).
We’ve had a lot of rain and the river was up.  The local coffee shop owner who’s outside seating is empty when it rains was complaining.  I explained the droughts in South Africa have made it impossible to even make coffee, he just smiled.  I welcome the extra water, you never know what the future holds.

Thanks for reading, We are taking a week bike tour following the Drava River across Slovenia and Austria.  If you’ve never bike toured, try a weekend trip near your house, once you get the fever, the world is yours.
take care,

Jeff

One thought on “SKOFJA LOKA IS A HAPPENING PLACE, NOW WITH CREATIVE TOURISM

  1. Jill

    Wow, Jeff, you never sit still. Putting your craft classes on my list of things to do on a trip someday.

    Reply

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