Swimming: Lakes, rivers and pools in Radol’ca and Bled

At this time of the year a lot of people’s thoughts turn to how, and where, to keep cool. So this week I thought I would offer some ideas along those lines. Personally, as someone who can feel the cold even in the midst of a heat wave, I’m not one for cold water, it has to be like a jacuzzi for me to get in it. However for many people, locals and tourists alike, going for a swim or a quick dip in a pool, lake or river is the perfect way to cool down and seek respite from the heat.

RADOVLJICA SWIMMING POOL – The Olympic-size swimming pool in Radovljica is open all year round. During the winter it is covered over but during the summer it is open-air. It also has a pool for kids, beach volleyball, a pizzeria and there’s a campsite right next door.

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KROPA SWIMMING POOL – A 25mx12.5m pool with a separate pool for kids, beach volleyball, a café and a picnic area. The pool is located in the Lipnica Valley at the junction towards Kropa and is open daily during the summer.

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CAMPING ŠOBEC – Take a dip in the Šobec lake at the campsite of the same name. It is also open (admission charge payable) to those not staying at the camp.

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More information about the above can be found here – http://www.radolca.si/en/swimming/

BLED CASTLE LIDO – The only designated bathing and swimming area by Lake Bled. It is set right beneath Bled Castle and has ample facilities including changing rooms, lockers, toilets and showers, rental of beach umbrellas and rowing boats, snacks and drinks stands.

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BLED LAKE – You can also take a dip directly into the lake. Due to the changeable weather this year, the temperature of the water is a little lower than usual and is currently around 22 degrees.

More information here – http://www.bled.si/en/what-to-do/summer-sports/swimming

For those brave enough, the Sava river is also an option, be it for cooling off, water sports such as rafting, or, as I did last weekend, just sitting relaxing on its banks. Yes, I do relax sometimes – though I had been for a 4 hour bike ride first!!

Of course there are also many other ways of keeping cool in the heat. My preference is to go for a walk in the cool of the forest or high in the mountains and since Slovenia is largely covered by forest and here in Gorenjska there are mountains a plenty, these things are not difficult to find!

And not forgetting ice-cream – an essential summer ingredient which you certainly don’t have to go far to find. There are numerous cafes offering homemade ice-cream. One of my personal favourites in Radovljica is Vidic House (Vidičeva hisa) in the old town centre of Radovljica where there are a wide variety of flavours and generous portions to match, whilst in Bled I usually head for the famous Šmon Pattiserie which, in addition to ice-cream, offers an impressive (and irrestistible!) range of cakes and pastries.

Here’s a selection of events coming up in the week ahead:

Tuesday 22nd July – Concert of the 17th Pikolo Flute Workshop – 8pm at Bled Castle

Wednesday 23rd July – Concert from the opera ‘La Boheme –  8pm in the Radovljica Manor – Tickets available from the Radovljica Tourist Information Office

Thursday 24th July – Music Thursdays ‘Neomi’ – 8pm in Linhart Square, Radovljica – Free open-air concert

Friday 25th July – Concert of the 17th Pikolo Flute Workshop – 6pm at Bled Golf Hotel

 

 

 

 

 

The Sextons’ Museum House / Bled Days and Nights

For the 7th time in the 23 years that Slovenia has been an independent country, the nation took to the polls again this Sunday to casts their votes in the snap general election, called following the resignation of Alenka Bratušek, the previous leader of the coalition government, on losing the battle for leadership of the ‘Positive Slovenia’ party after only 14 months in office. Although I now have permanent residency in Slovenia, I do not have citizenship and am therefore not entitled to vote. To be honest, even if I did have the right I wouldn’t know where to start with such a vast number of parties in the running and I will thus refrain (at least here) from proffering my views on Slovenia’s fragmented political affairs, especially since most, if not all, visitors to the country are of course blissfully oblivious to all the goings on behind the scenes and are free to enjoy the beauty of the country without having to endure its politics – a state in which I too would like to remain.

The weather during the past week has been far from summery, especially on Thursday when the daytime high here in the valley was only around 12 degrees and more than a few centimetres of fresh snow fell in the Julian Alps (you can see the photos I posted on my Facebook page). We are being promised ‘normal’ summer temperatures up to around 30 degrees from midweek onwards, so here’s hoping, it’s about time. This has meant I’ve had to somewhat, temporarily at least, curtail my plans for summer exploration and this week have been unable to tick-off any of the places on my personal ‘To See and To Do’ list!

On Saturday, I was headed towards the Pokljuka plateau for a walk but the threatening black clouds and distant rumble of thunder meant that I instead stopped at Bled and went for a walk around the lake; a regular fall back option if the weather is poor. In the event, carrying my (unopened) umbrella did the trick and ensured the sun came out and shined brilliantly for the entire circuit of the lake though within minutes of returning to the car the heavens opened. As is usual in the summer season, Bled was bustling with tourists; many walking around the lake, others relaxing by it, some taking a boat ride over it in one of Bled’s famous pletna boats, and others taking the tourist train around it. However you choose to see it, and/or travel around it, Lake Bled never fails to delight and it was particularly abuzz on Saturday as preparations were in full swing for the towns’ biggest running event – the 10k Night Run, which always attracts a large turnout of both participants and spectators.

On my return home I diverted to the village of Kamna Gorica, in the Lipnica Valley, for a look at the newly opened Sextons’ Museum House. The house, dating from 1803, stands perched on a small hill above the village, next to St. Trinity’s church, and affords wonderful views across the village and to the mountains of the Karavanke range. Kamna Gorica, together with nearby Kropa, was formerly one of the main iron working villages in the area of what is the present day Slovenia, and despite its modest size, the village has lots of points of interest, among them the water canals that run through the village which previously served the needs of the forges and led to the village also being known as ‘Little Venice’.

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The house, which had been derelict for many years, has now been lovingly restored and laid out as a museum. It contains an original black kitchen and preserved living areas and offers an insight into life in Kamna Gorica then and now, and of the lives of those who used to live and work in the house and church. Note: entrance to the museum is free although voluntary contributions towards its upkeep are appreciated. More information about the house and opening times can be found here – http://www.radolca.si/en/the-sextons-museum-house/

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Kamna Gorica can also be visited on the Hop-On Hop-Off Tourist Bus, which is now operating throughout the summer until 31st August. Kamna Gorica is one of the stopping points on Tuesdays when the buses run on the route Bled-Radovljica-Kropa. The bus represents great value as the price of a full day ticket is just 5 euros and children under 10 travel for free and you can pick and choose where to get on and off and what to see and do. There are numerous places and sights of interest that can be visited as well as special offers for those travelling by bus. The Hop-On Hop-Off bus also runs on Thursdays on the route Bled-Radovljica-Begunje-Brezje, and on Saturdays and Sundays on the route Bled-Bohinj-Pokljuka-Triglav National Park. More information can be found here – http://www.radolca.si/en/hop-on-hop-off-radolca/

Next week its time again for Bled Days and Nights, one of the biggest annual events held in Bled, which attracts a large crowd of visitors from both home and abroad. The event takes places over three days, beginning on Friday 18th July and some of the highlights include:

  • An art and craft fair
  • Concerts and performances
  • A vintage cycle parade
  • Candles on the lake
  • Fireworks

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More information about the event can be found here – http://www.bled.si/en/events/2014/07/18/1511-Bled-Days-and-Bled-Night

Also coming up in the week ahead:

  • Tuesday 15th July – Free guided tour of Radovljica’s old town centre at 10am / Free guided tour of Kamna Gorica at 4.30pm
  • Thursday 17th July – Music Thursdays in Radovljica, Free concert in Linhart Square at 8pm with the group ‘Mojo Hand’
  • Saturday 19th July – The start of this year’s Okarina Etno Festival in Bled. The festival then continues with further dates into August. 10pm at Bled Shopping Centre with the band RIC (Roots Intention Crew) from France.

 

 

 

Triglav National Park Information / Garden Village, Bled

On Tuesday last week I went to the opening of the Triglav Roža Information Centre, which reopened its doors after a lengthy closure for refurbishment. The centre is located on the main road into Bled (Ljubljanska cesta 27) and is an excellent point-of-call for visitors to the Gorenjska region, especially those planning to spend some time in Triglav National Park, Slovenia’s only national park. The centre contains some interesting permanent exhibitions including about Slovenia’s highest mountain, Triglav and the National Park, as well as information about other parts of the Gorenjska region. Visitors can also watch a video and obtain maps and information. The centre is open daily from 8am – 6pm during the summer and from 8am – 4pm in the winter.

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Whilst in Bled, I also took the opportunity to go and have a look at the new Garden Village Resort, which opened last month and wow is it AMAZING! Those that know me, will attest to the fact that I’m not exactly known for my ability to relax (always hiking/biking/running…..) but even I felt relaxed there among the green and serene surroundings, sitting by the pool area, sipping a cool elderflower cordial……. Happy Days – even if only briefly whilst I watched how the other half live!

The resort, located just 5 minutes from Lake Bled, is certainly ‘glamping’ at its best. It comprises a mixture of luxury tented accommodation, tree houses and apartments. The whole ethos of the resort is built around being ‘green’ – both visually and operationally – and it shows. The attention to detail is remarkable in every area including the restaurant, wellness and the gardens, where guests are able to literally pick and eat whatever is growing around the resort. Their website says ‘Adventurous, Romantic and Exclusive’ and I’d have to agree. Now, if only I could find someone adventurous and romantic to share it with!!! For those of you lucky to have found adventure and romance, here’s the link (it’s already pretty much booked up for this summer season) – http://www.gardenvillagebled.com/

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With the weather being so glorious for the weekend, I had a tough decision to make as to where to go and what to do – so much choice – so in the end I did a bit of everything! Saturday began with an early morning start, cycling from home to the lake at Bohinj. I then took the gondola up to the Vogel Ski Resort, which was celebrating its 50th anniversary of operation and thus had 50% discount on the usual ride charge. There was a great party atmosphere up there with plenty of entertainment including national folk music, presentations of national costumes and old-timer bikes, guided walks, workshops for children and market stalls. As a non-skier, I have only previously visited Vogel once during the autumn when it was shrouded in mist and there were no views to be seen and I was unable to explore the area fully. This time, it couldn’t have been more different. It was a glorious day and I was able to grasp just how extensive the area is and how much there is to see and do up there, regardless of the season. Being a ski resort, I’d always considered it more of a winter venue, but how wrong was I, and it has now been added to my list of summer destinations too – next time I might even consider hiking up there too! There are a wide choices of walks, either shorter, easier ones such as the Vogel Trail, or longer ones to one of the many peaks or highlands of the Julian Alps, such as Rodica or Planina Sija. The Orlove Glave chairlift also operates during the summer and can be used to shorten some of the hikes. There is also a bike park, several places to eat and drink and of course, it goes without saying, stunning and far-reaching views in all directions.

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It’s going to be another busy week ahead with lots going on in the Radovljica/Bled area. Here is just a pick of the events:

Tuesday 8th July

  • Open Day at the Sextons’ Museum House in Kamna Gorica, 10am-6pm, entrance free (also on Saturday 12th & Sunday 13th July)
  • Free guided tour of Kamna Gorica, 4.30pm

Thursday 10th July

  • Music Thursdays in Linhart Square in Radovljica’s old town centre – Every Thursday in July from 8.00pm – this week ‘San Di Ego Band’
  • Story-telling by the fire at Camp Šobec – Join the Triglav National Park rangers to listen to some of the myths and legends of the Slovenian mountains – 9pm, free event (also for those not resident at the camp)

Saturday 12th July

 

 

 

Hop-On Hop-Off Bus: Bled, Radovljica and the Julian Alps

Following a spectacular storm on Sunday evening, Monday morning saw a rather chilly start to the new week with even a sprinkling of fresh snow on the top of Stol, which I wrote about last week, and more than a sprinkling in the high mountains. If you use Facebook, check out the photo I posted of the snow at the Kredarica mountain hut, beneath Triglav. Thankfully, the forecast for the rest of the week looks more promising with temperatures set to soar.

After a successful introduction last year, this year the new Radol’ca Hop-on, Hop-Off Bus will be operating throughout the summer from the 1st July to the 31st August and will cover two local routes now including Bled:

Every Tuesday: Bled – Radovljica – Kropa – Radovljica – Bled

Every Thursday: Bled – Radovljica – Begunje – Brezje – Radovljica – Bled

In addition, this year, for the first time in 23 years, a special bus will operate at weekends from Bled to Bohinj and Pokljuka within Triglav National Park:

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The price of a one-day ticket is just 5 euros per person with children under the age of 10 travelling for free.

In addition to being able to get on and off the bus at various points and see the towns and sights of interest, there will also be addition benefits to travelling by the bus, such as free or reduced entrance fees to museums and galleries, guided tours of the towns and villages in the area, gingerbread, cookery and candle-making workshops (supplement payable), walking paths and more. Of course, it’s also a more relaxed way to travel with time to sit back and enjoy the sights, and more environmentally friendly too – so a win, win all round!

http://www.radolca.si/hop-on-hop-off-radolca/

On Friday I attended the opening of the new Fitness Trim Trail in Bled on the small Straža ski slope. During the summer Straža operates as a toboggan track and there is also the Bled Adventure Park and two snack bars. As well as the various activities, Straža is also a pleasant place to visit for a walk and it is well worth making the effort to walk up to the top (or take the chairlift if that sounds too much like hard work!) for the views over Bled lake, the castle, the Karavanke mountains which are quite stunning.

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Another new addition to Straža is the Land of Slovenian Folk Tales, as seen below, and more information here – http://www.bled.si/en/events/2014/07/05/1904-Land-of-slovenian-folk-tales

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Straža is also synonymous with the Swiss doctor Arnold Rikli. Born in 1823, Rikli was largely responsible for the beginnings of Bled’s boom in tourism. His focus was on ‘healing tourism’ as he worked and learned the value and benefits of the climate and natural gifts of Bled. His work was guided by the principle: ‘Water works wonder, air can do even more, but light does the most of all.’ He founded the Institute of Natural Healing and introduced a new method of treatment. In 1859, Rikli ordered the building of simple wooden Swiss style baths (opposite the then Park Hotel) and also constructed huts for patient accommodation.

Walks around the Bled area were a key part of Rikli’s healing programme. There were strict house rules that all patients had to observe. Early starts (5-6am), followed by walks and outdoor physical activity. To improve their circulation patients walked barefoot and during the day they bathed, sunbathed and rested. Treatment helped diseases such as rheumatism, migraines, insomnia and obesity, Rikli’s methods became very popular and successful and through this, Bled became known far and wide. Today, his methods are still celebrated and remembered, particularly at the time of the popular annual Rikli Walk which takes place this coming weekend on Sunday 6th July. Anyone can join in the walk and it’s a great chance to see other parts of Bled, such as Straža and the Osojnica hill, as well as experiencing some of Rikli’s methods. Be prepared for some bathing, barefoot walking and fun! The walk begins at 7am in front of the Golf Hotel.

Here’s a small pick of this week’s forthcoming events:

1st – 17th July: 19th International Bled Music Festivalhttp://www.bled.si/en/events/2014/07/05/1329-19th-Festival-Bled-2014

Thursday 3rd July at 8pm (and every Thursday in July): Music Thursdays – Enjoy listening to live music in Linhart Square in Radovljica’s medieval old town centre.

Thursday 3rd July at 9pm (and every Thursday during July and August): Join the Triglav National Park rangers for ‘Storytelling by the Fire’ at the Šobec campsite – Listen to the myths and fairy tales of the Slovene mountains. The event is free and is in both English and Slovene.

Saturday 5th July from 9am – 6pm: Iron Forging Festival in Kropa – Watch live demonstrations, browse the market stalls, free entrance to the Iron Forging Museum, the Fovšaritnica Museum House and the Vice Spike Forge, and more.

Saturday 5th July from 9pm – White Night in Bled: http://www.bled.si/en/events/2014/07/05/1582-White-night-2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taste Radol’ca – The Pr’Kovač Inn, Kropa

A double whammy of blogs this week, for two reasons: the first being that I simply couldn’t wait until next week to share my enthusiasm about the Pr’Kovač Inn, in Kropa, which also just happens to be one of my favourite villages around the Radovljica area; secondly, because there is so much going on at this time of year I have far too much to write about for just one blog! Perhaps I might also provide you with some inspiration for where to visit this weekend too.

I always enjoyed visiting Kropa; more often than not I visit by bike, either as part of a longer ride elsewhere, such as over Jamnik, or for a hike up to the Vodiška planina highland. From Radovljica is it 10 kilometres to Kropa via the road through the tranquil Lipnica valley.  Kropa’s somewhat isolated position, nestled at the foot of the far western edge of the Jelovica plateau, is also part of its appeal, together with its rich architectural and cultural heritage which make it unique, charming and characterful. The village is known as being the cradle of iron forging in Slovenia and this is evident throughout the entire village where each house is adorned with some kind of ornate iron work and the village is full of interesting sights such as the rushing waters of the Kroparica stream, the two churches and various sculptures and memorials. Interestingly, in 1953, Kropa was also the first village in Slovenia to receive the status of being a protected cultural monument.

There’s also so much more to see and do in Kropa, such as:

* A visit to the Museum of Iron Forging

* Hike up to the Vodiška planina highland and visit the Partizan mountain hut for delicious home-cooked food

* Visit the headquarters of the wrought-iron company UKO

* Visit the Fovšaritnica Museum House to see one of the best preserved examples of how iron-worker families used to live

* See the source of the Kroparica stream

* Visit the Vice-Spike foundry (by prior arrangement only)

The Pr’Kovač Inn is located right in the heart of the village and as soon as you enter through its door, you get a sense of what is to follow. The décor and the ambience just smack of good, honest, uncomplicated home-cooking and hospitality, and it doesn’t disappoint. Its all in the detail even down to the the crockery, cutlery, menus and presentation. In fine weather, a seat outside in the shady area next to the Kroparica stream is also pleasant, though do be sure to go inside a take a look!

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Owned and run by Blaž Staroverski (seen with me above), the restaurant also recently received rave reviews and top marks in one of Slovenia’s leading newspapers, and since it is also one of the seven restaurants that participate in Taste Radol’ca, and being one that is still remaining on my list, a visit was long overdue.

Being a unique village, Kropa also has some original local dishes and therefore I left it to Blaž to acquaint me with a few tasting samples of just some of the dishes available on the menu. With Kropa’s mere existence being based on the tradition of blacksmithing, most of the population would have, to some extent, been involved in hard, physical labour and thus required robust, hearty food. This tradition still continues, however, under Blaž’s leadership, he manages to create robust, hearty dishes with modern innovation and finesse – and all using the freshest and most local ingredients available.

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  • First, a thick hearty bean soup, served in a typical clay dish, which one can imagine would really hit the spot on a cold winter’s day, flavoured with home-grown herbs.
  • Next was buckwheat served with mushrooms and a creamy, rich mushroom sauce. Buckwheat is used a lot in Slovene cooking, either as an ingredient or as a stand-alone dish but, for my palate, it can sometimes be a little dull and lacking in flavour if not well cooked and seasoned. This dish however was delicious, really flavourful and I could have quite happily eaten a whole dish of it.
  • A salad followed – all of course direct and fresh from the restaurant’s own garden and lightly dressed with oil and vinegar.
  • The main course comprised tender pork fillet in a cranberry sauce, homemade curd cheese štruklji (a Slovene speciality – a kind of rolled, filled dumpling) and vegetables
  • With just enough room left, I, of course, managed to sample the dessert too! Described as a ‘buckwheat omelette’ it was more reminiscent of a light muffin, filled with a fruit sauce and accompanied by forest strawberries, chocolate sauce and ice-cream coated in a light nut and crumb crust.

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Although I didn’t have an opportunity to try it on this occasion, since it was fresh out of the oven and baked to fulfil an order, the HUGE tarragon potica, as seen in the photo above looks a-m-a-z-i-n-g! I shall definitely be returning to test that sometime soon!

An ideal time to visit Kropa is during the time of the annual Iron Forging Festival, which this year takes place on Saturday 5th July. More information can be found here – http://www.radolca.si/en/what-to-do/83/iron-foging-festival-2014/83/153/

 

 

 

 

At the top of the Karavanke / ‘Kremšnita’ cream cake in Bled

Despite the mountain of work awaiting me, and despite my best intentions to spend the day tackling it, when I woke up on Sunday morning to see the perfect blue, cloudless sky above Stol, theI lure of the mountain ‘proper’ won out over the lure of the mountain of work – and so off I went.

At 2236m, Stol, meaning ‘chair’ due to its shape, is the highest peak in the Karavanke range, is a landmark in the Gorenjska region. Luckily for me, I can see it from my bedroom window. It is quite common for its peak to be shrouded in cloud and often accompanied by a strong wind too. However, this Sunday there wasn’t a cloud in sight other than a few whispy ones that disappeared as quickly as they appeared. There was also no wind blowing, not even a breeze, and also neither searingly hot nor unpleasantly cold – in short, a perfect day for it. Many people choose to drive up and start their hike from the Valvasor mountain hut (1181m), cutting about an hour off the time needed for the ascent. I however prefer to begin from the valley floor in Završnica. Setting off from the car park next to the small reservoir, I followed the path, first to the Valvasor hut, then onwards and upwards via the (slightly steeper and shorter) Žirovniška path, descending via the (slightly longer and less steep) Zabreška path – this making it a circular route. As can be seen in the photos below, there’s still a little snow up there, in the gully between the top of Stol, to the left, and the Prešeren mountain hut (Prešernova koca), to the right. However, as the route up is on the sunny, southern facing, side it has almost all gone. The same cannot be said of the Julian Alps, where there is currently still a lot of snow remaining. As the Karavanke form a natural border between Slovenia and Austria, Stol can also be climbed from the Austrian side, though the ascent is more exposed, more rocky and, at this time of the year, more snowy than the southern facing Slovene side. Of course, with it being such a lovely day, I certainly didn’t have the place to myself. You can probably just about make out the ant-like looking line of people on the top in the photos below.

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On Saturday afternoon, I popped to Bled to the opening of the summer season programme of the Sava Bled Hotels group, on the terrace at Hotel Park overlooking Lake Bled. The hotel is famous for its Bled cream cake ‘kremšnita’, which it has been producing for over 60 years. The cake comprises a thick layer each of cream and custard between two sheets of thin pastry. As well as the ever popular cake, this year some new flavours of the cake have been created, including chocolate and forest fruits. Not one to turn down such an opportunity, and seeing as they were on a special 2-for-1 offer, I, of course, indulged and, being the chocoholic that I am, can confirm they are both equally delicious with the chocolate one perhaps just edging it for me! You can read more about the Bled cream cake here – http://www.bled.si/en/what-to-see/symbols-of-bled/cream-cake

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The Bled Sava Hotels also have a packed programme of musical events throughout the summer including traditional Slovene evenings, music and dance nights by the lake, acoustic music evenings, a cappella performances and more – and even better they are free to attend too (though of course some form of eating and/or drinking will be encouraged!).

Talking of hotels, last week, coincidentally on the same day, saw the official opening of 2 new exciting additions to Slovenia’s range of hotels.  In Ljubljana, the Four Points by Sheraton Ljubljana Mons opened. This was quite a major event as it is the first globally branded hotel to enter Ljubljana for over a decade. Meanwhile, in Bled the new eco-tourist green resort – Garden Village Bled – also opened. I have yet to go and take a peek (its on my ‘to-do’ list) but it looks pretty exciting and unique and I will write more about it once I’ve had a chance to get there in person.

Schools in Slovenia officially break up today (24.6.). Yes, the school summer holidays here are very long! Tomorrow, 25th June, is a public holiday – Statehood Day (dan državnosti).

With the holidays here there are now even more events happening around the Radovljica/Bled areas, just some of which I have picked out and listed below:

Wednesday 25th June – Free Guided Tour of the Path of Peace (Pot miru) in Brezje – Meet at the restaurant Pr’Finžgarju – 9am

Thursday 26th June - Slovene Evening with Live Music at the restaurant Gostilna Tulipan in Lesce – 7.30pm

Friday 27th June – Free Guided Walk of the new Bled Fitness Promenade – 5pm

Friday 27th June – Open-Air Cinema at Linhart Hall, Radovljica (and every Friday throughout the summer) – French comedy film ‘9 mois ferme’ (9 mesecev šoka) – 9pm

From 1st – 17th July – The 19th International Music Festival Bled – A variety of music; classical, jazz, cross-over in different locations around Bled. More information can be found here – http://www.bled.si/en/events/2014/07/01/1329-19th-Festival-Bled-2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Grmečica Waterfall

The start to last week was HOT, to say the least! Temperatures were in the mid-thirties up until Thursday when, as forecast, a big storm swept through the valley, bringing the temperatures right down. At this time of year it’s not uncommon to have afternoon storms, some of them quite violent, so its usually generally best to get up and out early to be back in the safe and dry before they hit. Despite the climate here being alpine, the afternoon storms can sometimes make it feel like being in the tropics, but they don’t usually last long.

As I mentioned in last week’s blog, one of my favourite activities at this time of the year (apart from eating ice-cream!) is cycling. If I’m short of time, a ride that I like to do is the Lowland Cycle Route (35.6km) which begins in Radovljica and leads through the Lipnica Valley. One of Slovenia’s top cyclists, Marko Baloh has just released a video of him riding the entire route and described it as being most scenic and particularly good for winter training as it is flat(ish) – nothing is entirely flat in Gorenjska – and almost entirely on tarmac roads, except a kilometre or so which can be bypassed for those on road bikes. The video can be seen here – http://www.kinomap.com/watch/9jddwx

I have compiled quite a list of places to go and things to see/do, adding to it whenever I read about a new path or somewhere I haven’t yet been, and gradually ticking them off the list as I get round to them. One of such is the Grmečica waterfall which, as of Saturday, I can now tick off the list too! Slovenia has hundreds of waterfalls and Grmečica must be certainly one of the less known and is far from being one of the biggest/highest/widest or any other such superlatives. However, to me at least, therein lies its beauty.  Admittedly, the waterfall, which seemingly emerges from nowhere, isn’t in itself that impressive, there’s no gushing water, more of a trickle, certainly at this time of the year. However, its location amid hidden canyons, with crystal clear water and small pools, off the beaten track, and rarely frequented, makes it all the more interesting.

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The waterfall, hidden under the northwest edge of the Jelovica plateau, was previously barely accessible as there was no way of crossing the Sava Bohinjka river. However, since a new suspension bridge across the river was built in 2010, it has now become a lot easier to reach. It is best reached on foot from the village of Nomenj, on the road from Bled to Bohinj. A path leads under the railway line, across the river and then alongside the river before reaching the waterfall. After seeing the waterfall you can double-back to take the unmarked, but clearly visible, path which leads steeply up through the forest above the waterfall for impressive views deep down into the canyon below. There are ropes installed in some places which indicate that the area may be, now or perhaps in the past, used for canyoning. However, clearly a lot of work will be necessary to clear the debris from this winter’s ice-storm. A word of caution though, do have good footwear and look where you are treading. A misfortunate stumble over a tree root has left me nursing a bruised and battered shin, which is now every colour on the spectrum of the rainbow. Having a freezer chock full of everything but ice, Saturday evening was spent with a variety of frozen bread and vegetables on my shin!!!

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On the way back from seeing the waterfall, a short detour through the village of Bohinjska Bela proved fruitful as I happened upon a village festival taking place and was able to watch the parade, listen to the music and enjoy the merriment – as were it seems the entire village!

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At this time of year there is a lot happening in and around the Bled/Radovljica area, to much for me to be able to list here, especially since one of the golden rules of blogging seems to be to ‘keep it concise’. Therefore, each week I will list just a few of the main highlights and some of my favourites events and attractions. However, for more details, and up-to-date information, take a look at my ‘Adele in Slovenia’ facebook page (‘Like’ it) and/or use the links on the right to the tourist office websites.

The inaugural Bled Film Festival will take place from 17th – 26th June. It will feature 8 films and 8 documentaries, which will then be judged for awards, all with a focus on raising awareness of environmental issues surrounding water. An accompanying programme of events, talks and parties will take place on the pristine shores of Lake Bled. More about the festival can be found here – http://www.bledff.com/

On Monday 23rd June, Midsummer’s Eve will be celebrated in the usual manner with a bonfire and medieval events at Kamen Castle in Begunje. The ruins of the gothic and renaissance castle, built in the 12th century by the Counts of Ortenburg, provide a magical setting for the celebration.

On Saturday 21st June its the annual Škofja Loka Festival of History. The event transforms the beautiful old town centre into a medieval wonderland for the day with locals dressed in traditional clothing, market stalls selling traditional crafts and wares, workshops and performances. More information can be found here – http://www.historial-skofjaloka.si/home.aspx