Another great Kildare Retired Teachers trip – my first one abroad – and it lived up to all expectations.
Even the Ryanair delay in Dublin airport followed by a “mirror of Naas bypass” between Treviso and Trieste couldn’t dampen the spirits of the Kildare retirees. Following check-in in Ljubljana’s City Hotel, we took off in packs to find late dinners. It’s quite a small city so we had the geography of the place almost before bed.
We started with a walking tour of the city with Yuri our Slovenian guide, taking in the highlights, the many bridges that cross the Ljubljanica River- the Dragon bridge,
the Triple Bridge, the Cobblers’ Bridge, the Fountain of the Three Rivers outside the Mestna Hisa (Town Hall) and finishing with a cable car ride to Ljubljana Castle which dominates the skyline of the city.
The group broke up then for an afternoon of leisure. Leisure my eye!!!! Our crowd found a lovely place in the Market Square for lunch before dashing off to the Urban Train (a little electric train that took us around the city again to see some of the morning’s missed sights – Plecnik’s (the architect of Ljubljana) House, the Tivoli Gardens, some theatres and churches.
The river is the landmark for everything in the city and so a group of us took a river ride. It was amazing to see the embankment and hear the many interesting stories of the past. Plecnik designed most of the city with great thought – the willows along the banks were sown as swings for the youngsters to launch themselves into the water as well as to mimic the women who came down to the river’s edge to wash clothes; a cage hung from beside the Cobblers’ Bridge to dunk cheating bakers; Emperor Franz Josef paid for the Dragon bridge so that his Eagle emblems could be displayed, instead the Mayor had 4 copper dragons, the symbols of Slovenia, sneaked in.
( Forgot my camera today – if any of you travellers have any offerings sent to me, please. B)
What a lovely surprise this morning – clear blue skies although a storm had been forecast!!! An early start (really hearty buffet breakfast in hotel) as we headed off to the Postonja Caves, reputedly, Europe’s most spectacular caves, 12 miles of chambers and tunnels. Luckily, it can be viewed from a subterranean railway that swerves through the stalactites like a fairground ride with passengers ducking at times to avoid overhanging rocks. One could exit the train for an hour’s walk through some of the chambers; however a few of us decided to carry on by train and relax with ice cream by the Pivka river.
We had time for a little retail therapy before boarding the bus for the Adriatic coastal town of Piran. A free shuttle service was available to take us into the centre of the town where there was a market square (Tartinijev trg after the local born violinist and composer Tartini – another famous Slovenian I had never heard of) and lovely restaurants along the sea front for a well-earned lunch. Piran was quite a wealthy little town, its wealth based on the salt produced here. Now it is more a fishing or seaside village.
Vinekoper in Koper was our next port of call. This celler owns most of the vineyards in Slovenia and specialises in a wide range of wines. My favourites, Refosk was available to “taste” and purchase. There’ll be a few of us checking out O’Brien’s and Aldi and Lidl for Slovenian wines after this!
Our crowd went down the town tonight for dinner – lovely restaurant beside the river where suckling pig (my choice) and veal were served with roast potatoes (unavailable last night!!!) and veg.
The mountains beckoned today – another early start and another glorious morning as we headed first for Lake Bojin, the largest lake in Slovinia. The cable car ride to Mount Vogel gave us spectacular views of the lakes and rivers.
Sitting out in the wooden chalet type restaurant brought the story of Heidi or the Sound of Music to mind. Vogel is a ski resort and there was still some snow with many Alpine flowers peeping through to add to the picture card effect.
Back to the bus for our trip to Lake Bled with its fairy tale scenery – an island church in the middle of the lake which can only be reached by traditional canopied rowing boats, and a castle located on a sheer cliff overlooking the lake and Tito’s palace at the boat jetty (now a hotel).
It was well-worth the effort of climbing the 99 steps to the Church of the Assumption to ring the Wishing Bell inside. The climb to the Castle was more demanding with its uneven surface and extremely steep incline. But there were many helping hands and almost all the crew made it to the courtyard, many making it to the ramparts!!! A fit bunch of retirees!
Lunch by the lake shore before hitting back to Ljubljana was well earned.
We may have wondered why an umbrella hung in every room in the hotel – today we wondered no more – the rain was bucketing down from early morning. Luckily today we were left to our own devices and many chose indoor activities – shopping, galleries, museums. The Emporium (a Kildare Village lookalike including prices) was a favourite but City Park ( in the Blanchardstown vein) was only a taxi ride away. The weather cleared somewhat in the afternoon allowing for some more outdoor sightseeing.
Rena ( and helpers) sussed out a local restaurant Sokol (The Eagle) for our group tonight – lovely meal followed by a sing song – not only are the Kildare Retirees fit – there are some great singers among them. Brilliant way to end the holiday!
A great few days – lots of laughs and stories – however “what happens on tour stays on tour” is a good motto for a blog and there were many funny incidents that will not be recounted here. Our guide Yuri was excellent. The hotel was clean and friendly and located centrally which is a big plus. Food was good but different – Slovenians don’t seem to eat at night and many places were closed by eleven. Everyone noted the cleanliness of the city and the good manners of its residents. Those who visited the churches were impressed with the devotion of young and old, the participation in the services and the most beautiful music/singing. Slovenian wine was excellent and very cheap. The city centre is “car-free” and that certainly lends to the calmness. Small electric bus/cars are available free, originally designed for the elderly but now used by anyone. Otherwise you cycle or walk.
Well done Rena – where are you going to bring us next year???
Kilteel St. Brigids Art Festival hosts a wide range of activities over the first week in February: art exhibition, workshops, trad session, hill walking, drama, stalls, cafe. A full list of activities can be found on Kilteel St Brigid’s Arts Weekend.
reopens on Feb 3rd. The gardens at Burtown are unusual in that they were worked by three generations of the family; the late Wendy Walsh, one of Ireland’s finest botanical artists; Wendy’s daughter the painter Lesley Fennell, and her son James, a professional photographer.
If you love food, if you love colour and want to spend a tranquil few hours come to The Green Barn at Burtown, open from Wed to Sunday for Brunch and Lunch.
Families of all ages are welcome and believe it or not, the dog can come too. Take a healthy walk in the gardens, view the garden art and breathe fresh air tinted with the wholesome herbs from the kitchen gardens. What an absolute pleasure.
I had hoped to call by Town House Hotel, Naas today to see if any of our participants might be of standard to enter next year’s “Dancing with the Stars”. Dance Classes resumed this morning following the Christmas break.
Retired Teachers and friends are more than welcome to join the group for the next session in a fortnight’s time. Classes are every fortnight at 10.30am in the Town House Hotel (on the Newbridge Road)
Hard to believe, but on this last day of 2018, there’s a tiny little clump of snowdrops already blooming in my garden. So I thought it would be fitting to include Wordsworth’s poem about these tiny white flowers.
TO A SNOWDROP
Lone flower, hemmed in with snows, and white as they
But hardier far, once more I see thee bend
Thy forehead as if fearful to offend,
Like an unbidden guest. Though day by day
Storms sallying from the mountain-tops, waylay
The rising sun, and on the plains descend;
Yet art though welcome, welcome as a friend
Whose zeal outruns his promise! Blue-eyed May
Shall soon behold this border thickly set
With bright jonquils, their odours lavishing
On the soft west-wind and his frolic peers;
Nor will I then thy modest grace forget,
Chaste snowdrop, venturous harbinger of spring,
And pensive monitor of fleeting years.
And with thoughts of January 1st and as gifs and wishes ping on my phone: Athbhliain shona díobh go léir!
The usual large crowd assembled in Killashee House Hotel on Monday 10th December for Christmas get together of Kildare Retired Teachers.
We moved quickly through reading and adapting of minutes, matters arising, correspondence and Financial Report to election of Branch Officers.
ELECTION OF OFFICERS
Outgoing Chair Ted Rooney was congratulated on “a job well done” before he introduced Martin Hoban, incoming chair. Martin, Principal of Holy Child N.S. Rathcoole (the only Dublin school with membership in Kildare INTO) has been a lifelong activist with INTO. Carmel Gleeson also well known in INTO circles as well as Cumann na mBunscol was elected to position of Vice Chair. The position of Secretary/Treasurer will remain in the capable hands of Fidelma who was praised highly for her dedication and expertise over the last year. Paula Watters resignation as Branch Auditor due to family circumstances was accepted and our thanks was extended to her for all her work. Paddy Walsh was elected as Auditor with Peadair Cunningham who continues in the Job. Martin thanked all committee members, outgoing and incoming on our behalf.
A number of volunteers to attend RTAI meetings in Dublin were noted.
The branch supported the nomination of Mary Kyne from Galway to Standing Orders Committee of RTAI.
There was one Motions for Congress suggested. I will clarify the wording ASAP.
The number attending Dance class has increased since September. I might do a visit in the new year and if GDPR allows publish some photos or a short article.
Rena McAllen circulated information on our2019 trip: Ljubljana & Lake Bled, Slovenia for 5 days May 23rd – 28th.
BILLY SHEEHAN’S ADDRESS
Finally, Billy Sheehan addressed the meeting in his usual knowledgable manner,
with good news for many (if not all) about PSSA and Pension Reductions. In answer to a question from the floor, Billy agreed that the gains for some could be equalised by their loss of entitlements to Medical/Doctor’s cards.
He also lauded the GDPR and encouraged a positive view of it as a method of preserving our privacy.
For those who are subbing he explained that from January your INTO deduction will be automatic (just ensure the INTO have your current details).
The RTAI office is always available for advice and information but Billy encouraged ringing EARLY (between 9.00am and 1.00pm daily) to talk to a “human”; otherwise you may be answered by a machine!
RAFFLE & LUNCH
There were lots of lucky raffle winners (again well done to Fidelma who organises all the prizes) before we ‘retired’ to the Mooreabbey Suite for a lovely lunch. Another lovely pre-Christmas meeting.
Contact The Travel Department 01-6371600 for detals and to book. Booking Ref ‘Kildare RTA’. Deposit €200 secures a place.
There are a number of single rooms available (5 maybe @ €229 supplement pp)
Prices inc of taxes and charges
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Return Flights Dublin to Venice Treviso airport
Situated in the heart of Eastern Europe between the Alps and the Mediterranean Sea, Slovenia is a country of astounding natural beauty and cultural wealth. On this 5-night short break, experience the very best of Slovenia, from city to coast and countryside.
From your base in the charming and compact capital of Ljubljana, visit the incredible Postojna Caves in the country’s expansive Karst region.
You will travel to the small stretch of Slovenian coastline on the Mediterranean to visit the picturesque town of Koper, and head up into the breathtaking scenery of the Slovenian Alps to the country’s most famous Lake Bled
and largest Lake Bohinj with cable car ride up Mount Vogel
You’ll also have time to discover Ljubljiana’s green and leafy streets, historic buildings, trendy cafés and markets at your own pace, as well as taking in some of its most popular sites on a half day guided walking tour.
FOR ALL QUERIES AND INFORMATION CONTACT THE TRAVEL DEPARTMENT @ 016371600