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Slovenia: A Photographer's Dream - Part 3

This is the third and last post about my vacation in Slovenia last year.

The last leg of my journey brought me to Slovenia's capital, Ljubljana. Overall I would say that it is a very typical central-European city. Nestled in the flat area between several hills the beautiful old city center is surrounded by commercial and residential districts. On the outskirts there are also some industrial areas.

Photo by Till Helge Photo by Till Helge
Photo by Till Helge Photo by Till Helge
Photo by Till Helge Photo by Till Helge
Photo by Till Helge Photo by Till Helge

As you can probably imagine, I focused mostly on the old city, as it has all the beautiful sites and is very pedestrian-friendly. In fact, the entire area surrounding the castle, Ljubljana grad, is a pedestrian area. The castle overlooks the city from its perch on one of Ljubljana's hills. It is well worth a visit, as it is filled to the brim with Slovenia's and Ljubljana's history and has a tower with a 360° panorama of the entire city and its surroundings.

At its feet, the Ljubljanica parts into two river arms that flow around either side. The old city follows one of the arms almost for its entire length and thus consists mainly of the riverside promenades with lots of restaurants and cafés. The centerpiece is the Preƥernov trg with its three bridges, the Preƥeren monument and the Cerkev Marijinega oznanjenja, a Franciscan church from the 17th century.

Aside from the nice landmarks Ljubljana is also a very interesting city to visit. It is a cultural melting pot with influences from all the neighboring countries especially, but as a European capital city with a university it also attracts people from all over the world.

Photo by Till Helge Photo by Till Helge
Photo by Till Helge Photo by Till Helge
Photo by Till Helge Photo by Till Helge

For my last day-trip I decided to follow up on a small remark in my travel guide. It recommended visiting the Velika Planina , a high plateau in the Kamnik Alps that is home to a small sheepherders settlement. So, I drove to the valley station (at about 500 meters) of the cable car that would bring me up to the lower rim of the high plateau at about 1,350 meters. From there it is normally possible to take a chairlift up to the top, but I had just missed the end of the season. So, I took an unexpected hike up there to the top station of the chairlift, which sits at about 1650 meters.

From there you have an absolutely beautiful view of the mountain panorama and down over the wide plains of the Velika Planina with its characteristic traditional herdsmen huts. I was there in October, so the sheep had already been brought down to their wintering grounds and most of the settlement was empty. This, however, increased the intense feeling of peace and serenity I felt up there.

Now that I have been there, I can definitely understand all the good things I had heard about Slovenia. It is a small, but really interesting and beautiful country with so many different things to see. Hopefully my photos have given you a little glimpse and made you add Slovenia to your list of places to visit. I am certain that I will be back.

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Slovenia: A Photographer's Dream - Part 2

As I said in my last post, I went to Slovenia in 2017 to find out what everybody is gushing about whenever the country is mentioned. The second part of my trip led me to the 43km long strip of Adriatic coastline that is squeezed in between Italy and Croatia.

Photo by Till Helge Photo by Till Helge
Photo by Till Helge Photo by Till Helge
Photo by Till Helge Photo by Till Helge

For convenience reasons I picked a hotel in PortoroĆŸ . I knew nothing about this city and was very surprised when I arrived. It is the only city on Slovenia's coast sheltered behind a a protruding headland and as such has bloomed into a real Mediterranean holiday resort. Aside from its huge marina and the long and fully accessible promenade it mostly consists of hotels, restaurants, clubs and all the other accommodations tourists need for a beach vacation.

Photo by Till Helge Photo by Till Helge
Photo by Till Helge Photo by Till Helge
Photo by Till Helge Photo by Till Helge
Photo by Till Helge Photo by Till Helge

The real reason why I definitely wanted to include this part of the country in my trip, however, is Piran . This pearl of a town sits right on the tip of the aforementioned headland and despite its small size manages to tick all the boxes on the list of delightfully typical Mediterranean characteristics. The first thing I spotted when I came over from PortoroĆŸ was the marina, which sits just in front the Tartinijev trg (Tartini Square), the town's very obvious center of life. From this plaza, narrow streets wind their way between lots of small houses, all still in the characteristic medieval architecture. These provide some very necessary shade to escape the blazing heat of the sun.

Its geographical position means that Piran has two very distinctly different parts. The downwind side is pleasant, calm and inviting with its coast promenade and lots of restaurants and cafes. If, however, you walk all the way to the tip, you can take a look at the windswept side that is open to the Mediterranean Sea. I had a hard time getting up again once I had settled myself into the shade to stare out at the waves and enjoy the cool breeze.

Photo by Till Helge Photo by Till Helge
Photo by Till Helge Photo by Till Helge
Photo by Till Helge Photo by Till Helge

After soaking up as much sun as possible, I started towards the last leg of my journey. On the way back up North, I made two stops. The first was at another famous cave system, the Postojnska jama . It is very different from the Ć kocjanske jame I visited on my way South. The tourist center built around the cave is quite large, with a dedicated hotel, restaurants, souvenir shops and more. In comparison it was definitely much more crowded. The reason probably is that access to this cave does not involve a hiking trip and long walks along damp tunnels. There is a narrow-gauge railway that brings visitors down into the cave and later back out again. Once down there, a guided tour leads through the cave with very little room to take good photos.

Overall, the cave is worth a visit and especially comparing the two caves is quite interesting. But if I only had time for one of them, I would definitely pick the Ć kocjanske jame over this one.

My second stop was Rakov Ć kocjan , a 300m deep valley that is not very well known. I noticed it on the map and decided to check it out. This is not a typical tourist attraction. There is no tourist center or even a proper parking lot. The area contains several hiking trails that lead down into the valley and they are fairly reasonably signposted. The main attraction of this area are two natural bridges. Unfortunately, the valley occasionally is flooded, which was the case when I got there. So, I didn't get to see all of it, but still enjoyed exploring this remote place.

In the last post I focus on the capital and my unplanned mountain climbing trip.

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Slovenia: A Photographer's Dream

After having seen photos of Slovenia's incredible landscape pop up all over the place, I decided last autumn to check it out myself. Although I spent only 8 days there and hardly scratched the surface yet, I can already say that Slovenia really is a (landscape) photographer's dream. Squeezed in between the fabulous Alps and the Mediterranean Sea you can find a lot of variety in the landscape and very diverse cultural influences.

Photo by Till Helge Photo by Till Helge
Photo by Till Helge Photo by Till Helge
Photo by Till Helge Photo by Till Helge
Photo by Till Helge Photo by Till Helge

You might recognize this motif. It is Lake Bled with its famous island, topped by the Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Maria. For any Slovenia visitor it is an absolute must to spend a night in Bled. The beautiful valley with its quiet lake and the small city hugging its shore is the perfect place to relax and take some nice photos. What I like most about the shots I took there, is the autumnal mood, which stands in contrast to most photos I have seen of this place.

Photo by Till Helge Photo by Till Helge
Photo by Till Helge Photo by Till Helge

Just half an hour's drive from Bled is yet another mountain lake: Bohinj . It is less well known, equally incredible and very different. Not only is it significantly larger, it is also a lot less accessible and not as optimized for tourism. That does, however, turn it into one of the most serene places I have ever been to. Rather than walking around all day, I felt compelled to just sit down for a couple of hours and soak in the calmness.

Around the lake, there are a couple of hotspots worth visiting, especially the Savica waterfall and the mountain plateau Vogel , which is a vast hiking region and skiing resort. The latter provides a great view over the lake, but can be shrouded in fog.

Photo by Till Helge Photo by Till Helge
Photo by Till Helge Photo by Till Helge
Photo by Till Helge Photo by Till Helge

The next leg of my journey brought me down to the coast. On the way I stopped at the Ć kocjanske jame , one of Slovenia's famous cave systems. While absolutely incredible and well worth a visit, the conditions in there are very difficult in terms of photography. The photos you see above were taken in the dolines that can be explored freely after the guided tour through the actual cave.

In the next post I will continue with photos from a very different region (i.e. the Mediterranean coast), which is only 50km further to the West.

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Christmas in Dresden

Photo by Till Helge Photo by Till Helge
Photo by Till Helge Photo by Till Helge
Photo by Till Helge Photo by Till Helge
Photo by Till Helge Photo by Till Helge

Dresden is a place that has been close to my heart pretty much since we originally moved there. Even now that I'm no longer living there, it is still what my mind brings up when I think of "home". During last year's Christmas holidays I took quite a few photos in and around Dresden.

Surprisingly enough I got some really nice shots out of it, considering the fact that it was winter and therefore quite bare and colorless all around. This lends itself beautifully to black & white photography, of course. I am especially happy with several of the motifs I shot in the famous city center, of which until then I had barely any photos worth mentioning.

Dresden is really just ridiculously photogenic. You can find interesting things to aim your camera at pretty much everywhere you go. The city itself, of course, with famous sites like the Frauenkirche or the Canaletto view. But then there are also the meadows along the Elbe river and the beautiful landscape all around, especially Saxon Switzerland.

Here are my highlights from the Christmas holidays:

  • Frauenkirche Dresden (first two images)
    The most famous church of Dresden (destroyed during World War II and then rebuilt) is probably the most iconic landmark in the city. With the ensemble of the re-imagined Neumarkt around it is very much the heart of the city and a great photo motif, although fairly difficult to shoot without a wide angle lens.

  • Schönfelder Upland (third image)
    When you move upwards from the Elbe river towards the North-East you enter the "highlands", where the city quickly makes way for rolling hills, farmland and winding roads. I love this place for its serenity and beautiful rural, panoramic views.

  • Pillnitz (fourth image)
    This lovely little gem in the East of Dresden is technically a city district. But it still retains a lot of the charme of the standalone village it used to be. Its vineyards and the famous palace gardens invite you to stroll around and let your mind wander.

So, if you haven't been there yet, I can highly recommend adding Dresden to your todo list. :)

An Actual Blog...Finally!

For quite a while I was considering to let the hilarity continue that we have a website online that is supposed to be a photo blog...without actually having a blog on it. And we are just a couple of months short of hitting the one year launch anniversary, too.

But during the weekend I had some time to kill, so I finally sat down to actually implement the code that enables us to do what we have been planning for a long time. And so this post hopefully marks the start of something that is a lot of fun for us and maybe occasionally makes you smile.

What's Going To Happen

There are quite a lot of ideas flying around between Tristan and me regarding the actual content we could put into this blog. I don't want to tease too many things, because who knows, if they ever will become reality. But let me at least give you an idea about the most likely ones:

  • Photo Battles
    This is the idea that originally inspired the whole Brofolio thing. The basic gist is that we pick a topic (either by picking one or by one of us challenging the other). Then we both try to take the best picture we can for this topic and compare the results in a blog post.

  • Knowledge Sharing
    We both spend quite a lot of time developing our photos (i.e. digital editing). If we encounter an aha moment, why not write a little summary and share it here?

  • Travel Stories
    I take most of my photos while I'm traveling. Depending on my mood I sometimes even blog about it. For this blog I would focus mostly on the photos, of course.

So, as you can see, there are a lot of opportunities and now we just have to get started. :)

Kickstarting the Blog

During the last year, both of us have been out and about. As this shiny new blog looks pretty empty right now, we might use the dismal Winter days to write up some of these experiences and breathe some life into this website.

So, we invite you to come visit again soon. Also, you can follow our Twitter account @BrofolioPhotos, where we will do our best to announce new blog posts.