Travel Notes


When in Piran – Photo Essay

In the port town of Piran, south-west Slovenia, the Mediterranean touch gives you a quick feeling of Italy. As the bus winds down the labyrinth and drives down to the boat jetty, I enter that different world, a change from the Alpine Slovenia I had experienced a day earlier. There’s a flotilla of yachts with their masts hoisted in resemblance to the structure of nearby renaissance buildings with red roofs. It’s a sunny Friday morning at the beginning of summer and some shops are already open for business, but most restaurants are yet to wake up. The water is quite calm and still, so are the yachts with their symmetrical white appearance.

I walk along the yachts toward the Tartini Square where life will be in full swing at mid-day. In the morning, it is mostly deserted. The concrete floor and the air around the Tartini statue are cool. I pause for a few minutes and snap the Municipal Building a few times in the morning brightness.

Here at the Tartini Square, an oval atmosphere wraps you in a historical touch. What was once a harbour for fishing boats, the Square now attracts tourists and stands as the face of Piran. The Town Hall with its white facade is unmistakably the first to capture one’s attention. Standing at this Square I raise my head and get a snail’s eye view of the tops of the buildings and the blue summer sky. Moving a bit further, Giusepe Tartini comes in between the tower of St George Church in the distance and me.

Giusepe Tartini was a Venetian violinist born in Piran in the 17th century, at a time when Piran was part of the Republic of Venice. Viewing the statue in the same line with the church tower gave some photography opportunities. At a staged angle, you feel like the violinist’s bow is turning the time on the tower clock.

The sun gets hotter from mild to strong and when the clock strikes 11, I decide to have early lunch. Walking along the esplanade on the other side of the Square, I still find closed restaurants. The esplanade leads all the way to Hotel Piran which stands at the end of the street like a historical vanguard who has witnessed many an event. It was built in 1913.

There is one restaurant open next to the hotel. I straightaway walk into it and order fish and potato and some beer. More than food, I am entertained by hovering seagulls, scores of them, flying criss-cross above my head. Sitting on my comfortable restaurant chair, I engage myself in a left-handed wildlife photography. The white plumes with the azure sky background and the occasional white clouds floating above is something not to be unnoticed. Somehow I feel that seagulls are part of Piran’s identity as they may be all over the Mediterranean beaches.

There are no beaches as such in Piran, but only shallow water areas close to the land. This has given birth to creative ways of using the sea for recreation and sport by the locals. The picture below gives ideas of natural swimming pools. Such ‘pool steps’ are there all along the esplanade and families make the most out of a summer day here.

Yachts and ferries pass by the port frequently. Somewhere in the distance, speedboats leave white, foamy trails in different directions.

Lunch finished, I make my way to St. George’s Parish Church. There needs to be a bit of trekking up before reaching the church. Inside the church, I climb wooden steps inside (nearly a hundred of them) winding all along. Once I reach the top of the bell tower, the bird’s eye view clears up. I am on the other side of the Tartini Square now. It feels like a transformation from life to existence. Active to Passive.

Towards the west, the red-roofed village spreads out into the Adriatic Sea. The buildings clustered together as if it were a show of unity in defence against a common enemy.

The north-east view provides some exciting scenes. Down below, on the church’s fortress lawns, some tourists take in the views of the ocean, while a lady swimmer does a free-style on translucent water.

Toward the west, a seagull perches on a concrete cross making it a vantage point. The vast blue ocean next to it provides an excellent background for viewers from the top. Slovenia only has about 46 kilometres of coastline and Piran is one of the best places to enjoy the seaview. The nearby Portoroz, Isola and Koper are also worth a visit.

I spend more time here than the other tourists with whom I climbed to the tower. The ocean views are charming, soothing and they let you reflect on your life, wherever you view them. I notice a seagull perched on the church cross for quite a long time. It doesn’t move, just like the concrete cross doesn’t. Reflection.

Practical info: Buses are available from Ljubljana Bus Station. A one way ticket costs about 11 euros.The journey takes one and a half hour to two. Buy tickets here-

Flight: I flew Lufthansa from Jakarta, Indonesia, transiting in Singapore and Frankfurt on my way to Ljubljana. Some of the major transits on the way to Ljubljana are Frankfurt, Munich, Zurich and Amsterdam. Adria Airways flies to Ljubljana from all these destinations.

Other tips: If you are in Piran, it is easy to visit Portoroz. There is a shuttle bus every 20-30 minutes from the bus terminal located next to the boat jetty. You may take a ride for just 1 Euro. It only takes about 15 minutes to reach Portoroz.

The narrow streets among the settlements next to the sea in Piran give you a great chance for photography. The shape of the windows and the symmetrical structure of buildings are a treat to watch.