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!
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…
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.
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.
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!
These days I mostly make my living from translating – from Slovenian into English – which, like every job, has its ups and downs. The pluses, among others, are that I’m my own boss, I work from home and can set my own working hours (to some extent), while the minuses, among others, is that often clients have very short (and unrealistic!) deadlines! And that, too, was the case when I began to work on the translation of a new book on beekeeping, however, in this case it transpired that the interesting content and efforts of all those involved made it all worthwhile.
And so, the book titled ‘Living Together. About Bees and Mankind‘ has now been published, and herewith a brief story of its creation, the author behind it, and its importance.
Petra Bole, the director of Radovljica Municipal Museums, which include the Museum of Apiculture, is the brains behind the book, which was published to coincide with the newly renovated museum and as a protocol gift on the occasion of Slovenia’s Presidency of the Council of the EU in 2021.
The 300 page book contains stunning photos and covers beekeeping-related topics such as art, bees and the past, bees and mankind, and nature.
On the occasion of its publication, Petra invited us – the team behind the book (from left to right: Barbara Bogataj – designer; me(!) – translator; Ivan Esenko – photographer; Petra Bole – author; Mihaela Pichler Radanov – editor) to a little gathering in the garden of the Šivec House Gallery to celebrate.
It is, of course, fitting that such a book has been written here in Radovljica – home to the Museum of Apiculture with its brand new exhibition, the Beekeeping Education Centre of Gorenjska, and numerous beekeepers and their colourful apiaries, and the Follow a ‘Bee’ Through Radovljica Family Adventure – and by a local resident, who, since becoming director of Radovljica Municipal Museums, has also taken up beekeeping herself!
Find out more about beekeeping in the Radovljica area here, and, if you are planning a visit to the Radovljica area this autumn, be(e) sure to do, or see, something bee-related, and in doing so play your part in recognising the importance of, and helping to preserve, our precious bees!
The Zijavka (505m) viewpoint above the village of Kamna Goricain the Lipnica valleyis an ideal destination for an easy family walk (and for any unfortunate souls like me who are plagued by balance, or similar, problems, and can’t hike up to lofty heights!).
If you are arriving by car, then park your car at, or near, the sports ground in Kamna Gorica, then cross the main road towards the shrine.
Then past some cute, friendly sheep – though I can’t guarantee they will be there (or that they will be so friendly!) at the time of your visit!
After cca. 150 metres you reach a junction of paths, where there is an information board showing the various onward routes.
For the best views, take the path to Zijalka, which leads up to the right through the forest. After just a few hundred metres you reach a junction of paths, where you can make a quick diversion to see an interesting rock formation (photo opportunity!), before returning to the junction and taking the path straight ahead.
Continue on the path, which gently ascends through the forest. You don’t really need hiking poles for this walk, as it’s easy and short, however, my current lack of balance (read my previous blog post here to find out more) means they are (almost literally!) a lifesaver for me right now.
After about 15 minutes you reach the Zijalka viewpoint, from where there are magnificent views over the village of Kamna Gorica with the Jelovica plateau in the background.
You can see the Church of the Holy Trinity, the Sextons’ Museum House (the building to the left of the church), the linden tree in the centre of the village, and the houses in this former iron forging village. And, after having seen them from above, why not head back down for a stroll through the village to check out what they look like up close!
To end, just a brief update on the COVID situation here. The tourist season is in full swing, with the majority of camps and other accommodation facilities in the area full, or almost full (mostly with people driving here from other parts of Europe). There are, however, still some restrictions in place, primarily the ‘tested/recovered/vaccinated’ requirement to enter Slovenia, and masks are still required in some enclosed places. Virus numbers are beginning to creep up again, however, so do ensure you check ahead of your visit if anything has changed.
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!
A follower of my blog in Canada recently wrote to me asking if I could write a post about Slovenian recipes, so how could I refuse to comply! So, Mary in Canada, this one is for you!
Since all the restaurants, bars, cafes etc. are (still) closed – it’s been like this here since the end of October last year – we (both the owners of such establishments and the public at large) have had to get used to cooking more at home whilst also taking advantage of the take-away food on offer at selected places. Many of the Taste Radol’ca restaurants have been offering take-away food and, in fact, it has actually been to my advantage in some respect that chefs have had more time to ‘play’ in their kitchens, and Aleš Tavčar, head chef and owner of Gostišče Draga in the Draga valley in Begunje na Gorenjskem, finally found time to make me a glut of gluten-free štruklji to go in my freezer.
And since štruklji really are something unbeknown to most of the world, they were the first thing that sprung to mind when deciding which Slovenian recipe to first write about.
Štruklji at Gostišče Draga
The recipe and photos shown below are for gluten-free štruklji, which, due to gluten being what provides the ‘elastic’ in dough mixes, are slightly different to ‘regular’ štruklji. Therefore, I should stress that ‘normal’ flour will provide you with a better result and your štruklji will look and taste somewhat better too, so unless you have to avoid gluten (coeliac disease in my case, though others have an intolerance and/or choose not to eat it for other reasons) you can use the same quantity of regular flour. These days I’m just happy to be able to eat them, even if they aren’t exactly as I remember them in my pre-coeliac days.
The full recipe with quantities is at the end of this post.
First gather the ingredients for the dough – flour, salt, egg, vinegar, water, oil.
Combine them well but don’t overwork the dough.
Shape the dough into a round loaf shape.
Next, make the filling using curd cheese, eggs, sour cream and salt.
Mash (or mince) the curd cheese well, add the eggs and sour cream then season with salt.
Roll out the dough – after watching the ‘pro’, I was allowed to help with this part!
Spread a generous amount of the filling mix over the dough.
Next its time to roll the štruklji then lift them gently onto lightly oiled foil or a non-stick cloth before steaming or cooking into salted simmering water.
This is the basic, traditional way of cooking and serving štruklji, but these days, in terms of how you choose to eat them and what kind of fillings/flavours you add, the sky’s the limit. You can eat them as a main course, a side dish or even chocolate štruklji for dessert. I’ve yet to find a flavour I don’t like!
At Gostišče Draga you can try a savoury version with a mushroom sauce…
…or, my preferred option, topped with cranberry sauce for a savoury/sweet taste.
Until the restaurant is able to reopen – and in fact also thereafter too as they have proved to be such a success – you can buy some of Gostišče Draga’s dishes and home produce from the family farm in jars. The range include goulash, jota, bograč and various pickled vegetables. Aleš and Tina have certainly not been resting on their laurels during this long lockdown – all credit to them. The jars can be bought direct at the restaurant (at weekends), at the Lesce farmers market (Friday afternoons/Saturday mornings), from the vending machine outside Gostilna Kunstelj, and at various local shops as well as further afield.
370g flour (gluten-free or regular)
pinch of salt
1kg curd cheese
200g sour cream
Make the dough by mixing together the flour, eggs, water, vinegar and oil then shape into a round loaf.
Make the filling by mashing/mincing the curd cheese then add the eggs and sour cream and season with salt.
Roll out the dough – it should be very thin – ???? then spread over the filling. Roll the štruklji into a Swiss roll shape then lift gently onto lightly oiled foil or a non-stick cloth and roll to fully encase the štruklji. Steam for 45 minutes or cook into salted simmering water for 30 minutes.