The Begunje Village Trail – Along the Paths of Slavko Avsenik

The village of Begunje na Gorenjskem is the birthplace of the founder of Slovenian folk music, Slavko Avsenik, and a gateway to numerous hikes in the Karavanke mountains.

Get to know more about the village, its history, famous residents, and village life by taking a stroll along the Begunje Village Trail.

The trail begins opposite the Avsenik guest house and restaurant, where you can visit the Avsenik Museum to find out more about the legendary Slavko Avsenik and the music of the Avsenik Brothers Ensemble, as well as about the history of the village.

You can also see some hints and tips from the Avsenik Ensemble about how and where to see and enjoy the best of the area!

Continue past the cemetery through the narrow village lanes, passing the stream in places, heading towards St. Ulrich’s church.

Prior to reaching the church you will see an information board and to the right you can visit Robačnekov mill. It is officially open on Tuesdays and Fridays from 9am-12noon, however, outside of these times if the owner is home, as she was when I visited, just smile nicely and she will be happy to show you round!

After passing the church you can continue through the park past Katzenstein Mansion which today houses a psychiatric hospital and, at the rear, the Museum of Hostages. It is worth visiting the museum for a sobering, somewhat chilling, but interesting experience.

1n 1875 the mansion was sold to Austro-Hungarian judicial authorities and a prison, holding 300 female prisoners, was established. During the German occupation, it became a Gestapo prison and political prisoners were incarcerated in the mansion; after the war it again reprised its role as an all-female prison. Inside, on the walls of the former prison cells, you can see written records left by the prisoners and announcements by the occupiers concerning executions.

 The park is particularly known for its pavilion and the Chapel of St. Joseph, designed by the most famous Slovenian architect, Jože Plečnik, and is also home to a small cemetery where 457 hostages and 18 World War II combatants are laid to rest.
So, as you can see, Begunje na Gorenjskem may be a relatively small village, but it’s crammed with natural and cultural sights, so be sure to stop-off to wander the village trail to find out more! More information about this and other walking and hiking paths in the Radol’ca area can be found here – http://www.radolca.si/en/hiking/

© Adele in Slovenia

Beguiling Begunje na Gorenjskem

I’m fortunate to live just a few kilometres from the village of Begunje na Gorenjskem, which is packed full of natural and cultural sights of interest. I spend quite a lot of time there, too, whether hiking, cycling or eating great Taste Radol’ca food. So, in this blog I’ve focused on some of the highlights of beguiling Begunje.

Fans of popular folk music won’t want to miss a visit to the Avsenik family homestead, where the legendary forefathers of Slovene folk music, Slavko and Vilko Avsenik were born. Though, sadly, Slavko passed away in 2015, the family’s music very much lives on.

You can visit the gallery and museum, and/or attend one of the frequent music evenings and other events. More information here – http://www.radolca.si/en/avsenik-gallery-museum/

The Katzenstein Mansion in the heart of the village has had a long and interesting past. Built in the 14th century, its current Renaissance and Baroque appearance is a result of renovations in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. 1n 1875 the mansion was sold to Austro-Hungarian judicial authorities and a prison, holding 300 female prisoners, was established. During the German occupation, it became a Gestapo prison and political prisoners were incarcerated in the mansion; after the war it again reprised its role as an all-female prison.

The Museum of Hostages (Muzej Talcev) has been housed in the building at the north-western end of the residential wing since 1961. Inside, on the walls of the former prison cells, you can see written records left by the prisoners and announcements by the occupiers concerning executions. This one says ‘Molimo za mir’ (We pray for peace). Sobering stuff, indeed.

The park in the ground of the mansion is a lovely place for a stroll. It contains a pavilion and the Chapel of St. Joseph, designed by the most famous Slovenian architect, Jože Plečnik, and is also home to a small cemetery where 457 hostages and 18 World War II combatants are laid to rest. The bronze statues of a hostage and a prisoner, as well as the karst marble sculpture of a female hostage are the work of the sculptor, Boris Kalin.

Also in the heart of the village, near the entrance to the hospital and park, is the Gostilna Pr’ Tavčar restaurant, one of the 13 Taste Radol’ca restaurants. In the relatively short time it has been open it has become a firm favourite among locals.

At the end of the village you reach the Draga valley and the imposing ruins of  Kamen Castle, built in the 12th century by the Counts of Ortenburg. More information here – http://www.radolca.si/en/kamen-castle/

Photo: M Kambic

The short drive to the end of the valley brings you to Gostišče Draga, another of the participating Taste Radol’ca restaurants, where specialities include venison goulash, fresh trout, homemade sweet and savoury štruklji, and more. Situated in the shade of the forest beside a stream, it is particularly popular with those seeking refreshment and sustenance after expending their energy in the surrounds.

The Draga valley is a gateway for numerous hiking trails in the Karavanke mountains including, amongst others, to Begunščica, the ever-popular Roblekov dom mountain hut, and the Preval mountain hut.

As you can see, despite it’s modest size, Begunje packs in a lot, so be sure to include a visit on your trip to the Radovljica area.

© Adele in Slovenia

 

Taste Radol’ca 2016 – The Final Party but Far From the End!

In one way I was pleased to see the back of November – 22 days of rain, with the odd bit of snow thrown in for good measure – but the end of November also brought the end of the month-long Taste Radol’ca 2016, which isn’t so much sad as time for a celebration of all the hard work put in by the chefs during the past month and the even harder work put in by the diners – including me – having the tough job of trying out all the menus! If nothing else, my waistline will be pleased it has come to an end, though, with the festive season all but here, there’s still plenty of gluttony to come, no doubt!

Each year different restaurants host the opening and closing events and this year the Taste Radol’ca Final Party took place at Draga Inn in Begunje na Gorenjskem. We began outside with hot punch, much needed on a chilly December evening, and food to keep us warm provided by Gostilna Tavčar and the Globočnik Excursion Farm.

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In contrast to the opening event, which is a somewhat more formal sit-down multi-course meal that showcases the talented chefs, the final party is more a relaxed, social, let-your-hair down party and a chance to hobnob with the chefs. Thanks Uroš (Vila Podvin) and Mišo (Joštov Hram) for helping keep me warm!

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The chefs from the 13 participating restaurants once again did a magnificent job, each preparing a small dish for us to try.

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Bite-size dishes, each of them delicious, and all made using local ingredients. Too numerous were the dishes to show them all, but here are a few photos to drool over! Gostilna Tulipan dished up smoked pork neck with curd cheese on a bed of barley.

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The ever-popular Joštov Hram mini-burgers were a big hit!

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I found my place next to the log-burner to keep warm and enjoy mine!

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Jože and chef Aleš from Lectar Inn had a great system going providing us with their homemade štruklji.

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And of course the desserts didn’t disappoint either. Chestnut cake prepared by Gostilna Avguštin.

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And a delicious creation by Maja at Kunstelj Inn – a winning combination of a gingerbread base with a caramelised walnut, apple and meringue topping.

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But, it’s far from the end of the Taste Radol’ca story. In addition to their regular menus, all participating restaurants also offer Taste Radol’ca dishes, prepared using local ingredients, throughout the year. You can identify these dishes on menus by the small coloured bee next to the name of the dish.

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So, what are you waiting for, you can now Taste Radol’ca all year-round!

© Adele in Slovenia

 

Spas, Caves, Eats and Other Rainy (and Not So Rainy) Day Ideas!

Anyone visiting Slovenia in the last fortnight might be forgiven for thinking it rains here a lot! Please be reassured, however, that this much rain in June is not the norm. In the 9+ years I’ve been living here, I don’t think I can remember such a prolonged period of wet weather at this time of year. It really is turning out to be a strange year, weather-wise. After having very little snow during winter, we then had snow in late-April, and now, in the second-half of May and early June, it seems to be April! It’s been either raining torrentially or the clouds have been looming ominously, making it frustratingly difficult to go anywhere too far from home.

The good news is that it’s set to improve soon, just a couple more days of these storms then hot, dry weather is headed our way, yippee! In the meantime, I thought I’d share some of my ideas for how to spend rainy, as well as not so rainy, days in the Radovljica area and elsewhere in Slovenia.

VISIT A SPA

It doesn’t matter what the weather is doing outside if you are inside getting wet anyway! All of Slovenia’s thermal spas feature indoor and outdoor pools, saunas, jacuzzis and modern wellness facilities, offering something for all the family. You can read plenty more about spas and the facilities here and read some insider tips from me, here – https://spasinslovenia.com/

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DELVE INTO THE MAGICAL UNDERWORLD IN CAVES

A visit to one Slovenia’s caves, such as Postojna Caves or the UNESCO-listed Škocjan Caves, is ideal whatever the weather. There are over 9,000 caves in Slovenia, though only a small number of these are open to the public. The temperature in the caves is constant year-round so it really doesn’t matter if its snowing or there’s a heat-wave! All of the caves are fascinating and unique, and the current phenomena of the newly-hatched ‘baby dragons’ at Postojna Caves provides an additional reason to visit. Read more here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/2016/06/01/the-phenomenal-postojna-proteus-phenomena/

Underground river Pivka in Postojna Cave_photo Iztok Medja for Postojnska jama

VISIT, TASTE & DRINK RADOVLJICA

Rainy days always bring an influx of visitors to the Radovljica area as the small town packs in quite a few sights of interest. You can visit the Lectar Gingerbread Workshop, the Museum of Apiculture, the Šivec House Gallery, and the Beekeeping Education Centre of Gorenjska. More here – http://www.radolca.si/en/

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I don’t know about you, but this miserable weather makes me want to eat, eat, and then eat some more! The participating Taste Radol’ca restaurants all offer home-cooked, and locally sourced and produced food. Or why not visit the Sodček Wine Bar for a wine tasting session. More here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/taste-radolca/

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LISTEN TO SLOVENE FOLK MUSIC AT AVSENIK

Visit Avsenik in Begunje na Gorenjskem – home to the world-renowned legendary Avsenik music – a popular style of folk music. There are regular live events, festivals and workshops, and you can also visit the gallery and museum. More here – http://www.avsenik.com/en

TAKE IN SOME CULTURE AT SUMMER MUSEUM NIGHT

There are hundreds of museums and galleries in Slovenia and a lot of attention is placed on culture and cultural-related events and activities. Next Saturday, 18th June, is Summer Museum Night, when, from 6pm until midnight, museums and galleries throughout the country offer free entrance and host special events. More information here – http://www.tms.si/PMN/?page_id=67

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GO SHOPPING

Admittedly, I’m not a fan of shopping, particularly large shopping centres and especially when on holiday in a place where the great outdoors is so ‘great!’ So when I say ‘shopping’ I don’t mean traipsing round clothes shops, and getting hot, bothered and irritated in changing rooms (or is that just me?). Instead, when on holiday, I prefer to browse craft shops, visit local markets, buy and try local produce, and try to find unique buys. I particularly like foodie events such as Odprta Kuhna (Open Kitchen), which takes place every Friday (weather permitting) in Ljubljana. Closer to home at Vila Podvin in Mošnje a market takes place on the first Saturday of every month from 9am-noon, come rain or shine. You can meet local producers, buy food and non-food goods, and enjoy a delicious lunch cooked by one of Slovenia’s top chefs, Uroš Štefelin. More information here – http://www.vilapodvin.si/events

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I hope to have provided some ideas and inspiration, after all, the weather may mean some plans have to curtailed but there’s always plenty more to see and do until the next sunny day comes along!

© Adele in Slovenia

 

 

New Year in Radovljica / The Dornk Excursion Farm

This year I chose to spend New Year’s Eve (very) close to home at Kunstelj Inn in Radovljica, which is just walking (stumbling!) distance away! The family run Kunstelj Inn has a long tradition and is popular with both locals and visitors to Radovljica and is one of the participating Taste Radol’ca restaurants.

The New Year’s Eve menu consisted of a buffet of cold starters including these tasty cheese bite-pops, followed by a hot starter of pureed spinach and potato with egg.

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The main course included probably one of the tasty pieces of duck I’ve ever eaten. It literally fell of the bone and I have no idea how they got it that succulent. The only time I ever tried cooking duck I ended up smoking out the whole kitchen!

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And the best bit, of course, the dessert buffet and home-made walnut potica. I was too stuffed to try it all – not like me I know – but took some potica home to try the next day, all in the name of research of course!!!

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Meanwhile, in Radovljica’s old town crowds gathered to see in the New Year with live music from the Avsenik House Ensemble from Begunje na Gorenjskem.

Last week I visited the Dornk Excursion Farm (Izletniška kmetija Dornk) in Mlino to see the nativity scene exhibition and museum collection. Wow, this place is a goldmine, crammed to the rafters with every kind of collectable imaginable, and more! The nativity scene exhibition, housed in the stable (note – it’s not heated so wrap up well!), contains over 100 nativity scenes of various sizes and made from various materials. I was also shown around the over 240-year-old house, run by three generations of the family, which still retains its original features including a black kitchen.

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The nativity exhibition is open for viewings daily from 12noon – 6pm until 6th January, then every weekend until the end of January, so there’s still plenty of time. The museum collection is also available to view year-round, by prior arrangement for groups.

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The other barn contains an extensive ethnological museum collection which also includes an amazing collection of handmade needleworkembroidery and crocheting – made by the family’s grandmother.

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The farm has an extensive orchard and the owners prepare all their own juices, spirits, tea etc. which you can sample, as well as delicious homemade food such as potica, strudel etc. in the cosy snug. Find out more about Dornk here – http://dornk-bled.com/?page_id=325&lang=en

According to my annual report from the nice people at WordPress, where I host my blog, the number of readers of this blog in 2015 came from 123 countries around the world and equated to selling out 19 concerts at the Sydney Opera House – isn’t that an interesting fact! Thanks to each and every one of you!

© AdeleinSlovenia 2016

Taste Radol’ca 2015 is GO!!!

This year’s Taste Radol’ca kicked off with a bang on Friday night with the opening event held at Lambergh Chateau & Hotel in Dvorska vas.

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The evening started with a market, where local producers and suppliers to the 11 participating restaurants offered their products to taste and buy and the talented Taste Radol’ca chefs rustled up some tasty warming morsels to satisfy the peckish!

Entertainment was provided by the popular singer Nuša Derenda, in the lovely setting of the chateau grounds.

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The main event then began – the opening Taste Radol’ca 2015 dinner – all 6 courses of it! The event was a complete sell-out, with all 90 places in the restaurant taken.

The ethos of Taste Radol’ca is collaboration between restaurants and the use of local produced products. All the products used in the opening dinner, as well as those in the menus that are available at each participating restaurant for the entire month of November for a set price of just 15 euros for three courses, are local.

The starter was prepared by the Globočnik Excursion Farm from Globoko.

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The next courses was a rainbow of trout with buckwheat hearts – prepared by Kunstelj Inn and Lectar Inn. Almost too pretty to eat!

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Next came the chestnut soup with mushrooms, just perfect for these autumn days, prepared by Tulipan Inn and Joštov hram.

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A farmer’s plate followed – prepared by Hotel Krek and Draga Inn.

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By now we were all beginning to burst at the seams but the delicious food kept coming! This dish comprised many elements including veal with mushrooms in cannelloni, cheek of calf, potato foam, barley and vegetables – courtesy of Lambergh Chateau & Hotel and Vila Podvin.

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And finally the dessert. It’s funny how however stuffed one is, we somehow always manage to find room for dessert, don’t we! Dessert was prepared by Grajska gostilnica, from right here in Radovljica, and the restaurant ‘Pri Jožovcu’ – home of Avsenik in Begunje na Gorenjskem.

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Suffice to say a great night was had by all and that was just the start. Now we have the whole month of November to try out the Taste Radol’ca menus at all the 11 participating restaurants and, if you manage to eat at 7 during the month, you can earn yourself automatic entry to the Taste Radol’ca Closing Party on 4th December at Joštov hram. So get eating and tasting the local culinary delight of Radol’ca!

For more information and to see the menus click below and I wish you bon appetit!

http://radolca.si/kaj-poceti/dogodki/okusi-radolce/83/930/

@AdeleinSlovenia 2015

More Rainy Days Ideas – Radovljica and Studor

Most of July was blissfully hot and dry, and indeed records were being broken left, right and centre, until, that is, last week when a new, less than remarkable, record was set of just 20 minutes sunshine over a 5 day period. Let’s hope that record is consigned to the history books and not repeated any time soon! Fortunately, by Friday the sun had worked its way back and it was immediately hot again. The consequence, however, is that there wasn’t much in the way of hiking and cycling for me for the whole of last week, instead just endless trudges with my umbrella.

Once such ‘trudge’ – though in fairness the remarkable scenery means it can’t be described as a ‘trudge’ – was around the quaint village of Studor. The moody skies and the mountains of the Julian Alps rising up from Bohinj Lake only served to somehow make it even more scenic.

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Though only tiny, Studor it is known for its double height ‘toplar’ hayracks.

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The Mrcina ranch with its Icelandic horses.

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and also the Oplen House Museum (Oplenova hiša) which represents a typical 19th century home where various crafts were carried out and includes a black kitchen – http://www.slovenia.info/en/muzej/Studor-in-Bohinj,-Oplen-House-.htm?muzej=914&lng=2

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Meanwhile, in Radovljica, it is noticeable how rain actually attracts visitors to the area. On rainy summer days, the old town centre is often at its liveliest as people flood here from Bled, and the surrounding areas, seeking things to do on a rainy day. Popular attractions include:

The Museum of Apiculture, housed in the Radovljica Mansion, where you can learn all about the history and importance of beekeeping in Slovenia and see the collection of painted beehive panels, each one tells its own story, including the oldest one in the world.

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The Gingerbread Workshop at Lectar Inn, where you can see gingerbread hearts being made and decorated, pick up some souvenirs and/or enjoy a delicious meal in the restaurant.

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There’s also the Šivec House Gallery, St. Peter’s Church and, a little further afield, the iron-forging village of Kropa, the village of Kamna Gorica with its many bridges and streams, the ruins of Kamen Castle and the home of Avsenik music in Begunje, and the Vila Rustica archeological site and Village Museum in Mošnje.

All of the above mentioned are also accessible on the Hop-On Hop Off Tourist Bus which runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the summer – http://www.radolca.si/en/hop-on-hop-off-radolca/

Of course, on rainy days food and drink is usually top of most people’s list and Radovljica doesn’t disappoint on this score either with a plethora of cafes, and tasty homemade food at the Taste Radol’ca restaurants including Kunstelj Inn, Lectar Inn, Joštov hram, Vila Podvin. More information can be found here or click on the Taste Radol’ca heading at the top of this page – http://www.radolca.si/en/taste-radolca/

© AdeleinSlovenia 2015