A Perfect Radol’ca Party!

If you’re looking for the perfect place to hold a celebration or party, or just seeking some posh nosh and a unique experience, look no further than Radovljica!

I had spent quite some time trying to decide where to throw a surprise get-together for Aleš’s (the other half!) 50th birthday, when in the end the choice was staring me in the face – Radovljica!

Thanks to the new Radol’ca Chocolate chocolatier and the excellent Hiša Linhart restaurant and bistro, headed up by the Michelin star-recipient Uroš Štefelin, I managed to put together a perfect evening and everything went to plan, too! The restaurant, in Radovljica’s historic old town centre, is also part of Taste Radol’ca.

I started by sitting down and going through the menu to ensure that all the food would be gluten-free, which isn’t a problem when it comes to this level of food, where flour isn’t used as a thickener, everything is made from scratch and the chef(s) know(s) exactly what is, and isn’t, in the dishes they create.

I took a bit of a detour towards the old town – just a 10-min walk from home – to ensure that Aleš still didn’t have a clue what was in store! I’d arranged it all in advance with the team at Hiša Linhart and bought all the balloons and other decor. On arrival we were whisked upstairs where the others were waiting and then… SURPRISE!!! And I let out a sigh of relief that I’d pulled it off!

We raised a toast with tepka juice made from a traditional Gorenjska variety of pear, one of Hiša Linhart’s specialities. We then sat down to start our feast, which began with a cold starter of warm gluten-free bread with various flavours of butter, a mini salmon and caviar blini-cum-wrap, potato choux pastry, and the most amazing creation in an egg containing pork crackling.

The latter was ‘delivered’ to us by none other than the chef himself – Uroš Štefelin!

I had specifically requested parsnip soup as it’s my favourite, and also because I knew no one else would have ever tasted it, as parsnips are a bit of a novelty here!

We then had a hot starter followed by the main course…

…and then came the next part of the surprise. A visit to the new Radol’ca Chocolate chocolatier, where Iza – the daughter of the owners – took us through a guided tasting session, during which we learnt all about the history of chocolate, the different types of chocolate and how it is made.

First we had a chance to try different kinds of pure chocolate, as well as cocoa butter  – the latter, surprisingly, doesn’t resemble chocolate in any way.

After having learnt a lot about my favourite food, we were then given the chance to try some of the amazing and creatively flavoured chocolates…

….and got some to take home too!

But that wasn’t quite the end of the evening! We went back to Hiša Linhart (all of a 90 second walk away!) where we made sure we really were bursting full by indulging in a gluten-free birthday cake, which I had ordered from Lincer in Lesce, which offers all kinds of gluten-free (as well as egg-free, dairy-free, etc.) food.

So, as you can see, a great time was had by all, and with full stomachs, the birthday boy and I waddled our way home, both in agreement that Radovljica really is the perfect place for a party!

© Adele in Slovenia

The Best Views in Radovljica – You Don’t Need to Go Far!

As the title of this blog elicits, you are never far from a stunning view in Radovljica, and you don’t even need to don your hiking boots or work up a sweat to savour the views either!

There are numerous great vantage points in and around Radovljica, all of which are within a 10-15 minute walk of the old town. Let’s start with the closest and work our way backwards, i.e. away from Linhart Square – the heart of the historic old town centre.

The viewing platform at the end of the old town is a great way to get a ‘feel for the land’. You can see the Sava river, the Jelovica plateau, and the Julian Alps – with Slovenia’s highest mountain, Mt. Triglav.

From the old town walk to the car park that it just a few metres ahead and you will see another viewpoint with a bench and similar views to those from the old town.

Now ahead away from the old town towards the Radovljica swimming pool, which is currently under reconstruction. Behind the pool there is a small hill called Obla gorica. Walk up and along its length, where you can also try out the brand new trim trail. The views are somewhat obscured by trees, but where there is a gap in the trees, there are great views to be had.

There is a second, smaller and lower rise to the east, from where views open up of the Baroque St. Peter’s church in the old town.

The final stop is the small hill called Voljči hrib, from where there are magnificent panoramic views of the Karavanke mountains, the Radovljica Plains, over Radovljica itself, and the Julian Alps in the distance. There’s a bench at the top, too, where you can soak up the views.

By the way, I took these photos a couple of weeks ago (yes, it’s taken me that long to find time to get round to putting this blog together!) and as I write, it’s raining here in Radovljica. However, I can see the snow getting lower and lower, so the mountains are, yet again, snow-capped, and we might even wake up to snow on the ground in the morning, too – boo hoo!

The best and easiest way to navigate Radovljica is to first pay a visit to the Tourist Information Centre, which is located at the entrance to Linhart Square, where you can pick up a map and the staff will be happy to point you in the direction of the viewpoints mentioned in this blog, and, of course, provide any other information you need about the area.

Almost all the COVID-related measures have been dropped now (masks are still mandatory indoors), so this year you really can start planning your trip to Slovenia, which, of course, must include a visit to Radovljica!

© Adele in Slovenia

Winter Hikes and Spikes in Radol’ca!

At last, I’ve found time to sit down and write my first blog of the year 2022! It’s been a funny old winter so far. First a lot of early snow in December, followed by a very cold spell, then an unseasonably mild spell, followed by rain, a bit more snow and now another really cold spell, albeit now at least with beautiful blue skies and sunshine.

Although I’ve never been a fan of the cold and snow, I’m also not one to sit indoors, regardless of the weather (and my ongoing health woes). So, here are a few ideas for winter hikes in the Radol’ca, oh, and read on to find out about the ‘spikes’ (as mentioned in the title) too!

One of our favourite hikes at this time of the year is to Smokuški vrh above the village of Begunje na Gorenjskem. Since we like doing circular routes and prefer to leave the car in the garage, when we have time we often set off on foot from Radovljica to Begunje (cca. 50 minutes), where we take the path that begins near the post office and leads steeply up to St. Peter’s church (cca. 30mins).

From the church, we carry on up to Smokuški vrh on the ridge, which is a great vantage point.

We then walk along the ridge, with stunning views of the Julian Alps and Slovenia’s highest mountain – Triglav – before descending towards the village of Rodine and back through Hraše and Lesce to Radovljica.

Now onto the ‘spikes’ I mentioned above…As also mentioned above, it’s been a mixed bag this winter, which means that although some places at lower altitudes are now almost snow-free (up to around 800metres above sea-level), in the forest, particularly in areas that don’t get any/much sun and paths that are well used, the paths are really icy in places, hence ‘spikes’ i.e. mini crampons, are a ‘must’ in my rucksack wherever I go.

So, if you are planning any hikes in winter, I’d advise you bring (or buy while you are here) a pair of these mini crampons – you can pick them up for around €30, they are very lightweight and quick and easy to put on. Note, however, that these crampons are NOT suitable for more strenuous and higher mountain tours, for which semi-automatic crampons are a must at this time of the year.

And what’s more, the ones I’m ‘modelling’ below, are even made here in the municipality of Radovljica – at the Veriga factory in Lesce, where you can buy them direct of pick them up in sports shops.

My other favourite places to hike in the Radovljica area in winter include the Goška ravan mountain pasture and hut on the Jelovica plateau

The Roblekov dom mountain hut, above the Draga valley on the slopes of Mt. Begunščica

And the Vodiška planina mountain pasture and Partisanski dom mountain hut above Kropa.

You can find out about all these hikes and more about winter in Radovljica, visit the Visit Radol’ca website. Happy and, of course, safe hiking!

© Adele in Slovenia

 

Radol’ca Chocolate – Radovljica Just Got Even ‘Sweeter’!

Radovljica is even richer, and sweeter, thanks to a great new addition – the new Radol’ca Chocolate boutique chocolate shop!

But calling it just a ‘shop’ is doing it an injustice, since it’s so much more.

All the chocolates are handmade on site at this new family-run venture, which is the brainchild of the former director of the Radovljica Tourist Board, Nataša Mikelj, who, together with her husband and eldest daughter, have set up and opened a new chapter in their lives and that of Radovljica.

Since having introduced the very popular and successful Radovljica Chocolate Festival to the town’s annual events calendar several years ago, Nataša’s interest was sparked in where chocolate comes from, how it’s made, flavour combinations, etc.

For several years she had tried to find someone who would be interested in opening a chocolate shop in Radovljica, but there was little interest. It was during lockdown that Nataša had time to think long and hard about her life, career and future and had a lightbulb moment when she realised what her new calling could be in life – chocolate!

And the result of many months of research, hard graft and learning the tools and tricks of the trade is certainly paying off, since passing trade is brisk and orders are already pouring in for Christmas gifts, business gifts, etc.

The shop is located at the entrance to Radovljica’s old town centre. Inside you can get up close to watch the chocolates being made…

…learn about the ingredients…

… talk to the family…

…and try a sample before you buy!

It’s a tough place to be for a chocoholic like me!

In future, workshops, tasting sessions and other events are planned too.

A chocolate weekend is due to be held (providing further COVID restrictions aren’t introduced by then) on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th December. Click here to read more.

So, now you can take a piece of Radovljica (chocolate!) home as a treat for yourself or your loved ones – or both!

© Adele in Slovenia

 

Autumn Colours and Tastes of Radol’ca

Radol’ca, like much of the rest of Slovenia, is awash with stunning autumn colours at the moment, so if you get the chance, now is the time to visit and take a drive through the Gorenjska countryside.

This week and next will be the peak of the autumnal colours, as the leaves are dropping at a rate of knots now, so don’t miss out on this short-lived annual spectacular. Autumn is a time of mixed emotions for me; I love it because of the colours and still (usually!) relatively warm weather, but at the same time know that it means winter is on the way!

In addition to stunning colours, autumn is a time of seasonal tastes, and the annual Taste Radol’ca month of local menus, which takes place every November, is another good reason to visit. This Friday 29th October the opening event of this year’s Taste Radol’ca takes place at Vila Podvin in Mošnje, near Radovljica. It begins in the afternoon with a farmers’ market featuring local suppliers and tastings, whilst in the evening the opening dinner will be prepared by Taste Radol’ca chefs and served by waiting staff from all the nine participating restaurants.

The farmers’ market, which will run from 5pm to 7pm, is open to everyone – the more the merrier (though note that you must meet, and be able to prove, that you meet one of the RVT conditions (recovered, vaccinated, tested) – while the five-course opening dinner is a ticket-only event. Contact the Radovljica Tourist Information Centre to enquire about purchasing tickets and to find out more information about what to see and do in autumn in the Radol’ca area.

After the opening event, and right up until the end of November, you will be able to try one (or more!) of the specially prepared menus featuring local ingredients prepared by the talented Taste Radol’ca chefs at: Vila Podvin, Draga Inn, Lectar Inn, Kunstelj Inn, Gostišče Tulipan, Gostilna Avguštin, Gostilna Pr’ Tavčar, Restavracija Center and Restavracija Tabor.

On a side note, albeit still on the same theme, if you haven’t yet got round to visiting Vila Podvin – awarded a Michelin Star in both 2020 and 2021 – you might want to hot foot it there before the end of November (again, don’t forget RVT), when its eight-year chapter of exceptional success draws to a close.

But all is not lost, as one book closes and opens, as the entire Vila Podvin team will be moving to Hotel and Restaurant Linhart in Linhart Square, the heart of the old town of Radovljica, which Uroš and his business partner, Marcela, bought at the start of 2020 as a result of their offer being rejected to purchase the building in which Vila Podvin operated. The hotel, like many other places in Radovljica (Linhart Hall, Linhart Square…) is named after the well-known 18-century Slovenian playwright Anton Tomaž Linhart who lived in the neighbouring house.

So, now is the time to visit AND taste Radol’ca! Hope to see you there, or rather here, soon!

© Adele in Slovenia

Living Together. About Bees and Mankind

These days I mostly make my living from translating – from Slovenian into English – which, like every job, has its ups and downs. The pluses, among others, are that I’m my own boss, I work from home and can set my own working hours (to some extent), while the minuses, among others, is that often clients have very short (and unrealistic!) deadlines! And that, too, was the case when I began to work on the translation of a new book on beekeeping, however, in this case it transpired that the interesting content and efforts of all those involved made it all worthwhile.

And so, the book titled ‘Living Together. About Bees and Mankind‘ has now been published, and herewith a brief story of its creation, the author behind it, and its importance.

Petra Bole, the director of Radovljica Municipal Museums, which include the Museum of Apiculture, is the brains behind the book, which was published to coincide with the newly renovated museum and as a protocol gift on the occasion of Slovenia’s Presidency of the Council of the EU in 2021.

The 300 page book contains stunning photos and covers beekeeping-related topics such as art, bees and the past, bees and mankind, and nature.

On the occasion of its publication, Petra invited us – the team behind the book (from left to right: Barbara Bogataj – designer; me(!) – translator; Ivan Esenko – photographer; Petra Bole – author; Mihaela Pichler Radanov – editor) to a little gathering in the garden of the Šivec House Gallery to celebrate.

It is, of course, fitting that such a book has been written here in Radovljica – home to the Museum of Apiculture with its brand new exhibition, the Beekeeping Education Centre of Gorenjska, and numerous beekeepers and their colourful apiaries, and the Follow a ‘Bee’ Through Radovljica Family Adventure – and by a local resident, who, since becoming director of Radovljica Municipal Museums, has also taken up beekeeping herself!

No photo description available.

The Museum of Apiculture is housed in the magnificent Radovljica Manor in the old town centre of Radovljica.

Find out more about beekeeping in the Radovljica area here, and, if you are planning a visit to the Radovljica area this autumn, be(e) sure to do, or see, something bee-related, and in doing so play your part in recognising the importance of, and helping to preserve, our precious bees!

© Adele in Slovenia

Forest Nature Trails in Radovljica

On what was – if I remember correctly – my second visit to Radovljica back in 2006, prior to moving here in 2007, I called in at the Radovljica Tourist Information Centre to enquire about where I could go for a walk without needing a car.

I was given a map of the area and directed to the Forest Nature Trail and/or the Lipnica Castle Trail. I’ve written about the latter previously, however, it wasn’t until I recently read in the local paper that the former has now been equipped with new signage, that I realised that I have never actually written a blog about it. So, now is the time to right that wrong!

Do like me and pop into the Tourist Info Centre to pick up a map, then, if you have a car, you can drive to the start, or, like me, cycle there!

There is an information board at the start (unfortunately it’s only in Slovene), and from there just follow the trail through the forest. You can’t (really) go wrong!

The trail is equipped with signs showing the species of tree (in both Slovene and Latin) as well as signs with footprints showing the way.

It first leads through the forest on a terrace above the Sava river

…before descending to a beautiful, tranquil, forested part of Radovljica, which makes you feel like you are a million miles away from civilisation. There is a tree trunk showing the rings of wood and significant national and international events that occurred based on the presumed age of the tree.

In one of the quieter areas, away from the road, we even spotted deer in the forest in broad daylight when we were there last week, though you’ll have to trust me on that since I wasn’t quick enough with my camera to catch them!

This is just one of numerous nature trails, theme trails and hiking paths in the Radovljica area.

Additionally, if you are in the area from now until the end of August, why not try the Hop On and Discover tourist bus – a reincarnation of the Hop-On Hop-On tourist bus – which connects interesting sites and attractions in the municipalities of Radovljica, Tržič and Jesenice, thus giving you a chance to see, and do, even more!

© Adele in Slovenia

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

 

 

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).

May be an image of 1 person, playing a musical instrument, standing, guitar and indoor

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

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