Shovels ahoy!

What a difference a week makes. Last week I was writing about record high temperatures, now we’re under (literally) mountains of snow – at least the skiers will be happy. Since I’m not a fan of snow and I don’t ski, I sometimes question my wisdom of moving to an alpine area but I’m have to learn to live with it and trying to embrace it in that stoic British way!

I was woken at 3.20am by the snow plough outside my window, later followed by the now non-stop noise of people shovelling snow though when there’s this much snow it becomes a problem where to shovel the snow to – the pavements are piled high with it and its still coming down. The shovel becomes the accessory of choice at this time of year (fashion editors take note!). However, at least it’s not like in the UK where the whole country tends to grind to a halt for a few cms of snow. Here, even when there is metres of it kids still go to school, trains and buses still run – life goes on!

Slovenia actually has 3 distinct climate zones, which for a tiny country is quite a lot. Here where I live, in the northwest the climate is alpine which means warm summers but very cold winters with (usually) lots of snow. The coastal area has a mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot summers – temperatures at the coast are frequently at least 10 degrees warmer than here (why didn’t I move there?!) and the east side of the country has a continental climate, which seems to be a mixture of the other two. However, with the climate change we are currently witnessing, it’s almost impossible to predict the weather patterns regardless of the climate zones. Last winter there was almost no snow at ground level here and the past few summers have been hot rather than just warm, but for now at least, winter is certainly back with a vengeance and it looks like it will be here for a long time yet.

I think/hope Slovenia is becoming gradually more known throughout the world. I hope that through this blog my bid to promote Radovljica will help a little too. Perhaps a lot of Slovenia’s recognition is due to some of the recent sporting success. Among them, the (relative) success of the national football team in the European Cup, the victory by the men’s ski jumping team, Tina Maze’s ongoing success in the Women’s Ski World Cup, Petra Majdič and her enormously brave and well deserved bronze medal in cross-country skiing after having broken a rib during a practice session, a gold in judo at the Olympics, a 3rd Olympic medal, bronze this time, for rower Iztok Čop, to go with his gold and silver from previous Olympic games – just to mention a few.

But not only this, Slovenia also hosted the Presidency of the EU in 2011 and Maribor, the country’s second biggest city, has just ended its stint as the European Capital of Culture. I must admit I didn’t make it to any of the events in Maribor – in my defence it’s quite a long way (and what with the price of petrol these days…) but I’m fortunate that there are frequently events going on here on my doorstep so I don’t need to go far.

Here in Radovljica, the Manor House in the old town centre frequently holds concerts, choir services, and exhibitions and the town is also hosting several major festivals this year. Some of the concerts, such as the choir service I went to on Saturday evening, are free to attend. The choir, Carmen Manet, is formed of girls from the high school in Kranj. They’ve only been performing together for 2 years but in that short time have achieved amazing international success and I could see (or rather hear) why. In November 2012 they competed in China and came away with 2 platinum medals, the highest possible achievement. Here’s a link to one of their performances in China, singing a well-known and most definitely untypically Slovene song! – http://www.choir-tv.com/video/Carmen-manet-%2540-Xinghai-Prize-International-Choir-Championships/3ebe6999ec5da332a18dff38d9736eb4

Even if there isn’t a concert going it, the beautiful renaissance Mansion House building is worth a look. It forms the centre piece of the old town and houses the Music School, the Town Museum and the Museum of Apiculture (Beekeeping). The Town Museum houses collections displaying the history of Radovljica and its surrounding areas together with a collection of the work of one of Slovenia’s most celebrated 18th century playwrights, Anton Tomaz Linhart, who was born in Radovljica – hence the name of the old town square Linhartov trg (Linhart Square).

The Museum of Apiculture displays the history of beekeeping in Slovenia throughout the centuries and houses over 200 hives, depicting Slovene folk arts and shown in a gallery style, the oldest dating from 1758.  Slovenia has a long and rich tradition in beekeeping.  Its trade in honey and beeswax has been documented since the 15th century and Slovene beekeepers became famous for their queen bees in the 19th century.  In the 20th century the Carniolan bee was exported all over the world and it became the leading bee in several countries

So if you are visiting, or planning to visit the area, it’s always worth enquiring at the Radovljica Tourist Information Centre (or click the link on my blogroll) to see what’s going on and who knows, I might see you there, or rather here!!!

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