The daily diary of a wandering restaurateur
May 30 - Slovenia
Paul and Eva were wonderful hosts but we still are not city people and it was time to get back to the country. The original plan was to drive a few hours to Lake Balaton, a resort area outside Budapest and then drive on to Slovenia tomorrow. But as we got near the lake, the wind was blustery and the lake itself didn't look that exciting, so we decided to make it a travel day and press on to Slovenia. Eventually we plan to get to the Lake Bled area but it was a bit too much of a push for today, so we settled into the Olymp Motel in the town of Polzela, a contact we had found on the Internet.
Now I know you are wondering how to get from Budapest to Polzela, so perhaps I should give you directions. From Budapest, head toward Wien and Györ, but head west when you see the sign to Székesfehévár. As you approach the lake, you will go through Balatonszabadi, Balatonföldvár, Balatonszárszö, Balatonkerosztùr and Balatonszyentgyörgy. When the road forks at the west end of the lake, head toward Keszthely rather than Nagykanizsa but go west when you get to Sarmellék and go through Zalaszentmihàly. From there is is a relatively straight shot to cross into Slovenia at Rédics where you can change your Hungarian Florints into Slovenian Tolars. Take the road toward Dolga vas but go west before you cross into Croatia at Mursko Središe. The road will swing north toward Murska Sobota but you will just follow the signs for Maribor. Before you get into town, take the detour and follow the main road toward Ljubjlana. (Now you are finally on a four-lane road and can pass the trucks that you have been stuck behind for the last three hours!) About halfway between Maribor and Ljubljana, take the Sempeter exit, turn north through Sempeter od Savinji and you will soon be in Polzela. The Olymp is on the right just where the road turns toward Braslove. Nothin' to it!
You may be thinking, "Where in the hell is Slovenia?" Slovenia may just be the best-kept secret in Europe. It is located at the southern end of the Alps so the topography is becoming interesting again after the relative flatness of Hungary. The hotel does not have a restaurant so they referred us to a place called Gostisce Matjaz a few kilometers up the road. A gostišce has waiters and table service but is more like an inn with rustic decor and usually (but not always) traditional Slovenian dishes. This one has a chef only during the day and features pizza from their wood-fired oven in the evenings. That was about the perfect weight meal for us after pigging out in Budapest. Add a fresh salad, a glass or two of Slovenian wine and some fresh strawberries, and you have a delightful evening.
The proprietor, Jurij Matjaz is a delightful man who got his undergraduate degree in Forestry at a college in Medford, Oregon! He referred us to his best friend who owns a hotel in a picturesque little town near the Austrian border. We are still undecided about whether we will head up there tomorrow or just press on to the Lake Bled area. So many decisions . . .
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