Kunstelj Inn – A True and Tasty Tale of Tradition!

Kunstelj Inn in Radovljica is a family-run restaurant with rooms that has a long tradition and a great reputation. It is also one of the participating Taste Radol’ca restaurants, takes part in other culinary events such as Slovenian Restaurant Week and is featured in the Gault&Millau restaurant guide.

Five year’s ago, Maja Buden (nee Štiherle), daughter of Toni and granddaughter of Tone and the fourth generation to head up the family business, took over as manager of the inn. To mark this anniversary, as well as a certain ‘big’ birthday with a zero at the end, she threw a celebratory gathering last Friday! Happy Birthday and congratulations Maja!

And, of course, a Slovenian celebration wouldn’t be complete without accordion music and traditional entertainment!

Having recently translated a special edition newsletter to mark this special anniversary, I was keen to be able to share with readers of my blog some of the highlights and photographs of the inn’s long and fascinating history, and, fortunately, Maja gave me the nod to do so!

Kunstelj Inn was opened by Franc Kunstelj in 1873 and some years later handed it over to his son Rudolf. Rudolf was very ambitious and had a vision and belief that the small family inn could become the heart and soul of social life in Radovljica.

The Rudolf Kunstelj Inn in 1906. Photo: 110 years of the Radovljica Tourist Association

He set to work building a large lounge with a stage for celebrations, a wine cellar, a freezer and a veranda with views of the Julian Alps. The renovations placed Kunstelj Inn on the map of the most popular local restaurants in Slovenia.

Grandmother Jerica later took over the running of the inn. She had a reputation as a fearless woman who always knew exactly what she wanted and was not afraid to tell people to their face what was on her mind! She survived two wars, became a widow at a very young age, raised two sons, and took over and managed Kunstelj Inn all by herself.

Many of the dishes Jerica introduced onto the inn’s menu can still be found today, albeit with a modern ‘Maja twist’, as well as other traditional Slovenian food, including blood sausages, Carniolan sausage with sauerkraut or turnip, buckwheat polenta, homemade štruklji and more.

Meanwhile, grandmother Maria left home at the age of 14 to work at the Roblek dom mountain hut. Tone and the now legendary Slavko Avsenik – the founder of Slovenian folk music – used to visit the hut as rumour had it that there were a lot of pretty girls there! And it turned out to be true, since Tone and Maria met and later married, and Slavko Avsenik even played at their wedding!

Grandmother Maria (second from left) doing washing at the Roblek dom mountain hut

A particularly amusing tale is that of Grandad Tone and his golf ‘caddy’ Grol. Tone didn’t start to play golf until he was 62, when, due to his weak heart he gave up hunting as well as skiing and golf became a form of relaxation and enjoyment.

As the doctors had instilled in him that he must strictly avoid all forms of exertion, for some time Tone thought about how he could lighten the load of carrying his heavy golf clubs from one hole to the next and he hit on the idea that his faithful companion Grol could help!

Uncle Ivan made Grol a special trolley for transporting Tone’s golf clubs, and Grol adapted really well to his role as ‘caddy’.

Maja’s father Toni regularly went on exchange to Switzerland to “learn from the best”. It was there that he learnt skills from one of the most well known Swiss patisserie chefs, Hans van den Klinkenberg, in Hotel Eden in Lugano. Toni brought all the tricks and secrets he learnt from the patisserie chef to Kunstelj Inn’s kitchen, which led to Kunstelj’s strudels, pies, ice-cream and other cakes soon gaining a reputation as the best desserts in Gorenjska.

Like her father, Maja also has a passion for desserts and, also like her father, she went to Austria to learn her patisserie skills. Her role model, who she met on one of her culinary travels, is Lea Linser; at that time Lea was running an acclaimed restaurant in Luxembourg and was the first ‘tv chef’ on German television. To this day Maja turns to Lea’s cookery books for inspiration for her signature desserts.

Some year’s back Maja created the first Kunstelj ‘grizike’ (cake pops), which later became – and still are – one of the star attractions of the Radovljica Chocolate Festival!

You can also visit during the time of Slovenian Restaurant Week, which takes place twice per year for 10 days in autumn and spring, when you can take advantage of a 3-course menu for just 19 euros per person, the next edition will take place from 11th – 20th October (note: the website is currently only available in English, but menus will soon also be available in English and by next year the entire website too – working on that one too!).

Kunstelj Inn is also part of Taste Radol’ca and for the whole month of November all nine participating Taste Radol’ca restaurants offer special menus based on local ingredients also for a set price of 19 euros  per person.

So, now you know (some of) Kunstelj Inn’s history, why not visit to find out (and taste!) more!

© Adele in Slovenia

By Bike to Begunje and Bees!

Not only is cycling good for you and for the environment, it’s also a wonderful way to explore an area, and the Radol’ca area is no exception. In fact, I find it the best way to get around and much prefer two wheels to four! There’s no need to worry about where to park, you are out in the fresh air, and you can see so much more than you do in a car and can stop at your leisure.

So, join me on a bike ride to, and through, Begunje na Gorenjskem to discover some of the sights of the Radol’ca countryside!

I have listed the places below in order so as to suggest a circular ride, however, you can of course pick and choose what to see and do, and the list is by no means exhaustive. Starting from Radovljica head past the Spar supermarket, pass under the motorway then continue to the village of Nova vas.

On reaching the t-junction in Zapuže, turn left then shortly afterwards turn right (there is a bar on the corner) towards Zgoša. On reaching the junction, as seen below, turn left towards Begunje.

After a few minutes you will reach the Elan factory, shop and Alpine Skiing Museum, more here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/2019/01/27/test-your-skiing-skills-at-the-elan-alpine-skiing-museum/

Continue towards the village of Begunje, the birthplace of Slavko Avsenik, who, together with his brother Vilko Avsenik, were the founders of Slovenian folk music. You can also visit the Avsenik Museum.

Opposite the Avsenik Museum is the Begunje Tourist Information Centre, where you can pick up more information about the area.

Continue through the village towards the Draga Valley, stopping first to admire and explore the ruins of Kamen Castle (grad Kamen).

Shortly after leaving the castle, there is a small cemetery that contains graves of hostages from the time when Begunje fell under German rule during World War II. You can also make a side trip to visit the Museum of Hostages, housed in Katzenstein Manor.

Now its just a few minutes more to reach the head of the Draga valley and the Gostišče Draga restaurant, which situated next to a stream and makes an ideal place to cool down, rest and/or enjoy some sustenance in the form of a drink, ice-cream, something sweet or some hearty traditional Slovenian food.

You can even stay overnight in one of the newly-renovated rooms and continue your cycling trip the next day! Or stay longer and enjoy the tranquility of the valley, which is also a great place for hiking in the Karavanke mountains.

On the way back, instead of returning the same way, after leaving the valley, you can turn left at the junction just after passing a sawmill. You could also make a detour to visit the Robačnekov mill. It is officially open on Tuesdays and Fridays from 9am-12noon, however, outside of these times if the owner is home, ask nicely and she will be happy to show you round!

Those interested in beekeeping, and even those who think they might not be interested but will likely discover that actually they are(!), can visit Luznar Beekeeping (Čebelarstvo Luznar).

Upon prior arrangement, you can call in to visit Erik at home, where you can purchase his award-winning honey and other honey products, and/or you could arrange to meet him in the Draga valley, where you can get up close to one of his many hives and his amazing new ‘book’ hive, which allows a fascinating, close up, and unique view of Slovenia’s indigenous Carniolan grey bees hard at work. Email cebelarstvo.luznar@gmail.com or call 040 321 556.

Photo: Erik Luznar

Photo: Erik Luznar

You can also visit Begunje and the Draga valley – as well as Erik and his bees(!) – on the Hop-On Hop-On tourist bus, which runs every summer throughout July and August. It’s a great way to discover the villages and countryside of the Radol’ca area. In addition to the ride, there are guided tours and walks as well as other attractions to see and visit at each destination.

Click here for more information about cycling in the Radol’ca area.

© Adele in Slovenia

 

Summer 2019 in Radol’ca – So Much to See and Do!

Hooray, summer, my favourite time of the year, is here. And I’m lucky enough to get to spend it in my favourite place too – Radol’ca!

There are plenty of events, concerts and other events throughout this summer in Radol’ca, and, of course, no shortage of great places to hike, cycle, eat, relax, soak up the views and more!

So, here’s a run down of (just) some of the main events in Radol’ca this summer.

THURSDAY EVENINGS IN THE SQUARE

Live music and street food cooked up by Taste Radol’ca restaurants. The first concert kicks off at 8pm this Thursday 4th July, and thereafter for the following five Thursdays. Come on down to Linhart Square – the heart of Radovljica’s historic old town centre – to listen to music by: 4th July ‘Elevators‘; 11th July ‘Like the Rolling Stones‘; 18th July ‘Fadeouts‘; 25th July ‘Okustični‘, 1st August ‘Mrfy‘; 8th August ‘Maya Keuc/Amaya‘.

Thursday Evenings in the Square, photo: http://www.radolca.si

THE KROPA IRON FORGING FESTIVAL

This Saturday 6th July be sure to visit the village of Kropa to find out more about the cradle of Slovenia’s iron forging industry.

Kropa Iron Forging Museum

Kropa sits nestled into the far eastern edge of the Jelovica plateau and is crammed with interesting sights and preserved technical heritage and architecture.

There are demonstrations of hand forging of nails in the Vigenjc Vice Foundry, a small local craft market, old-time bikes, open days at the Iron Forging Museum and the Fovšaritnica Museum House, as well as at the headquarters of the company UKO Kropa, which specialises in all manner of wrought iron furnishings and fittings and is keeping the village’s iron-forging tradition alive.

MEETING OF THE TOWNS ALONG THE PATH OF VENUS AND MEDIEVAL MARKET

Sunday 28th July from 10am – 7pm: a medieval fair featuring dance and street shows and stalls laden with local crafts – ideal for buying gifts/souvenirs for friends and family (or treat yourself!) – which is also the opening event of the Radovljica Festival. It takes place in Linhart Square in the heart of Radovljica’s old town centre

Photo: Primož Černe

THE RADOVLJICA FESTIVAL

The popular festival of early music has been held in summer in Radovljica for 35 years. It boasts a diverse programme of classical concerts and workshops featuring musicians from far and wide. The festival takes place in the Radovljica Manor and St. Peter’s church.

The Radovljca Festival, Photo: http://www.radolca.si

Click here for the full festival programme.

AVSENIK FESTIVAL

A three-day festival of Slovenian national folk music at its ‘home’in Begunje na Gorenjskem – the birthplace of the Avsenik brothers – an unmissable event for lovers of this genre of music.

Slavko Avsenik (1929-2015), Photo: http://www.radolca.si

HOP-ON HOP-OFF BUS

The tourist Hop-On Hop-Off bus runs throughout July and August. It’s a great way to discover the villages and countryside of the Radol’ca area. In addition to the ride, there are guided tours and walks as well as other attractions to see and visit at each destination.

Pay just once and you can ride all day! Tickets cost €8 for adults, and children under the age of 10 can ride free of charge.

On Tuesdays you can travel on the Charming Towns and Villages route, which runs between Bled, Radovljica and Kropa.

Radovljica’s old town centre, photo: http://www.radolca.si

On Wednesdays you can ride on the Bee Our Guest route, where you will visit Kralov med Beekeeping, the Anton Janša Memorial Apiary, the Lesce Beekeeping Centre and the Apicultural Museum in Radovljica.

Anton Janša’s apiary in Breznica

Thursday’s route is Tales from the Countryside, which includes visits to France Prešeren’s birth house in Vrba, Begunje na Gorenjskem, Mošnje, Brezje and Radovljica.

Vrba, home to a monument to, and birth house of, France Prešeren

And on Friday’s you can journey along the Panoramic Road to Tržič, which includes a visit to Kamen Castle, Tržič and the Dovžan Gorge.

The old town centre of Tržič

So, as you can see, there’s plenty going on, and these are only the main events, there are numerous others too. And I haven’t even space to write about all the fab hiking and cycling trails, restaurants, and other cultural and natural attractions to visit. Oh well, you can always read back over the hundreds of blog posts I have written extolling the virtues of Radol’ca in the past, and/or continue to follow my blog to read about more adventures in the future!

© Adele in Slovenia

 

 

 

 

Honey Radol’ca – Celebrating 60 Years of Radovljica’s Museum of Apiculture!

Last Saturday was a particularly ‘sweet’ day in Radovljica! The main event to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Museum of Apiculture, housed in the magnificent Radovljica Manor, took place, titled ‘Honey Radol’ca

Honey Radol’ca also featured market stalls with honey and honey products from various local beekeepers as well as the Slovenian Beekeepers’ Association, the Beekeeping Education Centre of Gorenjska, and the Radovljica Beekeepers’ Association.

Though it opened in 1959, the history of the Museum of Apiculture dates back substantially further. At a meeting in 1925, the then editor of the magazine Slovenski čebelar (Slovenian Beekeeper), August Bukovec, suggested the establishment of the museum and a year later the decision was finalised. The active gathering of beekeeping-related objects for the museum began, especially beehive frontal panels, as well as the search for suitable premises for the museum. The collection of objects gathered for the museum was first housed in two premises in Ljubljana, and later, in 1959, the museum moved to the Radovljica Manor, where it remains today.

Last Saturday, or rather Friday actually, marked the opening of a new exhibition dedicated to 60 years of the Museum of Apiculture. In pictures and words, 60 highlights of the museum are presented in the exhibition, which is on view until September, and in a special publication titled ’60 Highlights of the Museum of Apiculture, Radovljica’.

In addition to this new, temporary exhibition, the museum’s permanent collection includes a wide range of hives and beekeeping tools, as well as unusual figural hives.

The museum’s extensive collection of painted beehive frontal panels, including the oldest known in the world, is a particular highlight. Each one tells its own unique folk tale.

You can get up close to the Carniolan grey bee – Slovenia’s indigenous breed of bee – or rather a lot of them, at the observation hive, which is installed annually in the museum during the warmer months.

You can also take a seat and watch a video about beekeeping in Slovenia – the English version of which is narrated by yours truly!

The Museum of Apiculture is just one of the museums and galleries under the umbrella of Radovljica Municipal Museums, the others are: the Iron Forging Museum in Kropa, the Museum of Hostages in Begunje, the Šivec House Gallery in Radovljica, and the Radovljica Municipal Museum.

But don’t worry, even though ‘Honey Radol’ca’ has been and gone, you can visit the museum throughout the year, and there’s still plenty of honey- and beekeeping-related experiences to be(e!) had in Radovljica and the surroundings, including the new family experience ‘Follow a ‘bee’ through Radovljica‘.

The Museum of Apiculture is open throughout the year, except on Mondays; opening hours varying according to the month. Find more information about all of Radovljica’s museums, opening times and admission fees here and here.

© Adele in Slovenia

 

A New Addition to the Old Town – The Pharmacy and Alchemy Museum, Radovljica!

Last Friday I attended the opening of a brand new museum in Linhart Square – the Pharmacy and Alchemy Museum – which is a great addition to Radovljica’s already charming old town centre.

I saw the sign being hung for the museum some time ago, and I have to admit thinking to myself at the time that it doesn’t exactly sound that riveting, however, I stand corrected! Having seen it for myself, the Pharmacy and Alchemy museum is actually fascinating. Its location in a beautifully restored bourgeois house in the old town adds to the experience, and I left on a high and looking forward to being able to share the news of this new museum with you – readers of my blog!

Radovljica’s mayor officially opened the museum, then we – the gathered crowd – had the chance to be the first to be ‘let loose’ inside the museum!

The exhibits in the museum have been collected over a 40-year period by its owner, who, together with his daughter, has now gathered the objects in one place and opened this intriguing museum. On entering it is like taking a step back in time, while at the same time the beautifully arranged exhibits have been thoughtfully presented in a timeless and appealing way.

The collection of Spanish and Italian alborel (decorated ceramic pots for storing medicine) is particularly extensive. The exhibits include a collection of mortars, the oldest of which dates from the 12th century, and 30 pharmaceutical books, one of which dates from the 15th century. The museum also features some objects from ancient and Asian medicine and an ethnological collection of folk medicine on Slovenian territory.

The museum shop is a great place to pick up some gifts to take home for friends and/or family, or even to treat yourself!

The shop is equipped like an old pharmacy and sells natural cosmetics, souvenirs with mythological themes, honey, herbs, essential oils, and a range of teas.

The museum and museum shop are open daily from 10am – 6pm. Entrance fees apply.

This bring the tally of museums in Radovljica’s old town to three, or four if we include the Šivec House Gallery, which falls under the banner of Radovljica Municipal Museums – not bad for such a small place, hey! In addition to this newly-opened museum, you can visit the Museum of Apiculture, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, the Municipal Museum, and, as mentioned above, the Šivec House Gallery.

Come rain or shine, there’s always something to see and do in Radol’ca!

© Adele in Slovenia

The Radovljica Beekeeping Adventure: Follow a ‘Bee’ Through Radovljica!

Honestly Sweet‘ was chosen as the slogan for the tourist destination of Radol’ca, which encompasses Radovljica itself (where I live!) and the other surrounding towns and villages in the municipality, due to the town’s long connection with all things ‘sweet’ i.e. beekeeping and chocolate.

And while this year’s Chocolate Festival has been and gone, Radovljica now features a brand new ‘sweet’ treat – the Radovljica Beekeeping Adventure.

The Radovljica tourist board came up with the idea for the Radovljica Beekeeping Adventure in order to consolidate the town’s position as the capital of Slovenian beekeeping as well as a desire to offer more activities for families. The idea for a bee-related adventure was an obvious choice and was inspired by the events last year to mark the first-ever World Bee Day.

The Beekeeping Adventure has been designed as a family adventure. It features four interactive points in the old town centre of Radovljica, the first of which is the apiary in the town park. 

The next is in front of St. Peter’s church

 

…and at the viewpoint at the end of the old town centre.

Despite living here 12 years, I can never tire of the view from Radovljica towards the Julian Alps and the Jelovica plateau, and even on a partly cloudy late May day – in a month where there have only been 2 days without rain so far – the views still blow me away, every time!

The adventure concludes with a visit to the Museum of Apiculture in the Radovljica Manor, where you can watch bees hard at work and find out plenty more about the history of Slovenian beekeeping, see an exhibition of the oldest painted beehive frontal panels, and learn even more about just how amazing bees really are!

The fun, creative and educational tasks have been devised to allow children to hone their manual skills and to learn about beekeeping, whilst seeking out the path with the help of a map helps develop outdoor orientation and spatial recognition skills.

As a reward for completing all the tasks, a ‘sweet’ treat awaits at the end – but I won’t spoil the surprise!

The Beekeeping Adventure costs €8 per family, which includes:

  • One copy of the booklet including a map, tasks and information about the life of bees
  • A family entrance ticket to the Museum of Apiculture (2 adults, up to 3 children)
  • A ‘sweet’ surprise
  • Supplement for additional booklets with tasks: €1 per booklet (up to 3 additional booklets are permitted per family upon purchase of a family package)

The booklet can be purchased at the following locations:

The Beekeeping Adventure is available from 24th May to 31st October 2019. Since the Museum of Apiculture is closed on Mondays, it is recommended that you visit from Tuesday to Sunday. The path itself is very short and flat, but together with solving the tasks and a visit to the museum, you should allow approximately 1.5-2 hours.

The Museum of Apiculture is celebrating it’s 60th anniversary this year, and, to mark the occasion, there will be a new comprehensive exhibition while the main anniversary event will take place on 15th June.

To end, on an entirely different theme, though one that many would also consider to be ‘sweet’, next Saturday a brand new festival is coming to Radovjlica – the Radovjlica Craft Beer Festival. Weather permitting the festival will kick off at 12 noon on Saturday 1st June and will feature a number of Slovenian craft breweries, live music, and food from Taste Radol’ca restaurants. A shuttle bus will also run every half hour from Bled.

No photo description available.

So, now there are even more reasons to come and visit the lovely town that I call ‘home’!

© Adele in Slovenia

Lovely Little Ljubno and the Brezje Pilgrimage Trail

The village of Ljubno might be small but its numerous beautifully frescoed houses and ‘miraculous’ church are a real feast for the eyes!

When driving along the Gorenjska motorway from east to west, just before reaching the Ljubno tunnel, to the left you can see the village and its closely-packed houses. However, its not until you get up close and take a walk among the houses, that you get a true sense of this small village.

Ljubno was once a centre of pottery in the Gorensjka region. Today you can find out more about the tradition and see examples of Ljubno pottery at the Manufaktura pottery shop and workshop in Radovljica’s old town centrehttps://adeleinslovenia.com/2019/01/05/manufaktura-a-new-year-and-a-new-addition-to-radovljicas-linhart-square/.

There is an interesting story of how Ljubno was transformed into an important pilgrimage place in the 17th century. During renovation of Ljubno’s village church – the Church of Mary Help of Christians, also known as the Church of the ‘Stricken’ Mary – a builder struck the statue of Mary and blood poured out of the ‘wound’ and wouldn’t stop. The story quickly became known throughout the land and attracted ever more pilgrims. Today it is not as popular as nearby Brezje, however, when in the area, it is still worth a visit.

A visit to Ljubno can be an extension of a walk along the Brezje Pilgrimage Trail (Božja pot), which today runs along the once most commonly used pilgrimage trail from Otoče to the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Brezje. There is an information board (in Slovene) about the trail adjacent to the church.

The path in Otoče begins at the railway station, hence making it ideal for those reliant on public transport.

Immediately on leaving the station you will find the first information board about the trail (in Slovene).

First walk along the village road to the junction with the main road and turn left. After just a few metres you can choose to follow the marked path to make a detour to Ljubno, or take the direct route to Brezje. If you opt for the latter, which is cca. 5kms one-way, continue along the verge of the road for a further cca. 5 mins until you reach the shrine of St. John of Nepomuk (kapelica sv. Janeza Nepomuka).

After crossing the bridge over a stream take the wooden steps to the right of another shrine that lead up steeply on a forest path.

On emerging from the forest head towards the underpass under the motorway. Shortly thereafter you will see the sign for the village of Brezje. Follow the road up a short incline into the village and then just ‘follow your nose’ to the basilica, you can’t exactly miss it!

In 1988 the then Church of St. Vitus was elevated to the status of minor basilica by Pope John Paul II, who also visited in 1996. The basilica has become a popular pilgrimage destination to where people flock from all over Slovenia and further afield, too, particularly on Assumption Day, which is celebrated on 15th August and is a public holiday in Slovenia.

Whilst there you can also visit the Nativity Museum, which is located just behind the basilica and contains almost 400 nativity scenes from all over the world. Read more in a previous post here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/2017/12/10/feel-the-festive-spirit-at-the-nativity-museum-at-slovenias-national-shrine-in-brezje/

Opposite the basilica there is a small park where you can sit in peace and admire the basilica, read the information boards about Brezje’s history, and soak up the views of the surrounding countryside and mountains.

You don’t need to be a pilgrim, or even to be particularly religious, to enjoy a walk along the trail; it’s just one of the many attractions in the Radol’ca area. Click here to see even more, oh and by the way, if you happen to be in the area in April, or are planning a visit and are pondering when to come, don’t miss the Radovljica Chocolate Festival from 12th-14th April, about which I will, of course, be writing (and eating!) more soon!

© Adele in Slovenia