Slovenia’s Karavanke mountains are, without a doubt, at their most beautiful during the autumn months, and this year is no exception, especially when the autumn weather is as glorious as it has been these past couple of weeks. It doesn’t exactly make-up for the dreadful “summer” we encountered this year, and is all set to end tomorrow with temperatures forecast to plummet, but it has at least provided a welcome respite from battling the elements.
So on Sunday morning, after a particularly busy week spent largely working at the computer, I decided it was time for a bit of ‘me time’! However, seeing as I knew I still had a mountain of work awaiting me at home, I needed to go somewhere not too far from home, yet far enough to make me feel I’d had a few hours away from the usual environment. This is one of the pitfalls of being self-employed and working from home. Of course it has its upsides too but, as with all jobs, there are the inevitable downsides and for me isolation and constantly being in one room are the predominant ones.
Anyway, fortunately I’m surrounded by the most stunning scenery so when moments of calm and respite are needed from time-to-time, they are never far away. Totting up all the options and taking into account the limited time, the position of the early-morning sun, and where I hadn’t been for a long while, I decided to head to Ljubelj for a walk up the Zelenica ski piste and onward to the peak of Srednji vrh.
The Zelenica ski slopes are set between the mighty north-walls of Begunščica and Vrtača to the south (at 2060m and 2181m respectively, the 7th and 5th highest of the Karavanke range). There are stunning views across the Podljubelj valley to the east and the Završnica valley to the west.
Due to unfavourable snow conditions, and the consequent financial implications, unfortunately the ski resort has not been in regular operation for the past couple of years. However, the mountain hut Dom na Zelenici was renovated a few years back and regardless of the season, or whether the ski piste is operating, this is still a very popular area year-round with hikers and also ski tourers who simply put their skis on their backs and walk up to one of the surrounding peaks before skiing back down. Ski touring is popular in Slovenia and it also means, as in this case, that the lack of operational chairlifts needn’t present a problem.
Ljubelj is one of the border crossings (though nowadays obsolete) from Slovenia into Austria. There is still a duty-free shop, a restaurant and a large parking area, just as well, as by the time I returned to my car, the car park and all the surrounding parking areas were absolutely rammed – I don’t think I’ve ever seen it so busy, again a reflection of people’s desire to make the most of the little sunshine that we have been afforded this year.
My morning began with the steep slog up the ski piste, passing the Vrtača koca hut, where interestingly the sign, as seen below, tells us to ‘BEWARE OF APPLE STRUDEL’! Note the cloudless blue sky – not many of my photos have looked like that this year – hence I ended up taking a lot of photos, too many to be shown here, so I will post the rest on my Pinterest page.
Continuing onwards the Zelenica mountain hut (Dom na Zelenici, 1536m) is reached in less than an hour from the carpark, and for some people this popular hut is a destination in itself. However, there are still many beauties awaiting ahead so I continued, first in the direction of Vrtača, crossing its steep scree-covered lower slopes, before branching off on the route signed towards Stol, and again branching off to the Šija saddle. It was great to see that since I was last here, quite some considerable effort has been made to update and renew the signage and, as can be seen below, there’s no shortage of choice!
From the Šija saddle, I took the path up to the peak of Srednji vrh (1796m) for a quick photo stop and the amazing far-reaching views across the valley towards Bled lake and the Julian Alps. On returning to the saddle I then took the path down to the picturesque mountain hut ‘Dom pri izviru Završnice’- so named as it sits very close to the spring for the Završnica stream. Don’t expect to see rushing waters though, in fact if you didn’t know it was there, blink and you’d miss it!
The week ahead looks like being another busy one, not least because I have been asked to be a plenary speaker at an international tourism and hospitality conference taking place this Friday. My presentation is entitled ‘Blogging for Tourism’ – Wish me luck!
Meanwhile, don’t forget that Taste Radol’ca begins next week (http://www.radolca.si/en/taste-radolca/) and also from 25th October – 1st November, the Radovljica Manor will host the 10th Chopin’s Golden Ring Competition. This is an international competition which sees 40 young pianists compete in three categories. More information can be found on the organiser’s website – http://goo.gl/90EygY or Radol’ca’s website – http://goo.gl/IkErne