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!
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.
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 RestaurantLinhartin 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!
After almost a year-and-a-half of preventative measures of varying degrees, Radol’ca’s summer events calendar kicks off in style this week, with almost a year-and-a-half’s worth of events in just one week!
The first event, and one that many have been waiting (im)patiently for, is the Queen Real Tribute Band, who were lined up to perform at the 2020 Radovljica Chocolate Festival, and who were also on standby for this year’s festival – both of which were cancelled, though a somewhat smaller festival is scheduled for 11th and 12th September this year – and will now finally be on stage this Thursday 1st July in the first of a series of Thursday evening concerts throughout July. The evening is due to start at 8pm with a Taste Radol’ca culinary market in the Radovljica park, which is open to all, followed by the band at 9pm (ticketed event).
Those more interested in traditional Slovenian folk music can head for nearby Begunje na Gorenjskem where live music evenings have now resumed at Gostilna Avsenik (ticketed events) – the home of Slovenian folk music – with the Avsenik House Ensemble and other guest Slovenian folk music ensembles.
During this current heatwave, for many a cold beer is bound to hit the spot, so the Radovljica Craft Beer Festival, which takes place on Saturday 3rd July from 12noon onwards, is the place to be. The festival will be held in the Radovljica park and feature a food market with Slovenian craft beers and Taste Radol’ca food.
The Kropa Iron Forging Festival takes place on the same day, Saturday 3rd July. So, be sure to plan the day well and, in fact, why not head for Kropa first then stop off at Radovljica on the way back, but remember: Don’t drink and drive!
The festival will run from 10am to 6pm and includes free entrance to the Iron Forging Museum throughout the day, a reenactment of the life of Kropa’s blacksmiths with the Cofta Drama Group at 12noon in the Vigenjc Vice forge, a small craft market, open day at the UKO wrought iron factory, a demonstration of smelting iron ore, and more.
Also on the same day – yes, there’s more! – the regular monthly Vila Podvin farmers market takes place in the garden of Vila Podvin (one Michelin Star) from 10am to 12noon, where you can meet local producers and suppliers, and sample and buy their products.
Once you have recovered from all of the above, there are plenty of other events coming up through the month of July. Check out the events calendar for more details.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for somewhere (else) to ‘chill’, the Radovljica swimming pool is the ideal place to cool off at this time of year. I took this snap of it looking glorious in the sunshine earlier today from Obla gorica, the small hill behind the pool.
Note: many of the events are still subject to social distancing measures and are now ticketed, so be sure to check out the Visit Radol’ca website for the latest information.
Hooray, I am finally the bearer of some good news…it feels like a while since I’ve been able to say that!
Writing this feels a bit like groundhog day, as it was around this time last year that Slovenia began to exit its first lockdown and I published a similar blog on the subject. And here we are today, almost a year later and only now Radovljica, as well as the rest of Slovenia, is slowly beginning to re-open after three, seemingly endless, lockdowns.
Unfortunately, the vaccination programme is still going slowly – to date around one-fifth of the country’s 2 million residents has received at least one shot of a vaccine – but, notwithstanding, things are steadily moving in the right direction and finally, after 6 long months, the terraces of restaurants/bars etc. were able to re-open last week and as of yesterday (Monday 26 April) hotels and other accommodation facilities are able to open up to 30 rooms (regardless of the size of the property). Note, however, that a negative test or proof of vaccination is required to stay in an type of accommodation (camps included).
So, now you, well we if I include myself, can actually begin to start thinking about planning holidays, something that has seemed unthinkable for a long time now. And since most of us will no doubt – sensibly – prefer to avoid places overrun by mass tourism, it is destinations such as Radol’ca that come into their own with its boutique accommodation and numerous hiking trails and other off the beaten track attractions. So, here are a few ideas to help you in planning your visit to Radovljica – whether for a few hours, a few days, or even longer!
After record snowfall in some places, it’s still very much winter in Slovenia’s high mountains, fortunately here in Radol’ca there are plenty of hiking trails at lower altitudes. I’ve written about such trails on numerous occasions, so a quick search back through previous blog posts using key words will turn up plenty of info on hikes to, for example, Suharna, the Vodiška planina mountain hut, the Roblekov dom mountain hut, St. Peter’s church above Begunje na Gorenjskem, and more.
Of course, after all that fresh air and activity you will be in need of some sustenance, and you certainly won’t go hungry at Taste Radol’ca restaurants, the ethos of which is using seasonal, locally sourced, ingredients. At the time of writing, some of the restaurants have yet to re-open, since they are currently only allowed to serve customers outside on the terrace and for those with smaller terraces it is not worth their while re-opening. However, it is to be hoped that it won’t be too long until they are able to fully re-open. Radol’ca even has a Michelin-starred restaurant – Vila Podvin – as well as several other fine dining restaurants and numerous rural inns.
In terms of accommodation, there’s plenty to choose, from river-side camps to apartments, guest houses and other boutique accommodation.
In terms of events, it’s still a bit early to say what will and won’t take place this year. The Radovljica Chocolate Festival, which was cancelled last year and postponed this year, is provisionally scheduled to take place on 11th and 12th September this year, while the organisers are hoping that others events, such as the Craft Beer Festival and live music and food on Thursdays evenings in the square, will be able to go ahead in summer, in some form or another. But at the moment it’s a case of watch this space to see how things pan out.
Of course, all the above-mentioned are in the Radol’ca area itself, meaning there’s still a whole host of other places waiting to be explored in the surrounding areas; the Julian Alps and Triglav National Park are on the doorstep, Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj are close, Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana is just a cca. 40 minute drive, and even places such as the Postojna caves, the Soča valley, and Slovenia’s coast are all within a 1-2 hour drive – nothing is that far away in Slovenia!
So, I hope I have provided you with some food for thought and ideas to help your holiday planning and, as and when there is (even) more news about more things opening up, I’ll be in touch with more up-to-date info, or, in the meantime, do feel free to drop me a line if you need more info. Always happy to help, well, within reason that is!
The Radol’ca area is synonymous with Elan – the world-famous producer of skis, and now you can find out more about the company’s history and innovative products whilst enjoying some interactive fun at the new Elan Alpine Skiing Museum.
The museum is located at the company’s production unit in Begunje na Gorenjskem, just a short distance from Radovljica. It was opened in 2018 by the legendary Swedish skier Ingemar Stenmark, who competed using Elan skis throughout his entire career. The first pair of skis on which Stenmark competed in World Cup races is among the museum’s exhibits.
Elan was established in 1945 upon the initiative of the ski jumper and ski maker Rudi Finžgar (1920-1955) who in 1941, despite being young and inexperienced, became the first Slovenian ski jumper to jump over 100 metres. The company quickly became known for its innovative and trend-setting designs.
The museum showcases Elan’s 70-year history and its sources of inspiration for the future,
There are also exhibits showing some of the achievements of the company’s other divisions, including boats, aeroplanes, sports equipment and wind turbines.
The exhibits are spread over two floors in the small museum. Upstairs you can get a glimpse into a workshop…
…test your balance on skis and a snowboard – not as easy as it looks…
…and there is a chance to test your skills and get interactive on the ski simulator. Needless to say, I didn’t score top marks but it was fun having a go nonetheless and a pretty good workout too!
The museum is open Tuesdays – Saturdays from 10am-6pm and offers a great experience for all the family, even for non-skiers like me!
Adjoining the museum is the Elan Sports Shop, which is crammed with sports apparel, both Elan’s own-brand products and other brand names, which you can access from outside or alternatively once you make it past the finish line!
The festive season is upon us and Radovljica’s cute old town centre is looking postcard-pretty. But don’t just take my word for it, take a look at the video below to see more, and/or come and see it for yourself!
The switching-on of the Christmas lights took place yesterday in Radovljica’s Linhart Square, together with a St. Nicholas market and the closing event of this year’s Taste Radol’ca.
The old town centre was packed full of people eagerly awaiting the official start of the festive season. The mayor invited some of the younger among the spectators to help him switch on the lights.
And the street food offered by Taste Radol’ca restaurants proved to be a hit too!
There’s something for all the family including an Advent Market and numerous entertainers and performers in Linhart Square, among them fairytale horses and dogs, the excellent Ana Snežna street theatre, the Čupakabra stilt walkers, Grandfather Frost, young dancers of ballet and other contemporary dances, orchestras featuring pupils from Radovljica Music School, storytellers, shows and workshops for children, and more!
Radovljica’s ice rinkofficially opened on Friday and will be open throughout the winter from 3pm-6pm midweek and from 10am-6pm at weekends, school holidays and public holidays.
Admission for children with their own skates is FREE, while the price is just €2 for adults. Skate hire is available and You can warm up after skating with hot tea and mulled wine from the friendly team at Kofler Sports, who also offer skating courses for beginners(like me!).
A great way to find out more about Radovljica and see more of its attractions is on the family ‘Find Grandfather Frost’s Postbox‘ orientation adventure. Drop by the Radovljica Tourist Information Centre to pick up a copy of the instruction leaflet then follow the coloured arrows to various points in the old town centre and nearby park.
At each interactive point take an interesting, funny and original photograph with your nearest and dearest, and, if you share your photo on the Facebook page of Radovljica’s Tourist Information Centre – @Visit Radol’ca – you could be in with the chance of winning a prize.
Tis the season to be jolly, so come on down and join the festive fun!
To end, albeit a bit early, Merry Christmas to one and all from me!
It may only be the 4th of November, i.e. the start of the Month of Taste Radol’ca, but I’ve already managed to wolf down, or rather ‘savour’, three delicious Taste Radol’ca meals. And all this hardship is in the name of blogging – just for you! Oh dear, I fear it’s going to be a calorific month ahead!
Gostišče Draga never disappoints, be it for a mid-week meal, Sunday lunch, a special occasion, or a Taste Radol’ca meal. In the years that I have been living in Radovljica, this restaurant has gone from strength-to-strength, and continues to do so.
Much of what chef and owner Aleš Tavčar magics up in the kitchen comes from the family farm, so you really know you are getting locally produced food. What they can’t source themselves, they get from local suppliers.
My partner in dine (see what I did there?!) for the evening was Radol’ca’s award-winning beekeeper, Erik Luznar, whose honey can be found in two of the dishes on the Taste Radol’ca menu, so it’s only fitting that he got a chance to try them too!
The family-run Gostišče Tulipan in Lesce has long been a staple among locals. Thanks to its numerous rooms and thus large capacity, it is a particularly popular place to hold various celebrations, but is also just as popular due to its good, honest Slovenian cuisine.
The four-course Taste Radol’ca menu is exceptional value. In fact, all Taste Radol’ca meals during the month of November are great value at just €18 for three or four courses.
So, that’s three down, six to go, if I don’t burst out of my trousers before then! Browse the menus, take your pick and Taste Radolca – I might just see you there!
There are 9 restaurantsthat co-operate in Taste Radol’ca, and every year the opening dinner is held at a different venue. This year it was the turn of Joštov hram in Podnart where, as has become the tradition, all the talented Taste Radol’ca chefs combined their skills, knowledge and creativity, culminating in a unique menu and a wonderful, memorable evening.
Photo: Boris Pretnar for Visit Radol’ca
The evening began with a farmers’ market and a chance to meet local producers and try some of their produce and products direct from the farm.
And we had a chance to sample a few Taste Radol’ca treats to keep us warm too!
Throughout the evening music was provided by the excellent band Suho cvetje, who first played outdoors as a backdrop for the farmers’ market, and then moved indoors. Their unique style of music was just perfect for such an intimate venue, not overpowering and the perfect compliment to the jovial atmosphere.
At 7pm it was time for the main event, and we were ushered to our tables to let the feasting begin!
The whole focus of Taste Radol’ca is that all dishes are prepared using exclusively local ingredients, thus supporting local farmers and producers and ensuring an absolute minimum number of food miles. The other essence is that everyone mucks in, there are no egos at play here, it’s a case of ‘all hands on deck’ as all the chefs work in harmony with spectacular results. In addition to joining forces in the kitchen, the chefs, as well as restaurant owners and staff, all muck in too!
We began with a cold starter consisting of game pate, salami, hummus, pumpkin and mini peppers, prepared by Gostišče Draga and Gostišče Tulipan.
The soup was a particular treat for me – parsnip soup – parsnips are very rarely seen in supermarkets and almost never on the menus of restaurants, so bravo Vila Podvin and Lambergh Restaurant for using this wonderful vegetable! It was served with tortellini filled with mohant cheese – a distinctively pungent and whiffy cheese from the Bohinj area – served with hazelnuts, yoghurt and honey.
The hot starter was porcini mushrooms, from beneath Roblek, with locally-farmed trout and spinach, prepared by Gostilna Avguštin and Gostilna Pr’Tavčar.
The main course, courtesy of Joštov hram, Gostilna Kunstelj and Gostilna Lectar, was a mouthwatering combination of Kraskopolje pig wrapped in bacon with bean puree, roasted pepper sauce and spring onions.
With a nod to this year’s theme of honey, dessert, the brainchild of Gostilna Kunstelj and Gostilna Lectar, featured honeyed milk with a bee-shaped honeybread to dunk served with succulent honey cake.
And this is but the start, there is still the whole month of November ahead to enjoy meals at all the 9 Taste Radol’ca restaurants – Joštov hram, Gostilna Avguštin, Gostilna Lectar, Gostišče Draga, Gostilna Pr’Tavčar, Lambergh Restaurant, Vila Podvin, Gostilna Kunstelj and Gostišče Tulipan.
And to give you even more incentive, if you visit at least 5 restaurants by the end of November and collect a stamp at each one, you will receive two vouchers for food at the Taste Radol’ca closing event, which will take place on 1st December together with the switching-on of the Christmas lights and the opening of the Advent Market.
I hope this has whetted your appetite to try more – I know it has mine; Taste Radol’ca here I come! Check out the menus here to help you decide where to go (first)!
Autumn, thus far, has been a very mixed bag! There have been some beautifully warm, sunny days, but also some bitingly cold, crisp mornings, with the first frost already on 25th September – the coldest September morning since 1977, whereas last year it was exactly a month later, on 25th October, when it was time to start scraping the ice of the car windscreen!
However, some things about autumn are stalwarts, among them the magnificent colours of nature and tasty food in Radol’ca!
Hiking in the Radol’ca area, and in particular in the Karavanke mountains, is wonderful in autumn, especially if you set off on one of those pleasantly warm days, as was the case on my hike last week to Begunščica (2,060m) from the Draga valley, when the views and visibility were quite astounding.
Even the sheep grazing just beneath the peak looked happy that the sky was so blue – and, trust me, no photo-shopping was required, it really was that blue!
And since all that hiking works up and appetite, on to the subject of food – my other great love!
Restaurant Week takes place bi-annually, in spring and in autumn, and makes dining at some of Slovenia’s finest restaurants accessible and affordable to all.
This year 100 restaurants are taking part in Spring Restaurant Week and from 12th – 21st October will offer fixed menus for just €18 per person. Reservations are essential, and many of the restaurants get booked up early, so don’t delay, book today!
This year’s opening event will take place on Friday 26th October at gostilna Joštov hram in Podnart. The evening will begin at 5pm with a farmers’ market, followed by the opening dinner at 7pm.
As in previous years, all the talented Taste Radol’ca chefs will combine their skills, experience and creativity to create a unique and memorable dinner. Reservations can be made from 8th October at the Radovljica Tourist Information Centre. The price of the opening dinner is €39.00 (drinks excluded).
The theme of this year’s Month of Cuisine is honey. Radovljica, as the beekeeping capital of Slovenia, and in the year when World Bee Day was first celebrated, will also end the year on a culinary-based bee theme.
I’m looking forward to seeing what inventive menus the chefs will be cooking up for us this year, and I might, just might, blog about it too!
Sunday 20th May, in addition to being the first World Bee Day, also happened to be my birthday. So plenty of reason for celebration this year, even if it wasn’t a ‘special’ birthday (thank god!).
When deciding where to hold a small gathering for friends that would comprise great food, a beautiful setting, something active, and some beekeeping-related, the choice was obvious, it just had to be the Draga Valley in Begunje na Gorenjskem!
So, I set about making plans and my plans all came together rather well, even if I say so myself!
We began with an introduction to archery on the parkour archery course. Regular readers may recall, however, that I’m not a complete archery novice, as I went to check out the course last year when I spent a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon under the professional guidance of Robert Levstek.
Next came the beekeeping-related part of our afternoon, and for this I contacted the local beekeeper Erik Luznar, who has one of his many hives in the valley.
Since the average age of Slovenia’s 10,000 beekeepers is 57, Erik is certainly bucking the trend in this respect, and his youth, spirit and enthusiasm made listening to him waxing lyrical about his beloved bees both pleasurable and fascinating.
And also in contrast to the majority of Slovenia’s beekeepers, beekeeping is not just Erik’s passion and hobby, it is his livelihood. He offers varioustypes of honey (floral, acacia, forest, linden, chestnut, pine, fir), as well as royal jelly, pollen, propolis and beeswax. He also breeds queen bees, which are then sent throughout the world. So, whilst in the Radovljica area, if you would like to have a tour of his hives – independently or as part of a Taste Radol’ca tour – find out more about Slovenian beekeeping, or buy some of his award-winning honey or other bee products, he’s your man! Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Of course, no good celebration is complete without great food, and in the Draga Valley that comes in spades at Gostišče Draga, one of the participating Taste Radol’ca restaurants. If you want to enjoy a drink or three without worrying about getting home, there are rooms available above the restaurant too!
Since the Draga Valley is also an excellent starting point for hikes in the Karavanke mountains, the restaurant is a very popular choice for some post-hiking sustainance, but is equally as popular as somewhere to enjoy great Slovenian cuisine – in summer in the cool of the garden next to the stream, in winter next to the roaring wood burner.
Continuing with the honey theme, we dined well on dishes such as rumpsteak in pepper and honey sauce, štruklji with honey, and other savoury delights, and not forgetting a cake, too!
For an added twist, throughout the evening there was a chance to taste many varieties of honey, with the aim of guessing which was which.
Then, to see how much we had all taken in from Erik’s educational session, I had prepared a quiz about Slovenian beekeeping, too! Of course, this meant a bit of work on my part too. I felt like a school teacher marking tests!
For the perfect end to the evening, I was given some lovely birthday gifts, including vouchers for massages (can’t wait Simona Slegel!) and this hand-embroidered apron that reads ‘Ta prava Radol’canka‘. Radol’canka is the word used for a female from Radovljica, so it reads ‘A real Radol’canka‘!
So, as you can see, the Draga Valley is a one-stop destination for active and tasty outings, and with a bit of added ingenuity and forward planning, a great place for group celebrations and events. Thanks to everyone who contributed to a lovely evening!