Piran, Slovenia

Pacha Mama, “Mother Earth.”  This was the name of the apartment company that rented us our humble slice of heaven this weekend in Piran.  Our place is the light blue one, fourth from the right.


It was nothing fancy, located in the center of town along a pedestrian walkway, facing a cozy harbor of fishing boats.  The windows let in sunlight and the sounds of rolling waves, and outside there were clinks of bicycle bells and people laughing.

This was the scene when I leaned out of the window before sunrise.

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This was the scene when I turned back inside.  Mmm, vacation breakfast!



Piran sits at the tip of a peninsula that defines the coastline of Slovenia.  It was designed and ruled by the Venetians a millenium ago, and you can tell by the beautiful attention to architectural detail that yes, we are under the influence of Italy.  Cafes in Giuseppe Tartini Square are filled with fashionable people sipping drinks, silky piles of gelato come in flavors like hazelnut and blood orange, and there are Vespas parked on the sidewalk.



The language is Slovenian, sort of a soft version of Russian.  Who knew that an Italian accent can make even Russian sound pretty!  We didn’t know much about Piran before we came and are pleasantly surprised to find that the northern Adriatic coast is a very beautiful place.




It was so nice here that instead of driving around Slovenia to see ice caves and castles and water parks like we’d planned, we decided to just stay put.  Piran is small but had enough to keep us busy.  We watched the fishing boats for hours.


There was a bell tower to climb,



Beaches full of rocks,


Frisbees to throw,


Coins to smash,


And ice cream every day, sometimes twice.


Every time we left our apartment we encountered twisted stone alleyways full of laundry and cats, skinny young men wearing sunglasses and flat sneakers, and older weathered men sipping cigarettes or lugging nets full of fish.


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Jake and Eli joined in with the other kids playing along the waterfront.  The stones were perfect for skipping!


The sunlight at this time of day was like gold, with little bits of unexpected magic.




In the evenings back at our apartment we drank gin and juice and played UNO, and discussed whether we like Harry Potter or The Goonies better.


Jake and Eli are finally old enough to really understand The Goonies, and this Venetian-style sea port was a great place to descend into the world of pirate ships.  Jake’s favorite character was the responsible older brother, while Eli thought Chunk was funny and kept quoting the line about marijuana, cocaine and “always separating the drugs.”  Seriously, how does he pick up on those things?


In the meantime, Jake can’t stop watching Navy Seal Training videos.


Along with its local flavor, Piran is a tourist town which means restaurants at night are full unless you have a reservation.  Our favorite was the fish platter from Fritolin Pri Cantini, enough to feed four.  Mike was so hungry one night he ordered us two!



I don’t think either of us has ever eaten so much calamari.  Grilled and fried, spread over slices of grilled polenta, there was also sea bass and tiny little fried fish with the heads still on.  Mike and I ordered house wine that came straight from a barrel, and the boys got their own special vacation drinks.



Somehow, we managed to finish it all and still be hungry for more seafood the next day. We are reminded once again that Jake and Eli are great dinner companions, keeping busy with their doodles and drawings and writing down the details of our menu.  They are really fun to take to restaurants!



Every time we take a vacation I think it’s the best one we’ve ever had.  Maybe this means I’m losing my mind and I can’t remember anything, but anyway, I’m happy to say this one is again the best!