Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Slovenia....Caves


The biggest and most world-renowned Slovenian cave system – the Postojna caves. A two million-year old and 27km long system of subterranean caves is one of the most easily accessible networks of underground caves in the world. A ride by electric train will be followed by a guided walk through a series of cave halls with stalactites, pillars and translucent curtains that create unforgettable impressions. 


Skocjan caves


This cave is near the Postojna cave. Its first written source was in the era of Antiquity that is 2nd century B.C., by the oldest published map in the world that is the Posidonius of Apamea.
It is in UNESCO heritage list of natural and cultural sites in 1986. That is why the international scientific circles have recognized it as a natural treasure of the planet Earth. The Republic of Slovenia is protecting the Skocjan caves and that is why they created the Skocjan Caves Regional Park and its managing authority, which is the Škocjan Caves Park Public Service Agency. Its cave’s length is 6.2 km and its depth is from the surface to its lowest point is said to be 223 m. Inside it is the Martel Chamber, this is the largest underground chambers in Europe.
What distinguishes the Skocjan Caves from other places and caves is that it is among the most famous underground features in the world because of its volume of underground canyon, the river flowing through it  turns northwest before the Cerkvenik Bridge and extends its flow to Hanke’s Channel. The underground channel is about 3.5 km long, 10-60 m wide and about 140 m high. At a certain point, it expands into huge underground chambers. It?s very mind blowing to know that an underground canyon of such great dimensions ends with a comparatively small siphon: one that can?t even deal with the great volume of the water that goes into the cave after a heavy rainfall, that causes major flooding,
The cave offers museum exhibitions, a visit to the caves during winter, early spring and fall, educational trails that is a half hour walk to the heart of the park where you are guided by fully-qualified guides who gives good information in English. You are also allowed to walk the park without a guide.
Škocjan Caves is most of all, a global significance from a natural phenomenon. That is at the same level with the world?s most important caves and so as the Grand Canyon or its other wonders. It is no doubt a great example of natural beauty with great aesthetic value.




Proteus
The underground system is home to the mysterious, unique and rare amphibian Proteus Anguinus, or ‘human fish’, as it is popularly called here.

Castle Predjama
Only 9km away stands one of the most interesting baroque castles of Slovenia, the Predjama castle. It appears to hang dramatically in the middle o
f a 123m high rocky cliff.


Slovenia....Lake Bled


The Bled Lake came into existance when the Bohinj Glacier moved away. It is 2120 m long, up to 1380 m wide and it is of the tectonic origin, After the last Ice Age, the Bohinj Glacier deepend its natural tectonic hollow and gave it its present form. When the ice melted the basin was filled with water. The lake has no considerable affluents except some streams. The thermal springs in the northeast part are captured in three swimming pools: at the Toplice Grand Hotel, Park Hotel and Golf Hotel. The beauty of the lake is stressed by the island on the west side. The temperature of the lake reaches up to 25°C in the summer and gets ice covered in winter. 
The small town of Bled, with a population of just 6,000 is located in southwestern Slovenia at the foot of the Julian Alps. Bled has a mild sub-Alpine climate as the ridges of the Julian Alps protect it from the chilly northern winds. This Alpine destination is open all year round and has a range of activities for both summer and winter.

Bled is one of Slovenia's most popular tourist destinations due to its romantic scenery and access point for Triglav National Park. Most notably, the town features a little white church on an island in the centre of an emerald green mountain lake, with Bled Castle perched high above, amidst the Julian Alps. 

This incredible picture postcard destination has an almost fairytale like atmosphere due to its castle, church and lake that casts a romantic spell over its visitors in both the winter and summer with its dazzling scenery.

Situated 100 metres above the lake perched on a rocky outcrop is Bled Castle.  The exterior of the castle is everything a castle should be with towers, turrets and a moat. The interior of the castle hosts a museum with a collection of arms and armour, old coins and stories surrounding the history of the lake.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Poland and Polish Food



The people of Poland are known for more than just polish jokes. One of the things Poland is famous for is Polish food. From meats and soups to their pastry deserts, their culture is known for their amazing recipes.
In the early ages Poland was not known for its food due to the climate. The Polish winters were harsh and their summers are not too fair. Because of this climate the Poles were very limited on the plants they could grow and the animals they could raise. One of the first things the Poles learned to do was make bread. As described by Jagoda Urban-Klaehn the author of the article “Old Polish Cuisine-History of Food in Poland”, making bread is almost religious to the Poles. They saw it as bad luck to throw away bread. Bread in Poland is still blessed at dinner during the holidays of Christmas and Easter and is also made with a design of a cross on it many times. Bread is also given with salt as a gift to newly married Polish couples upon entering their new home. Even in modern day these practices are still practiced a lot and now with the advances in farming and agriculture they are able to grow more plants and make more items. Along with their new plants they also are able to grow crop to feed animals. This allowed them to start raising different kinds of live stock in Poland.
Probably one of the most famous Polish foods is their meats. From early one The Poles loved eating all kinds of meats. Poultry, beef, pork, and also game meat such as wild birds were very popular in early Poland. Nobles would often be the ones who ate most of the meats due to their wealth but game birds and animals were found very cheap if people were able to hunt them. The most popular game to eat was wild bird. Peasants were among these popular birds and today are still one of the most hunted wild birds in the world. But probably the most famous Polish meat in the world is kielbasa. This is a Polish sausage that is very popular in the United States. This is mostly seen at the beginning of fall in county fairs and throughout the winter season. Kielbasa is also one of the regular items on Country Fair’s roller grill. The national meat in Poland is pork. Pork is used in many of their recipes and is known to be very delicious when it is prepared about two days before so it can be re heated at a low temperature just before eating.
A food that is very popular also in Poland due to the cold weather and brutal winters is soup. Many of the soups are known on a national level to Poles and are not very popular outside of Poland. The more popular soups outside of Poland are the kielbasa soup and their chicken noodle soup. Most of the national soups have a good amount of broth and it is usually meat broth. Also in the soups the Poles love adding chunks of meat like their kielbasa and pork. Also vegetables are very common in Polish soups and on the side.
The most popular Polish vegetable side dish is sauerkraut. Sauerkraut originally was made in Germany and once it made its way to Poland the Poles found it went very well with their meats. Sauerkraut is made from cabbage and the Poles used cabbage in many of their recipes not just as sauerkraut. Other vegetables used in Polish meals include carrot roots, potatoes, pickles, and horseradish. Potatoes were actually not used in early Polish cooking. They were actually not even discovered in Poland until after Christopher Columbus found America. Potatoes are now one of the main bases in Polish cooking . Vegetables were actually very limited in early Poland until Bona Sforza, an Italian wife of a Polish king brought them to the country. Because of this many of the Polish vegetable terms sound Italian.
Now all around the world Polish restaurants can be found. These can be seen in little diners or in high class five star restaurant style. Also there are cooking schools and establishments for teaching people how to cook Polish recipes. This is the same for every nation and now the only thing that is keeping the food tied to their nation is the name.



Potica Recipe....Slovenia


Slovenian Nut Bread, Potica (Pronounced paw teet zah) is a traditional Slovenian holiday treat.


Ingredients for leavened dough: 1 kg flour, 30 g yeast, 3-4 yolks, 3 dl lukewarm milk, 120 g butter, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoon sugar, fat for the mould;

Filling: 600-700 g walnuts, 200 g honey, 50 g sugar, 1-2 dl milk, 1 egg, grounded cinnamon, rum or home made fruit spirit.


Prepare the dough in a warm room. Heat up the flour, sift it into a bowl and stir it together with a teaspoon of salt. Stir dissolved yeast together with a tablespoon of sugar, 2 spoons of flour and ½ dl lukewarm water or milk. Leave it in a warm place to rise. Make a hole in the middle of the flour; add whisked eggs, yeast, lukewarm melted butter and sugar, adding lukewarm milk while stirring. Beat the dough for 15 minutes or until the bubbles appear and the dough separates from the bowl. Certain types of flour may need more milk than others. Sprinkle some flour on the beaten dough, cover the dough with a cotton cloth and leave it in a warm place to rise. Crush or grind the walnuts and pour some hot sweetened milk over the walnuts. Slowly heat up the honey until it liquefies, and then add it to the walnuts; add also cinnamon. Leave the filing to cool down. Add one or two eggs to the almost cold filing and mix them thoroughly. Roll out the dough until it is ½ cm thick; spread it with the warm filing. Roll tightly; put it in a well-greased mould. The potica is then left to rise slowly, but not too much, because it will rise during the baking. Put the whisked egg on the potica before the baking. Bake time is one hour. When baked leave it in the mould to cool down for at least 15 minutes and then softly turn it over to the board. Sprinkle it with an icing sugar, if desired.