Brežice, if we hadn’t passed this town in the past while crossing the border to Croatia or during some holidays in Terme Čatež, it wouldn’t ring a bell when Radio SI asked us to participate in this yearly event. So, with an open mindset, well dressed because spring was hiding itself, and a shy sun we left early in the morning and drove towards Brežice. First stop was the castle of Brežice. Our guide Andreja was waiting for us and first invited us for a warm cup of coffee and some delicious “piggy” biscuits. Talking to Alenka, the director of the museum, allowed us to better understand the difficult situation almost all museums in Slovenia are facing (the lack of furniture, paintings and tapestry). Brežice castle has really a hidden gem, once you are standing in the middle of the Knights Hall, admiring the frescos with an open mouth, and astonished by the acoustic impact, you wonder why I wasn’t here before? You can easily spend 2 hours here, learning about the history of the region, and standing still when opposed with the horrors WWII brought also to the Posavska region. Especially for music lovers there is also the small but interesting exhibition about Nuša Derenda, the popular local singer.
For us, there was an additional small hidden gem at the ground floor level of the museum, a temporary exhibition of Mirsad Begić, impressive, confronting, speechless.
After this extreme warm hospitality at the castle, we said Alenka & Andreja goodbye and moved on to our next stop, a wine tasting with focus on local produced wines in the tourist information centre in the Town Hall. Excellent as an appetizer before lunch. We were offered red, white and even a colourless wine.
Then we were expected at Splavar restaurant in the city centre. And, yes this was a festivity for our senses. Each dish exceeded the quality of the one before. The sommelier took us on a journey of Slovenian wines & sparkling wines and we felt honoured to consume such fine tastes.
We felt a bit embarrassed because our next guide Žiga had to wait for us a bit due to the superb cooking skills of the restaurant Splavar. Žiga took us to our next destination, Jovsi National Park in Kapel. We were introduced to the rich vegetation and unique characteristics of this small area. It is always a bit surprising to us that Slovenians are taking so much care of the environment, but luckily for us and our children, they respect the nature, they preserve and cherish it as a baby and feed it to grow steadily. We have already made plans to come back during spring and listen to the birds singing their songs and the flowers pushing for a spot in the sun.
After so much green we went to the dark, the darkness of the Repice. It is for us humans impossible to imagine that in these hills there was once a sea, a sea that shaped the underground and allowed locals to start digging caves to preserve their food, before we all had our refrigerators. These caves have a high humidity allowing nowadays to be used as wine storage. This time Aljoška from Repnica Najger took us on a trip through her own wine production. While zipping from these excellent wines, accompanied by home-made salami and cheese, we listened to the stories of Aljoška. She spiced it with great anecdotes and we completely forgot about the time. And if wasn’t for the choir rehearsal of Aljoška we would be still there.
What a journey, what a region, but for me us foreigners, what a hospitality. We met warm, open and happy people here in Brežice. And I would recommend this part of Slovenia to anyone, so next time when you see the sign of Brežice on the highway, take the exit instead of queuing at the border. People of the Posavska region are happy to see you, to entertain you. There is a lot more things to see and to do then this brief summary of 2 Belgians.
Bart and Benny
Photos: Bart & Benny & Muzej Brežice