Category Archives: SKOFJA LOKA

EATING, DRINKING AND BIKING, my last month in SKOFJA LOKA

​There’s maybe 5 restaurants around Skofja Loka, and I plan to eat a last supper at all of them. Earlier I explained to Natasa that I liked to go out to eat.  She said she’s willing to go out once a month.  That’s 12 times a year, there’s over 1,000 meals a year. I explained the main reason I wanted to go out was to just be together and talk.  Not jump up and check the pasta or do the dishes, just hang out together.  After explaining it to her 5 or 6 times, I gave up, she just didn’t get it.    Now I can go out anytime I want and that’s what I plan to do.
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LJUBLJANA TO RATECE (Italian border) ON THE “NEW” BIKE PATH. MUSEUM DESK SHOW (photos)

I try to ride my bike weekly from Skofja Loka to Ljubljana (25km).  On one journey home I notice some new Red Bike Signs that directed you to “Kranj.”.  I wondered what route it took and why there was no signs to Skofja Loka?

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SKOFJA LOKA IS STRAIGHT AT THIS SIGN, HOW HARD IS IT TO ADD THAT TO THE SIGN?

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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. Continue reading

MISC. FUN STUFF IN SLOVENIA-PHOTOS: documentary film festival

It’s so weird having so much free time, called retirement.  I’m able to pick things that interest me, whether it’s visiting museums, biking, or proposing new ideas for active tourism here in Skofja Loka.  When I was working, I was lucky to go to one movie during Film Festivals in Portland.  Ljubljana had a documentary film festival,   I picked 10 movies, 2 alternates  to see, Natasa could only find 2 (different ones).  Some things are frustrating. Continue reading

BIKING LJUBLJANA & BEING CRAFTY IN SKOFJA LOKA

It’s been winter and a little cabin fever is setting in.  We had some great sunny but it was also very cold.  I would rather ride my bike when it’s cold than when it’s raining..   There’s a walking tour called THE TRAIL OF REMEMBRANCE that encircles Ljubljana. It’s where the Italian fascist during World War II erected a barbed wire fence around the city.  I contacted WATERMELON BIKE TOURS of Ljubljana to arrange a guided tour, that was a good decision.
After weeks of emailing back and forth he finally finds a day when he’s available.  I text back “it’s -2”!  He’s convinces me it will be OK, so I ride into Ljubljana to meet him. Continue reading

BRISTOL, UK “GREEN CAPTIAL” OF EUROPE and MORE ADVENTURES

We have  busy lives here in Skofja Loka,  I was in Bristol Dec. 3-7, 2015, I’m just now getting this blog post together. Saturday I took a felting workshop in Ljubljana. This time I made a wool felt hat.  it was 4.5 hours of standing and working the wool, (felting!).  It killed me!
                                                                     BRISTOL

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ART FROM BRISTOL’S GREEN CAPITAL OF EUROPE AWARD 2015 (great piece)

At first I was just coming to Bristol to see Courtney Barnett.  When I started doing some research I discovered Bristol was similar to Portland in many ways.  They have approximately the same populations, Bristol 440,000 Portland 610,000.  Bike lanes, great healthy restaurants, mass transit and an active political scene.
I made my hostel reservations 6 weeks before I arrived.  I requested  a 6 share room, they said no problem.  When I arrived I ended up in a 14 share room.  I was the only traveler at the hostel, everyone else was living here. When I was in Spain the official  government policy was for the young people to leave and go work in another country.  Many took the advice, the hostel was filled with people mostly from Spain and France.  I met a Spanish kid, 26 years old (I’m 60), who had a dish washing job and was super happy about it.  I hope people appreciate what they have.  The European youth unemployment is high, that makes the U.K. an attractive destination, for young people trying to find their way.  The UK set a limit of 120,00 immigrants a year, instead  330,000 moved in.

                                    BRISTOL PHOTOS FROM MY FIRST COUPLE DAYS

 
After making all my reservations, plane, hotel, trains I needed a ticket for Courtney Barnett, sold out!  I had to buy an online scalper ticket, I hate those guys, but thanks.  The British Parliament was debating bombing Syria while I was in the U.K.  The first night in Bristol there  was a demonstration against the war.
I prefer to travel using my bicycle, but not in the winter.  I think winter travel is some of the best travel when using public transportation to get around.  There are no lines anywhere: restaurants, museums, tourist attractions and most accommodation is discounted too.  I just bring my warm clothes and  rent a bike as the weather permits.  The Bristol bike rentals weren’t operating, (a bad thing about winter travel) so my only option was an E-Bike-I was in Heaven.  I love the E-bike.
I first rode to the CLIFTON SUSPENSION BRIDGE which opened in 1864.  It was straight up hill, no problem, I gotta E-Bike.  Then to the train station and the start of the bike path to Bath, (the city!).  At the train station was a mobile bike repair van/shop, drop off your bike on the way to work and pick it up on the way home, great business model.
                                                    BRISTOL to BATH BIKE PATH

The 11 mile path to Bath was great, no cars, none.  There were bridges whenever there was a road crossing.  The English Ivy is winning, it’s everywhere.  I needed more time in Bath, I tried to get the bike rental shop guy to open sooner than 10, nope.

I walked around Bristol too, shock.  I read where the best fish and chips were, so I walked there.  It took me about 45 minutes, I couldn’t wait to sit down and eat, it was only takeaway-no seats.  I ate in on a brick wall in front of someones house, it was good and greasy.

There was some good bike stuff going on.  There was ROLL FOR THE SOUL CAFE 2 blocks from the Hostel.

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POSTER FROM ROLL FOR THE SOUL CAFE

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BRADLEY WIGGINS FROM THE UK WON THE 2012 TOUR DE FRANCE

Walking around my first night I ran into TEMPLE CYCLE’S Pop-up shop. He had beautifully  handcrafted bicycles and accessories.  The accessories is what really caught my attention.  In Europe you find yourself carrying your bike up stairs to your apartment or at the train station.  Be sure to check his website for some cool accessories for your bike.

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TEMPLE BIKE WITH LOTS OF LEATHER ACCESSORIES

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HELP CARRYING YOUR BIKE UP STAIRS

                                             MEANWHILE BACK IN SLOVENIA
LJUBLJANA
is the European Green Capital for 2016.   From being a city which was previously dominated by car transport the focus is now on public transport and on pedestrian and cycling networks.  Three quarters of the entire territory of Ljubljana are green areas. These areas include contiguous aquatic, forest and agricultural areas.
Ljubljana has implemented numerous urban green measures over the past decade including the planting of more than 2,000 trees, the building of five new parks and revitalization of the embankments of the River Sava.  In addition, in 2010 the Slovenian city declared 1,400 ha of the territory as forest of special purpose in being valuable as a CO2 sink. (cut and pasted ;))
Hey America did you see that?  Ljubljana recognizes trees are worth more than just money, they help the planet breathe.
Some things here in Slovenia seem bureaucratic, compared to America, but the environmental foresight is something I really respect.  We need America to start adopting some things that are done here in Slovenia.  No clear-cutting forest only selective harvest.  Better for wildlife and water quality.  They mow the trees down in America, replant them like corn and spray chemicals to prevent anything else from growing.  It poisons nearby streams and people, enough said.
I’m so happy here with Natasa and living in Skofja Loka, Slovenia.  I feel like I’ve been re-born.
Thanks for Reading (& commenting)
Jeff

NEXT: PARIS CRITICAL MASS CLIMATE RIDE, FINALLY WENT TO THE TOP OF THE EIFFEL TOWER, COP21,  MADONNA CONCERT, CLIMATE MARCH/PROTEST

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AMERICA NEEDS TO RECOGNIZE THE IMPORTANCE E-BIKES PLAY IN TRANSPORTATION OPTIONS

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CALIFORNIA FRIENDS VISIT SKOFJA LOKA and MORE EVENTS

I met Russ when he married my high school sweetheart, Jody.  Jody passed away from cancer over 10 years ago.  We still kept in touch over the years.    Russ & Jill still live in California and  over the years I stopped by on my many bicycle trips down the California coast.  He suggested I meet them on his annual Italian vacation.  I suggested they try something new, come visit us in Slovenia.  So they came to visit us here in little Skofja Loka.  So this is that visit.

The best traditional Slovenian food in Skofja Loka is Starman’s, I try to take all my guest here.

                RUSS FIT’S RIGHT IN, ENJOYING LOCAL SLOVENIAN WINE

Natasa had to work so I agreed to be the tour guide to Lake Bled, Vintgar and the Bee museum (I’ve been wanting to go here).  I’ve been in Slovenia 2 years now and  there’s still so much  that I haven’t seen.
We start early with a breakfast buffet overlooking Lake Bled & the Castle, visit the local crafts fair, walked  up to the castle and then hike the gorge at Vintgar.

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Beehive painting, which was most prolific between 1820 and 1880, started to die away with transition into 20th century.  Painting on the frontal panels of bee hives is a particularity of Slovenian Alpine region and is an indispensable part of Slovenian folk art. The host took us on a private guided tour of the museum, I love Slovenia!
 MUSEUM WEBSITE  AND MORE IMAGES OF BEE DOORS HERE

Natasa got a few days off, so the four of us went to Ljubljana one day and the next day we drove around Mt. Triglav, through the Soca Valley.

I checked about getting a tour guide to take us around, $50 hr.  So I bought the $2 book and biked the tour of the Art Nouveau buildings in Ljubljana.  Jill wanted to visit the Joze Plecnik museum, it had been closed for 2 years for remodeling and  had only been open a week.  Joze Plecnik designed many of the buildings, markets, and bridges all around Ljubljana.  It was cool to go through his house.  His life was very similar to that of architect  Gaudi: single, religious and lived a simple life.  Joze Plecnik use to use his drawing pencils until they were so small he could no longer hold them.


Doing the pre-tour of the Art Nouveau was somewhat empowering.  I knew where to go and what features to point out to my guests.

I met the head of Tourism for Slovenia, she told me the Soca Valley is the most beautiful part of Slovenia.  I’m not sure which is my favorite part of Slovenia, but having biked the Soca Valley I can tell you, it is very beautiful.
We re-visited camp Kamne where Natasa and I met. We drive over the Julian alps on our way through the Soca Valley.  We visit the World War I museum in Kobarid.

Russ and Jill stayed several days in Skofja Loka and said they can’t wait to come back.  When Jill got back she wrote about her trip that was published in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Often-overlooked Slovenia worth a trip

Updated 7:08 pm, Thursday, October 15, 2015

Why we went: We have an American friend who recently moved to Slovenia. This often overlooked country has much to offer, with abundant natural beauty and a lovely capital city, Ljubljana.

Don’t miss: The Skocjan Caves in Slovenia’s Karst region are absolutely incredible. The caves, on the UNESCO list of world heritage sites, comprise one of the world’s largest underground river canyons.

Don’t bother: Touring the museums in Ljubljana. Your time is better spent strolling the town center and exploring the interesting squares and architectural highlights, including the Art Nouveau buildings and Joze Plecnik’s many contributions to the city.

Coolest souvenir: Hand-painted replicas of beehive front boards that reflect an important part of Slovenia’s tradition of beekeeping and that are the visual, cultural equivalent of folk songs, poetry and fairy tales.

Worth a splurge: A day or overnight trip to Piran, a picturesque town situated on the southern tip of Slovenia on the Adriatic coast.

Wish we’d packed: More waterproof hiking clothes. Slovenia gets lots of rain throughout the year, as evidenced by its lush landscape and abundant rivers and lakes.

The Beatles Tribute Band was great, sharing love songs holding Natasa’s hand while they sang “I want to hold your hand” priceless.  I was watching the young people lip syncing the Beatles  songs, our generation won’t be forgotten.  The Dreams Band covered the Allman Brothers Band songs, I was living the dream-I knew every song.

Thanks for reading, if you like this blog please comment.

Jeff

NEXT: BRISTOL, UK, EUROPE’S 2015 GREEN CAPITAL AWARD WINNER, HANDMADE BIKES, E-BIKE ADVENTURE, YOUNG PEOPLE FROM AROUND EUROPE COME TO THE UK TO WORK. (promise)

WORKSHOPS AT THE ART & CRAFT CENTER OF SKOFJA LOKA

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I started a crafts business when I was just 18 years old.  After I moved to Portland in 1974, I became one of the founding craftsman of the Portland Saturday Market.  At first I sold handmade items made from deer antlers, then my wife and I switched to wood & leather game boards.  I toured  Oregon and Washington selling my handmade goods.  I’ve always had a love affair with creative handmade products and their creators.
Skofja Loka has a rich history of Arts and Crafts in Slovenia.
Today the local crafts shop here ARTS & CRAFT CENTRE DUO SKOFJA LOKA, has monthly local artist exhibitions and best of all, workshops in over 20 different types of crafts.
I’m on their mailing list and saw a workshop on making a felt hat.  I wanted to make the hat, but our teacher Anja  said I  needed to take the basic felting class first. OK, so I signed up, me and 6 women!


I made a cat toy, 2 hot pads, and a felted bar of soap (which became a popular cat toy)  When I told Anja she said “you must have a really clean cat”
Felting is a lot more difficult than it looks.  Using simple (non-toxic) soap your able to combine various colors and types of wool into many different products: slippers, purses, scarfs, jewelry, soap & cat toys.  When your finished you have something that is 100% natural and lasts longer than me and you.
Honey Bread another Slovenian tradition that was started in Skofja Loka by local nuns in the 17 century.  I signed up for the honey bread workshop run by Lila, a local artist.  I had seen the wooden molds sold as souvenirs and thought you put them in the oven too, no.

It was great to learn a centuries old tradition that’s from our region.  I have to admit the cookies were damn good!
The crafts center has 23 local artist who display their work and also teach workshops.  When travelling taking a local workshop is a great way to experience true culture and regional traditions.
The many craft workshops available include: CLAY RELIEFS by Lidija Debelak ,  PILLOW COVERS by Anita Erizen,   HAND EMBROIDERY by Tanja Florjancic,   WOODEN TOYS by Samo Gaspersic,  WOODEN PRODUCTS by Matija Hirsenfelder,  HOUSE OF BOBBIN LACE ,  WOODEN PRODUCTS by Roman Jamnik,   BASKETS & WICKER by Janez Kriselj,  HANDMADE FORGED STEEL TOOLS by Joze Krmelj,  WOOL FELT PRODUCTS by Anja Musek,   RECYCLED PAPER & MUCH MORE by Lili Panjtar,   NATURALLY DYED LOCAL WOOL PRODUCTS by Ladka Penes,   HAND CARVED HONEY BREAD MOLDS by Petra Plestenjak,   BOBBIN LACE by Ana Rakovec,   MASTER HONEY BREAD CREATIONS by Cirila Smid,  CROCHETING WOOL by Jana Suligoj,   KNITTING PRODUCTS by Tatjana Svab,   WOOL & COTTON LOOM PRODUCTS by Lucija Ticar,  LEATHER PRODUCTS by Klemen Urbanija,  MASTER OF WET-FELTING & SUPPLIES by Alja Venturini,  NEEDLE FELTED ANGELS by Petra Vengar,  PATCHWORK PRODUCTS by Zdenka Rakovec Vilfan, GLASS AND GLASS PRODUCTS by  Katja Zrimšek

The workshops are available for all ages and abilities.  If you would like to schedule a workshop for friends, family or a special occasion feel free to contact the ART AND CRAFT CENTER OF DUO SKOFJA LOKA        or
Call Kati at  04 511 24 60

Being part of the Arts & Crafts community has brought back many memories of the crafts business I was involved in my youth.  Everyone loves handmade souvenirs, making memories that will never be forgotten.

NEXT: LONDON: Bikes, Guiness, protest and missed dates

THE WEDDING CELEBRATION CONTINUES AND WE VISIT PTUJ (Slovenia’s oldest village)

Jeffs Bike Tour Blog Site blew up with the wedding news and photos.  I asked Natasa what we were going to follow up with?  But as the days roll on so do the opportunities to celebrate.  Natasa organized some food, drinks and desserts for an at work celebration of our wedding.

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IT WAS VALENTINES, BUT NATASA CLAIMS SHE DIDN’T ORDER THE MINI-CAKES WITH THE HEARTS (I have my doubts)

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4 TRAYS OF “BEAUTIFUL & DELICIOUS ” SANDWICHES. BY “DELI-LADY”, MARTINA

Natasa, the pharmacist,  is a super hard worker, I can’t keep up with her  and I’ve been self-employed nearly my entire life.

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POURING THE SPARKLING CIDER BEFORE THE WORK “PARTY”

The room quickly field up with doctors, nurses, dentist and all the support staff.  I was brought to tears, as they read us poems and congratulations (in Slovenian & English!)

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EVERYONE ONE WAS SUPER EXCITED FOR NATASA  AND FOR US TOO!

We met Nadja, a doctor at the clinic, at the farmers market and I gave her this blog address.  Well she read it and gave us this amazing handmade gift.

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THESE ARE THE RIVERS OF PORTLAND AND SKOFJA LOKA. THANKS SO MUCH NADJA, IT’S HANGING RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME, WHILE SITTING AT MY DESK.

Janez (Natasa’s brother) went to school to be a photographer and he captured some great moments.

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We had an awesome wedding dinner, so I asked Natasa if we could walk home to help digest all the food?  She loves walking so that part was easy, except we get outside and her Dad wants us to walk in the opposite direction.  I insist we walk a certain direction, why?  I made reservations at the TURIZEM LOKA B & B  that was only 1 block from the restaurant   As we walked i turned her left and directed her up the driveway to our honeymoon suite.  Sara was waving to her mom, “goodnight Mom, have a nice night”, I was crying, she had no idea.  Everyone in the wedding party knew, except Natasa.  I had her favorite flowers delivered to the room with a card and framed sign that read:

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The B & B’s hot tub and sauna, was a nice way to relax after a hectic week and day.

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I  ASKED  NATASA I FOR A BARE HUG,  INSTEAD THE BEAR GOT HUGGED.  THERE’S STILL A LITTLE LANGUAGE MIS-COMMUNICATION.

                            WE VISIT  PTUJ: SLOVENIA’S OLDEST VILLAGE
Skofja Loka is the 2nd oldest village in Slovenia and Ptuj is the oldest.  They have a  2 week celebration every year and the parade is the final event.  It was about an hour drive from our house.
It’s big event so we went early and brought our bikes, so we could do some exploring before the parade.

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THE RIVER-MAN MADE LAKE HAS A BIKE-PEDESTRIAN PATH ALL THE WAY AROUND.  THAT’S THE OLDEST CASTLE IN SLOVENIA, DATING BACK TO 70 AD.
I didn’t know it, but there are 2 communities of Gypsies (Romas), in Slovenia.  I was asked for money more today than I have my whole year in Slovenia.  I felt like I had a sign on my forehead, “ask me for money”, they would walk the line, stop and ask me.  They train them young too, I had a 3 year old ask me for money, holy shit.

I remember seeing the Kurent (or Korant) costume at the Ethnology Museum in Ljubljana.

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DEPENDING ON THE VILLAGE THEY’RE FROM, THEY EITHER DECORATE THE HEADDRESS WITH FEATHERS, FLOWERS OR HORNS.

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According to an ancient belief Kurent is a demon chasing winter away and calling spring to the country.

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HERE’S GOOGLE IMAGES OF THIS YEARS PARADE
HERE’S SOME HISTORY OF ALL CHARACTERS OF THE PTUJ CARNAVAL .

HERE’S OUR  PHOTOS FROM THE WEDDING AND PTUJ CARNAVAL

Thanks for reading
JEFF AND NATASA
NEXT?   PORTLAND?– SKOFJA LOKA? What’s the difference? PART II

OLD COUPLE MARUNION MARR

“TILL DEATH DO US PART” WE GOT MARRIED

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                                                      “SAFE TRIP ON THE PATHS OF MARRIED LIFE” thanks Roman and Breda

It took travelling the world to find my life partner, Natasa and i made the commitment to be together, “TILL DEATH DO US PART”.  We had the ceremony, here in Skofja Loka with family and friends.
For the foreseeable future we will be living here in Skofja Loka.  I love Natasa and Skofja Loka and have no problem, what so ever about being buried here.

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OUR SUPER HERO RINGS

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SARA-NATASA-JEFF with NATASA’S FAVORITE FLOWERS “TULIPS” (mine too!)

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FRANC (Natasa’s dad), ANDREJA (Natasa’s witness), MIRJANA (Natasa’s mom), BREDA & ROMAN (friends and my witness)

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IT’LL BE OK?

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WE ARE SUPER HAPPY!

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JANEZ (Natasa’s brother) and FAMILY: SPELA, ELA  and MAKS

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I’M OFFICIALLY THE KING OF SKOFJA LOKA

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THANK YOU MATEJA FOR TRANSLATING THE CEREMONY, JUST IN CASE I WANTED TO KNOW WHAT I WAS GETTING INTO

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NATASA IS PRACTICING SIGNING HER NEW LAST NAME,  SIFRAR-BERNARDS

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NATASA’S DAD IS THE MAIN THE REASON I WANT TO LEARN TO SPEAK SLOVENIAN–HE IS VERY FUNNY!

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IS THE WORLD READY FOR US?

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I’M THE LUCKIEST GUY IN THE WORLD!  AND I SHOULD KNOW I’VE BEEN AROUND THE WORLD 3 TIMES. FINALLY!

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ANDREJA, ROMAN, NATASA, JEFF, BREDA

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THANKS EVERYONE FOR THE SUPER GIFTS: TREE OF LOVE FROM ANDREJA & THAI MASSAGE FROM ROMAN AND BREDA.  ROMANTIC GETAWAY WEEKEND FROM JANEZ’S & SPELA’S FAMILY.

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A TOAST FOR A LONG LOVING LIFE (I’m on it).  BOUQUET ORANOMENT 

DSC_1104WE HAD DINNER AT STARMANS, OUR FAVORITE l “TRADITIONAL SLOVENIAN”  RESTAURANT IN SKOFJA LOKA .  MY FAVORITE IS TURKEY AND THEY SERVE IT 3  DIFFERENT WAYS.  NATASA’S PARENTS MIRJANA & FRANC PAID FOR THE DINNER, THEY MADE IS SO EASY COMPARED TO MY FIRST MARRIAGE.

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CHOCOLATE PUDDING WITH ICE CREAM   AND CUSTARD  WITH FRUIT TOPPING

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THANKS TO SARA FOR TAKING ALL THESE GREAT PHOTOS, (we were busy;-)
ENJOY THE RIDE, WE KNOW WE WILL FOR SURE.
JEFF & NATASA

If your interested in attending our summer celebration, send me an email and keep up on the dates. Sometime in July or Aug.

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