Hop-On Hop-Off This Summer: Radovljica, Bled, Brezje, Kropa, Kamna Gorica, Begunje, Žirovnica

The Radol’ca Hop-On Hop-Off tourist bus will begin operating on Tuesday 4th July and will run every Tuesday and Thursday during July and August. This year there is an even wider range of places to visit and more things to see and do.

As in previous years a day ticket is great value at just 5 euros. You can get on and off the bus to visit sights of interest along the way, or just enjoy the ride!

On Tuesdays the route is Bled – Radovljica – Kropa, with additional stops at the Šobec Camp, Lesce, Lancovo and Kamna Gorica.

On Thursdays the route is Bled – Vrba – Žirovnica – Begunje – Brezje, with additional stops at Breznica, Spodnji Otok and Podvin.

To whet your appetite here’s a preview of just some of the things you can see and do along the way.

For the first time, this year the bus route includes Žirovnica, where you can visit the new Ajdna Museum Room to find out more about the Ajdna archeological site beneath Mt. Stol where remains were found from a Late Antiquity village dating back over 1400 years.

On especially hot days, a trip to the Završnica valley is an ideal way to seek some tranquillity and shade.

The valley is also a start point for great hikes and bike trips in the Karavanke range, including to the highest peak, Mt. Stol.

You can also visit Noč Beekeeping, where you can see some of the hives belonging to the president of Slovenia’s Beekeeping Association and his family, purchase honey and honey products, and try and buy the exclusive ‘Medena noč’ perfume made with Slovenian honey. You can read more about this in one of my previous blog posts here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/2016/06/06/perfume-made-with-slovene-honey-not-just-an-idea-a-reality/

In Brezje you can see the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians, and the Nativity Museum, or take a walk on the Path of Peace to the Peračica waterfall.

In Kamna Gorica you can walk through the village to see its many waterways, and walk up to the Sextons’ House Museum, which contains an original black kitchen. Its position offers great views over the village and towards the Karavanke mountains.

In Kropa you can visit the Iron Forging Museum, take a stroll through the village to see the former ironworkers houses, or visit the Vigenc Vice Blacksmith to watch a demonstration of manual nail forging.

In Radovljica itself there are numerous things to see and do including a visit to the Lectar Gingerbread Museum and Workshop, the Museum of Apiculture, the Šivec House Gallery, or simply enjoy a stroll through the well-preserved medieval old town and sit at the viewpoint and enjoy the views of the Sava river, the Jelovica plateau and the Julian Alps.

Or why not take the chance to find out more about Slovenian food and wine by enjoying a meal at one of the Taste Radol’ca restaurants or take a Taste Radol’ca Food Tour. More information here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/taste-radolca-tours/

Further information about the Hop-on Hop-off route and timetable can be found here – http://www.radolca.si/en/hop-on-hop-off-radolca/

© Adele in Slovenia

 

 

What’s On in Radovljica June 2017 – A Lot!

Here’s a round-up of the latest news and events taking place in June 2017, of interest to both visitors and locals, in my lovely home town of Radovljica as well as the surrounding towns and villages. I apologise in advance for the long blog, but there’s so much going on!

Any running enthusiasts out there? The annual Radovljica 10k run takes place this year on Friday 23rd June. The race is even featured on the Run International website, since, despite being the smallest event it lists, it is included for having ‘a particularly-beautiful setting’. The route goes through and around the town, from where there are fantastic views of the Sava river, the Julian Alps, the Karavanke mountains, and the Jelovica plateau. You can read more about the event here – http://www.runinternational.eu/2017-calendar/june/2851-radolska-10ka-2017

Every Tuesday you can join a FREE guided tour of Radovljica’s historic old town centre. The tour begins at 10am at the Radovljica Tourist Information Centre at the entrance to the old town in Linhart Square (Linhartov trg).

An exhibition titled ‘Terra Mystica’ is on view in the Radovljica Mansion in the old town until 2nd June. The exhibition showcases products made at the children’s ceramics biennial.

Talking of ceramics, the Festival of the Strength of the Earth (previously known as the Ceramics Festival) took place last Saturday. The main market event took place in Linhart Square, where visitors could see and buy products such as ceramic ware, herbs, seeds, natural cosmetics, and teas.

Photo: Boris Pretnar

Whilst workshops took place at the biodynamic garden at the town primary school.

Photo: Boris Pretnar

The annual month-long Vurnik Days (Vurnikovi dnevi) begins on 1st June in memory of the architect Ivan Vurnik who was born in Radovljica in 1884. Vurnik helped found the Ljubljana School of Architecture and, together with his wife, Helena Kottler Vurnik, they went on to design many notable buildings in Radovljica, as well as further afield in Slovenia.

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

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

The opening event will take place in the Šivec House Gallery on 1st June at 8pm where an exhibition of the work of Ivan and Helena Vurnik will be officially opened by Radovljica’s mayor. More about the gallery can be found here – http://www.radolca.si/en/radovljica-sivec-house-gallery/

All month there will also be a special Vurnik Tasting Menu available at Vila Podvin restaurant. More information here – http://www.vilapodvin.si/

The first Outdoor Cinema (Letni kino) will take place at Linhart Hall (Linhartova dvorana) on Friday 23rd June at 9.30pm when the film The Beatles: 8 Days a Week will be screened. And even better, this kick-off film, that you can enjoy sitting outdoors in the courtyard, is FREE.

On 23rd June the annual Midsummer’s Eve Festival will take place in the shelter of the ruins of Kamen Castle in Begunje na Gorenjskem.

Photo: Miran Kambic

And all this is in addition to the usual natural, historical and cultural sights of the Radovljica area – the historic old town centre, the stunning views of the Karavanke mountains, the Julian Alps, the Sava river, the countless walking, hiking and cycling routes, and the delicious local food on offer at Taste Radol’ca restaurants.

I know, it’s hard to know where to start!

© Adele in Slovenia

Discover Brežice and the Bizeljsko Wine Road

The town of Brežice, in the south-east of Slovenia, is framed by the Gorjanci mountain range, is the location of the confluence of the Sava and Krka rivers, home to the magnificent Brežice Castle and other sights of interest, as well as being close to Bizeljsko and the Bizeljsko-Sremič Tourist Wine Route and the Čatež Thermal Spa.

During my stay at the Čatež Thermal Spa, I took time to ‘Discover Brežice’ – as the town’s tourism slogan goes. I set off by bike and first headed to the Brežice Castle and Museum, which is without doubt the jewel among the town’s historic buildings.

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The Renaissance castle was turned into a residential castle by the aristocratic Attems family in the late 17th/early 18th century. The Baroque painted Knights’ Hall is most definitely the pièce de résistance and really has to be seen to be able to appreciate its full magnificence and the vibrancy of colours.

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The 46 metre-high Brežice Water Tower was built in 1914 in order to provide the town with water. It no longer serves its original purpose but remains the most visible and well-known of the town’s landmarks. Today you can sit in the café on the ground floor and look up to enjoy the view!

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Whilst in the area you simply must drive, cycle, or walk, along part of the Bizeljsko-Sremič Tourist Wine Road and pay a visit to a ‘repnice‘ – quartz sand caves which are nowadays used for storing wine.

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From Brežice it took around 45 minutes by bike to reach the Najger repnice. The area’s landscape has an almost Tuscan feel to it and, although I was cycling on main roads, traffic was light and it was a pleasurable and scenic ride. The area is part of the Kozjanso Nature Park – one of the oldest and largest protected areas in Slovenia.

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Not really knowing what to expect, I found the Najger repnice absolutely fascinating. Repnice caves were originally used for storing turnips (‘repa‘ in Slovene, hence the name ‘repnice‘) during winter, at the time when turnips were the main fodder for livestock.

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These days, the caves, made from dug out quart sand, are used for storing wine and visitors have a chance to taste and buy some of the excellent home-made wines, accompanied by a plate of home-produced cheese and dried meats, or other homemade delights.

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The rooms inside the caves are at a constant temperature, offering perfect conditions for storing wine. To really understand the marvel of these caves it is necessary to understand how much work went in to digging them out; for each small room it took around 3 months of working 8 hours per day. Now if that isn’t hard labour and dedication I don’t know what is. The results, however, were well worth it!

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If you look closely at the sandstone you can make out various natural shapes and patterns. Which animal can you see here?

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Following the tour of the cave there was also the chance to buy some of the home-produced wine, at more-than reasonable prices, which makes an idea gift or a treat for yourself – it was sweet muscat wine for me!

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The vast Terme Čatež Thermal Spa is one of the main attractions in the area and offers year-round water-based fun for all the family. You can read a full account of my visit here – http://wp.me/p7jQx9-8y

In bygone days, boats and ferries regularly transported people and goods from one side of the Sava river from the Čatež Thermal Spa to the village of Mostec and back. Nowadays, the special ‘brod’ ferries offer short pleasure trips along the river.

 

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The 7-day Brežice My Town Festival, the largest festival in the Posavje region, takes place annually at the end of June and attracts thousands of visitors from Slovenia and neighbouring countries. The festival programme includes a wide range of concerts, performances, activities for children, sports challenges and a chance to sample some of the best local cuisine.

For more information about all the above visit the Discover Brežice website – http://www.discoverbrezice.com/EN/

© Adele in Slovenia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kopalisce Radovljica 1932

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

Brezje 1965-1967

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

Zadruzna gospodarska banka Lju 1922

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

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

darilo slovenske arhitekture Vurnik center arhitekture 2014

© AdeleinSlovenia 2016

Reflections & New Year in Slovenia

If someone were to ask me what would be your ideal weather for Christmas, my answer would have fitted exactly what we had. I couldn’t have asked for a better Christmas present than the perfect cloudless skies and warm winter sunshine we had last week. My parents were here from the UK for Christmas and the three of us sat outside having a picnic lunch on Christmas Day. Who’d have thought that possible!

However, not all the country were so lucky as many places were, again, shrouded in fog. This is the view on Boxing Day looking down from Možjanca, near Preddvor.

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During my parent’s visit we packed in plenty of sights including a trip to the Christmas market in Ljubljana.

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A visit to Kranj to watch the very popular annual Christmas tuba concert (tuba božički) – to get us in the festive mood.

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On Christmas Eve we went to see the preparations for mass at the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Brezje http://www.radolca.si/en/brezje-basilica/

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On Christmas Day we visited a tourist farm (more about that next week), visited friends, watched the Ana Snežna street show in the old town of Radovljica, and finished the day with a meal at Kunstelj Inn in Radovljica.

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If you haven’t already decided how and where to see in the new year, here are some ideas of what’s on in Radovljica and the surroundings and also further afield.

On 30th December there will be a pre-New Year’s Eve party for children at 4pm in Linhart Square, whilst on New Year’s Eve the merriment will take place, also in Linhart Square, with live music from the Avsenik House Ensemble. More information here – http://www.radolca.si/en/what-to-do/events-1/festive-december-in-linhart-square/83/110/

If food, and of course drink, is on your mind, then look to one of the Taste Radol’ca restaurants, though hurry as some are already fully booked. Amongst others, Kunstelj Inn is offering a 4-course menu of local food for 33 euros, Grajska gostilnica  is offering a 6-course New Year’s Eve menu for just 37 euros per person and Gostišče Tulipan has a 4-course menu with live music for 28 euros per person.

Further afield, the capital, Ljubljana, is a popular destination to spend New Year’s Eve, with plenty happening all over the city or, if the weather is fine, spending New Year’s Eve in one of Slovenia’s many mountain huts can also be a magical. One year I walked up to the Sankaška hut above Begunje, from where, on a clear day/night, there are fantastic views and I was able to enjoy watching many fireworks displays across the valley. So, if the weather plays game and that appeals, don your hiking gear and a head torch and head on up there. More information here – http://www.radolca.si/en/st-peters-trail-begunje/

I have now been writing this blog for exactly three years. In that time it has had over 90,000 views from all over the world and this year I was delighted and proud that it was also officially recognised by the Slovenian Tourist Organisation and now also features on the homepage of their website – http://www.slovenia.info/en/Blog-Adele-in-Slovenia/Adele-in-Slovenia.htm?adele_slovenia=0&lng=2

People often ask me how I come up with so many ideas for what to write about and if I ever run out of ideas. Actually, sometimes I still have too many ideas so, if you keep reading, I’ll keep writing, and may the journey continue to make 2016 an even more successful year for Adele in Slovenia!

I wish all readers a very, very Happy & Healthy New Year!

 

New Culinary Experiences & Cycling Tours in Radol’ca

There’s lots happening in the Radol’ca area right now so here’s a round up of the latest news.

NEW: ALL DAY BREAKFAST- Gostilna Kunstelj in Radovljica is now serving an all-day breakfast!

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The breakfast is not your usual fry-up, but instead the focus is on homemade and/or locally produced food and drink, typical of the area, and includes; cold meats and cheeses, homemade bread with butter and honey from a local beekeeper, apple juice and honey liqueur, eggs baked with home-grown herbs and more.

Weather permitting, breakfast may be taken outside on the terrace with wonderful views of the Julian Alps, the Jelovica plateau, and in the cool beneath the small Wine Square area which is home to a descendant of Slovenia’s oldest vine – located in Maribor – which is over 400 years old and is listed in the Guinness Book of Records – http://maribor-pohorje.si/the-old-vine–the-oldest-vine-in-the-world.aspx

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In addition to the new all-day breakfast, Gostilna Kunstelj have now prepared a special area for private picnic dining for up to 8 people in a shaded area, again with the wonderful views mentioned above. By prior arrangement, buffets, finger food, or traditional Slovene menus can be served. See here for more information – http://www.kunstelj.si/

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NEW: FREE BIKE TOURS – If you are visiting the Radol’ca area this summer, are staying in accommodation within the Municipality of Radovljica, and would like to see more of the area at a leisurely pace by bike, you can avail of new FREE guided bike tours. The guided trips begin from the Šobec Camp, or can also be joined at Lesce Railway Station, and en-route visit Radovljica, Mosnje, Brezje and Begunje. More information is available here – http://www.radolca.si/en/free-guided-cycling-tour/

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NEW: FRESH THURSDAYS IN THE SQUARE – Every Thursday in July there is live entertainment in Linhart Square, the heart of Radovljica’s old town, in the form of street theatre and live music. Last week we were entertained by the Šugla Street Theatre and later the Krško Big Band. This week there’s more from the Šugla Street Theatre to be followed by music from Marko Hatlak & Funtago. Everyone welcome!

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© AdeleinSlovenia 2015