Autumn Hiking in the Karavanke

After a less than promising start to autumn, it finally arrived in style last week with nature offering a palette of the most resplendent autumnal hues. This, together with the warm, sunny days – which lasted all weekend too – made it perfect weather to enjoy the great outdoors. As the Karavanke mountains are right on my doorstep, that’s where I most often head to get my hiking fix!

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On Sunday morning I headed off on my bike from home in Radovljica to the Draga valley, then on foot – initially up to the Preval highland and the Preval mountain hut (Koča na Prevalu) – part of the Karavanke range.

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From the hut there are a number of paths; steeply (very!) up through the forest to the top of Mt. Begunščica; through the Baron’s Tunnels to Ljubelj, back down to the Draga valley – either through the forest or via the road – or across Roža (čez Roža) to the Roblek mountain hut (Roblekov dom). I chose the latter, as it is one of my favourite walks, particularly as it is circular and offers wonderful views across the Radovljica plains, the Jelovica plateau, and onwards towards the Julian Alps.

As can be seen below, with such perfect weather and views across to the snow-capped Julian Alps, no photo-shopping is required!

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It’s always a particularly wonderful feeling being in the mountains and looking across at other parts of the country which are shrouded in low cloud, as was the case on Sunday morning!

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The opening event of this year’s month-long Taste Radol’ca is drawing nearer. Reservations are being taken for the opening event this Friday and participating restaurants have finalised their special Taste Radol’ca menus for the month of November – all available at just 15 euros for 3 courses and with the key focus on local ingredients.

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Additionally this year there are a range of accompanying events during the month of November. Below are some of the highlights, the whole list can be seen here –  http://radolca.si/kaj-poceti/dogodki/okusi-radolce/83/930/

  • Every Wednesday: Live accordion music evening at Lambergh Château & Hotel
  • Every Friday: Live music evening at Vila Podvin
  • Every Sunday at 1pm: Presentation of the Zupan Fish Farm at Vila Podvin
  • Saturday 7.11: Podvin Local Food Market at Vila Podvin
  • Sunday 8.11 from 12 – 5pm: Presentation and tasting of honey from the Draga valley at Draga Inn
  • Saturday 14.11 & 21.11 at 11am: Cookery workshop with tastings of St. Martin’s dishes at Kunstelj Inn
  • Friday 27.11: Culinary Evening with Sartori wines and live music at Grajska Gostilnica
  • Friday 4.12: Taste Radol’ca Closing Party at Joštov hram (tickets can be obtained by participating in this year’s 2 prize competitions)

@AdeleinSlovenia 2015

The Karavanke and the Čepa Gorge

I know my blog is named ‘Adele in Slovenia’ so it may seem somewhat odd that this week I’m writing about Austria, but let me explain…

The Karavanke mountains form a natural border between Slovenia and Austria, and here in Radovljica we are fortunate to have part of the Karavanke range right on the doorstep. Particular favourites among locals, in which I include myself, are Stol (the highest in the Karavanke range) and Begunščica, whilst just slightly further afield there are other popular peaks such as Golica, Dovška baba and others.

Some of the territory which lies just the other side of the Karavanke, though these days geographically in Austria, was formerly Slovene and thus, even today, many Slovenes remain living in these areas and therefore places names and all official documentation etc. is found written in both Slovene and German languages. One of such places is the area just on the other side of the Ljubelj pass (more about this in a previous blog here – https://adeleinslovenia.wordpress.com/2014/09/01/zelenci-pools-ljubelj-pass-and-forever-young/), near Ferlach/Borovlje. Once through the tunnel and into Austria, its just a few minutes drive to the Čepa Gorge (Tscheppaschlucht in German – no idea how to pronounce that!). In addition to the gorge itself, there is also an Adventure Park within its grounds – run by a Slovene company!

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The gorge has been very well arranged with wooden walkways, steel ladders and bridges. The walk involves quite a lot of going up and down but the amazing sights of the rushing water and canyons ensures it doesn’t feel like hard work, and also there are a number of choices of routes that can be taken in one direction with a bus journey (included in the entrance price) for the return journey. Be sure to pick up a bus timetable at the start so avoid a long wait, but fortunately, the bus stations are mostly sited at, or near, restaurants/inns, so even if you have a while to wait you have somewhere to wait and enjoy a drink, piece of strudel etc.

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The new Sava River Trail (Pot ob Savi) will be officially opened this week on Thursday with a guided walk beginning at the Fux footbridge (Fuxova brv). This path is a great addition to the numerous paths available in Radovljica and the surroundings and will be a particularly pleasant place to walk in the heat of the summer as much of it runs through the forest and beside the Sava River.

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More information about the Sava river can be found here – http://www.radolca.si/en/the-sava-and-its-tributaries/ and maps of the Sava River Trail are available from the Radovljica Tourist Information Centrehttp://www.radolca.si/en/

© AdeleinSlovenia 2015

Zelenci Pools, Ljubelj Pass, and ‘Forever Young’!

It was brief but great whilst it lasted, which could perhaps be said of many things in life! I am, however, referring to the brief return of ‘summer’ that we enjoyed last week. It began on Wednesday when, after a very cool start to the day, late morning all of a sudden the clouds lifted, the sun broke through and it felt warm, hot even. Oh how I rejoiced at seeing the blue sky, feeling the sun’s rays on my all-too pale skin and I felt my mood instantly lifted. There’s one thing for sure, when you haven’t had, or seen, something for a long time, you certainly appreciate it even more. Alas, it didn’t last and thus only served as a reminder of what we have, this ‘summer’ missed out on. As I sit writing this on Monday morning, it’s currently 10 degrees out there and I can see snow on the tops of the mountains brrr…..

Unsurprisingly then, I didn’t waste a minute and since it was a slack week workwise, I was able to cram in quite a few walks and bike rides. So here is the run down, which I hope will also offer some ideas for short walks and bike rides around the area.

On Wednesday afternoon I drove to Trzič on onwards to Ljubelj for a walk up the old Ljubelj pass. Prior to the building of the Karavanke tunnel from Slovenia to Austria in 1991, all transport from the Gorenjska region towards the Ferlach region of Austria used to travel over the Ljubelj pass which passed over the Karavanke range reaching a height of 1370m. One can only imagine how painstakingly slow the journey must have been, particularly in days of old when cars didn’t have as much grunt as they do nowadays.

The original road, which is now only suitable for walking as well as being a popular destination for sledging in the winter, closed to traffic in 1967, when an improved, wider road was built, which is today still in use, though less frequently so with many choosing to drive through the Karavanke tunnel instead. The Ljubelj tunnel was built on the order of Nazis by civilians and prisoners from the nearby Mauthasen concentration camp. Today, the remains of the concentration camp still stand just beneath the Ljubelj pass, where one can stop at the memorial to see the site and take a moment to ponder the horrific lives the prisoners there endured.

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Today the mountain hut ‘Koča na Ljubelju’ is a popular destination in itself, and takes only around 45 minutes to reach from the parking area, as well as it being an onward point for hikes on both the Slovene and Austrian side of the Karavanke. The two obeslisks, as seen below, mark the border between the two countries and one is spoilt for choice with views across both Slovenia and Austria,.

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Thursday morning began with a ride to the Završnica reservoir followed by a walk up to the Valvasor mountain hut (Valvasorjev dom) which sits at 1181m, on the slopes of Mount Stol. Not content with just that, in the afternoon I drove to Kranjska Gora from where I walked across the pastures to the picturesque village of Podkoren, which is particularly popular with skiers in the winter, and from there onwards to the Zelenci springs. These emerald green pools are known for the springs which rise up from the bottom of the pools and for the water temperature which remains at 5-6 degrees year-round, regardless of the air temperature. The clarity of the water, the stunning surrounding alpine scenery is reflected in the pools and it is a wonderful place to enjoy a moment of calm.

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On Friday, together with some friends who are over from the UK, we cycled the 35km lowland cycle route from Radovljica through the Lipnica valley. More information about the route can be found here – http://www.radolca.si/en/lowland-cycling-trail/

On Saturday morning, after cycling to the Draga Valley, I hiked up to the Preval highland then took the route ‘čez Roža’ to reach the Roblek mountain hut, (Roblekov dom) at 1672m. Sadly, the path from Draga to Preval, particularly the lower half of it, is currently in a pretty bad state and barely resembles the pleasant path it once was due to the ravages of this year’s winter. The path from Preval to Roblek however was improved last year and remains as scenic as ever.

On Saturday afternoon the Večno mladi (Forever Young) parade took place through the streets of Radovljica.  This event, which has been taking place annually on the last weekend in August since 1975, begins with a hike for the club members to Stol, the highest peak in the Karavanke range. The remainder of the entertainment, comprising a parade through the streets of Radovljica complete with marching bands, Slovene folk music, old-timer bikes and cars, is open for all to enjoy and participate. The festivities then continue into the night with a concert and fireworks display on the Saturday evening. More pictures can be found of this, and other such events and places, on my Pinterest page.

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Meanwhile, following this weekend’s mini-marathon in Bled, next weekend comes the Bled Triathlon. There are triathlon categories to suit everyone; from those wanting to just ‘give it a try (the Super Sprint triathlon), to those wanting to conquer an Olympic distance triathlon, as well as a relay event and an aquathlon. More information can be found here – http://www.bled.si/en/events/2014/09/06/1340-Triathlon-Bled

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© AdeleinSlovenia 2014