After finishing a particularly enjoyable week in Zagreb and nearby areas, we are at Zagreb Glavni kolodvor, the main station of Zagreb, Croatia and we are frantically trying to locate our ride to cross the border to Slovenia and reach the village of Primostek for our first glamping experience at Big Berry. Soon in the distance we see the distinctly recognizable smiling logo of Big Berry on a car.
After exchanging pleasantries with Richard one of the interns at Big Berry, we get in to the car. We are bit apprehensive as this was going to be our first border crossing by road of our #NiVaEuro trip.
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Border crossing between Croatia and Slovenia
The border crossing involves crossing from the Non-Schengen Hrvatska (Croatia) to Slovenia, a Schengen country. I feel my pocket gently for the sheet of paper that has all the details of our travels in Schengen and Non-Schengen countries. A proof that we have still not used up our quota of 90 days in the Schengen region. We mentally remind ourselves that we must ask the officer to stamp our passport. This was basically the result of all the horror stories by road-trippers not ensuring an exit/entry stamp and finding themselves in the proverbial soup, juha in this case (Slovenian for Soup) Ha Ha Ha.
The ride through the greenery is very refreshing and Richard says “wait till you reach Slovenia”. After a ride of an hour or so we arrive at the border. Each lane has two kiosks one for each of these countries. First, the Croatian officer collects all our three passports and returns Richard’s passport without stamping almost immediately. After what we thought was over 10 minutes we got our passports duly stamped and something similar happens in the Slovenian Kiosk too. Richard maintains that the whole process took just 5 minutes and we thought we were there for half-an-hour! Have you heard of theory relativity? This must be it.
Soon we have a spectacular view of Big Berry in the middle of living emerald. Such was the greenery! The boom barrier at the Big Berry resort rises as if by magic. I would like to think it was because of Nisha and me but of course it was Richards who sent an SMS to a particular number and the barrier opened. What a technology!
Maria Stoyanova meets us at the driveway and bundles our stuff and us into a golf cart to take us to our cottage. We leave the gravel road and take a U-turn to the entrance of cottage and we notice a beautiful green river just a few meters from where we were standing. Wow! We can’t believe it! Just 90 minutes from the bustle of Zagreb, we are in one of the most beautiful locations in Slovenia and looking at Croatia on the opposite bank called Kupalište Jurovo (Jurovo beach), which was also equally beautiful.
This is the Kolpa River that demarcates the border between Slovenia and Croatia. This strip of about a kilometer river bank is owned by Big Berry! Kolpa River banks are a great way to spend time on both sides of the river. At this point, the river appeared to be less than 50 meters wide.
Maria leaves us to ourselves with a message that we should reach the dining area at 5PM for a surprise. We enter, what will be our home for next few days!
Even before we climb the couple of steps to the main door we are arrested by a unique sight. There is a temperature controlled Jacuzzi in the covered porch and folks at Big Berry had already switched it on so that we could jump into it right away if we felt like it. 🙂
With our heightened expectations we open the main door. There is a compact lounge with an L-shaped sofa but what is more interesting is a huge bright painting on the wall opposite the door. Oh! Wait a minute…! It is a picture window with a spectacular imagery of the fields of a Slovenian village.
Surprises are coming in fast and thick now. A welcome wicker basket containing the finest organic produce from Bela Krajina region, is waiting for us on the table including a bottle of beer, Berryshka Blueberry liqueur, Zlati ghee, honey and other goodies. Slurrrp…
Each of these cottages are well furnished. From 100 cm LED TVs to integrated air conditioning and heating, are well thought through facilities. Our cottage could accommodate 4 people, with all amenities including running cold and hot water for shower with organic toiletries :). In the main bed room there is a cozy bedroom and in another corner of the cottage is a bunk bed for two. As we are glamping, these were luxuriously overboard. We always like to have extra beds to spread our stuff during packing and unpacking and this was going to be quite useful to us. After testing the mattress for comfort, I am in half mind to take a short nap when Nisha ‘Ahem’ed me and I get the message.
In short, this cottage has everything a family needs on a vacation. These cottages or houses are also called mobile homes. Not because they have wheels but I guess the whole cottage can be dis-assembled and moved and re-assembled as required.
Later in the afternoon we meet some of the finest human beings. The staff and the interns are actually having fun while managing and running this distinctive place. We also meet Katja Cernjak, another beautiful person and a great chef, one of the Slovenian Masterchef finalists. The surprise – She is going to cook for us all! News had already percolated about our likes and she is game!
This was the surprise element at 5PM. A selection of finest dishes curated by the Masterchef herself. Every ingredient passes her careful scrutiny and in no time she springs 4 hands is weaving magic at the cooking station. We try to help her with nicks and bits of work. I know my limitations and curl up in a corner with a glass of Metliška črnina, a type of local red wine. Apart from the curated menu, she produces a couple of vegetarian dishes for yours truly, too.
Anja Rečnik the very knowledgeable, tells us about benefits of certain ingredients that had gone in especially about the ghee. Yes my Indian friends, Ghee! We also meet the ghee-man, Dušan M. Z. Badovinac, runs the company Zlati Ghee, in Bela Krajina that produces many different types of natural and flavored ghee. He also explains how the name Christ (the anointed one) may have come from Ghrita, the Sanskrit word for ghee. Whatever may be the truth, we found him very likable & interesting and he was a storehouse of information. Another surprise!
Just then we are asked about our preferences for our breakfast. We indicate the same in a specially designed form.
Yet another surprise. (So many surprises that surprises were not surprising anymore!) Next day early in the morning, we open the door to go to the riverside, we see, on the table, a crate full of stuff we had ordered for breakfast including the ubiquitous Pogača, eggs, milk, fruits, Ghee, yogurt etc What an innovative way of delivering, without disturbing the guests.
You make your breakfast when you want. No restriction, only freedom. We now know why Big Berry’s slogan is Luxury of Freedom! All products are locally sourced and completely organic. Wow. Talk of healthy living!
Once we are well fed, we take our positions in the lobby of the resort to catchup with some pending work. Later Ana Iskra ‘Spark’ and Maria discuss with us all the activities that could be done in Big Berry and the list was awesome.
The in-house activities includes BBQ, Canoeing, Swimming in the river, Beach Volley, outdoor fitness in the other end of the grounds, Yoga , walking or cycling in the neighborhood, lazing around on the sun-decks! And last but not the least Zen Shiatsu massage.
It had been raining steadily whole of the previous night and that put paid to some of the activities we would have liked to do. The river turning green to brown because of muddy soil being flushed from the upper regions. It is September and the temperature is already turning down a few notches on the thermometer with winter just round the corner.
It is almost already time to leave Big Berry. On the morrow we leave for Ljubljana. There were good clear days and there were overcast and wet days in the last 5 days. In spite of the weather playing truant we had covered a lot of grounds.
We did a lot of walking around the neighborhood and Chante Brown cast her enchantment spell on us by performing Zen Shiatsu on us. The one hour specialized massage in the open that included consciously letting oneself go with the flow, was just amazing and refreshing. Later in the evening we saw her doing intricate moves with hula hoops.
Rain could not stop us from doing a lot of visits to neighboring villages and meeting more awesome Bela Krajinians, if such a word exists. 🙂 We visited the museum, local guesthouses combined with restaurants, oil pressing factory for oil tasting session, local churches and attended a workshop and made Pogača and so on. We shall write about our tours and activities in another article.
All in all, our stay has been one of the most memorable and the best glamping experience so far. We thank the staff and the interns, who really seem to work 24X7 making guests feel at home.
Big Berry Info
- There are 7 cottages and each of them can hold 2 to 6 guests, depending on the design format. There is also a 5 bunk bed for 10 guests in a dormitory style design.
- All the houses face the river.
- There is a parking lot for guest cars but guest’s car may be parked next to the cottage too.
- Each guest will be provided three towels of various sizes.
- Each cottage has a temperature controlled Jacuzzi facing the river.
- The kitchen in each home is fully equipped including cooking facility, fridge, electric kettle, cooking utensils, cutlery, crockery etc.
- A DIY breakfast basket of your choice of organic products reaches your table every morning.
- The sofa can double up to sleep one or two persons should you ever need it.
- Big Berry can also provide personalized and customized experience (even for honeymooners), should you want it that way. We were told, in summers it was fully occupied with families with kids.
- LED TVs and cable connection for those TV devotees.
- Each cottage measures 34 SqMetres.
- Ideal place for corporate offsite programs.
- Special tote bags are really useful in carrying stuff in and out of the cottage.
- Many activities to choose from.
- Big Berry sources its requirements from local partners and thereby providing a symbiotic effort to grow together.
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Disclaimer: We stayed at the Big Berry, Slovenia at their invitation but the opinions, as always, are own.
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