Nothing ventured, nothing gained. To reap the rewards on your weekend, you’ve got to be ready to take some risks. Leave the paper cut warnings and the CAUTION THIS DRINK IS HOT signs in the UK and head to the backend of Europe, to the capital of chaos: Ljubljana, Slovenia. Last weekend Maximise faced down the rapids, hypothermia and one extremely aggressive elevator so you could get the measure of this bohemian paradise. Here’s the lowdown:
1. Trapped in a cave
Postojna is known for its cave. It’s cold, dark and so big there’s even a cave train. 5km of subterranean, echoey death trap. You’re not meant to take flash photography, unless you’re using it to attract someone’s attention after you’ve slipped over and are facing a ‘127 hours’ style lonely demise.
2. Picking wolf berries
This poisonous plant grows naturally in the hills surrounding Ljubljana. But in just the right amount it produces vivid hallucinations. Local legend tells of a young guy in Maribor (the second largest town in Slovenia) who was once found trying to pick up the white lines off a road while under the influence. At least he didn’t jump out of a high window, thinking he could fly.
Always test whether you can actually fly out of a window, by jumping off the sofa in your living room first.
3. On the road
If you’re flying into Trieste airport (50 minutes from Ljubljana town centre) instead of Ljubljana airport, then you will have the dubious honour of avoiding ‘death by Italian car driver’. Undertaking, paper thin breaking distances, you name it, Italian drivers will flout it. The highway code is evidently optional in Italy.
Even if you avoid this, Slovenia has a slight problem with drink driving. Not cool. The government is addressing the issue, but worth giving other cars a wide berth at night if you choose to hire a car while you’re there.
4. In a bizarre skiing accident
The Slovenians love their winter sports, especially skiing. One countrywoman, Petra Majdj is a former championship cross country skier. During the warm-up to the 2010 Olympics she skied off-course, down a bank, into a 3m deep gully where she crashed on rocks breaking both ski poles, a ski tip, and sustained four broken ribs along with sustaining pneumothorax. She nonetheless returned to the course and, despite the agonising pain, won her quarter-final and got through to the semifinal as a lucky loser. During the semifinal, one of the broken ribs pierced her lung, collapsing it. Despite this and the excruciating pain, she finished third to win the bronze medal. She attended the medal giving ceremony with a tube in her chest to relieve the pneumothorax. Trooper.
So in her honour there was a temporary sky sprint course build in the centre of Ljubljana for people to try her sport. (You can borrow equipment for free and try a 100m run against 4 others). One of our stag groups tried it and the Stag broke his ankle. You have been warned.
There is great skiing close to Ljubljana. Just get in touch and we can organise it for you. Is there anything you can’t do in Ljubljana?
5. Hypothermia from white water rafting
There is white water rafting near the idyllic lake Bled, and more extreme rafting further out of town in Socha. Czechs and Hungarians like to take their own guides who don’t know the rivers well enough. At least a few people die every year from it.
The moral of the story is: Always take local rafting guides. We can organise:
6. Petrol tank explosion
Ok this was more our absent mindedness. Smoking near a petrol station that had petrol tankers stationed there. Darwin awards or what. But we were hungover, so we forgive ourselves. The petrol stations in Slovenia are very tech though. Some of them have Tesla car charging points (the Slovenian automotive industry makes parts for Tesla), as well as phone charging stations.
Slovenians are way ahead of us when it comes to electric cars. This is a Tesla Cars charging point we came across at a petrol station outside Ljubljana.
7. A mishap in Metelkova
Metelkova is a wonderful, bohemian district in the centre of Ljulbjana, close to our preferred 3* hotel option. It is known as ‘Anarchy square’, because historically it has been the site of citizen’s protests against the government. One such protest followed protesters projecting up against the Slovenian Ministry of Culture’s wall an image of a Slovenian po*n star giving a man fellatio, occasionally coming up for air to exclaim ‘I LOVE SLOVENIAN CULTURE’. These days the authorities steer clear of Metalkova, and this gives the area an edgy but very fun ambience. Come Friday and Saturday evening you’ll find it full of merrymakers drinking after work at the food stalls, bars and nightclub that line the square.
8. Escaping a prison
One intriguing venue in Anarchy square is Hotel Celica, better known as the Prison Cell hostel. The old prison cells have been refurnished (obviously) and are now hostel rooms, as well as solitary confinement cells downstairs left in their original, in case you behave badly in the bar upstairs. Hotel Celica makes for a really unique accommodation choice on your stag weekend, and being located in Metalkova, with bars and food on the doorstep, is a winning combination.
9. Breaking into a bank vault
The second hostel we visited is situated in an old bank, complete with underground bank vault! The hostel is finished to a high quality, and the hostel has the feel of one that is run by people who know exactly how to run a great hostel.
Curtains to create cubicles for the beds in a hostel. Another great feature of the rooms at Hotel Tresor
10. Losing your footing while mountain climbing
Slovenians are passionate mountaineers. Every year there are couple of tourists who think they can climb the Alps – especially mount Triglav 2864m – without proper equipment, guide and preparation. Most are saved by Mountain Rescue service… but not all.
It looks easy to them because they hear about Slovenians doing it. But Slovenians start climbing mountains as kids at least couple of times a year, and they know how it’s done.
There is an infamous story about a Dutch man trying to climb Mt Triglav in Converse Allstars shoes, T-shirt and a thin wind-stopper. Since the temperature there in August can go from +15 to -2 in a couple of hours… he didn’t make it.
The moral of the story again is: Always take a local mountain guide.
“Slovenia has been considered amongst the expert public as one of the World’s Alpine climbing superpowers and if we consider the small population of Slovenians, some even consider Slovenia as the leading force amongst the Alpine climbing nations.”
They is even a pair of mountains just outside Ljulbjana affectionately known by locals as ‘Tits’, for their uncanny resemblance..
11. From shock
As dedicated stag and hen aficionados, the girls in the office felt compelled to join the boys to check out ‘Hardcore cafe’ striptease club. They were perhaps planning on dipping their toes in the water, so were not entirely prepared for the ‘Meet the Pornstars’ evening that was in store, and the hardcore show that followed.
The ‘Hardcore Cafe’ certainly lives up to its name..
12. Getting mauled by a bear or a Lynx
Around 500-700 grizzly bears roam the countryside in the south, but the most famous stories of wild animals involve one of the worlds rarest creatures, the lynx, that has been spotted in Slovenia. One female and one male are kept at Ljulbjana zoo. The male and loves the place so much that when it excaped a few years ago it returned to the zoo within a few days because it was hungry and tired! While the female, more primal and skilful is still running free and is successfully avoiding the ZOO keepers and their tracking dogs on the Rožnik Hill, even though she is sometimes seen by passers-by. The lady lynx of the Ljubljana ZOO was last seen eye-to-eye by a recreational runner on Sunday, 2 March 2014, in the evening. The video made by his mobile device shows the lady lynx is resting under a tree and she is not disturbed by his presence, because of her ZOO experience with people. The runner notified the ZOO keepers immediately, but she got away once again and remains free.
Sadly she later died from tranquilliser shot and exhaustion.
13. Liver disease
Slovenians, like the rest of us, enjoy a drink. And with drinks prices what they are versus those in the UK, who can blame them! Pear Schnapps is the national drink, with authentic traditional bottles containing a whole pear inside them! With beers coming in at a very affordable average of 2 or 3 euros, and cocktails around 6 euros, Slovenia just became more affordable than ever for your stag do!
14. Friendicide: Getting shot by your friend
We’ll send you to an awesome shooting range in the city, but locals often head to quarries to test out their dead-eye skills. Not the wisest idea perhaps, as bullets have been known to ricochet off the quarry walls, bringing real meaning to the phrase ‘dodging a bullet’.
15. Ice climbing
Ice climbing is available as an activity in Slovenia, and people come from far and wide to try out this epic activity. one famous American football star, Larry Fitzgerald, turned up at the venue we tried out, and his head + dreadlocks + small helmets meant that he had to do it without a helmet! He was fine, and luckily his sponsors never found out!
16. In an elevator
So we almost found out the hard way that elevators in Slovenia can be a bit more temperamental than their British cousins. On our way to pick up the Maximisemobile from one multi storey car park, one of us had his bluff called by an over zealous elevator door and nearly got trapped as it was closing. Much to the rest of the groups amusement.
17. Chewing fibreglass tobacco
In Slovenia it is perfectly normal to chew a tobacco product called snus (not to be confused with the dry tobacco product, snuff). It’s a moist tobacco powder that can contain small fragments or particles of fibreglass that lacerate the gums as an aid to absorption of nicotine into the user’s bloodstream!!
18. Ski jumping
Normal Ski jumping is for pussies… With the construction of “Bloudkova Velikanka” in Slovenia in 1934, the more extreme pastime of ‘ski flying’ was introduced.
The first jump over 250 meters in history took place on 14 Feb 2015. The bird in question? Peter Prevc from Slovenia.
The first mixed pairs sky jump event was held at Mostec, Slovenia. This is in the centre of Ljubljana (next to the Zoo if you remember).
19. Summer sledding
Situated on a hill right next to the idyllic Lake Bled outside of Ljubljana is a summer sledding course that can be likened to a winter bobsledding run, except that it’s not made out of ice. Think fun, not utterly terrifying.
Lake Bled and the summer sledding course
20. Nailed to a cross
Stag Dos and hen dos are popular in Slovenia, with some traditions that set them apart from those we enjoy in the UK. It’s common for hen groups to take with them things like cupcakes to sell in order to fund their trip as they go. the stags on the other hand really like to humiliate the groom. It’s polite in Slovenia to invite the whole community of male peers on your stag do, and so its not uncommon to find people in the group who you don’t like and who don’t like you!
One humiliation ‘prank’ popular amongst Slovenian stag groups is to tie the groom to cross for a period of time, to leave him helpless and exposed. There is at least one case of the stag being left unattended on a cross, only for the cross to fall down and the groom to drown face flat into a puddle on the ground in front. A tragic story, and one that would be difficult to explain to the bride.
21. In the club
There are some great clubs in Slovenia. One amongst them is Cirkus, with a large dancefloor and a large VIP floor overlooking the dancefloor. If you care to up the ante even more, you can get a table on a platform suspended above the dancefloor, for ultimate views of the club. We hired this table, and after a few drinks you’ve got to be careful not to fall over the edge!
22. Thinking you can fly
You can go parachuting and parapenting in Ljubljana, if your group has the stomach for it. Or if not, just get the groom to do it on his own.
Call us up on 0208 236 7123 and we’d be happy to organise.
Luckily Slovenian people are among the most polite and friendly in the world, so if any of these mishaps befall you, then fret ye not the locals will be on hand to look after you, as will we.
Or something to that effect…
But if you avoid being read your last rites on your weekend to Ljulbjana, and just end up with a hangover, then be sure to buy some kaffir to help you recover. It’s a traditional Slovenian hangover remedy, made with slightly soured milk and a few secret ingredients. Tastes a bit like Yop, and it will get you back on the horse.