Tourist First

Travel notes and advice from around the world. Above, the daily flight from Managua at the San Carlos, Nicaragua, airstrip.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Slovenia: At the Sea in Piran

View of the seaside promenade just north of the Hotel Piran. Metal railings
at left are part of steps for swimmers to enter and exit the water. The awnings
on the right are a row of seafood restaurants. 

After Ljubljana, we took a two-hour bus ride to Slovenia's 47-kilometer Adriatic coast. Our destination was Piran, a seaside resort housed in buildings left by five centuries of Venetian occupation. A Venetian-style campanile overlooks much of the town, a warren of winding lanes, hilly streets and stone buildings both modest and grand.

Piran was a chance to chill after vigorous sight-seeing at our previous stops in Slovenia and Croatia. Even though ferry service connects it with Venice, low-key Piran seems like a place for Slovenes to build their summer memories. We did hear German spoken  a good bit, but that's true everywhere in Europe during high season, and we heard a lot of English, because it's the second language that almost all continental Europeans can speak. But mostly we heard Slovenian, especially among the many large family groups.

From the bus station, we had a relatively short walk all the way around the small harbor to our waterfront accommodations, the 100-year-old Hotel Piran, which combines the looks of a formal hotel from another era with genuinely friendly service.  We had a room with a fairly large terrace overlooking the sea and the public concrete "beach."

We arrived in time for lunch at one of the big seafood restaurants that stretch to the north from the hotel. That afternoon, we hit the beach. I hit it a bit too hard, putting a gash in my leg when I brushed against a rock jumping off a pier. Jane got bandages from the front desk and we later walked to the pharmacy in Tartinjev Trg (Tartini Square), the town's main plaza a few steps from the hotel, and got an antiseptic ointment and more bandages. Out of the water for the rest of our stay, I watched as over and over again people jumped where I had jumped and came out unbloodied.

The next day, our one full day in town, we made it up the Church of St. George, a 12th-century structure that has become mostly Baroque over the years. We also made another climb to the remnants of a city wall east of the old town (there really isn't a "new" town here), and walked around the tip of the peninsula . From the harbor northwest to the tip and then east a bit, there are several access points for swimmers (ladders or steps into the water), most of them surrounded by sunbathers. When the water is rough on one part of the peninsula, it might be much calmer at another.

Piran is a salt-production center, and has been since the Venetians (13th to 18th centuries) were in charge. We didn't visit the salt production area, but we did come home with its fleur de sel as gifts. Conveniently, the salt works have a gift shop on Tartini Square.

At sunset, the place to be is the bar atop the Hotel Piran for the best views. Then there's a wonderful seafood dinner waiting for you somewhere in this little town.

Here are some photos.
Two structures, one green and one red, stand at the entrance
to Piran's small harbor.

We climbed to the city's medieval wall for this view, which shows how completely
Piran fills up its peninsula. On the right is the Church of St. George and its
Venetian-style campanile. 

Tartinijev Trg (Tartini Square) is the town's only large plaza. To the left,
it opens onto the harbor. To the right, shops and narrow streets plug it
into the town. The statue is of Giuseppe Tartini (1692-1770), an
Italian violinist who was born in Piran.

This looks like a more conventional beach
than the concrete beaches along the promenade,
though concrete might be more comfortable to
walk on than these rocks. It's on the north
 side of the peninsula. 

A harpist performs on a street leading
to St. George's Church.

Looking down from the garden at St. George's Church. The two
people are sitting on a bench.

The Svetilnik Lighthouse marks the northwest
point of the peninsula.

The medieval city wall looms in the distance in this
view from St. George's Church.

Visitors can walk along the surprisingly narrow wall. I'm sure much
of what we see is the result of 20th-century restoration.

View from our terrace at Hotel Piran. It shows
the seawall that separates the harbor area
from the swimming areas.

Sunbathers just below our terrace.

She's diving where I hurt my leg on a rock.

What's a seaside without a mermaid? 

A narrow street high in the town offers
a view of the harbor entrance. 

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