Maribor, joint European Capital of Culture 2012, holds much to be discovered, so we head to the Slovenian city for a chat with local Neda Bazdulj who tells us where to go to taste the best local wines and how to find the city's best kept secrets.
So, you’ve brought me to your favourite cafe/bar - tell me about it.
We are in Cajek Cafe, which means Little Tea. The cafe is in the town center surrounded by shops, boutiques, shopping centers and office buildings and is also within walking distance to the city’s castle. For me the city noise stops here. In Cajek you can grab breakfast and read a newspaper, find complete peace for yourself, or for a chat or two or three ... After a hard day walking visiting all the city’s sights, it’s a great place to stop off for amazing homemade cake, tea and coffee. People of all ages come here and sometimes even enjoy a game of chess with their tea.
Mmm... this is good, what are we drinking?
We are drinking Aunt Pehta tea, which you can find only in this particular cafe. Aunt Pehta tea is a special domestic blend of herbs, named after the character Aunt Pehta in Slovenian children’s fairy tales of Kekec. You could also have a cup of coffee here, as us Slovenians love our coffee and drink it at least three times a day. A bit later on in the day we like to top off our meals a glass of beer or wine too, as Maribor is in Slovenian wine country after all.
What are your favourite local dishes?
Mushroom soup made from mushrooms growing in the forests around Maribor, roast goose liver, and for dessert Pohorje omlette or Štruklji. Štruklji is rolled cooked dough with a delicious nut filling and Pohorje omelette is made from biscuit dough, filled with a variety of wild berries or other fruit.
And where would you suggest I go to find these?
The restaurant Pri treh ribnikih, which translates as At the Three Fish Ponds is a great place, located in the city park. This is one of Maribor’s oldest and most renowned restaurants. It is around 300 years old and is best known for its local Štajerske dishes and great local wines. There are also wine tasting sessions here where you can sip glasses of Riesling, Šipon, Rizvanec, local Ranina, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and many more. The goose liver here is delicious too, but it’s not on the menu, so you need to ask to order it.
The sky is blue and the sun is shining, what’s the best thing to do on a day like today?
In Maribor there are many sunny days. I suggest going for nice stroll around town, a boat trip on the Drava River and to stop off in some bars along the river bank. There you can see the world’s oldest vine spreading across The Old Vine House. The vine is around 400 years old and is still bearing grapes! For nature lovers there is a nice cable car ride down to the nearby Pohorje Mountain for great walks and skiing in winter. Currently Maribor is the European Capital of culture, which has giving the City an even greater vibe and amazing events happening here almost every day.
And if it rains?
I suggest going to the Regional Museum of Maribor in the city castle, and the Museum of National Liberation. The permanent collections in the Maribor Art Gallery are really interesting too.
If there’s one thing I should do while I’m here, what is it?
Go to a wine tasting session at the Maribor Vinag Wine Cellar to try some of our delicious local wines.
Give me a local tip that other tourists wouldn’t usually know...
Every Sunday at around six o’clock in the morning the Boljši or Kramarski flea market begins at the former grounds of the company TAM, outside the city center. It's a large market and fair where you can buy almost everything, but most exciting are the local crafts and antiques.