Turkish Airlines recently invited regional media channels and social media activists to explore Slovenia and Croatia and Venture was among them.
The cooperation between the Turkish Airlines, Slovenian Tourist Board, the Croatian National Tourist Board, the Zagreb Tourist Board, the Tourist Board of Split, the Dubrovnik Tourist Board and the Dubrovnik & Neretva County Tourist Board produced a perfectly planned itinerary that allowed media professionals to experience the hospitality of the organizers and countries we visited.
Starting with a business flight with the Turkish Airlines from Amman to Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia on a business class flight with the Turkish Airlines, the journey was ideal. Turkish Airlines is the national flag carrier airline of Turkey and a member of the Star Alliance network established in 1933 with a fleet of five air-crafts. Today, Turkish Airlines is a 4-star airline with a fleet of 330 passenger and cargo air-crafts.
Turkish Airlines operates scheduled services to 300 destinations throughout Europe, Russia, Central Asia, Far East Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and North and South Americas, making it one of the largest carriers in the world. Turkish Airlines flies to 120 countries, more than any other airline in the world. With an operational fleet of fourteen cargo air-crafts, the airline’s cargo division serves 64 destinations.
Turkish Airlines travel to more destinations non-stop from a single airport than any other airline in Europe. According to the 2017 Skytrax survey, Turkish Airlines has been named the “Best Airline in Europe” for six consecutive years from 2011 to 2016, and has just been named as the “Best Airline in Southern Europe” for the ninth consecutive year. It received the best economy class on-board catering award in 2010 and was awarded the world’s best business class on-board catering in 2013, 2014, 2016, and 2017. Additionally, it won the “World’s Best Business Class Lounge” award in 2015 and 2017. The global carrier also picked up the “World’s Best Business Class Lounge Dining” award for the third consecutive year according to this year’s survey results.
Istanbul Atatürk Airport is its main base, holding a strategic position between the East and the West. It holds the biggest and finest Lounge in the region, Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul. You can sample some of their exceptional dishes while waiting for your departure, take a shower, unwind with a massage, or enjoy one of Lounge Istanbul’s many entertainment options. For business travelers, Turkish Airlines offers the Turkish Airlines Corporate Club; a corporate- travel program that allows travelers to save on all business travel expenses. It offers a wide variety of cost-effective advantages for corporations looking to meet their needs quickly and easily.
Within its advantages, Turkish Airlines offers discounts for international travels without penalties for changes to any reservation, taking advantage of special baggage allowances for discounted tickets. If you have a Turkish Airlines corporate club card you and a guest have access to the comforts of their private airport lounge and check in through business class counters.
If you are traveling with the Turkish Airlines and have a connecting flight in Istanbul with a stopover time of more than 6 hours, you can make use of their free tour Istanbul service to discover Istanbul’s historic sites and finest places. A complimentary hotel accommodation (maximum 2 nights) will be provided to passengers when there are more than 10 hours (for economy cabin passengers) and 7 or more hours (for business cabin passengers) waiting during their international connecting flights. Turkish Airlines invests in its quality of service, in-flight entertainment systems, comfortable seats, gourmet cuisine and its qualified human resources.
After a three-hour flight with the Turkish Airlines, we arrived to Ljubljana Jože Pucnik Airport, the international airport of Ljubljana. A proper program was professionally organized by the Slovenian Tourism Board, and upon our arrival we immediately started visiting Slovenia’s most important places.
Officially the Republic of Slovenia, the nation state is situated in Central and Southeastern Europe touching the Alps and bordering the Mediterranean. The country is located at the crossroads of main European cultural and trade routes. It is bordered by Italy to the west, Austria to the north, Hungary to the northeast, Croatia to the south and southeast, and the Adriatic Sea to the southwest.
It covers 20,273 square kilometers and has a population of 2.06 million. It is a parliamentary republic and a member of the United Nations, European Union, and NATO. In 1991, Slovenia split from Yugoslavia and became an independent country. In 2004, it entered NATO and the European Union; in 2007 became the first communist country to join the Eurozone and in 2010 joined the OECD, a global association of high-income developed countries. Slovenia is one of the most water-rich countries in Europe,with a dense river network, a rich aquifer system, and significant karst underground watercourses. Over half of the territory is covered by forest.
Slovenia is the first country in the world to be declared a green destination based on the Green Destinations Criteria. Its capital city Ljubljana was recently awarded the European Green Capital 2016 title. There are more than 280 designated protected areas, which comprise 36 percent of the country’s land area, the largest percentage among European Union States. Additionally, according to Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index, Slovenia is considered a “strong performer” in environmental protection efforts.
Slovenia is located in temperate latitudes. The climate is also influenced by the variety of relief, and the influence of the Alps and the Adriatic Sea. In the northeast, the continental climate type with greatest difference between winter and summer temperatures prevails. In the coastal region, there is a sub-Mediterranean climate.
We were greeted by The Slovenian Tourism Board representatives, who welcomed us at the InterContinental Ljubljana Hotel where we stayed for two days. The recently opened hotel is one of the finest hotels in Europe. It is located in the heart of the city, next to the Tripoli Park, the famous Ljubljana Castle, Ljubljanica Crossing Dragon Bridge, the Town Square of Ljubljana. Ljubljana Town Hall is located at the square, where we had easy access to visit and explore.
In front of Town Hall stands a copy of the lovely Robba Fountain. Near the square, at Cyril and Methodius Square stands Ljubljana Cathedral, surrounded by the magnificent Ljubljanica River with a baroque-facades mix with the 20th-century architecture of native Jože Plecnik, whose iconic Tromostovje (Triple Bridge) span the tightly curving Ljubljanica River.
The riverside area was swarming with cafes, modern retail boutiques, restaurants, lounges and fine dining places along with an ample green space. We drove around the city, guided by a professional tour guide assigned by the Slovenian Tourism Board along with the support of the Turkish Airline’s representative.
We toured around the country of Slovenia, visiting its major cities and areas, such as the remarkable city of Bled. It is a breathtaking town on Lake Bled located on the southern foot of the Karawanks mountain range near the border with Austria, about 50 km northwest of the state capital Ljubljana. South of Lake Bled are the densely forested Pokljuka and Jelovica plateaus, the easternmost parts of the Julian Alps, which leads up to the Bohinj basin, and the magical Lake Bohinj.
Then, we visited the historical Otocec Castle, our final destination in Slovenia.The castle is situated on an islet in the middle of the Krka River in Otocec, in the Municipality of Novo Mesto in southeastern Slovenia. The castle building, together with its park, paints one of the most picturesque images in the country and is a prominent cultural and natural monument. The first historical reference to the castle dates as far back as 1252, when it was part of the Lower Carniolan Freising estate, administered by the de Werde nobles. The castle is now one of the most famous hotels in Slovenia, the Grad Otocec Hotel is guarded by imposing castle walls and blends wonderfully with the magnificent green park.
Then we headed toward the “Full of Life” country of Croatia through the Croatian/Slovenia land boarder, the border is Slovenia’s longest country boarder with a length of 455 km. We reached Zagreb city, the Capital city of Croatia, after a one-hour Bus drive, 80km away from Otecec, Slovenia. We were welcomed by the Zagreb Tourist Board representatives at the Westin Zagreb Hotel, where we stayed for two days.
Croatia is a country in Central and Southern Europe, on the Adriatic Sea. Bordering Hungary to the northeast, Serbia to the east, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the southeast, Montenegro to the southeast, the Adriatic Sea to the southwest and Slovenia to the northwest. Croatia is a developed economy with a very high Human Development Index. It is a member of the European Union (EU), United Nations (UN), the Council of Europe, NATO, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and a founding member of the Union for the Mediterranean.
Croatia has a total area of 56,594 square KM and a population of 4.28 million. Its capital city is Zagreb, which forms one of the country’s primary subdivisions, along with its twenty counties. Insular Croatia consists of over a thousand islands and islets varying in size.
Most of Croatia has a moderately warm and rainy continental climate. The country is consequently one of the richest in Europe in terms of biodiversity; there are four types of biogeographical regions in Croatia.
Because of its geographic position, Croatia also represents a blend of different rich cultural spheres. It has been a crossroads of influence for western and eastern culture. The country holds ten of UNESCO World’s intangible masterpieces, surpassing all countries in Europe except Spain which possesses an equal number of the listed items. A global cultural contribution from Croatia is the necktie, derived from the Cravat originally worn by the 17th-century Croatian mercenaries in France.Architecture in Croatia reflects influences of Austrian and Hungarian engineering.
The city of Zagreb, on the historic and political threshold between East and West, illustrates both the continental and Mediterranean spirit of the nation it spearheads. Zagreb is the cultural, scientific, economic, political and administrative center of the Republic of Croatia, and is home to the Croatian parliament, government and president. Its favorable location between the Pannonian plain, the edge of the Alps and the Dinaric range has allowed it to become a crossing point for mass international communication.
Zagreb is a city with a tumultuous history and a rich cultural life; the façades of Zagreb’s buildings reflect the ebb and flow of history, while its streets and squares bear witness to the coming together of the many cultures that have shaped the identity of the capital.
The hotel is located in the city center, where you can discover various important places of Zagreb’s Lower and Upper towns by walking. We toured the city with the designated tour guide and visited recreational spaces and breathtaking monuments. Walking through the Zagreb Green Horseshoe and the main square of Ban Josip Jelacic in the city center of Zagreb makes you feel alive; the widespread area has always been the hub of social life in Zagreb.
A little further is Zagreb’s magnificent Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary whose twin spires are visible from afar. It was constructed in the 13th century and reconstructed in the 20th century.
We took the cable railway on Ilica, the shortest public transportation railway in the world and reached uptown in 55 seconds near St Marks Church in historic St Mark Square, which is also the site of the Croatian Parliament and the Ban’s Palace, now the presidential palace. Art lovers won’t want to miss the Gallery of Naive Art nearby.
On our way to Split, we visited the most famous protected area and the oldest national park in Croatia, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site; the Plitvice Lakes National Park. It is a 295-sq.-km forest reserve in central Croatia. We reached it after a two-hour bus drive 130km southwest from Zagreb. It’s known for a chain of 16 terraced lakes, joined by waterfalls that extend into a limestone canyon. Walkways and hiking trails wind around and across the water, and an electric boat links the 12 upper and 4 lower lakes.
After a two-hour tour in the Park, we got back on our way to reach the city of Split after a three hour drive. Split is the second-largest city of Croatia and the largest city of the region of Dalmatia. It lies on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea and is spread over a central peninsula and its surroundings. An intraregional transport hub and popular tourist destination, the city is linked to the Adriatic islands and the Apennine peninsula.We stayed at the Cornaro Hotel for two days, a delightful boutique and modern hotel in the heart of the city. Welcomed by the tour guide assigned by the Split Tourism Board.
We walked through the most important sights in the city; the spectacular Diocletian Palace and the city core, including the most important city’s promenade Riva (seafront walkway), and the white marble NarodniTrg (People’s Square). Then we visited the Marjan; a hill on the peninsula, covered in dense Mediterranean pine forest and completely surrounded by the city and the sea where you can enjoy the view of the Adriatic Sea, the palace, the Split harbor and the Riva, making it a very unique sight.
We started the tour by testing our luck and making our wishes come true by touching the big toe of the grandiose statue of the Gregory of Nin located at the grand Golden gate of the palace. This gate was made only for the use of the Emperor Diocletian and his family. We entered the palace through the Golden Gate and walked through its astonishing ancient medieval streets and squares. We passed through the narrowest street of the city “Let me pass” right next to the old Jupiter’s temple and walked through the maze of the former imperial living quarters, which led us to the Vestibule right onto the central imperial square – Peristyle.
The palace of the Roman Emperor Diocletian is one of the best preserved and most impressive monuments of the Roman era in Europe. However, Split is not only a city-museum; it’s a lively place thriving among the historical layers of its monuments. The city is known for its beautiful sandy beaches, and the nightlife there is amazing; a lot of nice night clubs, lounges and fine dining places are all over the city.
We packed our bags and headed south toward Dubrovnik city and arrived after a 3-hour drive along the coastal road. Dubrovnik city is one of the most prominent tourist destinations in the Mediterranean Sea, a seaport and the center of Dubrovnik-Neretva County. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by the Dubrovnik Tourist Board and Dubrovnik & Neretva County Tourist Board representatives at the Old City of Dubrovnik (City Walls). We were treated to a delicious Croatian dinner at one of Dubrovnik’s finest restaurants before heading towards the Cavtat town, 25 minutes away from the Old City, to reach our hotel.
Near Cavtat harbor, the baroque St. Nicholas Church displays some notable artwork, and the luxurious HOTEL CROATIA CAVTAT rising above a pine-forested peninsula overlooking the Cavtat Bay and the Adriatic Sea, where we stayed at for two unforgettable days.
The Dubrovnik city tour began the next day. The most recognizable feature that defines the character of the historic town of Dubrovnik and gives it its specific and internationally famous look are its intact City Walls which surround the city with their 1,940 meter long continuous loop. In 1979, the old city of Dubrovnik joined the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
That complex structure, which is one of the most beautiful and sturdy fortification systems in the Mediterranean, consists of a range of fortifications, bastions, casemates, towers and separate forts. We entered the City Walls at the main entrance, walking through its most famous and monumental element – the round Minceta Tower. The tower, with its splendid crown, has been a symbol of liberty of Dubrovnik for centuries, and still dominates the city.
The monumental buildings and the most beautiful examples of the architecture of Dubrovnik are all placed within the City Walls: the Rector’s Palace, the Sponza Palace, the Orlando Column, the St. Blaise Church – a cathedral with the treasury, the Dominican Monastery and Church, the Franciscan Monastery, the Jesuit St. Ignatius Church, the Small and Big Onofrio’s Fountain and the main city street – Placa (Stradun) which is a unique example of a hall under the open sky.
The journey was concluded with this inspiring and breathtaking city. After our two-day stay, we packed our bags and headed home, pleased with the unforgettable experience. The whole journey was thrilling and incredible; a visit to these destinations with the Turkish Airlines is an unforgettable experience.