Cycling in Tržič – Quiet Country Lanes or Mountain Bike Trails, Take Your Pick!

Though a bit cooler, early autumn can be a great time to go cycling in the Gorenjska area, as the majority of tourists have gone home, hence the roads are quieter, and the landscape is still lush and green, with just a hint of the beginnings of autumn.

There are cycle routes in the Tržič area to suit all levels and desires, from gentle family-friendly rides along country lanes to more demanding road bike tours, and from mountain bike tours along mountain pastures to more adrenaline-fueled descents.

If you don’t have your own bike, you can either hire one locally, for example at the Tržič Tourist Information Centre, or you can make use of the Gorenjska Bike bike sharing scheme, that has both regular and e-bikes.

The cycle routes are generally well marked, though there is the odd crossroads where one (well I!) might dither over which way to go, so it’s a good idea to pick up a copy of the map of all the major cycle routes in the area at the tourist information centre, and GPX tracks of all the routes are also available to download.

A good route to start with to get a feel for the area is the Udin Boršt trail, which skirts around, and also in a short section through, the Udin Boršt woods. The 26 kilometre circular and relatively flat route starts and ends at the Tržič Tourist Information Centre, from where, after just a short ride, you are soon off the main road and cycling along tracks and country lanes.

This ride through the countryside beneath Kriška gora and Storžič leads through villages, past churches, shrines and farms…

…and to hidden places you – well certainly I – didn’t even know existed!

If your water bottle is empty, then you can stop at the spring in Strahinj to refill it, before continuing your ride. The tarmac road soon becomes a track, which you follow towards Tenetiše, before joining the main road.

Fortunately, its only a short ride on the main road until you turn off to the left again, this time towards Letenice, and back to more pleasant country lanes.

You soon reach the second of the three bells that makes up the Three Bells Trail, which I wrote about in a previous blog here.

So, now’s the time to get active and discover more of Tržič – this time on 2 wheels!

© Adele in Slovenia

Living Together. About Bees and Mankind

These days I mostly make my living from translating – from Slovenian into English – which, like every job, has its ups and downs. The pluses, among others, are that I’m my own boss, I work from home and can set my own working hours (to some extent), while the minuses, among others, is that often clients have very short (and unrealistic!) deadlines! And that, too, was the case when I began to work on the translation of a new book on beekeeping, however, in this case it transpired that the interesting content and efforts of all those involved made it all worthwhile.

And so, the book titled ‘Living Together. About Bees and Mankind‘ has now been published, and herewith a brief story of its creation, the author behind it, and its importance.

Petra Bole, the director of Radovljica Municipal Museums, which include the Museum of Apiculture, is the brains behind the book, which was published to coincide with the newly renovated museum and as a protocol gift on the occasion of Slovenia’s Presidency of the Council of the EU in 2021.

The 300 page book contains stunning photos and covers beekeeping-related topics such as art, bees and the past, bees and mankind, and nature.

On the occasion of its publication, Petra invited us – the team behind the book (from left to right: Barbara Bogataj – designer; me(!) – translator; Ivan Esenko – photographer; Petra Bole – author; Mihaela Pichler Radanov – editor) to a little gathering in the garden of the Šivec House Gallery to celebrate.

It is, of course, fitting that such a book has been written here in Radovljica – home to the Museum of Apiculture with its brand new exhibition, the Beekeeping Education Centre of Gorenjska, and numerous beekeepers and their colourful apiaries, and the Follow a ‘Bee’ Through Radovljica Family Adventure – and by a local resident, who, since becoming director of Radovljica Municipal Museums, has also taken up beekeeping herself!

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The Museum of Apiculture is housed in the magnificent Radovljica Manor in the old town centre of Radovljica.

Find out more about beekeeping in the Radovljica area here, and, if you are planning a visit to the Radovljica area this autumn, be(e) sure to do, or see, something bee-related, and in doing so play your part in recognising the importance of, and helping to preserve, our precious bees!

© Adele in Slovenia

Pastures Galore Beneath Košuta – Slovenia’s Longest Mountain

I believe that every visitor to Slovenia who wants to get a real sense of the country, rather than just visiting the usual tourist attractions, should visit at least one of the numerous mountain pastures, where you can enjoy some simple, hearty, homemade food, enjoy the peace and views, and soak up the atmosphere of pasture life.

And there’s no better place to do so than on the mountain pastures beneath Košuta – Slovenia’s longest mountain – above Tržič, particularly as they are easily accessible even for those who don’t enjoy, or are unable to take part in, long hikes. The options are almost limitless; you can opt to go on a full day walk from the valley, or drive part of the way for easier access, you can just walk from pasture to pasture, or you can tackle one of the peaks along the length of Košuta, or even stay the night so you can see and do even more!

Having previously blogged about our overnight stay at the Scouts’ Hut on the Šija mountain pasture and hike to Kladivo, this time we picked up the walk where we left off – at the Pungrat mountain pasture – from where we walked to the Dolga njiva alpine dairy farm.

Since we wanted to do a partly circular walk, we started at the Zali potok hidroelectric station and took the unmarked path. However, it is a little difficult to find the trail in a few places, so for first timers and those wanting a longer walk, I would recommend instead starting your walk from Medvodje, which is reached by driving through Tržič then past the Dovžan gorge (it’s well worth stopping for a walk through the gorge) to Jelendol and onwards on the forest road.

Alternatively, you can drive, or even cycle, further up the mountain road and park just 20 minutes from the Dolga njiva alpine dairy farm, which is a particularly favourable option for families with young children, and/or those wanting to hike further and higher.

It was one of those summer days that was forecast to be sunny, but the clouds were very persistent and didn’t lift until well into late afternoon, but the scenery, and the four-legged friends, made up for the lack of sun.

On reaching Dolga njiva, you can try some really typical mountain food, such as masovnik – a hearty mixture of flour and sour cream. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to try it (coeliac disease and wheat flour = a big NO!), so I asked one of the hikers if I could take a photo of her food before she tucked in!

Buckwheat topped with pork crackling is another popular dish, often served with sour milk.

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Kids will love the mini farm with its curious cows, snoring pigs, donkeys, turkeys and geese.

You can then set off for a circular walk on the Eagle Trail (Orlov pot), where you can see golden eagle nesting sites, the source of the Košutnik stream, and the flora and fauna of the area, while opposite the dairy farm you can see a chest used by allies to drop supplies to the pasture in World War II in the occupied area of the German Reich.

Dolga njiva is also an excellent starting point for hikes onwards to other mountain pastures or upwards to reach the highest point of the municipality of Tržič – Košutnikov turn.

If you want to stay longer you can stay over and sleep in a hay loft then next morning, after a hearty breakfast, head off to explore more of the pastures beneath Slovenia’s longest mountain – all 10 kilometres of it!

© Adele in Slovenia

Forest Nature Trails in Radovljica

On what was – if I remember correctly – my second visit to Radovljica back in 2006, prior to moving here in 2007, I called in at the Radovljica Tourist Information Centre to enquire about where I could go for a walk without needing a car.

I was given a map of the area and directed to the Forest Nature Trail and/or the Lipnica Castle Trail. I’ve written about the latter previously, however, it wasn’t until I recently read in the local paper that the former has now been equipped with new signage, that I realised that I have never actually written a blog about it. So, now is the time to right that wrong!

Do like me and pop into the Tourist Info Centre to pick up a map, then, if you have a car, you can drive to the start, or, like me, cycle there!

There is an information board at the start (unfortunately it’s only in Slovene), and from there just follow the trail through the forest. You can’t (really) go wrong!

The trail is equipped with signs showing the species of tree (in both Slovene and Latin) as well as signs with footprints showing the way.

It first leads through the forest on a terrace above the Sava river

…before descending to a beautiful, tranquil, forested part of Radovljica, which makes you feel like you are a million miles away from civilisation. There is a tree trunk showing the rings of wood and significant national and international events that occurred based on the presumed age of the tree.

In one of the quieter areas, away from the road, we even spotted deer in the forest in broad daylight when we were there last week, though you’ll have to trust me on that since I wasn’t quick enough with my camera to catch them!

This is just one of numerous nature trails, theme trails and hiking paths in the Radovljica area.

Additionally, if you are in the area from now until the end of August, why not try the Hop On and Discover tourist bus – a reincarnation of the Hop-On Hop-On tourist bus – which connects interesting sites and attractions in the municipalities of Radovljica, Tržič and Jesenice, thus giving you a chance to see, and do, even more!

© Adele in Slovenia

Kamna Gorica…from above and below!

The Zijavka (505m) viewpoint above the village of Kamna Gorica in the Lipnica valley is an ideal destination for an easy family walk (and for any unfortunate souls like me who are plagued by balance, or similar, problems, and can’t hike up to lofty heights!).

If you are arriving by car, then park your car at, or near, the sports ground in Kamna Gorica, then cross the main road towards the shrine.

Continue ahead past the Pr’ Matic glamping cabins – declared an official ‘stress-free’ zone!

Then past some cute, friendly sheep – though I can’t guarantee they will be there (or that they will be so friendly!) at the time of your visit!

After cca. 150 metres you reach a junction of paths, where there is an information board showing the various onward routes.

For the best views, take the path to Zijalka, which leads up to the right through the forest. After just a few hundred metres you reach a junction of paths, where you can make a quick diversion to see an interesting rock formation (photo opportunity!), before returning to the junction and taking the path straight ahead.

Continue on the path, which gently ascends through the forest. You don’t really need hiking poles for this walk, as it’s easy and short, however, my current lack of balance (read my previous blog post here to find out more) means they are (almost literally!) a lifesaver for me right now.

After about 15 minutes you reach the Zijalka viewpoint, from where there are magnificent views over the village of Kamna Gorica with the Jelovica plateau in the background.

 

You can see the Church of the Holy Trinity, the Sextons’ Museum House (the building to the left of the church), the linden tree in the centre of the village, and the houses in this former iron forging village. And, after having seen them from above, why not head back down for a stroll through the village to check out what they look like up close!

To end, just a brief update on the COVID situation here. The tourist season is in full swing, with the majority of camps and other accommodation facilities in the area full, or almost full (mostly with people driving here from other parts of Europe). There are, however, still some restrictions in place, primarily the ‘tested/recovered/vaccinated’ requirement to enter Slovenia, and masks are still required in some enclosed places. Virus numbers are beginning to creep up again, however, so do ensure you check ahead of your visit if anything has changed.

© Adele in Slovenia

 

 

The Rosary Bead Trail – The World’s Largest Natural Rosary Bead!

While I can’t be certain whether the claim of the Rosary Bead Trail that it is “the largest natural rosary bead in the world” holds true, it certainly is a lovely walk that connects four churches and leads through remote villages and countryside. Be sure to add it to your list of things to see and do while exploring the Gorenjska area!

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Though originally designed as a pilgrimage trail, this 12km circular trail is also a great way to escape the crowds and appreciate the beauty of the unspoilt countryside between Tržič and Radovljica.

The trail begins in Brezje at the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians – Slovenia’s national pilgrimage sanctuary – from where in five stages it follows a route through the forest, across streams, through villages and along country lanes, and all in the shape (when viewed from above) of a rosary bead.

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Below is an overview of, and a few insights into, the trail.

The first part leads from the basilica to the junction for Peračica. The first trail marker is at the rear of the basilica, from where you should set off in an easterly direction for 100 metres towards the yellow roads sign for Peračica and Dobro polje. Follow the road towards Peračica steeply downhill, passing a sign for the Path of Peace (Pot miru), until you reach a junction and the next trail marker with a map of the trail.

The trail is well marked throughout with green markers on trees as well as cement posts with plaques showing where you are on the trail.

Turn right and follow the country lane, passing another trail marker (on the right) and a colourful, traditional Slovenian apiary (on the left). The road leads down to cross a stream and then later, at a sign for Kovor, the trail branches off from the road into the forest.

Unless otherwise marked, keep straight ahead ignoring any paths that branch off to the left or right. You will reach a small wooden bridge over a stream with a bench, which is an ideal place to take a break.

The trail now leads slightly uphill to reach another fork where you take the path uphill to the left, which eventually emerges in the village of Kovor.

From Kovor the path continues towards Brezje pri Tržiču, not to be confused with the village of Brezje where the walk begins! This part of the route is on quiet country lanes with beautiful views of the countryside and hamlets beneath Mt. Dobrča.

On reaching Brezje pri Tržiču, there is a shrine and an information point with a visitors book.

I thought I knew the area pretty well, but from here I was in unknown territory and discovered a few villages in the municipality of Tržič, such as Vadiče, that I didn’t even know existed!

The final part of the trail leads to the village of Leše, from where it leads back to the start at the basilica in Brezje.

Click here to read more about this and other footpaths, hiking trails and other natural and cultural attractions in the Tržič area. The Tržič area, as well as the rest of the country, is now slowly reopening to tourists. There are various requirements for entry, depending on whether the country you are coming from is on Slovenia’s green, orange, red or dark red list. Click here for the latest information, but note that it can literally change overnight – as it did yesterday.

© Adele in Slovenia

Tržič – ‘a crowdless paradise’

As our thoughts are slowly beginning to turn to planning holidays, this year – more than ever – it makes sense to choose a destination for your holiday that is ‘far from the madding crowd’.

Slovenia, fortunately, has plenty such destinations (my tip is to be sure to avoid the overcrowded places during the height of summer – Bled, in particular, as well as to some extent Piran, the Postojna caves, Ljubljana…). Radol’ca, where I live and about which I wrote last week, is one such uncrowded place, while Tržič, which is just a stone’s throw away, is another.

So, this time I’ve put together plenty of reasons why you should consider visiting Tržič, whether for a few hours, a day or two, or even as somewhere to base yourself for your entire stay in Slovenia.

Tržič is located in the Gorenjska (alpine) region of Slovenia and is separated from Austria by the Karavanke mountains, hence it’s a hiker’s paradise.

It would be hard to single out any one hike, but among my favourites are Kriška gora and Tolsti vrh

The Born Trail from Ljubelj to Preval, which is especially interesting, but don’t forget a torch…

Košutica, also known as Ljubeljska Baba,…

…and Šija, which lies beneath the ridge of Slovenia’s longest mountain.

On a side note, the equally relevant, the Slovenian tourist board has also stepped up its activities to promote the country as one with responsible travel standards under the label GREEN & SAFE and Tržič is one of the Slovenia GREEN destinations.

If you are looking for somewhere to stay, why not choose a stay at the Šlibar organic farm or glamping at Glamping Mountain Fairytale – both ideal places for some r&r – though there are numerous other choices of accommodation, too.

The Gorenjska plaža (Gorenjska beach) swimming pool is the ideal place to cool off during the heat of the summer, while the Trziška bistrica stream and the area’s waterfalls are other places to ‘chill’!

With all those mountains, mountain pastures and forests, there’s also plenty of cycling to be done – particularly for fans of mountain biking – while the Dovžan gorge is an adventure as well as a(nother) ideal place to cool off in the heat of summer.

There’s something for history buffs and culture vultures too, including the Mauthausen concentration camp, Tržič museum, and the St. Anne mine.

The Tržič tourist information centre, located in the old town centre, is a good place to start (planning) your trip. You can contact the centre by email, by phone, or in person.

So, I hope I’ve provided you with some (more) food for thought and help in planning your holiday this year. Talking of food…don’t forget to try some of the local Tržič specialities too!

© Adele in Slovenia

Taste Taste Radol’ca…at Home!

A follower of my blog in Canada recently wrote to me asking if I could write a post about Slovenian recipes, so how could I refuse to comply! So, Mary in Canada, this one is for you!

Since all the restaurants, bars, cafes etc. are (still) closed – it’s been like this here since the end of October last year – we (both the owners of such establishments and the public at large) have had to get used to cooking more at home whilst also taking advantage of the take-away food on offer at selected places. Many of the Taste Radol’ca restaurants have been offering take-away food and, in fact, it has actually been to my advantage in some respect that chefs have had more time to ‘play’ in their kitchens, and Aleš Tavčar, head chef and owner of Gostišče Draga in the Draga valley in Begunje na Gorenjskem, finally found time to make me a glut of gluten-free štruklji to go in my freezer.

And since štruklji really are something unbeknown to most of the world, they were the first thing that sprung to mind when deciding which Slovenian recipe to first write about.

Štruklji at Gostišče Draga

The recipe and photos shown below are for gluten-free štruklji, which, due to gluten being what provides the ‘elastic’ in dough mixes, are slightly different to ‘regular’ štruklji. Therefore, I should stress that ‘normal’ flour will provide you with a better result and your štruklji will look and taste somewhat better too, so unless you have to avoid gluten (coeliac disease in my case, though others have an intolerance and/or choose not to eat it for other reasons) you can use the same quantity of regular flour. These days I’m just happy to be able to eat them, even if they aren’t exactly as I remember them in my pre-coeliac days.

The full recipe with quantities is at the end of this post.

First gather the ingredients for the dough – flour, salt, egg, vinegar, water, oil.

Combine them well but don’t overwork the dough.

Shape the dough into a round loaf shape.

Next, make the filling using curd cheese, eggs, sour cream and salt.

Mash (or mince) the curd cheese well, add the eggs and sour cream then season with salt.

Roll out the dough – after watching the ‘pro’, I was allowed to help with this part!

Spread a generous amount of the filling mix over the dough.

Next its time to roll the štruklji then lift them gently onto lightly oiled foil or a non-stick cloth before steaming or cooking into salted simmering water.

This is the basic, traditional way of cooking and serving štruklji, but these days, in terms of how you choose to eat them and what kind of fillings/flavours you add, the sky’s the limit. You can eat them as a main course, a side dish or even chocolate štruklji for dessert. I’ve yet to find a flavour I don’t like!

At Gostišče Draga you can try a savoury version with a mushroom sauce…

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…or, my preferred option, topped with cranberry sauce for a savoury/sweet taste.

Until the restaurant is able to reopen – and in fact also thereafter too as they have proved to be such a success – you can buy some of Gostišče Draga’s dishes and home produce from the family farm in jars. The range include goulash, jota, bograč and various pickled vegetables. Aleš and Tina have certainly not been resting on their laurels during this long lockdown – all credit to them. The jars can be bought direct at the restaurant (at weekends), at the Lesce farmers market (Friday afternoons/Saturday mornings), from the vending machine outside Gostilna Kunstelj, and at various local shops as well as further afield.

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Recipe

Dough:

370g flour (gluten-free or regular)

pinch of salt

One egg

10g vinegar

300g water

90g oil

Filling:

1kg curd cheese

6 eggs

200g sour cream

Salt

Method:

Make the dough by mixing together the flour, eggs, water, vinegar and oil then shape into a round loaf.

Make the filling by mashing/mincing the curd cheese then add the eggs and sour cream and season with salt.

Roll out the dough – it should be very thin – ???? then spread over the filling. Roll the štruklji into a Swiss roll shape then lift gently onto lightly oiled foil or a non-stick cloth and roll to fully encase the štruklji. Steam for 45 minutes or cook into salted simmering water for 30 minutes.

And that’s it – simple when you know how!

Let me know how you get on!

© Adele in Slovenia

A Cultural Walk Through Radovljica

Radovljica is undoubtedly best known for its small but beautiful historic old town, which is packed with cultural attractions and is where all the town’s main events take place. However, you might be surprised to learn that there are also some cultural sights elsewhere in the town, which you can see by taking a cultural walk around the town.

A good place to start is at the town library – the new multi-storey red building in Vurnik Square (Vurnikov trg) – which is just a few hundred metres from the main bus station, where in front of the library you can see a model replica of Linhart Square created by the local ceramist Urban Magušar.

From the library take the slip road (with the library to your right head in a westerly direction) to reach the junction with the Gorenjska cesta road and turn left onto the pavement on the left-hand side of the road. After cca. 100 metres you will see the Obrtna Zbornica building (Small Business Chamber) with an iron monument of Radovljica’s coat of arms with a man holding a wheel in one hand and the ‘town’ in the other.

A further 100 metres or so along the road is the Čebelica (Bee) building, which today serves as the town’s municipal administration unit. It was named after the decorative bees above the entrance.

There are also several art nouveau villas along Gorenjska cesta that are the work of the architect Danilo Fürst, a pupil of the well-known Slovenian architect Jože Plečnik. 

Your path will now lead you towards the old town, which you can reach by walking through the town park, past the unique wrought iron street lamps made by blacksmiths from Kropa, and on to see the numerous attractions in Linhart Square, from where you can also take a quick diversion to see the birthhouse of the Radovljica-born architect Ivan Vurnik.

Should you wish to extend your walk and take in a bit more history you could walk up to Obla gorica – the small hill that rises up behind the swimming pool – where you can see bunkers dating from the Rupnik Line – 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. It is said there are around 50 such bunkers located across the Jelovica plateau, Radovljica and Begunje na Gorenjskem.

Click here for full details and a map of the cultural walk.

To end, I’ll give you a brief update about the current coronavirus situation in Slovenia. Following a long (very long!) lockdown that began on 23rd October, finally this week all primary school children were able to return to school, albeit there are school holidays in one half of the country this week and in the other half next week. We are now finally allowed out of our municipalities, and all shops were able to re-open as of this Monday (though all staff have to be tested on a weekly basis). Much as I love Radovljica, after almost 4 months of not being able to leave, it’s certainly nice to have regained a sense of freedom. However, we are far from out of the woods yet; daily infection numbers are still high, though falling, and the vaccination rate seems to be agonisingly slow. All hotels/cafes/restaurants etc. are still closed, though museums and galleries are now open. Tourists are not allowed to cross the border, and only those with a valid reason are allowed to cross the border (with a negative test). So, there is some light at the end of the tunnel, but there’s still some way to get there yet. I’m sure many of you can’t wait to visit, and/or revisit, so hang on in there!

© Adele in Slovenia

 

A Different December in Radovljica!

As you might expect, the festive season is going to be somewhat different this year in Radovljica, and, in fact, in Slovenia as a whole. Am I rocking the mask look?!

Unfortunately, Slovenia is faring far less well second time round and, at the time of writing (1 December), the situation is thus: there is a curfew in place from 9pm to 6am; all restaurants/bars etc. are closed; all non-essential shops are closed; we are not allowed outside of the municipality where we live; masks must be worn at all times outdoors too, other than in ‘green’ areas where it is possible to ensure a 3 metre distance from others; there is no public transport; mixing with others is not allowed other than with immediate family members; all sports events/public events etc. are cancelled. So, as you can imagine, the atmosphere is not as festive as it could be, but that doesn’t mean that Christmas has been cancelled; this year it will just be more ‘intimate’, which isn’t always a bad thing!

However, with the festive season upon us, there is a glimmer of hope and a twinkle of fairy lights, and Radovljica is looking even more picture-perfect than ever! So, let’s focus on what you CAN see and do right now, rather than what you CAN’T!

A stroll through the historic old town centre of Radovljica is pleasant and interesting whatever the time of year, but even more so in the festive season. Tourism Radol’ca have really gone to town this year with this festive lights, which now not only adorn Linhart Square but also the town park and the square in front of St. Peter’s church.

To get you in the festive spirit, below you can watch the switching on the festive lights in Radovljica, which took place at 5pm today.

The theme of this year’s decorations is Radovljica’s long tradition of wickerwork.

This year, despite the lack of an advent market and live events/performances, you can still enjoy an ‘adventure’ in the form of the new ‘Journey to the Fairies’ Tree‘.

Of course, and thank goodness, nature hasn’t been affected by the virus – some would argue it has in fact got even better due to less pollution – thus taking to the forest is a great way to socially distance too! So, check out the array of themed hiking trails and short hikes ideal for little ones in the Radol’ca area.

We’ve been hiking a lot on the Jelovica plateau of late, since we can’t go that far from home due to the restrictions. There has been a lot of fog in the valley so getting up above it – as we did last Saturday – is certainly worth the effort!

In addition, a number of the Taste Radol’ca restaurants are offering home delivery and/or take-away food, so you can also have a day – or days – off cooking over the festive season, and you can even pick up fresh ingredients and treats from the vending machine in front of Gostilna Kunstelj!

You can keep up-to-date with the latest information on the COVID-19 situation here and find out more about the latest events, well, as and when there will be any – in the Radol’ca area here.

To end, I wish you all a very happy and, of course, more importantly healthy, Christmas and New Year and hope to be back with you soon with some more positive news!

© Adele in Slovenia