Fit and Fun in Radovljica!

For many people, no doubt the thought of exercising on holiday couldn’t be further from their minds; then there are those of us for whom being active is a way of life, and whether at home or away, we like to find ways of ensuring we stay fit and healthy whilst also having fun!

So for those of you who fit into that bracket – myself included – Radovljica is the perfect destination!

As is widely known and acknowledged, the key to keeping fit is to find an activity, or activities, that are enjoyable, so taking part doesn’t feel like a chore and we are more likely to stick with it.

With the beautiful backdrop of the Karavanke mountains and the Jelovica plateau, as well as the Sava river and the Draga and Lipnica valleys, there are myriad outdoor sports and activities right on the doorstep or within close proximity of Radovljica, so here are some ideas:

HIKING – the Jelovica Plateau, the Karavanke range, or the nearby Julian Alps

WALKING and/or RUNNING – from short strolls or runs on theme paths such as the Sava River Trail, to long cross-country rambles and runs

CYCLING – of all types, mountain biking, road biking, endless possibilities

FISHING on the Sava river

HORSE RIDING or horse and carriage rides – get to know Lipizzaner horses at the Barbana stud farm in Globoko, or go riding at the Mošnje Horse Centre – just two among the places offering horse riding in the area. More here – http://www.radolca.si/en/in-the-company-of-horses/

WATER SPORTS – rafting, kayaking, canoeing

Other adrenalin-fuelled activities –  paintball, zip line, zorbing, caving, climbing

ARCHERY – on the parcour course in the tranquil Draga valley. Find out more here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/2017/04/10/archery-adventures-and-delicious-draga-delights/

SWIMMING at the Olympic size swimming pool in Radovljica – open-air in the summer, covered in the winter; or at the Kropa outdoor pool

PARACHUTING and PANORAMIC FLIGHTS over the Julian Alps from Lesce Sports Airfield

Find out more about sport, recreation and fun in the area here and I wish you fit and fun adventures in Radovljica! – http://www.radolca.si/en/sport-recreation-and-fun/

© 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.

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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

Kunstelj Cooks & Draga Delights!

We’ve been spoilt with another week of warm autumn sunshine which was perfect for hiking and even a bit of cycling too. Unfortunately it looks set to end this week but it was certainly nice while it lasted!

In addition to the month-long of special menus at participating Taste Radol’ca restaurants, this year there are also a number of accompanying events which are open to everyone and FREE to attend.

These days there is ever more interest in where the food on our plates actually comes from. Knowing exactly where our food comes from is not only good for our health – food direct from the farm isn’t stuffed full of E numbers and the like – but it also helps support local farmers, producers and small businesses.

Since moving to Slovenia, and in particular since the launch of Taste Radol’ca, where the focus is on local food, I too have very much begun to embrace this style of buying and eating.

This week I visited two of the restaurants, this time not to indulge in the special menus – as delicious as they are – but to see the opening of a new mini-shop at Draga Inn and to participate in a culinary workshop at Kunstelj Inn.

The Draga Valley, at the far end of the village of Begunje na Gorenjskem, is the starting place for a number of hiking paths in the Karavanke mountains. The valley is also home to the restaurant with rooms Draga Inn (Gostišče Draga).

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The inn has now expanded its offer by opening its own mini-shop stocked with products exclusively from the valley or the family farm; a range of pickled vegetables grown in the Inn’s garden, home-cooked jams, honey from the valley’s beekeeper and these rather attractive hand-painted and produced rucksacks, which are apparently ‘flying off the shelves’.CIMG0144

On Saturday the first Kunstelj Cooks (Kunstelj kuha) workshop took place at Kunstelj Inn in Radovljica. The fine autumn weather was a bonus and meant that the workshop could be held outside on the terrace, which just happens to be one of my favourite places in Radovljica, to sit and admire the views of the Julian Alps, the Jelovica plateau, and the lush Lipnica valley.

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At this first workshop, to coincide with the celebrations for St. Martin’s Day, Kunstelj’s talented head chef, Maja Buden, used ingredients that are typical for St. Martin’s meals and showed how they could be used in a novel way.

A traditional St. Martin’s Day meal in Slovenia comprises roast goose or duck, served with mlinci, as seen below (a kind of thin dried pastry that is prepared by boiling over liquid – water, stock or soup, over then ), and red cabbage.

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Maja used all these traditional ingredients to create these delicious bite-size St. Martin’s mouthfuls!

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Next Saturday, 21st November, there will be another Kunstelj Cooks workshop. This time Maja promises she will be rustling up desserts. Do come, it’s tasty, interesting and FREE!

More information:

Taste Radol’ca – http://www.radolca.si/en/what-to-do/events-1/taste-radolca/83/380/

Kunstelj Inn –

Draga Inn – http://www.gostisce-draga.si/

Kamna Gorica: Langus Days / The Sextons’ Museum House

After a 30km hike on Saturday (more about that soon!) in 30+ degree temperatures, I was pretty out for the count by early Saturday evening, that was until I was suddenly awoken with a start, though it wasn’t until the next morning that I found out why. There was an earthquake, measuring 4.1 on the richter scale, the centre of which was in the Bovec area in the Soča valley, and was felt throughout the west of the country.

In fact, earthquakes are not an entirely uncommon occurrence here, there have been four recorded this year and in April 2014 there was a 4.4 magnitude quake in South-West Slovenia. However, the majority of them are almost undetectable. The biggest earthquake, 6.1 magnitude, struck Ljubljana in 1895 on Easter Sunday. Seventeen years ago one of the strongest quakes of this century, 5.6 magnitude, caused considerable damage in the Soča valley area, but fortunately no lives were lost.

The annual Langusovi dnevi (Langus Days) event begins this week in the village of Kamna Gorica. The event is held on the first weekend of September in memory of the painter Matevž Langus (1792-1855). Various artistic, creative, social and recreational events, for adults and children alike, take place during the course of the celebration.

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For its size the small village of Kamna Gorica, in the Lipnica valley, crams in a number of sights of interest. The Sextons’ Museum House, dating from 1803, stands perched on a small hill above the village, next to St. Trinity’s church, and affords wonderful views across the village and to the mountains of the Karavanke range.

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In 2014 the house, which had previously lain derelict for years, was re-opened after thorough restoration. Visitors can see the original black kitchen and preserved living areas which offer an insight into life in Kamna Gorica in the past. Together with nearby Kropa, Kamna Gorica was formerly one of the main iron working villages in the area of what is the present day Slovenia. It is also known for the many water canals that run through the village which previously served the needs of the forges and led to the village also being known as ‘Little Venice’. Entrance to the museum house is free, though voluntary donations towards its upkeep are appreciated. More information can be found here – http://www.radolca.si/en/the-sextons-museum-house

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The main events of this year’s Langus Day take place on Saturday 5th September and include:

  • 10am – 2pm – Creative Workshops for All Generations
  • 10am – 5pm – Open Day at the Sexton’s Museum House
  • 2pm – Free Guided Tour of Kamna Gorica
  • 4pm – Children’s 200m, 400m & 1100m Run
  • 5pm – Adult’s 5km Run

More information about these and other Langus Day events can be found here – http://www.radolca.si/en/langus-days/

Finally, as summer slowly draws to an end (boohoo!) it’s official that this has been the 2nd hottest summer ever since records began in 1900, with 42 days being above 30 degrees C.

© AdeleinSlovenia 2015

Hiking: Kropa and the top of Jelovica

When the weather is as hot as it has been in the past couple of weeks, which by the way I’m most definitely NOT complaining about, its time to seek hiking routes that are, as much as possible, in the shade. So this week here’s my suggest for a great circular route, which is entirely in the cool of the forest, leading to the highest point of the Jelovica plateau and beginning from the one of my favourite villages in this area – Kropa.

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Whenever I visit Kropa when the sun is shining, I have visions of myself living there. The village, with the Kroparica stream running right through its heart, and the houses embellished with wrought iron, really does look lovely when its bathed in sunshine. However, I know in reality, that life here probably isn’t that easy as the village’s location, nestled snugly at the foot of the far eastern corner of the Jelovica plateau in the Lipnica Valley, means not only that it is somewhat remote, but also that during the winter months there are very few hours of sunshine, which is something I definitely wouldn’t cope with! So, I just have to make do with visiting – and I’d certainly you do too!

For those without a car the Hop-on Hop-off tourist bus also visits Kropa every Tuesday during the summer months. More information and the timetable can be found here – http://www.radolca.si/en/hop-on-hop-off-radolca/

My walk leads first to the the Vodice Highland (Vodiška planina). Since I prefer to take the steeper shorter route up and the less steep but longer route down, I have described it in that direction. However, of course if you prefer it can just as easily be done in reverse, instead following the signs for Vodice rather than for Jamnik as described below.

Begin at St. Leonard’s Church, one of the two churches in the village. There is a small parking area here or otherwise park in the centre of the village, by the memorial, and take the steps which lead between houses up to the church.

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Take the path signed ‘strma pot’ – this means ‘steep path’ – and it is! It takes just over an hour to reach the Vodice highland.

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On reaching the highland, if the mountain hut is open, take a rest and enjoy some of the great home-cooked food – štruklji and strudel are particularly recommended here!

If you don’t want to continue any further, from here you could take another longer, and slightly less steep, route back to the village. Alternatively, continue with the hut on your right and outbuildings on the left, a further 100 metres or so until you see a sign to Jamnik and Dražgose.

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From here the path is obvious and just keep following the signs to Jamnik (where there is a choice, choose Jamnik not Dražgose). The path climbs slightly up to the highest point of the Jelovica plateau, Črni vrh, at 1304m. Of course one of the downsides a walk in the cool forest can be the lack of views, so be sure not to miss the 2 viewpoints. The first is just a few minutes from here where there is a clearing with panoramic wonderful views across the Radovljica plain and the peaks of the Karavanke and Kamnik Savinja Alps.

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From here on the path begins to gradually descend. Just keep following the signs to Jamnik, just being careful after reaching a dirt road where the path goes right then shortly after left more steeply down through the forest. It is marked but the first sign is easy to miss.

Another viewpoint is reached by taking a 2 minute detour of the path at the sign that says ‘klopca‘ (benches). From here you can see directly down to the village of Kropa and get a real sense of just how hemmed in it is.

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Eventually the path meets, and crosses, the winding road that comes up from Kropa, leading to the church on Jamnik. If you want to see the church then it is necessary to walk on the road for a while until the branch off towards the church.

Otherwise, immediately on crossing the road the path continues on the other side, levelling off in places, before leading back down to the village of Kropa and the 2nd of the village’s churches, the Church of the Mother of God.

On returning to the village you should also take some time to look around the village. Everywhere you look there are reminders of the village’s past when it was the cradle of Slovene iron-forging and most of the homes and buildings exhibit some form of wrought ironwork.

A particularly great time to visit Kropa is during the annual Blacksmiths’ Festival (Kovaški smaren) which this year takes place on 4th July. More information can be found here – http://www.radolca.si/en/what-to-do/events-1/iron-foging-festival/83/153/

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

Romantic Radovljica!

On Tuesday, the eve of St. Gregory’s Day, I went to the small former iron-forging village of Kamna Gorica, in the Lipnica Valley, to watch the annual tradition of floating local children’s handmade creations, illuminated by candles, in the village stream. It is such a colourful and simple custom, but one which brings great joy to young children who watch on proudly as their creations float by and are judged for their creativeness. Meanwhile the adults get to stand back and watch, also proudly, enjoy a warming mulled wine and saviour the atmosphere. As can be seen in the photos below (more to follow on Pinterest), some of the creations were clearly painstakingly and meticulously thought out and constructed, others just simple paper creations, but of course its the taking part that counts! The custom dates back to the era of manual iron-forging, before the introduction of the Gregorian calendar in 1582, when the name day of St. Gregory was considered the first day of spring.

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And since there has barely been a cloud in the sky all week, it certainly feels like spring. We could hardly ask for more perfect weather for this time of year. Its certainly much appreciated after the bleakness of February. Earlier today, whilst walking around, it occurred to me how even the narrowest of streets now appear to be so wide, and what a luxury it seems to have the entire width of the pavement to walk on, these having been piled up high with snow for weeks on end before. How one learns to appreciate the simple things in life!

It also occurred to me recently, whilst walking through Radovljica’s old town centre, what a shame it is that more people don’t appreciate what a great destination is to hold a wedding. During the summer there are a number of weddings which take place here but, having made enquiries, I discovered that 80% of weddings in Slovenia take place in Bled. Ok I’m biased, but the fact is that everything is right here in one place; St. Peter’s Church for the religious ceremony or Šivec House for a civil ceremony, the grand Radovljica Mansion and/or Lectar Inn for the reception, the perfect spot for photographs with the backdrop of the Julian Alps and the Jelovica Plateau and accommodation both in the old town centre and nearby. Having made some enquiries, it seems that although weddings in Slovenia are increasing in popularity, the vast majority of people still opt for Bled, as it is the obvious choice due to the castle and the island on the lake. However, Radovljica is just 7kms from Bled so a wedding in Radovljica offers an alternative and could also be combined with a visit to Bled. So, if you are lucky enough to be considering a wedding abroad, take a look at Radovljica and dare to be different! Here are a couple of photographs of the venues (more to follow on Pinterest) and more information can also be found here – http://www.dapetra.com/

2 Dogodki na Linhartovem trgu  10 Stoječi sprejem v Baročni dvorani

1 Poroka v Plesni dvorani

With the temperatures currently in the mid-teens the snow line is currently at around the 1,000 metre mark, somewhat higher on the south facing slopes. However, above this level there is still plenty of the white stuff as can be seen from the HUGE snowman that greeted my arrival on a hike up to the Roblek Mountain Hut (1672m) from the Draga Valley. It’s been warm enough to cycle too, which is unusual in March, so my bike has had an early awakening from its winter hibernation!

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© AdeleinSlovenia 2014