Winter Hikes on the Jelovica Plateau

So, in addition to the ongoing (and boy is it going on…) coronavirus situation, in this part of Slovenia we have already had the highest snowfall in 43 years – and winter is far from over. I, for one, hope it’s also the last time for the next 43 years!

Regular readers of my blog will know I’m not a fan of snow, so this is by far, already, the hardest winter for me since moving here in 2007, and with the restrictions in place due to ‘the’ virus, there’s nowhere to escape, and no way of escaping, snow, so one just has to put on a brave face and plenty of winter clothing and get out there and ’embrace’ it.

Yesterday was the first day for around a month that it was due to be sunny, albeit it bitterly cold, so it was finally time to head out for a long hike to get some photos for my blog. Due to the restrictions in place, as well as the snow, there’s not a huge choice of places to go where a) we are allowed to go, b) the risks of avalanche are minimal, c) there are no problems with parking and no crowds – the latter turned out to be a particularly good move as the headlines on the news on Saturday were about the major traffic problems in the most popular winter sports areas. Thus, the obvious choice for us was the Jelovica plateau, which is right on our doorstep and which we can reach on foot from home. In fact, we’ve grown to love the wide choice of routes on the plateau so much, they are now likely to become a staple among our local hikes, even when we are allowed to go further from home!

We started from home in Radovljica at 8.30am, first down to Lancovo and then onwards towards the hamlet of Kolnica in Spodnja Lipnica.

From there we continued up to the Suharna viewpoint above the Lipnica valley. You can also read more here about my first hike to Suharna earlier in the year, which, believe me, was a lot easier than trudging through the snow now!

It usually takes around an hour to reach the viewpoint but you always need to allow about half as much time again when walking in snow, and even more if the snow is knee (or thigh!) deep.

After hiking up through the forest you reach a road (yes, that really is a road you can ‘see’ below!), where the ‘path’ to Suharna continues to the left. The path is well marked throughout, provided the signs are visible beneath the snow, that is!

From the viewpoint there are far-reaching views across the Radovljica plains, the Karavanke mountains, the Kamnik-Savinja Alps and towards the Ljubljana basin.

Just don’t get too close to the edge as there is a sheer drop beneath that snow behind me!

We decided not to take a seat on the bench – can’t think why! – and instead returned to the intersection of paths and began our way, slowly, towards the Vodiška planina mountain pasture.

There are numerous paths that lead to the mountain pasture. This one proved to be a good option as we met few people along the way and it allowed us to do an entirely circular hike. Fortunately someone – though it looked like only one person – had already hiked that way that morning, so the trudge through the snow was at least somewhat easier.

From Suharna it would usually take around 1.15 hours to reach the Partizanski dom mountain hut on Vodiška planina but, again, it took us quite a bit longer due to the snow and we finally reached the mountain hut at just after 12.30pm, thus four hours after leaving home.

A flask of tea is an essential in winter, and even more so now when the huts are closed.

From the hut there are numerous paths the lead down towards Kropa. We took the one that leads towards the Stočje – the lower part of Kropa – which brings you out near the swimming pool.

The mountain pasture is only 1,108m and there’s over a metre of snow, whereas in the higher mountains there is over 3 metres of snow this year already. So, if you do plan any winter hiking, please do ensure you only choose familiar and/or well-trodden paths that are low risk in terms of avalanches and, of course, you need the full gamut of winter gear including gaiters, crampons, an ice axe (if going higher) and not forgetting a flask of tea!

From there we returned along the pavement to Kamna Gorica and from there we took the path that leads over the Fuxova brv footbridge back to Radovljica. The total hiking time from door-to-door was around 7 hours, and two pleasantly tired hikers certainly enjoyed their (gluten free!) pizzas once home!

You can read more ideas for winter hiking in my previous blog ‘5 Great Winter Hikes in Radovljica’

© Adele in Slovenia

A Different December in Radovljica!

As you might expect, the festive season is going to be somewhat different this year in Radovljica, and, in fact, in Slovenia as a whole. Am I rocking the mask look?!

Unfortunately, Slovenia is faring far less well second time round and, at the time of writing (1 December), the situation is thus: there is a curfew in place from 9pm to 6am; all restaurants/bars etc. are closed; all non-essential shops are closed; we are not allowed outside of the municipality where we live; masks must be worn at all times outdoors too, other than in ‘green’ areas where it is possible to ensure a 3 metre distance from others; there is no public transport; mixing with others is not allowed other than with immediate family members; all sports events/public events etc. are cancelled. So, as you can imagine, the atmosphere is not as festive as it could be, but that doesn’t mean that Christmas has been cancelled; this year it will just be more ‘intimate’, which isn’t always a bad thing!

However, with the festive season upon us, there is a glimmer of hope and a twinkle of fairy lights, and Radovljica is looking even more picture-perfect than ever! So, let’s focus on what you CAN see and do right now, rather than what you CAN’T!

A stroll through the historic old town centre of Radovljica is pleasant and interesting whatever the time of year, but even more so in the festive season. Tourism Radol’ca have really gone to town this year with this festive lights, which now not only adorn Linhart Square but also the town park and the square in front of St. Peter’s church.

To get you in the festive spirit, below you can watch the switching on the festive lights in Radovljica, which took place at 5pm today.

The theme of this year’s decorations is Radovljica’s long tradition of wickerwork.

This year, despite the lack of an advent market and live events/performances, you can still enjoy an ‘adventure’ in the form of the new ‘Journey to the Fairies’ Tree‘.

Of course, and thank goodness, nature hasn’t been affected by the virus – some would argue it has in fact got even better due to less pollution – thus taking to the forest is a great way to socially distance too! So, check out the array of themed hiking trails and short hikes ideal for little ones in the Radol’ca area.

We’ve been hiking a lot on the Jelovica plateau of late, since we can’t go that far from home due to the restrictions. There has been a lot of fog in the valley so getting up above it – as we did last Saturday – is certainly worth the effort!

In addition, a number of the Taste Radol’ca restaurants are offering home delivery and/or take-away food, so you can also have a day – or days – off cooking over the festive season, and you can even pick up fresh ingredients and treats from the vending machine in front of Gostilna Kunstelj!

You can keep up-to-date with the latest information on the COVID-19 situation here and find out more about the latest events, well, as and when there will be any – in the Radol’ca area here.

To end, I wish you all a very happy and, of course, more importantly healthy, Christmas and New Year and hope to be back with you soon with some more positive news!

© Adele in Slovenia

 

Radovljica to Jamnik…the long way round!

So, having done so well in the first round of COVID-19, unfortunately Slovenia is faring much less well second time around.

We are now back to a partial lockdown, and as of 19th October the Slovenian government officially (re)declared an epidemic and also introduced a curfew from 9pm to 6am. We are not allowed out of our region, bars and restaurants are closed, as are all non-essential shops (as of tomorrow), home schooling is in place for year 6 upwards, and masks must be worn outdoors too at all times, other than when doing individual sports such as cycling.

Hence, the best place to be by far – other than alone on your bike(!) – is in the forest and far from the madding crowd. So, that’s exactly where we headed last weekend; from Radovljica to Jamnik via Kamna Gorica, on foot all the way there and back!

There are several paths that lead up to Jamnik and its landmark church from Kropa, or you can drive (or cycle) up the windy road. If, however, you want to make a full day of it and you haven’t got transport, you could follow my lead and go the whole way on foot!

First head from the old town of Radovljica past the cemetery and down to the Sava river where you cross the Fux footbridge (Fuxova brv) and follow part of the Lipnica Castle Trail.

Instead of turning off the path towards Lipnica Castle, at the junction of paths with a shrine and an information board, as seen below, continue straight on towards Kamna Gorica.

You soon get your first glimpse of the Church of the Holy Trinity, which stands above the village.

Walk through the village then rejoin the road and walk on the pavement, with the stream to your left, until you reach a sign on the right, almost opposite the bus stop, for Vodiška planina (the Vodiška mountain pasture).

Walk up the tarmac road which soon becomes a forest trail. From here on the path is well marked with the usual red/white circles on trees.

Most of the trail runs through dense forest, so there isn’t much in the way of views, but when there is a gap between the trees it makes the effort worthwhile!

After around 1.5 hours of walking you reach the Vodiška planina mountain pasture and the Partisanski dom mountain hut (currently also shut due to the virus).

If you’d like a shorter version of this hike then you could now take one of the paths that lead directly down to Kropa. Should you wish to continue, then just keep following the signs to Jamnik.

And lookout for the viewpoint with a bench along the way!

…from there on its downhill all the way to Jamnik! We experienced almost four seasons in one day – sunny when we left Radovljica, a hailstorm on the way down towards Jamnik, then shrouded in fog when we got there. Oh well, you can’t have everything!

On a fine(r) day, it usually looks more like this and there are great panoramic views too!

So, despite everything, it’s still possible to enjoy the beauty of nature but, of course, do heed all the precautions and, above all, stay well and safe.

© Adele in Slovenia

 

 

The Šlibar Organic Farm – A Real(ly) Rural Retreat

Isn’t is just great when you go somewhere not expecting much, only to find it’s so much more than you imagined? That was exactly the case when I recently visited the Šlibar organic farm in Kovor, near Tržič.

In addition to very much being a working farm, four years ago the family decided to make further use of its vast grounds by adding seven rustic-style glamping huts, which have proven to be a real hit!

There are two styles of huts, as can be seen above. They differ only on the outside, while the well-appointed interiors are all pretty much the same.

Each of the wooden huts has one main room with a double bed as well as a separate nook with two single mattresses for kids.

Outdoors each hut has its own cooking area with basic equipment, while there is also a shared outdoors covered kitchen area just metres from the huts, and each hut also has its own designated toilet and shower located just a short walk from the huts. An organic breakfast, featuring produce from the farm, is included in the price of a stay.

The farm also has its own small shop that sells home-grown produce and home-produced beer and spirits, jams, pasta and other grains.

I couldn’t try it, since coeliac disease and beer do not mix, however, word has it that the home-produced beer is excellent, and judging by the crate loads that one customer was buying at the time of my visit, it must be true!

Kids will love the animals…

…and the abundance of space to be… kids. Well, you’re never too old, as they say!

The peaceful, rural location, farm and domestic animals, organic food, and great views too – it all adds up to a truly organic experience!

The farm is a destination in itself as well as a great place to base yourself for exploring, hiking and cycling in the surrounding area. Nearby hikes, which I have blogged about in the past, include Kriška gora and Tolsti vrh, Košutica, Dobrča, the Born Trail from Ljubelj to Preval, and the peaks and mountain pastures on, and below, Slovenia’s longest mountain – Košuta.

So, whether you are still undecided where to use your tourist vouchers (for Slovenian citizens only – a government measure to stimulate tourism re COVID-19), or you are planning to visit Slovenia and seeking somewhere a bit ‘off the beaten track’, the Šlibar Organic Farm could be just the place for you!

Find out more about what else to see and do in the Tržič area here.

© 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