Photo Exhibit ‘National Parks: Taking Care of Nature’ Opens in Ljubljana – 18 Images

Visitors at National Geographic Anniversary exhibit in Tivoli Park Ljubljana

“National Parks: Taking Care of Nature”, a photo exhibition celebrating the national parks of the US and Slovenia through images taken by National Geographic photographers, opened yesterday in the Slovenian capital. Here are 18 images from the opening and the exhibit, enough to give you an idea without me pushing the bounds of copyright.

Nearly 100 images –half depicting scenes from national parks in the U.S. and half taken in Slovenia’s Triglav National Park– line the

Cross-posted from my blog, Piran Cafe.

Jakopič Promenade in Ljubljana’s sprawling central Tivoli park, a fitting setting for the theme. It’s definitely my favorite exhibit space in Ljubljana.

The exhibit, sponsored jointly by National Geographic, the City of Ljubljana and the U.S. Embassy, coincides with the U.S. National Park Services centenary, which is being celebrated this year, and the 10th anniversary of the Slovenian edition of National Geographic Magazine. The southern side of the promenade features images from U.S. Parks and the northern side from Slovenia. Each portion features works by 26 photographers.

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Several Hundred Rally Against ‘The Elite’ in Ljubljana – 11 Images and Notebook

Half Jansa Half Cerar posters at a protest in Ljubljana

There were two political gatherings in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana today.

The first, held this morning, was organized by Janez Janša, a former prime minister, and a coalition of right wing parties, who gathered to express their patriotism, to “defend Slovenia” and its values and rally against the government of Prime Minister Miro Cerar.

I didn’t attend that one.

Here are 11 images from the second which I did attend, an afternoon gathering of several hundred to rally against a host of grievances that include Slovenia’s growing poverty and unemployment, the exploitation of workers, the rise of racism and xenophobia, and the lack of opportunities for young people.

Music Cart leads marchers in a demonstration through the center of Ljubljana

Music Cart leads marchers in a demonstration through the center of Ljubljana

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How Ljubljana Became the 2016 European Green Capital

View of Ljubljana facing north from Castle Hill towards Kamnik Alps

 

[NOTE: This is an expanded version of my post, Ljubljana, Slovenia: The European Green Capital of 2016, that appeared last week on the popular travel blog Green Global Travel. Also cross-posted with my site Pirancafe.com.]

 

If you’re among the increasing number of people who are visiting the Slovenian capital Ljubljana these days, the loudest traffic you’ll likely hear in the heart of its old town center will be the clanging of a bicycle that’s traveling across the cobblestone of the central Preseren Square.

Or the laughter of school children as they’re guided by their teachers across the city’s landmark Art Nouveau Triple Bridge that spans the narrow Ljubljanica River that divides the old town center.

Or the chants of demonstrators voicing their grievances under the watchful eye of Slovenia’s national poet, the Romantic France Preseren whose name the square bears.

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Marriage Equality Supporters Gather in Ljubljana on Eve of Historic Referendum

Cross-posted from my blog, Piran Cafe

Here are a dozen shots from today’s rally of same-sex marriage and equal rights supporters in Ljubljana ahead of Sunday’s referendum in Slovenia that could overturn a marriage equality law approved by parliament last spring.

If the “za”, or “yes” campaign triumphs, Slovenia will become the first Central European and post-Communist nation to enact full marriage equality. There has been, predictably, a massive scare campaign, based mostly on outright lies and hysteria, waged by opposition groups to prevent Slovenia from making that step forward. (Aljaz Pengov Bitenc aka Pengovsky has listed a number of anti-equality faction’s fallacious and discredited arguments here.)

Slovenian parliament passed a law in March that legally recognized same-sex marriage, granting same-sex couples the same marriage rights as heterosexual couples.

However, a conservative group who call themselves ‘Za Otroke gre’ (rough translation ‘Children are at stake’) temporarily blocked the law, collected enough signatures to bring the motion to a referendum and appealed to the Constitutional Court.

Supporters of the law say that Slovenian referendum legislation doesn’t allow for human rights issues in general and those on the rights of a minority in particular, to be decided by popular vote. But in a widely criticized 5-4 decision, the Constitutional Court essentially disagreed, arguing that gay rights cannot necessarily be considered human rights, at least not until the court considers the question. That paved the way to Sunday’s referendum.

Eleven images below. For editorial use, please check out the images filed for Corbis and Demotix or get in touch.

MEP Angelika Mlinar in LjubljanaEuropean Parliament member Angelika Mlinar speaks to a rally of marriage equality supporters in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana ahead of a referendum which could overturn a marriage equality law.

MEP Tanja Fajon in LjubljanaEuropean Parliament member Tanja Fajon addresses a crowd at a rally of gay marriage supporters ahead of a referendum in Slovenia that will decide the fate of a marriage equality law.

Actress Ana Dolinar in Ljubljana, SloveniaSlovenian actress Ana Dolinar speaks to a crowd of marriage equality supporters in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana.

Marriage equality supporters in LjubljanaSupporters of marriage equality in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana gather below a statue of the country’s national poet France Preseren during a rally ahead of a referendum that could reverse a marriage equality law.

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2015 People’s Climate March in Ljubljana – 13 Images

 

Cross-posted from my blog, Piran Cafe

About 300 climate change activists gathered here in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana today, joining hundreds of thousands of protesters who are taking to the streets in more than 2,000 demonstrations around the world this weekend to demand action when global leaders converge in Paris for the UN Climate Change summit COP 21 which begins on Monday. [Here are links to live global coverage of the demonstrations via the BBC and The Guardian, and the Twitter hashtag #ClimateMarch. ]

The Ljubljana event was organized by the Slovenian foundation for sustainable development Umanotera, Greenpeace Slovenia and other community groups, and featured a variety of speakers including Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković, Ljubljana Auxiliary Bishop Msgr. Dr. Franc Šuštar as well as other activists, scholars and academics.

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Slovenia’s Brezice and Dobova Refugee Camps – 38 Images

I spent a large part of yesterday near the Slovenian-Croatian border in the towns of Dobova and Brezice where a logjam of migrants making their way to northern Europe is becoming particularly acute. As usual, children, like the girl above, are making the most of the surreal situation they find themselves in only because they happened to be born in Syria or Afghanistan.

I’ll write more about my experiences over the next few days but the immediate problem here in Slovenia is essentially this: Since Hungary sealed its border last weekend, Croatia has been moving way more migrants across the border than Slovenia has the capacity to process, house and transport in a reasonably orderly way. Migrants aren’t being taken only to the designated agreed upon areas; Croatian authorities are delivering people, unannounced, to both minor border crossings as well as the proverbial “middle of nowhere”, forcing people to cross wide muddy fields, ford rivers and creeks and slush through marshes in near-freezing temperatures. Which means many are arriving in Slovenia wet, cold and sick, only to be forced, in many cases, to spend the night in the open because there simply aren’t enough centers in which to house them.

And the situation is expected to get much worse very quickly.

A few more images below; for editorial inquiries check out 38 images available via Corbis / Demotix here:

Police escort migrants from a refugee center in Brezice, Slovenia

Police escort migrants from a refugee center in Brezice, Slovenia

Slovenian army personnel arriving in the border town of Dobova

Slovenian army personnel arriving in the border town of Dobova

A Syrian migrant at refugee camp in Dobova, Slovenia

A Syrian migrant at refugee camp in Dobova, Slovenia

The remains of two tents that were destroyed when a fire broke out at a refugee camp in Brezice, Slovenia

The remains of two tents that were destroyed when a fire broke out at a refugee camp in Brezice, Slovenia

A boy playing with fire at a refugee camp in Dobova, Slovenia

A boy playing with fire at a refugee camp in Dobova, Slovenia

 

Miha Tursic, Artist on Hunger Strike to Protest Lack of Arts Funding and “bureaucratization of culture” in Slovenia

Miha Tursic on Day 15 of his hunger strike in Ljubljana

LJUBLJANA, SLOVENIA – This is Miha Turšič, a Slovenian artist who today spent his 15th day on a hunger strike to protest what he calls the “bureaucratization of culture” and the lack of state funding for the arts in this small alpine nation. In my experience –mainly through the stories of exasperation shared by colleagues and friends who work in the arts here—both are big problems.

This was taken at a press conference today at the national Museum of Modern Art in Ljubljana, where Turšič has passed, during the institution’s working hours, those 15 days, largely confined to a reconstruction of the Trieste Constructivist Cabinet, originally built in 1927 for an exhibit at the Public Gardens pavilion in the Italian port city.

The space, which includes futurist paintings and levitating sculptures, was a collaboration conceived by Edvard Stepančič, Avgust Černigoj, and Josip Vlah, members of the Slovene avant-garde, and Italian futurist Giorgio Carmelich, as an early study of space, gravity and motion. A year later pioneering space travel theorist Herman Potočnik Noordung, also a Slovene, published his ground-breaking study, “The Problem of Space Travel: The Rocket Motor“.

Turšič resting in a reconstruction of the Trieste Constructivist Cabinet, originally built in 1927

Turšič resting in a reconstruction of the Trieste Constructivist Cabinet, originally built in 1927

Fast forward eight decades to 2012, when Turšič was one of three co-founders of KSEVT, the Cultural Centre of European Space Technologies, an institute promoting research in the fields of what they call “space culturalization”, whose facility is located in the Slovenian village of Vitanje where Potočnik’s family originated. As do Turšič’s reasons for taking the dramatic step he did on 30 September. And thus his connection to the cozy installation where he spends part of his day resting.

He’s doing well, he said, but tires quickly. He’s already lost eight kilograms over the past two weeks, a substantial amount for the already lanky 39 year-old, which is leaving him sapped. But he’s remained sharp and articulate as attention to his hunger strike continues to grow, and with it a media and political spotlight which has already resulted in appearances before parliamentary committees and visits by the Prime Minister and Minister of Culture.

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Slovenia Day Trips: Julian Alps – Triglav Lakes Valley Hike

This is the Koča pri Triglavskih jezerih, a mountain lodge nestled quietly in the Triglav Lakes Valley in Slovenia’s Julian Alps. Even framed by the gray skies and daunting clouds –elements I generally find inviting– this was one of the most beautiful mountain scenes I’ve ever witnessed. And it took less than four hours to reach on foot – by any measure, a just reward for breaking a sweat.

Most who visit Slovenia and are eager for a taste of its mountain scenery set aside a day to visit the well-known alpine lake at Bled or its slightly more remote cousin Lake Bohinj, just another 25km up the road in Triglav National Park. When the weather allows, both offer up some very memorable vistas of this eastern Alpine range.

But if you really want a feel for the rugged mountains the country has on offer you need to head for and into the hills. Hiking is the national pastime in Slovenia for good reason. And while its peaks don’t quite reach as high as those of the ranges in neighboring Italy and Austria and nearby Switzerland and Germany, experienced and well-traveled alpinists will tell you that Slovenia is anything but Alps-lite.

The hike to the Triglav Lakes Valley, named for the country’s highest peak (2,864m/ 9,396ft) and the national park in which it sits, is among the most popular. The valley is named for a system of (at least) seven lakes that sit in this high mountain valley. The lodge (1,685m /5,528ft) that serves as the destination for this hike rests at the valley’s southern edge at the Dvojno Jezero, or Double Lake in the heart of the Julian Alps and Triglav National Park.

There are several trails to the hut; to kick off this occasional Slovenia Day Trips series I picked the one which begins in the Blato Valley near Bohinj; it’s considered the easiest — and my knees have reached a point where they cry out, sometimes loudly, for easy. It’s also extremely picturesque, and a well-rounded representation of the geography and geology of the area, passing through high alpine meadows, valleys and pastures and lush deciduous and evergreen forests.

The hike is about seven hours round trip, making it an easy and fairly relaxed day trip if you’re spending the night in Bohinj or Bled. It’s possible from the capital Ljubljana (1hr 15min drive one way) in a day, too, if you’re an early riser, have your own transportation and set out when the days are still somewhat long. (Pulling it off in a day from Ljubljana using only public transport is probably next to impossible.)

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