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

The Karavanke and the Čepa Gorge

I know my blog is named ‘Adele in Slovenia’ so it may seem somewhat odd that this week I’m writing about Austria, but let me explain…

The Karavanke mountains form a natural border between Slovenia and Austria, and here in Radovljica we are fortunate to have part of the Karavanke range right on the doorstep. Particular favourites among locals, in which I include myself, are Stol (the highest in the Karavanke range) and Begunščica, whilst just slightly further afield there are other popular peaks such as Golica, Dovška baba and others.

Some of the territory which lies just the other side of the Karavanke, though these days geographically in Austria, was formerly Slovene and thus, even today, many Slovenes remain living in these areas and therefore places names and all official documentation etc. is found written in both Slovene and German languages. One of such places is the area just on the other side of the Ljubelj pass (more about this in a previous blog here – https://adeleinslovenia.wordpress.com/2014/09/01/zelenci-pools-ljubelj-pass-and-forever-young/), near Ferlach/Borovlje. Once through the tunnel and into Austria, its just a few minutes drive to the Čepa Gorge (Tscheppaschlucht in German – no idea how to pronounce that!). In addition to the gorge itself, there is also an Adventure Park within its grounds – run by a Slovene company!

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The gorge has been very well arranged with wooden walkways, steel ladders and bridges. The walk involves quite a lot of going up and down but the amazing sights of the rushing water and canyons ensures it doesn’t feel like hard work, and also there are a number of choices of routes that can be taken in one direction with a bus journey (included in the entrance price) for the return journey. Be sure to pick up a bus timetable at the start so avoid a long wait, but fortunately, the bus stations are mostly sited at, or near, restaurants/inns, so even if you have a while to wait you have somewhere to wait and enjoy a drink, piece of strudel etc.

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The new Sava River Trail (Pot ob Savi) will be officially opened this week on Thursday with a guided walk beginning at the Fux footbridge (Fuxova brv). This path is a great addition to the numerous paths available in Radovljica and the surroundings and will be a particularly pleasant place to walk in the heat of the summer as much of it runs through the forest and beside the Sava River.

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More information about the Sava river can be found here – http://www.radolca.si/en/the-sava-and-its-tributaries/ and maps of the Sava River Trail are available from the Radovljica Tourist Information Centrehttp://www.radolca.si/en/

© AdeleinSlovenia 2015

By Bus from Radovljica – Dom Pristava and the Zois Park

I hate to wish time away, especially as I’m always saying how life is so short and we must enjoy it to the full, however, I must admit I am wishing the next few weeks go by quickly until I can get out of this shoulder immobiliser which, as the name implies, is leaving me rather ‘immobile’ (see last’s weeks blog for an explanation as to how I came to be like this).

As I also mentioned in last week’s blog, not being one to be able to sit around doing nothing and feeling sorry for myself, I’ve been racking my brains where I could go for a walk that doesn’t involve snow, ice, using crampons, hiking poles etc. – none of which are currently feasible for me. Then I had my ‘eureka’ moment when I remembered some years back having driven up the road to the hut (though it is far from a hut, more a large home) ‘Dom Pristava‘, from where, at that time, I then made an onwards hike into the surrounding mountains of the Karavanke range – the most popular of which is Golica famed for its annual carpet of white daffodils every Spring and many buildings and other objects in this part bear the symbol of a daffodil – including the Dom (as seen below).

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So, since I’m currently unable to drive, I took a bus from Radovljica early one morning, which arrived on time to-the-minute, alighting at Koroška Bela, then proceeded to walk up the road, first through the village itself, then to Javorniški rovt, before reaching the Dom situated at 975m. It only took a little over an hour but it sure felt good to get the calves working and heart pumping fast again! From the Dom there are numerous paths in all directions, however, tempted as I may have been, I was sensible and returned the way I had come, especially since all the routes ahead were snow- and/or ice-covered. There is, however, an alternative, more scenic, way to reach Dom Pristava, by taking the path ‘Gajškova pot’ which begins in the village of Koroška bela and leads 4km up through the forest taking 1-1.5 hours.

Dom Pristava can be either a destination in itself; you can walk up and enjoy a look around the Zois Park and surroundings and enjoy some traditional hearty Slovene food such as štruklji, stews, and farmer’s feast, or it can be a start point for walks higher into the surrounding Karavanke range such as Golica, Stol, Vajnež and Dovška baba.

The Zois Park was formerly the botanical garden of the amateur botanist, Karel Zois (1756-1799). Today, the Park is part of the Natural and Mining Educational Trail that which also leads past Dom Trilobit, to where I made a detour to on my return, which serves as a centre for school trips and extra-curricular activities, nature excursions etc. and is right next to a small, emerald-green artificial lake.

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On returning to the village, I had a little time to kill before the return bus so I took the opportunity to look around the village. Koroška Bela, unfortunately, doesn’t occupy the most favourable position as the village is directly opposite the Acroni steel factory which is constantly pumping out smoke from its large chimneys and is a bit of an eyesore. Thus, it is easy to dismiss and overlook the village, as I admit to having done until now. However, having recently translated a part of the new Transnational Church Route – the part featuring 11 selected churches in Gorenjska – one of them being the church in Koroška Bela, I had an added interest in going for a closer look.

The Gothic Church of St. Ingenuim and Albuin dates from at least the middle of the 14th century and is the only church in Slovenia, and indeed the only church outside of the Tyrol, which is dedicated to Saints Ingenuin and Albuin. It’s hidden away in the upper-part of the village which I didn’t know even existed until now so I’m pleased I got the opportunity to see it and discover that, actually, once away from the factory and plumes of smoke, there is more to Koroška Bela than first meets the eye, including a small memorial park.

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So, almost 2 weeks into my recovery time, I’m managing to stay relatively sane and at least a little fit. The weather too has been on my side as it’s been almost spring like this past week with temperatures above the seasonal norm and a few little spring flowers starting to pop up from the undergrowth. However, I’m not fooled and not being lulled into believing winter is over yet as the past couple of years the bulk of the snow has come in February so I’m sure winter still has a sting in its tail to come, in fact, snow is forecast for later this week…..

Finally, a little light reading (in Slovene) as published yesterday on PLANETsiol – http://www.siol.net/novice/svet/2015/01/adele_gray_anglezinja.aspx

 © AdeleinSlovenia 2015

 

 

 

Golica’s Daffodils / Cycling Bled to Bohinj

Golica is one of the most known peaks in the Karavanke range and is at its most popular during May when the daffofils which grow on its slopes are in full bloom.

If I crane my neck I can just about see Golica from my bedroom window so I had been looking daily to see whether the snow would melt quickly enough to coincide with the daffodils blooming. A few weeks ago the snow was beginning to melt but then a cold snap brought rain to the valley and snow at higher altitudes, meaning Golica was once again snow-capped. Now however, thanks to the glorious temperatures of the past week, the sunny side of Golica i.e. the Slovene side, is largely snow free and now is the perfect time to make the trip – be quick though, the daffodils on the lower slopes are already almost past their best, but up higher they are just coming into their peak bloom.

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It’s always one of my favourite times of the year as the blossoming of the daffodils is a sure sign of the end of winter and the promise of the sunnier, warmer months to come.

There are a number of ways of reaching Golica. Among then, routes lead from the villages of Planina pod Golico, Javorniški rovt or from the Dom Pristava mountain hut. Always one to choose a circular route if it is possible, I usually 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 to the highest point of Golica (1836m) a gully leads down to the mountain hut Koča na Golici (1582m), where drinks and traditional Slovene mountain food can be bought and enjoyed – with stunning views at no extra cost! From the hut, a path leads down through the forest, eventually returning to the start of the route. Note – there is also a more direct, steeper ‘winter’ path down through the forest which is, true to its name, steep, and involves a couple of sections of secured climbing.

Last Sunday saw the revival of a tradition dating back 80 years, whereby visitors from far and wide come to Radovljica by train (or otherwise) to the event entitled ‘By Train to Lectar for Goulash, Ritoznojčan and Rolls’ (Z vlakom k Lectarju na golaz in ritoznojčna – kot nekoc). After boarding the train, complete with entertainment and schnapps upon arrival in Radovljica, visitors were escorted on the short few minute walk from the train station into the medieval town centre where they were greeted by Lectar’s ever-jovial owner, Jože, live music, gallons of cauldron-cooked goulash and the ‘Ritoznojčan’ wine – transported by old-timer bus by vintners from the Ritoznoj hills in the Štajerska region of Slovenia. The event was a great success, well attended both by those visiting Radovljica and locals, some even went to the effort of dressing up in period clothing, and looks set to be another valuable addition to the ever expanding Radovljca Events Calendar. More photos of the event can be seen on Pinterest.

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There has long been call for there to be a cycle path between the popular tourist destinations of Bled and Bohinj – alas it has never come to fruition and in truth, it is unlikely to do so, at least for the foreseeable future. Although it is possible to cycle between the two places, the road, particularly during the height of summer, is narrow and busy and although I have cycled it on several occasions, it’s really not suitable for family cycle trips. Those with mountain bikes and an acute sense of direction can make the long trip up over Jelovica – but the plateau is vast and it would be very easy to lose your bearings, so for visitors again isn’t advisable unless you are with a local and/or guide. The good news however is that in recognition of this need, the Bled-Bohinj Cycle Day was started last year and its intended it will now be an annual event. This year the event will be held on Saturday 31st May, beginning at 8am when groups of cyclists will set off towards Bohinjska Bela and cycle beside the Sava river to Nomenj. Sections of the road will be closed at 11am to ensure the safe passage of cyclists to Ribčev Laz and Bohinj Lake. At 1pm the event will end at the Senožeta Sports Centre in Srednja vas, where cyclists will be rewarded with refreshments. The recommended return route is by bike to Bohinjska Bistrica then by train to return to Bled. Weather permitting, it promises to be great day out for all the family. Prior registration is required and more information can be found here – http://www.bled.si/si/dogodki/2014/05/31/1324-Kolesarski-dan-Bled-Bohinj

This past week was also marked by a minor celebration on the achievement of my blog receiving its 20,000 reader – something which is all the more astonishing since it means that in the first 5 months of 2014, there have been as many readers as in the whole of 2013. To date, readers have come from over 90 countries. To say I’m delighted is an understatement and I hope the trend will continue. Thanks to all of you for finding and reading my blog and for all the lovely feedback and messages I have received – which help to make the effort worthwhile. Long may it continue!

© AdeleinSlovenia 2014