It was a big weekend of winter sporting events in the Gorenjska region of Slovenia. On Pokljuka the World Biathlon Cup took place whilst in Kranjska Gora it was the Vitranc Skiing World Cup competition. Whilst this was great for the many spectators and armchair fans of winter sports, it left me with something of a quandry about where to go in order to avoid crowds and traffic congestion. And with the weather forecast to be glorious all weekend, which it was, I had to come up with something!
Fortunately Radovljica‘s favourable location, flanked by the Karavanke range, the Julian Alps and the Jelovica plateau, means one doesn’t have to go far to have a wealth of options. However, at the moment there is still several metres of snow in the high mountains, whilst at lower altitudes there is the problem of the vast amount of fallen trees resulting from February’s ice-storm. So one has to carefully select where to go bearing all these factors in mind. In the end, I settled on Dovška Baba, part of the Karavanke range, reached from the village of Dovje. I make the hike to the peak of Dovška Baba (1891m) at least a few times a year, usually during the summer and autumn, but it is also popular during the winter, albeit in the current conditions, it is perhaps more suited to ski touring than hiking. From the top there are stunning views in all directions; on the Slovene side across towards the village of Mojstrana, Triglav and the Julian Alps, and into Austria on the other side.
There is a small hut, which isn’t open during the winter, located on the Dovška Rožca highland (1650m) and due to the amount of snow and the hike taking way longer than it would usually do, I only went as far as the hut on this occasion. I walked up on the road, but having later noticed that the path was somewhat trodden, I pondered whether or not to return on the road or the path. In the end I plumped for the path, which leads fairly steeply down through the forest, thus making for a much quicker return trip but also a VERY wet one since by then the snow was incredibly wet as it was so warm and I returned to my car with feet wetter than had I been for a swim!
Everywhere you go at the moment, you can hear the constant and distinctive din of chainsaws, as foresters, and forest owners, go about clearing up the devastation from the ice storm. One the one hand I find the noise comforting, to know that some of the impassable areas may soon once again become passable. However, on the other hand it evokes a degree of sadness at the sheer amount of trees that have been lost. In what could perhaps be considered something of a silver lining, I read this week that hundreds of the unemployed are to be offered the chance to train as foresters in order to help the clear-up operation, which will last several years.
And in another stark reminder, a friend and I had something of an unexpected adventure during our lovely sunny Sunday afternoon stroll, from Radovljica down to the Fux suspension bridge over the Sava river, where we were pleasantly surprised to find the path free of debris. Had we returned the same way it would have been fine, but choosing to take a different path proved to be a mistake and involved us clambering steeply up an embankment due to the sheer number of fallen trees entirely blocking the way ahead. But we survived to tell the tale!
This coming week, on Tuesday 11th March, on the eve of St. Gregory’s Day, it will be once again time for the local age-old iron-forging custom of floating handmade creations, illuminated by candles, in the streams and villages of the iron-forging villages of Kropa and Kamna Gorica. The events, which begin at 5pm in Kropa and 6pm in Kamna Gorica, involve the floating of the models, which are a mixture of unique art creations made from paper, cardboard and wood with candles affixed either on the exterior or interior, creating a colourful effect against the dusk setting, together with an accompanying programme. This custom dates back to the era of manual iron-forging, before the introduction of the Gregorian calendar in 1582, when the name day of St. Gregory was considered the first day of spring. Unlike last year, this year the spring gods appear to be listening as the week ahead looks set to be bathed in sunshine and pleasant spring temperatures.
Also coming up soon it will once again be ‘Restaurant Week‘ (Teden restavracij – website only in Slovene –http://tedenrestavracij.si/ ) throughout Slovenia. During the period from 22nd – 30th March, many of the finest restaurants throughout the country will offer specially prepared menus, of at least three courses, for the set price of just 14 euros per person, which means a great opportunity to try out some new and different restaurants. In the Radovljica area, both Vila Podvin and Gostilna Kunstelj are participating. But hurry, bookings must be made in advance and many restaurants are already fully booked. I’ve made my reservation already!
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© AdeleinSlovenia 2014