A Taste Radol’ca Culinary Challenge!

Life in Slovenia is almost back to normal – tourist attractions, hotels, restaurants, campsites, etc. are open, and there are even tourists to be seen here and there! That said, there has been a spike in new cases in the past week, so we aren’t out of the woods yet, and caution is still the name of the game.

As a result of COVID-19, now, more than ever, it is important to support local businesses and to look after our health – of which eating a healthy, balanced diet plays an important part. So, it seemed an appropriate time to set Taste Radol’ca restaurants a culinary challenge!

The background to my ‘challenge’ is the situation I find myself in these days since being diagnosed with coeliac disease, which is that going out to eat leads to feelings of: (1) anxiety, (2) apprehension, (3) embarrassment and (4) envy. The first two are due to never being able to be 100% sure that when I order gluten-free food it will really be gluten-free and prepared in a ‘safe’ way, the third is due to having to ask the waiting staff and/or chefs so many questions, and the fourth because invariably I can only ever order one or two things from the menu, which most often aren’t the things I would have previously chosen to eat, and I then end up feeling envious looking at fellow diners tucking into their tasty-looking meals.

Thus I decide it was high-time to be brave and embrace the great, local cuisine and to put my faith in the Taste Radol’ca chefs! I contacted 4 restaurants and asked them to prepare a selection of dishes – meat-based, vegan, and vegetarian – all of which needed to be gluten-free. I should add that I’m neither a vegan or a vegetarian, however, I know that these days an increasing number of people are turning to vegan lifestyles, and there are also those with coeliac disease who choose to additionally be vegan, which must be doubly difficult.

So, below you can see the tasty delights I devoured, beginning at Gostišče Draga in the Draga valley in Begunje na Gorenjskem.

I used to particularly enjoy the various sweet and savoury štruklji at this restaurant, and up until now, I hadn’t found anywhere that offers gluten-free štruklji. I had kind of resigned myself to never being able to eat one of my favourite Slovenian foods again, well, unless I made them myself – and that isn’t about to happen!

So, I was more than over the moon to discover that owner and head chef Ales Tavčar finally lived up to his promise and prepared gluten-free štruklji for me! And, even better, they were such as success they will be featuring on the menu sometime in the near future.

Struklji can be eaten both as a savoury dish, for example with a mushroom sauce…

…or sweet, for example with cranberry sauce. I think my face tells the picture of how delighted I was, and, trust me, they tasted as good as they look!

Vegans are catered for too with dishes such as buckwheat with apple and almonds, which is also gluten-free.

Next up was Gostišče Tulipan in Lesce. Regular readers might recall that I held my celebration there on the occasion of gaining Slovenian citizenship last year. And at that time too it came up trumps with a gluten-free buffet for all my guests. You can read about my celebration here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/2019/10/14/when-adele-in-slovenia-became-adele-is-a-slovene/

So, my visit was with less trepidation in the knowledge that they know their stuff in terms of gluten-free food and preparation.

This time I enjoyed risotto with prawns and truffles – gluten-free and also suitable for pescatarians…

…rump steak with roasted vegetables and potatoes – all naturally gluten-free…

…and rice noodles with homemade wild garlic pesto – vegan and gluten-free.

And all enjoyed on the terrace with a great view!

Next was the turn of Restavracija Center in Lesce, which is a new, and very welcome, addition to the Taste Radol’ca ‘family’.

Since being diagnosed with coeliac disease this place has become my ‘go-to’ restaurant, notably for their amazing gluten-free pizzas, which actually look, and taste, like pizzas – something that can’t be said for many a gluten-free pizza! The dough is made separately and the pizzas are cooked in special baking trays to avoid any cross-contamination. Eating here is the one time I don’t feel so hard done-by!

And this pizza ticks the vegetarian box too, though there are plenty of meat pizzas, too!

For meat eaters, a great gluten-free choice is the beef tagliata, potatoes, rocket and parmesan…

…while vegans can enjoy a seasonal risotto – this one with asparagus was by far the best risotto I’ve ever eaten and from now on will be my second choice in the event that they have run out of gluten-free pizzas, which does happen at times, so it’s always best to call ahead to check to avoid disappointment.

And I ended at Gostilna Kunstelj, which ranks among one of Slovenia’s most well-known traditional restaurants. Even the former Yugoslavian president Tito used to visit!

In fine weather the fantastic view makes the food taste even better!

Since Gostilna Kunstelj’s whole ethos is based on using local and seasonal produce, there is certainly no lack of choice for vegetarians and vegans, and many of the dishes are either naturally gluten-free or can be adapted to be so.

A big hit with me, and a revelation too, was the buckwheat with vegetables and pumpkin seed tempeh. Full of colour and flavour, indeed!

There are numerous salads on the menu, which use produce from the restaurant’s own garden.

Gostilna Kunstelj also has renovated guest rooms, all of which come with stunning views too!

Fortunately, Taste Radol’ca’s talented chefs came up trumps and I’m delighted that now I know I have a slightly wider choice of dishes when I go out to eat, though, of course, the worry is, and will be, ever-present, as even the tiniest grain of gluten sets off an autoimmune reaction. But one needs to also remember that there are people far worse off in life!

© Adele in Slovenia

Visit Tržič – Escape the Heat and Have an Adventure in the Dovžan Gorge!

Following devastating floods in autumn 2018, when the Tržiška Bistrica river flooded its banks following a heavy storm lasting several hours, during which much of the Dovžan gorge (Dovžanova soteska) was destroyed and the residents of its hamlets were left cut-off, extensive renovation work has now been completed and the gorge is now looking better than ever.

You can begin your visit at the new visitor centre, where you can park and pick up some information about the gorge and surrounding areas. The centre is open at weekends in fine weather from 10am to 6pm; outside of these hours information leaflets are available at the entrance.

From the parking area you can walk back along the road for a couple of hundred metres to reach the start of the trail beside the Tržiška Bistrica river. Follow this easy trail until you reach the start of the most fun, but at the same time also the most challenging, walk through the gorge – Bencetova pot (The Bence Trail).

Below I’ve described Bencetova pot, however, those that want a gentler experience can set off along the road, through the tunnel, then cross the wooden bridge a little further along the road to join the path, thus avoiding the ladders and rungs.

There’s no actual climbing involved, so provided you have good footwear it shouldn’t present too much of a problem for the majority of people, but you do need a head for heights!

First go up…

…and then down the wooden steps.

Next you reach a wooden bridge with an iron handrail…

…and then descend the iron rungs down to the river bed – this is the most hairy part but it’s only short!

Time for a few more iron rungs…

…then the ‘tough’ stuff is over and you can take a breather and chill out by the river!

The path continues through a natural arch…

…then leads towards the hamlet of Na Jamah (translation: At the Caves), known for its quartz conglomerate. It only amounts to a handful of houses, but is about as idyllic as its gets, well in summer anyway!

A little further along the road you reach the hamlet of Dolina, which is home to the Dovžan gorge gallery and the RIS Dolina Exhibition and Education Centre. The centre is open in fine weather from May to September on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from 11am – 6pm (11am – 5pm in October).

Return on the road back through Na Jamah then, in order to avoid retracing your steps up and down the iron ladders and rungs, on reaching a wooden bridge cross the bridge to emerge by a small parking area, where there are information boards about the Dovžan gorge in the late Paleozoic era.

Now just just need to continue on the pavement back to the tunnel.

After walking through the tunnel you can cross the swing bridge over the river and return back along the path to the start, or you could instead continue along the road back to the information centre, which is a shorter option, however, there is no pavement on this section.

So, as you can see, a visit to Tržič and the Dovžan gorge should definitely be on your list of places to go – whether you already live in Slovenia and have never been, or for those planning a trip to Slovenia in the near future!

© Adele in Slovenia

The Hidden Treasures of Tržič – Gutenberg Castle

Tržič is one of those places that, on first glance, may not appear to have that many sights of interest. However, there is far more than initially meets the eye, both in terms of natural and cultural attractions. I’ve already blogged about many of them, and here’s another one to add to the list!

Gutenberg Castle (sometimes referred to as AltGutenberg or Gutenberk), or rather the remains of, is one such example. It was first mentioned in 1156, thus making it among the oldest (known) castles in Slovenia. Following an earthquake in 1511, the castle was no longer renovated and it fell into ruin.

The castle is located 663 metres above sea-level above the Tržiška Bistrica area of the town. Though only a couple of walls remain, it is clear to see that it was once a fairly mighty castle.

There are two paths to reach the castle ruins – from an easterly direction (unmarked path, cca. 25mins), or from a westerly direction (marked path, cca. 15 mins) – I chose the latter!

From Tržiška Bistrica follow the road steeply uphill and shortly after passing the last houses and turning a bend, you will see a road that branches off to the right, where there is space for a couple of cars to park.

Set off along the gravel road. After just a few metres you will spot a beehive on the left-hand side; continue along the road until you reach a shrine.

Take the path that leads uphill behind the shrine.

After just a few metres you will see a sign for Mt. Dobrča and the Bistriška planina mountain pasture.

Continue up the steep path for another few minutes until you reach a wooden handrail and steps that lead up to the castle ruins.

The first Ljubljana bishop, Count Žiga Lamberg, was born at the castle in around 1420. Interestingly, it was also Lamberg that in 1465 consecrated the renovated church on the island on Lake Bled.

The views from the castle alone make the trip worthwhile. To the west there is a view of Mt. Dobrča and onwards towards the Julian Alps

…while to the east there is a view of Kriška gora, which is particularly attractive at this time of year when nature is at its greenest.

On returning back to the shrine, I suggest continuing up the road opposite (see below to the right of the red car). On reaching a large villa, take the path to the right which, after just a few metres, leads up to St. George’s (sv. Jurij) church, which in the past belonged to the castle.

You could visit both these attractions as part of a hike to Mt. Dobrča, as a standalone visit, or as part of a trip to see more of Tržič’s attractions. Whenever or however you choose to visit, I hope you enjoy your visit!

© Adele in Slovenia

52 Shades of Radovljica – The Sequel!

Well, it’s not exactly ‘a sequel’, more ‘part two’, but it has more of a ring to it!

But first, since some of you have been asking, here’s an update of what is happening in Slovenia in terms of the COVID-19 situation. On Friday 15th May the government officially declared an end to the COVID-19 virus in Slovenia – making it the first country in Europe to do so. It isn’t, however, an end to some of the measures in place, i.e. masks still have to be worn in public places, only hotels with up to 30 rooms are open, distancing measures are in place on public transport, etc., and younger children returned to school/nursery as of 18th May. The borders with neighbouring countries have also reopened, however, at the moment only for citizens/permanent residents and those with written proof of their reason for coming into the country – but the situation is changing rapidly, so do check before making any plans!

So, back to Radol’ca, and carrying on from part one of ‘52 Shades of Radovljica‘, below you can find out more about the remaining 26 towns, villages and hamlets in the municipality of Radovljica.

Peračica – home to the Peračica waterfalls, which you can see on a walk along the Brezje Path of Peace.

Podnart – a village beside the Sava river with a railway station on the main line between Ljubljana and Jesenice. It is also home to the restaurant Joštov hram, which is particularly known for its excellent grilled meat.

Poljče – a small settlement of houses and farmhouses lining the road between Begunje na Gorenjskem and Rodine.

Poljšica pri Podnartu – a small settlement beside the Sava river near Ovsiše.

Posavec – a settlement next to the Sava river near Podnart.

Praproše – a handful of houses near Ljubno.

Prezrenje – a small settlement tucked away up a hill between Podnart one one side and the Lipnica valley on the other.

Radovljica – the main town and administrative centre of the municipality. The beautifully preserved old town centre is the star attraction.

Ravnica – A few scattered houses near the Fux footbridge.

Photo: Adele in Slovenia

Rovte – a small settlement in a sunny location above the Lipnica valley.

Slatna – a small hamlet beneath Mt. Dobrča and one of the starting points for the hike to the Koča na Dobrči mountain hut (1,478m) and onward to its peak.

Spodnja Dobrava – three settlements – Spodnja (Lower) Srednja (Middle), Zgornja (Upper) – that lie 500 metres above sea-level on a sunny plateau above the Lipnica valley.

Spodnja Lipnica – together with Zgornja Lipica, these two hamlets occupy an idyllic position in the lush Lipnica valley. From here you can easily reach the ruins of Lipnica Castle and the Grabnarca Waterside Nature Trail on foot.

Spodnji Otok – Spodnji (Lower) and Zgornji (Upper) Otok mainly comprise traditional Slovenian alpine farmhouses. The former is set back slightly from the road, whilst the houses of the latter line the main road towards Begunje na Gorenjskem. Spodjni Otok is particularly known for its church – Church of St. John the Baptist – which chimes noon at 11am! An interesting legend has it that when Turkish invaders were approaching the village, their horses were attacked by hornets and they fled. Since this happened at exactly 11am, the church still today chimes noon an hour early.

Srednja Dobrava – see Spodnja Dobrava. The village is also home to the Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

Srednja vas – A small hamlet of houses lining the road beneath Mount Dobrča.

Studenčice – a small hamlet near Lesce, home to a garden centre and St. Florian’s church, which features one of the earliest wall paintings in Slovenia dating from the early 14th century.

Vošče – a small settlement above Lancovo that features on a walk along the Grabnarca Waterside Nature Trail.

Vrbnje – home to the Dolenc farm and farm shop, a favourite among locals for its milk and home-produced cheese and yoghurt.

Zadnja vas – the final hamlet – as the name suggests – translation: last village – beneath Mt. Dobrča before reaching the municipality of Tržič. It is home to St. Lucy’s church, which in the past people with eye problems flocked to, since its patron saint is the patron saint of vision.

Zaloše – a hamlet near Podnart with houses lining the road beside the Sava river.

Zapuže – a small settlement between Radovljica and Begunje na Gorenjskem.

Zgornja Dobrava – see Spodnja Dobrava.

Zgornja Lipnica – see Spodnja Lipica.

Zgornji Otok – see Spodnji Otok.

Zgoša – home to the family-run Resman bakery. Prior to being diagnosed with coeliac disease, I used to love their homemade bread. Highly recommend for those of you luckily enough to still be able to eat it!

So, that concludes ’52 Shades of Radovljica’. I hope it has been as enlightening for you as it has for me!

© Adele in Slovenia

52 Shades of Radovljica – Part One!

The COVID-19 lockdown in Slovenia, which from 30th March meant that we were not allowed out of our municipalities, was finally lifted today, hooray! Of course, we aren’t out of the woods yet; strict social distancing measures are still in place, we still have to wear masks in enclosed places, there’s still no public transport, schools are still closed…but things are gradually beginning to open and get back to some degree of normality.

Other than a somewhat uncomfortable feeling of a loss of freedom, fortunately, it actually didn’t affect me too much since I work from home and the municipality of Radovljica has so much to offer in terms of the great outdoors. In addition to my usual local haunts, it was actually quite interesting working out and planning just where (and where not) I could hike and cycle. I was surprised to discover that the municipality of Radovljica comprises a whopping 52 towns, villages and hamlets!

This gave me an idea for a blog – well actually two – in which I will photograph and describe (in brief!) each – or most – of the 52. A task-and-a-half indeed! So, in alphabetical order, here is the first half!

Begunje na Gorenjskem – one of the bigger villages in the municipality, with plenty to see and do! The birthplace of Slovenian national folk music, home to the Avsenik Museum, the Elan Alpine Skiing Museum, the Draga valley, Kamen Castle, and more.

Brda – a small hamlet at the start of the Lipnica valley near Lancovo.

Brezje – this village, though small, is considered Slovenia’s national pilgrimage site and is home to the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians as well as the Nativity Museum.

Brezovica – a hamlet in the Lipnica valley near Kropa.

Češnjica pri Kropi – follow the windy road up to this sunny settlement for wonderful views of the Karavanke mountains.

Črnivec – a small village near Brezje with a pizza place and a restaurant.

Dobravica –  a small hamlet near Češnjica pri Kropi.

Dobro Polje – another small hamlet, this one is near Brezje.

Dvorska vas – a small settlement near Begunje, home to the Lambergh Chateau and Hotel.

Globoko – a small settlement, which is home to the Barbaner Lipizzaner stud farm and the Globočnik homestead, which is about as traditional and homely as it gets!

Gorica, just a handful of houses but also a great mini golf course!

Hlebce and Hraše – two small settlements between Lesce and Begunje that I often confuse as they are located parallel to each other and both start with the letter ‘H’!

Kamna Gorica – sometimes also referred to as Slovenia’s ‘Little Venice’ due to its numerous water channels, the village is also home to the Sextons’ Museum House and the Church of the Holy Trinity, from where there are great views of the surrounding hills and mountains.

Kropa – the cradle of Slovenian iron forging. Home to the Iron Forging Museum, two churches, the Vigenjc vice forge, and numerous water sources that served the needs of the forges in their heyday.

Lancovo – home to the confluence of the Sava Dolinka and Sava Bohinjka rivers.

Lesce – plenty of restaurants, a sports airfield, the Church of the Assumption of Mary and the Beekeeping Education Centre of Gorenjska.

Lipnica – the lush Lipnica valley winds its way from Radovljica towards Podnart. Great cycling territory, either on the flat through the valley or by mountain bike on the forested Jelovica plateau.

Ljubno – known for its numerous frescoes packed into one small village, as well as the Church of Mary Help of Christians.

Mišače – I often pass through this peaceful hamlet when cycling through the Lipnica valley and back towards Radovljica via Globoko. In recent times a new ECO river camp has sprung up.

Mlaka – to be honest I’m not sure! I know of one area called Mlaka beneath the old town of Radovljica and a small hamlet beneath Mt. Dobrca, but not sure which one this is!

Mošnje – home to the fine dining restaurant Vila Podvin as well as the Mosnje Ethnological Museum, the Villa Rustica Archeological Trail and one of the oldest churches in Slovenia.

Nova vas pri Lescah – a small hamlet between Radovljica and Begunje.

Noše – a small hamlet near Brezje.

Otoče – a small village with a railway station on the main line between Ljubljana and Jesenice.

Ovsiše – located on sunny plains above the Lipnica valley and home to the Porta organic farm.

So, as you can see, there’s far more to Radol’ca than just Radovljica – and that’s just the first half! My work here is not yet complete! Until next time…

© Adele in Slovenia

Reasons to Be Cheerful in Radol’ca!

Okay, I admit it, at times I’ve been finding it a bit hard to remain optimistic of late, more so since new rules came into force last Sunday at midnight, which stipulate that we aren’t allowed out of our municipality and have to wear masks to go into food shops, banks, and the post office. On the flip side, however, at this time I am certainly grateful that, if I am forced to be confined to one municipality, it is Radovljica!

In these testing times, when we are surrounded by so much doom and gloom, it is important to find some reasons to be cheerful and rays of hope. And, fortunately, here in Radovljica we don’t have to look too far to find them.

During this period when we are all doing our best to avoid each other(!), it’s the perfect opportunity to take stock and appreciate what we have got rather than what we haven’t. And the main reason to be cheerful, particularly for me, is that Radovljica has so many natural assets and hidden beauty spots, that there’s actually no need to go too far from home.

In the past week, in addition to working, we have managed to:

Hike to the Roblekov dom mountain hut where, following last Monday’s snowfall, it still looked pretty wintry as of the middle of last week…

Photo: ©AdeleinSlovenia

Walk in the Draga valley in Begunje na Gorenjskem – where there really are more animals (albeit not real!) than people at this time. Of course, once things are back to normal, you simply must try the parkour archery course for real, i.e. with a bow and arrow, rather than just being a spectator! You can read more about the course in a previous blog here)…

©AdeleinSlovenia

Photo: ©AdeleinSlovenia

Strolled over the Fuxova brv footbridge and walked among the wild garlic on the Lipnica Castle Trail towards Lipnica Castle

Photo: ©AdeleinSlovenia

…and hiked from Kamna Gorica up to the Vodiška planina mountain pasture above Kropa.

Photo: ©AdeleinSlovenia

And all that without leaving the confines of Radovljica!

In fact, having read this, you might even decide to spend the majority of your next holiday here in Radovljica. I mean, do you really need to go elsewhere?!

@Adele in Slovenia

Radol’ca Strikes Gold!

In these testing times for all, it’s nice to at least be able to convey some good news: Radol’ca has struck gold! Well, obviously, not literally but it has been awarded a Gold Slovenian Green Destination label, which is surely as good, if not better! And, as one of just 14 destinations in the country that are holders of gold labels, I think that’s something to shout about!

The label, which is awarded by the Slovenian Tourist Board, is proof that Radovljica is on the right track not only in the field of tourism but also those of sustainable development, preserving nature and cultural heritage, and social inclusion.

So, why not come and see for yourself – when the virus situation allows, of course – why Radovljica is a ‘Gold’ destination, and experience its nature and culture, and, while you are here, you can play your part in helping its sustainable practice, too.

Choosing accommodation that is environmentally-friendly is a good way to start. One such is the Woodhouse B&B in Dobro polje, near Radovljica, which was conceived in a sustainable way, thus requiring less operating and maintenance costs. In fact, this B&B alone played a key part in Radovljica being awarded a ‘Gold’ destination label, since it is the holder of a Green Key certificate, which is one of the requirements for applying for a Slovenian Green Destination label. Click here to see the full range of accommodation in Radol’ca.

The fact that Radovljica offers so many cultural and natural assets and attractions was also key in obtaining the label. Radovljica’s crowning glory is Linhart Square, the heart of the historic old town centre, with its frescoed houses, the magnificent Radovljica Manor, and numerous museums and galleries.

Keep up the good work Radol’ca!

Of course, I couldn’t end without mentioning Coronavirus and its effect here in Radovljica and Slovenia as a whole.

At the time of writing (Monday 23 March), there have been three deaths here (all of whom had previous medical conditions) and over 400 confirmed cases. Social distancing is being enforced, whereby no more than five people are allowed to be outdoors together at any one time, but we can – for the time being and I’m praying that it stays this way – at least go out for walks in forests, etc., providing we maintain a safe distance from others we encounter.

Fortunately the Radol’ca area has numerous places where you can walk and escape into the embrace of nature whilst avoiding public areas. In addition to such trails being ideal now at a time when we are all forced to avoid each other, they are also great places to walk in the summer to avoid the heat and crowds. In Radol’ca these include the Lipnica Castle Trail and the Grabnarca Waterside Nature Trail.

All shops – other than food shops, post offices, banks and petrol stations – are closed, as are cafes, and all other services such as hairdressers, garages, etc. Sadly, the Radovljica Chocolate Festival has become a ‘victim’ of the virus too and has thus been cancelled. Such a shame for the organisers as a significant amount of work and time had already been invested. But I have no doubt that it will be back bigger and better than ever next year from 16-18 April 2021.

Click here to keep up-to-date on the developments in the Radol’ca area – in tourism terms.

I hope to be back with you soon with some more cheerful news and some photos of me out hiking and enjoying all that the Radol’ca area has to offer! Until then, stay safe and well!

© Adele in Slovenia

 

 

Hike and Dine on Dobrča!

The ‘green’ and relatively dry winter continues (though as I write, snow is forecast this Wednesday – yikes!), so, even if the weather is slightly cloudy as it was for our hike, you can enjoy a great hike to Dobrča to enjoy the views, the spring (in winter!) flowers, and the great food at the mountain hut!

I was surprised when I first discovered that Dobrča is actually part of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps, not the Karavanke mountains as its position leads one to believe. Dobrča stands in a prominent position between Begunje na Gorenjskem and Tržič and can be reached on marked paths from numerous directions, among them those from Slatna (from the Begunje side), and Brezje pri Tržiču, Hudi Graben, and Srednja vas (from the Tržič side).

We were accompanied by spring flowers most of the way, which, in winter really bring a smile to the face!

Depending on which path you take, it takes around 1.5-2.5 hours to hike up steeply through the forest to reach the Koča na Dobrči mountain hut (1,478m).

However, my advice is not to stop there (yet!) but rather to continue to the top (look for the signs that say ‘Vrh’), which takes around 30 minutes from the hut.

However, at the top itself, 1,634m, the views are fairly obscured, so, don’t stop there either (yet!)… having made it that far you simply must continue another 5 minutes or so to the Šentanski vrh viewpoint…

…where you are richly rewarded (even on a slightly cloudy day!) with views to the east of Tržič and the surrounding settlements, as well as the surrounding peaks of Storžič, Kriška gora, and the longest mountain in Slovenia, Košuta, in the background!

Then, having built up an appetite and as a ‘reward’ for your efforts, head (back) to the mountain hut for some sustenance! There’s plenty on offer including various soups, stews and sausages and, for the sweeth-toothed, štruklji, pancakes and strudel.

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From the hut there are views of the snow-capped Julian Alps to the west, and towards the Ljubljana basin and, on a clear day, beyond, to the east.

This is just one of many great mountain hikes in the Tržič area, many of which I have already blogged about and some that I still have in store for this year!

© Adele in Slovenia

Ten Top Insider Radol’ca Tips!

Since I think I have a right these days to call myself a ‘Radolčanka’ (i.e. a Radovljica local), I thought I would share with you some of my top insider tips, some of which are more obvious than others!

So, in no particular order…

YOU WILL NEVER GO HUNGRY OR THIRSTY IN RADOVLJICA…at the last count – in my head that is so I could have forgotten the odd one – I totted up 23 bars, cafes and restaurants in Radovljica itself – not to mention the numerous others within the municipality. So, there’s no need to worry about going hungry or thirsty whilst visiting! And now there’s an exciting new ‘kid’ in town too – Linhart Hotel & Bistro – in Linhart Square, the heart of the old town. The hotel opened a couple of years ago but has just been taken over by the hugely successful and popular restaurant Vila Podvin, with head chef (and celebrity chef these days!) Uroš Štefelin at the helm. Expect bistro-style food – Uroš style!

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THERE’S A VISIBLE TUNNEL... Okay, so it’s not an insider tip as such, but I’ve included it here since it’s easy to miss. The only preserved moat tunnel in Slovenia is found beneath Radovljica’s old town centre. It was renovated, and partly built-over, some years back, and is well-illuminated, meaning you can walk through it at any time as part of a visit to the old town centre. I’m rather lucky as I live just minutes from the old town and can therefore see it by day and by night, though the latter trumps it for me!

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AND AN INVISIBLE/HIDDEN TUNNEL TOO…well, that is if legend is true! It is said that there is a tunnel that runs underground from the well in Linhart Square all the way to Lipnica Castle. To date no one has actually found it, but the legend lives on…!

AND EVEN A ‘SECRET’ CHAPEL…the Edith Stein Chapel is hidden away behind the vestry tower of Radovljica’s baroque St. Peter’s church in Linhart Square, and surprisingly few people even know it’s there. Edith Stein was a German-Jewish philosopher, born on 12 October 1891 to Jewish parents, who converted to Catholicism and became a Carmelite nun.

Also know as St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, she was canonised as a martyr and saint of the Catholic Church, and is one of six co-patron saints of Europe. Edith and her sister Rosa, who was also a convert and an extern sister, were sent to the Carmelite monastery in Echt in the Netherlands in 1938 for their safety, where, despite the Nazi invasion in 1940, they remained until they were arrested by the Nazis on 2 August 1942 and sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where they died in the gas chamber on 9 August 1942.

WE HAVE RATHER LOVELY CEMETRIES…bear with me on this one! I know it might sound odd but it’s true, Radovljica’s (and in fact in general throughout the country) two cemetries are so well kept. There is always an abundance of fresh flowers, plants and glowing candles, and a sense of peace prevails. You can admire both the cemetries as you pass on a walk towards the Sava river and the Fux footbridge.

RADOVLJICA REALLY IS A ‘SWEET’ TOWN…in so many ways! Not only is the town’s slogan ‘Honestly Sweet‘ but Radovljica is also the home of the biggest and best chocolate festival in Slovenia and a honey festival too. This year’s Radovljica Chocolate Festival – the 9th in a row – takes place from Friday 17th to Sunday 19th April.

WE LIKE TO STICK TOGETHERTaste Radol’ca is a great example of this. Rather than being in competition with each other, many of Radol’ca’s restaurants have joined forces and, in doing so, have realised and reaped the benefits of cooperation and collaboration. In doing so they are also supporting local farmers, beekeepers and producers of other goods, by including locally sourced ingredients on their menus. Each year there are an increasing number of events at which Taste Radol’ca restaurants are present, such as the Radovljica Chocolate Festival, summer Thursday concert evenings, the November Month of Local Cuisine, various Christmas and New Year events, and more.

WE LOVE OUR BEES…the Museum of Apiculture, the Beekeeping Education Centre of Gorenjska, the ‘Follow a Bee Through Radovljica‘ family adventure, an annual Honey Festival, and numerous beautifully painted apiaries where hardworking bees, and equally hardworking beekeepers, ensure that we have a plentiful supply of local honey.

IT LOOKS GREAT FROM ABOVE OR BELOW…Wherever you view Radovljica from – whether up high in the mountains or down beneaths its terraces – Radovljica’s old town centre with its prominent church is picture postcard stuff! So, whether you choose a stroll beside the Sava river on the Sava River Trail, or one of the marked hiking trails, such as to St. Peter’s church above Begunje, or even higher to the Roblek mountain hut or the peak of Begunščica, you are assured of a great view and a totally different perspective of the beauty of Radovljica and its surroundings.

SEEK OUT BUNKERS FROM THE RUPNIK LINE…the Rupnik Line is a system of fortifications that were built during the 1930’s by the Kingdom of Yugoslavia as a defence line on the border with the Kingdom of Italy. The strategically placed forts and bunkers were never actually used for military or defence purposes, but they at least brought residents a temporary solution to the unemployment and financial troubles which affected them due to the location of the Rapallo Border. In Radovljica there are bunkers on the Obla gorica hill, which is located behind the swimming pool, as well as on the grassy bank in the street Cankarjeva ulicacop. I recently read that, in fact, there are around 50 such bunkers located across the Jelovica plateau, Radovljica and Begunje na Gorenjskem, though, to date at least, I’ve only come across a handful. Hmm, an idea is brewing, how many (more) can I/you find?!

I hope this has given you plenty of ideas for exploring (more of) Radovljica and you’ll agree that’s there’s certainly more than meets the eye!

© Adele in Slovenia

 

Winter Hiking Above Tržič – Kriška gora and Tolsti vrh

Okay, so I know the title of the blog is ‘Winter Hiking Above Tržič…..’, but, as you will see from the pictures below, the weather – thank goodness! – is anything but wintry right now – and long may it continue I say!

We’ve had almost a month with no rain or snow, brilliant blue skies and sunshine – of course, it can’t last indefinitely, but while it does one has to make the most of it! So yesterday, despite waking up to fog in the valley, we headed out for our first winter hike this year in the Tržič area, this time we chose Kriška gora and Tolsti vrh. In places it looked, and felt, more like autumn!

As regular readers will know, I have a penchant for circular hikes, and this is a great one! You can begin the hike from Tržič itself (cca. 2.5 hours to reach the hut), from Zgornje Vetrno, or, as we did, drive up to the village of Gozd, where we parked in the small parking area on the left-hand side of the road, from where we set off on the steeper of the two paths (shown below as strma pot) that leads to the Koča na Kriški gori mountain hut. Should you wish to do the hike in the opposite direction you can drive further up the road to reach the Zavetišče v Gozdu and then set off from there on foot.

It’s such an amazing feeling when you get up above the fog and see the first glimpse of blue sky followed by the ‘sea’ of fog below!

After about 1hr and 15mins of climbing up steeply – very – through the forest, you reach the Koča na Kriski gori mountain hut (1,471m).

You can take a breather here and soak up the views, and/or head inside for some typical Slovenian mountain food.

Slovenia’s highest mountain, Mt Triglav (2,864m), looks particularly majestic on days like these.

Since there is still snow and ice in many places above around 1,500 metres (and over 3 metres of snow in the high mountains) of course, at this time of year one should always have a pair of crampons with them, which, had we done the hike in the opposite direction, would certainly have been needed in a few places today. The patches of ice and snow served as a reminder that it actually is mid-January!

From here you can either pass the hut then take the path that leads at first in an easterly direction before winding its way down through the forest, or, for a longer walk continue along the ridge for another cca. 1hr 15mins to reach the peak of Tolsti vrh (1,715m).

At the top there is a small fenced area where you can take a breather, soak up the views, and sign the record book. In the background you can see Mt. Storžič, which is on my list of peaks to conquer this year, so, more about that to come in the course of this year!

From Tolsti vrh you can take the path that leads directly downwards – steeply at first before levelling out. It takes around 1hr 30 mins to reach the Zavetišče v Gozdu, which is a kind of (non-mountainous!) mountain hut that is open at weekends.

If you need some sustenance after your hike, you could visit Gostilna Pri Bajdu in Senično near Golnik, which you can read about in a previous blog here, or visit one of the other places to eat in the Tržič area.

So, this was a good start to my hikes and adventures in the Tržič area for 2020. Here’s to many more and, in the meantime, check out the Visit Tržič website to find out more!

© Adele in Slovenia