It’s Time to Taste Radol’ca (again)!

Yes, it’s that time again. Taste Radol’ca Time!

For the 4th consecutive year, for the whole month of November the participating Taste Radol’ca restaurants, of which this year there are 13, will be dedicated to serving up tasty dishes, made from locally-produced and sourced ingredients, at the very reasonable price of just 16 euros for a 3-course menu.

This year 2 new restaurants have joined the Taste Radol’ca ‘family’ – Gostilna Tavčar, located in Begunje, and Gostilna Avguštin, situated in the heart of Radovljica’s historic old town centre.

Preparations are now in full swing, the chefs have been putting their heads together, recipe testing is complete and they, or rather we all (including me!), are eagerly awaiting the start!

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The opening event, which will take place on Friday 28th October, is this year being held at Vila Podvin in Mošnje. The event, which is open to everyone, kicks-off at 5pm in front of Vila Podvin with a local market and a chance to sample some of Radol’ca’s delicacies.

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This is followed by a 5-course dinner, beginning at 7pm, for which tickets are now available at 29 euros per person. The menu is being kept under close wraps for the time being, but I have no doubt it will be equally as tempting, if not more so, than last year!

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In addition to the opening event and the month-long special menus available at all participating restaurants, there will also be other Taste Radol’ca themed events taking place throughout the whole month, including cheese tasting and tours of Lectar Inn’s Gingerbread Workshop.

There is also a chance to win tickets to attend the Taste Radol’ca Closing Party, this year to be held on 2nd December at 7pm at Gostišče Draga, in the Draga Valley in Begunje, as well as the chance to win a cookery course with one of Slovenia’s top chefs, Uroš Štefelin.

In order to stand a chance of winning tickets, just start eating and the more you eat the more of a chance you stand of winning! Pick up a stamp-collecting card from the Radovljica Tourist Information Centre (TIC), and each time you enjoy one of the Taste Radol’ca menus during the period from 29th October – 30th November, you get a stamp. Collect a minimum of 5 stamps and submit the card to the Radovjlica TIC by 1st December to be entered into the prize-draw.

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More information can be found here (in English) – http://www.radolca.si/en/what-to-do/events-1/taste-radolca-2016/83/394/ and here (in Slovene, with additional information) – http://www.radolca.si/kaj-poceti/dogodki/okusi-radolce-2016/83/2053/

© Adele in Slovenia

 

 

 

The Four Seasons of Spring!

Last week we really did have all the four seasons within the space of four days. It began with a few snowflakes on Wednesday morning, which later became heavy snowfall,  and certainly made a bit of a mockery of last week’s blog entitled ‘Spring in the Karavanke’. It’s now anything but spring in the Karavanke!

Though it had been forecast that it could snow in places at around the 700 metre level, Radovljica, where I live, is at 496m, so no-one, forecasters included, was quite expecting the snow to reach the valley – and certainly not so much of it – considering the previous week we had had temperatures in the twenties.

So this is what spring in the Karavanke now looks like!

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It wasn’t just in Gorenjska in the north-west of Slovenia either, it also snowed in other lower-lying regions of the country. I spent 2 days in Dolenjska, in the south-east, and it even snowed there too.

Hiking at the moment isn’t advisable as the late-spring snow is very wet and heavy, and has caused a lot of damage with branches and trees down, whilst the danger of avalanches is at level 4 – the highest level being 5. Instead however, those who are die-hard fans of winter and skiing once again took to the slopes as the Vogel ski resort re-opened for the extended holiday weekend.

On Saturday it was a return to temperatures of 18 degrees and the valley was bathed in sunshine and the Sava river at Radovljica was looking its sparkling best when I went for an early morning walk.

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However, it was a different matter when I got into the forest as I tried, and in places failed, to pick my way under and over fallen trees on the path up to Talež. It’s amazing the devastation just 24 hours of snow caused – more than in the whole of last winter.

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I was amazed and saddened at the number of fallen trees and branches, almost reminiscent of the damage caused by the glaze ice two winters ago, though, thankfully, nowhere near to that extent.

Some trees, such as this one below, had literally been torn apart under the weight of the heavy snow.

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It’s been over 20 years since there has been such heavy snowfall this late in the year, so this prompted me to try and uncover some historical snowy spring facts:

  • In 1907 40cm of snow fell on 29th April in Bohinjska Bistrica
  • In 1974 in Nomenj it snowed on the 10th of June
  • In 1985 it snowed on 3rd May
  • In 1988 it snowed on 24th April
  • The earliest snowfall of the year was recorded in 1972 on 11th September in Kotlje

Unfortunately it has also caused a huge amount of damage to crops and vines – in places its reported that up to 90% have been destroyed. This year’s honey production is also expected to be severely affected. Over one-third of honey produced in Slovenia is acacia honey, and a large number of the blooms have been destroyed. It’s all such a shame and another reminder of the equal wonders and cruelty of nature.

Roll on summer!!!

© Adele in Slovenia

 

 

Spring Restaurant Week 2016

After a relatively dry and mild December and January, the weather seems to have been playing catch-up for the last few weeks and we’ve been experiencing alternating torrential rain and snow. Operators of Slovenia’s ski resorts will be rubbing their hands with glee as an extended ski season looks a dead cert now, since in the past week in some places there has been up to metre of fresh snow. So, if you are considering a late ski trip, consider Slovenia!

Despite the rain and snow, temperatures have been feeling more spring-like (though it was snowing when I woke up this morning!), there are plenty of spring flowers in bloom, the days are getting longer, and Spring Restaurant Week is here, yippee!

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Spring Restaurant Week 2016 takes place from 11th – 20th March. There are a total of 86 participating restaurants, and out of the 11 in the Gorenjska region3 of these are Taste Radol’ca restaurants. This is all the more impressive since the Restaurant Week team visit each restaurant to ensure it meets its strict criteria for inclusion, meaning only the finest are chosen.

Restaurant Week takes place twice a year – in spring and in autumn – and the concept is to make gourmet food affordable. Diners have an opportunity to try out some of Slovenia’s best restaurants, with 3-course specially prepared menus available for just 16 euros. It is incredibly popular, so bookings are essential. Since the website is only in Slovene I thought I’d give you a sneak preview of what to expect.

Kunstelj Inn, Radovljica – a choice of 2 themed menus. One is ‘All Things Vegetable’. Below you can see the main course – the 4th generation of Kunstelj štruklji.

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The other is named ‘From the Mountains and Forests’. The main course is fillet of mouflon with parsnip mash and kohlrabi.

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Vila Podvin, Mošnje – Uroš Štefelin, one of Slovenia’s top chefs, will be cooking up delights including carpaccio of rainbow trout with a herb and horseradish mayonnaise

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Lambergh Chateau & Hotel, Dvorska vas – there are 2 menus, meat-based or fish-based. Note – *this photo is from the 2015 Restaurant Week as photos of the 2016 culinary delights at Lambergh have yet to be released.

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Now, I just have the tough choice of deciding where to go and how many of the restaurants I can fit into one week!

More information here (in Slovene only) – http://tedenrestavracij.si/restaurant-category/gorenjska/

You can also read more about Restaurant Week here, in English, though it is only about Ljubljana-based restaurants – http://www.inyourpocket.com/ljubljana/Restaurant-Week_73983f

© AdeleinSlovenia 2016

A Green Christmas and a Winter Fairytale!

It’s looking like it’s going to be another green Christmas this year. The last two Christmases were the same, although last year the first snow arrived on Boxing Day. I, of course, am most definitely not complaining! Though, it was somewhat odd to have a mosquito buzzing around my head in bed on Saturday night, you definitely don’t expect that in December!

Despite the Alpine climate here in the Gorenjska region, it really is unseasonably mild and we also have luck that being a little higher in altitude – Radovljica is almost 500m above sea level – we usually manage to escape most of the gloomy fog that so often hangs above the Ljubljana basin at this time of year.

Undoubtedly one of the best vantage points, and for a guaranteed smug feeling, is from up high. So, when I woke to a perfect cloudless morning on Saturday, I just had to decide where to go – that’s often the hardest part! This time I chose Dobrča (1478m) which has a very popular mountain hut – Koča na Dobrči – and is among the favourite winter hikes for locals from in and around the Radovljica area, as well as from further afield. With views like this, is it any wonder!

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Sunday was a busy day which began with a(nother) hike, this time to St. Peter’s Church above Begunje na Gorenjskem, then it was off to Radovljica’s old town to see the Bernese mountain dogs – decked in their finest Christmas outfits – who visit every year at this time to entertain the crowds and small children can take a ride in a horse-drawn cart.

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In the afternoon I visited the Winter Fairytale at the Brdo Estate in Kranj. The estate, which dates back to 1446, has had numerous owners throughout the years, and for a time served as a holiday residence for the former president of the Republic of Yugoslavia, Josip Broz Tito. It is now owned by the state and serves many functions, most notably it hosts all the country’s top protocol events. It is a popular place to hold weddings, has a golf course, a hotel, a small lake, a castle, a park, and also offers a variety of adventures and experiences. During the winter, I often enjoy a walk around the 10km estate boundary, which is also very popular with joggers and runners and where, if you are lucky, you can glimpse some of the estate’s deer grazing.

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Unfortunately the area was shrouded in mist on Sunday, thus it was difficult to photograph the estate at its finest, but nonetheless it was very well attended and a real hit with children who were entertained throughout with fairytales and a visit from Father Christmas.

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Big(ger) children could keep warm around the burning logs.

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There were horse and carriage rides with the estate’s horses as well as other animals to pet.

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A chance to watch ice being creatively carved and to sample food direct from the estate – including venison, jams, chocolates, and home-produced tea.

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Regardless of the season Brdo is worth a visit, be it to walk around the park, to attend one of the many events, or you can just pop in for coffee and cake. Read more about the estate here – http://www.brdo.si/en

To close this week, all that remains for me to say is I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and may Father Christmas bring you all you desire!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Kokra Canyon / Summer Highlights in Radovljica

The old town of Kranj, the capital of the Gorenjska region, sits on a terrace above the 30-metre deep Kokra canyon, which was formed by the Kokra river carving its way into the conglomerate terrace dating back to the Ice Age.

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The recently constructed Educational Trail runs for about 2km beside the Kokra river and is best accessed down the long flight of stairs beneath the bridge over the river in the centre of the old town. It makes a great addition to the old town centre which sadly, like so many other town centres these days, is in decline due to the many out-of-town shopping centres that have sprung up here, there and everywhere. The trail means a walk through the old town can now be extended somewhat before returning to enjoy a cuppa and a cake at one of the many cafes which, together with the town’s museums and a meagre sprinkling of shops, are largely all that remain in the old town centre.

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After descending down to the river you can walk along either bank of the river and make a circular route. However, unfortunately at present its not possible to walk the circular route as some weeks back a lorry travelling over the narrow bridge, unsuitable for lorries, at the far end of the canyon, managed to reduce it to a twisted wreck of metal and concrete. It is hoped they will repair the bridge as soon as possible but nevertheless its still a nice enough place for a short stroll whilst visiting Kranj.

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Its still possible to make an almost, albeit very short, circular route by descending the stairs and staying on the same side of the river i.e. don’t cross the bridge, and continue until just short of the mangled bridge, then take the road uphill which leads back to the old town centre.

Its interesting to note that in Dol, on the right bank of the river, there was once a public bathing resort. The resort, which opened in 1900, was open from June to September and was divided into sections for men and women. It was in use until 1916 and then again for the short time after the First World War. Today, just the remains of the foundations of the changing rooms, and the stairs on the riverbank serve as reminders.

Kranj is well served by public transport, so reaching the town from Radovljica, which also has excellent transport links, is easy. Regular buses and (slightly less regular) trains run from Ljubljana – Jesenice, stopping at, amongst others, Kranj, Radovljica, and Lesce-Bled stations.

The Radovljica Summer Events Programme is now available and there’s plenty for everyone. Some of the highlights include:

* Fresh Thursdays – Live Music every Thursday evening in Linhart Square – the heart of the old town centre

* The 33 Radovljica Music Festival – 8th to 23rd August – Part of the European Early Music Network. More information here: http://www.radolca.si/en/what-to-do/events-1/radovljica-festival/83/260/

* Theatre Festival in Kropa – 19th June to 3rd July – More information here (in Slovene): http://www.radolca.si/kaj-poceti/dogodki/festival-gledalisca-kropa-2015/83/785/

* Flea Markets – Every first Sunday in the month (throughout the year) from 9am – 1pm

* Free Guided Tours of Radovljica – Every Tuesday – More information here: http://www.radolca.si/en/guided-tour-of-radovljica/

The entire programme can be found here: http://www.radolca.si/en/db/radolca/file/zgibanka%20prevodi_web.pdf

© AdeleinSlovenia 2015

Wine Tasting and other Activities in Radovljica

Gorenjska, the alpine region of Slovenia, isn’t exactly known for its wine, but fortunately here in Radovljica we have the Sodček Wine Shop where wines from all the wine-growing areas of Slovenia can be found under one roof. Sodčcek is located right at the entrance to the historic old town centre and offers something for all wine lovers. Though not a big wine drinker myself, I love this place for its really homely atmosphere, there’s no wine snobbery here, and you are made just as welcome whether you just pop in for a relaxing glass of wine or a coffee, to enjoy a wine tasting session with accompanying karst ham and cheese, or to peruse the wide selection of wine to take home or to buy as a gift.

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Last week, to mark the dual occasion of Sodček’s 20-year anniversary and the opening of a new private tasting room, a private party was held in conjunction with Fine Food Bled. Guests enjoyed some of the best Slovene wines presented by winemakers from around the country, as well as being treated to amazing food prepared by Fine Food Bled who operate a seasonal restaurant at Penzion Berc in Bled. The presentation of the food was top-notch as well as it being extremely tasty too, and all the more remarkable for it being prepared outside on an open grill.

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For anyone who missed the 4th Radovljica Chocolate Festival last weekend (there were 50,000 of you that didn’t!), and/or for those that came and would like to relive it, you can watch this video to see some of the highlights. Watch carefully to find out the date of next year’s festival!  https://youtu.be/c9FEVPtUCaU

As you can see from this article –  http://www.siol.net/trendi/odkrivaj_slovenijo/kam_cez_vikend/2015/04/radovljica_v_znamenju_festivala_cokolade.aspx

– which is all in Slovene but those reading this outside of Slovenia should at least get the gist from the pictures, there really is plenty to see and do in Radovljica for lovers of all things outdoors. I was having a quick tot up over the weekend and all these activities, and probably more, are available in, or within the immediate vicinity of Radovljica:

  • Hiking – The Jelovica Plateau, the Karavanke, the nearby Julian Alps
  • Walking/Running – from short strolls by the Sava river or in the forest to long rambles and runs
  • Cycling – of all types, mountain biking, road biking, endless possibilities
  • Fishing on the Sava river
  • Watersports – rafting, kayaking
  • Other adrenalin activities –  paintball, zip line, zorbing
  • Winter sports – skiing, cross-country skiing, ice-skating, snowshoeing
  • Caving
  • Climbing
  • Swimming at the Olympic size swimming pool – open-air in the summer, covered in the winter
  • Parachuting and Panoramic flights over the Julian Alps from Lesce Sports Airfield

That’s just the outdoors things of course – many of which I enjoy and am able to take advantage of since they are all just on my doorstop – but there’s plenty more to see and do too!

Historic Radovljica / Retro skiing in Kropa

I recently came across this fascinating website which contains digital archives of photos, postcards and texts about Radovljica – the oldest dating back to 1689. The collection on the website is also being added to, as and when locals offer suitable pictures from their own archives, and can be viewed here – http://www.dar-radovljica.eu/

History buffs might also be interested to know that Radovljica is the oldest settled area so far discovered in the Gorenjska region. Settlements have been discovered from the Middle Palaeolithic Age (40,000 BC) with the first permanent settlement arriving during the Hallstatt period of the early Iron Age. There are also archaeological sites which can be visited in the area including Villa Rustica in the village of Mošnje; a Roman villa which was discovered in 2006 – http://www.radolca.si/en/villa-rustica/

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It’s been a relatively ‘unwintery’ winter’s week, with no extremes of weather – thank goodness – until yesterday when a rain storm made a, fortunately, brief appearance bringing with it more snow on higher ground. At the Kredarica mountain hut (Triglavski dom na Kredarici) a record-breaking gust of wind, measuring 221kmph, was measured on Saturday. Kredarica is the closest hut to Slovenia’s highest mountain, Triglav (2864m), and at 2515m is the highest hut in Slovenia. It is only officially open for a couple of months a year – usually from the end of June to the end of September – dependant on weather conditions, however, it is permanently manned by meteorologists.

Talking of snow, last weekend saw the annual Retro Ski Race ‘The Koledniki Cup’ held in Kropa in the Lipnica Valley. It is a competition which invariably involves a degree of humour as competitors try to demonstrate their skills using antique skis, clothing and equipment – which serve as a reminder of how far technology has come – together with an accompanying entertainment programme, culminating in the ‘Pig’s Head Cup’ ski jumping competition.

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Judging by the number of emails I’ve had in the past week, it must now be the time of the year when people are starting to dream of warmer days and start planning their summer escapes. People who find my blog often write with various questions relating to their planned visit. With this in mind, I decided it would be a good idea to collate some of the more frequently asked questions and try to begin addressing them throughout the course of the coming weeks and months. One question that seems to crop up quite frequently is:

‘When does the Vršič pass open?’

At 1611m the Vršič pass is Slovenia’s highest mountain pass and crosses the Julian Alps to connect the Gorenjska region and the Soča valley. It has a total of 50 hairpin bends. It is usually closed throughout winter due to snow and the risk of avalanches, however, it is very difficult to say exactly when it will open/close as it is dependant on the amount of snowfall. As you can see from the picture below, showing me standing on the ‘road’, taken last winter when I walked up to bend number 17 (read more here – https://adeleinslovenia.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/winter-on-the-vrsic-pass/), there is good reason for it to be closed! It is usually open at the latest by the start of May but it has also been closed until the end of May during years of particularly heavy snowfall and its also not unusual for it to then close again for a day or two if there is heavy snowfall, which is still possible in May. If you are planning a trip which involves going over the Vršič pass, then you should check the up-to-date traffic information (see Links to Tourist Information on the right side of this blog) and, if necessary, take the alternative route which involves continuing on past Kranjska Gora into Italy, then taking the Predel pass into the Soča valley. This is also a scenic route with plenty to see enroute, including the Kluže Fortress.

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So, I hope that answers that question! More to come….

© AdeleinSlovenia 2015