Subject: Trieste and Slovenia

I'm stepping in a bit late, but here I am, trying to condense two answers into one (after all' it's less than 100 miles from here to lake Bled)

Lake Bled: very nice spot with the castle, the lake, tha island and the beach life of a well-known resort. I haven't ever looked at the hotels there, but the big ones you see aren't that much appealing. I prefer much more the quiet Lake Bohini, a few miles upriver, there are some nice pensions, but maybe young people prefer the disco or the ice cream parlors of Bled lakefront.

A nice spa is Catez, still on the Sava river but right on the Croatian border before Zagreb. Many hotels and a large waterplay area with slides, pools etc. Sadly I've been there in the fall only and it was too cold outside. Ljubljana has a restored old centre and fascinating river views from the bridges, but I guess one or two days is all you need to see it. Lot of music bars and trendy shops too.

Even if you don't like caves, Postojna Caves are a must. You start with a ride on a small underground train, then you are lead my multilingual staff for a short walk on a smooth path across the more incredible halls you've ever seen, even the thunderous crash of an underground river. Not far from it the Predjama Castle, built inside a large cave on the side of a mountain, is funny to visit too. There's also a small preservation park not far from there, Rakov Skocjan, where a river surges under giant stone arches, run along a short valley and dive again underground. Piran (the fishermen's town) and Portoroz (tourist resort) lie side by side on the coast. I often go there on summer as the water is clean and a bit less crowed than my town.

And now Trieste: a bit of Wien, a bit of Orient, a big gulf marked by the white stone castle of Miramare. In addition to walking the centre, drink some good wine or world-renown coffee and have a look at the Roman ruins, there are some half day trips worth your time: Miramare Castle - the dream of Maximilian of Hapsburg, set on a small cape and surrounded by gardens full of exotic plants. The interiors are finely preserved (19th century) and the sea can be seen from every window. Grotta Gigante - this is a real big one, a single cavern which could contain all St.Peter's of Rome. Lot of stairs downward but breathless view. The way upstairs is easier.

Val Rosandra - a paradise for hikers and climbers, an alpine valley set deep inside a cut across the hills at the border with Slovenia. Lot of people on weekends but lonely during weekdays. Trieste has lots of accomodations and many campsites are found close to the border points and on the coast.

Paolo Trieste, Italy