The Path to Crngrob and the Pri Marku Tourist Farm

The Church of the Annunciation in Crngrob near Škofja Loka is among the most notable of Slovenia’s 800+ churches.

Photo: Jana Kuhar, Visit Škofja Loka

You can easily reach the church by car, however, if time permits I suggest setting off on foot or by bike from the centre of Škofja Loka along the Path to Crngrob theme path, where along the way you can see numerous shrines and admire the pleasant Škofja Loka countryside.

The 5km path starts at the information board opposite the bus station in front of the Nama department store. You can pick up a leaflet about the path from the Škofja Loka Tourist Information Centre or find more information about this and other theme paths in the area here – http://www.visitskofjaloka.si/en/experiences/theme-paths

The path, which is marked with a yellow circle with a white inner, is relatively level and mostly on quite country lanes.

You can also go by bike, as I did when exploring part of the Škofja Loka Cycle Route earlier this year. Read more in a previous blog here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/2017/06/11/active-and-historic-loka-the-skofja-loka-cycle-trail/

You first pass the shrine of Pieta, the work of the well-known Slovenian impressionist painter Ivan Grohar.

The Red Shrine, which was erected at the beginning of the 16th century as a reminder of the plague, is one of the oldest shrines in Slovenia.

A few minutes on you reach the village and church. Though from afar the outside of the church doesn’t look particularly remarkable, other than the fact it is a particularly large church for a village with just a handful of houses – the reason for this is that it was intended for pilgrims – as you get closer and glimpse the large fresco of St. Christopher on the exterior, and another of Holy Sunday in the shelter of the neo-gothic porch, you begin to get a sense this is no ordinary church.

Then you step inside and see the full beauty of the ornate interior, particularly the gold baroque altars and magnificent painted ceiling, you will soon realise why it is considered among the most valuable churches in the country.

It was originally built in the 13th century and extended over time with the bell tower dating from 1666 and the neo-gothic porch being added in 1858.

As befits something of such value, the church is kept locked, therefore to arrange to a guided tour of the interior you should contact Tourism Škofja Loka by email (info@skofja-loka.com) or by calling +00386 45 170 602 or +00386 41 424 776.

I recommended combining a visit to Crngrob with a stay or a visit to the Pri Marku tourist farm, which is situated just a few hundred metres from the church. The farm’s setting is idyllic, surrounded by rolling green hills, the church as a backdrop, and though only 5kms from Škofja Loka, it has a real air of being far from the hustle and bustle of life.

Pri Marku has 10 well-appointed rooms, or for a different experience you can also stay in the farm’s hayloft. All rooms come with a view!

You can get to know the farm’s animals – this one seemed very keen to get to know me!

Of course no Slovenian tourist farm is complete without delicious home-made, home-produced food and drink! Those staying at Pri Marku have half-board, but you can also drop by for a snack or a hearty lunch at weekends (prior booking essential) and try some other traditional Slovenian dishes and house specialities.

More information about the Pri Marku tourist farm can be found here – http://www.pri-marku-porenta.si/ANG/

© Adele in Slovenia

 

 

The Pri Andrejevih Tourist Farm: Fab Food, Family and Fortifications!

Staying at a tourist farm offers a unique experience in every sense. Each of them are different – some of them are working farms with vast with acres of land, others small, simple but homely. Whatever the size and the facilities on offer, you can be sure of a friendly welcome at family-run tourist farms with copious helpings of home-made and home-produced food.

There are over 800 tourist farms in Slovenia spread through the country, so deciding where to stay can be a minefield.

I’ve visited quite a few in my 10 years of living here and, of those that I’ve visited so far, Pri Andrejevih in the village of Narin, stands out.

The village of Narin is situated midway between Pivka and Ilirska Bistrica and is ideally located for exploring all the area has to offer. In this previous blog, you can read much more about what to do and see in Pivka including the Park of Military History, which is well worth a visit – http://wp.me/p3005k-1w8

The family-run Pri Andrejevih farm comprises a working farm, where organic farming is practiced, simple, well-appointed rooms in the upper part of the house, an outdoor swimming pool, and great Slovene home-cooked food, which is available for guests or, upon prior arrangement, also for day visitors.

Immediately upon arrival, I couldn’t help but notice the imposing church on a hill directly above the farm, and I couldn’t wait to set off to explore it!

The church is located in the small settlement of Šilentabor, which, though there is nothing left today to suggest so, was once the largest fortification complex in Slovenia. You can reach the settlement on an easy path which is part of the Circular Trail of Military History which runs almost past the door of the Pri Andrejevih farm.

From the farm you cross the railway line – observing the stop sign, of course!

Then, just keep following the green signs! Here the path leads up to Šilentabor, or you can continue on the circular path.

You pass the family’s pastures where their horses graze.

Once there the views over the entire Green Karst area are breathtaking, so much so you may need to take a lie down!

From the viewpoint continue past the bear (!) onwards towards the church. Shortly before reaching the church the return route to Narin leads down to the left, but it’s worth making the extra few minutes detour to St. Martin’s church.

It takes about 1.5 hours for the route from Narin to Šilentabor and back, or, for the entire 11.3km circular path allow 3-4 hours.

Of course, by now, hunger had set in and it was time for a delicious dinner, which I had been looking forward to ever since my previous visit to Pri Andrejevih, as they cook and serve the most natural and delicious food – simplicity at its best.

They also produce and sell their own honey, vinegar, juices and fruit liqueurs.

When not out walking and exploring, there’s a chance to relax in the farm’s outdoor swimming pool and to ‘get to know’ the family pets.

Then watch the sun setting from the terrace. A perfect end to a perfect day!

After a good night’s rest and more farm products at breakfast, I set off on another day of exploration of the Green Karst, about which you can read here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/2017/05/07/sneznik-and-slivnica-witches-and-castles-in-the-karst/

Find more details about the Pri Andrejevih Tourist Farm here – http://www.andrejevi.com/ and about the Green Karst region here – http://zelenikras.si/en/

© Adele in Slovenia

http://www.andrejevi.com/

 

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

 

 

Sunny Skiing, Stunning Views and Romance on Stari Vrh!

The Stari Vrh ski resort is located in the middle of the Selca and Poljane valleys, just a ten minute drive from Škofja Loka. It’s proximity to Ljubljana makes it a popular destination; in winter for skiing, snowboarding and other winter sports, and in summer for hiking and cycling.

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Stari Vrh offers 10kms of slopes (1km difficult, 5kms medium, 4kms easy), together with a snowboard park, night skiing, a toboggan run and a children’s snow playground.

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Even for a non-skier like myself, it’s well worth donning your winter gear and taking the chairlift up to the top for the stunning panoramic views.

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Once at the top, you will be blown away (hopefully not literally!) by the views over the Škofja Loka hills and further to the Kamnik-Savinja Alps.

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The peak of Stari Vrh is at an altitude of 1217m.

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At the top you can visit the cosy Stari Vrh Restaurant and Guest House, where you can enjoy a drink and/or snack, indulge in one of the Slovene specialities – all the while gazing at the stunning views – or stay overnight in one of the inn’s comfortable rooms and warm up in the sauna!

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And since February is the month of romance, you might be interested to know that one of the ski pistes at Stari Vrh is named Valentine’s piste, after the nearby St. Valentines church in Jarčje Brdo. Additionally, the very scenic Valentine’s Path (Valentinova pot) begins at the lower station of the Stari Vrh chairlift. Note, however, that you will need to wait until at least spring before setting out to walk this path, as it runs on part of the ski piste, so can’t be walked when the ski centre is open.

The circular path is marked with green circles with a yellow inner and runs along old cart tracks and forest paths. It takes about 2 hours to complete, has a total height difference of 280 metres, and leads past the Žgajnar Tourist Farm, a 200-year old farmhouse in the hamlet of Zapreval, where in 1970 the Stari Vrh Tourist Association was founded. During winter there is a marked detour to reach Zapreval, since the ski pistes run almost literally past the front door, hence making it an excellent base for those on multi-day trips.

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Today the tourist farm offers accommodation and delicious home-produced and home-cooked food year-round. You can read more about the tourist farm here – http://zgajnar.starivrh.si/presentation/Presentation.html

The path begins at the lower station of the chairlift at the Stari vrh ski resort and continues beside the Valentine ski piste to reach the exact boundary of the municipalities of Gorenja vas-Poljane and Škofja Loka, before rising up to the Stari vrh Restaurant and Guest House. It continues through the village of Mlaka past the Jejlar homestead (Jejlarjeva domačija), the famous house where the film Cvetje v jeseni (Blossoms in Autumn) was filmed. On reaching the village of Jarčje Brdo you will catch sight of the imposing St. Valentine’s parish church and return to the start of the walk.

Photo: TD Stari Vrh

Photo: TD Stari Vrh

Every year on 31st October there is an organised hike on Valentine’s Path, arranged by the Stari Vrh Tourist Association, beginning at 9am from the car park of the lower station of the 6-person chairlift at the Stari vrh ski resort.

The Association also arranges other events, including the popular Charcoal Makers Day, which has been held annually on the first Sunday in August since 1972.

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Photo: TD Stari Vrh

Having seen how beautiful Stari Vrh is in winter, and the numerous opportunities the area offers for hiking and cycling in summer, I now can’t wait to go back and explore more of the area on foot or by bike. And when I do, you will be sure to read about it here!

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You can find out more about all the above on the Visit Skofja Loka website here – http://www.visitskofjaloka.si/en/about-us/tourism-board-skofja-loka

© Adele in Slovenia

 

 

 

Genuine warmth, hospitality and Slovenian food at Globočnik

On a cold winter’s evening, I recently paid a(nother) visit to the Globočnik Excursion Farm (Izletniška kmetija Globočnik), where there is always a guaranteed warm welcome together with genuine hospitality and traditional Slovenian food – I just love this place!

Situated in the tiny hamlet of Globoko, next to the Sava river, this centuries-old farmhouse is extra cosy during the winter thanks to the log fire and wood-burning stove. The house dates back to 1628 and contains an original black-kitchen.

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The house really has a unique ambience and you feel right at home from the minute you step inside, much in part to the owner Cene – a larger-than-life character with a wealth of tales to tell – ably assisted by his wife, Nika.

On the day I visited, they were holding their annual demonstration and tasting of ‘koline‘ – the traditional preparation of various sausages from the winter pig slaughter. As you can see from the photo below, at Globočnik, it is still done the traditional way.

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A lot of muscle is required, though, so it’s ‘all hands on deck!’

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On this annual traditional day, one of the farm’s neighbours, who is known as a ‘star bread baker’ also comes to join in to ensure there is delicious just-baked bread to accompany the meat feast! With that many years experience of bread baking under her belt, you just know it’s going to be great bread!

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Made in the traditional way and using original equipment together with lots of TLC!

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And the results speak for themselves!

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As was the rest of the food, which sure hits the spot on a chilly winter’s night!

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I could still just about do up my jeans after the feast! And yes, that is flour all over my jumper, nothing like getting stuck in!

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The atmosphere was made even warmer thanks to zither and accordion music.

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And beautiful singing which soon had people up on their feet!

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For the past 2 years, Globočnik has also been one of the participating Taste Radol’ca restaurants, where the focus is on locally produced ingredients.

Dishes available include cold-cut platters and various soups to start; main courses such as grilled sausages, black-pudding, roast pork, stewed beef or roast duck, goulash, tripe, and various stews; a wide selection of side dishes such as steamed sauerkraut, roast potatoes, turnips, buckwheat with mushrooms, cheese štruklji; and desserts such as apple strudel and stuffed apples with walnuts and honey.

Note – The Globočnik Excursion Farm is only at weekends (or at other times upon prior arrangement) and reservations are essential. Unfortunately, however, the website is in Slovene only, and somewhat outdated – top marks for food and hospitality but technology really isn’t their thing, though we forgive them – so the best bet is to call 040 736 930 and if you need any help or more information, you can always turn to me and I’ll endeavour to help.

© Adele in Slovenia

An icy dip

Brrr… it makes me shiver just thinking and writing about it but some hardy folk braved the ice cold waters of Lake Bled last week for the Bled Winter Swimming Cup 2013, which since starting in 2010, has now become an annual event – ice permitting.

The water temperature on the day of the swim was a balmy 3 degrees and the air temperature 0 degrees. The event attracted 67 competitors from far and wide: Australia, Croatia, Germany, Ireland, Portugal, Russia, UK, USA and of course Slovenia.

All the men’s events were won by Slovenes whilst the women’s events were won by a Slovene, a Germany and an Australian. The shortest event was 25 metres and the longest 50 metres. However, one brave chap, from England no less, where we’re not exactly famed for our tolerance to the extreme cold, then went on to swim the ice mile in 37.23 minutes, hats off all round to him I say!

This year, although there have been record levels of snowfall, the air temperature hasn’t actually been as low as last year and therefore, fortunately for the competitors, the lake hasn’t frozen over. This time last year it was completely frozen over with a very thick layer of ice and for the first time since moving here I was able to walk across the ice to the island and the church in the middle of the lake. What a strange and slightly unsettling experience (as you might gather from my facial expression in the photo below – that and the fact it was freeeeezing!). However, I certainly wasn’t alone, there were plenty of others walking and skating on the ice too so I decided to put my apprehensions aside and join them. And it was worth it for my first chance to reach and explore the tiny island and so I can finally say I’ve been there.

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Fortunately, living in Radovljica, which is just 7km from Bled, I am able to walk and run frequently around Lake Bled – I couldn’t possibly count how many times I’ve done so in the past 6 years and it still hasn’t lost its appeal. Bled has been a popular tourist destination since the 19th century and is probably most known for its island in the middle of the lake, home to the Church of St. Mary which was originally built in the 8th century and renovated in the 15th and 18th centuries. The stairway which leads from the lake up to the island has 99 steps and dates from 1655. The island can only be reached by boat and visitors can either rent a boat and row themselves or use one of the traditional Bled ‘pletna’ boats whose oarsmen will do the hard work for you.

Alternatively, a walk, or even a run, around the lake as I do is a very popular activity year-round. It’s approximately 6km around but the time passes easily whilst admiring the beauty of the island, Bled Castle and the backdrop of the mountains of the Karavanke Alps.

Since I love being up in the mountains rather than just looking at them, and since Friday brought some much needed and long awaited warm sunshine, I went for a walk with a friend to the Roblek mountain hut (Roblekov dom) which at 1657m is the highest of the huts on Begunjščica, a part of the Karavanke Alps. It was so sunny and warm up there, we could have stayed all day, alas we had to get back so we’d didn’t have much time to linger but just long enough to feel some of the sun’s rays and take a few photos.

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Roblekov dom is named after Hugon Roblek, who was born in Radovljica. He was a successful pharmacist and one of the fighters who defended the northern border in the Austrian Koroška region. In 1920, whilst staying in the National Home in Trieste, Italian fascists set fire to the home and Roblek fell to a sad death when trying to jump out of a window to save his life. In his will, Roblek left all his assets to the Radovljica branch of the Slovene Mountain Association who built Roblekov dom using his legacy.

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© Adele in Slovenia