Reasons to Be Cheerful in Radol’ca!

Okay, I admit it, at times I’ve been finding it a bit hard to remain optimistic of late, more so since new rules came into force last Sunday at midnight, which stipulate that we aren’t allowed out of our municipality and have to wear masks to go into food shops, banks, and the post office. On the flip side, however, at this time I am certainly grateful that, if I am forced to be confined to one municipality, it is Radovljica!

In these testing times, when we are surrounded by so much doom and gloom, it is important to find some reasons to be cheerful and rays of hope. And, fortunately, here in Radovljica we don’t have to look too far to find them.

During this period when we are all doing our best to avoid each other(!), it’s the perfect opportunity to take stock and appreciate what we have got rather than what we haven’t. And the main reason to be cheerful, particularly for me, is that Radovljica has so many natural assets and hidden beauty spots, that there’s actually no need to go too far from home.

In the past week, in addition to working, we have managed to:

Hike to the Roblekov dom mountain hut where, following last Monday’s snowfall, it still looked pretty wintry as of the middle of last week…

Photo: ©AdeleinSlovenia

Walk in the Draga valley in Begunje na Gorenjskem – where there really are more animals (albeit not real!) than people at this time. Of course, once things are back to normal, you simply must try the parkour archery course for real, i.e. with a bow and arrow, rather than just being a spectator! You can read more about the course in a previous blog here)…

©AdeleinSlovenia

Photo: ©AdeleinSlovenia

Strolled over the Fuxova brv footbridge and walked among the wild garlic on the Lipnica Castle Trail towards Lipnica Castle

Photo: ©AdeleinSlovenia

…and hiked from Kamna Gorica up to the Vodiška planina mountain pasture above Kropa.

Photo: ©AdeleinSlovenia

And all that without leaving the confines of Radovljica!

In fact, having read this, you might even decide to spend the majority of your next holiday here in Radovljica. I mean, do you really need to go elsewhere?!

@Adele in Slovenia

Radol’ca Strikes Gold!

In these testing times for all, it’s nice to at least be able to convey some good news: Radol’ca has struck gold! Well, obviously, not literally but it has been awarded a Gold Slovenian Green Destination label, which is surely as good, if not better! And, as one of just 14 destinations in the country that are holders of gold labels, I think that’s something to shout about!

The label, which is awarded by the Slovenian Tourist Board, is proof that Radovljica is on the right track not only in the field of tourism but also those of sustainable development, preserving nature and cultural heritage, and social inclusion.

So, why not come and see for yourself – when the virus situation allows, of course – why Radovljica is a ‘Gold’ destination, and experience its nature and culture, and, while you are here, you can play your part in helping its sustainable practice, too.

Choosing accommodation that is environmentally-friendly is a good way to start. One such is the Woodhouse B&B in Dobro polje, near Radovljica, which was conceived in a sustainable way, thus requiring less operating and maintenance costs. In fact, this B&B alone played a key part in Radovljica being awarded a ‘Gold’ destination label, since it is the holder of a Green Key certificate, which is one of the requirements for applying for a Slovenian Green Destination label. Click here to see the full range of accommodation in Radol’ca.

The fact that Radovljica offers so many cultural and natural assets and attractions was also key in obtaining the label. Radovljica’s crowning glory is Linhart Square, the heart of the historic old town centre, with its frescoed houses, the magnificent Radovljica Manor, and numerous museums and galleries.

Keep up the good work Radol’ca!

Of course, I couldn’t end without mentioning Coronavirus and its effect here in Radovljica and Slovenia as a whole.

At the time of writing (Monday 23 March), there have been three deaths here (all of whom had previous medical conditions) and over 400 confirmed cases. Social distancing is being enforced, whereby no more than five people are allowed to be outdoors together at any one time, but we can – for the time being and I’m praying that it stays this way – at least go out for walks in forests, etc., providing we maintain a safe distance from others we encounter.

Fortunately the Radol’ca area has numerous places where you can walk and escape into the embrace of nature whilst avoiding public areas. In addition to such trails being ideal now at a time when we are all forced to avoid each other, they are also great places to walk in the summer to avoid the heat and crowds. In Radol’ca these include the Lipnica Castle Trail and the Grabnarca Waterside Nature Trail.

All shops – other than food shops, post offices, banks and petrol stations – are closed, as are cafes, and all other services such as hairdressers, garages, etc. Sadly, the Radovljica Chocolate Festival has become a ‘victim’ of the virus too and has thus been cancelled. Such a shame for the organisers as a significant amount of work and time had already been invested. But I have no doubt that it will be back bigger and better than ever next year from 16-18 April 2021.

Click here to keep up-to-date on the developments in the Radol’ca area – in tourism terms.

I hope to be back with you soon with some more cheerful news and some photos of me out hiking and enjoying all that the Radol’ca area has to offer! Until then, stay safe and well!

© Adele in Slovenia

 

 

Ten Top Insider Radol’ca Tips!

Since I think I have a right these days to call myself a ‘Radolčanka’ (i.e. a Radovljica local), I thought I would share with you some of my top insider tips, some of which are more obvious than others!

So, in no particular order…

YOU WILL NEVER GO HUNGRY OR THIRSTY IN RADOVLJICA…at the last count – in my head that is so I could have forgotten the odd one – I totted up 23 bars, cafes and restaurants in Radovljica itself – not to mention the numerous others within the municipality. So, there’s no need to worry about going hungry or thirsty whilst visiting! And now there’s an exciting new ‘kid’ in town too – Linhart Hotel & Bistro – in Linhart Square, the heart of the old town. The hotel opened a couple of years ago but has just been taken over by the hugely successful and popular restaurant Vila Podvin, with head chef (and celebrity chef these days!) Uroš Štefelin at the helm. Expect bistro-style food – Uroš style!

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THERE’S A VISIBLE TUNNEL... Okay, so it’s not an insider tip as such, but I’ve included it here since it’s easy to miss. The only preserved moat tunnel in Slovenia is found beneath Radovljica’s old town centre. It was renovated, and partly built-over, some years back, and is well-illuminated, meaning you can walk through it at any time as part of a visit to the old town centre. I’m rather lucky as I live just minutes from the old town and can therefore see it by day and by night, though the latter trumps it for me!

Radoljice1HDR

AND AN INVISIBLE/HIDDEN TUNNEL TOO…well, that is if legend is true! It is said that there is a tunnel that runs underground from the well in Linhart Square all the way to Lipnica Castle. To date no one has actually found it, but the legend lives on…!

AND EVEN A ‘SECRET’ CHAPEL…the Edith Stein Chapel is hidden away behind the vestry tower of Radovljica’s baroque St. Peter’s church in Linhart Square, and surprisingly few people even know it’s there. Edith Stein was a German-Jewish philosopher, born on 12 October 1891 to Jewish parents, who converted to Catholicism and became a Carmelite nun.

Also know as St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, she was canonised as a martyr and saint of the Catholic Church, and is one of six co-patron saints of Europe. Edith and her sister Rosa, who was also a convert and an extern sister, were sent to the Carmelite monastery in Echt in the Netherlands in 1938 for their safety, where, despite the Nazi invasion in 1940, they remained until they were arrested by the Nazis on 2 August 1942 and sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where they died in the gas chamber on 9 August 1942.

WE HAVE RATHER LOVELY CEMETRIES…bear with me on this one! I know it might sound odd but it’s true, Radovljica’s (and in fact in general throughout the country) two cemetries are so well kept. There is always an abundance of fresh flowers, plants and glowing candles, and a sense of peace prevails. You can admire both the cemetries as you pass on a walk towards the Sava river and the Fux footbridge.

RADOVLJICA REALLY IS A ‘SWEET’ TOWN…in so many ways! Not only is the town’s slogan ‘Honestly Sweet‘ but Radovljica is also the home of the biggest and best chocolate festival in Slovenia and a honey festival too. This year’s Radovljica Chocolate Festival – the 9th in a row – takes place from Friday 17th to Sunday 19th April.

WE LIKE TO STICK TOGETHERTaste Radol’ca is a great example of this. Rather than being in competition with each other, many of Radol’ca’s restaurants have joined forces and, in doing so, have realised and reaped the benefits of cooperation and collaboration. In doing so they are also supporting local farmers, beekeepers and producers of other goods, by including locally sourced ingredients on their menus. Each year there are an increasing number of events at which Taste Radol’ca restaurants are present, such as the Radovljica Chocolate Festival, summer Thursday concert evenings, the November Month of Local Cuisine, various Christmas and New Year events, and more.

WE LOVE OUR BEES…the Museum of Apiculture, the Beekeeping Education Centre of Gorenjska, the ‘Follow a Bee Through Radovljica‘ family adventure, an annual Honey Festival, and numerous beautifully painted apiaries where hardworking bees, and equally hardworking beekeepers, ensure that we have a plentiful supply of local honey.

IT LOOKS GREAT FROM ABOVE OR BELOW…Wherever you view Radovljica from – whether up high in the mountains or down beneaths its terraces – Radovljica’s old town centre with its prominent church is picture postcard stuff! So, whether you choose a stroll beside the Sava river on the Sava River Trail, or one of the marked hiking trails, such as to St. Peter’s church above Begunje, or even higher to the Roblek mountain hut or the peak of Begunščica, you are assured of a great view and a totally different perspective of the beauty of Radovljica and its surroundings.

SEEK OUT BUNKERS FROM THE RUPNIK LINE…the Rupnik Line is 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. In Radovljica there are bunkers on the Obla gorica hill, which is located behind the swimming pool, as well as on the grassy bank in the street Cankarjeva ulicacop. I recently read that, in fact, there are around 50 such bunkers located across the Jelovica plateau, Radovljica and Begunje na Gorenjskem, though, to date at least, I’ve only come across a handful. Hmm, an idea is brewing, how many (more) can I/you find?!

I hope this has given you plenty of ideas for exploring (more of) Radovljica and you’ll agree that’s there’s certainly more than meets the eye!

© Adele in Slovenia

 

The Magnificent Radovljica Manor – (even) More Than Meets the Eye!

The magnificent and imposing Radovljica Manor dominates Linhart Square – the heart of Radovljica’s historic old town.

The building houses numerous attractions and institutions, among them the Radovljica Music School, the Museum of Apiculture, the Municipal Museum, two small gallery areas, and the wonderful Baroque Hall.

Photo: Tourism Radol’ca

The Orthenburgs built a small castle in the 13th century on the site on today’s manor. The structure was rebuilt following an earthquake in 1511 by the building’s then-tenant Count Dietrichstein, and in the following century it was further expanded by the Counts of Thurn-Valsassina.

Immediately on entering the manor through the impressive, not to mention heavy, door you spot the beautiful grand central staircase, made out of green tuff, which hints at the grandeur of the building.

Before reaching the staircase you will notice a photographic exhibition on the right-side of the entrance hall. The exhibition changes every month so it’s always worth popping in for a look when passing!

Much of the space on the ground floor is today given over to the Radovljica Music School. But if you have a nose around, you will discover other hidden features, such as this sundial, which I discovered for the first time today, despite having lived here for almost 13 years!

Photo: Adele in Slovenia

Head up the magnificent stairs to visit the Museum of Apiculture and the adjoining Municipal Museum, while numerous concerts take place throughout the year in the Baroque Hall with its amazing acoustics.

The Museum of Apiculture is a hive of activity for beekeepers and bee enthusiasts! It houses a wide collection of bee hives and figural hives, beekeeping equipment and tools.

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.

The manor also plays host to some of Radovljica’s larger annual events, among them the Radovljica Chocolate Festival, which takes place both indoors and outdoors at various venues throughout the town, as well as the Radovljica Festival – a festival of early music.

A chocolate-themed fashion show in the Radovljica Manor!

Photo: Miha Horvat, 2014

The Radovljica Manor also makes a special venue for weddings and other ceremonies/celebrations.

Photo: Tourism Radol’ca

Photo: Tourism Radol’ca

Outside, to the right of the manor, there is a statue of the art historian and honorary citizen of Radovljica Cene Avguštin, and also a small exhibition titled ‘Radovljica, Our Old Town Through the Centuries’.

So, when visiting Radovljica, be sure to take time to discover the manor – both inside and out. And to end, one useful tip…there are toilets on the ground floor. Not an attraction in themselves but always good to know, wouldn’t you agree?!

© Adele in Slovenia

Let the Festive Season Begin in Radovljica!

It’s that time of year again in RadovljicaFestive December time!

Time to switch on the Christmas lights; time to browse the stalls at the mini Christmas market; time to warm your cockles with a mulled wine or two; and time to soak up the atmosphere and marvel at the decorations in Radovljica’s old town centre – which is especially fairytale-like during the festive season. To whet your appetite check out the ‘December in Radovljica‘ video below!

The festive season officially kicked off earlier today with the switching on of the Christmas lights and the closing event of this year’s Taste Radol’ca Month of Local Cuisine. I’ve just returned home and my fingers have just about defrosted enough to download the photos of the entertainment!

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Linhart Square so full! But whether its full or empty, it’s always magical – even more so in December, of course!

The festive fun then resumes on Saturday 21st December through until New Year’s Eve with a variety of events, concerts, workshops and performances – the highlights of which are below.

On Saturday 21st December there will be a (small) Christmas market from 12noon-8pm, fairytale horses for children from 12noon-3pm, a Kropa nailmaking workshop, and from 5-8pm Taste Radol’ca restaurants will once again be cooking up great street food, which you can enjoy whilst listening to a concert by ‘Fed Horses, which kicks off at 6pm.

On Sunday 22nd December Radovljica will host, for the first time, the Artish Festival – a creative festival usually held in Ljubljana – while on the same day there will be two creative workshops as well as concert by Natasa Artiček.

The Christmas market will be open on Monday 23rd December from 3–7pm, whilst at 5pm there will be a performance by pupils and ballet dancers of the Radovljica Music School and children’s folklore groups, and from 6–7pm a workshop for children titled: ‘Radol’ca – A Golden Crown’.

On Christmas Day itself, why not take a stroll through the old town centre to work off your lunch where at 5pm you can watch a street show by Ana Snežna.

On Thursday 26th December at 4pm you can watch a dance performance by Moj klub in the Baroque Hall of the Radovljica Manor followed by at 5pm in Linhart Square a fire show by Čupakabra, titled ‘School for Dragons‘.

On Friday 27th December those with kids won’t want to miss a puppet show at 5pm titled ‘The Wrong Day’ and a visit by Grandfather Frost.

On Saturday 28th December, in addition to the Christmas market, you can once again try some great Taste Radol’ca street food from 5-8pm, while children can join in a face painting workshop from 5-7pm and then from 6-8pm there will be a concert by Andrej Šifrer.

On Sunday 29th December there’s another chance to watch a(nother) street show performance by Ana Snežna at 5pm followed by carol singing through Linhart Square starting at 6pm.

So, as you can see, there’s more than enough reasons to visit Radovljica during the festive season. Hope to see you there – or rather I should say “here”!

© Adele in Slovenia

Taste the Treasures of the Forest with Taste Radol’ca 2019!

Yes, it’s that time of the year again, the tastiest time of the year in Radol’ca – the Taste Radol’ca Month of Local Cuisine!

Photo: Boris Pretnar, Source: http://www.radolca.si

As in the past, for the whole month of November you can visit any (or all!) of the nine participating Taste Radol’ca restaurants to try their special menus created using ingredients sourced and grown locally by local suppliers in the Radol’ca area.

The theme of the menus this year, of course in addition to local ingredients, is the forest, which offers an abundance of ingredients, some of them rather unusual. The talented Taste Radol’ca chefs have been hard at work coming up with new flavour combinations using the wealth of ingredients readily available in the forest during autumn. You can try dishes such as rosehip soup, fillet of white fish with spruce tip salt, venison occo bucco with juniper berry sauce, forest honey and spruce tip ice-cream…

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Every year the opening Taste Radol’ca event is held at one of the participating restaurants, and this year it was the turn of Gostišče Draga in the Draga valley in Begunje na Gorenjskem to host the event. It began with a market featuring local and guest suppliers and the chance to try their products…

…as well as the chance to meet the chefs and taste some of their creations.

And of course there was plenty of entertainment too!

The evening continued (or rather is continuing as I write!) late into the night with the opening dinner where diners were treated to a five-course feast.

Photo: Boris Pretnar, Source: http://www.radolca.si

Photo: Boris Pretnar, Source: http://www.radolca.si

There are two changes to the line-up of restaurants this year, with Jostov hram and Restavracija Lambergh exiting the fold, while Restavracija Center and Restavracija Tabor have joined the happy Taste Radol’ca family!

The other significant addition this year is supplier open days. On Fridays, Saturday and Sundays during the month of November you can visit some of the suppliers in the Radol’ca area where you will have an opportunity to meet the producers and taste their products.

Local Taste Radol’ca November menus will be available from 26th October to 30th November at a price of €19 for (a minimum of) three courses. So, don’t miss the ‘tastiest’ month of the Radol’ca year and the chance to treat your taste buds and support local suppliers too! And, in addition to treating yourself, you can now also treat your friends/loved ones by buying them a Taste Radol’ca gift voucher.

© Adele in Slovenia

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