A cleaner, greener Radovljica

Judging by the amount of snow I can see from my window, it seems winter has well and truly arrived. The snow, fortunately, is not (yet) at ground level but there has certainly been a lot of precipitation in the past week; rain here, snow above 800-1000 metres.

I haven’t been able to do much in the way of hiking because of the poor weather but I did at least manage one trip this week, to Dobrča, at 1478m. I took the route up from the hamlet of Slatna, which is located on the road which runs along the foot of Dobrča, from Begunje to Trzič, a mere 10 minute drive from Radovljica. The path goes up steeply through the forest, taking approximately 1.5 hours, to reach the mountain hut, Koca na Dobrči. The actual top of Dobrča, 1634m, is a further 30 minute walk and a further 10 minutes from the top is the Šentanski vrh viewpoint, which is certainly worth making the effort to reach. On this occasion I didn’t continue to the top as there was already snow beyond the hut, as can be seen in the pictures below.

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On the whole I love living in Radovljica. I love its location, the close proximity to the Karavanke and Julian Alps, Bled, Bohinj and direct access to the motorway making it easy to reach pretty much anywhere in Slovenia. I also love the wide choice of hiking and cycling routes, the good infrastructure, the medieval old town, the olympic size swimming pool and that fact that the town offers most of my needs right on my doorstop. There is, or rather ‘was’, however something that had been bothering me, something detracting from the beauty of Radovljica and its surroundings, and something, as I saw it, as a needless eyesore. I’m referring to the numerous advertising banners that were hanging from the street lights advertising the likes of Lidl 200m, Hofer 400m, Mercator 1km etc. In fact on the road from the start of Lesce to the end of Radovljica, and on some side streets too, there was almost 40 of them, bombarding us with pointless and unecessary advertising. I saw them as pointless because in the UK, where I’m from, there are millions of people and thousands of shops yet nowhere are there signs like here advertising each shop, yet people still manage to find the shops. Members of my family and several friends who had visited Radovljica, had also commented on what an eyesore they were and they really had a negative effect on the environment. Of course they provide a source of revenue for the municipality therefore in my letter to the Mayor of Radovljica, I suggested that, if advertising is really necessary, perhaps a better, less obvious, method could be sought. Imagine my delight then when last week the Mayor personally told me that since the contract had expired, he had now ordered the removal of all the banners forthright. Wow, what a result and what a huge improvement. I would once again like to say ‘Thank You’ to our Mayor. It is so good to know he listens and takes on board comments from residents and we now have an even more beautiful, cleaner, greener town. Perhaps this might inspire other areas in Slovenia to follow suit, leading to an even cleaner, greener Slovenia too.

The Christmas lights have now gone up in the old town centre and the festive season is now slowly starting to begin. The first event will be the St. Nicholas Fair (Miklavž sejem) which will take place in the atrium of St. Paul’s rectory, on Saturday 30th November at 4.30-6.30pm and again on Sunday 1st December at 8.30-11.30am. The celebration of St. Nicholas (Miklavž) on the 6th December, marks the name day of this most known of saints and is especially celebrated by children all around Slovenia who eagerly wait to see if St. Nicholas has bought them gifts to reward them for being good.

On Tuesday this week, the 26th, there will be a ceremony to officially open the new sculpture dedicated to the music of Avsenik. This traditional folk music was started by the Avsenik brothers in the village of Begunje na Gorenjskem in 1953. Their music is hugely popular worldwide, but particularly in neighbouring Austria, Italy and Croatia, as well as elsewhere in Europe, and people come from all over the world to listen to the three current house ensembles, visit the Avsenik museum and enjoy food and entertainment at the family run Avsenik restaurant. The ceremony will take place in the parking area near the Lidl store at 12 noon and is free to attend.

Also this week, on Thursday 28th, there will be a concert by the only Citar orchestra in Slovenia, from Brežice. The concert will take place in the Radovljica Mansion House, beginning at 7pm and tickets can be purchased at the Radovljica Tourist Information Centre.

Radol’ca – Taste the Best!

In my opinion the term ‘a sense of community’ is often overused these days, or used flippantly, without real regard to its true meaning. The new ‘Taste Radol’ca’ project however truly does justice to the term and is an exemplary example of how to bring a community together. In these tough economic times when many business are struggling for survival and competing with their rivals just to stay afloat, the ‘Taste Radol’ca’ project offers a fresh approach and more than a glimmer of hope to residents, business owners and visitors to Radovljica and its surrounding areas – collectively known as Radol’ca.

‘Taste Radol’ca’ was created with the aim of uniting local restaurants and producers of local food to showcase the best of what Radol’ca has to offer. In doing so the project is also suporting the local community by using only food sourced locally. Eight restaurants are included in the project and, during the month of November, each is offering a specially prepared 3 course meal for a fixed price of just 13 euros. Although this is the first year of the project, the response so far has been so positive, it is hoped it will become an annual event on the Radol’ca calendar.

So on a chilly, drizzly Wednesday evening last week, myself and a group of others invited guests, including national and local media and the Mayor, were treated to an evening of food, wine and entertainment. I must say it was one of the most memorable evenings I have experienced since moving to Slovenia. Throughout the evening I sat beaming with pride at being able to be part of such an event and in the recognition that Radol’ca has so much to offer; the historic old town centre, unspoilt nature, endless hiking and cycling routes, great restaurants with talented chefs and a wide cultural programme including concerts, festivals and other events.

The event was held at Gostilna Kunstelj, one of the participating restaurants, which is located just before the entrance to the old town centre. The photos below (apologies about the quality, admittedly not my best effort – can I blame the fine wine?!) illustrate the evening’s events. The menu comprised a combination of some of the menus available at the different participating restaurants. More information about the project and the menus can be found here – http://radolca.si/okusi-radolce/?utm_source=Turizem+Radovjlica+newsletter&utm_campaign=cab59b0d31-Newsletter_Radolca&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_4ed8fe76d2-cab59b0d31-24187013

We started in the wine cellar where schnapps and the new honey beer, Zlati Ol, was available together with canapes.

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We then moved upstairs to the restaurant for the first course – smoked tongue, smoked trout, beetroot, horseradish and wild garlic sauce – produced by Joštov Hram.


This was followed by a clear soup served with a trio of filled pasta – produced by Gostišče Tulipan.


The next course comprised sulec, a kind of salmon, filled with caviar and krvavica, akin to black pudding in a filo parcel – produced by Vila Podvin and Gostilna Kovač.


There followed a dish of capon with red cabbage, cream of corn, barley with vegetables and a curd cheese and pear roulade – again produced by Vila Podvin and Gostilna Kovač.


And now to my favourite part – dessert! Linhartov cukr, tarragon icecream (believe me, it works!) served in a brandy snap basket and chocolate cream – produced by Gostilna Lectar and Hotel Lambergh. And to finish chocolate orange cake pops – produced by Gostilna Kunstelj – at which point I too was ready to pop!

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Each course was accompanied by a specially chosen wine from the Dolc vineyard in the Bela Krajina region of Slovenia. I’m not usually much of a wine drinker and far from a conoisseur, but on this occasion I must say their Chardonnay and the Laški rizling were right up my street being a tad on the sweet side. The other wines were the Metliška črnina and Pankrt.

The owner of Lectar, Jože, was also on hand, together with the other musicians, to provide entertainment on the harmonica and double bass. All in all it was a fantastic evening and if you live in the area, or are visiting, I would thoroughly recommend visiting a least one of the participating restaurants and supporting this worthwhile project.

We had our fair share of inclement weather this week. On Monday there were hurricane force winds which ripped through the valley causing significant destruction, particularly in the forests and villages along the length of the Karavanke range, from the villages of Begunje to Žirovnica. Locals recall it as being the worst such occurences since 1985. The following day, when I attempted to walk up to the peak Smokuški vrh, above the village of Smokuč, it was sad to see so many beautiful, old trees torn down, some of which had literally been ripped up by their roots, and I had to abandon my walk as the path was simply impassable due to the sheer number of fallen trees. We also saw the first glimpse of snow this week, though thankfully it didn’t quite reach Radovljica as had been predicted. All week the forecasts had been saying the snow line would be at around 400m above sea level, Radovljica is just under 500m, but in the event it turned out to be at around the 700-800m level. A lucky escape – though I’m sure all the snow lovers in Slovenia wouldn’t agree with me about that!

Musical Radovljica

As I mentioned last week, my parents came to visit from the UK for the weekend. They have visited Slovenia on numerous occasions since my move here over 6 years ago. They are both still very ‘young-at-heart’, active and enjoy cycling and walking. Unfortunately, this past weekend the weather was not conducive for either of those activities as it rained pretty much non-stop all weekend, torrentially at times, and was even snowing on higher ground. A few years back my parents even cycled from the UK to Slovenia on their tandem, as seen in the photo below. This photo was taken when I went and met them on their arrival from Italy into Kranjska Gora and we then all cycled back together via Mojstrana and Jesenice to Radovljica. The D2 cycle path from Mojstrana to Kranjska Gora runs along the route of the old railway line and is hugely popular with cyclists and roller skaters during the summer months. It is particularly popular with young families as it offers a safe, traffic-free route. The route also continues into Tarvisio (Trbiž) in Italy and can be combined with other routes to expand the possibilities. Just recently work has been progressing on extending the cycle route from Jesenice to Mojstrana. Until now the route has only been accessible by mountain bike as it goes somewhat up and down and off-road. However, once the new extension is complete, it is hoped it will be as good and as accessible to all as the remainder of the route.

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Since the weather wasn’t suitable for much in the way of outdoors activities this weekend, we took advantage of some of the other things on offer in Radovljica and on Friday we attended the (free) concert in the Baroque Hall in the Radovljica Mansion House (Graščina). The concert was performed by three different choirs – Vox Carniola from Jesenice, Grudnov Šmikle from Železniki and MePZ from the coastal town of Koper – and was a very enjoyable evening with a mixed variety of music and something to suit all tastes.

The Radovljica Mansion House, seen below, really is a hub of activities, concerts, exhibitions etc. and the residents of Radovljica, myself included, are lucky to be able to attend the regular events held there, many of which are free, and in such a beautiful building, both inside and out, in the old town centre.

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Next weekend there will be another such (free) event taking place in the Radovljica Mansion; on Sunday 17th the Regional Adults Choir Competition will begin with the first concert at 1pm, the second at 3.30pm, the third at 6pm and the results will be announced at 8.30pm.

On Saturday we went to Ljubljana to the Perpetuum Jazzile concert in the Stožice arena. This was the 4th time that I have been to see this fantastic Slovene vocal group who, on this occasion, were celebrating their 30th anniversary with a special celebration concert attended by 10,000 people.

I’m excited to have received an invitation to a presentation and tasting of the ‘Taste Radol’ca‘ (Okusi Radol’ca) project this week. I will therefore be writing a lot more about that next week! In the meantime here is a link to the project website for more information – http://radolca.si/okusi-radolce/?utm_source=Turizem+Radovjlica+newsletter&utm_campaign=cab59b0d31-Newsletter_Radolca&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_4ed8fe76d2-cab59b0d31-24187013

Taste Radol’ca

For lovers of good food, and supporters of local food, Tourism Radovljica have prepared a new, special project entitled ‘Taste Radol’ca‘ (Okusi Radol’ca). The project includes eight restaurants in the Radol’ca area which will be offering a special menu, where the emphasis is on food sourced from the local area. The set price for each menu is 13 euros per person and the project will last the month of November. More about the participating restaurants and the menus can be found using the link below. However, this information, plus the restaurant menus, are currently only in Slovene so if you are planning to visit the area and are interested in this event, just get in touch and I’ll be happy to provide a translation for you – http://radolca.si/okusi-radolce/?utm_source=Turizem+Radovjlica+newsletter&utm_campaign=cab59b0d31-Newsletter_Radolca&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_4ed8fe76d2-cab59b0d31-24187013

Last week was school holidays so I had a bit more free time than usual and used one day for a trip to Villach in Austria. I don’t go often but like to go occasionally for a change of scenery, a bit of shopping, and, well just because I can! So this week, before the snow arrives making the drive often impossible without passing through the Karavanke Tunnel, where a toll is payable, I set off. I stopped first in Kranjska Gora for a walk to Podkoren then drove over the Korenjsko sedlo pass and into Villach. There are several ways of reaching Austria from Slovenia, depending on which part of the country you are in. From me, taking the Korenjsko sedlo into Villach or the Ljubelj pass into Klagenfurt are the nearest, each taking approximately an hour and with no tolls to pay. Even after over six years living here I still get a kick out of being able to just drive so easily to another country – strange but true! During the winter, both of these passes may be closed, or driveable only with snow chains.

Also this week a friend and I walked to Lubnik in the Škofja Loka hills. There are well-marked paths up from all directions but the nearest, and for me the most beautiful, is to start from Škofja Loka Castle and walk up via the ruins of the Old Loka Castle (Stari grad) to the mountain hut on Lubnik (Koča na Lubniku) at 1025m. It takes approximately 1.5 hours to reach the top and we made the return trip via a different route which eventually rejoined the other route and returned to the castle. On a clear day, which sadly it wasn’t on this occasion, the views from Lubnik are far-reaching in all directions; the Julian Alps, the Škofja Loka and Polhograd hills and the Selca and Poljane valleys. Although the weather was fine at the start of our trip, it soon clouded over and was very windy at the top. Fortunately we were able to seek shelter and a warming cup of mountain tea in the hut where I can also confirm that they have excellent home baked tarragon loaf. Due to the clouds, I wasn’t able to take any photos from the top this time but here are a couple of pictures taken on the return trip, once we had emerged from the clouds, with views towards Old Loka and the red roofs of the old town centre.

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On Friday 8th November, a concert will be held in the Baroque Hall in Radovljica Mansion (Graščina). The concert, is a meeting of three choirs – Vox Carniola from Jesenice, Grudnov Šmikle from Železniki and MePZ from the coastal town of Koper. The concert begins at 8pm and entry is free.

Friday 8th November is also an important day for another reason – my parents are arriving for the weekend – looking forward to that!