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SIOL.NET #3. What volcano is hidden in Prekmurje?

posted Oct 14, 2019, 2:45 PM by Sardinha Media
Once more I am very happy to share the 3rd episode of my own view about Slovenija, and what makes me so deeply connected with this wonderful country. This time we went exploring the mysteries of Prekmurje has to offer. Have a look, share, let me know what you think. Soon there will be the last episode about family. Stay tuned 


For the non slovene readers here is the (slightly different) english version:

What volcano is hidden in Prekmurje?

In the 10 years I am living in Slovenia I met many great people from Prekmurje and not once I went visiting that far away lands meeting Austria, Hungary and Croatia situated just about the head of the chicken. So for this last trip we took the road in direction to the Pannonian sea. It is sometimes called that way because it belongs to an area where a sea really existed (about 10 million years ago), including the north part of Croatia, Serbia and Romania, and most of Hungary. And when you leave the hilly landscape of Maribor in direction to Murska Sobota, this idea becomes clear. The flat landscape until the eye can reach, the wide open sky all around you, where even the passage of time seems different.

The once Republic of Prekmurje, was an unrecognized state in Prekmurje, an area traditionally known in Hungarian as Vendvidék, that lasted from May 29 to June 6, 1919). Maybe these 7 days of independent state were enough to leave in the people that originate from this region the feeling of unaligned. Or maybe is the fact that the Slovene spoken in this part of the country is a challenge for most of the people that were not born and raised around here. Or maybe the fact that living between these so different cultures (Slovene, Croatian, Hungarian and Austrian) makes one a foreign to all of them. This remains to be understood but certainly it is not an easy question to answer.

As the trip was long and we were bringing an inpatient young kid with us, our first stop was the famous Rajh restaurant for a first glimpse to the prestiged cuisine of Prekmurje. The traditional and delicious mushroom soup and the Slovene version of the Hungarian langoš opened the ceremony. It is inevitable the comparison with the neighbour Hungarian cuisine, specially when the main dish - the bograč - resembles so much to the well known and well spread golaš. I am a supporter of the idea that golaš is not hungarian but instead from this region of Europe. In fact, this kind of stew is also popular in Portugal where locals call it “guisado”. Nevertheless, it is an adaptation, much as bograč is not golaš, and lets stop here not to offend anyone. More, the house wine was incredible and local, both red and white. Don’t fool yourself believing that only down south the wine is good. This is the proof of concept that this is indeed a wine country in the proper sense of the words, north to south.

We then must rush to get to the famous Miln na Mure before it closes, to get our hands on that great moka products made in such traditional way over generations, and have a look at the processes and running machines of other times. This is not the only meal of this kind running over Mura but is one of the most well known. Now we are ready for some coffee in town, meaning in the calm city of Murska Sobota that seems to be taken from one of the Lars Von Trier movies. We first found the city park, so comfortable with the lake and the city museum that is more like a monumental castle just in the center of the park, and of course the imaginative park just next to it where we spent some time. The scouts activities in the park remind me of my own and how great must be to be a kid in this country that has all over such a privileged connection with nature.
When heading to the Čebelj Gradič where we will spend the night, we find out how “hilly” is the part of Prekmurje closer to Austria. This lodging is an old farm with the tradition of honey production. We get a warm welcome from the owner that immediately takes my son Samuel to feed the sheep, pony and pig, to see the chicken and all those animals that the city kids only know from the books and cartoons. Even for us, adults, it is important to once and awhile see with our own eyes how these animals look like in real life before packaging. Other guests were waiting for us to visit the house of the bees. This is a family business passing over at least 3 generations, and clearly a passion of our host. The bee is a very important animal in Slovenia, recently suffering from various threats and from which we all are responsible. Efforts like this permit awareness of bees environment, routines, etc. 

Here we can buy several kinds of honey, or the so much desired pure pumpkin ojl. This green gold, the Styrian-Prekmurje pumpkin seed oil, has EU Protected Designation of Origin. But not trace of the well known gibanica, also known as over Mura moving cake. This is indeed a great marketing idea to call that to the cake. For a long time I looked for this mystical culinary landmark, only to found out that it is after all a just a cake. But a cake with a lot of tradition and internationally protected, almost like a piece of the identity of this Republic. It contains poppy seeds, walnuts, apples, raisins and quark fillings showing the variety of agriculture in this region. 

And an advice for all young families: Vulkanija. I wonder how many already knew that there is a sleeping volcano in the region. We start going down the hills imagining going down its cratere only to find out we were wrong. The old volcano is flat. The amusement park built around it is recent and very well done. It is very pedagogical and interactive, with several activities supported by projections and local guides. It feels a bit like a trip to the center of the earth, like in Julio Verne’s romance, ending in a cave train trip full of adrenaline. I won’t tell you more not to ruin any surprise. The visitor can buy a combined ticket permitting access to Grad’s castle (yes, located in the town Grad) where you can travel in time to see how local clothes and even žganja were made. It has a fantastic potential for a hup of medieval summer festival. I wonder if they are working on it already.     

And just before leaving we finally see the štorklj that so many people told us to look for. Right on top of one of those old light poles. Majestically standing on its nest, just like back home in Portugal. And looking at that wide fields beyond sight, it is inevitable to fall in nostalgia, feeling again the taste of the travel that once brought me to Slovenia so many years ago. I am glad it did, its fantastic here. 

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