Discovering the Taste(s) of Žirovnica – Gostišče Osvald

Regular readers of my blog will know that I have written numerous posts about the fantastic hiking opportunities the Žirovnica area offers, among them an ascent of Stol, the highest mountain in the Karavanke range. And now, since all hungry hikers (as well as cyclists and those pursuing other active pursuits) need plenty of sustenance and a ‘reward’ for their efforts, I have now set about delving more deeply into what is on offer at Žirovnica’s restaurants and inns – all in the name of research, of course!

So, let’s begin with a popular and traditional Slovenian restaurant – Gostišče Osvald, which is located on the main road through Žirovnica in the hamlet of Selo pri Žirovnici and is the oldest restaurant in the area.

One of my desires when writing such blogs is to try and uncover and share with readers any particular dishes that are a real speciality of a particular restaurant or area. Hence I left it to owner Anže to dish me up his specialties!

I hit gold with this giant buckwheat ‘krap’! ‘Krapi’ are usually smaller, individual dumplings, filled with curd cheese. This giant one, however, has a small amount of yeast mixed into the buckwheat dough to allow it to rise, is filled with a mixture of curd cheese and millet, and topped with pork crackling – ingenious and delicious!

Another speciality of the Žirovnica area is buckwheat with porcini mushrooms. It’s not dissimilar to a mushroom risotto, albeit it with grains of buckwheat instead of rice, with onion, herbs and sour cream to finish. It can be a hearty and filling dish on its own or a side dish.

Served together with a roast, I left fit to burst!

Anže then showed me around the other parts of the deceptively large building, which features two additional rooms for functions.

The restaurant was built in the mid-19th century. In bygone days there was a barn next door for the horses of horsemen who stopped in Selo pri Žirovnici on their onward travels and stayed in rooms above the barn.

Today you too can stay there – though above the restaurant rather than in the barn! – in the recently refurbished attic rooms, which are simple but make a bargain place to stay and ideal base for exploring the area.

Gostišče Osvald is in close proximity to Čopova hisa (Čop’s House), the birth house of Matija Čop, the first Slovenian philologist, literary historian and librarian, one of the greatest European scholars of his time and a good friend and mentor of France Prešeren.

His birth house is now also home to the Žirovnica Tourist Information Centre as well as the Ajdna Museum Room, featuring an exhibition of artefacts found during archeological excavations at Ajdna. Read more about hiking to Ajdna in one of my previous blog posts.

Also close by is the Avenue of Famous Men, located in front of the primary school in Žirovnica, and part of the Žirovnica Path of Cultural Heritage. You can take a horse and cart ride along the path every fourth Saturday in the month from March to October.

The ‘avenue’ features bust statues of five of the most famous and influential men from the Žirovnica area –Anton Janša, France Prešeren, Fran Saleški Finžgar, Janez Jalen and Matija Čop.

Click here for more information about what to see and do in Žirovnica and here for more about what, and where, to taste Žirovnica, and keep an eye out for more ‘tasty’ blogs to come too!

© Adele in Slovenia

(Re)Discover Tržič with Adele in Slovenia!

So, the new year is here and with it, in addition to my regular blogs about Radovljica and Žirovnica, this year I will be exploring another destination for you ; this time I’m turning my attention to Tržič – the dragon’s town!

I’m already quite familiar with the Tržič area, as I LOVE hiking its many fantastic trails, and I’m so excited to now have the chance to delve even deeper into the wealth of natural and historical attractions in the area and to share them with you.

Whilst Tržič might not be an obvious choice for many, the town and its surroundings has a fascinating past and is worth adding to your list of places to visit whilst in Slovenia. Since I know that also a significant percentage of readers of my blog are locals, I hope that, through my blog posts, you too will take the time to (re)discover Tržič; yes, its heyday has been and gone, but it still has a wealth of sights and attractions to offer to each and everyone who takes time to discover it.

The obvious place to start is in the historic old town centre.

At the entrance to the old town centre you can see the last remaining original ‘firbec okenwindow – a window for the inquisitive, or rather, putting it less politely, the nosy!

The bottom of the window protrudes, thus allowing those looking from the window to be able to look directly out and down at those below them – though I can be seen here doing the exact opposite!

Just opposite the window you will find footprints affixed to the ground, which you can follow around the town on the Traces of Industry Trail, which leads to the main sights of interest in and around the old town.

In addition to the window, you can see Kurnik House – the birthplace of the poet Vojteh Kurnik; one of the rooms is devoted to his life and work. The building is an exceptional example of Tržič’s architectural heritage.

And the Germovka forge – the best preserved of its kind in the area.

Although If I’m honest I wasn’t really expecting much of the Tržič Museum, it actually turned out to be the highlight of my recent visit to the old town. Hence, I stand corrected since, following a complete renovation of its museum collections, it is now well up there with some of the best museums in the country. I came away enthusiastically singing its praises to anyone who cares to listen locally and now to you, dear readers, too!

The museum is housed in Pollak’s Mansion (Pollakova kajža), which dates from 1811.

So, it was time to put my best foot forward and discover the inside!

The museum’s numerous collections take you through Tržič’s historic industries including shoemaking, leather, crafts, trade, winter sports, local history, and art.

I particularly liked the fact that so many of the exhibits are interactive, thus making a visit far more interesting and enjoyable, whilst also helping to keep any little ones you have in tow entertained.

The building is also home to the newly-renovated Slovenian Skiing Museum with it’s new ‘Let’s Ski’ exhibition.

So, I hope you will join me in discovering more of Tržič’s history and the area’s myriad hiking and cycling trails, culture, legends, traditional food and more – it promises to be a revelation and adventure for us all!

© Adele in Slovenia

 

Christmas, New Year & Winter Sports in Bohinj

The festive season is upon us and where better to spend it than in beautiful Bohinj, where there will be numerous events and activities going on over the Christmas and New Year period as well as countless opportunities to enjoy some winter sports. So, in this blog I have gathered details of some of the main events and added a few suggestions of my own for how to spend Christmas and New Year in Bohinj.

It remains to be seen whether or not it will be a white Christmas this year. Last year we had early snow, whereas the two previous years there was no significant snowfall until after the New Year. However the early snowfall this year on 20th November has meant that, at the time of writing, preparations are underway for opening at many of Slovenia’s ski resorts.

If you want your fill of winter sports, then you are spoilt for choice in the Bohinj area and Triglav National Park, from skiing and cross-country skiing to hiking, snowshoeing, sledging and ice-skating.

Time for a cuppa to warm up after snowshoeing – at the mountain den on Pokljuka! Photo: Adele in Slovenia

For a unique experience, why not try snowshoeing on the Pokljuka plateau

Me snowshoeing at the Planina Konščica mountain pasture on Pokljuka! Photo: Adele in Slovenia

…or fans of downhill skiing can choose from two easily accessible ski resorts – Vogel and Soriška planina.

The Vogel ski resort is reached by cable car from Ukanc and is up there among Slovenia’s most popular ski resorts. Over an area of 78 hectares it boasts natural snow, 22 kilometres of ski pistes, 8 ski lifts, a children’s ski park and lift, a snow park, a hotel, restaurants, a ski school and equipment rental, sledging tracks, and more.

The Vogel ski resort. Photo: http://www.vogel.si

The Soriška planina ski resort can be reached from Bohinjska Bistrica as well as from Škofja Loka via Železniki and from Most na Soči via Baška Grapa. Over an area of 25 hectares, facilities consist of 8 kilometres of ski pistes, a two-person chairlift, 3 drag lifts, a children’s drag lift, a snow park, a sledging trackcross-country ski trails and a restaurant.

The Soriška planina ski resort. Photo: Adele in Slovenia

I don’t ski, and have no desire to either(!), hence you won’t see any photos of me swishing stylishly (ahem!) down ski pistes, but that doesn’t stop me visiting them!

At the top of the Soriška planina ski resort (without skis!). Photo: Adele in Slovenia

If there is sufficient snow in the valley, there are ample opportunities for cross-country skiing in the Upper and Lower Bohinj Valleys, where there are over 70 kilometres of tracks.

Rezultat iskanja slik

Cross-country skiing in the Upper Bohinj Valley, Photo: Mitja Sodja

Otherwise, there are a number of smaller ski pistes, which are particularly suitable for beginners and families, such as Senožeta and the Pokljuka family ski centre.

The Pokljuka plateau has more than 30 kilometres of excellent cross-country ski tracks, many of which start at the Triglav Pokljuka sports and biathlon centre at Rudno polje, where from 3rd-9th December this year the BMW IBU Biathlon World Cup will take place.

Povezana slika

The Rudno Polje Biathlon Centre, photo: Gorje Tourist Assocation – http://www.vintgar.si

And there are tracks at the beautiful Zajovrnik mountain highland.

Cross-country skiing on the Planina Zajavornik mountain highland, yes, it is me! Photo: Adele in Slovenia

You might even run into some of Slovenia’s military, who have a base on Pokljuka, honing their skiing skills!

Photo: Adele in Slovenia

Pokljuka is also an excellent place for some winter hiking. Among my favourite destinations for winter hikes are Mrežce

Winter hiking on Mrežce on Pokljuka. Photo: Adele in Slovenia

…and Debela peč. Both of which can be reached from the Blejska koča mountain hut.

Winter hiking to Debela peč on Pokljuka. Photo: Adele in Slovenia

If you are unfamiliar with the terrain, however, do be sure to only hike on trodden paths and/or with a guide or local, and ensure you have good quality and sufficient winter equipment.

Nearly at the top! Photo: Adele in Slovenia

If live music and a good old boogie is your thing, then you can take your pick from numerous concerts.

Modrijani, Čuki and Ribič Pepe will be playing live on the 29th December at Camp Danica in Bohinjska Bistrica.

And the following day, at the same location, there will be a concert by Mambo Kings.

On New Year’s Eve you can take your pick of either New Year’s Eve outdoors in Stara Fužina, with entertainment from 9pm, or New Year’s Eve with the Avsenik Ensemble in Ribčev Laz, also from 9pm.

Elsewhere, in Bohinjska Bistrica during winter there is an ice rink next to the Mercator centre, on 1st December the Christmas lights will be officially switched-on in the village of Srednja vas, and kids won’t want to miss a visit to Santa’s Land.

So, enough to be getting on with then in addition, of course, to eating, drinking and being merry during the festive season.

© Adele in Slovenia

 

Autumn Time is Tasty Time in Radol’ca – Taste Radol’ca!

Autumn, thus far, has been a very mixed bag! There have been some beautifully warm, sunny days, but also some bitingly cold, crisp mornings, with the first frost already on 25th September – the coldest September morning since 1977, whereas last year it was exactly a month later, on 25th October, when it was time to start scraping the ice of the car windscreen!

However, some things about autumn are stalwarts, among them the magnificent colours of nature and tasty food in Radol’ca!

Hiking in the Radol’ca area, and in particular in the Karavanke mountains, is wonderful in autumn, especially if you set off on one of those pleasantly warm days, as was the case on my hike last week to Begunščica (2,060m) from the Draga valley, when the views and visibility were quite astounding.

Even the sheep grazing just beneath the peak looked happy that the sky was so blue – and, trust me, no photo-shopping was required, it really was that blue!

And since all that hiking works up and appetite, on to the subject of food – my other great love!

Restaurant Week takes place bi-annually, in spring and in autumn, and makes dining at some of Slovenia’s finest restaurants accessible and affordable to all.

All restaurants that are part of Restaurant Week are assessed and have to meet strict criteria to be included, therefore, the fact that there are three Taste Radol’ca restaurantsVila Podvin, Gostilna Kunstelj, Lambergh Chateau and Hotel, included in the 19 restaurants in northern Slovenia, is a sure testament to the quality of Taste Radol’ca.

This year 100 restaurants are taking part in Spring Restaurant Week and from 12th – 21st October will offer fixed menus for just €18 per personReservations are essential, and many of the restaurants get booked up early, so don’t delay, book today!

In addition, the whole month of November is a celebration of the best of Taste Radol’ca, with all the nine participating Taste Radol’ca restaurants offering special fixed price menus for just €18.

 

This year’s opening event will take place on Friday 26th October at gostilna Joštov hram in Podnart. The evening will begin at 5pm with a farmers’ market, followed by the opening dinner at 7pm.

As in previous years, all the talented Taste Radol’ca chefs will combine their skills, experience and creativity to create a unique and memorable dinner. Reservations can be made from 8th October at the Radovljica Tourist Information Centre. The price of the opening dinner is €39.00 (drinks excluded).

The theme of this year’s Month of Cuisine is honey. Radovljica, as the beekeeping capital of Slovenia, and in the year when World Bee Day was first celebrated, will also end the year on a culinary-based bee theme.

 

I’m looking forward to seeing what inventive menus the chefs will be cooking up for us this year, and I might, just might, blog about it too!

© Adele in Slovenia

Best Autumn Hikes in Bohinj

Though summer will always be my favourite time of the year in Slovenia, autumn comes a close second, particularly when it comes to my favourite pastime – hiking. Though I have titled this blog ‘Best Autumn Hikes in Bohinj‘ in truth it’s almost impossible to pick the ‘best’ hikes in an area with so much natural beauty and so many amazing hiking trails. So, below are just a few of my favourite autumn hikes in Bohinj and Triglav National Park.

To the south of Lake Bohinj, the Lower Bohinj mountain range offers wonderful hikes to suit all; shorter linear walks, longer circular walks or hut-to-hut hikes. As the days shorten in autumn, you can also make great use of the Vogel gondola to take you up or down – I prefer the latter, though I’m guessing I’m in the minority when it comes to that!

I love walking along the ridge, or part of it, that runs between Črna Prst, above Bohinjska Bistrica, to Rodica and onwards to the peak of Šija and down the ski slopes to the Vogel ski resort. Below are some of the highlights of my recent hike through the Bareča dolina valley towards Rodica.

The path starts off gently through the forest…

…before reaching the largely abandoned but nevertheless beautiful Suha mountain pasture.

From here its onwards and upwards to the Čez Suho saddle, where, on a fine day, you are richly rewarded with views as far as the eye can see of the surrounding peaks of the Julian Alps and, to the south, towards Slovenia’s Primorska region. You can also see the path(s) ahead and then take your choice. Turn left for Rodica or right towards Vogel.

On reaching the saddle beneath Šija, it’s just a short 15 minutes to the top, before heading down the ski slopes to the heart of the Vogel ski resort. The paths are well marked throughout.

On the way back, I met some very friendly sheep…

And stopped to ring the wishing bell!

.before reaching Vogel, which is, indeed, ‘Like a fairytale’!

In autumn the hugely popular 7 Triglav Lakes Valley is far less crowded so you can enjoy the best of the valley whilst, at times, even feeling like you have it all to yourself!

Without doubt one of my favourite autumn hikes is to Pršivec, a viewpoint on the north side of Lake Bohinj, where in autumn the colours of the surrounding larch trees, combined with the stunning views of the lake and the surrounding peaks, is truly magnificent.

There is often fog lingering above the lake in autumn, and on reaching the viewpoint at Vogar, you get that smug feeling of being, almost, on top of the world!

Lake Bohinj is at its most spectacular when viewed from Pršivec. It almost seems heart-shaped, well, it certainly captures the heart of all who see it!

I hope this has provided at least a few ideas for autumn hikes in Bohinj; there are countless others, too. So, what are you waiting for, it’s all there, ready for the taking – or rather the hiking! Click here for more about what else to do and do in autumn in Bohinj and here for advice on hiking in Bohinj in autumn.

© Adele in Slovenia

The Begunje Lambergh Trail – Explore Kamen Castle, Archeological Sites and Caves in the Draga Valley

The Lambergh Trail (Lambergova pot) begins at the Krpin recreation area in Begunje na Gorenjskem. It leads through the forest past the ruins of Kamen Castle, passing two small archeological sites, and ending in the lush Draga valley at the Gostišče Draga restaurant, where you can enjoy a drink, snack or slap-up meal to gather your strength for the return journey, or you could even continue further on one of the trails that lead into the Karavanke mountains.

It takes around an hour to walk the almost 8km path (one-way), though if you stop to explore the castle, which is a must(!), then you should allow more time. The terrain is undulating, so good footwear is required. There are information boards along the way where you can find out more.

The Njivice archeological site dates back to the Old Iron Age.

There are vast caves to explore, too, some of which make you feel rather small!

Halfway along the trail you emerge briefly from the forest and are greeted by wonderful views over the upper part of the village.

You then reach the mighty and impressive ruins of Kamen Castle.

The castle was once home to the Counts of Lambergh – hence the name of the trail. It has preserved Gothic and Renaissance entrances and the partial restoration works that were recently carried out have made the castle more accessible.

Kamen Castle was built in the 12th century by the Counts of Ortenburg; later it was owned by the Counts of Celje, and from 1436 the Counts of Lambergh. The counts abandoned the castle in the 18th century when they moved to the more comfortable Katzenstein Mansion in the centre of the village.

The path ends at the Gostišče Draga restaurant at the head of the Draga valley. The restaurant, a member of Taste Radol’ca, is renowned for its game, fresh river trout, and numerous other traditional Slovene dishes.

The štruklji alone, both the sweet and savoury versions, are definitely worth the walk!

You can either return the same way following the signs back to the Krpin recreation centre, or alternatively you could first walk along the valley road beside the stream back to the castle, where you can rejoin the path back to the start.

You could also take time to explore Begunje itself; the Begunje Village Trail is just one of the many theme trails in the Radol’ca area. Click here for more.

© Adele in Slovenia

Triglav 240: Hiking The Jubilee Mountain Trail

Of the many thousands of people who enjoy hiking in the Julian Alps and Triglav National Park, and the many who every year climb to the summit of Slovenia’s highest mountain, Triglav, there is probably only a tiny percentage of those who know, or give any thought to, how, when, and by whom, the summit was first conquered.

So, to coincide with the celebrations for the 240th anniversary since the first recorded summit of Triglav, join me to find out more about the four brave men who first conquered Slovenia’s magnificent 2,864m-high three-headed giant – the word Triglav means ‘three heads’!

The Jubilee Mountain Trail has been created to commemorate the first men who climbed to the summit of Triglav. The entire trail takes around 2-3 days. Along the way you can collect stamps at the nine destinations that make up the trail, or just take time to visit individuals sections, whether in the Bohinj valley or high up in the Julian Alps. It matters not, it’s not a competition, it’s a journey – one of discovery, appreciation and respect for the four brave men who first conquered Triglav, and one of personal satisfaction for each individual who undertakes it.

Since there are no actual documented records of the exact trail originally taken by the four friends, the Jubilee Mountain Trail is based on assumptions, according to where the men lived and how and where they gathered along the way.

The trail begins at the birth house of Štefan Rožič in the village of Savica in the Lower Bohinj valley then continues to Zoisova graščina, a mansion belonging to the initiator of the expedition, Baron Žiga Zois, in Stara Fužina. The village was also home to another of the four brave men, Lovrenc Willomitzer, whilst the remaining two, Matevž Kos and Luka Korošec, were from nearby Jereka and Koprivnik respectively.

From there it continues to the Planinska koča na Uskovnici mountain hut on the Pokljuka plateau, which I wrote more about in a recent blog post here . If you are following the entire trail you can get your next stamp here, or just enjoy and standalone trip, suitable for all the family, to this mountain pasture dotted with wooden weekend homes and cute-as-a-button chapel.

After a relatively gentle start, the trail leads up steeply to the Vodnikov dom na Velem polju mountain hut. The location of this hut, in the still green world of the Julian Alps before the rocky giants take over, makes it a worthy standalone trip – for an out-and-back day hike or as part of a longer hut-to-hut hike, even for those not wishing to walk the entire trail.

If you choose to continue your next target is Slovenia’s highest ‘hotel‘ – the Triglavski dom na Kredarici mountain hut (2,515m). The hut sits on a a ridge beneath Triglav and Rjavina. You have to overcome a few areas with steel ropes and foot rungs to reach it, and rarely is one lucky enough to get there when it isn’t shrouded in cloud, but it’s a welcome sight when you get there!

The large and unique hut even has its own chapelwind turbines and meteorological station. It can accommodate over 300 people and, even though it is officially closed in winter, there are meteorologists present 365 days per year.

Now comes Triglav itself, if you choose to undertake it. The final ascent, and of course the descent too, is considered a fixed climbing route, for which a helmet and harness is required. However, you certainly don’t have to hike to its summit to be able to enjoy and appreciate it. You can admire if from afar, get up close and admire it from below or, for those with a head for heights, go for the top to reach the famous Aljaž Tower.

From Triglav the trail continues to the Dom Planika pod Triglavom mountain hut, or for those who choose not to ascend Triglav itself, you can just descend from the Triglavski dom hut directly to Dom Planika.

From the Planika hut the route returns to the Vodnikov dom hut and then steeply down to the Koča na Vojah hut in the Voje valley, with its picture-perfect backdrop and exceedingly good blueberry pie!

The trail ends at the Monument to Four Brave Men in Ribčev Laz, where at the snack bar opposite the monument, you can get your final stamp, and/or just admire the magnificent monument whilst paying homage to the men who made it all possible!

If you intend to complete the entire trail, be sure to pick up a copy of the Jubilee Mountain Trail booklet before setting off and at each destination ensure you seek out the special Triglav 240 stamp. You have until December 2018 to collect all 9 stamps, and those who do will be eligible to receive a special award at the conclusion of the celebration of the 240th anniversary, which will take place on International Mountain Day on 11 December 2018.

There is a full programme of events taking place throughout the year to mark the anniversary, and on 2nd September there will be a special live TV broadcast ‘Doma pod Triglavom‘ at 8pm which everyone is invited to join, followed by the premiere of a new documentary at 10pm. In addition, a two-day guided hike of the Jubilee Trail will take place on 29th and 30th September – bookings are essential. Contact: info:bohinj.si, or tel: +386 (0)4 574 85 90

© Adele in Slovenia