Winter Hikes and Spikes in Radol’ca!

At last, I’ve found time to sit down and write my first blog of the year 2022! It’s been a funny old winter so far. First a lot of early snow in December, followed by a very cold spell, then an unseasonably mild spell, followed by rain, a bit more snow and now another really cold spell, albeit now at least with beautiful blue skies and sunshine.

Although I’ve never been a fan of the cold and snow, I’m also not one to sit indoors, regardless of the weather (and my ongoing health woes). So, here are a few ideas for winter hikes in the Radol’ca, oh, and read on to find out about the ‘spikes’ (as mentioned in the title) too!

One of our favourite hikes at this time of the year is to Smokuški vrh above the village of Begunje na Gorenjskem. Since we like doing circular routes and prefer to leave the car in the garage, when we have time we often set off on foot from Radovljica to Begunje (cca. 50 minutes), where we take the path that begins near the post office and leads steeply up to St. Peter’s church (cca. 30mins).

From the church, we carry on up to Smokuški vrh on the ridge, which is a great vantage point.

We then walk along the ridge, with stunning views of the Julian Alps and Slovenia’s highest mountain – Triglav – before descending towards the village of Rodine and back through Hraše and Lesce to Radovljica.

Now onto the ‘spikes’ I mentioned above…As also mentioned above, it’s been a mixed bag this winter, which means that although some places at lower altitudes are now almost snow-free (up to around 800metres above sea-level), in the forest, particularly in areas that don’t get any/much sun and paths that are well used, the paths are really icy in places, hence ‘spikes’ i.e. mini crampons, are a ‘must’ in my rucksack wherever I go.

So, if you are planning any hikes in winter, I’d advise you bring (or buy while you are here) a pair of these mini crampons – you can pick them up for around €30, they are very lightweight and quick and easy to put on. Note, however, that these crampons are NOT suitable for more strenuous and higher mountain tours, for which semi-automatic crampons are a must at this time of the year.

And what’s more, the ones I’m ‘modelling’ below, are even made here in the municipality of Radovljica – at the Veriga factory in Lesce, where you can buy them direct of pick them up in sports shops.

My other favourite places to hike in the Radovljica area in winter include the Goška ravan mountain pasture and hut on the Jelovica plateau

The Roblekov dom mountain hut, above the Draga valley on the slopes of Mt. Begunščica

And the Vodiška planina mountain pasture and Partisanski dom mountain hut above Kropa.

You can find out about all these hikes and more about winter in Radovljica, visit the Visit Radol’ca website. Happy and, of course, safe hiking!

© Adele in Slovenia

 

A Fairly Festive Festive Season in Radol’ca!

Yes, it’s that time of year again – for some it’s a joyful time to be spent with families, for young children it’s the highlight of the year waiting for Santa to come down the chimney, for others religion is at the forefront, while there are those that are (already) sick of hearing Christmas music blaring out in shops, endless Christmas adverts on TV and seeing Christmas food and presents in the shops since September!

Wherever you fall among the aforementioned, no doubt after last year’s very muted festive season, you have been looking forward to this year’s celebrations more than usual.

I am, thus, the bearer of both good and bad news. The good news is that Radovljica is looking as fairytale-like as ever, and, unlike last year, there will be some festive events taking place here and elsewhere in Slovenia, while the bad news is that celebrations will still be somewhat muted as there are still some restrictions in place. Nevertheless, after what we’ve all been through, let’s try to just focus on the positives, i.e. on what we CAN see, do and experience rather than what we can’t!

Here in Radovljica one can take delight in simple things such as a evening stroll through Radovljica’s old town centre, where you can marvel at the lights and soak up the atmosphere, stop off for a drink and/or a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants/bars throughout the town.

Kids – big and small – will like visiting the fairy’s grotto, complete with a carriage.

You can also visit one of the Christmas markets and watch street performances – all run, of course, in accordance with the COVID-related restrictions. Providing no additional measures are imposed in the next week or so, below is the timetable of  festive events in the old town centre of Radovljica, note – at present food and drink cannot be sold at Christmas markets due the current restrictions:

  • 19th December: Christmas ARTish fair from 11am to 7pm in Radovljica Manor
  • 22nd December: Christmas market and children’s creative workshop from 4pm to 7pm in Radovljica Manor
  • 23rd December: Christmas market and children’s creative workshop from 4pm to 7pm in Linhart Square and the square in front of the church
  • 25th December: Ana Snežna street performance with Jakob Bergant at 5pm in Linhart Square and the square in front of the church
  • 26th December: Street performance with Čupakabra and Sodrga at 5pm, Linhart Square and the square in front of the church
  • 27th December: Christmas market from 4pm to 7pm, Linhart Square and the square in front of the church
  • 2th December: Christmas market from 4pm to 7pm, Linhart Square and the square in front of the church, and Ana Snežna street performance with Matteo Galbusera (Italy) at 5pm in Linhart Square and the square in front of the church
  • 29th December: Christmas market from 4pm to 7pm, Reindeers’ Circus with the Cizamo Theatre at 5pm, Linhart Square and the square in front of the church

Click here to read more about December in Radovljica.

And as Radovljica, like much of Slovenia, isn’t that far from anywhere, you can also make day trips to see the festive lights in other towns and cities such as Ljubljana, Kranj, Koper, Celje and Maribor.

Oh and by the way, most of the pictures above were taken prior to last week’s heavy snowfall, Radovljica now looks more like this!

And the Vodiška planina mountain pasture on the Jelovica plateau looks like this (taken yesterday!).

So, if you are a fan of the white stuff – snow that is – (which regular readers know I certainly am not!) there’s certainly no shortage of it here. In the high mountains there is already 2 metres in places and 1 metre at altitudes of around 1,000m, while her in the valley we had, or rather still have, around 30-40 centimetres, though I do have to admit it does help to add to the festive feeling, but I just wish we could wake up after Christmas to find it has all gone!!!

Here’s hoping 2022 will finally see the back of coronavirus and I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very Happy and Healthy New Year.

© Adele in Slovenia

 

Radol’ca Chocolate – Radovljica Just Got Even ‘Sweeter’!

Radovljica is even richer, and sweeter, thanks to a great new addition – the new Radol’ca Chocolate boutique chocolate shop!

But calling it just a ‘shop’ is doing it an injustice, since it’s so much more.

All the chocolates are handmade on site at this new family-run venture, which is the brainchild of the former director of the Radovljica Tourist Board, Nataša Mikelj, who, together with her husband and eldest daughter, have set up and opened a new chapter in their lives and that of Radovljica.

Since having introduced the very popular and successful Radovljica Chocolate Festival to the town’s annual events calendar several years ago, Nataša’s interest was sparked in where chocolate comes from, how it’s made, flavour combinations, etc.

For several years she had tried to find someone who would be interested in opening a chocolate shop in Radovljica, but there was little interest. It was during lockdown that Nataša had time to think long and hard about her life, career and future and had a lightbulb moment when she realised what her new calling could be in life – chocolate!

And the result of many months of research, hard graft and learning the tools and tricks of the trade is certainly paying off, since passing trade is brisk and orders are already pouring in for Christmas gifts, business gifts, etc.

The shop is located at the entrance to Radovljica’s old town centre. Inside you can get up close to watch the chocolates being made…

…learn about the ingredients…

… talk to the family…

…and try a sample before you buy!

It’s a tough place to be for a chocoholic like me!

In future, workshops, tasting sessions and other events are planned too.

A chocolate weekend is due to be held (providing further COVID restrictions aren’t introduced by then) on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th December. Click here to read more.

So, now you can take a piece of Radovljica (chocolate!) home as a treat for yourself or your loved ones – or both!

© Adele in Slovenia

 

Autumn Colours and Tastes of Radol’ca

Radol’ca, like much of the rest of Slovenia, is awash with stunning autumn colours at the moment, so if you get the chance, now is the time to visit and take a drive through the Gorenjska countryside.

This week and next will be the peak of the autumnal colours, as the leaves are dropping at a rate of knots now, so don’t miss out on this short-lived annual spectacular. Autumn is a time of mixed emotions for me; I love it because of the colours and still (usually!) relatively warm weather, but at the same time know that it means winter is on the way!

In addition to stunning colours, autumn is a time of seasonal tastes, and the annual Taste Radol’ca month of local menus, which takes place every November, is another good reason to visit. This Friday 29th October the opening event of this year’s Taste Radol’ca takes place at Vila Podvin in Mošnje, near Radovljica. It begins in the afternoon with a farmers’ market featuring local suppliers and tastings, whilst in the evening the opening dinner will be prepared by Taste Radol’ca chefs and served by waiting staff from all the nine participating restaurants.

The farmers’ market, which will run from 5pm to 7pm, is open to everyone – the more the merrier (though note that you must meet, and be able to prove, that you meet one of the RVT conditions (recovered, vaccinated, tested) – while the five-course opening dinner is a ticket-only event. Contact the Radovljica Tourist Information Centre to enquire about purchasing tickets and to find out more information about what to see and do in autumn in the Radol’ca area.

After the opening event, and right up until the end of November, you will be able to try one (or more!) of the specially prepared menus featuring local ingredients prepared by the talented Taste Radol’ca chefs at: Vila Podvin, Draga Inn, Lectar Inn, Kunstelj Inn, Gostišče Tulipan, Gostilna Avguštin, Gostilna Pr’ Tavčar, Restavracija Center and Restavracija Tabor.

On a side note, albeit still on the same theme, if you haven’t yet got round to visiting Vila Podvin – awarded a Michelin Star in both 2020 and 2021 – you might want to hot foot it there before the end of November (again, don’t forget RVT), when its eight-year chapter of exceptional success draws to a close.

But all is not lost, as one book closes and opens, as the entire Vila Podvin team will be moving to Hotel and Restaurant Linhart in Linhart Square, the heart of the old town of Radovljica, which Uroš and his business partner, Marcela, bought at the start of 2020 as a result of their offer being rejected to purchase the building in which Vila Podvin operated. The hotel, like many other places in Radovljica (Linhart Hall, Linhart Square…) is named after the well-known 18-century Slovenian playwright Anton Tomaž Linhart who lived in the neighbouring house.

So, now is the time to visit AND taste Radol’ca! Hope to see you there, or rather here, soon!

© Adele in Slovenia

Kamnek – A Top Tržič Trail!

If you are looking for a short, yet incredibly scenic, hike in the Tržič area, then Kamnek is the choice for you!

The trail starts right in the old town centre, near St. Andrew’s church and the pizzeria, from where you already get your first glimpse down over the town and its red roofs towards the lush mountains that form its backdrop.

There are numerous trails that lead up to Kamnek, some of which are marked with the usual red and white circle, while others aren’t. So, in true ‘All roads lead to Rome’ fashion, just pick one and start hiking and you’ll reach the top, even though, like us, it might take slightly longer than the advertised 45 minutes.

Let’s just say we took the ‘scenic route’, in the most literal sense of the word, but, in fact, for me it was the better choice, since my ongoing vestibular problem means that steep paths with cables and drops either side are not an option for me right now. For those of you who enjoy such challenges, Kamnek caters for you too, so just take the path directly upwards, steeply and slightly to the right, rather than taking any of the paths off to the side.

You gain height quickly, and the views begin even before reaching the top.

Though a modest 873 metres in height, one feels much higher when you emerge out of the forest at the top of Kamnek, and the views are certainly worthy of much higher summits, which makes it all the more rewarding.

There is a bench where you can sit and soak up the views of the old town to one side, and mighty Mt. Storžič to the other.

If you want to extend your hike a little further, you could continue to the top of Pirman, though, to be honest, the views from Kamnek are so great, you’re probably better off lingering there, as Pirman is rather overgrown.

As previously mentioned, there are numerous trails so you can take a different one down and make a circular route, or just return the same way.

So, if you love hiking and fab scenery, be sure to add Kamnek to your list of places to visit in the Tržič area – you won’t regret it!

Click here for more information about this and other hiking trails in the Tržič area.

© Adele in Slovenia

Cycling in Tržič – Quiet Country Lanes or Mountain Bike Trails, Take Your Pick!

Though a bit cooler, early autumn can be a great time to go cycling in the Gorenjska area, as the majority of tourists have gone home, hence the roads are quieter, and the landscape is still lush and green, with just a hint of the beginnings of autumn.

There are cycle routes in the Tržič area to suit all levels and desires, from gentle family-friendly rides along country lanes to more demanding road bike tours, and from mountain bike tours along mountain pastures to more adrenaline-fueled descents.

If you don’t have your own bike, you can either hire one locally, for example at the Tržič Tourist Information Centre, or you can make use of the Gorenjska Bike bike sharing scheme, that has both regular and e-bikes.

The cycle routes are generally well marked, though there is the odd crossroads where one (well I!) might dither over which way to go, so it’s a good idea to pick up a copy of the map of all the major cycle routes in the area at the tourist information centre, and GPX tracks of all the routes are also available to download.

A good route to start with to get a feel for the area is the Udin Boršt trail, which skirts around, and also in a short section through, the Udin Boršt woods. The 26 kilometre circular and relatively flat route starts and ends at the Tržič Tourist Information Centre, from where, after just a short ride, you are soon off the main road and cycling along tracks and country lanes.

This ride through the countryside beneath Kriška gora and Storžič leads through villages, past churches, shrines and farms…

…and to hidden places you – well certainly I – didn’t even know existed!

If your water bottle is empty, then you can stop at the spring in Strahinj to refill it, before continuing your ride. The tarmac road soon becomes a track, which you follow towards Tenetiše, before joining the main road.

Fortunately, its only a short ride on the main road until you turn off to the left again, this time towards Letenice, and back to more pleasant country lanes.

You soon reach the second of the three bells that makes up the Three Bells Trail, which I wrote about in a previous blog here.

So, now’s the time to get active and discover more of Tržič – this time on 2 wheels!

© Adele in Slovenia

Living Together. About Bees and Mankind

These days I mostly make my living from translating – from Slovenian into English – which, like every job, has its ups and downs. The pluses, among others, are that I’m my own boss, I work from home and can set my own working hours (to some extent), while the minuses, among others, is that often clients have very short (and unrealistic!) deadlines! And that, too, was the case when I began to work on the translation of a new book on beekeeping, however, in this case it transpired that the interesting content and efforts of all those involved made it all worthwhile.

And so, the book titled ‘Living Together. About Bees and Mankind‘ has now been published, and herewith a brief story of its creation, the author behind it, and its importance.

Petra Bole, the director of Radovljica Municipal Museums, which include the Museum of Apiculture, is the brains behind the book, which was published to coincide with the newly renovated museum and as a protocol gift on the occasion of Slovenia’s Presidency of the Council of the EU in 2021.

The 300 page book contains stunning photos and covers beekeeping-related topics such as art, bees and the past, bees and mankind, and nature.

On the occasion of its publication, Petra invited us – the team behind the book (from left to right: Barbara Bogataj – designer; me(!) – translator; Ivan Esenko – photographer; Petra Bole – author; Mihaela Pichler Radanov – editor) to a little gathering in the garden of the Šivec House Gallery to celebrate.

It is, of course, fitting that such a book has been written here in Radovljica – home to the Museum of Apiculture with its brand new exhibition, the Beekeeping Education Centre of Gorenjska, and numerous beekeepers and their colourful apiaries, and the Follow a ‘Bee’ Through Radovljica Family Adventure – and by a local resident, who, since becoming director of Radovljica Municipal Museums, has also taken up beekeeping herself!

No photo description available.

The Museum of Apiculture is housed in the magnificent Radovljica Manor in the old town centre of Radovljica.

Find out more about beekeeping in the Radovljica area here, and, if you are planning a visit to the Radovljica area this autumn, be(e) sure to do, or see, something bee-related, and in doing so play your part in recognising the importance of, and helping to preserve, our precious bees!

© Adele in Slovenia

Pastures Galore Beneath Košuta – Slovenia’s Longest Mountain

I believe that every visitor to Slovenia who wants to get a real sense of the country, rather than just visiting the usual tourist attractions, should visit at least one of the numerous mountain pastures, where you can enjoy some simple, hearty, homemade food, enjoy the peace and views, and soak up the atmosphere of pasture life.

And there’s no better place to do so than on the mountain pastures beneath Košuta – Slovenia’s longest mountain – above Tržič, particularly as they are easily accessible even for those who don’t enjoy, or are unable to take part in, long hikes. The options are almost limitless; you can opt to go on a full day walk from the valley, or drive part of the way for easier access, you can just walk from pasture to pasture, or you can tackle one of the peaks along the length of Košuta, or even stay the night so you can see and do even more!

Having previously blogged about our overnight stay at the Scouts’ Hut on the Šija mountain pasture and hike to Kladivo, this time we picked up the walk where we left off – at the Pungrat mountain pasture – from where we walked to the Dolga njiva alpine dairy farm.

Since we wanted to do a partly circular walk, we started at the Zali potok hidroelectric station and took the unmarked path. However, it is a little difficult to find the trail in a few places, so for first timers and those wanting a longer walk, I would recommend instead starting your walk from Medvodje, which is reached by driving through Tržič then past the Dovžan gorge (it’s well worth stopping for a walk through the gorge) to Jelendol and onwards on the forest road.

Alternatively, you can drive, or even cycle, further up the mountain road and park just 20 minutes from the Dolga njiva alpine dairy farm, which is a particularly favourable option for families with young children, and/or those wanting to hike further and higher.

It was one of those summer days that was forecast to be sunny, but the clouds were very persistent and didn’t lift until well into late afternoon, but the scenery, and the four-legged friends, made up for the lack of sun.

On reaching Dolga njiva, you can try some really typical mountain food, such as masovnik – a hearty mixture of flour and sour cream. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to try it (coeliac disease and wheat flour = a big NO!), so I asked one of the hikers if I could take a photo of her food before she tucked in!

Buckwheat topped with pork crackling is another popular dish, often served with sour milk.

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Kids will love the mini farm with its curious cows, snoring pigs, donkeys, turkeys and geese.

You can then set off for a circular walk on the Eagle Trail (Orlov pot), where you can see golden eagle nesting sites, the source of the Košutnik stream, and the flora and fauna of the area, while opposite the dairy farm you can see a chest used by allies to drop supplies to the pasture in World War II in the occupied area of the German Reich.

Dolga njiva is also an excellent starting point for hikes onwards to other mountain pastures or upwards to reach the highest point of the municipality of Tržič – Košutnikov turn.

If you want to stay longer you can stay over and sleep in a hay loft then next morning, after a hearty breakfast, head off to explore more of the pastures beneath Slovenia’s longest mountain – all 10 kilometres of it!

© Adele in Slovenia

Forest Nature Trails in Radovljica

On what was – if I remember correctly – my second visit to Radovljica back in 2006, prior to moving here in 2007, I called in at the Radovljica Tourist Information Centre to enquire about where I could go for a walk without needing a car.

I was given a map of the area and directed to the Forest Nature Trail and/or the Lipnica Castle Trail. I’ve written about the latter previously, however, it wasn’t until I recently read in the local paper that the former has now been equipped with new signage, that I realised that I have never actually written a blog about it. So, now is the time to right that wrong!

Do like me and pop into the Tourist Info Centre to pick up a map, then, if you have a car, you can drive to the start, or, like me, cycle there!

There is an information board at the start (unfortunately it’s only in Slovene), and from there just follow the trail through the forest. You can’t (really) go wrong!

The trail is equipped with signs showing the species of tree (in both Slovene and Latin) as well as signs with footprints showing the way.

It first leads through the forest on a terrace above the Sava river

…before descending to a beautiful, tranquil, forested part of Radovljica, which makes you feel like you are a million miles away from civilisation. There is a tree trunk showing the rings of wood and significant national and international events that occurred based on the presumed age of the tree.

In one of the quieter areas, away from the road, we even spotted deer in the forest in broad daylight when we were there last week, though you’ll have to trust me on that since I wasn’t quick enough with my camera to catch them!

This is just one of numerous nature trails, theme trails and hiking paths in the Radovljica area.

Additionally, if you are in the area from now until the end of August, why not try the Hop On and Discover tourist bus – a reincarnation of the Hop-On Hop-On tourist bus – which connects interesting sites and attractions in the municipalities of Radovljica, Tržič and Jesenice, thus giving you a chance to see, and do, even more!

© Adele in Slovenia

Kamna Gorica…from above and below!

The Zijavka (505m) viewpoint above the village of Kamna Gorica in the Lipnica valley is an ideal destination for an easy family walk (and for any unfortunate souls like me who are plagued by balance, or similar, problems, and can’t hike up to lofty heights!).

If you are arriving by car, then park your car at, or near, the sports ground in Kamna Gorica, then cross the main road towards the shrine.

Continue ahead past the Pr’ Matic glamping cabins – declared an official ‘stress-free’ zone!

Then past some cute, friendly sheep – though I can’t guarantee they will be there (or that they will be so friendly!) at the time of your visit!

After cca. 150 metres you reach a junction of paths, where there is an information board showing the various onward routes.

For the best views, take the path to Zijalka, which leads up to the right through the forest. After just a few hundred metres you reach a junction of paths, where you can make a quick diversion to see an interesting rock formation (photo opportunity!), before returning to the junction and taking the path straight ahead.

Continue on the path, which gently ascends through the forest. You don’t really need hiking poles for this walk, as it’s easy and short, however, my current lack of balance (read my previous blog post here to find out more) means they are (almost literally!) a lifesaver for me right now.

After about 15 minutes you reach the Zijalka viewpoint, from where there are magnificent views over the village of Kamna Gorica with the Jelovica plateau in the background.

 

You can see the Church of the Holy Trinity, the Sextons’ Museum House (the building to the left of the church), the linden tree in the centre of the village, and the houses in this former iron forging village. And, after having seen them from above, why not head back down for a stroll through the village to check out what they look like up close!

To end, just a brief update on the COVID situation here. The tourist season is in full swing, with the majority of camps and other accommodation facilities in the area full, or almost full (mostly with people driving here from other parts of Europe). There are, however, still some restrictions in place, primarily the ‘tested/recovered/vaccinated’ requirement to enter Slovenia, and masks are still required in some enclosed places. Virus numbers are beginning to creep up again, however, so do ensure you check ahead of your visit if anything has changed.

© Adele in Slovenia