A super ‘sweet’ week ahead!

I decided on the title of this week’s blog for several reasons, not least of which because, according to the forecasters if they are to be believed, the weather gods may finally be shining on Slovenia this week, and for the whole week too. If that is the case, it hasn’t come a moment too soon as last week saw unprecedented (for this time of the year) floods in many parts of the country, landslides, and 35cm of snow in the high mountains.

The second reason for the choice of title is that this weekend, on Saturday 20th September, the Beekeeping Education Centre of Gorenjska will host the Festival of Honey (Festival medu in Dan medu v kulinariki)  from 9.30am – 6pm. The centre is located in the town of Lesce, halfway between Radovljica and Bled. It houses a shop, which sells all kinds of honey, honey products and beekeeping requisites and a café where, during fine weather, you can enjoy a drink outside in the patio garden at the rear of the building where you can also see a beehive and watch the bees coming and going. As well as being interesting for visitors, the centre is also a hive of activity (pun intended!) for beekeepers as it offers them facilities to assist with the production of honey and its by-products; a honey bottling and packaging room, a wax processing plant. The centre is also used to provide training and education for existing and prospective beekeepers, as well as promoting beekeeping in Slovenia, one of the oldest and most traditional rural activities, and protection of the indigenous Carniolan bee species.

The Festival of Honey is an annual event which celebrates all things honey-related and in particular aims to demonstrate its versatility. Throughout the day there is a market with stalls selling a wide range of honey and honey-related products as well as demonstrations of the use of honey in cooking, a cocktail mixing demonstration, honey massages, workshops for adults and children and more. The event is free to attend. With my sweet tooth, I’m bound to found lingering there somewhere!

Festival medu 1  Festival medu 2

The Lectar Inn Live Museum and Gingerbread Workshop in Radovljica is another great ‘sweet’ place to spend a short while, come rain or shine. Despite having lived here now for over seven years, I still enjoy going there for a snoop around; the smell of the freshly baked gingerbread, watching the gingerbread makers at their craft, the friendly welcome, the staff dressed in traditional clothing. In fact I was there last Friday, together with Alison and her family from England. Alison had been searching for somewhere to go for a special holiday during which she, and two other family members, would be celebrating their birthdays, one of them being a ‘special’ birthday. She had never even considered Slovenia but having stumbled upon my blog, the decision was made (oh, the pressure!). There followed several months of correspondence whilst I helped her put together the perfect itinerary for their trip. So, of course after all those emails back and forth, we felt like old friends and it was lovely to meet up, proudly show them around my home town, and enjoy a meal together. Their trip covered most of Slovenia and whilst in this area included a guided two-day hike in the mountains (the plan was Triglav but the weather had other ideas), a steam train ride, dinner at Bled Castle, a guided photography tour, a visit to Vintgar gorge and to Bohinj Lake. Their trip also encompassed visiting Ljubljana, the Soča Valley and the coast and, hailing from Wales, they certainly didn’t let the weather stop them – I’m so pleased that it all worked out.

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The third, and final, reason for the title is that this coming weekend is one of my favourite events of the year, the Istra Sweet Festival (Sladka Istra). The festival, which takes place at the coast in the town of Koper, is a feast of sweet treats of every size, shape and flavour imaginable – cakes, pancakes, biscuits, chocolates, drinks and more – basically the sweeter the better! The festival takes place over 2 days and the date is always firmly noted in my diary. This year, there is also a Coastal Bike Marathon happening on the same weekend and, all being well, I am aiming to participate in that – so I can eat even more sweet stuff of course! More about that next week!

Did you know that Bled lake has just been listed as being among the ’21 Most Spectacular Lakes on Earth’? Read more about it here and, if you haven’t visited yet, what are you waiting for!! – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/minube/the-21-most-spectacular-l_b_5471994.html

 

New Cycle Map – Radol’ca & Bled

Suffice to say, the weather last week still wasn’t conducive to much in the way of hiking and biking (though the start of this week has so far been much improved), so, in such times, I turn instead to food – my other great love!

I enjoyed a great meal with friends at Joštov hram in Podnart. Blink and one could easily miss this small and, from the exterior, unprepossessing restaurant, which is tucked away in the Lipnica valley beside the Sava river. However, it really is worth making the trip there, both for the delicious food and for the warm welcome and hospitality received. My advice would be to leave it to chef and proprietor Miso, ably assisted in the kitchen by his mother, so a real family affair, to work his magic and rustle up a selection of the delicious Balkan food on offer. I’m sure, like us, you won’t leave disappointed and certainly not hungry!

Joštov hram is just one of the restaurants that participate in the Taste Radol’ca collaboration which I have written about extensively in previous blogs and more information can also be found under the ‘Taste Radol’ca’ header at the top of my blog.

Taste Bled was also launched this summer. The collaboration is still in its infancy but so far, the following restaurants have signed up to participate and it is hoped that more will come on board in due course:

  • Vila Prešeren
  • Grill Terrace and Restaurant – Best Western Premier Hotel Lovec
  • Julijana Restaurant – Grand Hotel Toplice
  • Hotel Astoria
  • A’l Art – Vila Istra

From this week, a new cycle map covering Radovljica, Bled and the surrounding areas will be available. The project came about thanks to a local, Blaž Bole, who saw a similar scheme in operation in the Netherlands and he, together with a team of volunteers, set about planning and installing a network of cycle signposts around the area. Having done the English translations for the map I have been lucky enough to be a part of its development and we are all justifiably delighted with the finished result. The number of signposts, each with its own number, has been added to gradually over the past 2 years, and now finally this map connects all the numbers and offers a wide variety of cycle routes in the surrounding areas. Cyclists can easily plot their own routes, choosing how long and far they wish to cycle, or there are also 10 suggested routes varying in length and difficulty; the shortest route is 25km with a 639m total height difference; the longest 99km with a whopping 3094m total height difference. Sights and places of interest along the way are also marked on the map, which, from this week, can be obtained free of charge from the Radovljica Tourist Information Centre. I have personally cycled all but one of the routes, the exception being the longest one although I have cycled most of that one too, and would be hard pushed to choose a favourite as each one is wonderfully scenic and varied.

Rad kol map
Also coming up this week:

On Saturday 13th there will be a concert performed by the Lipnica choir, to mark the day of the local holiday celebration. The concert will take place under the village linden tree in Kamna Gorica, beginning at 5pm and is free for all to enjoy.

At Bled Castle on Tuesday and Thursday this week there are medieval and renaissance performances beginning at 5pm – http://www.bled.si/en/events/2014/09/09/1875-Medieval-performances-at-Bled-castle

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Right, I’m off for a walk to make the most of this glorious sunshine – wow, I haven’t said that for a while!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Zelenci Pools, Ljubelj Pass, and ‘Forever Young’!

It was brief but great whilst it lasted, which could perhaps be said of many things in life! I am, however, referring to the brief return of ‘summer’ that we enjoyed last week. It began on Wednesday when, after a very cool start to the day, late morning all of a sudden the clouds lifted, the sun broke through and it felt warm, hot even. Oh how I rejoiced at seeing the blue sky, feeling the sun’s rays on my all-too pale skin and I felt my mood instantly lifted. There’s one thing for sure, when you haven’t had, or seen, something for a long time, you certainly appreciate it even more. Alas, it didn’t last and thus only served as a reminder of what we have, this ‘summer’ missed out on. As I sit writing this on Monday morning, it’s currently 10 degrees out there and I can see snow on the tops of the mountains brrr…..

Unsurprisingly then, I didn’t waste a minute and since it was a slack week workwise, I was able to cram in quite a few walks and bike rides. So here is the run down, which I hope will also offer some ideas for short walks and bike rides around the area.

On Wednesday afternoon I drove to Trzič on onwards to Ljubelj for a walk up the old Ljubelj pass. Prior to the building of the Karavanke tunnel from Slovenia to Austria in 1991, all transport from the Gorenjska region towards the Ferlach region of Austria used to travel over the Ljubelj pass which passed over the Karavanke range reaching a height of 1370m. One can only imagine how painstakingly slow the journey must have been, particularly in days of old when cars didn’t have as much grunt as they do nowadays.

The original road, which is now only suitable for walking as well as being a popular destination for sledging in the winter, closed to traffic in 1967, when an improved, wider road was built, which is today still in use, though less frequently so with many choosing to drive through the Karavanke tunnel instead. The Ljubelj tunnel was built on the order of Nazis by civilians and prisoners from the nearby Mauthasen concentration camp. Today, the remains of the concentration camp still stand just beneath the Ljubelj pass, where one can stop at the memorial to see the site and take a moment to ponder the horrific lives the prisoners there endured.

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Today the mountain hut ‘Koča na Ljubelju’ is a popular destination in itself, and takes only around 45 minutes to reach from the parking area, as well as it being an onward point for hikes on both the Slovene and Austrian side of the Karavanke. The two obeslisks, as seen below, mark the border between the two countries and one is spoilt for choice with views across both Slovenia and Austria,.

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Thursday morning began with a ride to the Završnica reservoir followed by a walk up to the Valvasor mountain hut (Valvasorjev dom) which sits at 1181m, on the slopes of Mount Stol. Not content with just that, in the afternoon I drove to Kranjska Gora from where I walked across the pastures to the picturesque village of Podkoren, which is particularly popular with skiers in the winter, and from there onwards to the Zelenci springs. These emerald green pools are known for the springs which rise up from the bottom of the pools and for the water temperature which remains at 5-6 degrees year-round, regardless of the air temperature. The clarity of the water, the stunning surrounding alpine scenery is reflected in the pools and it is a wonderful place to enjoy a moment of calm.

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On Friday, together with some friends who are over from the UK, we cycled the 35km lowland cycle route from Radovljica through the Lipnica valley. More information about the route can be found here – http://www.radolca.si/en/lowland-cycling-trail/

On Saturday morning, after cycling to the Draga Valley, I hiked up to the Preval highland then took the route ‘čez Roža’ to reach the Roblek mountain hut, (Roblekov dom) at 1672m. Sadly, the path from Draga to Preval, particularly the lower half of it, is currently in a pretty bad state and barely resembles the pleasant path it once was due to the ravages of this year’s winter. The path from Preval to Roblek however was improved last year and remains as scenic as ever.

On Saturday afternoon the Večno mladi (Forever Young) parade took place through the streets of Radovljica.  This event, which has been taking place annually on the last weekend in August since 1975, begins with a hike for the club members to Stol, the highest peak in the Karavanke range. The remainder of the entertainment, comprising a parade through the streets of Radovljica complete with marching bands, Slovene folk music, old-timer bikes and cars, is open for all to enjoy and participate. The festivities then continue into the night with a concert and fireworks display on the Saturday evening. More pictures can be found of this, and other such events and places, on my Pinterest page.

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Meanwhile, following this weekend’s mini-marathon in Bled, next weekend comes the Bled Triathlon. There are triathlon categories to suit everyone; from those wanting to just ‘give it a try (the Super Sprint triathlon), to those wanting to conquer an Olympic distance triathlon, as well as a relay event and an aquathlon. More information can be found here – http://www.bled.si/en/events/2014/09/06/1340-Triathlon-Bled

Bled-Triatlon  Bled triathlon

A smidgen of Sunday sun on Dobrča

When at 6.45am on Sunday morning a friend texted me saying ‘Look out the window’, I was rather afraid of what I might see. As I rolled up the blind, I could see something large, round and yellow in the sky – a quick Google search revealed it to be something apparently called ‘the sun’, which had once again been in very short supply last week! In fact it was yet another wash-out of a week dominated by rain and temperatures around half of the seasonal average with Sunday marking the 12th day in a row in August where temperatures were around half the seasonal norm, and down at the coast last week they witnessed a weather ‘event’ that bore all the hallmarks of a tornado. Yesterday, however, was at least a tad on the warmer side.

Sunday’s early morning rays of sun didn’t last long, but just long enough to coax us all out (me included) in the false belief that we could finally head out into the great outdoors to seek and enjoy some fine weather and views. So when at 7am a(nother) friend sent me a message, I made a hasty decision where to go and by 8am we were off to Dobrča.

Somewhat oddly, Dobrča lies within the Kamnik Savinja Alps, rather than the Karavanke Alps, as it’s location would lead one, understandably, to believe. There are several ways to reach the top including paths which lead from Brezje pri Trziču, Hudi graben, and Bistrica pri Trziču. We took the route up from the hamlet of Slatna, which is located on the road which runs along the foot of Dobrča, from Begunje to Trzič – a mere 10 minute drive from Radovljica. The path goes up steeply through the forest, taking approximately 1.5 hours, to reach the mountain hut, Koca na Dobrči (1478m). The actual top of Dobrča (1634m) is a further 30 minute walk, and from there a further 10 minute walk leads to the Šentanski vrh viewpoint, which is certainly worth making the effort to reach. We had fully intended to continue to the view point but on reaching the top, the clouds were already gathering and sense prevailed that a timely descent would be prudent. Sure enough the heavens did once again open, though as most of the path leads through dense forest, we managed to escape and return home reasonably dry, also thanks for our early start, had we waited any longer, it would have been a different story!

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Once the sun had gone, it wasn’t exactly warm up there – as can be seen from the thermometer that was in the mountain hut, but Slovene mountain huts always offer some delicious soups and stews to warm the cockles!

dobrca 24.08.2014  dobrca food 28.08.2014

Yesterday marked the official start of another new coalition government in Slovenia – the third in the last 2.5 years. The nation can now but wait and hope for a return to more stable and prosperous times; I’m sure none of us will be holding our breath!

In last week’s blog I wrote about the Uskovnica highland on the Pokljuka plateau. Triglav National Park have also prepared a programme entitled ‘Friday Afternoons in the Park’ which is a programme aimed at families to acquaint them with the park, and which takes place on the Uskovnica highland on Friday 29th August at 5pm. More information can be found here – http://www.bled.si/en/events/2014/08/29/1562-Friday-afternoons-in-the-park

This is the final week of operation this year of the tourist hop-on hop-off bus, so don’t miss the chance to visit towns including Bled, Radovljica, Kropa, Kamna Gorica, Brezje, and see many sights of interest along the way – http://www.radolca.si/hop-on-hop-off-radolca/

Langus Days (Langusovi dnevi) begin this week in the village of Kamna Gorica. The event is held annually on the first weekend of September in memory of the painter Matevž Langus. Various artistic, creative, social and recreational events, for adults and children alike, take place during the course of the celebration. More information can be found here – http://www.radolca.si/en/langus-days/

For any keen runners out there, the 5th Bled mini-marathon event will take place on Saturday 30th August. The event includes a children’s fun, a family run and a half-marathon for adults. More information can be found here – http://www.bled.si/en/events/2014/08/30/1338-5th-Bled-Half-Marathon

 

Nice weather – for mushrooms!

Last week started well with Monday being 30+ degrees plus but thereafter I’m afraid to report it was another fairly dismal week of rain and cool temperatures. We really haven’t ever known a summer like this before – and let’s hope we never will again. I think we should now dub the summer of 2014 as ‘the summer that never was!’.

Perhaps the only folk who are happy about these conditions are lovers of mushrooms, as the cool, damp conditions have brought an early start and a bumper harvest of mushrooms of all shapes and sizes this year. However, Slovene law dictates that you are only allowed to pick 2kg at any one time and they must be placed in an open wicker basket. Failure to do so can, and often does, result in a 200 euro fine; there are inspectors out there scouring the forests – beware! Oh and of course it goes without saying that you must be 100% certain that you know your mushrooms before picking them as a large majority of them are highly, if not deadly, poisonous.

Last Friday began, as have so many days of late, with cool and cloudy conditions but fortunately the rain held off long enough for the annual Meeting of Model Aircraft which takes place at Lesce Sports Airfield. The event attracts competitors and visitors from across Slovenia as well as from neighbouring countries such as Italy, Austria and Croatia. This year 45 competitors took part in the competition (significantly less than usual – the weather again?), whilst visitors came to watch the spectacle, browse the stalls and get a close-up look at some of the planes on the ground.

Lesce airshow 2014  Lesce airshow2 2014

A cloudy Saturday passed with me spending the majority of it working – translating – but at least when the weather is less than great it doesn’t seem such a hardship being couped up indoors.

On Sunday however, after a bright but somewhat chilly start to the day, we were finally treated to a day of sunshine and warmer temperatures so I decided to briefly abandon work and a friend and I headed up to the Pokljuka plateau to make the most of it. There are several mountain highlands on Pokljuka and one of the most scenic, and also most easily reached, is Uskovnica. It’s a picture perfect working highland with a cute, yet functioning, church, a mountain hut which serves great food and refreshments (Koča na Uskovnici), a number of weekend houses and the chance to buy cheese and sour milk (a thick yoghurt type consistency) which has come directly from the cattle grazing on the highland. We parked at Rudno polje, which is home to the Biathlon Centre and a hotel, then walked, mostly downhill, to Uskovnica, which only takes about 45 minutes. En-route you can stop to see, and/or sit on, the energy points which are supposed to help various medical conditions. Each one is numbered and there is an explanatory board (in Slovene) telling you which one to sit on for various medical complaints, how long you should stay on it, and how many times you must repeat the procedure. I’m generally a bit of a pessimist about such things but go with the attitude ‘Well, it certainly can’t harm’!

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The Hop-On Hop-Off tourist bus is still running until the end of August and at weekends it goes from Bled to Bohinj via Pokljuka. It also runs on Tuesdays between Bled-Radovljica-Kropa, and on Thursdays between Bled-Radovljica-Begunje-Brezje. At just 5 euros for the whole day its great value and a great chance to see places such as Uskovnica – http://www.radolca.si/en/hop-on-hop-off-radolca/

This week Bled’s annual open-air cinema event ‘Film by the Lake’ will take place, beginning on Thursday 21st, and running for three consecutive evenings. Films are shown either in Slovene with English subtitles, or vice-versa. More information about the film programme and times  can be found here – http://www.bled.si/en/events/2014/08/21/1335-Film-by-the-lake-open-air-cinema

Also in Bled this coming weekend the annual Firefighter Combat Challenge will take place. More information about the challenge can be found here – http://www.fcc-slovenia.si/en/bled-2014 OR here – http://www.bled.si/en/events/2014/08/23/1337-Firefighter-combat-challenge-Slovenia

Meanwhile, in Radovljica, the Radovljica Festival continues with this week with further performances and workshops. More information about the festival can be found here – http://www.radolca.si/en/what-to-do/events-1/32-festival-radovljica/83/260/

New Zip Line over the Sava river / Panoramic Bled

Other than the almighty storm last Monday evening, which brought with it another wave of damage and destruction, summer sunshine and high temperatures reigned last week and I even managed a whole week without getting drenched! Once again I took full advantage of this and had a weekend packed full of action and adventure.

On Saturday morning I set off from home by bike to Kranjska Gora; riding first to Bled, then through Gorje to reach the cycle path through the Radovna Valley (read more about this in a previous post here – http://wp.me/p3005k-hH). On reaching the village of Mojstrana I joined the D2 cycle path which runs along the route of the ex-railway line all the way to Kranjska Gora then onwards to Rateče before continuing into Italy. On this occasion, my destination was Lake Jasna in Kranjska Gora, which took a little under 3 hours to reach from home.

The cycle path is traffic-free and rises very subtly up towards Kranjska Gora. You do have to keep your wits about you though, particularly when the weather is fine, as being one of the rare traffic-free, and therefore safe and child friendly, cycle paths in this area, it is very popularč not only with cyclists but also roller skaters, ski rollers (think cross-country skiing minus the snow!), dog-walkers and joggers. I nearly came a cropper a couple of times due to errant cyclists admiring the (admittedly) stunning scenery and not looking where they were going and lost tourists straying onto the path with their cars. Oh well, just another couple of scrapes and bruises to add to my already battle-weary legs!

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Just 2 kilometres from Kranjska Gora, Lake Jasna is a small crystal-clear alpine lake which sits at the foot of the Vršič pass, Slovenia’s highest mountain pass (1611m).  The statue of Zlatorog (Golden Horn), as seen below, stands proudly at the lake shore.

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After cycling home, this time via Mojstrana and Jesenice, rather than back through the Radovna Valley, I had a quick rest and then headed down to the Sava river at Radovljica to the opening of the new zip line over the Sava river at the Tinaraft Centre. Below you can see me getting prepared, and others rafting on the Sava river, which I was about to zip across from 20 metres high – yikes!

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After a short safety briefing, I was off; across the bridge, up to the start and then the fun part! As well as the zipline, as the name implies, Tinaraft offer rafting and other adrenalin-fuelled activities such as canyoning, paintball and zorbing. More information can be found here – http://www.tinaraft.si/

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Despite being a little tired, when I awoke to another beautiful morning on Sunday, I couldn’t resist the pull of the mountains and set off to hike up to Begunščica. At 2060m, Begunščica is among the highest of the mountains in the Karavanke range. There are a number of ways of reaching the highest point of the ridge, named ‘veliki vrh'; from the Draga valley via the Roblek dom mountain hut, from Ljubelj via Zelenica or, as I did, from the Draga Valley to Preval and then via the (very) steep path which leads seemingly almost vertically upwards for about one hour through the forest before emerging into a rocky area, where a few metres of climbing is required then on to traverse the ridge (note: the approach from this direction is not advisable if you are scared of heights as there is a sheer drop on either side) before reaching the top where an orientation post points out all the surrounding mountains and there are far-reaching views across both Slovenia and Austria. Unfortunately, the clouds beat me to the top on this occasion, so I didn’t take any photographs at the top itself, but there’s already more than enough for this week, and anyway I’ll be back up there sooner or later no doubt! I made the return by the easier, less steep route via Roblek dom and then back down to the valley.

Also this week, as if Bled wasn’t already picturesque enough, a new panoramic photo frame has been installed on the small Straža hill, above Lake Bled (read more about Straža here in a previous post – http://adeleinslovenia.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/hop-on-hop-off-bus-bled-radovljica-and-the-julian-alps/). If you want THE ultimate photo shot of Bled, then its well worth making the trip up to Straža.

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Good News – Following the winter damage, the stairways and bridges at Kamen Castle have been repaired. The ruins of the castle are situated at the end of the village of Begunje, at the entrance to the Draga Valley.

This coming weekend, from Friday to Sunday, the Festival of Fish Delicacies will take place in the village of Bohinjska Bela, just a few kilometres from Bled. The festival features a fly-fishing competition, live music, food (fish of course!) and more. Read more about it here – http://www.bled.si/en/events/2014/08/15/1737-Festival-of-Fish-Delicacies-in-Bohinjska-Bela

 

 

Pokljuka by bike / Hiking the Karavanke

As you might imagine, after 12 days of on-and-off rain, I had been itching to get out on my bike and to go hiking in the mountains. So last weekend, with the long awaited reappearance of the somewhat delayed summer, I made up for lost time!

On Saturday I made the hike up to Stol, the highest peak in the Karavanke range. You can read more about Stol in this post that I wrote a short while back  – http://adeleinslovenia.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/at-the-top-of-the-karavanke-kremsnita-cream-cake-in-bled/

On Sunday morning I went by bike from home, in Radovljica, up to the Pokljuka plateau, turning right at Mrzli Studenec, past the Kranjska dolina valley and the Zajavornik highland to the ski centre and the Rudno Polje biathlon centre. The Hop-On Hop-Off tourist bus (pictured below) goes from Bled to Pokljuka every Saturday and Sunday until the end of August and at just 5 euros per person for the whole day offers an excellent opportunity for exploring Pokljuka. At the moment the whole plateau is awash with forest blueberries, wild strawberries and mushrooms, and people are out foraging in their droves. However, Pokljuka is huge, so there’s enough to go round! If you’d like to explore Pokljuka by bike, but don’t fancy the long slog to get up to the plateau, the Sport Hotel on Pokljuka currently have a special offer price of 10 euros for up to 8 hours bike hire and travel on the hop-on, hop-off bus OR 16 euros for up to 8 hours bike hire, the bus and a traditional Slovene stew.

Hop on hop off radolca

After a break for some much needed sustenance, on Sunday afternoon I first popped down to Radovljica’s old town to visit the Medieval Day festivities. This annual event is always worth a visit, especially as Radovljica boasts one of the 3 best preserved medieval town centres in Slovenia. For one day, Linhart Square, the heart of the old town, is transported back to medieval times with theatrical performances, actors in period dress, locals selling their wares on the market stalls, archery, and a new addition this year, a giant handmade catapult.

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Later, I took a walk through the cool of the forest, down to the Sava river, over the Fuxova brv bridge, and onto the Lipnica Castle Natural Science Trailhttp://www.radolca.si/en/lipnica-castle-natural-science-trail/

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Since I’ve been writing this blog, I have been receiving an ever increasing amount of emails from far and wide; people who have found and read my blog, some of who just get in touch to say ‘thanks’, others wanting advice, particularly about hiking. In almost every case however, everyone wants to know about climbing Triglav, Slovenia’s highest mountain, or about hiking elsewhere in the Julian Alps. Whilst it is true that all but one of Slovenia’s highest mountains lie in the Julian Alps (Grintovec in the Kamnik-Savinja Alps, 2558m, being the 8th highest mountain), that doesn’t mean there aren’t other great places to hike too.

The Karavanke range, for example, offer some great peaks worthy of exploration and a choice of easier, shorter day walks or more challenging multi-day treks, with overnight accommodation in one of the many mountain huts. The Karavanke form a natural border between Slovenia and Austria, and at almost 120km in length, are one of the longest mountain ranges in Europe. Weather permitting, you are pretty much guaranteed stunning and far reaching views across both the countries. The Karavanke range makes an ideal choice for those staying in the Radovljica-Bled area and I would recommend them as an alternative, and/or additional, choice for hiking in Slovenia. Other than Stol, some of the great peaks and destinations in the Karavanke, and some of my favourite and regular haunts, include Begunščica, Kepa, Dovška Baba, Golica, Dobrča, Preval and Košuta. I have written about many of these previously and by using this blog’s search facility (top right corneer), you can search and find more information.

The Okarina Festival is Bled is now in full swing with the line up including some world-class acts, such as on Saturday, when the acclaimed Welsh harpist, Catrin Finch, performed together with Seckou Keita, in the stunning surroundings of Bled Castle. This week the Okarina Fest moves to the Spa Park in Bled where, beginning at 8.30pm concerts will be performed by Barcelona Gipsy Klezmer Orchestra (6.8), Ferus Mustafov (7.8), Debademba (8.8) and Family Atlantica (9.8). More information can be found here – http://www.festival-okarina.si/