Bears, Bread and Bukovec in the Poljane Valley

To get the full flavour of the pristine Poljane valley it’s necessary to take your time to explore the area, seek out some of its more hidden parts, soak up the best vistas, visit remote farms, try the tastiest home-produced food and drink, walk its forests and paths, and meet some of the friendly locals – including the bears (read on!). I recommend doing all of this is on a walk on the Path Through Zala (Pot skozi Zalo).

The Path Through Zala theme path runs mostly through the forest in Zala and begins at the Pr’ Bukovcu farmstead (shown as Bukovec on the map), which is located in Žirovski Vrh, high above the Poljane valley. The original farmhouse, Bukovčeva hišadates back to 1639.

Nowadays the farm is a popular place for walkers to stop for refreshments (it’s advisable to call ahead to book, but if you’re passing they can always ‘rustle something up’ if needs be!) and/or to buy a few provisions for along the way or to take home, such as dried fruit, baked goods, milk and schnapps – all of them home-produced and organic. One of the farm’s outbuildings also has an area ideal for group picnics or other such social events.

On Sundays you won’t be able to pass the farmhouse without being lured in by the aroma of freshly-baked bread. In fact, the farm’s bread has become quite legendary and attracts people from far and wide!

The first and last section of the 11km path run along the ridge of Žirovski Vrh, from where, on a clear day, there are panoramic views of all 3 of Slovenia’s mountain ranges – the Julian Alps, the Karavanke, the Kamnik-Savinja Alps – as well as across the valleys below.

Literally everywhere you look there are jaw-dropping views!

If you haven’t got time to walk the entire path, you should at least walk the 3.5km Bear Cub Path (Medvedkova pot), which begins opposite the Pr’ Bukovcu farm. The Slovene writer Dr. Ivan Tavčar wrote a book about Zala, telling the story of Canon Amandus who shot a bear that attacked and severly wounded him in Zala. You can find out more about how the story unfolds on the Path Through Zala.

The Bear Cub Path is marked with yellow paw prints on trees and equipped with 7 boards showing 7 themed games, ensuring the little ones won’t be bored!

The circular path is suitable for all and is easy trail, however, sensible footwear is required as it crosses a stream and traverses undulating forest paths.

The highlight of the path is the 3.5 metre-high bear, Štefka, and bear cub, both made from moss. What a great thing to find in the middle of the forest and there’s no doubt you will want to get ‘up close and personal’ with these bears!

If you walk the longer route of the Path Through Zala, you will also pass some of the many fortifications and bunkers of the Rupnik Line on Goli vrh, built in the 1930’s by the then Kingdom of Yugoslavia as a defence line on the border with the Kingdom of Italy (more about this to come in a future blog!).

Other highlights of the 11km path include the Mrakov grič and Selakov grič viewpoints, the Pr’ Mrak, Pr’ Šimc and Pr’ Omejčk farmsteads, the Hunter’s Lodge, and the Zala stream.

Every year the Žirovski Vrh Tourist Association organises guided walks on the Path Through Zala. This next walk will be held on 2nd May. More information here (in Slovene) – http://www.tdzirovskivrh.si/.

Photo: TD Žirovski vrh

More information about this and other theme paths in the Škofja Loka area can be found on the Visit Škofja Loka website – http://www.visitskofjaloka.si/en/experiences/theme-paths and more about the Pr’ Bukovcu farmstead here (in Slovene only) – http://www.bukovc.si/

© Adele in Slovenia

 

 

Eat, Drink and Be Merry in Festive Radovljica!

Word is rapidly spreading about how beautiful the Christmas decorations are this year in Linhart Square – the heart of the old town of Radovljica. If you haven’t visited yet, be sure to do so and find out why it’s the talk of the town, and further afield too!

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Photo: Miran Kambič (www.slovenia.info)

Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays are the best time to visit when there is a small Advent Market as well as live entertainment for all the family. The Advent Market is also open on Christmas Day and Boxing Day (26th December), and on both days there are street performances at 5pm. For the full programme, click here – http://www.radolca.si/en/what-to-do/events-1/festive-december-in-linhart-square/83/395/

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Photo: Miran Kambič (www.slovenia.info)

And while you are here, why not take some time to Taste Radol’ca too!

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Kunstelj Inn’s famous cake pops with a Christmas twist!

Since it can be a little bit of a faff, or at least I think so, trying to find out which restaurants are/aren’t open and when during the festive season, I decided to take it upon myself to do the hard work and compile all the information in one place i.e. here! So below is a full list – or rather of those that responded to my request for information. Note: restaurants are open as usual in the period between Christmas and New Year, unless otherwise stated below.

Gostilna Avguštin – 24.12: 9am-6pm, 25.12: Closed, 31.12: 9am-6pm, 1.1: 12noon-8pm

Gostilna Kunstelj – 24.12: 12noon-3pm, 25.12: 12noon-10pm, 30.12 open as usual + 6pm-8pm Cocktail Party, 31.12: 12noon-5pm + 7pm-10pm New Year’s Dinner (reservations required)

Gostišče Draga – 24.12: 11am-3pm, 25.12: 10am-6pm, 26.12: 10am-6pm, 27.12: Closed, 28/29.12: 11am-9pm, 30.12: 11am-10pm, 31.12: 10am-3pm, 1.1: 10am-6pm

Gostišče Tulipan – 24.12+25.12: Closed, 31.12: Open + New Year’s Dinner (reservations required)

Lectar Inn – Open daily throughout the year from 9am – 10pm

Vila Podvin* – 24.12: 12noon-5pm, 25.12: 12noon-5pm, 31.12 Open + New Year’s Dinner (reservations required), 1.1: 12noon-5pm

Joštov Hram – 24.12: 9am-5pm, 25/26.12: Closed, 27-30.12: 9am-10pm, 31.12: 9am-5pm, 1/2.1: Closed

* If you haven’t the time, or the will, to rustle up a gourmet home-cooked Christmas lunch, this year Vila Podvin is offering a fully-prepared takeaway version of their Christmas lunch. You could even pretend you made it yourself! More information and the full menu can be found on the Vila Podvin Facebook page (see the post, in both Slovene and English, dated 6th December).

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So, armed with information about what events are taking place, as well as information about restaurant opening times, there are now no excuses not to visit Radovljica this festive season! What are you waiting for?!

© Adele in Slovenia

 

 

The New Triglav National Park Centre and a Froggy Tale!

Triglav National Park is Slovenia’s only national park, covers an area of 880 square kilometres and has 3 information centres including the newly-built and recently opened centre in the village of Stara Fužina, near Bohinj lake, which I visited for the first time last week.

Downstairs the centre, which is open 10am-3pm on weekdays and 10am-5pm at weekends, has a permanent exhibition, information and exhibits about the park, and a small area selling local products.

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However, its the upstairs viewing room that makes this place so special. The saying ‘a room with a view’ is certainly apt for this, and no photo-shopping is required. They have managed to capture the views and the essence of Bohinj lake and the surrounding mountains perfectly with the full-depth windows, relaxing hanging chairs and selection of magazines.

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The only thing missing was a nice cup of tea with which to be able to sit and marvel at the views!

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Whilst in the area I paid a visit to another of my favourite haunts, Čokohram, in the tiny village of Česnjica, near Bohinj lake. I wrote extensively about this in a previous blog – http://bit.ly/1iq7MR4 – however, this time there was an added reason for my visit, apart from the obvious reason of gorging myself with chocolate and cake.

Inside the tiny building the walls have been hand-painted with several pictures of frogs and, on a previous visit, the owner, Alenka, had begun to tell me about the reason for this and her plans for the future. So, I wanted to find out more, as I’m always one for listening to an interesting local story.

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Though, in fact, I won’t give too much away yet as Alenka has plans to create a ‘frog-based’ theme path that will lead from Bohinj lake to Čokohram in Česnjica – and you can be sure I’ll be writing about that as soon as the plan is realised.

In the meantime I’ll share some photos I took of the delicious things on offer, as each time I visit there is something new. This time I noticed new chocolate liqueur, home-baked chocolate cookies, and cake pops. Nothing escapes me!

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I also worked on persuading Alenka to be a part of next year’s Radovljica Chocolate Festival, which has become THE unmissable chocolate event in Slovenia and the date of next year’s festival has already been announced – 15-17th April 2016.