Festivals Galore

I wish I could begin this post by writing about the glorious summer we are enjoying, and to be able to write about all the outdoor activities I have been enjoying. Alas, the weather has other ideas. Last week, and this week so far, it has been anything but summer, except for a brief spell on Sunday afternoon when we had a faint whiff of summer. Otherwise it continues to be unseasonably cool, cloudy and wet. To be fair, its not as if its raining all day every day, but the lingering low cloud and threatening skies make it difficult to plan straying too far from home and last week I got drenched more times than I care to remember! However, I can at least be the bearer of some good news – all is not lost – because now the music festival season is starting and there’s something for everyone, whatever your preferred taste in music – and the concerts take place come rain or shine!

The 32nd Radovljica Festival, organised by the Radovljica Early Music Society, takes place this year from the 9th – 24th August. The programme includes 10 concerts, performed by international artists, with music from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. The majority of the concerts take place in the Radovljica Manor, the building which dominates the old town centre (as seen below), whilst one of the concerts takes place at the Church of the Annunciation in Velesovo. Free buses to all concerts are available from Ljubljana and Kranj and also a free bus from Radovljica to the concert in Velesovo. More information about the festival can be found here – http://www.festival-radovljica.si/en/

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Meanwhile, in Bled, the 24th Okarina Etno Festival begins on 1st August. This ever popular festival sees groups from far and wide coming to perform in the beautiful setting of Bled Castle and the Spa Park. This year’s line up includes acts from as far away as Senegal, Venezuela and Burkina Faso. Concerts are free to attend. More information can be found here – http://www.festival-okarina.si/

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Just a few kilometres away, the village of Begunje is home to the legendary Slavko Avsenik, the forefather of Slovene national folk music. The Avsenik brothers ensemble was first formed in 1953 and has since produced over 1,000 songs which are hits with audiences not only from Slovenia but also from far and wide. Nowadays its a real family affair with three generations of the family being involved and people arrive in their coach loads to visit. Avsenik comprises a gallery and museum, a restaurant with accommodation and where regular live shows are performed (dancing isn’t mandatory but it is encouraged and part of the fun!) and a music school. Additionally, the annual three-day Avsenik Festival, held in August, regularly attracts visitors in their thousands. More about Avsenik and this year’s festival can be found here – http://www.avsenik.com/pcc.asp#xpath=/novice#xpathid=#lang=eng


This Sunday is one of Radovljica’s main summer events – the annual Medieval Day. I always look forward to this event as its so nice to see Linhart Square in the old town centre really come to life and be able to get a sense of how it was in days of old. Events run throughout the day from 10am – 7pm and there is always plenty going on including theatrical performances, music and dance, a market, traditional arts and crafts demonstrations, and an archery tournament. Hope to see you there!

And finally, according to scientists in a report out this week, due to climate change we will all be basking in the sun and still swimming come November. Since there is often already snow here by then, I sincerely doubt it, but I would love to be proved wrong!!!

 © AdeleinSlovenia 2014



Swimming: Lakes, rivers and pools in Radol’ca and Bled

At this time of the year a lot of people’s thoughts turn to how, and where, to keep cool. So this week I thought I would offer some ideas along those lines. Personally, as someone who can feel the cold even in the midst of a heat wave, I’m not one for cold water, it has to be like a jacuzzi for me to get in it. However for many people, locals and tourists alike, going for a swim or a quick dip in a pool, lake or river is the perfect way to cool down and seek respite from the heat.

RADOVLJICA SWIMMING POOL – The Olympic-size swimming pool in Radovljica is open all year round. During the winter it is covered over but during the summer it is open-air. It also has a pool for kids, beach volleyball, a pizzeria and there’s a campsite right next door.

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KROPA SWIMMING POOL – A 25mx12.5m pool with a separate pool for kids, beach volleyball, a café and a picnic area. The pool is located in the Lipnica Valley at the junction towards Kropa and is open daily during the summer.

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CAMPING ŠOBEC – Take a dip in the Šobec lake at the campsite of the same name. It is also open (admission charge payable) to those not staying at the camp.

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More information about the above can be found here – http://www.radolca.si/en/swimming/

BLED CASTLE LIDO – The only designated bathing and swimming area by Lake Bled. It is set right beneath Bled Castle and has ample facilities including changing rooms, lockers, toilets and showers, rental of beach umbrellas and rowing boats, snacks and drinks stands.

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BLED LAKE – You can also take a dip directly into the lake. Due to the changeable weather this year, the temperature of the water is a little lower than usual and is currently around 22 degrees.

More information here – http://www.bled.si/en/what-to-do/summer-sports/swimming

For those brave enough, the Sava river is also an option, be it for cooling off, water sports such as rafting, or, as I did last weekend, just sitting relaxing on its banks. Yes, I do relax sometimes – though I had been for a 4 hour bike ride first!!

Of course there are also many other ways of keeping cool in the heat. My preference is to go for a walk in the cool of the forest or high in the mountains and since Slovenia is largely covered by forest and here in Gorenjska there are mountains a plenty, these things are not difficult to find!

And not forgetting ice-cream – an essential summer ingredient which you certainly don’t have to go far to find. There are numerous cafes offering homemade ice-cream. One of my personal favourites in Radovljica is Vidic House (Vidičeva hisa) in the old town centre of Radovljica where there are a wide variety of flavours and generous portions to match, whilst in Bled I usually head for the famous Šmon Pattiserie which, in addition to ice-cream, offers an impressive (and irrestistible!) range of cakes and pastries.

Here’s a selection of events coming up in the week ahead:

Tuesday 22nd July – Concert of the 17th Pikolo Flute Workshop – 8pm at Bled Castle

Wednesday 23rd July – Concert from the opera ‘La Boheme –  8pm in the Radovljica Manor – Tickets available from the Radovljica Tourist Information Office

Thursday 24th July – Music Thursdays ‘Neomi’ – 8pm in Linhart Square, Radovljica – Free open-air concert

Friday 25th July – Concert of the 17th Pikolo Flute Workshop – 6pm at Bled Golf Hotel

© AdeleinSlovenia 2014

The Sextons’ Museum House / Bled Days and Nights

For the 7th time in the 23 years that Slovenia has been an independent country, the nation took to the polls again this Sunday to casts their votes in the snap general election, called following the resignation of Alenka Bratušek, the previous leader of the coalition government, on losing the battle for leadership of the ‘Positive Slovenia’ party after only 14 months in office. Although I now have permanent residency in Slovenia, I do not have citizenship and am therefore not entitled to vote. To be honest, even if I did have the right I wouldn’t know where to start with such a vast number of parties in the running and I will thus refrain (at least here) from proffering my views on Slovenia’s fragmented political affairs, especially since most, if not all, visitors to the country are of course blissfully oblivious to all the goings on behind the scenes and are free to enjoy the beauty of the country without having to endure its politics – a state in which I too would like to remain.

The weather during the past week has been far from summery, especially on Thursday when the daytime high here in the valley was only around 12 degrees and more than a few centimetres of fresh snow fell in the Julian Alps (you can see the photos I posted on my Facebook page). We are being promised ‘normal’ summer temperatures up to around 30 degrees from midweek onwards, so here’s hoping, it’s about time. This has meant I’ve had to somewhat, temporarily at least, curtail my plans for summer exploration and this week have been unable to tick-off any of the places on my personal ‘To See and To Do’ list!

On Saturday, I was headed towards the Pokljuka plateau for a walk but the threatening black clouds and distant rumble of thunder meant that I instead stopped at Bled and went for a walk around the lake; a regular fall back option if the weather is poor. In the event, carrying my (unopened) umbrella did the trick and ensured the sun came out and shined brilliantly for the entire circuit of the lake though within minutes of returning to the car the heavens opened. As is usual in the summer season, Bled was bustling with tourists; many walking around the lake, others relaxing by it, some taking a boat ride over it in one of Bled’s famous pletna boats, and others taking the tourist train around it. However you choose to see it, and/or travel around it, Lake Bled never fails to delight and it was particularly abuzz on Saturday as preparations were in full swing for the towns’ biggest running event – the 10k Night Run, which always attracts a large turnout of both participants and spectators.

On my return home I diverted to the village of Kamna Gorica, in the Lipnica Valley, for a look at the newly opened Sextons’ Museum House. The house, dating from 1803, stands perched on a small hill above the village, next to St. Trinity’s church, and affords wonderful views across the village and to the mountains of the Karavanke range. Kamna Gorica, together with nearby Kropa, was formerly one of the main iron working villages in the area of what is the present day Slovenia, and despite its modest size, the village has lots of points of interest, among them the water canals that run through the village which previously served the needs of the forges and led to the village also being known as ‘Little Venice’.

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The house, which had been derelict for many years, has now been lovingly restored and laid out as a museum. It contains an original black kitchen and preserved living areas and offers an insight into life in Kamna Gorica then and now, and of the lives of those who used to live and work in the house and church. Note: entrance to the museum is free although voluntary contributions towards its upkeep are appreciated. More information about the house and opening times can be found here – http://www.radolca.si/en/the-sextons-museum-house/

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Kamna Gorica can also be visited on the Hop-On Hop-Off Tourist Bus, which is now operating throughout the summer until 31st August. Kamna Gorica is one of the stopping points on Tuesdays when the buses run on the route Bled-Radovljica-Kropa. The bus represents great value as the price of a full day ticket is just 5 euros and children under 10 travel for free and you can pick and choose where to get on and off and what to see and do. There are numerous places and sights of interest that can be visited as well as special offers for those travelling by bus. The Hop-On Hop-Off bus also runs on Thursdays on the route Bled-Radovljica-Begunje-Brezje, and on Saturdays and Sundays on the route Bled-Bohinj-Pokljuka-Triglav National Park. More information can be found here – http://www.radolca.si/en/hop-on-hop-off-radolca/

Next week its time again for Bled Days and Nights, one of the biggest annual events held in Bled, which attracts a large crowd of visitors from both home and abroad. The event takes places over three days, beginning on Friday 18th July and some of the highlights include:

  • An art and craft fair
  • Concerts and performances
  • A vintage cycle parade
  • Candles on the lake
  • Fireworks

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More information about the event can be found here – http://www.bled.si/en/events/2014/07/18/1511-Bled-Days-and-Bled-Night

Also coming up in the week ahead:

  • Tuesday 15th July – Free guided tour of Radovljica’s old town centre at 10am / Free guided tour of Kamna Gorica at 4.30pm
  • Thursday 17th July – Music Thursdays in Radovljica, Free concert in Linhart Square at 8pm with the group ‘Mojo Hand’
  • Saturday 19th July – The start of this year’s Okarina Etno Festival in Bled. The festival then continues with further dates into August. 10pm at Bled Shopping Centre with the band RIC (Roots Intention Crew) from France.

© AdeleinSlovenia 2014



Triglav National Park Information / Garden Village, Bled

On Tuesday last week I went to the opening of the Triglav Roža Information Centre, which reopened its doors after a lengthy closure for refurbishment. The centre is located on the main road into Bled (Ljubljanska cesta 27) and is an excellent point-of-call for visitors to the Gorenjska region, especially those planning to spend some time in Triglav National Park, Slovenia’s only national park. The centre contains some interesting permanent exhibitions including about Slovenia’s highest mountain, Triglav and the National Park, as well as information about other parts of the Gorenjska region. Visitors can also watch a video and obtain maps and information. The centre is open daily from 8am – 6pm during the summer and from 8am – 4pm in the winter.

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Whilst in Bled, I also took the opportunity to go and have a look at the new Garden Village Resort, which opened last month and wow is it AMAZING! Those that know me, will attest to the fact that I’m not exactly known for my ability to relax (always hiking/biking/running…..) but even I felt relaxed there among the green and serene surroundings, sitting by the pool area, sipping a cool elderflower cordial……. Happy Days – even if only briefly whilst I watched how the other half live!

The resort, located just 5 minutes from Lake Bled, is certainly ‘glamping’ at its best. It comprises a mixture of luxury tented accommodation, tree houses and apartments. The whole ethos of the resort is built around being ‘green’ – both visually and operationally – and it shows. The attention to detail is remarkable in every area including the restaurant, wellness and the gardens, where guests are able to literally pick and eat whatever is growing around the resort. Their website says ‘Adventurous, Romantic and Exclusive’ and I’d have to agree. Now, if only I could find someone adventurous and romantic to share it with!!! For those of you lucky to have found adventure and romance, here’s the link (it’s already pretty much booked up for this summer season) – http://www.gardenvillagebled.com/

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With the weather being so glorious for the weekend, I had a tough decision to make as to where to go and what to do – so much choice – so in the end I did a bit of everything! Saturday began with an early morning start, cycling from home to the lake at Bohinj. I then took the gondola up to the Vogel Ski Resort, which was celebrating its 50th anniversary of operation and thus had 50% discount on the usual ride charge. There was a great party atmosphere up there with plenty of entertainment including national folk music, presentations of national costumes and old-timer bikes, guided walks, workshops for children and market stalls. As a non-skier, I have only previously visited Vogel once during the autumn when it was shrouded in mist and there were no views to be seen and I was unable to explore the area fully. This time, it couldn’t have been more different. It was a glorious day and I was able to grasp just how extensive the area is and how much there is to see and do up there, regardless of the season. Being a ski resort, I’d always considered it more of a winter venue, but how wrong was I, and it has now been added to my list of summer destinations too – next time I might even consider hiking up there too! There are a wide choices of walks, either shorter, easier ones such as the Vogel Trail, or longer ones to one of the many peaks or highlands of the Julian Alps, such as Rodica or Planina Sija. The Orlove Glave chairlift also operates during the summer and can be used to shorten some of the hikes. There is also a bike park, several places to eat and drink and of course, it goes without saying, stunning and far-reaching views in all directions.

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It’s going to be another busy week ahead with lots going on in the Radovljica/Bled area. Here is just a pick of the events:

Tuesday 8th July

  • Open Day at the Sextons’ Museum House in Kamna Gorica, 10am-6pm, entrance free (also on Saturday 12th & Sunday 13th July)
  • Free guided tour of Kamna Gorica, 4.30pm

Thursday 10th July

  • Music Thursdays in Linhart Square in Radovljica’s old town centre – Every Thursday in July from 8.00pm – this week ‘San Di Ego Band’
  • Story-telling by the fire at Camp Šobec – Join the Triglav National Park rangers to listen to some of the myths and legends of the Slovenian mountains – 9pm, free event (also for those not resident at the camp)

Saturday 12th July

© AdeleinSlovenia 2014



Hop-On Hop-Off Bus: Bled, Radovljica and the Julian Alps

Following a spectacular storm on Sunday evening, Monday morning saw a rather chilly start to the new week with even a sprinkling of fresh snow on the top of Stol, which I wrote about last week, and more than a sprinkling in the high mountains. If you use Facebook, check out the photo I posted of the snow at the Kredarica mountain hut, beneath Triglav. Thankfully, the forecast for the rest of the week looks more promising with temperatures set to soar.

After a successful introduction last year, this year the new Radol’ca Hop-on, Hop-Off Bus will be operating throughout the summer from the 1st July to the 31st August and will cover two local routes now including Bled:

Every Tuesday: Bled – Radovljica – Kropa – Radovljica – Bled

Every Thursday: Bled – Radovljica – Begunje – Brezje – Radovljica – Bled

In addition, this year, for the first time in 23 years, a special bus will operate at weekends from Bled to Bohinj and Pokljuka within Triglav National Park:

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The price of a one-day ticket is just 5 euros per person with children under the age of 10 travelling for free.

In addition to being able to get on and off the bus at various points and see the towns and sights of interest, there will also be addition benefits to travelling by the bus, such as free or reduced entrance fees to museums and galleries, guided tours of the towns and villages in the area, gingerbread, cookery and candle-making workshops (supplement payable), walking paths and more. Of course, it’s also a more relaxed way to travel with time to sit back and enjoy the sights, and more environmentally friendly too – so a win, win all round!


On Friday I attended the opening of the new Fitness Trim Trail in Bled on the small Straža ski slope. During the summer Straža operates as a toboggan track and there is also the Bled Adventure Park and two snack bars. As well as the various activities, Straža is also a pleasant place to visit for a walk and it is well worth making the effort to walk up to the top (or take the chairlift if that sounds too much like hard work!) for the views over Bled lake, the castle, the Karavanke mountains which are quite stunning.

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Another new addition to Straža is the Land of Slovenian Folk Tales, as seen below, and more information here – http://www.bled.si/en/events/2014/07/05/1904-Land-of-slovenian-folk-tales

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Straža is also synonymous with the Swiss doctor Arnold Rikli. Born in 1823, Rikli was largely responsible for the beginnings of Bled’s boom in tourism. His focus was on ‘healing tourism’ as he worked and learned the value and benefits of the climate and natural gifts of Bled. His work was guided by the principle: ‘Water works wonder, air can do even more, but light does the most of all.’ He founded the Institute of Natural Healing and introduced a new method of treatment. In 1859, Rikli ordered the building of simple wooden Swiss style baths (opposite the then Park Hotel) and also constructed huts for patient accommodation.

Walks around the Bled area were a key part of Rikli’s healing programme. There were strict house rules that all patients had to observe. Early starts (5-6am), followed by walks and outdoor physical activity. To improve their circulation patients walked barefoot and during the day they bathed, sunbathed and rested. Treatment helped diseases such as rheumatism, migraines, insomnia and obesity, Rikli’s methods became very popular and successful and through this, Bled became known far and wide. Today, his methods are still celebrated and remembered, particularly at the time of the popular annual Rikli Walk which takes place this coming weekend on Sunday 6th July. Anyone can join in the walk and it’s a great chance to see other parts of Bled, such as Straža and the Osojnica hill, as well as experiencing some of Rikli’s methods. Be prepared for some bathing, barefoot walking and fun! The walk begins at 7am in front of the Golf Hotel.

Here’s a small pick of this week’s forthcoming events:

1st – 17th July: 19th International Bled Music Festivalhttp://www.bled.si/en/events/2014/07/05/1329-19th-Festival-Bled-2014

Thursday 3rd July at 8pm (and every Thursday in July): Music Thursdays – Enjoy listening to live music in Linhart Square in Radovljica’s medieval old town centre.

Thursday 3rd July at 9pm (and every Thursday during July and August): Join the Triglav National Park rangers for ‘Storytelling by the Fire’ at the Šobec campsite – Listen to the myths and fairy tales of the Slovene mountains. The event is free and is in both English and Slovene.

Saturday 5th July from 9am – 6pm: Iron Forging Festival in Kropa – Watch live demonstrations, browse the market stalls, free entrance to the Iron Forging Museum, the Fovšaritnica Museum House and the Vice Spike Forge, and more.

Saturday 5th July from 9pm – White Night in Bled: http://www.bled.si/en/events/2014/07/05/1582-White-night-2014

© AdeleinSlovenia 2014