Tržič – A Trip Around Town

It was a public holiday here in Slovenia this Wednesday (Day of Uprising Against Occupation), so we had planned – weather permitting – to do a long hike in the Tržič area. However, it had rained heavily the previous day, and all night too. Although it had stopped by the morning, there were still threatening black clouds and, of course, soaked and muddy paths. So, in the end we waited until the afternoon, by which time the sun had come out, then went to Tržič anyway, albeit for a shorter, but nonetheless pleasant and revealing, afternoon trip, or rather Town in a day!

It’s amazing how much more you see when you take time and explore all the various nooks and crannies of a place on foot. And Tržič certainly one of those places that has far more than initially meets the eye.

We started by taking the path up to St. Joseph’s church. The path starts at the scarp wall, in close proximity to and opposite the main bus station, where there is a gap in the wall and steps leading up to a road.

Cross the road and take the path immediately opposite, where there is a shrine and the usual Slovenian red and white circular trail markers.

From there it’s only around a 5-minute walk uphill to reach the church, from where there are beautiful views over the old town of Tržič.

You can return on the same path or take one of the other paths back down towards the old town (note: there is also a marked hiking trail from the church up to Kriška gora).

On returning towards the old town, take time to ‘meet’ Tržič’s dragon, before setting off on a discovery of the old town itself. Click here to find out about the legend of the dragon from a rooster’s egg.

At the entrance to the old town centre in Trg svobode (Freedom Square) you can see the last remaining original ‘firbec oken‘ window – a window for the inquisitive, or rather, putting it less politely, the nosy! The bottom of the window protrudes outward, thus allowing those looking from the window to be able to look directly out and down at those below them.

If you want a break, Mestna kavarna (town cafe) is the ideal place. This popular local meeting place offers a wide selection of ice-cream and numerous cakes.

Next, continue to the corner house opposite St. Andrew’s church.

Continue past the church, to reach Muzejska ulica (Museum Street) on the left. Tržič Museum is housed in the former Pollak dyehouse and tannery, which dates from 1811.The museum’s numerous collections take you through Tržič’s historic industries including shoemaking, leather, crafts, trade, winter sports, local history, and art. As I found out on a previous visit (https://adeleinslovenia.com/2019/01/02/rediscover-trzic-with-adele-in-slovenia/), the museum is far more interesting than one might think and has numerous interactive exhibits, so it’s definitely worth a visit and an ideal place to go on a rainy day.

After visiting the museum, or at least admiring it from the outside, return to the main road, where directly opposite you will see Picerjia Pod gradom (Pizzeria beneath the castle) – another option for a rest and a bite to eat, or even a hearty meal.

Walk up the hill past the pizzeria to get another great view over the town – this time from the opposite side. From here you have a choice; you can either continue onwards and upwards towards Kamnek for magnificent views (hiking footwear required) or take the steps back down towards the old town, from where you can see Kurnik House (Kurnikova hiša), a preserved, traditional Tržič house with a black smoke kitchen, the birthplace of the Slovenian poet Vojteh Kurnik.

Finally, take time to admire the views from one of the many bridges over the Bistrica stream.

Find out more about this and other walks, attractions and what else to see and do in the Tržič area here or call into the Tourist Information Centre.

© Adele in Slovenia

The Radovljica Chocolate Festival is Back!

After a 2-year COVID-enforced hiatus, next weekend Radovljica will again rightly live up to its destination slogan – Honestly Sweet – with the return of the hugely popular Radovjlica Chocolate Festival!

While Radovljica itself hasn’t changed much in the past couple of years – in a positive way, I mean – there are some changes to the forthcoming festival, so I went along to the press preview this Wednesday to find out all the juicy, or rather chocolatey, details!

The opening event of the festival – the gourmet Three Chefs’ Dinner – takes place on Friday 22nd April at Hiša Linhart in Linhart Square. This year the stars of the show will be three young chefs, mentored by three masterchefs.

The festival itself then kicks off on Saturday 23rd April from 9am to 8pm and continues on Sunday 24th April from 9am to 6pm.

The ‘chocolate’ part of the festival will take place this year in Radovljica’s town park, which is just minutes from the main bus station, so ideal if you plan to visit by public transport (unfortunately, maintenance work will be taking place on the railway line, so this year it won’t be possible to come by train).

Chocolatiers from Slovenia, Croatia and Italy will feature at the festival. Among the chocolates available to try (through the purchase of tasting coupons) and buy will be the winning chocolates from the annual festival ‘Best Praline’ competition, which this year was judged by the owners of the prestigious Zotter chocolate factory in Austria.

And Radovljica has even more reason to be proud, since first place was awarded to the chocolate and buckwheat praline made by the new Radol’ca Chocolate chocolatier!

The new Radovljica chocolate hearts made by the Molinet chocolatier in Kropa will also make their debut at the festival.

Meanwhile, in Linhart Square – the heart of the medieval old town – there will be a jam-packed entertainment programme with something for all the family.

The main highlights of this year’s entertainment programme include cookery workshops (chocolate, of course!), live music and dance performances, a chocolate roulette wheel, a 100kg ‘bar’ of Gorenjka chocolate to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Gorenjska chocolate, stand-up comedy, face-painting, discount entry to the Museum of Apiculture, non-chocolate food from Taste Radol’ca (Hiša Linhart and Gostišče Draga) and more.

Click here to find the full programme for both days.

Hope to see you here in ‘Honestly Sweet’ Radovljica!

© Adele in Slovenia

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

 

A Fairly Festive Festive Season in Radol’ca!

Yes, it’s that time of year again – for some it’s a joyful time to be spent with families, for young children it’s the highlight of the year waiting for Santa to come down the chimney, for others religion is at the forefront, while there are those that are (already) sick of hearing Christmas music blaring out in shops, endless Christmas adverts on TV and seeing Christmas food and presents in the shops since September!

Wherever you fall among the aforementioned, no doubt after last year’s very muted festive season, you have been looking forward to this year’s celebrations more than usual.

I am, thus, the bearer of both good and bad news. The good news is that Radovljica is looking as fairytale-like as ever, and, unlike last year, there will be some festive events taking place here and elsewhere in Slovenia, while the bad news is that celebrations will still be somewhat muted as there are still some restrictions in place. Nevertheless, after what we’ve all been through, let’s try to just focus on the positives, i.e. on what we CAN see, do and experience rather than what we can’t!

Here in Radovljica one can take delight in simple things such as a evening stroll through Radovljica’s old town centre, where you can marvel at the lights and soak up the atmosphere, stop off for a drink and/or a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants/bars throughout the town.

Kids – big and small – will like visiting the fairy’s grotto, complete with a carriage.

You can also visit one of the Christmas markets and watch street performances – all run, of course, in accordance with the COVID-related restrictions. Providing no additional measures are imposed in the next week or so, below is the timetable of  festive events in the old town centre of Radovljica, note – at present food and drink cannot be sold at Christmas markets due the current restrictions:

  • 19th December: Christmas ARTish fair from 11am to 7pm in Radovljica Manor
  • 22nd December: Christmas market and children’s creative workshop from 4pm to 7pm in Radovljica Manor
  • 23rd December: Christmas market and children’s creative workshop from 4pm to 7pm in Linhart Square and the square in front of the church
  • 25th December: Ana Snežna street performance with Jakob Bergant at 5pm in Linhart Square and the square in front of the church
  • 26th December: Street performance with Čupakabra and Sodrga at 5pm, Linhart Square and the square in front of the church
  • 27th December: Christmas market from 4pm to 7pm, Linhart Square and the square in front of the church
  • 2th December: Christmas market from 4pm to 7pm, Linhart Square and the square in front of the church, and Ana Snežna street performance with Matteo Galbusera (Italy) at 5pm in Linhart Square and the square in front of the church
  • 29th December: Christmas market from 4pm to 7pm, Reindeers’ Circus with the Cizamo Theatre at 5pm, Linhart Square and the square in front of the church

Click here to read more about December in Radovljica.

And as Radovljica, like much of Slovenia, isn’t that far from anywhere, you can also make day trips to see the festive lights in other towns and cities such as Ljubljana, Kranj, Koper, Celje and Maribor.

Oh and by the way, most of the pictures above were taken prior to last week’s heavy snowfall, Radovljica now looks more like this!

And the Vodiška planina mountain pasture on the Jelovica plateau looks like this (taken yesterday!).

So, if you are a fan of the white stuff – snow that is – (which regular readers know I certainly am not!) there’s certainly no shortage of it here. In the high mountains there is already 2 metres in places and 1 metre at altitudes of around 1,000m, while her in the valley we had, or rather still have, around 30-40 centimetres, though I do have to admit it does help to add to the festive feeling, but I just wish we could wake up after Christmas to find it has all gone!!!

Here’s hoping 2022 will finally see the back of coronavirus and I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very Happy and Healthy New Year.

© 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

Cycling in Tržič – Quiet Country Lanes or Mountain Bike Trails, Take Your Pick!

Though a bit cooler, early autumn can be a great time to go cycling in the Gorenjska area, as the majority of tourists have gone home, hence the roads are quieter, and the landscape is still lush and green, with just a hint of the beginnings of autumn.

There are cycle routes in the Tržič area to suit all levels and desires, from gentle family-friendly rides along country lanes to more demanding road bike tours, and from mountain bike tours along mountain pastures to more adrenaline-fueled descents.

If you don’t have your own bike, you can either hire one locally, for example at the Tržič Tourist Information Centre, or you can make use of the Gorenjska Bike bike sharing scheme, that has both regular and e-bikes.

The cycle routes are generally well marked, though there is the odd crossroads where one (well I!) might dither over which way to go, so it’s a good idea to pick up a copy of the map of all the major cycle routes in the area at the tourist information centre, and GPX tracks of all the routes are also available to download.

A good route to start with to get a feel for the area is the Udin Boršt trail, which skirts around, and also in a short section through, the Udin Boršt woods. The 26 kilometre circular and relatively flat route starts and ends at the Tržič Tourist Information Centre, from where, after just a short ride, you are soon off the main road and cycling along tracks and country lanes.

This ride through the countryside beneath Kriška gora and Storžič leads through villages, past churches, shrines and farms…

…and to hidden places you – well certainly I – didn’t even know existed!

If your water bottle is empty, then you can stop at the spring in Strahinj to refill it, before continuing your ride. The tarmac road soon becomes a track, which you follow towards Tenetiše, before joining the main road.

Fortunately, its only a short ride on the main road until you turn off to the left again, this time towards Letenice, and back to more pleasant country lanes.

You soon reach the second of the three bells that makes up the Three Bells Trail, which I wrote about in a previous blog here.

So, now’s the time to get active and discover more of Tržič – this time on 2 wheels!

© 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