The Karavanke Mountains – Majestic Mt. Begunščica

At 2060m, Begunščica is amongst the highest mountains in the Karavanke range, and a favourite destination among locals and those looking for a moderately challenging and very scenic hike.

The approximately 120-kilometre-long Karavanke mountain range forms a natural border between Slovenia, to the south, and Austria, to the north. Thus, in late-spring it’s not uncommon for there to be snow on the northern facing slopes of the Karavanke, whilst it’s green on the sunny Slovenian side!

Green and sunny to the south, snowy to the north!

There are several ways to reach the summit; the most popular among them is to start from the Draga Valley in Begunje na Gorenjskem. If coming from Radovljica, drive through the village and continue in the direction of Tržič, then on the left you will see the road towards the valley. The valley is a popular starting point for hikes in the Karavanke range. The routes are well-marked and signposts show approximate walking times.

I recommend taking time to stop in the village of Begunje na Gorenjskem to have a stroll around the park, and also at the entrance to the Draga Valley to see the ruins of Kamen Castle.

Continue to the end of the valley to the parking area and from there you set off on foot. You can choose to either go via Preval on the first part of the Shepherd’s Trail, which is the more direct, short, but steeper route, or hike first up to the Roblekov dom mountain hut (1657m), where you can stop for refreshments either on the way up or down – or of course both ways! You can find more information about the Shepherd’s Trail here – http://www.radolca.si/en/shepherds-trail-begunje/

Looking down on the Preval mountain hut on the path up towards Begunščica

If you choose the route to Preval, it takes a good hour from the valley to reach the Koča na Prevalu mountain hut, again an optional break for refreshments here – then prepare yourself for the very steep path directly up to the summit. Here you leave the Shepherd’s Trail and take the marked path to Begunščica which, at times, can feel like an almost vertical ascent. However, apart from one small rocky section, it isn’t overly exposed and is manageable for competent and experienced hikers.

As you approach the summit you can’t fail to notice the ‘carpet’ of sheep droppings from the sheep that are taken to graze on the slopes of Begunščica during summer! I always wonder how on earth so few sheep manage to produce so many droppings! At the summit there is an orientation table which provides assistance when you are gobsmacked by the stunning views and don’t know where to look first!

Personally I prefer to do the hike in the direction as I have described it: Draga – Preval – Begunščica – Roblek – Draga, as the descent from the summit to Roblek is easier and more ‘knee-friendly’ than the steep path from the summit down to Preval. I also like doing it this way as it makes it an entirely circular route.

The path from the summit down towards the Roblekov dom hut

Whilst there is no hut at the summit, there’s no shortage of huts to visit; in addition to the aforementioned Koča na Prevalu and Roblekov dom huts, there is also the Tomčeva koča hut (1180m) on the Poljška Planina highland and the hut on the Planina Planinca highland (1136m), both of which are found at approximately the halfway point between the Draga Valley and the Roblekov dom hut.

The hut on the Planina Planinca highland

You can find out more about this and other hiking routes nearby on the Tourism Radol’ca website here – http://www.radolca.si/en/hiking/

© Adele in Slovenia

NEW: Come Taste Radol’ca with Me!

COME ON A TASTE RADOL’CA FOOD TOUR WITH ME!

I had been mulling over the idea of offering Taste Radol’ca Food Tours for quite some time, and now, at last, I’ve found the time to bring it to fruition!

Until now Taste Radol’ca had largely been concentrated on the main event – the month-long special menus and events in November. However, since all the restaurants offer special Taste Radol’ca dishes year-round, I figured why not open up the opportunity for visitors to Radovljica to also have the opportunity to Taste Radol’ca year-round.

So, I set about arranging a get-together with restaurant owners and acquainting them with my idea, which they were all very enthusiastic about, and getting my head together with Iva from Ljubljananjam, who offers food tours of Ljubljana http://www.ljubljananjam.si/ and, hey presto, Taste Radol’ca Tours is go!

Wine Tasting at the Sodček Wine Bar

A Taste Radol’ca Tour is for you if:

  • You’d like to find out more about Slovenian food and wine
  • You would like to see AND taste Radol’ca
  • You can’t decide which of the great Taste Radol’ca restaurants to try
  • You are short of time and would like to taste a bit of everything
  • You would like a local, native English guide to show you round and give you some insider knowledge
  • You just love eating and drinking!

Štruklji at Gostilna Kunstelj

I’ve put together 4 suggested itineraries, which you can see below. However, all tours can also be custom-made according to your wishes. So just get in touch and we’ll take it from there.

  • A Classic Taste of Radol’ca
  • Wine Lovers’ Tour
  • Music, Mountains and a Taste of Tradition
  • Honey and Chocolate Tour

Chef Uroš’ magnificent chocolate creation at Vila Podvin

For more information about the tours see the Taste Radol’ca Tours section of this site here https://adeleinslovenia.com/taste-radolca-tours/, where you can also find an enquiry form to complete.

So, come and taste the sunny side of the Alps with me and I look forward to meeting some (more) of the readers of my blog and showing you just how beautiful and tasty Radol’ca really is!

© Adele in Slovenia

 

 

News from Radovljica May 2017

There’s been quite a lot happening in Radovljica of late. Well, in itself that’s nothing new, since there’s always something happening here even where there aren’t any major events – you just have to know where to look!

So, here’s a round-up of the latest news and information, including news about three exciting new additions to Radovljica’s range of boutique accommodation.

The 6th Radovljica Chocolate Festival was as roaring success. During the 3 days, over 50,000 people visited the festival and tasted tonnes of chocolate of all shapes, sizes and tastes.

Photo: Miran Kambič

There were so many highlights and novelties that it’s hard to single out one – the chocolate fashion show, the chocolate roulette, chocolate sculptures, entertainment for all the family, oh, and of course, eating (ok, in my case, gorging on) chocolate too! Seeing (and hearing!) the vintage steam train arrive on the Sunday of the festival was certainly among the highlights – both for the passengers and onlookers.

Photo: Miran Kambič

So you can plan ahead and be sure you don’t miss out on next year’s festival, Tourism Radol’ca have already revealed the date for the 7th Radovljica Chocolate Festival: 20 – 22nd April 2018.

The new family-run Linhart Hotel recently opened in the old town centre. This charming boutique hotel and coffee shop is located in the heart of the medieval old town centre. I went to check it out for myself yesterday and was seriously impressed! Original stone staircases, wooden beams, tastefully-decorated rooms, period furniture, not to mention delicious looking cakes in the coffee shop! More information here (note: website currently under construction) – http://www.linharthotel.com/ I’d stay there myself if I didn’t live just 5 minutes away!

A new hostel – Life Hostel Slovenia – opened its doors on 1st May. The hostel is situated in the heart of Radovljica in the Grajski dvor building. It is opposite the bus station and the town park and offers simple, comfortable rooms that are reasonably priced and more akin to a hotel than a hostel. Ideal for those looking for a budget-friendly option in a convenient location. More information here (note: website currently under construction) – http://www.life-hostel-slovenia.com/

The recently renovated and newly-opened Vila Sejalec in Lesce is ideal for families and/or groups of up to 8 people. The house is a unique example of a Gorenjska artistic villa and is available for short- or long-term stays. Among its unique features, Vila Sejalec has a well-stocked larder with products from the ethical shop 18sedem3, as well as period fixtures, fittings and art including works by one of Slovenia’s most renowned painters.

More information about Vila Sejalec can be found here – https://www.facebook.com/pg/VilaSejalec/photos/?ref=page_internal

For details of all the accommodation available in the Radovljica area – boutique hotels, bed and breakfasts, apartments, private rooms, tourist farms –  you can view the accommodation catalogue here – http://www.radolca.si/en/accommodation/

© Adele in Slovenia

The Radovljica Chocolate Festival 2017 – Hot Off the (Chocolate) Press!

So, it’s that time again. Chocolate Time! It’s hard to believe that this year marks the 6th year-in-a-row of the Radovljica Chocolate Festival and, of course, I’ve been to every one!

Last year the festival attracted around 55,000 visitors, and this year those numbers could even be exceeded, which is quite astounding for a festival which began as a humble one-day event back in 2012 and has since grown to become one of Slovenia’s main foodie events.

This year the festival is on for 3 days, beginning today on Friday 21st April at 3pm, and continuing on Saturday from 9am to 8pm and on Sunday from 9am to 7pm, so there’s still plenty of time!

In addition to the regular sales and tastings of chocolate, this year there are some new highlights and treats to look forward to.

This evening there is a premiere 6-course dinner at Vila Podvin, prepared by 3 of Slovenia’s top chefs and in collaboration with 20chocolate.

In the Chocolate Beauty Marquee the Roz’ca massage salon is offering chocolate hand massages using their own handmade cocoa butter cream using all natural ingredients. I couldn’t stop sniffing my hands, it really does smell good enough to eat! Those who have a hand massage during the festival are also entered into a prize draw to win a full body massage (the non-chocolate version!). More information here http://masaza-rozca.si/ and here https://www.facebook.com/Masaže-Rožca-Simona-Šlegel-sp-278814295512819/?fref=ts

A chocolate roulette, bet with chocolate and win chocolate – that’s got to be worth a flutter!

Chocolate sculptures

Meta Solar painting using chocolate, so original and resourceful and what an eye for detail! https://metasolar.si/tag/radovljica/

New to the festival this year is Čokoladni Hram which produces some unusual flavours of chocolate using speciality Slovenian ingredients, among them zaseka (minced lard), mohant (a very smelly cheese), and tarragon. Go on, be daring and give them a try, you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

As well as new, intriguing flavours of chocolate infused with tea at the Čajna Soba Tea Room. among them chocolate with black masala chai, honeybush caramel tea chocolate, dark chocolate with earl grey green tea…

In addition to chocolate, there’s plenty to see and do for all the family, including archery for children with Robert Levstek https://adeleinslovenia.com/2017/04/10/archery-adventures-and-delicious-draga-delights/

Children’s cookery workshops and dance classes.

Stilt walkers entertaining the crowds.

On Saturday at 2pm students from the Maribor Design School will be putting on a Chocolate Fashion Show, and on Sunday at 12 noon Gorenjka’s giant 95kg chocolate bar will be smashed and shared among the crowd.

Other highlights of the packed entertainment programme include culinary workshops with contestants on this year’s Slovenian Masterchefjugglers, magicians and other street entertainment, free concerts, a canine corner, chocolates and chocolate products for everyone, including for allergy suffers, organic chocolate, raw chocolate, chocolate scooter races – all this and much more! See the full programme herehttp://www.festival-cokolade.si/program-2017/

Congratulations to Tourism Radol’ca for another fantastic job organising the festival. The weather, for now at least, couldn’t be more perfect for such an event so, don’t miss out, there’s enough chocolate for everyone – even after I’ve had my fill!

© Adele in Slovenia

 

Spring in Radovljica Means Chocolate!

Yes, finally, after the coldest winter for over 30 years, spring is finally springing here in the Radovljica plains. And spring in Radovljica has come to mean chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate, due to the now annual Radovljica Chocolate Festival – this year taking place from Friday 21st – Sunday 23 April. How lucky I am that it takes place in my home town!

Though summer will always be my favourite season, spring isn’t far behind as it’s a time of blooming flowers, Easter, new-born lambs, longer days, warmer temperatures and, in case I haven’t already mentioned it, chocolate!

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Photo: Adele in Slovenia

To whet you appetite, and in case you missed it, here’s a recap of some of last year’s festival fun!

Guinness record was broken for the world’s largest chocolate bar by area. The chocolate bar was made by the Cukrček chocolatier and measured over 140 square metres, smashing the previous record of 102 square metres. It took over 300 hours to piece together the 28,000 pieces of chocolate.

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There was also a record number of chocolatiers and visitors to last year’s festival, and I have a feeling that this year, the 6th Radovljica Chocolate Festival, could be even bigger and better.

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Photo: Aleš Košir

For the first time last year visitors were able to travel to/from the festival by vintage steam train from Ljubljana.

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Photo: Adele in Slovenia

The packed programme also includes chocolate-related entertainment for all the family.

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Photo: Aleš Košir

What will this year’s festival bring? Well, the 2017 festival programme is still being prepared, but it will be available soon so keep your eye out on the festival website for updates – http://www.festival-cokolade.si/festival-2017/ as well as on the Visit Radol’ca Facebook pagehttps://www.facebook.com/RadolcaHonestlySweet/

© Adele in Slovenia

 

Like Beekeeping? Love Radovljica!

Those interested in beekeeping should definitely make a beeline for Radovljica!

The Radovljica area has a wealth of beekeeping-related sights of interest, all within close proximity, thus making it ideal place to visit for beekeepers or those with an interest in beekeeping.

One such example is the group of 38 beekeepers from Estonia who I helped with their plans to visit Radovljica.

Whilst the main purpose of their trip was beekeeping-related activities, they also managed to find time to do some sightseeing in Ljubljana, took a traditional pletna boat to the island on Lake Bled, and visited Vintgar Gorge.

The main beekeeping day began with a visit to Kralov med in the hamlet of Selo near Bled, where owner Blaž Ambrožič told them everything, and more, that they could possibly want to know about beekeeping in Slovenia. I wrote more extensively about my visit to Kralov med in a previous blog, also about World Bee Day, which you can read here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/2016/05/17/world-bee-day-the-anton-jansa-honey-route/

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The undoubted highlight, whether a beekeeper or not, is the chance to see and experience up close the hive found on a nearby tree trunk and transported to its current home. The fact you can get so close is testament to the calm nature of Slovenia’s Carniolan grey bee.

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Next the group came to Radovljica, beginning at the Tourist Information Centre where they tasted local honey and chocolate, and had the chance to buy some gifts to take home. They even brought us some of their own Estonian honey, which, as you can see, the staff enjoyed tasting!

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We then took a stroll through the medieval old town to see the main sights of interest – the Šivec House Gallery, the Radovljica Mansion, St. Peter’s Church, and the other wonderful frescoed buildings.

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Then it was on to the viewpoint for wonderful views of the Julian Alps, the Jelovica plateau and the Sava river.

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The next stop was to Lectar Inn to watch the process of making and decorating the traditional ‘lectar’ gingerbread’ hearts, made with honey, of course!

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And a chance to buy souvenirs and/or gifts for loved ones.

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Having seen Radovljica, it was then time to Taste Radol’ca, with a traditional Slovene lunch, also at Lectar Inn, one of the participating Taste Radol’ca restaurants. During lunch, the owner Jože entertained us with a few of his favourite songs played on the harmonica – never something to be missed!

The final stop in Radovljica was to the Museum of Apiculture, housed in the Radovljica Mansion, where visitors can learn all about the history of beekeeping in Slovenia, watch a video (narrated in English by me!), and in summer watch the bees hard work diligently in the hive.

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The group’s very last stop on the jam-packed, or should I say honey-packed, day, was to the Gorenjska Beekeeping Development and Education Centre in Lesce. You can read more about the centre and its wide-ranging activities here – http://www.radolca.si/en/gorenjska-region-beekeeping-development-and-education-centre/

So, as you can see, the Radovljica area really is a beekeeper’s paradise!

If you’d like any more information about Slovenian beekeeping, or are interested in taking a tour of the town and/or visiting some of the above-mentioned sights, feel free to get in touch or contact Tourism Radol’ca – http://www.radolca.si/en/

© Adele in Slovenia

Genuine warmth, hospitality and Slovenian food at Globočnik

On a cold winter’s evening, I recently paid a(nother) visit to the Globočnik Excursion Farm (Izletniška kmetija Globočnik), where there is always a guaranteed warm welcome together with genuine hospitality and traditional Slovenian food – I just love this place!

Situated in the tiny hamlet of Globoko, next to the Sava river, this centuries-old farmhouse is extra cosy during the winter thanks to the log fire and wood-burning stove. The house dates back to 1628 and contains an original black-kitchen.

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The house really has a unique ambience and you feel right at home from the minute you step inside, much in part to the owner Cene – a larger-than-life character with a wealth of tales to tell – ably assisted by his wife, Nika.

On the day I visited, they were holding their annual demonstration and tasting of ‘koline‘ – the traditional preparation of various sausages from the winter pig slaughter. As you can see from the photo below, at Globočnik, it is still done the traditional way.

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A lot of muscle is required, though, so it’s ‘all hands on deck!’

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On this annual traditional day, one of the farm’s neighbours, who is known as a ‘star bread baker’ also comes to join in to ensure there is delicious just-baked bread to accompany the meat feast! With that many years experience of bread baking under her belt, you just know it’s going to be great bread!

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Made in the traditional way and using original equipment together with lots of TLC!

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And the results speak for themselves!

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As was the rest of the food, which sure hits the spot on a chilly winter’s night!

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I could still just about do up my jeans after the feast! And yes, that is flour all over my jumper, nothing like getting stuck in!

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The atmosphere was made even warmer thanks to zither and accordion music.

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And beautiful singing which soon had people up on their feet!

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For the past 2 years, Globočnik has also been one of the participating Taste Radol’ca restaurants, where the focus is on locally produced ingredients.

Dishes available include cold-cut platters and various soups to start; main courses such as grilled sausages, black-pudding, roast pork, stewed beef or roast duck, goulash, tripe, and various stews; a wide selection of side dishes such as steamed sauerkraut, roast potatoes, turnips, buckwheat with mushrooms, cheese štruklji; and desserts such as apple strudel and stuffed apples with walnuts and honey.

Note – The Globočnik Excursion Farm is only at weekends (or at other times upon prior arrangement) and reservations are essential. Unfortunately, however, the website is in Slovene only, and somewhat outdated – top marks for food and hospitality but technology really isn’t their thing, though we forgive them – so the best bet is to call 040 736 930 and if you need any help or more information, you can always turn to me and I’ll endeavour to help.

© Adele in Slovenia