A Feast of Flavourful Fondues at Vila Podvin

Thanks to the ever-creative team at Vila Podvin in Mošnje, now there’s no need to go all the way to the Swiss Alps to enjoy a cheese fondue! Though only recently revived, the tradition of fondues in Podvin actually dates back quite some way.

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Prior to World War II, the French Duke of Polignac lived in Podvin Castle and, according to locals, the castle’s residents used to enjoy fondues on cold winter evenings, made with cheese that they brought with them from France. Vila Podvin decided to revive the tradition this winter, initially just for the month of February, but it’s been such a hit, that you will now be able to enjoy a fondue up until the end of April!

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When creating and testing fondue recipes, Uroš Štefelin, co-owner of Vila Podvin and one of Slovenia’s top chefs, was keen to ensure that rather than using imported cheese, he uses the excellent-quality cheese that is produced here in Slovenia. And he knew just where to turn – the  award-winning Pustotnik dairy from Gorenja vas – with whom he set about blending a mixture of their cheeses to create the perfect fondue.

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You can also try and buy Pustotnik cheese at the monthly Vila Podvin Local Market, which takes place on the first Saturday morning of each month. Read more here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/2016/09/05/shop-locally-at-radovljicas-farmers-and-craft-markets/

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Each cheese fondue comes with a whole host of tasty and unusual bite-size delights to dip into the gooey cheese!

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For a change from dining alone (sigh!), I invited fellow blogger Peter, who writes a blog in German about Slovenia, to join me for dinner – especially since the fondues are designed for two. Of course, fondues are not restricted to just cheese, oh no, lucky for me Vila Podvin does a chocolate fondue too, using 60% dark chocolate and with a range of wonderfully sinful things to dip, including chocolate brownies, fresh and dried fruit, macarons …

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Another important feature of the fondues, as well as other dishes, is the recent link-up with attendees of the Radovljica Centre for Work, Training and Care (CUDV). Working together they have created unique pieces of ceramicware on which to serve up the restaurant’s tasty and creative dishes. The range of products is collectively made and sold under the name BISER, meaning ‘pearl’, and they really do make original gifts or additions to your own kitchenware.

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Find out more about Vila Podvin here – http://www.vilapodvin.si/EN/ and about Taste Radol’ca here – http://www.radolca.si/en/taste-radolca/

© Adele in Slovenia

Sorica: Super Skiing and Slovenia’s Most Beautiful Mountain Village

The well-kept village of Sorica is considered to be one of most beautiful mountain villages in Slovenia. As the tourism writer Rudolf Badjura wrote ‘It would be necessary to travel some distance around the world to see such a beautiful village.’ And even though it didn’t look its best on a slightly overcast February afternoon when I visited, when nature’s hues are still somewhat subdued after the winter slumber, one can easily imagine how glorious it must be here in the warmer months when nature is at its vibrant best.

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Sorica is known as Grohar’s village (Groharjeva vas) as it is the birthplace of one of Slovenia’s most esteemed impressionist painters, Ivan Grohar (1867-1911).

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The best way to get acquainted with the village is by walking the theme path ‘Path through Sorica’, which begins in the centre of the village between the Gostilna Macesen restaurant with rooms and Grohar’s House (Groharjeva hiša) – Ivan Grohar’s birth house.

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With views like this, it’s easy to see where Grohar got his inspiration! The 18th century Baroque parish church of St. Nicholas contains a ceiling fresco of ‘The Last Supper’ by another of Slovenia’s esteemed painters, Janez Šubic from Poljane.

Tone Logonder, the sculptor of the statue of Ivan Grohar which was placed here in 1981, received the Gorenjska Prešeren Award for his work.

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Rather than just being a museum, locals wanted Grohar’s House to once again come to life and a winning formula was found in making it into a kind of one-stop cultural centre which has become particularly popular for school field trips, and visits for private groups can also be arranged. The ground floor features a gallery.

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On the first floor you can indulge your creative side and take part in a workshop in the music room.

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And then head up to the upper floor to the artists’ workshop to have a go at creating one of your own pictures to rival that of Grohar!

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You can choose to just soak up the views of the village and its surroundings, set off on one of the many paths in the hills and mountains or, for those with a thirst for more active pursuits, head up to Soriška planina where in winter you can ski and in summer there are numerous scenic and interesting hiking trails.

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Soriska planina can be reached from several directions; from Škofja Loka via Železniki, from Bohinjska Bistrica or from Most na Soči via Baška Grapa.

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Facilities at the Soriška planina ski resort consist of a two-person chairlift, 3 drag lifts, a children’s drag lift, a snow park, a sledging track, cross-country ski trails and a restaurant.

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I had previously hiked in this area in the summer, but prior to last week had never seen it in its winter glory. Even for non-skiers like me, there’s still snowy fun to be had! Here I am at the highest point of the ski resort looking back down over the village of Sorica.

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One of the most interesting features of this area are the numerous bunkers, barracks and other fortifications remaining from the time of the Rapallo Border – a former border that existed during both world wars between Yugoslavia and Italy.

Below you can see the bunker on Lajnar, and you can also continue to others including on Možic, Slatnik and Dravh.

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Find out more about the Soriška planina ski resort here – http://www.soriska-planina.si/en/hiking/ and more about other theme paths and trails along the Rapallo Border here – http://www.visitskofjaloka.si/en/experiences/theme-paths/rappalo-border

© Adele in Slovenia

Celebrating 10 Years in Slovenia in a WILDART Style!

Yesterday marked exactly 10 years to the day since I moved to Slovenia!

On the one hand I can say that the time has flown by, though, on the other, when I look back over the past 10 years I’ve packed so much in and am proud of all that I’ve achieved. Yes, there are still, and probably will always be, a few challenges of living alone in a foreign country, but the pluses far outweigh the minuses. So I decided a celebration was in order, and arranged a get-together with some of those who I’ve met along the way and have been, and I hope will continue to be, an important part of Adele in Slovenia!

I must first thank Staša and Jože from Jansa Apartments in Radovljica, for allowing me to use their breakfast room to hold my celebration, and even gave me this heart-shaped cake too. I can thoroughly recommend their apartments and hospitality if you are considering visiting Radovljica and looking for self-catering apartments. And I’m not just saying that, I have first-hand experience of the excellently-equipped apartments, since my parents stay there every time they visit Slovenia, which, as you might imagine, is quite often!  http://apartmaji-jansa.net/

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I must also thank Mišo (ably assisted by Erik!) from Joštov Hram restaurant in Podnart, one of the participating Taste Radol’ca restaurants. Mišo is the go-to man for catering around here! Regular readers will recall that I also turned to him for my father’s surprise 70th birthday last year. They provide excellent home-cooked food for all kinds of private events, parties, weddings, celebrations etc.

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Guests were welcomed with the (almost!) obligatory Slovenian blueberry schnapps and warm home-made pogača bread topped with minced bacon and onion, then later we tucked into bograč, cold deli platters and for dessert, one of my favourites, šmorn, with Miso’s extra little touch – a trio of sauces.

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After my short speech – yes, in Slovene – we watched a short slide show of just a few of my favourite adventures from the last 10 years. Thanks Dad!

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Then it was time for the ‘surprise’ and the highlight of the evening, a performance by the winners of the 2016 Slovenia’s Got Talent. These two young lads, Timotej Willewaldt and Lenart Prek – both aged 14 and collectively WILDART, have exceptional talent and surely a very bright future ahead of them.

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You can see their amazing performance here.

Another one of the many highlights of the evening for me was being presented with a special gift from the Mayor of Radovljica in recognition of my efforts in promoting Radovljica through my blog. I was truly honoured.

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Thanks also to my neighbour and photographer Tomaž Sedej for all the photos. On this occasion I decided it would be nice for me to be able to enjoy socialising without having to worry about taking photos too, so I turned to Tomaž, safe in the knowledge that he would do a good job. His website sums it up – ‘Photography has a powerful message. It ensures that we remember the stories and the people that would otherwise be forgotten.’ Find out more here – http://www.sedejtomaz.com/

And thanks to all of those of you that came for being part of my celebration and for the wonderful array of thoughtful and imaginative gifts. Too numerous are they to show them all, but here are a few! 10 cheers for Adele says Anja!

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According to Tanja I’m now a ‘čista prava Radolčanka’!

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Jure and Denis – thanks for coming so far to be here and, amazingly, on time!!!!!!

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A book and CD of Slovene songs which I now have a duty to learn according to Marcela from Vila Podvin!

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Flowers and gifts galore! It was all a bit overwhelming.

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And these two came all the way from the UK, well, they do have a house here too, so not exactly, but ….!

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Thank you to everyone for making it such a memorable evening and here’s to many, many more years of Adele in Slovenia!

© Adele in Slovenia

Like Beekeeping? Love Radovljica!

Those interested in beekeeping should definitely make a beeline for Radovljica!

The Radovljica area has a wealth of beekeeping-related sights of interest, all within close proximity, thus making it ideal place to visit for beekeepers or those with an interest in beekeeping.

One such example is the group of 38 beekeepers from Estonia who I helped with their plans to visit Radovljica.

Whilst the main purpose of their trip was beekeeping-related activities, they also managed to find time to do some sightseeing in Ljubljana, took a traditional pletna boat to the island on Lake Bled, and visited Vintgar Gorge.

The main beekeeping day began with a visit to Kralov med in the hamlet of Selo near Bled, where owner Blaž Ambrožič told them everything, and more, that they could possibly want to know about beekeeping in Slovenia. I wrote more extensively about my visit to Kralov med in a previous blog, also about World Bee Day, which you can read here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/2016/05/17/world-bee-day-the-anton-jansa-honey-route/

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The undoubted highlight, whether a beekeeper or not, is the chance to see and experience up close the hive found on a nearby tree trunk and transported to its current home. The fact you can get so close is testament to the calm nature of Slovenia’s Carniolan grey bee.

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Next the group came to Radovljica, beginning at the Tourist Information Centre where they tasted local honey and chocolate, and had the chance to buy some gifts to take home. They even brought us some of their own Estonian honey, which, as you can see, the staff enjoyed tasting!

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We then took a stroll through the medieval old town to see the main sights of interest – the Šivec House Gallery, the Radovljica Mansion, St. Peter’s Church, and the other wonderful frescoed buildings.

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Then it was on to the viewpoint for wonderful views of the Julian Alps, the Jelovica plateau and the Sava river.

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The next stop was to Lectar Inn to watch the process of making and decorating the traditional ‘lectar’ gingerbread’ hearts, made with honey, of course!

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And a chance to buy souvenirs and/or gifts for loved ones.

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Having seen Radovljica, it was then time to Taste Radol’ca, with a traditional Slovene lunch, also at Lectar Inn, one of the participating Taste Radol’ca restaurants. During lunch, the owner Jože entertained us with a few of his favourite songs played on the harmonica – never something to be missed!

The final stop in Radovljica was to the Museum of Apiculture, housed in the Radovljica Mansion, where visitors can learn all about the history of beekeeping in Slovenia, watch a video (narrated in English by me!), and in summer watch the bees hard work diligently in the hive.

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The group’s very last stop on the jam-packed, or should I say honey-packed, day, was to the Gorenjska Beekeeping Development and Education Centre in Lesce. You can read more about the centre and its wide-ranging activities here – http://www.radolca.si/en/gorenjska-region-beekeeping-development-and-education-centre/

So, as you can see, the Radovljica area really is a beekeeper’s paradise!

If you’d like any more information about Slovenian beekeeping, or are interested in taking a tour of the town and/or visiting some of the above-mentioned sights, feel free to get in touch or contact Tourism Radol’ca – http://www.radolca.si/en/

© Adele in Slovenia

Sunny Skiing, Stunning Views and Romance on Stari Vrh!

The Stari Vrh ski resort is located in the middle of the Selca and Poljane valleys, just a ten minute drive from Škofja Loka. It’s proximity to Ljubljana makes it a popular destination; in winter for skiing, snowboarding and other winter sports, and in summer for hiking and cycling.

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Stari Vrh offers 10kms of slopes (1km difficult, 5kms medium, 4kms easy), together with a snowboard park, night skiing, a toboggan run and a children’s snow playground.

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Even for a non-skier like myself, it’s well worth donning your winter gear and taking the chairlift up to the top for the stunning panoramic views.

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Once at the top, you will be blown away (hopefully not literally!) by the views over the Škofja Loka hills and further to the Kamnik-Savinja Alps.

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The peak of Stari Vrh is at an altitude of 1217m.

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At the top you can visit the cosy Stari Vrh Restaurant and Guest House, where you can enjoy a drink and/or snack, indulge in one of the Slovene specialities – all the while gazing at the stunning views – or stay overnight in one of the inn’s comfortable rooms and warm up in the sauna!

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And since February is the month of romance, you might be interested to know that one of the ski pistes at Stari Vrh is named Valentine’s piste, after the nearby St. Valentines church in Jarčje Brdo. Additionally, the very scenic Valentine’s Path (Valentinova pot) begins at the lower station of the Stari Vrh chairlift. Note, however, that you will need to wait until at least spring before setting out to walk this path, as it runs on part of the ski piste, so can’t be walked when the ski centre is open.

The circular path is marked with green circles with a yellow inner and runs along old cart tracks and forest paths. It takes about 2 hours to complete, has a total height difference of 280 metres, and leads past the Žgajnar Tourist Farm, a 200-year old farmhouse in the hamlet of Zapreval, where in 1970 the Stari Vrh Tourist Association was founded. During winter there is a marked detour to reach Zapreval, since the ski pistes run almost literally past the front door, hence making it an excellent base for those on multi-day trips.

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Today the tourist farm offers accommodation and delicious home-produced and home-cooked food year-round. You can read more about the tourist farm here – http://zgajnar.starivrh.si/presentation/Presentation.html

The path begins at the lower station of the chairlift at the Stari vrh ski resort and continues beside the Valentine ski piste to reach the exact boundary of the municipalities of Gorenja vas-Poljane and Škofja Loka, before rising up to the Stari vrh Restaurant and Guest House. It continues through the village of Mlaka past the Jejlar homestead (Jejlarjeva domačija), the famous house where the film Cvetje v jeseni (Blossoms in Autumn) was filmed. On reaching the village of Jarčje Brdo you will catch sight of the imposing St. Valentine’s parish church and return to the start of the walk.

Photo: TD Stari Vrh

Photo: TD Stari Vrh

Every year on 31st October there is an organised hike on Valentine’s Path, arranged by the Stari Vrh Tourist Association, beginning at 9am from the car park of the lower station of the 6-person chairlift at the Stari vrh ski resort.

The Association also arranges other events, including the popular Charcoal Makers Day, which has been held annually on the first Sunday in August since 1972.

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Photo: TD Stari Vrh

Having seen how beautiful Stari Vrh is in winter, and the numerous opportunities the area offers for hiking and cycling in summer, I now can’t wait to go back and explore more of the area on foot or by bike. And when I do, you will be sure to read about it here!

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You can find out more about all the above on the Visit Skofja Loka website here – http://www.visitskofjaloka.si/en/about-us/tourism-board-skofja-loka

© Adele in Slovenia

 

 

 

Highlights of Radovljica 2017

So here we are at the start of another exciting year in the Radovljica area, with plenty of events to look forward to.

In this blog I’ve provided a month-by-month guide to some of the highlights, dates to note in your diary, and things to look forward to in this calendar year.

JANUARY

Why not go skiing at the small Kamna Gorica ski area in the Lipnica Valley, at the foot of the Jelovica plateau. The area has a drag lift, 400 metres of easy and 500 metres of slightly more challenging skiing terrain, and is particularly suitable for families. It’s also a bargain at just €6 per half day for children and €8 for adults. Find more information here (in Slovene only) – http://kamnagorica.si/smucisce/

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FEBRUARY

It’s carnival time! Known as ‘Pust‘, the main day is pustni torek (Shrove Tuesday) when, wherever you are in Slovenia, you could be forgiven for thinking it is Halloween as children go to school dressed up as all kinds of ghosts and gouls, and some can be seen going from door-to-door trick-or-treating. However, there is actually a point to pust; the idea being to help drive winter away by scaring it with various costumes and masks – something I whole-heartedly support – roll on spring! The traditional annual carnival procession will take place in Radovljica this year on Saturday 25th February.

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MARCH

Head to Kamna Gorica and/or Kropa on 11th March to watch the celebrations on the eve of St. Gregory’s Day, when local children make and float model vessels in the village streams. This age-old iron-forging custom takes place annually. 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, create a colourful effect against the dusk setting. 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.

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APRIL

The Radovljica Chocolate Festival is by far the biggest event of Radovljica’s calendar year, and one of the biggest events of its kind in the country. This year the festival will take place over three days from Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd April. You can be sure I’ll be writing plenty more about it nearer the time!

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MAY

Various workshops take place during the course of the week-long International Ceramics Festival, with the main day – Market Day – taking place this year on Saturday 27th May.

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JUNE

It’s time to get outdoors and enjoy the best that the Radovljica area has to offer – hiking in the Karavanke Alps, road cycling or off-road mountain biking, rafting and kayaking on the Sava river, caving, fishing, take a panoramic flight on go skydiving at Lesce Sports Airfield, go horseriding, or just lie back beside the river or on a terrace somewhere and enjoy the views. There’s so much choice!

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JULY

It’s summer and that means Fresh Thursdays in the Square! Every Thursday during July there are live concerts in Linhart Square, the heart of Radovlijca’s medieval old town.

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Radovljica SLO 2011

The Hop-On Hop-Off Tourist Bus runs during July and August. At the time of writing, there is no official information about this year’s schedule, but I’ll be sure to let you know more about that too!

AUGUST

The opening ceremony of the 35th Radovljica Festival of Early Music will take place on Saturday 5th August, with concerts taking place throughout the month ending on 23rd August. The majority of concerts take place in the magnificent setting of Radovljica Manor.

Photo: Jana Jocif

Photo: Jana Jocif

SEPTEMBER

It’s all things sweet on Saturday 23rd September, when the annual Festival of Honey and Honey Dishes takes place in Lesce at the Gorenjska Beekeeping Education Centre. Expect cookery demonstrations, workshop, honey and honey products to try and buy, and something for all the family.

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OCTOBER

Even if there are no major events, there’s no shortage of things to see and do. For example, every first Saturday in the month visit the Farmer’s Market at Vila Podvin, where you can meet local suppliers and buy and taste their produce and products. Following the market, why not stay on for lunch prepared using ingredients sold at the market, and cooked by one of Slovenia’s top chefs, Uroš Štefelin.

Every first Sunday in the month a flea market takes place in Linhart Square, Radovljica (or in the Radovljica Mansion in the event of rain).

Or how about attending one of the regular evenings with the Avsenik House Ensemble in Begunje na Gorenjskem, the home of Slovenian folk music.

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NOVEMBER

It’s time to TASTE RADOL’CA – yippee! For the whole month of November the talented chefs at all the participating  Taste Radol’ca restaurants – of which last year there were 13 – rustle up amazing 3- or 4-course menus available a set price (last year €16). The opening and closing events are always a sell-out too. Taste Radol’ca goes from strength-to-strength each year, so I’m confident that 2017 will definitely be something not to miss!

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DECEMBER

The festive season has come round again, which means its time for the Advent Market, Christmas concerts, street entertainment and plenty more festive fun! The old town centre always looks particularly magical at this time of year.

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Of course, this is just a selection of the events taking place in the Radovljica area, but I hope it has at least whetted your appetite to include Radovljica on your list of places to visit this year!

© Adele in Slovenia

Loka Honey Breads and Handicrafts at the DUO Arts & Crafts Centre

There is a long and rich tradition of making Loški kruhki (little honey breads) in the Škofja Loka area. It dates back to the 14th century when the Clarissa nuns ran a girls school in the town in the building seen below. The nuns introduced and taught locals how to make the honey breads, which they baked mainly for festivals, blessings and other celebrations.

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The DUO Arts & Crafts Centre, located in the heart of the medieval old town, showcases the rich handicraft tradition in the area by offering local craftspeople a place to showcase their handicrafts for visitors to browse and/or purchase, and an opportunity for them to present and transfer their skills to future generations.

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Among the items on show at the DUO Centre are carved wooden products made by the carver Petra Plestenjak Podlogar, who today is the only master craftsperson in Slovenia keeping alive the tradition of making wooden moulds for Škofja Loka honey breads.

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Curious to learn more, and always keen to get hands-on, I recently spent a very pleasant afternoon with Petra at the DUO Centre, learning her insider tips on making the dough for the honey breads and using her wonderfully ornate handcrafted moulds to make my own honey breads to take home.

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The basic recipe contains a mixture of flours, lashings of Slovenian honey, and selected spices such as cinnamon, pepper and cloves.

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Making the dough is a fairly simple and quick process, then begins the fun part of pressing it into the moulds and choosing which of the many ornate hand-carved moulds to use. Petra also makes moulds ‘to order’ for special birthdays, anniversaries and other celebrations.

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The little honey breads, and indeed the hand-carved moulds, make ideal gifts or souvenirs.

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Once baked, the breads are glazed with (more!) honey to give them a nice sheen.

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Then, well, I couldn’t resist any longer! The best bit – time to taste them!

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I know, after all that hard work I/we should take some time to admire the little honey breads before wolfing them down, but we made plenty so a few won’t go amiss. And, as Petra said ‘Poglej in pojej’ – Look then eat! A great motto I say!

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When visiting Škofja Loka be sure to drop into the DUO Centre to browse the range of products available, all of which make excellent gifts or a treat for yourself, and take a piece of Slovenia’s handicraft tradition home. Products include: wooden games and other unique wooden products, clay reliefs, lace products from the A. Primožič House of Bobbin Lace, basketware and wickerwork, tools and other forged-iron implements, felted items, items made from wool and recycled paper, dyed wool, silk and other knitted woolen products, Dražgoše honey breads, crocheted pieces, knitware, products made from rawhide, wood and other raw materials, bags, shoes, hats and other items made using wet-felting, patchwork and glassware.

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Upon prior arrangement, various workshops can be organised with any of the master craftspeople, where you can learn a new skill, or brush-on existing ones!

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More information about the DUO Center can be found here – http://www.visitskofjaloka.si/en/experiences/864

© Adele in Slovenia