Bohinj – ‘God’s land’

The weather has been almost spring like this past week, which I for one am not complaining about. However, I seem to be alone in that sentiment as everyone else I meet seems desperate for more snow. In fact, I heard last night on the news that last Saturday a record 16 degrees was recorded in Ljubljana, which for January is nothing short of bizarre!

Wishing to take full advantage of the mild weather, I went for a walk around Bohinj lake on Saturday afternoon. It’s stunning there whatever the season and this was no exception. It was around 3.30pm so the sun was already starting to set behind the mountains which surround the lake but the colours and vistas were nonetheless beautiful.

The walk around the lake takes anything from 2-4 hours, depending on walking pace and how many photo stops are made. During the winter there’s nowhere open to get refreshments en-route so probably best to have something with you. A map isn’t needed as you can’t go wrong. The path is level throughout, but on one side is a little rocky in places with lots of tree roots to contend with so good walking shoes are required, whilst on the other side it’s a normal gravel path.

There are endless amazing walks to be done in the mountains in the Bohinj area and no doubt I’ll be writing a lot more about those in future blogs but here’s a photo to whet any interested appetites!

Planina pri Jezeru 30 Oktober 2010 005

Even the drive to Bohinj from Bled is scenic. The road follows a gorge and crosses the Sava river several times. Although most people refer to the area as Bohinj, there isn’t actually a town or village called Bohinj. The nearest villages to the lake are Ribčev Laz and Stara Fužina, at the east end, and where there is plenty of tourist accommodation.

The word Bohinj translates as ‘Gods land’ and most people, on catching their first glimpse, soon understand why it is one of the most outstanding beauty spots in the country. The lake itself is the largest in Slovenia’s and it is fed by the river Savica whilst the river Sava Bohinjka flows out of it. It is 4100m long, 1200m wide and 527m above sea level and in summer temperatures reach a maximum of 20 degrees. It is very popular with bathers during the summer though I must admit I’ve never been brave enough to dip anything other than my feet in it!

Of course my life here doesn’t just involve walking and leisure as unfortunately that doesn’t pay the bills. Opportunities for foreigners here are really few and far between and its really tough trying to find regular work. Most of the expats I know (and there aren’t many of us) are in, or have been in, a similar situation – some of them tough it out whilst others have to conceed defeat. Not one to be defeated, my ongoing battle to get more work continues.

I’m constantly amazed by people who seem to have the idea that moving somewhere like this is a cheap and easy option, that you can buy a cheap house and grow your own vegetables. Well, vegetables don’t pay the bills and houses aren’t cheap! And it certainly isn’t a cheap place to live, the cost of living is high and ever rising along with a new 50% higher rate tax bracket which has just been introduced. The price of petrol for example has risen 50% since I moved here. However, fortunately for tourists, Slovenia still offers good value for money, particularly in comparison with neighbouring countries such as Austria and Italy. One thing that remains good value here is going out for a coffee or a meal. You can still get a coffee for a euro (not everywhere of course) and a three-course meal for under 10 euros. And going out for coffee is a serious business. Here in my small home town of Radovljica there are at least 15 coffee shops with not a chain in sight and let’s hope it stays that way.

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