Srečno novo leto!

First things first, Happy New Year or Srečno novo leto as we say here!

I’ve had quite a good start to the New Year so far, except for a little hiccup yesterday – more about that later.

Being able to speak Slovene came in very useful last past week when I had the pleasure of spending an hour in the company of two of Slovenia’s national treasures. Ivanka Kraševec Prešern has been one of Slovenia’s most known and successful singers of national folk music since her debut in 1962. She was part of the Alpski Kvintet, who travelled throughout Europe and has received numerous gold and diamond discs, in both Austria and Slovenia. Since retiring from singing, Ivanka turned her attention to painting which has proved another successful career for her and she has hosted several exhibitions.

Her husband, Ivan (Žan) Prešern, was a founding member of the Alpski kvintet in 1966, where he played trumpet for over 30 years. As a composer he has also arranged over 300 titles and was instrumental in the development of the jazz trumpet with the well-known trumpet manufacturer Martin Lechner. Today, as well as still playing, Ivan also devotes his time to painting. Just recently Ivan was on TV playing his trumpet to accompany a song specially composed about Radovljica (here’s a link if you want to listen to the song – http://yourlisten.com/channel/content/16938978/Radolca). And both of them live in Radovljica too which just goes to show what a great place it is to live!

The village of Begunje, just a few kilometres from Radovljca, is the birth place of the world renowned musician Slavko Avsenik. Avsenik’s music is hugely popular throughout Slovenia, Austria and Germany and tourists come by the coach load for evenings of music, food and entertainment by the Avsenik ensemble. There is an annual Avsenik festival held in August plus many other special events and evenings. So music fans might fancy a taste of authentic Slovene folk music and a fun night out whilst visiting Slovenia – http://www.avsenik.com/pcc.asp#xpath=/novice#xpathid=#lang=eng

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This is a photo of the remains of Kamen Castle, also in the village of Begunje, with the beautiful Begunjščica mountain in the background.

New Year’s Eve was a good one. First out for dinner with some friends then met another friend later in the evening in Bled for a walk around the lake and to watch the fireworks. It was a perfect clear evening too. I was surprised at how quiet it was though. I think most people must have chosen to stay at home and celebrate this year – the recession is still biting very hard here.

So now the not so good. I was bitten by a dog yesterday. It was rather odd because I’ve seen this old guy and his dog out walking loads of times and usually the dog doesn’t take any notice but yesterday it came running straight up and bit me. Just a little yappy, snappy terrier type thing so nothing too serious but it drew blood so thought I had better go for a tetanus as I’ve no idea when I last had one, but certainly not since I’ve been here. The doctors said I must also report it which I wasn’t so keen on doing so I went and visited the owner this morning just to let him know and check if the dog had been vaccinated (it has) and to make sure I wouldn’t cause him any trouble.

The 2nd January used to be a public holiday in Slovenia however it was cancelled as part of the crisis cost-saving measures. So you can imagine the public outcry yesterday when TV reporters visited parliament only to find the place empty. Hmm, enough said. Politicians – the same the world over!

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