Ten Top Insider Radol’ca Tips!

Since I think I have a right these days to call myself a ‘Radolčanka’ (i.e. a Radovljica local), I thought I would share with you some of my top insider tips, some of which are more obvious than others!

So, in no particular order…

YOU WILL NEVER GO HUNGRY OR THIRSTY IN RADOVLJICA…at the last count – in my head that is so I could have forgotten the odd one – I totted up 23 bars, cafes and restaurants in Radovljica itself – not to mention the numerous others within the municipality. So, there’s no need to worry about going hungry or thirsty whilst visiting! And now there’s an exciting new ‘kid’ in town too – Linhart Hotel & Bistro – in Linhart Square, the heart of the old town. The hotel opened a couple of years ago but has just been taken over by the hugely successful and popular restaurant Vila Podvin, with head chef (and celebrity chef these days!) Uroš Štefelin at the helm. Expect bistro-style food – Uroš style!

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THERE’S A VISIBLE TUNNEL... Okay, so it’s not an insider tip as such, but I’ve included it here since it’s easy to miss. The only preserved moat tunnel in Slovenia is found beneath Radovljica’s old town centre. It was renovated, and partly built-over, some years back, and is well-illuminated, meaning you can walk through it at any time as part of a visit to the old town centre. I’m rather lucky as I live just minutes from the old town and can therefore see it by day and by night, though the latter trumps it for me!

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AND AN INVISIBLE/HIDDEN TUNNEL TOO…well, that is if legend is true! It is said that there is a tunnel that runs underground from the well in Linhart Square all the way to Lipnica Castle. To date no one has actually found it, but the legend lives on…!

AND EVEN A ‘SECRET’ CHAPEL…the Edith Stein Chapel is hidden away behind the vestry tower of Radovljica’s baroque St. Peter’s church in Linhart Square, and surprisingly few people even know it’s there. Edith Stein was a German-Jewish philosopher, born on 12 October 1891 to Jewish parents, who converted to Catholicism and became a Carmelite nun.

Also know as St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, she was canonised as a martyr and saint of the Catholic Church, and is one of six co-patron saints of Europe. Edith and her sister Rosa, who was also a convert and an extern sister, were sent to the Carmelite monastery in Echt in the Netherlands in 1938 for their safety, where, despite the Nazi invasion in 1940, they remained until they were arrested by the Nazis on 2 August 1942 and sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where they died in the gas chamber on 9 August 1942.

WE HAVE RATHER LOVELY CEMETRIES…bear with me on this one! I know it might sound odd but it’s true, Radovljica’s (and in fact in general throughout the country) two cemetries are so well kept. There is always an abundance of fresh flowers, plants and glowing candles, and a sense of peace prevails. You can admire both the cemetries as you pass on a walk towards the Sava river and the Fux footbridge.

RADOVLJICA REALLY IS A ‘SWEET’ TOWN…in so many ways! Not only is the town’s slogan ‘Honestly Sweet‘ but Radovljica is also the home of the biggest and best chocolate festival in Slovenia and a honey festival too. This year’s Radovljica Chocolate Festival – the 9th in a row – takes place from Friday 17th to Sunday 19th April.

WE LIKE TO STICK TOGETHERTaste Radol’ca is a great example of this. Rather than being in competition with each other, many of Radol’ca’s restaurants have joined forces and, in doing so, have realised and reaped the benefits of cooperation and collaboration. In doing so they are also supporting local farmers, beekeepers and producers of other goods, by including locally sourced ingredients on their menus. Each year there are an increasing number of events at which Taste Radol’ca restaurants are present, such as the Radovljica Chocolate Festival, summer Thursday concert evenings, the November Month of Local Cuisine, various Christmas and New Year events, and more.

WE LOVE OUR BEES…the Museum of Apiculture, the Beekeeping Education Centre of Gorenjska, the ‘Follow a Bee Through Radovljica‘ family adventure, an annual Honey Festival, and numerous beautifully painted apiaries where hardworking bees, and equally hardworking beekeepers, ensure that we have a plentiful supply of local honey.

IT LOOKS GREAT FROM ABOVE OR BELOW…Wherever you view Radovljica from – whether up high in the mountains or down beneaths its terraces – Radovljica’s old town centre with its prominent church is picture postcard stuff! So, whether you choose a stroll beside the Sava river on the Sava River Trail, or one of the marked hiking trails, such as to St. Peter’s church above Begunje, or even higher to the Roblek mountain hut or the peak of Begunščica, you are assured of a great view and a totally different perspective of the beauty of Radovljica and its surroundings.

SEEK OUT BUNKERS FROM THE RUPNIK LINE…the Rupnik Line is 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. In Radovljica there are bunkers on the Obla gorica hill, which is located behind the swimming pool, as well as on the grassy bank in the street Cankarjeva ulicacop. I recently read that, in fact, there are around 50 such bunkers located across the Jelovica plateau, Radovljica and Begunje na Gorenjskem, though, to date at least, I’ve only come across a handful. Hmm, an idea is brewing, how many (more) can I/you find?!

I hope this has given you plenty of ideas for exploring (more of) Radovljica and you’ll agree that’s there’s certainly more than meets the eye!

© Adele in Slovenia

 

A Sweet Weekend in Store – Mošnje Days, a Roman Feast and the Festival of Honey

Next weekend promises to be a ‘sweet’ one in the Radovljica area – in more ways than one – since there are two events taking place, both of which promise to be tasty!

In fact, the first event – Mošnje Days – begins on Friday 22nd September. This year marks the 10th hosting of Mošnje Days and it promises to be bigger and better. This year it is particularly dedicated to Roman times, due to the Mošnje Villa Rustica archeological site – the remains of a villa dating from the 1st century which were discovered in 2006 during works to extend the Gorenjska motorway.

On both Friday and Saturday you can take a free guided tour of the Mošnje Ethnological Museum where you can see some of the artefacts found at the site including ceramicware, keys and jewellery whilst at on Friday at 6pm in the Mošnje Cultural Centre (Kulturni dom) you can see an exhibition of products from a 3-day mosaic workshop, which is also taking place as part of this year’s event, and watch a performance by pupils from the Mošnje primary school.

You can read more about the Mošnje Archeological Trail here – http://www.radolca.si/en/mosnje-archaeological-trail/

On Saturday 23rd from 1pm you can try Roman food as well as traditional Slovene dishes – there’s always something bubbling in the cauldron! – browse and buy local handicrafts, be entertained by live music from the PROJEKT ensemble, and there will be workshops for children.

Did you know that the Romans were very advanced in the field of cuisine? Why not treat yourself to the Roman-based menu available all weekend at Vila Podvin in Mošnje – one of Slovenia’s top restaurants – where head chef and co-owner Uroš Štefelin specialises in a modern take on traditional Slovenian food with a focus on local ingredients, and where you can always find something innovative to tantalise your taste buds! You can find more details about the Roman weekend menu, price and booking details here – http://goo.gl/u9m7xt

Meanwhile, at the Beekeeping Education Centre of Gorenjska in Lesce, this year’s Festival of Honey and Day of Honey in Cuisine takes place on Saturday 23rd September from 10am.

Come and find out more about Slovenian honey, taste honey and honey products, sample honey beer and honey cocktails, treat yourself or buy some gifts for friends and family, and take a tour of the centre and the apitherapy beehive.

The festival programme is below (in Slovenian only) and more about the centre can be found (in Slovenian, English and other languages) on the website – http://www.cricg.si/

From 22nd-24th September you can enjoy special honey-themed menus at selected Taste Radol’ca restaurantsGostilna Lectar, Lambergh Chateau & Hotel, Gostilna Kunstelj, Gostišče Draga, and Gostišče Tulipan, with 3-course menus costing just 15 euros per person (except Kunstelj Inn – 25 euros).

Pork fillet in honey-pepper sauce at Gostišče Draga

I’m looking forward to the ‘sweet’ weekend ahead. Do come and join the fun, too!

© Adele in Slovenia

Like Beekeeping? Love Radovljica!

Those interested in beekeeping should definitely make a beeline for Radovljica!

The Radovljica area has a wealth of beekeeping-related sights of interest, all within close proximity, thus making it ideal place to visit for beekeepers or those with an interest in beekeeping.

One such example is the group of 38 beekeepers from Estonia who I helped with their plans to visit Radovljica.

Whilst the main purpose of their trip was beekeeping-related activities, they also managed to find time to do some sightseeing in Ljubljana, took a traditional pletna boat to the island on Lake Bled, and visited Vintgar Gorge.

The main beekeeping day began with a visit to Kralov med in the hamlet of Selo near Bled, where owner Blaž Ambrožič told them everything, and more, that they could possibly want to know about beekeeping in Slovenia. I wrote more extensively about my visit to Kralov med in a previous blog, also about World Bee Day, which you can read here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/2016/05/17/world-bee-day-the-anton-jansa-honey-route/

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The undoubted highlight, whether a beekeeper or not, is the chance to see and experience up close the hive found on a nearby tree trunk and transported to its current home. The fact you can get so close is testament to the calm nature of Slovenia’s Carniolan grey bee.

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Next the group came to Radovljica, beginning at the Tourist Information Centre where they tasted local honey and chocolate, and had the chance to buy some gifts to take home. They even brought us some of their own Estonian honey, which, as you can see, the staff enjoyed tasting!

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We then took a stroll through the medieval old town to see the main sights of interest – the Šivec House Gallery, the Radovljica Mansion, St. Peter’s Church, and the other wonderful frescoed buildings.

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Then it was on to the viewpoint for wonderful views of the Julian Alps, the Jelovica plateau and the Sava river.

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The next stop was to Lectar Inn to watch the process of making and decorating the traditional ‘lectar’ gingerbread’ hearts, made with honey, of course!

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And a chance to buy souvenirs and/or gifts for loved ones.

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Having seen Radovljica, it was then time to Taste Radol’ca, with a traditional Slovene lunch, also at Lectar Inn, one of the participating Taste Radol’ca restaurants. During lunch, the owner Jože entertained us with a few of his favourite songs played on the harmonica – never something to be missed!

The final stop in Radovljica was to the Museum of Apiculture, housed in the Radovljica Mansion, where visitors can learn all about the history of beekeeping in Slovenia, watch a video (narrated in English by me!), and in summer watch the bees hard work diligently in the hive.

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The group’s very last stop on the jam-packed, or should I say honey-packed, day, was to the Gorenjska Beekeeping Development and Education Centre in Lesce. You can read more about the centre and its wide-ranging activities here – http://www.radolca.si/en/gorenjska-region-beekeeping-development-and-education-centre/

So, as you can see, the Radovljica area really is a beekeeper’s paradise!

If you’d like any more information about Slovenian beekeeping, or are interested in taking a tour of the town and/or visiting some of the above-mentioned sights, feel free to get in touch or contact Tourism Radol’ca – http://www.radolca.si/en/

© 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.

Culinary Radol’ca & a Festival(ful) Weekend

As I mentioned in last week’s blog, there were a lot of events going on this past weekend, and I had some difficulty choosing which to attend. In the end I managed to fit in 3 in one day, such is the benefit of living in a small country. The weather also contributed to my decision as when I awoke early on Saturday morning the skies were looking ominously gloomy and so I decided that a day out to the coast to visit the Sweet Istra Festival and to see some sunshine and sea would make a change. It was like mid-summer there, so I certainly achieved what I set out too and I even managed to also squeeze in visiting the Festival of Honey in Lesce, and Mošnje Days in Mošnje.

The Sweet Istra Festival (Sladka istra) takes place in Koper every September, and for lovers of all things sweet i.e. me, it makes a great day out. It’s held right next to the sea in the old town of Koper, home to Slovenia’s only port. There were cakes, chocolates and sweets of all shapes and sizes. Even, as seen below, a giant fish made out of chocolate being sculpted by Blaž Habjan in the Land of Chocolate, where I recognised many of the chocolatiers from Radovljica’s Chocolate Festival.

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There were typical Istran dishes such as this koruzni šmorn – a kind of shredded pancake made from corn flour.

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On my way back I stopped off at the Festival of Honey at the Beekeeping Centre in Lesce where there were stalls selling honey and beekeeping products, workshops for children, honey drinks, ice-cream and other dishes, and a chance to look around the centre and see the various equipment available for beekeepers for processing wax, bottling etc.

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I was particularly taken by these cute honey pots!

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My final port of call was to Mošnje where the Mošnje Days event was taking place. There was an open-day at the village museum, locally produced food, stilt walkers, and much merriment. I arrived rather late after my long day out but fortunately there was still a little food left in the pot!

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Tourism Radol’ca have produced a new culinary guide to the Radol’ca area which includes details of all the restaurants that are part of Taste Radol’ca, and since the focus is on local food, the guide also include details of local suppliers. Additionally, the chefs have divulged recipes for some of their favourites dishes so you can try making them at home.

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Take a look at the brochure here – http://issuu.com/turizemradovljica/docs/kulinaricna_brosura_radolca

The Beekeeping Educational and Panoramic Path

On Thursday last week I went to the Beekeeping Education Centre of Gorenjska* (CRICG) in Lesce where an exhibition was opened about the new Beekeeping Educational and Panoramic Path in Gorje. So, of course, I then had to go and check out the path for myself, and panoramic it certainly is. Even if you are not particularly interested in beekeeping, I’d highly recommend the path, the views alone make it worth the effort, and if you are interested in beekeeping too then it’s a win-win all round!

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The circular path begins in the village of Spodnje gorje which is on the road from Bled towards Pokljuka. There is an information board about the path (in Slovene and English) and a little further on also information about the Slovenian Carniolan honey bee.

The path is marked throughout with these yellow bee symbols. Occasionally the signs are a little sparse but, as I discovered, unless there is a sign to the contrary just keep going and sooner or later there will be another sign pointing you in the right direction.

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You can choose to walk either the shorter loop (approx. 2kms) or the entire path (approx. 6kms). The path leads through the villages of Višelnica and Mevkuž, where you can either turn right for the short loop, or continue to Grabče, Krnica and Poljšica, eventually returning to the start of the path in Spodnje gorje.

Along the route you will pass numerous beehives of varying shapes and sizes. They are not always easy to spot as they are often located in private gardens so keep your eyes peeled, however, there are also some that are right beside the path, such as this beauty below.

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And there’s even a wild bee and insect hotel.

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If you get lucky, as I did, you might find a local beekeeper out tending his garden and/or bees, who will be happy to show you or tell you more. I got even more lucky that one lent me an umbrella for the brief downpour that I encountered en-route – thanks!

The village of Grabče is particularly quaint with its wooden bridge, renovated Grajski mlin (Castle Mill), former sawmill and iron-forge, and the tall wooden shrine which stands like a tower on a rock actually in the river.

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I’ve driven past these villages on the way to/from Pokljuka hundreds of times but have never taken the time to stop and walk around. Now I know what beauty lies within, I’m quite sure I won’t be in such a hurry to pass by in the future. Well, with sights like this, how could I resist!

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* The Beekeeping Education Centre in Lesce is a one-stop centre for beekeepers and beekeeping and also offers guided tours of its beehive as well as educational events etc. The centre now has a new website – http://www.cricg.si/ or you can also read more about it here – http://www.radolca.si/en/gorenjska-region-beekeeping-development-and-education-centre/

On a final note in regard to beekeeping in Slovenia, this week it was nice to read some positive news about this year’s honey harvest, as you can see in this article – http://www.sloveniatimes.com/honey-harvest-improves-to-an-average-season-this-year

© AdeleinSlovenia 2015

Daffodils on Golica / Slovenian Beekeeping Facts

Today is World Museum Day and therefore there is free entrance to Radovljica’s Museum of Apiculture and Municipal Museum, as well as the Blacksmith’s Museum in Kropa (more information about Radol’ca’s museums can be found here – http://www.radolca.si/en/museums-and-galleries/

Slovenia has taken the lead in proposing to the EU that there should be a World Bee Day – the proposed date is 20th May – to contribute to the awareness and importance of bees and beekeeping.

Few people probably actually realise the huge impact and importance that bees have on our lives and the significance of their worrying decline. It’s certainly something I have become a lot more aware of since moving to Slovenia where beekeeping is a traditional agricultural activity of great economic significance. The Radol’ca area also plays a big part in this, being home to both the Museum of Apiculture and the Beekeeping Education Centre of Gorenjska  in Lesce.

Here are a few fascinating Slovenian bee facts that I’ve uncovered:

  • There are currently 12,545 beehives, 146,755 bee colonies and 9,885 beekeepers registered in Slovenia.
  • The Beekeeping Association of Slovenia brings together 203 beekeeping societies and 16 regional beekeeping organisations.
  • With four beekeepers per 1000 inhabitants, Slovenes are at the world top of beekeeping nations.

This article, entitled ’11 Amazing Reasons to Save Honey Bees’ draws attention to some of the most important points and is particularly interesting reading – http://earthjustice.org/blog/2015-april/11-amazing-reasons-to-save-the-honeybees

On Sunday I hiked up to the peak of Golica, a mountain in the Karavanke range known for its white daffodils which, every year in May, cover parts of the mountain appearing like a white snow-like carpet. This year, the daffodils bloomed quite early thanks to the warm spring and now is the perfect time to see them as within a week they will be past their best. Mind you, every one else obviously had the same idea as I’ve never, in my 8 years of living in Slovenia, seen so many people on a mountain! I go every year at about this time but usually midweek when there is hardly a soul to be seen, however, due to the amount of work I now have, I had no choice but to go at the weekend. There were literally processions of people going up and down, mostly Slovenes but also a fair few from the surrounding countries such as Croatia, Austria and Italy, such is the popularity of Golica in May!

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Fortunately, as I’ve been there many times before, I was able to take the quieter and longer route up to the highest point of Golica at 1836m, before descending to the mountain hut Koča na Golica (1582m), though, I didn’t hang around there on this occasion as there wasn’t an inch of space to be had!

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There are a number of ways of reaching Golica. Among them, routes lead from the villages of Planina pod Golico, Javorniški rovt or from the Dom Pristava mountain hut though the former is the most popular and most direct route. Always one to choose a circular route if it is possible, I always opt for the route which leads past the Sava Caves (Savske jame) and upwards through pastures, before traversing the high ridge with stunning views of Slovenia on one side, and Austria on the other. After the final ascent a gully leads down to the hut  From the hut, a path leads down through the forest, eventually returning to the start of the route.

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© AdeleinSlovenia 2015