Slovenian Beekeeping: Bee our Guest!

This week I’d like to bring you some exciting news about a great new initiative and book – both on the theme of beekeeping – something at which Slovenia excels. Despite not being a beekeeper myself, since living in Slovenia I have become acutely aware of the importance that bees play in the world and, I believe, it’s something that should be of great importance to us all. Read on…!

Photo: S Senica

The Radovljica area has long been known for its ‘sweet’ traditions, primarily beekeeping-related, as well as chocolate in recent years thanks to the very popular Radovljica Chocolate Festival! Radovljica’s old town is home to the Museum of Apiculture, whilst the Beekeeping Education Centre of Gorenjska is situated in nearby Lesce.

Now, a new initiative has been launched to unite and promote Slovenian beekeeping in the Upper Gorenjska regionBEE OUR GUEST!

Photo: S Senica

BEE OUR GUEST is a collaboration between the municipalities of Bohinj, Bled, Gorje, Žirovnica, Radovljica and Kranjska Gora, and its aim is to acquaint visitors with Slovenian beekeeping in the Upper Gorenjska region, as well as offer information, tours and packages that combine beekeeping with the region’s other numerous sights and attractions. Thus, Bee Our Guest offers something for all those who want to see and experience a different side of the area’s natural beauty – whether you are a beekeeping enthusiast or just a lover of nature and all things ‘sweet’!

The Museum of Apiculture is located in the magnificent Radovljica Mansion in the heart of Radovljica’s old town centre, where, amongst other exhibits, you can see a rich collection of hand-painted beehive front panels, including the oldest in the world; each of the panels tells its own story!

You can also observe the bees busy buzzing about their business in the observation hive! More information can be found here – http://www.radolca.si/en/radovljica-apiculture-museum/

You can pay a visit to Lectar Inn, where in the cellar you can visit the workshop and museum where they have been making traditional Lectar honeybreads for centuries. You can buy gifts and souvenirs for your loved ones or for special occasions or, upon prior arrangement, join in a workshop and have a go at making one yourself.

On the website (http://www.beeourguest.eu/) and Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/BeeOurGuest.Slovenia/) you can also keep up-to-date with all the latest developments regarding World Bee Day, which has now been officially declared as 20th May, the birth date of Anton Janša (1734-1773), considered Slovenia’s greatest beekeeper.

“Every third spoonful of food on Earth depends on bees or, more precisely, on pollination. The more the meadows are polluted and the more frequently they are mown, the smaller the number of bees. Do we even realise what that means for our future and for us?” This comes from the authors of the newly-published book No Bees, No Life, available in English and Slovene, and is something we should all most definitely be aware of.

Written by the President of Slovenia’s Beekeeping Association, Bostjan Noč, the head of the breeding programme for the Carniolan honey bee, at the Slovenian Beekeeping Association, Peter Kozmus, and author of many books in the fields of ethnology and apiculture, Karolina Vrtačnik, as well as 66 contributions from 32 countries, the book has been receiving wide acclaim. You can find out more and/or order a copy here – https://beebooks.si/en/

I’ll be bringing you plenty more on this subject, and exploring it in more depth in the not-too-distant future, but for now, I’m off for for some quiet contemplation – oh and a cup of tea with Slovenian honey!

© Adele in Slovenia

 

Like Beekeeping? Love Radovljica!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Adele in Slovenia

Taste Radol’ca 2016: The Opening – Too Many Cooks DON’T Spoil the Broth!

Now in its 4th year, Taste Radol’ca keeps going from strength-to-strength and has really enlivened the month of November – a traditionally quiet month in the hospitality industry – in the restaurants in Radovljica and its surroundings.

This year there are 13 restaurants as part of the Taste Radol’ca ‘family’, all of which combined to cook up an incredible feast at the opening dinner held last Friday at Vila Podvin. It turns out that ‘Too many cooks don’t spoil the broth, they actually improve it!’

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The evening began with a local farmers and craft market, with tastings of food provided by the Globočnik Excursion Farm (Izletniška kmetija Globočnik) and Gostilna Avguštin.

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Live music was provided by the band ‘Suho cvetje’, who entertained visitors throughout the evening with their unique style of music.

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At 7pm we were ushered to our seats in the restaurant for the main event, whereby each dish was concocted and cooked by the Taste Radol’ca chefs, teaming up to create the culinary sensations you can see below.

The first course was chilled smoked trout, buckwheat ice-cream served on a blini, and beetroot and horseradish – prepared by Grajska Gostilnica and Tulipan Inn.

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Next came quail soup with a quail’s egg and julienne vegetables, prepared by Draga Inn and the Krek Restaurant.

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The third course was calves liver with onion, polenta, salad and edible flowers – prepared by Lectar Inn and the Lambergh Restaurant.

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To cleanse our palates in preparation for the main course we were then served a ‘juniper berry sorbet’, which wasn’t actually a sorbet at all, but a creamy and clever spin on one, courtesy of Kunstelj Inn.

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Finally, already fairly bursting at the seams, it was time for the main course! Cheek of pork, tarragon struklji and caramelised vegetables – prepared by Vila Podvin and the Avsenik Pri Jožovcu restaurant.

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And, the dessert was certainly worth waiting for! A unique and delicious take on a plum strudel with curd cheese, vanilla cream, served with cinnamon ice-cream – prepared by Joštov Hram and Gostilna Tavčar.

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But that was just the start! Now comes a whole month of eating and trying out the delicious-sounding Taste Radol’ca menus at all 13 restaurants!

Well, actually, I think 13 in one month might even be a bit beyond me, but I’ll give it a try, I’m always up for a challenge, especially where food is involved!!!

The participating restaurants are:

  • Gostilna Kunstelj, Radovljica
  • Gostilna Avguštin, Radovljica
  • Gostilna Lectar, Radovljica
  • Grajska Gostilnica, Radovljica
  • Gostišče Tulipan, Lesce
  • The Krek Hotel and Restaurant, Lesce
  • The Globočnik Excursion Farm, Globoko
  • Joštov Hram, Podnart
  • Draga Inn, Begunje na Gorenjskem
  • Gostilna Tavčar, Begunje na Gorenjskem
  • Gostilna Avsenik – Pri Jožovcu, Begunje na Gorenjskem
  • Lambergh Chateau and Hotel, Dvorska Vas
  • Vila Podvin, Mošnje

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

© Adele in Slovenia

Summer 2016 in Radol’ca – Hop-On Hop Off Tourist Bus

Regular readers will know that I usually publish my blogs on Mondays. However, I decided to purposely delay this one since yesterday it was raining, again, and I couldn’t face writing, and subject you to reading, yet another blog moaning about the rain!!!

Today, thankfully, is much better and we also had 4 glorious summer days of blazing sunshine last week. So, let’s just focus on more of those to come and not on the other 24 rainy days thus far in June! Woops, there I go again…

There are lots of things to look forward to this summer in Radol’ca*. Here are just a few of the events taking place in July to whet your appetite.

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  • The Hop-On Hop Off Tourist Bus begins operating again from 1st July until 31st August. The bus runs on Tuesdays (Bled-Radovljica-Kropa) and Thursdays (Bled-Radovljica-Begunje-Brezje), as well as at weekends to Bohinj and the Pokljuka plateau. Tickets, which are valid for the whole day, cost just 5 euros for adults, children up to the age of 10 travel free. More information here (click where it says Vec o Hop-On Hop Off to see the timetable) – http://radolca.si/kaj-poceti/dogodki/hop-on-hop-off-radolca-2016/83/904/

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  • FREE guided tours of the old town centre – Tuesdays at 9am in July and August, other months at 10am. Meet at the Radovljica Tourist Information Centre at the entrance to Linhart Square.

Radovljica SLO 2011

Radovljica SLO 2011

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I always attend this event as I love the quaint iron-forging village of Kropa, nestled snuggly into a corner of the Lipnica Valley under the Jelovica plateau, where the tradition of iron-forging is still much in evidence. You can also try some local food, visit the village museums, and have a general nose about the narrow lanes.

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* In case of any confusion, Radol’ca is  the name used in the tourism slogan ‘Radol’ca, Honestly Sweet’. The Radol’ca area comprises the main town of Radovljica, as well as the surrounding towns and villages including Begunje na Gorenjskem, Brezje, Kropa, Kamna Gorica, Lesce, Mosnje and other smaller hamlets.

© Adele in Slovenia

2 Records and a Rant!

Rather an odd title for this week’s blog, you might think. I’ll start with the ‘records’ and get on to the ‘ranting’ later!

The first of the ‘2 records’ refers to this year’s Radovljica Chocolate Festival where, in addition to a full programme of chocolate tasting and other chocolate-related entertainment, there will be an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest ever chocolate bar.

The current world record was set in 2011, with the largest bar weighing a whopping 5,792.50kg (probably equating to about my average annual consumption of the stuff!). It was produced by Thorntons Plc (UK), who just happen to make one of my favourite kinds of chocolate in the world. Any friends or family visiting from the UK are always instructed to bring me some!

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So, it will take some doing to break it – the record I mean, not the chocolate bar! Though, one does wonder how on earth they are going to divide it up into manageable chunks! The full programme for the festival, which takes place from 15 – 17th April, is almost complete, so there’ll be plenty more about it here, and on the festival website, in the coming weeks – http://www.festival-cokolade.si/program/

That’s not all on the subject of record-breaking. The 2nd of the ‘2 records’ refers to the record-breaking weekend at Planica. I wasn’t among the crowd as unfortunately, despite being offered a ticket, a problem with my ears means that I’m unable to withstand loud noise and Planica is a synonym for loud noise with hooters, claxons and the masses of highly enthusiastic fans cheering on their heroes. However, since there was such widespread media coverage over the whole 4 days, it was easy to feel a part of the nation’s pride without actually being there.

The combination of fantastic weather, record-breaking crowds, and world-beating performances by the Slovene ski jumping team ensured a winning weekend was had by all. And boy, do the supporters know how to cheer and wave their flags in earnest when it comes to Planica – all 110,000 of them!

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To crown his sensational season, on Sunday Peter Prevc once again secured victory, to round-off a truly astounding year which saw him amass 15 wins, 22 podiums and a new record of 2303 points to become the overall 2016 FIS ski jumping champion. I think it’s fair to say that there isn’t a single Slovene who isn’t proud of him! In Sunday’s competition, Slovenia’s Robert Kranjec took 2nd place, whilst on Saturday the Slovene team were second in the team competition.

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Now, moving onto the ‘rants’ – well actually just one rant, and not something I would usually use the medium of blogging to do, however, on this occasion I feel the need, so please indulge me, just this once.

Saddened, disgusted, horrified, angry, these, along with resignation, were my feelings on finding out that a McDonalds is to open in Lesce. In recent years Taste Radol’ca restaurants, amongst others, have been striving to place a focus on eating locally-produced food. In schools too, both here and elsewhere, there has been ever increasing attention on what kids eat.

From my perspective, I thought I’d found a little corner of the world to escape mass corporate globalisation, though, in truth, that’s almost impossible these days. Therefore, to find out that this particular burger chain is opening on my doorstep was a huge upset. Of course, it’s not the first one in Slovenia, but until now they have been confined to larger cities, rather than encroaching in this beautiful part of the country.

What is additionally worrying is its location. Right at the Bled exit from the motorway, which is notoriously busy. Every weekend during the summer there are tailbacks of several kilometres, and this will only add to that, not to mention there will no doubt be ghastly advertising hoardings erected here, there, and everywhere – another of my pet hates.

Sadly, it’s inevitable that it will do well, as those passing on the motorway will stop off for a fast food fix. I’m not trying to be a preacher here, since I’m no saint when it comes to food – pizza, chocolate, cakes etc. are a staple part of my diet. I can only hope, forlornly perhaps, that at least some of you, my dear readers, appreciate quality food over fast food and steer clear! After all, within just a few kilometres, or even less, of ‘that burger chain’ there are a wealth of restaurants awaiting you with delicious home-produced Slovene food. And if the need for a burger really grabs you – as sometimes it does, at least choose one such as this Angus beef burger, new on the menu at Draga Inn, looks delicious wouldn’t you agree?

Vaski burger

So, I urge you, please support local food and restaurants, when visiting Slovenia eat Slovenian food, and don’t let the global giants win!

© AdeleinSlovenia 2016

Na Kležnk in Lesce – First Class Airport Food!

Did you know that there is an airport in Lesce? Well, ‘airport’ is a slight over exaggeration, airfield, to be more precise – the Lesce Alpine Flying Centre (Alpski letalski center). It offers panoramic flights above the Julian Alps, glider flights, skydiving and parachuting (more here – http://www.radolca.si/en/adrenaline-in-the-air/). I’m told that in the past there also used to be scheduled direct flights to Dubrovnik. What a shame that is no longer the case!

Moreover, you can now also get first-class food there that doesn’t break the bank, which is not something that can often be said of airport food! However, this is no ordinary ‘airport’ restaurant. The Na Kležnk restaurant, which opened last year, has brought a much-needed revival to the centre, and it’s range of high-quality dishes and delicious desserts, are just the ticket!

I was interested to know where the restaurant’s name hails from and found out that it comes from the name of a farm that used to be located in the area where the airfield now stands.

During the warmer months you can sit outdoors on the terrace and admire the views of the Julian Alps and the Jelovica plateau.

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My visit on a damp February evening wasn’t exactly conducive to admiring the outside views, but instead I was able to sit in the warm, pleasant ambience of the restaurant and admire the indoor views – mainly of the cakes!

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Na Kležnk  has its own in-house patisserie, where delicious cakes are baked daily and can also be purchased to take-away, or they will even deliver if you have a sudden urgent craving for cake – it happens, you know!

With such a wide range of cakes on offer, it was a tough choice, so I had a slice of this raspberry meringue cake to start, well I don’t mean as a ‘starter’ but as my ‘starter dessert’!

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And later a piece of the delicious, and highly addictive, banana mudcake ‘to go’!

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Oh yes, and I also ate some seriously tasty and imaginately presented ‘real’ food too!

Starters include cheese ravioli with a pesto sauce and parmesan, and, as seen below, shrimp tails with crab pate.

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For my main course I chose a dish from the specials menu – pork fillet with onion sauce and bread dumplings.

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And my friend ordered the sea bass which came looking like this.

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And inside looked like this!

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Apparently, though, word is already out and, particularly if you go at the weekends for their popular Saturday and Sunday lunches, reservations are required. Now I too know why and am already looking forward to my next visit. It is to be hoped that Na Kležnk will also join Taste Radol’ca later this year.

© AdeleinSlovenia 2016

 

 

Stories of Slovene Success: Dali Šport – Dressing the Best!

Two weeks ago I wrote the first in an occasional series of posts entitled ‘Stories of Slovene Success’. That post, which you can read here http://wp.me/p3005k-1fl was about the success of Elan and Peter Prevc.

This week the story is in a similar vein, since the company Dali Šport, based in Lesce, make the clothing for some of Slovenia’s top sports stars, as well as for sports people from numerous other countries competing in, amongst others, skiing, ski jumping, rowing, equine and aerial sports.

I popped in for a nose last week and was lucky enough that during the time of my visit 3 of the Slovenian ski jumping team were there, having come to pick up their new apparel, during a brief lull in training. Below you can see, from left to right, Matjaž Pungertar, Leon Šarc and Anže Lanišek – oh and me of course!

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In addition to the firm’s headquarters in Lesce, it also has a shop in Bled which sells off-the-peg sportswear for hiking and other outdoor sports, as well as outfits for your four-legged friend!

Dali Šport, a family run company, has been making made-to-measure and off-the-peg clothing for over 25 years, including the outfit worn by Peter Prevc when he won silver at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

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And for the ski jumper Robert Kranjec too!

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LOOKING AHEAD: It’s not long now until the annual Radovljica Carnival Ball (Pustni ples) with Taste Radol’ca. This year the event will take place on Saturday 6th February at Tulipan Inn in Lesce. Tickets are now on sale at the Radovljica Tourist Information Centre. The theme of this year’s ball is ‘The Radovljica Olympics‘ and prizes are up for grabs for those who come up with the most creative outfits. More information (in Slovene) here – http://radolca.si/kaj-poceti/dogodki/pustni-ples-z-okusi-radolce/83/724/

On the same day, at 2pm in the afternoon, the annual Carnival Procession will take place through the streets of Radovljica ending in Linhart Square in the old town centre. More information here – http://www.radolca.si/en/what-to-do/events-1/carnival-procession/83/381/

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© AdeleinSlovenia 2016