Slovenia: detailed travel guide

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Slovenia: detailed travel guide

Slovenia, or officially the Republic of Slovenia, is a state located in the south of Central Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula. Slovenia covers an area of 20,273 km² with a population of 2,076,598 (for 2018). The country has borders with Italy, Austria, Hungary, Croatia and is washed by the waters of the Adriatic Sea.

Landscape in Slovenia

Landscape in Slovenia

Slavic peoples have lived on the territory of present-day Slovenia since the 6th century. In 628 – 658, these lands belonged to the state of Samo, and then were part of the state of Carintania. In the XI-XIII centuries, many small feudal principalities (Carinthia, Styria, Carina, etc.) were formed on the territory of Slovenia. In the 16th century, the area belonged to the Austrian Habsburgs. At the beginning of the 19th century, on the territory of Slovenia that belonged to Napoleon, there was an administrative entity Illyrian provinces. The national movement that began at the end of the 19th century, demanding cultural and administrative autonomy, in 1918 led to the annexation of the Slovak lands to the single kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, which in 1929 was named Yugoslavia. Some Slovak lands remained in the hands of Austria and Italy.

After the end of the Second World War, during which Yugoslavia was occupied by fascist troops, Slovenia became a republic within the Yugoslav Federation, and some Italian lands were returned to it (under the 1947 treaty). The independence of Slovenia was proclaimed on June 25, 1991. On July 2, 1991, the Yugoslav army bombed the capital of Slovenia – Ljubljana. The sides were saved from the escalation of the military conflict by the intervention of the EU countries. During the fighting in Slovenia, 18 people died.

In October 1991, Slovenia fully asserted its independence. Since 1992, the country has been a member of the UN.

  • Capital: Ljubljana
  • Area: 20,273 km2
  • Population: 2,076,598 (2018)
  • Language: Slovenian, Italian, Hungarian
  • Of.site: https://slovenia.si/

Slovenia today is a popular tourist destination. The guests of the country are attracted by many architectural and historical sights, beach holidays on the Adriatic coast, as well as ample opportunities for skiing and ecotourism.

How to get there

Plane

The fastest and most convenient way to get to Slovenia is by air. You can fly to the country by direct flight, you can also use the options of flights with a transfer at the airports of one of the European countries.

During the season, you can fly to the Adriatic resorts of Slovenia in the Croatian city of Pula, the distance from which to the Slovenian resort of Portorož is 100 km (however, this requires a Schengen visa to Slovenia, since Croatia issues national visas that do not grant the right to enter the Schengen zone).

By train

Tourists who prefer to travel by train by plane may be advised to buy tickets to Vienna. There are several trains from Vienna daily to Ljubljana.

Bus

Slovenian cityscape

Slovenian cityscape

You can also come from the neighboring countries of Slovenia by bus. A list of available international routes can be seen on the website of the Ljubljana main bus station. For tourists: Vienna in Slovenian – Danube (Dunaj). Ticket prices vary, for example, a bus trip from Munich will cost about 50 euros, from Verona – 25 euros.

Slovenia can be reached from nearby airports in Europe by GoOpti buses, which organize budget transfers. So, from Venice airport to Ljubljana the fare will be 17.5 euros for one person, from Trieste airport – 9.5 euros, etc. You must book a transfer in advance. The day before the trip, GoOpti sends passengers an SMS with the driver’s phone number, and on the day of the trip, the driver specifies the details of the transfer by phone.

Car

You can also get to Slovenia by your own car. To travel on the roads of Slovenia, you need to buy a vignette (sold at petrol stations and shops). The cost of the vignette is 15 euros per week, the fine for its absence is from 300 euros.

Climate and weather in Slovenia for tourist travel

Slovenia has a temperate continental climate, the country is clearly divided into three climatic zones: Central European in the east (hot summers and cold winters), Alpine in the northwest (cold winters and warm summers) and Mediterranean on the Adriatic coast. The average air temperature in Slovenia in summer is from +23 to +25°C, in winter from -2°C to +6°C.

The tourist season in the mountains lasts from September to May, on the coast – from early June to late October. The high beach season on the Adriatic coast is July and August. Thermal spas receive patients all year round.

Slovenia’s cities and regions for tourists

Slovenia is administratively subdivided into 12 statistical units (Gorenjska, Gorishka, Zasavska, Koroshka, Nizhnyaya Posavska, Notranjska-Kraska, Obalno-Krashka,

Podravska, Pomurska, Savinska, Central Slovenia, South-East Slovenia). In addition, the country is divided into 210 communities, 11 of which have city status.

The largest cities in the country are:

Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia, the most important political, financial, industrial, cultural, scientific, educational and business center of the country with a population of 274 800 people (in 2013). The city stretches along the banks of the Ljubljanica River, surrounded by the Karst and Alps mountains.

The symbol of the city is the “Ljubljana dragon”, which is associated with the ancient Greek myth of Jason, the Argonauts and the golden fleece. It was the Argonauts that the locals attribute to the founding of the city. The panorama of the city and its surroundings opens from the walls of the castle – Ljubljana Castle (IX century), standing on a high hill, which can be reached by cable car. The sights of Ljubljana are concentrated around the main square of Frans Preshern and the Three Bridge (the “crossroads” of three pedestrian bridges across Ljubljanica). The old city center is built up with mansions and temples in the Baroque style, since the earthquake of 1511 destroyed all the previous buildings. There are many picturesque parks on the territory of the Slovenian capital, among which the Tivoli Park stands out. Ljubljana is famous for its many annual cultural events as well as museums and art galleries.

Maribor is the second largest city in Slovenia, with a population of 94,800 (as of 2013). The city is located in the north-east of Slovenia, on the banks of the Drava River.

The date of the formation of Maribor is considered to be 1254, but the first written mention of a castle that existed on this site dates back to 1164. Since the 13th century, the city experienced an intensive development: it turned into a large trade center. In the 16th century, Maribor was subjected to several Turkish sieges. Before the First World War, a large number of ethnic Germans (about 80% of the population) lived in the city. After the incorporation of Maribor into Yugoslavia, many Germans left the city. During the Second World War, Maribor was captured by German troops. After the liberation, the city began to develop intensively, and today it is an important transport, industrial and cultural center of the eastern part of Slovenia.

Important sights of Maribor include the 12th century Gothic John the Baptist Cathedral, the Renaissance-style city hall and the 15th century Maribor Castle. The town is also home to the oldest vineyard in Europe, Stara Trta, founded more than 400 years ago, and the largest wine cellar in Slovenia is located directly in the center of Maribor.

In winter, alpine skiing on the slopes of Pohorje Maribor, famous for its international slopes, is popular among city guests. Wellness procedures are available in Maribor all year round in local health resorts built on healing thermal springs.

Celje is the third largest city in Slovenia with a population of 37,584 people (in 2012). It is located at the confluence of the Savinja, Lozhnitsa and Voglaina rivers.

A settlement on this site has existed since the ancient era: in the 1st century there was a Roman colony of Celia. In the Middle Ages, the local castle was the center of the county of Celje (XIV-XV centuries), the symbol of which – three stars – is depicted today on the state emblem of Slovenia.

The main attraction of Celje is the medieval fortress of the same name, towering on the Grajskaya Gora. It is considered one of the largest castles in Slovenia. In addition, the city is worth seeing many churches, mansions and ancient castles. The area around Celje is famous for its abundance of lakes suitable for fishing and protected areas, one of which – in the Logarska Dolina nature reserve – is home to the 90-meter Rinka waterfall.

Today’s city of Celje is a developed cultural and economic center of the region.

Kranj is the fourth largest city in the country and the largest in the Gorenjska region, with a population of 36,874 people (in 2011). Kranj is located in the northwest of Slovenia, it stretches along the banks of the Sava River at the foot of the Julian Alps.

The Slavs settled these places in the 6th-7th centuries. In the 9th century, Kranj became the seat of the Margraves of the Karniola dynasty. At the beginning of the 19th century, industry began to actively develop in the city. In the XX century, having survived two world wars, Kranj turned into a large commercial and industrial center of the country, with a number of enterprises in the electronic and chemical industries.

Among the main sights of the city are the Town Hall building, the parish church of the 6th century, fragments of the medieval city walls. In the vicinity of Kranj there is the picturesque Kokry canyon, as well as the famous ski resort of Slovenia – Kranjska Gora, which is located in the Upper Sava valley.

Koper is the only port city in Slovenia and the largest resort on the country’s Adriatic coast. Koper is located in the south-west of Slovenia, on the Istrian peninsula, on the shores of the Piran Bay of the Adriatic Sea. The resort is home to 24 979 people (2012 data). Previously, Koper was an island, but in the 19th century it was connected to the mainland by a dam.

In the 7th – 8th centuries, Koper was successively owned by the Franks, Lombards and, finally, the Slavs. In the XI century, the city was the scene of armed clashes between Venice and the Holy Roman Empire, as a result of which, in 1278, it fell under the power of Venice, which it belonged to until 1797. From the end of the 18th century, Koper was an Austrian territory, with the exception of the period of the Napoleonic invasion of 1805-1813. As a result of the First World War, the city, like the entire Istrian peninsula, became part of Italy, and in 1954 it joined Yugoslavia, the fate of which he shared in the future, becoming part of Slovenia in 1991.

In Koper, there are many interesting from an architectural and historical point of view of buildings: Tito Square with the Praetor Palace and the Loggia Palace, the oldest building in the city – the Rotunda of the Ascension (XII century), the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin (XV century).

Novo-Mesto is a city located in the south-east of Slovenia in the valley of the Krka River, 70 km from Ljubljana. The city is home to 22 415 people (2002 data).

The territory of present-day Novo-Mesto was inhabited in the Celtic era. In 1365, the Austrian Duke Rudolf IV founded the Rudolfovo fortress here, which was a large fort during the Turkish invasions of the 15th-16th centuries. The city received its name Novo-Mesto in the 18th century.

Today Novo-Mesto is the main center of the engineering and pharmaceutical industries in Slovenia, here, in particular, is the head office of the renowned drug manufacturer KRKA.

In the old city center, it is worth seeing the Capital Church, the Franciscan Church of St. Leonard, the Church of St. Nicholas, the Main Square with the Town Hall.

In the vicinity of the city there are the famous thermal spas Šmarješke Toplice and Dolenjske Toplice, offering treatment, prevention and rehabilitation of patients with diseases of the cardiovascular system and musculoskeletal system.

Bled is a fashionable resort located 40 km from Ljubljana on the shore of the lake of the same name at the foot of the Julian Alps, at an altitude of 501 m above sea level. The resort is popular both among fans of skiing (there is a ski center that is open in winter) and those who want to improve their health with the help of procedures based on the thermal waters of Lake Bled (in the summer there is a SPA center). Lake Bled is a glacial lake fed by thermal waters; in summer it warms up to + 24C. In the middle of the lake there is a small picturesque island with a church.

The resort settlement, popular with the European aristocracy, existed on this site already in the Middle Ages. From the buildings of that era, Bled Castle has survived – the bishop’s mansion (XIII-XVI centuries), which today houses the local history museum. The Church of the Assumption of the Virgin (1142) and the Parish Church of St. Martin (1905) are also worth seeing. Also in Bled is the former residence of the head of the socialist Yugoslavia Josip Broz Tito (now the Vila Bled hotel).

What a tourist can do in Slovenia

Thermal resorts in Slovenia

Slovenia is famous for its thermal springs, offering its guests a variety of health and wellness programs. The resorts have thermal waters of various properties with temperatures ranging from +27 to +37 °C, as well as mineral waters, including the world famous Radenska and Donat Mg waters with a unique content of magnesium salts.

  • Shmarješke Toplice
  • Dolenjske Toplice
  • Moravske Toplice
  • Rogaška Slatina
  • Terme Catez
  • Terme Zrece
  • Radenzi
  • Dobrna
  • Bled

Ski resorts in Slovenia

Slovenia, with all its compactness and access to the rather warm Adriatic Sea, boasts of having good ski resorts. Follow the links below to find a description of the resorts, their main characteristics, photos, location on the map and hotels nearby.

  • Ski resort Mariborsko Pohorje
  • Ski resort Kranjska Gora
  • Bovec ski resort
  • Vogel ski resort
  • Ski resort Kobla
  • Rogla ski resort
  • Bled ski resort

Beach holidays in Slovenia

Slovenia occupies an area in the northwest of the Balkan Peninsula and in the north of the Istrian peninsula. The country’s seaside resorts are located on the coast of the Trieste Gulf of the Adriatic Sea. The length of the coast is 46 km, the beaches of Slovenia are covered with medium-sized pebbles, loose sand, there are also rocky beaches and concrete platforms. The sea water is very clean. The “star” hotels have their own beaches, but mostly the Slovenian beaches are municipal. They are well equipped, have changing cabins and showers, and you can rent a sunbed and an umbrella (3-5 euros). There are also beaches on the shores of the lakes – grassy or sandy. The swimming season lasts from July to September.

The main beaches in Slovenia:

  • Piran beach
  • Koper beach
  • Portorož beach
  • Isola beach
  • Lake Bled beach

Protected areas of Slovenia

The guests of the country are attracted not only by the many architectural and historical sights, beach holidays on the Adriatic coast, ski resorts, but also ample opportunities for ecotourism. Fortunately, in Slovenia, for all its relative compactness, there is no shortage of various kinds of national parks and nature protection zones. The main and most interesting of them are listed below, the links provide detailed information and various contacts.

  • Triglav National Park
  • Ljubljana swamps
  • Škocjan Caves
  • Vilenitsa cave

Getting around Slovenia

Since Slovenia has a small area, there are no domestic airlines in the country. Therefore, the most common form of public transport here are buses and trains.

Traveling in Slovenia by Bus

The bus service in Slovenia is very well developed, by bus you can get to the most remote corners of the country. Buses run regularly, they are very comfortable. The cost of the ticket depends on the destination, for example, from Ljubljana to Bohinj (50 km) can be reached for 8 euros.

The bus is also the most popular among urban public transport. Buses of the main routes in cities operate from 3:00 to 00:00, the rest – from 5:00 to 22:30. You can buy a bus ticket at the ticket office of the bus station. The fare in the city will be 1.20 euros (ticket for 1 hour, you can change trains). The fare does not depend on the distance. Payment for travel in the capital is possible only by means of the Urbana karta transport card (cash is not accepted on the bus), which can be purchased and replenished at special terminals at bus stops or at tobacco and newsstands. There are also different types of passes.

Bus timetables can be viewed on Ap-ljubljana.si or Vozni-red.si.

Traveling in Slovenia by train

Tram in Slovenia

Tram in Slovenia

The country’s railway network is operated by the state-owned Slovenian Railways. The first railway in Slovenia was built in 1840. Railway routes cover almost the entire territory of the country, with regular connections between major cities. Trains are represented by commuter trains and high-speed trains Eurocity and Intercity (ICS). The cars are comfortable and air conditioned. The main railway station in Ljubljana is located in the very center of the city.

Train tickets are sold at railway ticket offices and tourist offices.

Traveling in Slovenia by taxi

There are taxi services in every city in Slovenia. Taxi cars are equipped with meters. The fare in them is as follows: about 1.5–2 euros per landing, and then – 1.2–2 euros for each kilometer of run. Long-distance travel, travel at night and on holidays can be more expensive. For example, a taxi journey from Ljubljana airport to the city center (20 km) will cost about 40 euros. Taxis can be found in parking lots, stopped by “voting” or called by phone.

Traveling in Slovenia by auto

Car enthusiasts can move around the country in a rented car. To rent a car, the driver must be at least 21 years old, have a driving experience of at least 1 year, present an international driver’s license, and also provide a credit card from any bank (or pay a security deposit, the amount of which depends on the type of car).

The main highways of Slovenia are two perpendicular highways: Slovenika (north-east – south-west of the country) and Illyrica (north-west – south-east). Traffic on them is paid. Secondary highways are free. The speed limit on motorways is 130 km/h, on other roads – 90 km/h, in cities – 50 km/h. According to Slovenian rules, the headlights of a moving car must be on at any time of the day. Parking lots are paid, they are marked with a blue line.

Slovenian cuisine: what to try from food for tourists

Cafe in Slovenia

Cafe in Slovenia

Slovenian cuisine is a mix of Slavic, Mediterranean, Austrian and German culinary traditions. From German cuisine to Slovenian cuisine came the widespread use of sauerkraut, a love of fried homemade sausages and schnitzels, and from Austrian cuisine – many ways of making omelet, the presence of apple strudel and other desserts. Slavic culinary traditions are represented in Slovenian cuisine in the form of a wide variety of first courses, cereals, varieties of dumplings, dumplings and dumplings. A tribute to Mediterranean cuisine is the extensive use of seafood and herbs.

Typically, a meal in Slovenia begins with local cheese, prepared using authentic technologies.

Among the traditional first courses are “sour yuha” (pork soup with vegetables and vinegar), beef soup “govea yuha”, mushroom soup, “ribi brodet” ukha, “vipavska iota” (sauerkraut soup with smoked meat).

Among the meat dishes on the Slovenian table stand out are the traditional krainske klobase and cevapcici sausages, the radsnichi shashlik variant, the przhut dried ham, the chicken paprikash chicken with red bechamel sauce, and bograch goulash in a pot. From baked goods with meat it is worth trying “burek” – a puff pastry with cheese, balls of strukli dough stuffed with minced meat, dumplings with lamb “zhlikrofi z bakelce”.

There are also seafood dishes in Slovenian cuisine, in particular, Slovenian pilaf is popular in the country – with mussels, crabs and shrimps.

A traditional side dish is porridge (zhgantsy), buckwheat porridge is especially popular. There is also a large selection of sweet peppers stuffed with all kinds of fillings.

It is recommended to end your meal in a Slovenian restaurant with desserts, among which stand out “crème chinitt” (puff pastry cake with vanilla cream and whipped cream), potica nut pies, hot Gibanica cake (puff pastry stuffed with poppy , nuts, raisins, apples and cottage cheese), Austrian strudel, which in Slovenia is called “curl”, pancakes with whipped cream “palachinka”, and sweet potato balls stuffed with apricots or plums, served with sugar.

In Slovenia, it is customary to drink Turkish coffee, but the restaurant menus also include black coffee and coffee with cream (“kava with sour cream”). It is extremely difficult to find black tea (the so-called “Ruski tea”), Slovaks call tea herbal teas.

Among the spirits of Slovenia are the home-made pear vodka “Villamovka”, juniper vodka “brignenets”, plum vodka “plum” and liqueur “Pletershka Khrushka” with a pear in a bottle. Popular brands of beer are Elatorog, Union and Gambrinus.

Slovenia is famous for its wines. The country’s vineyards are located on the same latitude as the famous vineyards of Burgundy and Bordeaux, the traditions of winemaking are rooted in the Roman era. Therefore, local wines can satisfy the tastes of the most demanding gourmets. Among the local wines are Teran, Porto, Refoshk, Shipon, Chardonnay Izbor, Lashki Riesling, Modra Franquinha, Modri ​​Pino, Chardonnay Wurberg, Maiski-Vrh …

You can eat in Slovenia almost anytime, anywhere. The country has a system of ratings for catering establishments. Thus, the institution of the highest rank is called “restoration” (restavracija), followed by “gostilna” or “gostisce” (traditional taverns). Small national eateries are called okrepcevalnica. You can drink beer with a light snack in the pub, coffee and dessert in the kavarna, and ice cream in the slascicarna. Compared to the general European, prices in cafes and restaurants in Slovenia are low, and the quality of the food prepared is at the proper level. For example, you can have a hearty dinner for 8-10 euros per person, with alcohol – 15-20 euros. In hotels and restaurants, service charges are included in the bill. It is customary for waiters to leave a tip of about 10% of the invoice amount.

Shopping in Slovenia

Tourists visiting Slovenia note that the country has great opportunities for high-quality and inexpensive shopping. The country has a variety of retail outlets – from small souvenir shops and fashion boutiques of world famous designers to large department stores and large shopping centers.

Shop opening hours

Shops in Slovenia are open from 7:00 am to 8:00 am to 7:00 pm on weekdays, and on Saturdays from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm. In resort towns, shops are open longer, open on Saturdays and half a day on Sunday. Major department stores and shopping centers are open daily.

What to buy

First of all, in Slovenia, it is worth buying high-quality leather shoes, in particular, produced by the local shoe factory Alpina. Her stores can be found in all major cities of the country. Women will surely love the beautiful and comfortable underwear made by the famous Slovenian company Pascarel.

Since the country is rich in thermal springs and healing fango mud, you can buy cosmetics produced on their basis by local cosmetic companies.

Souvenirs from Slovenia

As souvenirs from Slovenia, tourists bring linen clothes and household items decorated with hand embroidery, lace from Idrija, pottery, wicker interior items, carved wood products from the Ribnik Valley, crystal, ceramics and glass.

From “tasty” souvenirs it makes sense to buy a meat delicacy “prshut”, chocolate “Gorenka” in a package of 1 kg, Slovenian wines and local spirits – “medica”, “hrushkovets”, “vilyamovka”. Since Slovenia is famous for beekeeping, you can bring small painted decorative beehives and various types of honey as souvenirs.

Discounts

Discounts in Slovenian shops happen several times a year: in winter (New Year and Christmas sales) and at the end of summer (summer collection sales). During these periods, discounts on goods in the country reach 40–70%.

Tax Free

Grocery store in Slovenia

Grocery store in Slovenia

When leaving Slovenia, all non-EU tourists are entitled to a 22% VAT refund. The tax refund system can be used when purchasing any goods (except alcohol and cigarettes) worth more than 60 euros. To get a tax refund, you must issue a special Refund Check by making a purchase at a point of sale marked with the Global Refund Tax Free logo. When departing from the airport (before dropping off your baggage), you must present to the customs officer a Tax Free check, a check for goods and directly purchases in store packaging with price tags. Money can be collected at the Cash Refund Offise counter in cash or on a credit card by mailing a check to Global Refund or by bank transfer to the address indicated.

Communication in Slovenia

Telephone

While on the territory of Slovenia, telephone calls can be made using payphones operating on cards and tokens, the cost of which depends on the face value (100 units, 200 units). You can buy cards and tokens for telephone conversations at post offices, newspaper and tobacco kiosks, etc.

  • To call Slovenia from a landline phone to a landline number: 8 – 10 – 386 – area code – subscriber number.
  • To call Slovenia from a landline phone to a mobile number: 8 – 10 – subscriber’s number (Slovenia’s international dialing code 386 is already included in the mobile number).
  • To call Slovenia from a mobile phone to a mobile number: + 386 – subscriber’s number.

Basic telephone codes of Slovenian cities:

  • Ljubljana – 01
  • Maribor – 02
  • Bled – 03
  • Bohinj – 04
  • Portoroz – 05
  • Rogaška Slatina – 05

Emergency telephone numbers of Slovenia

  • Police 113
  • Fire department, ambulance 112
  • Roadside Assistance (Slovenian Automobile Club) 987
  • Information service 981

Mobile communications in Slovenia

GSM communication standards in Slovenia 900/1800. Several mobile operators operate in the country today:

  • Telekom Slovenije
  • Si.mobil
  • Tusmobil
  • Debitel
  • Izi mobil

Guests of Slovenia who intend to stay on its territory for a long time, as well as those tourists who plan to make a lot of calls within the country, can be recommended to purchase a package from one of the mobile operators. The approximate cost of a communication package is 15-30 euros per month.

The Internet

Internet access in Slovenia can be obtained with the help of mobile operators or using free Wi-Fi hotspots, which are available in almost all hotels, cafes and restaurants, and large shopping centers in the country. In addition, since February 2013, the entire old center of Ljubljana has been covered by the WiFreeLjubljana wi-fi network, which allows unlimited free visits to city sites, and free access for the first hour to all other Internet resources.

Safety for tourists in Slovenia

Slovenia is a completely safe country for tourists. The attitude to Russian guests here is very respectful, service workers for the most part understand Russian, in addition to which they also speak English, on the coast – in Italian, and on the lakes – in German.

Tourists who have a rest in Slovenian resorts will have enough standard security measures: not to carry large amounts of money with them, keep documents in the hotel safe, carefully monitor their personal belongings in crowded places. Also, do not leave valuables in a rented or private parked car.

Where to stay in Slovenia

In general, the classification of hotels in Slovenia is traditional 1 * -5 *. Since the country has developed family and health tourism, most hotels have rooms with a layout that is convenient for couples with children. Services of a babysitter, children’s animator and doctor are also offered. As a rule, breakfast is included in the price in all hotels in Slovenia.

Fans of budget-friendly holidays should pay attention to small private guesthouses or apartments, called, as throughout the Adriatic coast, – “Sobe”. They are distinguished by home comfort, affordable prices and excellent cuisine.