The Blacksmiths Festival + Hiking, Cycling and Mushrooms galore!

Summer is well and truly here – hooray! And with it come numerous fairs, festivals and other outdoors events, as well as myriad opportunities for hiking, cycling, swimming and enjoying the great outdoors.

I had a pretty active weekend myself. On Saturday I went by bike from Radovljica to Bohinjska Bela, the other side of Bled, from where I then hiked up to Galetovec, beginning at the climbing area by the Iglica waterfall. You can read more about hiking to Galetovec in this previous post –


On Sunday I went by bike through the Radovna valley, which is always the place I head to bike when the heat is on as the cycle path leads mostly alongside the Radovna river and in the cool of the forest beneath the Mežakla and Pokljuka plateaus. I returned on the D2 cycle path from Mojstrana to Jesenice, and then by road back to Radovljica. You can read more about cycling in Radovna in this previous post –


Other than that I was keeping cool in the shade of the forest, which isn’t hard to do when Slovenia is 60% covered by forest. I even got lucky and found my first mushrooms of the year which were delicious cooked up with chard from my vegetable plot!


On Saturday it was also the annual Blacksmiths Festival (Kovaški smaren) in the village of Kropa, the cradle of Slovene iron-forging. The village, which sits snugly at the far eastern edge of the Jelovica plateau, is crammed with interesting sights and architecture and preserved technical heritage which is showcased during the annual festival. There were demonstrations of hand forging of nails in the Vigenjc Vice Blacksmiths Museum, a small handicraft market, old-time bikes, open days at the Blacksmiths Museum and the Fovšaritnica Museum House, as well as at the headquarters of UKO Kropa, which is keeping the iron-forging tradition alive in Kropa and specialise in all manner of wrought iron furnishings and fittings.

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Kropa is one of the destinations that can be visited on the Hop-On Hop-Off tourist bus which is now operating. The bus visits Kropa on Tuesdays on the route which also includes Bled, Radovljica and Kamna Gorica. As the name implies, you can get on and off the bus at the various place along the route and either wander at your own leisure or participate in one of the guided tours. The bus also runs on Thursdays additionally to Begunje and Brezje, and at weekends to Triglav National Park. More information can be found here –

The nation was saddened by the news of the death last week of the legendary Slavko Avsenik, the founder of Slovene national folk music. The music of the Avsenik brothers is popular worldwide, particularly in neighbouring European countries, but also farther afield. The family home, and venue for the Avsenik Festival, regular concerts, gallery and museum, is at Pr’Jožovcu in Begunje na Gorenjskem. To date they have produced over 1000 songs, which are now being performed by younger generations of the family, so there is no doubt that his music will live on forever.

© AdeleinSlovenia 2015

Cycling and Ceramics – The Radovna Valley and Radovljica

Phew, what a scorcher of a weekend. Temperatures were, and still are, up in the high-twenties/early thirties and the sights, sounds and smells of summer abound. I’m in my element at this time of year as I love the heat, the wild flowers in the meadows, hearing the chirp of crickets, the cloudless blue skies, trying the myriad flavours of ice-cream (illuminous blue ‘Smurf’ flavour anyone?!), and of course pursuing all my favourite sporting activities, in particular, cycling.

On Sunday I set off for my first, of doubtless many, of this year’s rides through the Radovna valley, which is always an oasis of cool when temperatures soar. The start of the 16km Radovna Cycle Route officially begins where the village of Gorje ends and the road begins to climb upwards toward the Pokljuka plateau. From here a right turn leads downhill to cross a bridge over the Radovna river, for the first of many ‘wow’ moments of the ride.

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The Radovna Valley is between the Mežakla and Pokljuka plateaus and is part of Triglav National Park. Though it is usual to encounter a few cars along the path, they are fortunately fairly few and far between (and in fact today I only met a few motorbikes and no cars at all) as the road is mostly unmade and best explored by bike. I certainly hope it remains this way as cars travelling along the road create a lot of dust which is most unpleasant for cyclists and besides, there are more than enough roads elsewhere so I say ‘Leave this path to us cyclists!’. Along the route there are a number of places to stop, information boards and sights of interest such as the Psnak Mill, the burnout ruins of Radovna and the Napoleon Stone, as seen below. According to tradition, the Emperor Napoleon’s initials were carved into the stone when his army was said to have marched though the valley at the beginning of the 19th century.

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My ride however was significantly longer as I set off from home, first to Bled then on through Gorje to the Radovna valley. Instead of then continuing to the head of the valley I took a right turn across the pastureland and past the popular Psnak Tourist Farm and restaurant, from where there are breathtaking views of the Julian Alps rising up above the Kot and Krma valleys – definitely right up there among my favourite views around – and then up the short but sharp 18% incline before the long well-earned descent to the village of Mojstrana. From there it was a short section of road riding to meet up with the D2 cycle path again in Jesenice, back through Zirovnica, and then via the Imperial road to return to Radovljica. I don’t have any type of bike GPS or other measuring device, as I’m not one for obsessing over measuring distances, but I’d guestimate the round trip is at least 60km. You can see more pictures on my Pinterest page.

Despite Slovenia being crammed full of unspoilt countryside, forests and quiet backwaters, unfortunately it does lag behind somewhat when it comes to designated cycle paths, something that was evident, as it is every weekend and holiday during fine weather, by the lengthy procession of bike-laden cars I witnessed this morning heading towards the Mojstrana to Kranjska Gora cycle path – one of the few safe, traffic free i.e. family-friendly, routes in this area. Progress is however being (slowly) made and the D2 route has now been extended through Jesenice, meaning it is no longer necessary to ride on the road through the town itself. The final part of the link of the D2 from Jesenice to Mojstrana has yet to be completed and remains only suitable for those with mountain bikes.

Saturday was more of a working day for me, however I did find time to pop along to the International Ceramics Festival in Radovljica’s old town centre to browse the stalls, take a few photos and taste some of the food on offer from some of the Taste Radol’ca restaurants, namely Gostilna Kunstelj and Jostov Hram – as pictured below. The brightly coloured bowls were painted by children from primary schools in Radovljica and the surrounding villages.

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Next weekend Bled will be hosting the 59th International Rowing Regatta. The event will begin on Friday with elimination heats starting at 4pm, with final events taking place on both Saturday and Sunday from 9am – 12.30pm, Lake Bled has long been a favourite and important location for some of the world’s major rowing events. Many national and international regattas are held there, as have been World Championships, and local oarsmen have successfully brought home numerous medals from major championships and Olympic games.

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© AdeleinSlovenia 2014