Let The Train Take The Strain!

With the world becoming, or trying to become, ever ‘greener’, many of us are trying to do our bit here and there, including taking public transport, where possible.

The great news is that Radovljica is really well connected, so it’s an ideal place to base yourself for getting around Slovenia and even further afield.

In addition to Radovljica’s new railway station, Slovenian Railways also introduced some new trains late last year. The first journey took place on the new electrified KISS trains, produced by the Swiss producer Stadler, on the Ljubljana-Litija line. The trains are renowned for their improved comfort, spaciousness and functionality, as well as panoramic windows for a literal ‘seat with a view’.

Na slovenskih železnicah prvi novi dvonadstropni električni vlak - Zelena Slovenija

Within minutes of stepping off the train at Radovljica’s railway station you can reach Linhart Square – the heart of the historic old town centre.

It takes less than an hour to reach Radovljica from Ljubljana (or vice versa), or in the other direction, you can go to Jesenice and from there to Villach in Austria and onwards. In the opposite direction, i.e. from Ljubljana, you can travel to Maribor or Celje – Slovenia’s second and third largest cities respectively – or to Zagreb in Croatia and further.

Below I’ve put together a few suggestions of what to see and do by train (and bus) in the local area.

Take the train from Radovljica to Globoko, where you can visit the Barbana Stud Farm to see the famous white Lipizzaner horses.

Lipizzaner Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock

From Globoko you can either return by train or walk back through the Forest Nature Trail.

Take the train from Radovljica to Otoče, then walk the Otoče to Brezje Pilgrimage Trail.

On reaching Brezje, you can see Slovenia’s national pilgrimage sanctuary – the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians – as well as the Nativity Museum, then return to Radovljica by bus.

Take the bus from Radovljica to Bled, so much easier than searching (and paying!) for somewhere to park. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you about Bled’s ‘star attraction’!

Take the bus from Radovljica to Begunje na Gorenjskem, where you can visit the Elan Alpine Skiing Museum, the Avsenik Museum, and the village is also an excellent destination for hiking in the Karavanke mountains, for example to St. Peter’s church above the village, on the Lamberg Trail past Kamen Castle to the Draga Valley, from where you can continue up to the Roblekov dom mountain hut or even higher up to Mt. Begunscica.

Photo: Miran Kambic

Of course, there are numerous other options, which, for travel in the Radol’ca area, the lovely folk at the Radovljica Tourist Information Centre can help you with, or for travel further afield take a look at the Slovenian Railways website to get some more ideas of what to see and do.

So, why not sit back and let the train take the strain?!

© Adele in Slovenia

 

 

 

The Sky Isn’t the Limit at Lesce Sports Airfield!

The annual open day and model aircraft competition took place at Lesce Sports Airfield on Monday this week – Assumption Day.

We went along to watch some of the amazing model aircraft, which, apart from the size, could easily be mistaken for the real thing!

One can only imagine the hours upon hours of painstaking labour, not to mention patience and precision, that go into making such models.

In addition to the model aircraft show and competition, visitors also had the chance to see aircraft up close…

…and even a chance to sit inside!

I managed to get a shot of a model aeroplane and real aeroplane almost in unison, which perfectly illustrates the likeness of the former to the latter. Can you work out which one is which?!?!

Although the event has now been and gone for this year, you can still visit the airport at anytime to just observe the comings and goings while enjoying a drink and/or meal at the excellent on-site Na Klezn’k restaurant. A great meal with a great view!

You can also treat yourself to a panoramic plane or helicopter flight above Lake Bled, the Karavanke mountains, the Julian Alps and the wider Gorenjska area. For more information send an email to: info@alc-lesce.si

Various other events and competitions are held at the airfield throughout the year, including an annual paragliding competition.

Photo: Skydiving Source

Click here to read more about gliding above the Alps.

In addition, the airport’s location on the Radovljica Plains provides excellent conditions for gliding.

So, another place to add to your ‘must visit’ list whilst in the Radol’ca area!

© Adele in Slovenia

 

 

 

Summer on Zelenica and Tržič’s Triangle!

The Ljubelj pass is the oldest road pass in Europe. Prior to the building of the Ljubelj tunnel, the steep pass, which reaches 1,369 metres above sea-level, was the main transport route from Slovenia to Klagenfurt in Austria. Since the building of the Karavanke tunnel in 1991, however, the Ljubelj tunnel is far less frequented, while today Ljubelj and Zelenica are favourite year-round destinations for hikers, skiers and the odd hardcore cyclist here and there!

I’ve already written about winter sports on the Ljubelj Pass and Zelenica, so this time you can read and see the ‘green’ version which, depending on whether or not you are a lover of the ‘white stuff’, is equally if not more beautiful!

After several failed attempts to get together for one reason or another, my friend Sabina and I met in Tržič (I, by bike, her by car) then drove to the parking area in front of the Ljubelj tunnel. Note: parking is now payable, we didn’t realise and nearly missed the sign, fortunately, just before you set off, there is a reminder saying Placaj parkirnino in privarčuj (Pay the parking fee and save yourself a fine) for those like us!

Having paid, we set off…

…up the ski piste.

As is to be expected of a ski piste, it’s a fairly steep incline, but the magnificent surroundings means its easy (or easier!) to forget about the effort.

You soon spot the (now defunct) Vrtaška koča mountain hut, which you pass, as well as some friendly four-legged friends!

You can’t possibly get lost and eventually find yourself at the top of the ski piste and at the Planinski dom na Zelenici mountain hut.

From the hut we could already see our first target for the day, a small peak known locally, for obvious reasons, as Triangel, otherwise called Vrh Ljubeljščiče, at an altitude of 1,704m.

Unlike the other paths on Zelenica, the one up to Triangel isn’t marked, but its easy to follow and you can be standing atop the peak in around 15-20 minutes.

If you want a short hike, you can call it a day and from the peak make your way back to the hut and return the same way or, like us, choose to continue your hike to one of the other surrounding peaks, such as Vrtača, Begunščica or, in our case, Srednji vrh.

The path is well marked with the usual red and white trail markers. It initially leads along a magnificent scenic trail with wild flowers and butterflies galore, then across scree towards Vrtača, where it splits; the upper trail leads towards the peak of Vrtača, while the lower ones is marked towards Stol, which we took.

After a while you come to an intersection of trails, where again you can choose your onward direction.

We turned left at the above sign and went downhill for a few minutes to reach the Šija saddle, where you are again greeted with an array of signs.

From the saddle it’s just a short 20 minute climb up to the top of Srednji vrh. From the top, on a clear day, you can see Lake Bled and across the Radovljica Plains towards the Julian Alps. We, however, didn’t have such luck; when we started out it was a perfect cloudless day but it soon clouded over and the wind got up, hence the views are just ‘great’ instead of ‘stunning’!

After returning to the saddle, we made the short walk down to the Koča pri Izviru Završnice mountain hut, where, again, there you are confronted with numerous choices.

To return to Zelenica, first follow the sign (below) to the Planinski dom na Zelenici mountain hut and ‘Izvir’ (Source of the Završnica stream).

From there its just a short cca. 15 minute walk back to the mountain hut, where you can enjoy some well-earned sustenance (yes, I ‘borrowed’ Sabina’s food for the photo, us coeliacs are used to having our own Scooby snacks with us, just in case!) before heading back down the ski slope and completing a wonderful, almost circular, and highly recommended (by me!) hike.

While in the area you can also visit the Mauthausen concentration camp for some quiet contemplation. You can read more in a previous blog here.

So, that rounds up another lovely day spent in the Tržič area, which should most certainly be on your list of places to visit whilst in Slovenia.

© Adele in Slovenia

All Trails Lead to Talež!

I could probably almost write an entire book about the various paths that lead to Talež – a vantage point on the Jelovica plateau with magnificent views over the Radovljica plains, Bled, the Karavanke mountains and towards the Kamnik-Savinja Alps. However, as I’m writing a blog rather than a book, below I’ve provided a brief overview of just some of the trails that lead up to Talež, so you can pick the one that suits you, depending on where you are starting/staying.

From Radovljica the most direct route leads down from the old town over the bridge above the railway line, down Cesta svobode road to reach the bridge across the Sava river at Lancovo. Cross the bridge then turn immediately right and after just cca. 100 metres take the left fork. Continue for cca. 150 metres to another fork, where you should continue straight ahead (not up to the left).

After passing a few houses on your left, you will enter the forest. Continue to the first green waymarker to Talež, where you should turn left, then at the next waymarker turn right. Thereafter, there aren’t any other visible waymarkers but the path is well trodden, and even if you lose your way, just keep heading in a roughly westerly direction until you reach the forest road, which you then follow, again in a westerly direction, towards the Koča na Taležu (Hunters’ Hut on Talež) mountain hut.

If you are staying at the Šobec campsite, you can cross the bridge over the Sava river from the rear of the camp then continue across the meadows to reach the bridge over the Sava river at Bodešče, from where you can follow the trail up to the Koča na Taležu mountain hut. Note: this trail is somewhat easier to follow and has a couple of waymarkers.

Iz Radovljice na Bled

If you’d like to do a longer, circular walk then you continue onwards from the hut to the highest point of the Talež ridgeTolsti vrh. There are several options, but my preferred one is to continue past the hut following the green signs for Tolsti vrh.

Alternatively, for an even longer, circular walk, you can first walk (or cycle/drive) alongside the Sava river all the way to Selo, where you cross the Sava river.

Then walk up through the forest to the village of Kupljenik, passing a couple of shrines on the way.

On reaching the village you are rewarded with the first of many great views!

From the village, initially follow the marked path to the Babji zob cave before branching off towards Talež.

As this walk is at lower altitudes, it’s also ideal for late-spring (or winter if there’s not much snow). These photos were taken in April, hence you can still see snow on the mountains in the distance.

You might meet a friend or two along the way!

Whichever route you choose, you will eventually end up at the Lovska koča na Taležu hut, where you can enjoy a refreshing drink, a cake and/or something more hearty, while soaking up the views over the Radovljica Plains and the Karavanke mountains (note: out of season the hut is usually only open at weekends, during summer it is open daily).

May be an image of ‎nature, mountain and ‎text that says "‎소충 ሞ0 שעי‎"‎‎

Click to find out more about the numerous theme trails and hiking trails in the Radol’ca area.

Happy hiking!

© Adele in Slovenia

The Radovljica Chocolate Festival is Back!

After a 2-year COVID-enforced hiatus, next weekend Radovljica will again rightly live up to its destination slogan – Honestly Sweet – with the return of the hugely popular Radovjlica Chocolate Festival!

While Radovljica itself hasn’t changed much in the past couple of years – in a positive way, I mean – there are some changes to the forthcoming festival, so I went along to the press preview this Wednesday to find out all the juicy, or rather chocolatey, details!

The opening event of the festival – the gourmet Three Chefs’ Dinner – takes place on Friday 22nd April at Hiša Linhart in Linhart Square. This year the stars of the show will be three young chefs, mentored by three masterchefs.

The festival itself then kicks off on Saturday 23rd April from 9am to 8pm and continues on Sunday 24th April from 9am to 6pm.

The ‘chocolate’ part of the festival will take place this year in Radovljica’s town park, which is just minutes from the main bus station, so ideal if you plan to visit by public transport (unfortunately, maintenance work will be taking place on the railway line, so this year it won’t be possible to come by train).

Chocolatiers from Slovenia, Croatia and Italy will feature at the festival. Among the chocolates available to try (through the purchase of tasting coupons) and buy will be the winning chocolates from the annual festival ‘Best Praline’ competition, which this year was judged by the owners of the prestigious Zotter chocolate factory in Austria.

And Radovljica has even more reason to be proud, since first place was awarded to the chocolate and buckwheat praline made by the new Radol’ca Chocolate chocolatier!

The new Radovljica chocolate hearts made by the Molinet chocolatier in Kropa will also make their debut at the festival.

Meanwhile, in Linhart Square – the heart of the medieval old town – there will be a jam-packed entertainment programme with something for all the family.

The main highlights of this year’s entertainment programme include cookery workshops (chocolate, of course!), live music and dance performances, a chocolate roulette wheel, a 100kg ‘bar’ of Gorenjka chocolate to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Gorenjska chocolate, stand-up comedy, face-painting, discount entry to the Museum of Apiculture, non-chocolate food from Taste Radol’ca (Hiša Linhart and Gostišče Draga) and more.

Click here to find the full programme for both days.

Hope to see you here in ‘Honestly Sweet’ Radovljica!

© Adele in Slovenia

The Best Views in Radovljica – You Don’t Need to Go Far!

As the title of this blog elicits, you are never far from a stunning view in Radovljica, and you don’t even need to don your hiking boots or work up a sweat to savour the views either!

There are numerous great vantage points in and around Radovljica, all of which are within a 10-15 minute walk of the old town. Let’s start with the closest and work our way backwards, i.e. away from Linhart Square – the heart of the historic old town centre.

The viewing platform at the end of the old town is a great way to get a ‘feel for the land’. You can see the Sava river, the Jelovica plateau, and the Julian Alps – with Slovenia’s highest mountain, Mt. Triglav.

From the old town walk to the car park that it just a few metres ahead and you will see another viewpoint with a bench and similar views to those from the old town.

Now ahead away from the old town towards the Radovljica swimming pool, which is currently under reconstruction. Behind the pool there is a small hill called Obla gorica. Walk up and along its length, where you can also try out the brand new trim trail. The views are somewhat obscured by trees, but where there is a gap in the trees, there are great views to be had.

There is a second, smaller and lower rise to the east, from where views open up of the Baroque St. Peter’s church in the old town.

The final stop is the small hill called Voljči hrib, from where there are magnificent panoramic views of the Karavanke mountains, the Radovljica Plains, over Radovljica itself, and the Julian Alps in the distance. There’s a bench at the top, too, where you can soak up the views.

By the way, I took these photos a couple of weeks ago (yes, it’s taken me that long to find time to get round to putting this blog together!) and as I write, it’s raining here in Radovljica. However, I can see the snow getting lower and lower, so the mountains are, yet again, snow-capped, and we might even wake up to snow on the ground in the morning, too – boo hoo!

The best and easiest way to navigate Radovljica is to first pay a visit to the Tourist Information Centre, which is located at the entrance to Linhart Square, where you can pick up a map and the staff will be happy to point you in the direction of the viewpoints mentioned in this blog, and, of course, provide any other information you need about the area.

Almost all the COVID-related measures have been dropped now (masks are still mandatory indoors), so this year you really can start planning your trip to Slovenia, which, of course, must include a visit to Radovljica!

© Adele in Slovenia

Winter Hikes and Spikes in Radol’ca!

At last, I’ve found time to sit down and write my first blog of the year 2022! It’s been a funny old winter so far. First a lot of early snow in December, followed by a very cold spell, then an unseasonably mild spell, followed by rain, a bit more snow and now another really cold spell, albeit now at least with beautiful blue skies and sunshine.

Although I’ve never been a fan of the cold and snow, I’m also not one to sit indoors, regardless of the weather (and my ongoing health woes). So, here are a few ideas for winter hikes in the Radol’ca, oh, and read on to find out about the ‘spikes’ (as mentioned in the title) too!

One of our favourite hikes at this time of the year is to Smokuški vrh above the village of Begunje na Gorenjskem. Since we like doing circular routes and prefer to leave the car in the garage, when we have time we often set off on foot from Radovljica to Begunje (cca. 50 minutes), where we take the path that begins near the post office and leads steeply up to St. Peter’s church (cca. 30mins).

From the church, we carry on up to Smokuški vrh on the ridge, which is a great vantage point.

We then walk along the ridge, with stunning views of the Julian Alps and Slovenia’s highest mountain – Triglav – before descending towards the village of Rodine and back through Hraše and Lesce to Radovljica.

Now onto the ‘spikes’ I mentioned above…As also mentioned above, it’s been a mixed bag this winter, which means that although some places at lower altitudes are now almost snow-free (up to around 800metres above sea-level), in the forest, particularly in areas that don’t get any/much sun and paths that are well used, the paths are really icy in places, hence ‘spikes’ i.e. mini crampons, are a ‘must’ in my rucksack wherever I go.

So, if you are planning any hikes in winter, I’d advise you bring (or buy while you are here) a pair of these mini crampons – you can pick them up for around €30, they are very lightweight and quick and easy to put on. Note, however, that these crampons are NOT suitable for more strenuous and higher mountain tours, for which semi-automatic crampons are a must at this time of the year.

And what’s more, the ones I’m ‘modelling’ below, are even made here in the municipality of Radovljica – at the Veriga factory in Lesce, where you can buy them direct of pick them up in sports shops.

My other favourite places to hike in the Radovljica area in winter include the Goška ravan mountain pasture and hut on the Jelovica plateau

The Roblekov dom mountain hut, above the Draga valley on the slopes of Mt. Begunščica

And the Vodiška planina mountain pasture and Partisanski dom mountain hut above Kropa.

You can find out about all these hikes and more about winter in Radovljica, visit the Visit Radol’ca website. Happy and, of course, safe hiking!

© Adele in Slovenia

 

A Fairly Festive Festive Season in Radol’ca!

Yes, it’s that time of year again – for some it’s a joyful time to be spent with families, for young children it’s the highlight of the year waiting for Santa to come down the chimney, for others religion is at the forefront, while there are those that are (already) sick of hearing Christmas music blaring out in shops, endless Christmas adverts on TV and seeing Christmas food and presents in the shops since September!

Wherever you fall among the aforementioned, no doubt after last year’s very muted festive season, you have been looking forward to this year’s celebrations more than usual.

I am, thus, the bearer of both good and bad news. The good news is that Radovljica is looking as fairytale-like as ever, and, unlike last year, there will be some festive events taking place here and elsewhere in Slovenia, while the bad news is that celebrations will still be somewhat muted as there are still some restrictions in place. Nevertheless, after what we’ve all been through, let’s try to just focus on the positives, i.e. on what we CAN see, do and experience rather than what we can’t!

Here in Radovljica one can take delight in simple things such as a evening stroll through Radovljica’s old town centre, where you can marvel at the lights and soak up the atmosphere, stop off for a drink and/or a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants/bars throughout the town.

Kids – big and small – will like visiting the fairy’s grotto, complete with a carriage.

You can also visit one of the Christmas markets and watch street performances – all run, of course, in accordance with the COVID-related restrictions. Providing no additional measures are imposed in the next week or so, below is the timetable of  festive events in the old town centre of Radovljica, note – at present food and drink cannot be sold at Christmas markets due the current restrictions:

  • 19th December: Christmas ARTish fair from 11am to 7pm in Radovljica Manor
  • 22nd December: Christmas market and children’s creative workshop from 4pm to 7pm in Radovljica Manor
  • 23rd December: Christmas market and children’s creative workshop from 4pm to 7pm in Linhart Square and the square in front of the church
  • 25th December: Ana Snežna street performance with Jakob Bergant at 5pm in Linhart Square and the square in front of the church
  • 26th December: Street performance with Čupakabra and Sodrga at 5pm, Linhart Square and the square in front of the church
  • 27th December: Christmas market from 4pm to 7pm, Linhart Square and the square in front of the church
  • 2th December: Christmas market from 4pm to 7pm, Linhart Square and the square in front of the church, and Ana Snežna street performance with Matteo Galbusera (Italy) at 5pm in Linhart Square and the square in front of the church
  • 29th December: Christmas market from 4pm to 7pm, Reindeers’ Circus with the Cizamo Theatre at 5pm, Linhart Square and the square in front of the church

Click here to read more about December in Radovljica.

And as Radovljica, like much of Slovenia, isn’t that far from anywhere, you can also make day trips to see the festive lights in other towns and cities such as Ljubljana, Kranj, Koper, Celje and Maribor.

Oh and by the way, most of the pictures above were taken prior to last week’s heavy snowfall, Radovljica now looks more like this!

And the Vodiška planina mountain pasture on the Jelovica plateau looks like this (taken yesterday!).

So, if you are a fan of the white stuff – snow that is – (which regular readers know I certainly am not!) there’s certainly no shortage of it here. In the high mountains there is already 2 metres in places and 1 metre at altitudes of around 1,000m, while her in the valley we had, or rather still have, around 30-40 centimetres, though I do have to admit it does help to add to the festive feeling, but I just wish we could wake up after Christmas to find it has all gone!!!

Here’s hoping 2022 will finally see the back of coronavirus and I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very Happy and Healthy New Year.

© Adele in Slovenia

 

Radol’ca Chocolate – Radovljica Just Got Even ‘Sweeter’!

Radovljica is even richer, and sweeter, thanks to a great new addition – the new Radol’ca Chocolate boutique chocolate shop!

But calling it just a ‘shop’ is doing it an injustice, since it’s so much more.

All the chocolates are handmade on site at this new family-run venture, which is the brainchild of the former director of the Radovljica Tourist Board, Nataša Mikelj, who, together with her husband and eldest daughter, have set up and opened a new chapter in their lives and that of Radovljica.

Since having introduced the very popular and successful Radovljica Chocolate Festival to the town’s annual events calendar several years ago, Nataša’s interest was sparked in where chocolate comes from, how it’s made, flavour combinations, etc.

For several years she had tried to find someone who would be interested in opening a chocolate shop in Radovljica, but there was little interest. It was during lockdown that Nataša had time to think long and hard about her life, career and future and had a lightbulb moment when she realised what her new calling could be in life – chocolate!

And the result of many months of research, hard graft and learning the tools and tricks of the trade is certainly paying off, since passing trade is brisk and orders are already pouring in for Christmas gifts, business gifts, etc.

The shop is located at the entrance to Radovljica’s old town centre. Inside you can get up close to watch the chocolates being made…

…learn about the ingredients…

… talk to the family…

…and try a sample before you buy!

It’s a tough place to be for a chocoholic like me!

In future, workshops, tasting sessions and other events are planned too.

A chocolate weekend is due to be held (providing further COVID restrictions aren’t introduced by then) on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th December. Click here to read more.

So, now you can take a piece of Radovljica (chocolate!) home as a treat for yourself or your loved ones – or both!

© Adele in Slovenia

 

Autumn Colours and Tastes of Radol’ca

Radol’ca, like much of the rest of Slovenia, is awash with stunning autumn colours at the moment, so if you get the chance, now is the time to visit and take a drive through the Gorenjska countryside.

This week and next will be the peak of the autumnal colours, as the leaves are dropping at a rate of knots now, so don’t miss out on this short-lived annual spectacular. Autumn is a time of mixed emotions for me; I love it because of the colours and still (usually!) relatively warm weather, but at the same time know that it means winter is on the way!

In addition to stunning colours, autumn is a time of seasonal tastes, and the annual Taste Radol’ca month of local menus, which takes place every November, is another good reason to visit. This Friday 29th October the opening event of this year’s Taste Radol’ca takes place at Vila Podvin in Mošnje, near Radovljica. It begins in the afternoon with a farmers’ market featuring local suppliers and tastings, whilst in the evening the opening dinner will be prepared by Taste Radol’ca chefs and served by waiting staff from all the nine participating restaurants.

The farmers’ market, which will run from 5pm to 7pm, is open to everyone – the more the merrier (though note that you must meet, and be able to prove, that you meet one of the RVT conditions (recovered, vaccinated, tested) – while the five-course opening dinner is a ticket-only event. Contact the Radovljica Tourist Information Centre to enquire about purchasing tickets and to find out more information about what to see and do in autumn in the Radol’ca area.

After the opening event, and right up until the end of November, you will be able to try one (or more!) of the specially prepared menus featuring local ingredients prepared by the talented Taste Radol’ca chefs at: Vila Podvin, Draga Inn, Lectar Inn, Kunstelj Inn, Gostišče Tulipan, Gostilna Avguštin, Gostilna Pr’ Tavčar, Restavracija Center and Restavracija Tabor.

On a side note, albeit still on the same theme, if you haven’t yet got round to visiting Vila Podvin – awarded a Michelin Star in both 2020 and 2021 – you might want to hot foot it there before the end of November (again, don’t forget RVT), when its eight-year chapter of exceptional success draws to a close.

But all is not lost, as one book closes and opens, as the entire Vila Podvin team will be moving to Hotel and Restaurant Linhart in Linhart Square, the heart of the old town of Radovljica, which Uroš and his business partner, Marcela, bought at the start of 2020 as a result of their offer being rejected to purchase the building in which Vila Podvin operated. The hotel, like many other places in Radovljica (Linhart Hall, Linhart Square…) is named after the well-known 18-century Slovenian playwright Anton Tomaž Linhart who lived in the neighbouring house.

So, now is the time to visit AND taste Radol’ca! Hope to see you there, or rather here, soon!

© Adele in Slovenia