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

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

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

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

A Different December in Radovljica!

As you might expect, the festive season is going to be somewhat different this year in Radovljica, and, in fact, in Slovenia as a whole. Am I rocking the mask look?!

Unfortunately, Slovenia is faring far less well second time round and, at the time of writing (1 December), the situation is thus: there is a curfew in place from 9pm to 6am; all restaurants/bars etc. are closed; all non-essential shops are closed; we are not allowed outside of the municipality where we live; masks must be worn at all times outdoors too, other than in ‘green’ areas where it is possible to ensure a 3 metre distance from others; there is no public transport; mixing with others is not allowed other than with immediate family members; all sports events/public events etc. are cancelled. So, as you can imagine, the atmosphere is not as festive as it could be, but that doesn’t mean that Christmas has been cancelled; this year it will just be more ‘intimate’, which isn’t always a bad thing!

However, with the festive season upon us, there is a glimmer of hope and a twinkle of fairy lights, and Radovljica is looking even more picture-perfect than ever! So, let’s focus on what you CAN see and do right now, rather than what you CAN’T!

A stroll through the historic old town centre of Radovljica is pleasant and interesting whatever the time of year, but even more so in the festive season. Tourism Radol’ca have really gone to town this year with this festive lights, which now not only adorn Linhart Square but also the town park and the square in front of St. Peter’s church.

To get you in the festive spirit, below you can watch the switching on the festive lights in Radovljica, which took place at 5pm today.

The theme of this year’s decorations is Radovljica’s long tradition of wickerwork.

This year, despite the lack of an advent market and live events/performances, you can still enjoy an ‘adventure’ in the form of the new ‘Journey to the Fairies’ Tree‘.

Of course, and thank goodness, nature hasn’t been affected by the virus – some would argue it has in fact got even better due to less pollution – thus taking to the forest is a great way to socially distance too! So, check out the array of themed hiking trails and short hikes ideal for little ones in the Radol’ca area.

We’ve been hiking a lot on the Jelovica plateau of late, since we can’t go that far from home due to the restrictions. There has been a lot of fog in the valley so getting up above it – as we did last Saturday – is certainly worth the effort!

In addition, a number of the Taste Radol’ca restaurants are offering home delivery and/or take-away food, so you can also have a day – or days – off cooking over the festive season, and you can even pick up fresh ingredients and treats from the vending machine in front of Gostilna Kunstelj!

You can keep up-to-date with the latest information on the COVID-19 situation here and find out more about the latest events, well, as and when there will be any – in the Radol’ca area here.

To end, I wish you all a very happy and, of course, more importantly healthy, Christmas and New Year and hope to be back with you soon with some more positive news!

© Adele in Slovenia

 

Radovljica to Jamnik…the long way round!

So, having done so well in the first round of COVID-19, unfortunately Slovenia is faring much less well second time around.

We are now back to a partial lockdown, and as of 19th October the Slovenian government officially (re)declared an epidemic and also introduced a curfew from 9pm to 6am. We are not allowed out of our region, bars and restaurants are closed, as are all non-essential shops (as of tomorrow), home schooling is in place for year 6 upwards, and masks must be worn outdoors too at all times, other than when doing individual sports such as cycling.

Hence, the best place to be by far – other than alone on your bike(!) – is in the forest and far from the madding crowd. So, that’s exactly where we headed last weekend; from Radovljica to Jamnik via Kamna Gorica, on foot all the way there and back!

There are several paths that lead up to Jamnik and its landmark church from Kropa, or you can drive (or cycle) up the windy road. If, however, you want to make a full day of it and you haven’t got transport, you could follow my lead and go the whole way on foot!

First head from the old town of Radovljica past the cemetery and down to the Sava river where you cross the Fux footbridge (Fuxova brv) and follow part of the Lipnica Castle Trail.

Instead of turning off the path towards Lipnica Castle, at the junction of paths with a shrine and an information board, as seen below, continue straight on towards Kamna Gorica.

You soon get your first glimpse of the Church of the Holy Trinity, which stands above the village.

Walk through the village then rejoin the road and walk on the pavement, with the stream to your left, until you reach a sign on the right, almost opposite the bus stop, for Vodiška planina (the Vodiška mountain pasture).

Walk up the tarmac road which soon becomes a forest trail. From here on the path is well marked with the usual red/white circles on trees.

Most of the trail runs through dense forest, so there isn’t much in the way of views, but when there is a gap between the trees it makes the effort worthwhile!

After around 1.5 hours of walking you reach the Vodiška planina mountain pasture and the Partisanski dom mountain hut (currently also shut due to the virus).

If you’d like a shorter version of this hike then you could now take one of the paths that lead directly down to Kropa. Should you wish to continue, then just keep following the signs to Jamnik.

And lookout for the viewpoint with a bench along the way!

…from there on its downhill all the way to Jamnik! We experienced almost four seasons in one day – sunny when we left Radovljica, a hailstorm on the way down towards Jamnik, then shrouded in fog when we got there. Oh well, you can’t have everything!

On a fine(r) day, it usually looks more like this and there are great panoramic views too!

So, despite everything, it’s still possible to enjoy the beauty of nature but, of course, do heed all the precautions and, above all, stay well and safe.

© Adele in Slovenia

 

 

Radol’ca Gets Gorenjska Bikes – Help Keep Radol’ca Green!

Slovenia has been going cycling mad for the last few weeks thanks to the supreme efforts of both Tadej Pogačar and Primož Roglič – the winner and runner up, respectively, of this year’s Tour de France. Congratulations to them both!

Therefore, it’s only fitting that my latest blog is on the theme of cycling, since as of last week Radovljica officially joined the Gorenjska Bike scheme.

The bike sharing scheme offers subscribers the use of regular bikes and e-bikes, which can be used for up to 840 minutes per week for a fixed price. Bikes can be taken at one location and returned at a different location anywhere within the Gorenjska Bike catchment area – Kranj, Naklo, Tržič, Jesenice and Radovljica.

I went along to the official unveiling of the new bikes in Begunje na Gorenjskem last week to find out more about how the scheme works and to have a go myself!

There are several bike terminals in the Radol’ca area; opposite the Radovljica library…

… at Lesce railway station, on the corner of the road Gradnikova ulica, and adjacent to the tourist information centre in Begunje na Gorenjskem.

Since the scheme is really aimed at those who will be using the bikes on a fairly regular basis, those visiting the area just for a few days are better off just hiring a bike (click here to find out where you can hire bikes in the Radovljica area), however, for those visiting for a longer stay, or those visiting more frequently, the Gorenjska Bike scheme is certainly worth considering as the price and convenience makes it particularly attractive. Seasonal hire costs just €25 for regular bikes and €50 for e-bikes, or monthly hire is available for just €10 for regular bikes and €20 for e-bikes. More information is available here (currently only in Slovene).

From Radovljica you can cycle to, for example, Kamen Castle and the Draga valley in Begunje, Bled, and other nearby places of interest.

Getting around by bike is an ideal way to see some, or all, of the best attractions in the Radol’ca area and, of course, by signing up to the scheme you can play your part in helping to keep Radovljica ‘green’ too!

© Adele in Slovenia

 

The Juliana Long-Distance Hiking Trail – Stage 4: Begunje na Gorenjskem – Bled

The Juliana long-distance hiking trail covers a total of 270 kilometres in 16 stages, one of which runs through the Radol’ca area.

Though marketed as ‘new’, no new paths or infrastructure were actually built in putting together the trail, rather what it does it nicely link together existing trails and paths whilst taking in picturesque valleys, meadows, plateaus, towns and villages in and around the Julian Alps and provides information on where to stay and what to see and do along the way.

The trail hasn’t been designed for those seeking to bag summits, rather for those wishing to see and experience the beauty and diversity of Slovenia’s alpine landscape without having to be an experienced mountaineer. That doesn’t, however, mean that its to be taken lightly, as some sections of the trail involve some significant altitude gains (the highest point reaches 1,819 metres above sea-level), but it is not technically demanding.

You can choose to walk the entire trail, or just select the sections that are most appealing. Each section of the trail is numbered and is shown by yellow (occasionally also white) signs showing JA and a number – 4 in the case of the Begunje – Bled section of the trail.

The trail begins and ends in Kranjska Gora from where it leads to Mojstrana and Jesenice before reaching Begunje na Gorenjskem, which is the stage described here.

The first part of stage 4 begins next to the tourist information centre in Begunje na Gorenjskem.

From there it runs through the villages of Gorica and Vrbje before reaching Radovljica, opposite the bus station and adjacent to the market area.

It then leads to Linhart Square, the heart of the historic old town

…and on to the viewpoint at the far end of the old town, from where there are magnificent views of Slovenia’s highest mountain – Triglav – and the Jelovica plateau.

From there it leads down towards the Sava river.

Just before the bridge over the river, the Juliana Trail meets the Sava River Trail, which leads past the confluence of the Sava Bohinjka and Sava Dolinka rivers and onwards to the Šobec camp.

If you want to get a shot of the river, continue onto the bridge before doubling back to the trail marker.

The route continues through the camp, where it crosses the Sava Dolinka river before entering into the area of the municipality of Bled.

A guidebook to the entire trail is available in three languages.

VODNIK JULIJANA TRAIL 270/16 - Kranjska Gora

Click here to find out more about stage 4 of the trail, and click here for more information about the entire trail.

© Adele in Slovenia

A Taste Radol’ca Culinary Challenge!

Life in Slovenia is almost back to normal – tourist attractions, hotels, restaurants, campsites, etc. are open, and there are even tourists to be seen here and there! That said, there has been a spike in new cases in the past week, so we aren’t out of the woods yet, and caution is still the name of the game.

As a result of COVID-19, now, more than ever, it is important to support local businesses and to look after our health – of which eating a healthy, balanced diet plays an important part. So, it seemed an appropriate time to set Taste Radol’ca restaurants a culinary challenge!

The background to my ‘challenge’ is the situation I find myself in these days since being diagnosed with coeliac disease, which is that going out to eat leads to feelings of: (1) anxiety, (2) apprehension, (3) embarrassment and (4) envy. The first two are due to never being able to be 100% sure that when I order gluten-free food it will really be gluten-free and prepared in a ‘safe’ way, the third is due to having to ask the waiting staff and/or chefs so many questions, and the fourth because invariably I can only ever order one or two things from the menu, which most often aren’t the things I would have previously chosen to eat, and I then end up feeling envious looking at fellow diners tucking into their tasty-looking meals.

Thus I decide it was high-time to be brave and embrace the great, local cuisine and to put my faith in the Taste Radol’ca chefs! I contacted 4 restaurants and asked them to prepare a selection of dishes – meat-based, vegan, and vegetarian – all of which needed to be gluten-free. I should add that I’m neither a vegan or a vegetarian, however, I know that these days an increasing number of people are turning to vegan lifestyles, and there are also those with coeliac disease who choose to additionally be vegan, which must be doubly difficult.

So, below you can see the tasty delights I devoured, beginning at Gostišče Draga in the Draga valley in Begunje na Gorenjskem.

I used to particularly enjoy the various sweet and savoury štruklji at this restaurant, and up until now, I hadn’t found anywhere that offers gluten-free štruklji. I had kind of resigned myself to never being able to eat one of my favourite Slovenian foods again, well, unless I made them myself – and that isn’t about to happen!

So, I was more than over the moon to discover that owner and head chef Ales Tavčar finally lived up to his promise and prepared gluten-free štruklji for me! And, even better, they were such as success they will be featuring on the menu sometime in the near future.

Struklji can be eaten both as a savoury dish, for example with a mushroom sauce…

…or sweet, for example with cranberry sauce. I think my face tells the picture of how delighted I was, and, trust me, they tasted as good as they look!

Vegans are catered for too with dishes such as buckwheat with apple and almonds, which is also gluten-free.

Next up was Gostišče Tulipan in Lesce. Regular readers might recall that I held my celebration there on the occasion of gaining Slovenian citizenship last year. And at that time too it came up trumps with a gluten-free buffet for all my guests. You can read about my celebration here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/2019/10/14/when-adele-in-slovenia-became-adele-is-a-slovene/

So, my visit was with less trepidation in the knowledge that they know their stuff in terms of gluten-free food and preparation.

This time I enjoyed risotto with prawns and truffles – gluten-free and also suitable for pescatarians…

…rump steak with roasted vegetables and potatoes – all naturally gluten-free…

…and rice noodles with homemade wild garlic pesto – vegan and gluten-free.

And all enjoyed on the terrace with a great view!

Next was the turn of Restavracija Center in Lesce, which is a new, and very welcome, addition to the Taste Radol’ca ‘family’.

Since being diagnosed with coeliac disease this place has become my ‘go-to’ restaurant, notably for their amazing gluten-free pizzas, which actually look, and taste, like pizzas – something that can’t be said for many a gluten-free pizza! The dough is made separately and the pizzas are cooked in special baking trays to avoid any cross-contamination. Eating here is the one time I don’t feel so hard done-by!

And this pizza ticks the vegetarian box too, though there are plenty of meat pizzas, too!

For meat eaters, a great gluten-free choice is the beef tagliata, potatoes, rocket and parmesan…

…while vegans can enjoy a seasonal risotto – this one with asparagus was by far the best risotto I’ve ever eaten and from now on will be my second choice in the event that they have run out of gluten-free pizzas, which does happen at times, so it’s always best to call ahead to check to avoid disappointment.

And I ended at Gostilna Kunstelj, which ranks among one of Slovenia’s most well-known traditional restaurants. Even the former Yugoslavian president Tito used to visit!

In fine weather the fantastic view makes the food taste even better!

Since Gostilna Kunstelj’s whole ethos is based on using local and seasonal produce, there is certainly no lack of choice for vegetarians and vegans, and many of the dishes are either naturally gluten-free or can be adapted to be so.

A big hit with me, and a revelation too, was the buckwheat with vegetables and pumpkin seed tempeh. Full of colour and flavour, indeed!

There are numerous salads on the menu, which use produce from the restaurant’s own garden.

Gostilna Kunstelj also has renovated guest rooms, all of which come with stunning views too!

Fortunately, Taste Radol’ca’s talented chefs came up trumps and I’m delighted that now I know I have a slightly wider choice of dishes when I go out to eat, though, of course, the worry is, and will be, ever-present, as even the tiniest grain of gluten sets off an autoimmune reaction. But one needs to also remember that there are people far worse off in life!

© Adele in Slovenia