Kamna Gorica…from above and below!

The Zijavka (505m) viewpoint above the village of Kamna Gorica in the Lipnica valley is an ideal destination for an easy family walk (and for any unfortunate souls like me who are plagued by balance, or similar, problems, and can’t hike up to lofty heights!).

If you are arriving by car, then park your car at, or near, the sports ground in Kamna Gorica, then cross the main road towards the shrine.

Continue ahead past the Pr’ Matic glamping cabins – declared an official ‘stress-free’ zone!

Then past some cute, friendly sheep – though I can’t guarantee they will be there (or that they will be so friendly!) at the time of your visit!

After cca. 150 metres you reach a junction of paths, where there is an information board showing the various onward routes.

For the best views, take the path to Zijalka, which leads up to the right through the forest. After just a few hundred metres you reach a junction of paths, where you can make a quick diversion to see an interesting rock formation (photo opportunity!), before returning to the junction and taking the path straight ahead.

Continue on the path, which gently ascends through the forest. You don’t really need hiking poles for this walk, as it’s easy and short, however, my current lack of balance (read my previous blog post here to find out more) means they are (almost literally!) a lifesaver for me right now.

After about 15 minutes you reach the Zijalka viewpoint, from where there are magnificent views over the village of Kamna Gorica with the Jelovica plateau in the background.

 

You can see the Church of the Holy Trinity, the Sextons’ Museum House (the building to the left of the church), the linden tree in the centre of the village, and the houses in this former iron forging village. And, after having seen them from above, why not head back down for a stroll through the village to check out what they look like up close!

To end, just a brief update on the COVID situation here. The tourist season is in full swing, with the majority of camps and other accommodation facilities in the area full, or almost full (mostly with people driving here from other parts of Europe). There are, however, still some restrictions in place, primarily the ‘tested/recovered/vaccinated’ requirement to enter Slovenia, and masks are still required in some enclosed places. Virus numbers are beginning to creep up again, however, so do ensure you check ahead of your visit if anything has changed.

© Adele in Slovenia

 

 

Hiking in Tržič – Dom pod Storžičem

Due to an ongoing vestibular problem (more on that later), for the past five months I haven’t been able to do the kind of adventurous hikes that I’m accustomed too. Fortunately, there are plenty of hikes of all levels in the hills and mountains in the area where I live. So, this time, I decided that, since I can’t scale the dizzy heights of Mt. Storžič itself, I can at least walk to the Dom pod Storžičem mountain hut (1,123m) beneath it and gaze up longingly at it, hoping that one day I might again be able to make it to the top of this, and other, mountains.

The walk from Grahovše to the Dom pod Storžičem mountain hut makes an ideal family walk. It only takes around an hour and isn’t strenuous.

To reach the starting point in the village of Grahovše, drive through Tržič in the direction of the Dovžan gorge (Dovžanova soteska) until you reach a road on the right that leads up to the hamlet of Slap. Note: if you don’t have a car, you can start the walk here, and you should allow an extra hour or so to reach the mountain hut.

Follow the road up to the idyllic village of Lom pod Storžičem, with its imposing church.

Drive onwards to reach the village of Grahovše, where you will see a large gravel parking area on the left-hand side. Although it is possible to continue further by car, the tarmac road turns into a track, and there is also a notice opposite the aforementioned parking area, requesting that visitors kindly park in the allocated parking area, thus respecting life for the villagers and helping to preserve nature.

After just a few hundred metres you reach a junction and a signpost to the left marked Dom pod Storžičem. Follow the dirt road and you will soon get your first glance of majestic Mt. Storžič (2,132m) – the highest mountain in the western part of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps.

Continue on the road adjacent to the stream for around 10-15 minutes, passing a source of fresh water (on the left) and a somewhat hidden shrine (on the right).

On reaching a junction, you can either continue on the road (the longer, less scenic route) or take the right fork uphill (the more direct, scenic route). The latter soon leads up over a pasture with a few scattered wooden huts.

A short, steep incline awaits then, before you know it, you’ve reached the mountain hut.

From the hut, those wanting a longer, full-day hike, have several options. You can hike to the top of Storžič (cca. 3 hours from the hut), but note that part of the route is considered demanding, so only experienced and well equipped hikers should tackle it, or up to Tolsti vrh (cca. 2 hours from the hut), among other options.

If, however, the hut itself is your destination, then sit back and enjoy a drink and/or snack before heading back to the valley. The strudel looked delicious, though, of course, not gluten free so I could only look on. Note: in order to be able to sit indoors the hut, you must have proof of being double vaccinated, or have a negative COVID-19 test, or proof that you have recovered from the virus in the past 6 months. There are no restrictions on sitting outside the hut.

Click here for more information about this and other walks in the Tržič area.

Finally, as I mentioned above, without wishing to whinge in public, I feel I owe it to regular readers and followers of my blog, particularly those that use it as a source of reference/inspiration for hiking in Slovenia, to write a short word about my current ‘problem’ (since I’m not even sure what to call it). At the end of February this year my world changed, when I thought there had been an earthquake, but it turns out it was something going on in my head, i.e. my inner ear. Since then I have felt as if I’m on a boat on rough seas 24/7, with the world swaying and rocking around me, and the accompanying feeling of sea sickness. I’ve seen 7 doctors/specialists, had scans and various tests, and even tried several types of alternative medicine, but all to no avail. To the outside world I look fine, but, believe me, inside my head it’s a living nightmare, which I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, and it’s something no one can possibly understand unless they have had vestibular-type issues. Therefore, with little to no balance, my adventurous outdoor pursuits are currently resigned to those of someone twice my age, but I’m trying (though not always succeeding) to remain optimistic, and keep as active as I can. And on that note, until next time…

© Adele in Slovenia

Rock to the Rhythm of Summer in Radol’ca!

After almost a year-and-a-half of preventative measures of varying degrees, Radol’ca’s summer events calendar kicks off in style this week, with almost a year-and-a-half’s worth of events in just one week!

The first event, and one that many have been waiting (im)patiently for, is the Queen Real Tribute Band, who were lined up to perform at the 2020 Radovljica Chocolate Festival, and who were also on standby for this year’s festival – both of which were cancelled, though a somewhat smaller festival is scheduled for 11th and 12th September this year – and will now finally be on stage this Thursday 1st July in the first of a series of Thursday evening concerts throughout July. The evening is due to start at 8pm with a Taste Radol’ca culinary market in the Radovljica park, which is open to all, followed by the band at 9pm (ticketed event).

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Those more interested in traditional Slovenian folk music can head for nearby Begunje na Gorenjskem where live music evenings have now resumed at Gostilna Avsenik (ticketed events) – the home of Slovenian folk music – with the Avsenik House Ensemble and other guest Slovenian folk music ensembles.

Fotografija: Ansambel Saša Avsenika začenja novo poglavje.

During this current heatwave, for many a cold beer is bound to hit the spot, so the Radovljica Craft Beer Festival, which takes place on Saturday 3rd July from 12noon onwards, is the place to be. The festival will be held in the Radovljica park and feature a food market with Slovenian craft beers and Taste Radol’ca food.

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Okusi Piva Radovljica

The Kropa Iron Forging Festival takes place on the same day, Saturday 3rd July. So, be sure to plan the day well and, in fact, why not head for Kropa first then stop off at Radovljica on the way back, but remember: Don’t drink and drive!

The festival will run from 10am to 6pm and includes free entrance to the Iron Forging Museum throughout the day, a reenactment of the life of Kropa’s blacksmiths with the Cofta Drama Group at 12noon in the Vigenjc Vice forge, a small craft market, open day at the UKO wrought iron factory, a demonstration of smelting iron ore, and more.

Also on the same day – yes, there’s more! – the regular monthly Vila Podvin farmers market takes place in the garden of Vila Podvin (one Michelin Star) from 10am to 12noon, where you can meet local producers and suppliers, and sample and buy their products.

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Once you have recovered from all of the above, there are plenty of other events coming up through the month of July. Check out the events calendar for more details.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for somewhere (else) to ‘chill’, the Radovljica swimming pool is the ideal place to cool off at this time of year. I took this snap of it looking glorious in the sunshine earlier today from Obla gorica, the small hill behind the pool.

Note: many of the events are still subject to social distancing measures and are now ticketed, so be sure to check out the Visit Radol’ca website for the latest information.

© Adele in Slovenia

The Rosary Bead Trail – The World’s Largest Natural Rosary Bead!

While I can’t be certain whether the claim of the Rosary Bead Trail that it is “the largest natural rosary bead in the world” holds true, it certainly is a lovely walk that connects four churches and leads through remote villages and countryside. Be sure to add it to your list of things to see and do while exploring the Gorenjska area!

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Though originally designed as a pilgrimage trail, this 12km circular trail is also a great way to escape the crowds and appreciate the beauty of the unspoilt countryside between Tržič and Radovljica.

The trail begins in Brezje at the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians – Slovenia’s national pilgrimage sanctuary – from where in five stages it follows a route through the forest, across streams, through villages and along country lanes, and all in the shape (when viewed from above) of a rosary bead.

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Below is an overview of, and a few insights into, the trail.

The first part leads from the basilica to the junction for Peračica. The first trail marker is at the rear of the basilica, from where you should set off in an easterly direction for 100 metres towards the yellow roads sign for Peračica and Dobro polje. Follow the road towards Peračica steeply downhill, passing a sign for the Path of Peace (Pot miru), until you reach a junction and the next trail marker with a map of the trail.

The trail is well marked throughout with green markers on trees as well as cement posts with plaques showing where you are on the trail.

Turn right and follow the country lane, passing another trail marker (on the right) and a colourful, traditional Slovenian apiary (on the left). The road leads down to cross a stream and then later, at a sign for Kovor, the trail branches off from the road into the forest.

Unless otherwise marked, keep straight ahead ignoring any paths that branch off to the left or right. You will reach a small wooden bridge over a stream with a bench, which is an ideal place to take a break.

The trail now leads slightly uphill to reach another fork where you take the path uphill to the left, which eventually emerges in the village of Kovor.

From Kovor the path continues towards Brezje pri Tržiču, not to be confused with the village of Brezje where the walk begins! This part of the route is on quiet country lanes with beautiful views of the countryside and hamlets beneath Mt. Dobrča.

On reaching Brezje pri Tržiču, there is a shrine and an information point with a visitors book.

I thought I knew the area pretty well, but from here I was in unknown territory and discovered a few villages in the municipality of Tržič, such as Vadiče, that I didn’t even know existed!

The final part of the trail leads to the village of Leše, from where it leads back to the start at the basilica in Brezje.

Click here to read more about this and other footpaths, hiking trails and other natural and cultural attractions in the Tržič area. The Tržič area, as well as the rest of the country, is now slowly reopening to tourists. There are various requirements for entry, depending on whether the country you are coming from is on Slovenia’s green, orange, red or dark red list. Click here for the latest information, but note that it can literally change overnight – as it did yesterday.

© Adele in Slovenia

A Celebration of World Bee Day (and my birthday!) at the Renovated Museum of Apiculture, Radovljica

After a renovation that began in autumn 2020, the Museum of Apiculture is due to officially re-open tomorrow – Saturday 22nd May. I went for a sneak preview of the new exhibition yesterday on World Bee Day, which just also happens to be my birthday! So, what better way to celebrate (especially since we are still fairly restricted in terms of what we can do and where we can go) than by going to see the new exhibition.

It would be fairly impossible to live in Radovljica and not acquire an interest in, and affection for, bees. Not only is it home to the Museum of Apiculture, but it is also home to the ‘Follow a bee through Radovljica‘ family beekeeping adventure through the town, an annual honey festival, the Beekeeping Education Centre of Gorenjska, and the landscape is dotted with numerous brightly-coloured painted apiaries.

Lately, I’ve also learnt even more about bees, since I translated all the material for the new exhibition at the Museum of Apiculture, so visiting and being able to see the final result was even more satisfying.

Even if you’ve never paid that much attention to bees, I recommend a visit to the museum; you will be amazed by some of the facts and figures attesting to the importance of bees in our daily lives, and you can get ‘up close and personal’ with a bee family in the observation hive, which is a real highlight.

I won’t give too much away, since you simply must visit for yourself, but here are just a few of the fascinating facts about bees and an insight into the newly renovated museum, which is housed in the beautiful Radovljica Manor in the old town centre of Radovljica.

Did you know, for example, that the Slovenian indigenous bee is the Carniolan honey bee (Apis mellifera carnica) and it is the second most widespread honey bee in the world. The Carniolan bee is protected by Slovenian law and it is the only species allowed in the country. It is known for its exceptional calmness and tameness, while at the same time it provides good yields from pastures and is disease-resistant.

The new exhibition features numerous interactive points and video content, and there’s plenty to keep kids amused too – whether young or old!

Slovenia is known for its beehives, the frontal panels of which are painted with various colourful motifs, folk art telling old myths and stories. Slovenia is thought to be the only country in the world that follows this age-old practice. You can learn more about this and see an exhibition of various painted panels, including the oldest known of its kind in the world.

You can also learn about where in the world the Carniolan bee is present, all thanks to Slovenia’s great and prolific beekeepers!

Click here to find out more about this museum, as well as the other museums and galleries in Radovljica’s old towns and the surroundings of Radovljica.

© Adele in Slovenia

Tržič – ‘a crowdless paradise’

As our thoughts are slowly beginning to turn to planning holidays, this year – more than ever – it makes sense to choose a destination for your holiday that is ‘far from the madding crowd’.

Slovenia, fortunately, has plenty such destinations (my tip is to be sure to avoid the overcrowded places during the height of summer – Bled, in particular, as well as to some extent Piran, the Postojna caves, Ljubljana…). Radol’ca, where I live and about which I wrote last week, is one such uncrowded place, while Tržič, which is just a stone’s throw away, is another.

So, this time I’ve put together plenty of reasons why you should consider visiting Tržič, whether for a few hours, a day or two, or even as somewhere to base yourself for your entire stay in Slovenia.

Tržič is located in the Gorenjska (alpine) region of Slovenia and is separated from Austria by the Karavanke mountains, hence it’s a hiker’s paradise.

It would be hard to single out any one hike, but among my favourites are Kriška gora and Tolsti vrh

The Born Trail from Ljubelj to Preval, which is especially interesting, but don’t forget a torch…

Košutica, also known as Ljubeljska Baba,…

…and Šija, which lies beneath the ridge of Slovenia’s longest mountain.

On a side note, the equally relevant, the Slovenian tourist board has also stepped up its activities to promote the country as one with responsible travel standards under the label GREEN & SAFE and Tržič is one of the Slovenia GREEN destinations.

If you are looking for somewhere to stay, why not choose a stay at the Šlibar organic farm or glamping at Glamping Mountain Fairytale – both ideal places for some r&r – though there are numerous other choices of accommodation, too.

The Gorenjska plaža (Gorenjska beach) swimming pool is the ideal place to cool off during the heat of the summer, while the Trziška bistrica stream and the area’s waterfalls are other places to ‘chill’!

With all those mountains, mountain pastures and forests, there’s also plenty of cycling to be done – particularly for fans of mountain biking – while the Dovžan gorge is an adventure as well as a(nother) ideal place to cool off in the heat of summer.

There’s something for history buffs and culture vultures too, including the Mauthausen concentration camp, Tržič museum, and the St. Anne mine.

The Tržič tourist information centre, located in the old town centre, is a good place to start (planning) your trip. You can contact the centre by email, by phone, or in person.

So, I hope I’ve provided you with some (more) food for thought and help in planning your holiday this year. Talking of food…don’t forget to try some of the local Tržič specialities too!

© Adele in Slovenia

Radol’ca Re-opens!

Hooray, I am finally the bearer of some good news…it feels like a while since I’ve been able to say that!

Writing this feels a bit like groundhog day, as it was around this time last year that Slovenia began to exit its first lockdown and I published a similar blog on the subject. And here we are today, almost a year later and only now Radovljica, as well as the rest of Slovenia, is slowly beginning to re-open after three, seemingly endless, lockdowns.

Unfortunately, the vaccination programme is still going slowly – to date around one-fifth of the country’s 2 million residents has received at least one shot of a vaccine – but, notwithstanding, things are steadily moving in the right direction and finally, after 6 long months, the terraces of restaurants/bars etc. were able to re-open last week and as of yesterday (Monday 26 April) hotels and other accommodation facilities are able to open up to 30 rooms (regardless of the size of the property). Note, however, that a negative test or proof of vaccination is required to stay in an type of accommodation (camps included).

So, now you, well we if I include myself, can actually begin to start thinking about planning holidays, something that has seemed unthinkable for a long time now. And since most of us will no doubt – sensibly – prefer to avoid places overrun by mass tourism, it is destinations such as Radol’ca that come into their own with its boutique accommodation and numerous hiking trails and other off the beaten track attractions. So, here are a few ideas to help you in planning your visit to Radovljica – whether for a few hours, a few days, or even longer!

The Radovljica Tourist Information Centre has now, too, reopened, and is ready and waiting to help, whether you make contact by mail, by phone or drop in in person. The tourist office is at the entrance to the old town centre, which is the obvious place to start your visit to the area. Visit one of the museums or galleries in Linhart Square, admire the frescoes on the facades of townhouses, ‘Follow a bee through Radovljica‘, visit the Lectar honeybread workshop, see the baroque St. Peter’s church, and soak up the views of the Jelovica plateau and the Julian Alps from the viewpoint.

After taking in the sights of the old town, you can head off to explore the surrounding countryside. Take your pick from theme trails, hiking trails, the network of cycle routes, water sports, equestrian pursuits, mini-golf and more.

After record snowfall in some places, it’s still very much winter in Slovenia’s high mountains, fortunately here in Radol’ca there are plenty of hiking trails at lower altitudes. I’ve written about such trails on numerous occasions, so a quick search back through previous blog posts using key words will turn up plenty of info on hikes to, for example, Suharna, the Vodiška planina mountain hut, the Roblekov dom mountain hut, St. Peter’s church above Begunje na Gorenjskem, and more.

Of course, after all that fresh air and activity you will be in need of some sustenance, and you certainly won’t go hungry at Taste Radol’ca restaurants, the ethos of which is using seasonal, locally sourced, ingredients. At the time of writing, some of the restaurants have yet to re-open, since they are currently only allowed to serve customers outside on the terrace and for those with smaller terraces it is not worth their while re-opening. However, it is to be hoped that it won’t be too long until they are able to fully re-open. Radol’ca even has a Michelin-starred restaurantVila Podvin – as well as several other fine dining restaurants and numerous rural inns.

In terms of accommodation, there’s plenty to choose, from river-side camps to apartments, guest houses and other boutique accommodation.

In terms of events, it’s still a bit early to say what will and won’t take place this year. The Radovljica Chocolate Festival, which was cancelled last year and postponed this year, is provisionally scheduled to take place on 11th and 12th September this year, while the organisers are hoping that others events, such as the Craft Beer Festival and live music and food on Thursdays evenings in the square, will be able to go ahead in summer, in some form or another. But at the moment it’s a case of watch this space to see how things pan out.

Of course, all the above-mentioned are in the Radol’ca area itself, meaning there’s still a whole host of other places waiting to be explored in the surrounding areas; the Julian Alps and Triglav National Park are on the doorstep, Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj are close, Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana is just a cca. 40 minute drive, and even places such as the Postojna caves, the Soča valley, and Slovenia’s coast are all within a 1-2 hour drive – nothing is that far away in Slovenia!

So, I hope I have provided you with some food for thought and ideas to help your holiday planning and, as and when there is (even) more news about more things opening up, I’ll be in touch with more up-to-date info, or, in the meantime, do feel free to drop me a line if you need more info. Always happy to help, well, within reason that is!

© Adele in Slovenia

Taste Taste Radol’ca…at Home!

A follower of my blog in Canada recently wrote to me asking if I could write a post about Slovenian recipes, so how could I refuse to comply! So, Mary in Canada, this one is for you!

Since all the restaurants, bars, cafes etc. are (still) closed – it’s been like this here since the end of October last year – we (both the owners of such establishments and the public at large) have had to get used to cooking more at home whilst also taking advantage of the take-away food on offer at selected places. Many of the Taste Radol’ca restaurants have been offering take-away food and, in fact, it has actually been to my advantage in some respect that chefs have had more time to ‘play’ in their kitchens, and Aleš Tavčar, head chef and owner of Gostišče Draga in the Draga valley in Begunje na Gorenjskem, finally found time to make me a glut of gluten-free štruklji to go in my freezer.

And since štruklji really are something unbeknown to most of the world, they were the first thing that sprung to mind when deciding which Slovenian recipe to first write about.

Štruklji at Gostišče Draga

The recipe and photos shown below are for gluten-free štruklji, which, due to gluten being what provides the ‘elastic’ in dough mixes, are slightly different to ‘regular’ štruklji. Therefore, I should stress that ‘normal’ flour will provide you with a better result and your štruklji will look and taste somewhat better too, so unless you have to avoid gluten (coeliac disease in my case, though others have an intolerance and/or choose not to eat it for other reasons) you can use the same quantity of regular flour. These days I’m just happy to be able to eat them, even if they aren’t exactly as I remember them in my pre-coeliac days.

The full recipe with quantities is at the end of this post.

First gather the ingredients for the dough – flour, salt, egg, vinegar, water, oil.

Combine them well but don’t overwork the dough.

Shape the dough into a round loaf shape.

Next, make the filling using curd cheese, eggs, sour cream and salt.

Mash (or mince) the curd cheese well, add the eggs and sour cream then season with salt.

Roll out the dough – after watching the ‘pro’, I was allowed to help with this part!

Spread a generous amount of the filling mix over the dough.

Next its time to roll the štruklji then lift them gently onto lightly oiled foil or a non-stick cloth before steaming or cooking into salted simmering water.

This is the basic, traditional way of cooking and serving štruklji, but these days, in terms of how you choose to eat them and what kind of fillings/flavours you add, the sky’s the limit. You can eat them as a main course, a side dish or even chocolate štruklji for dessert. I’ve yet to find a flavour I don’t like!

At Gostišče Draga you can try a savoury version with a mushroom sauce…

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…or, my preferred option, topped with cranberry sauce for a savoury/sweet taste.

Until the restaurant is able to reopen – and in fact also thereafter too as they have proved to be such a success – you can buy some of Gostišče Draga’s dishes and home produce from the family farm in jars. The range include goulash, jota, bograč and various pickled vegetables. Aleš and Tina have certainly not been resting on their laurels during this long lockdown – all credit to them. The jars can be bought direct at the restaurant (at weekends), at the Lesce farmers market (Friday afternoons/Saturday mornings), from the vending machine outside Gostilna Kunstelj, and at various local shops as well as further afield.

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Recipe

Dough:

370g flour (gluten-free or regular)

pinch of salt

One egg

10g vinegar

300g water

90g oil

Filling:

1kg curd cheese

6 eggs

200g sour cream

Salt

Method:

Make the dough by mixing together the flour, eggs, water, vinegar and oil then shape into a round loaf.

Make the filling by mashing/mincing the curd cheese then add the eggs and sour cream and season with salt.

Roll out the dough – it should be very thin – ???? then spread over the filling. Roll the štruklji into a Swiss roll shape then lift gently onto lightly oiled foil or a non-stick cloth and roll to fully encase the štruklji. Steam for 45 minutes or cook into salted simmering water for 30 minutes.

And that’s it – simple when you know how!

Let me know how you get on!

© Adele in Slovenia

A Cultural Walk Through Radovljica

Radovljica is undoubtedly best known for its small but beautiful historic old town, which is packed with cultural attractions and is where all the town’s main events take place. However, you might be surprised to learn that there are also some cultural sights elsewhere in the town, which you can see by taking a cultural walk around the town.

A good place to start is at the town library – the new multi-storey red building in Vurnik Square (Vurnikov trg) – which is just a few hundred metres from the main bus station, where in front of the library you can see a model replica of Linhart Square created by the local ceramist Urban Magušar.

From the library take the slip road (with the library to your right head in a westerly direction) to reach the junction with the Gorenjska cesta road and turn left onto the pavement on the left-hand side of the road. After cca. 100 metres you will see the Obrtna Zbornica building (Small Business Chamber) with an iron monument of Radovljica’s coat of arms with a man holding a wheel in one hand and the ‘town’ in the other.

A further 100 metres or so along the road is the Čebelica (Bee) building, which today serves as the town’s municipal administration unit. It was named after the decorative bees above the entrance.

There are also several art nouveau villas along Gorenjska cesta that are the work of the architect Danilo Fürst, a pupil of the well-known Slovenian architect Jože Plečnik. 

Your path will now lead you towards the old town, which you can reach by walking through the town park, past the unique wrought iron street lamps made by blacksmiths from Kropa, and on to see the numerous attractions in Linhart Square, from where you can also take a quick diversion to see the birthhouse of the Radovljica-born architect Ivan Vurnik.

Should you wish to extend your walk and take in a bit more history you could walk up to Obla gorica – the small hill that rises up behind the swimming pool – where you can see bunkers dating from the Rupnik Line – 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. It is said there are around 50 such bunkers located across the Jelovica plateau, Radovljica and Begunje na Gorenjskem.

Click here for full details and a map of the cultural walk.

To end, I’ll give you a brief update about the current coronavirus situation in Slovenia. Following a long (very long!) lockdown that began on 23rd October, finally this week all primary school children were able to return to school, albeit there are school holidays in one half of the country this week and in the other half next week. We are now finally allowed out of our municipalities, and all shops were able to re-open as of this Monday (though all staff have to be tested on a weekly basis). Much as I love Radovljica, after almost 4 months of not being able to leave, it’s certainly nice to have regained a sense of freedom. However, we are far from out of the woods yet; daily infection numbers are still high, though falling, and the vaccination rate seems to be agonisingly slow. All hotels/cafes/restaurants etc. are still closed, though museums and galleries are now open. Tourists are not allowed to cross the border, and only those with a valid reason are allowed to cross the border (with a negative test). So, there is some light at the end of the tunnel, but there’s still some way to get there yet. I’m sure many of you can’t wait to visit, and/or revisit, so hang on in there!

© Adele in Slovenia

 

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