|Recess in Saint George´s bell tower|
Piran is basically a (very) pretty seaside town, not much to do except stroll and relax, with a few museums/ exhibitions for rainy days. Its only claim to fame is that it is the home of the violinist Tartini, who has the main square named after him. Like all of the Slovenian coastline (which is not long, only about 46km), there is nothing that passes for a beach, just a tiny patch of stones right at the end of the town. This does not deter Balkan sun seekers. People just strip off and lie down anywhere: on patches of grass or tiny plazas, along the sea wall, perched on boulders that make up the barrier, feet from the road, even on the other side of the road.
|This counts as prime sunbathing territory.|
Feeling a little frugal, and not wanting to sit for over an hour in a restaurant, we took a picnic, and found a patch of shade under an old tower, part of an old lighthouse (we think), along with the other five people who apparently also care about not getting skin cancer.
After the three year-old had played in the sea a while, trying to sneak up on crabs, we walked up through the cobbled streets to the Church of Saint George perched up on the cliff. Unlike Italian churches, Slovenian churches tend to be locked outside of services unless they are major tourist attractions. We could have got into the nave if we had paid to go via the little museum, but we had already done that on a previous visit, so took photos through the bars instead. The church was originally medieval, but owes most of its present architecture to the Baroque period. Legend says that the original fell into such disrepair that the saint himself made an appearance to complain. Hope he liked the statue he got in return.
While everyone else played around the church grounds (hurrah for grass and shade on a hot day), elder daughter and I climbed the bell tower. The staircase was new, and each turn of the stair featured a different guardian angel, which was pretty, though I wondered why we needed them for the climb. The top of the tower was... small. You had to squeeze past pillars to get around the edge, which made me nervous, but the view was picture postcard perfect. Our toddler thought it was pretty fun to shout up to us from below.
When we got down, we found that teenage daughter was perched part way up the tower, contrary to my instructions not to do something that might damage the building, and was stuck. Eventually someone helped her down, but I tool some damning evidence first.
Wending our way back down to town, we looked for a cafe off the square (too expensive there) and found a little 80s themed bar in a quiet side street, with rubic cube decorations and Wham! music. Teenage daughter had a Slovenian iced coffee aka ˝that stuff with all the sh*t in it˝ (and no, we don´t actually say the word in front of the three year-old).
Re-reading, I suppose that makes us sound like cheapskates all round, but we think it is worth not throwing money down the drain if you can have a perfectly good day out a little more cheaply, and then splash out on something more special. After all, that´s how we saved the money to move back to Europe :)
Touristy stuff: If you have children who are the right age to enjoy an online guide, the free app Nexto includes what they call a guided story, ˝Legends of Piran˝ where you explore the city and its history with the help of augmented reality while gathering clues for a virtual souvenir (I think you can take the completed game along to the tourist office for some sort of real trinket). However, as well as the interactive stories, Nexto also has guides to major Slovenian attractions and cities, including hands-free audio tours using location technology that apparently just triggers the guide as you approach the relevant point of interest. I am odd in that I prefer to have an old-fashioned guidebook and not be distracted by audio and visual guides because for me it detracts from experiencing the actual place, but it might be just the thing for you.