Spring in the Karavanke Mountains

After all the excesses of the Radovljica Chocolate Festival, last week was all about my other great love – Slovenia’s great outdoors!

Spring has arrived in the Karavanke mountains and, particularly on the south facing slopes, the snow is melting at a pace, or rather ‘was’. When I started writing this blog last week, it certainly was ‘Spring in the Karavanke Mountains’. Now, however, looking out of my window at the fresh snow, and digging out my gloves and warm clothes again, it feels anything but spring-like! Nevertheless, the blog below remains ‘as was’ and hopefully spring-proper will return very soon.

It is, however, a different matter on the north facing slopes of the Karavanke, so it’s still a bit too soon in the season for any serious hiking above 1,500 metres, and it’s an entirely different matter in the Julian Alps, where there is still a significant amount of snow, even at lower levels.

It’s still a little nippy early morning, especially for cycling, but wrapped up well I cycled from Radovljica to the Završnica reservoir then headed on foot to Smolnik (1002m). What I particularly like about Smolnik is that despite it being near the Valvasor mountain hut (Valvasorjev dom) – a very popular destination for hikers, Smolnik itself is relatively unknown as the path is not marked, thus only those ‘in the know’ frequent it – until now perhaps!!!


Though I also often hike up to the Valvasor hut at this time of year, what sets Smolnik apart is the view, since the views from the hut are rather restricted. The path up through the forest is very steep, so I consider a pair of hiking poles a must – though there is an option to approach it from the opposite direction, via the road that leads to the Ajdna archeological site, which is a far less steep option. In places it little more than a mass of tangled tree routes, however, the path is clear and easy to follow.


On reaching the top of Smolnik there are wonderful views across the valley and towards Bled Lake, a great reward for my effort.


There is a bench for resting weary limbs if required, with Stol, the highest peak in the Karavanke range, dominating the backdrop, and looking very ‘moody’ on this occasion.


From the peak of Smolnik it’s easy to reach the Valvasor mountain hut, from where you can continue to one of the mountain highlands as I did – in this case the Žirovniška planina highland, for marvellous views of the snow-capped Julian Alps, or continue towards Ajdna, which is well worth a visit. You can read more about that in a previous blog here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/2014/01/13/fascinating-ajdna/


It’s just the start of the season, so plenty of this, and more, to come!

© Adele in Slovenia 2016

The Health, Wealth and Wonders of Slovenian Waters

Water! Something many, or rather most, of us probably take forgranted. We turn on the tap and there it is. We bathe in it, swim in it, gaze in wonder at its magnificence in the form of waterfalls, lakes and rivers, and enjoy recreation in, and on, it.

In Slovenia we are very lucky to live in such a water-rich country where there is such a pure and readily available source of drinking water. The most well-known bodies of water in Slovenia are the two biggest Alpine lakes in Bled and Bohinj, whilst health spa tourism is another major element. Slovenia is one of the richest countries in Europe in terms of water. It has almost 27,000 kilometres of rivers, streams and other watercourses. It also has numerous thermal and mineral springs and many subterranean waters.

In this blog I’ve provided some suggestions on how, and where, to experience Slovenian waters.


Just turn on the tap! It’s a simple as that! Tap water in Slovenia, unless marked to the contrary, is safe and drinkable.

In addition, there are bottled Slovenian waters with proven added benefits, that are widely available such as Radenska mineral water – naturally carbonated and still natural mineral water, and Donat Mg mineral water – with over 1000mg of magnesium per litre.


You can also drink water direct from springs in other locations, such as this one in Jezersko, the Jezerska slatina spring, reputed to have one of the highest magnesium contents of all mineral waters in Slovenia. It’s freely available so take a water bottle and try it for yourself!



Indoors or outdoors, take your pick!

You could brave it in one of the crystal-clear lakes or rivers, or instead choose one of the many indoor pools at Slovenia’s thermal spas, many of which are fed directly by thermal waters, such as at Dolenjske Toplice. More here – https://spasinslovenia.com/2016/03/29/dolenjske-toplice-wellbeing-in-the-embrace-of-nature/



At each of Slovenia’s 14 state-verified thermal spas the water has been proven to have beneficial and curative effects on the body.

After the sluggish days of winter which, for me and probably countless others, involve eating comfort food and too many hours spent cooped up indoors, spring is time for rejuvenation of both body and mind, it can also be the time to address any niggling health issues. A visit to one of Slovenia’s spas is a great way to kick-start the process, be it for pampering, relaxation, a wellness or medical programme, or just a break away and a chance to explore some of the wonderful countryside surrounding the spas.

Balneotherapy is a natural approach for the treatment of diseases or illness through the use of water. Balneotherapy treatments are available at all of the state-verified thermal spas and, even if you don’t book any actual course of treatment, you can still reap the benefits of the water by drinking it direct from the spas’ springs. This one below is at the Thermana Laško spa. More here – https://spasinslovenia.com/2016/04/11/i-love-lasko/



Slovenia is blessed with a remarkable amount of waterfalls, lakes, rivers, and other watercourses.

Among the favourite well-known waterfalls there are those such as Savica, Kozjak and Boka. However, I prefer to seek out some of the lesser-known ones, such as this one, the Grmecica waterfall, located near Nomenj, off the road from Bled to Bohinj.


And without doubt my favourite lake is the mesmerising Bohinj Lake, even if the water is damn cold!

Bohinjsko jezero 2. Avgust 2011 006


This spot at the entrance to the Radovna valley is a paradise for fishermen, and the 16km, largely traffic-free, cycle route through the valley is also one of my favourite places to cycle.



Since there is so much to write about Slovenia’s spas, I have now created a new blog entirely dedicated to the subject – ‘Spas in Slovenia’. I hope you will join me on my journey of discovery of each of the spas. You can read the blog here – http://spasinslovenia.com/

You can also read more here – http://www.slovenia.info/en/Healthy-touch-of-the-Slovenian-waters.htm?zdravilni_dotik_slovenskih_voda=0&lng=2

© AdeleinSlovenia 2016






The 5th Radovjlica Chocolate Festival – a New Guinness World Record!

Regular readers of my blog will know that I usually always post new blogs on Mondays. However, in a break with tradition, I’m posting today with BREAKING NEWS – and for two reasons.

First, I can’t contain my excitement that today, at 5pm today, it became official that a new Guinness World Record was set at the 5th Radovljica Chocolate Festival for the World’s Largest Chocolate Bar by Area.


The chocolate bar was made by the Cukrček chocolatier and measured over 140 square metres, smashing the previous record of 102 square metres. It took over 300 hours to piece together the 28,000 pieces of chocolate.

After his speech, Slovenia’s Prime Minister, Miro Cerar,  became the first person to get a taste of the record-breaking chocolate bar. Visitors to the festival this weekend can try it too, through the purchase of tasting coupons.

The second reason for my early blog posting is that, since the festival has only just begun, there’s still plenty of time for anyone wavering as to whether or not to visit this weekend.


There’s chocolate of every size, shape, and taste imaginable.


Over 50,000 people visited last year’s festival; this year looks set to be a whole lot more. That means there are an awful lot of chocolate lovers out there – I’m not alone!

This year you can come and sit on the chocolate throne and be the King (or Queen) of Chocolate too!


Visit Lectar Inn to see, and taste, the incredibly cute chocolate gingerbread men.


There is a jam-packed, or should I say chocolate-packed, programme of events and entertainment taking place all weekend. Here are just some of the highlights still to come:

  • Watch the process of chocolate being made at the chocolate factory
  • Try a mini-planica ski jump (sorry, children only!)
  • Join a cookery workshop and make your own cup-cake
  • Listen to concerts, watch dance shows, stilt walkers, puppet shows and circus entertainers
  • Watch some of Slovenia’s top chefs creating chocolate-based dishes
  • Go to Kunstelj Inn’s Garden Party for cocktails, burgers and more

Find the whole festival programme here – http://www.festival-cokolade.si/en/programme/

© AdeleinSlovenia 2016

Vurnikov Trg – Radovljica’s New Square Comes to Life!

Anyone who has visited, or passed through, Radovljica in the past few years, can’t have failed to have noticed the large building site that has lain dormant for some time. Over the past few years the site had earned itself the unfortunate nickname by some locals as ‘the concrete jungle’.

Now, the new square it is finally nearing completion with all the residential/retail/office units complete, and just the one unfortunate blot on the landscape remaining – the concrete shell which is to be Radovljica’s new library, if the long-running saga of financing its completion ever gets resolved. Eventually, it will hopefully become the semi-green oasis envisaged in the plans below!


Next weekend Radovljica’s new square, Vurnikov Trg (Vurnik Square), will serve its first purpose as the hosting area for the attempt at the Guinness World Record for the Largest Chocolate Bar, as part of the Radovljica Chocolate Festival, taking place from 15 – 17 April. The map below shows all the festival locations.


The official measuring and announcement of the record is due to begin at 4.30pm on Friday 15th April.

Vurnikov Trg is named after the Slovene architect Ivan Vurnik (1884-1971), who was born in Radovljica. Vurnik helped found the Ljubljana School of Architecture and, together with his wife, Helena Kottler Vurnik, they went on to design many notable buildings in Slovenia, as well as further afield.

Radovljica’s swimming pool was built in 1932 and is considered one of Vurnik’s most notable projects. The most distinguishing feature, at its time considered a daring feat of engineering and architecture, was the high diving platform. It was demolished in 1966 but Radovljica’s Olympic-size swimming pool lives on today, in the same location, though in a somewhat more modern form.

Kopalisce Radovljica 1932

The Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Brezje, built in the period from 1965 – 1967, is today the most renowned pilgrimage centre in Slovenia. In 1988 it was elevated to the status of basilica by Pope John Paul II. More here – http://www.radolca.si/en/brezje/

Brezje 1965-1967

The Zadružna Gospodarska Banka (Co-operative Business Bank) building in Ljubljana is one of the city’s most famous buildings. It was built in 1921. Ivan Vurnik designed it whilst his wife painted the interior wall paintings and frescoes. More here – http://www.visitljubljana.com/en/activities/sightseeing/1771/poidetail.html

Zadruzna gospodarska banka Lju 1922

The Bishop’s Chapel in Trieste was designed by Vurnik in 1913 for Bishop Dr. Andrej Karlin. It is considered one of Vurnik’s finest works and one of the best examples of Secessionist sacral art. This was Vurnik’s first work, completed in collaboration with his wife.

Skofovska kapela Trst

The above photos, by Miran Kambič, show just a selection of Vurnik’s work. More detailed information is available from the Slovene Centre for Architecture, that has also produced a range of products, which make ideal gifts, based on Vurnik’s designs. The items are available at selected tourist offices, museums and bookshops, amongst them at the Radovljica Tourist Office. More information here – http://www.centerarhitekture.org/darilo-slovenske-arhitekture/

darilo slovenske arhitekture Vurnik center arhitekture 2014

© AdeleinSlovenia 2016

The Bohinj Wild Flower Festival – A Jubilee Year

The annual Bohinj International Wild Flower Festival will take place from 21st May to 5th June and this year, the 10th successive year, marks a jubilee. The first festival was held in 2007 and since then it has been growing (pun intended!) in popularity, and gaining ever more recognition, by the year.

The main theme of the festival is the presentation of alpine flowers in the waters, meadows, hills and mountains of the areas surrounding Bohinj Lake, part of Triglav National Park.

During the festival a variety of events take place including guided walks and hikes, workshops, local craft and farmers markets, exhibitions, excursions, concerts and culinary evenings.

There are also activities for the whole family including a ‘Weekend for Families and Children’ which includes flower-related events as well as participation in water sports and other outdoor activities.

Childrens Wknd Bohinj flower festival

You can get really hands-on at many of the workshops, first picking the flowers, then preparing them for various uses.

flower festival workshop

Culinary evenings take place at selected local restaurants, such as at the restaurant at Camp Danica in Bohinjska Bistrica, seen below, where you can enjoy local delicacies, such as trout, paired with edible wild flowers.

culinary evening danica

There are around 70 known types of flower which are endemic to Slovenia, and/or the immediate surroundings. A walk among them is a botanist’s dream. Theses species include:

Zois’ bellflower – endemic to Slovenia, Austria and Northern Italy and most prevalent in the Julian and Kamnik-Savinja Alps (shown below)


Triglav Hawksbeard – discovered by one of the first four men to climb Triglav in 1778. It was found near where the Planika mountain hut now stands. It is very rare and is on the list of threatened species. So rare, I haven’t yet found it to photograph myself!

European False Stitchwort – first discovered near Ljubljana Castle in 1762 by the Carinthian botanist Jesuit Franc Ksaver Wolfen. It belongs to the Pink family, to which carnations also belong.

Trenta Scabious – discovered over 200 years ago in Idrija by a physician. The original finding is preserved in Slovenia’s Natural History Museum.


Depending on the weather – late snowfall can sometimes mean the season begins later – you can expect to find wildflowers in the meadows and highlands from the end of May through to late summer.

If you are interested in wild flowers, and/or considering a visit, here’s a sneak peek of what you can expect to see, those that I have been lucky enough to encounter on my hikes within Triglav National Park.

  • Here I am on a hike in the highlands above Bohinj Lake; from Planina Krstenica towards Ogradi.

Bohinjske planine 27. Julij 2011 007

  • Surrounded by wonderful wild flowers during a summer walk to the Seven Triglav Lakes valley. One can almost feel as if in a botanical garden, whilst completely at one with nature.

Sedmera jezera Julij 2010 009

Here are a few of my close-up snaps.

  • Alpine carnation (Alpski nagelj) – also known as Alpine Pink


  • Carniolan lily (Kranjska lilija) – Not entirely endemic to Slovenia, since it can also be found in areas from north-east Italy to Bosnia, however, it is most common in Slovenia.


  • Yellow Gentian (Košutnik) – native to the mountains of central and southern Europe


  • Edelweiss (Planika) – this one probably doesn’t need any explanation as it’s widely known, but I had to include it as it’s such a special one, and also because we have a mountain hut named after it, which sits just beneath our highest mountain, Triglav.

Komna 14 Julij 2012 004

You can read more about the festival and find the whole of this year’s programme here – http://www.bohinj.si/alpskocvetje/eng/index.php

© AdeleinSlovenia 2016


Let the Train Take the (Chocolate) Strain!

As anyone who has been to any of the previous Chocolate Festivals in Radovljica will know, the event is VERY popular and becoming more so every year. And, if you haven’t yet been, then it’s time to come and see what all the fuss is about!

So, this year, why not visit the Chocolate Festival by train, eliminating the stress of trying to find somewhere to park, and also the ‘chocolate fun‘ will begin from the moment you step onto the train.

A special heritage train will operate on Sunday 17th April, leaving Ljubljana at 10.45, arriving in Radovljica at 12.04. On board the train there will be entertainment, and, of course, chocolate!


The return train leaves Radovljica at 15.47, arriving in Ljubljana at 17.11. So, that means more than 3-and-a-half-hours of chocolate indulgence in Radovljica!

Luckily for me I live in Radovljica so I only have a 5 minute walk to be in chocolate heaven, however, I’m quite tempted to take the train, just for the experience!

Poster image 2

There are also a number of additional bargains and offers at the festival for those who arrive by train, including:

  • Chocolate from the Guinness World Record chocolate bar for just 4 coupons – instead of the usual 5
  • Kunstelj cake pops (seen below) for 2 coupons each – instead of the usual 3
  • 10% discount on the purchase of bottled wine at the Sodček wine bar – located at the entrance to the old town centre
  • Free guided tour of the Lectar Gingerbread Workshop
  • Reduced-price entrance to the Museum of Apiculture and the Municipal museum – payment with coupons


More information about the special train (it seems, currently only in Slovene!) here – http://www.slo-zeleznice.si/sl/potniki/izleti-in-prireditve/z-muzejskim-vlakom-na-festival-cokolade-v-radovljico and about the festival (in English) here – http://www.radolca.si/en/what-to-do/events-1/chocolate-festival/83/309/

Of course, taking the train isn’t just possible during the time of the festival, but all-year round you can visit Radovljica by train. The railway station is located just metres from the historic old town centre and the journey from Ljubljana, which takes just under an hour, offers great views and a relaxing way to travel. More information here (this time also in English!) – http://www.slo-zeleznice.si/en/

© AdeleinSlovenia 2016