Fierce Spinning Penn

Posted in Penn Fishing Gear by Penn Fishing Gear on February 2, 2012

Fierce Spinning Penn

Geographically, The Balkan Peninsula Is Regarded As Southeastern Europe - The Landmass South Of Austria And Hungary And East Of Italy, It's Famous For Craggy And Remote Mountains, Spectacular Shore And Fiercely Partisan Populations.

Stumped? It's really a bit of a trick question. Geographically, the Balkan Peninsula is regarded as Southeastern Europe - the landmass south of Austria and Hungary and east of Italy. It's renowned for craggy and remote mountains, impressive coastline and fiercely partisan populations. The Adriatic is to the west, the Black Sea to the east, Greece at the southernmost tip.

But politically, the answer is dependent upon the year. Five centuries of war, oppression and ethnic conflict have melted and created countries on the Balkan Spur many times over. If you answered Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania or Bosnia & Herzegovina (BiH) - A-plus! They all have shore on the Adriatic Sea. If you assumed Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, or Kosovo - C-plus. Balkans, though not Western Balkans. Yugoslavia? No go. It collapsed over ten years ago.

The good news for travelers? An increasingly stable range of independent countries based rather on ethnic populations, but also on the economic imperatives of newfound independence : capitalism, development and tourism!

Dubrovnik, Croatia, is now a top destination on Eastern Mediterranean cruises, like the one Bud and I did in 2003. Our Dubrovnik guide lived thru the 1991-92 Serbian siege, and bullet holes were still everywhere. But Maria's hopefulness was contagious. "Come back," she entreated. "After the roads are fixed and borders opened, you'll love it."

7 years on we landed in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, on the first leg of a four-country Western Balkan road trip. Customs and immigration were smooth and efficient and our rental car, a Czech Skoda Fabia, waited just steps from the terminal.

We would drive northeast thru Slovenia's Julian Alps, south along coastal Croatia and down to Montenegro's beaches. We would finish over Montenegro's legendary mountains and into BiH to finish in Sarajevo. Perhaps best, we were flying solo - no package tours, no booking agent. Just us!


We brought a GPS with a pre-loaded Eastern EU chip. First stop : iconic Lake Bled. Our GPS let us select : back roads or highway. We took the littlest roads and were immediately smitten. Each home sported lush window boxes. In the foothills of the Julian Alps, each village reached higher, with taller ancient pines, and roads narrowing to single lanes, frequently weaving thru steep pastures. Around one corner a spotless church sat on top of a brilliantly green hill.

Lake Bled's Grand Hotel Toplice was wonderful and historical. It housed Fascist Officials during WW2, and was so prestigious the officers had to pay for rooms, even though they were the occupying forces. The Toplice was full of chatty Brits and sporty Germans, and life revolved round the lake - shaded walkways along the shoreline, swans paddling about, boats with brightly colored covers to ferry visitors around. Lovely!

Our next stop took us even higher, to a sporthotel in Kranjska Gora. Sporthotels are clearly EU : spare decoration, few luxuries, but huge rooms to hold skis and bikes. At the Toplice we were told that US citizens visit infrequently. In Kranjska Gora, Northern Americans are not common. We were treated like celebs and entreated to go to the ski jump at nearby Planica where the world record for ski-flying was set in 2005 : 717 feet "airborne" coming off the end of the jump.

We were cautioned about the drive over Slovenia's 9,300-foot peak, Mount Triglav, at the eastern end of the Alps. It was rainy and misty. The route was terribly steep and narrow with fifty or even more switchbacks. "Follow a bus," they exclaimed. "It will lead you."

Great advice! We turned up at our next stop, Lipica, in fine shape and prepared to go to the legendary Lipizzaner Stud Farm in its 430th year of breeding and training the fascinating white stallions. We caught the dramatic "Airs Above the Ground" equestrian show and marveled at the chic facility with dressage faculties, lodging, cafes and wedding chapel as reported

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