There’s far too many ChurchesThere’s too much traffic.
It’s really hilly….how will we cycle?
We can’t find a decent spot to park.
The bridges are really small
There’s shed loads of crisp, clean water about….with no chlorine. Your teeth could rot!
The food is loaded with carbs….aren’t we supposed to go on holiday and get fit?
After 6 wonderful weeks exploring Croatia we set off early and headed North. This time we have nothing planned and are interested in perhaps lakes and alpine regions. We had heard promising reports of Slovenia so opted to cut East toward the Baltic States and leave the familiar Adriatic coastline.
After a four hour drive hugging the coastline we turned Northeast just after the bridge to Krk we immediately began climbing through pristine pine forests. We passed through border control with little fuss. The temperature plummeted from 29 degrees to 19 degrees within as many minutes and the clouds rolled in………..did we make the right decision?
The “Beware wild boar” signs we had been passing an hour ago were replaced with “Beware Deer” signs. Traffic was almost non existent and in the odd meadow between pine forests were cows and sheep, the first domesticated animals we’d seen for some time. The only traffic on the roads were logging trucks. The change within 25kms was huge.
We arrived into Ljubljana , the Slovenian Capital, during a torrential downpour. We’d heard that Slovenia was notoriously wet and after a tiring eight hour drive, this was a tough introduction. We parked up, had some dinner and went to bed wondering had we gone North too early in the season.
Slovenia is a very small Country of only around 2,000,000 people and previously one of the 3 Communist States of Yugoslavia. It is almost landlocked other than a very small part of coastline on the Adriatic and neighbors Croatia, Hungary and Italy.
OK , up early next morning (sun shining) and took a public bus into Ljubljana. It’s the largest City in Slovenia. Even though it’s the cultural, industrial and political center, it feels more like a large town, with only a population of 280,000. It appears to have adopted a Slow Tourism philosophy ……..I don’t mean we all walk about slowly, it is more about experiencing what the place is all about. Oh and it’s been declared the First Green Country….so it’s all about looking after the environment. Well done on that one! Often Ljubljana is referred to as little Prague, haven’t been so can’t compare but it is a very picturesque City, dominated by the castle sitting above it and a river running through it. There’s a handful of bridges dissecting it. The Triple bridge, Dragon Bridge,Butchers Bridge….The LOOOVE bridge (covered in padlocks with love notes inscribed) most towns seem to have em and the Cobblers bridge.a few of the many bridges ..pastel facades ..Amanda wouldn’t be Amanda if she didn’t want to walk up to the castle , so of course we did. You’ll need one of those big fat gorgeous cakes like the one in the picture above when you get back down. They are a bit like a Vanilla slice only much much better. They whip cream into the vanilla then add a layer of cream as well. Try one when you’re here, they are called Kremna Rezini…..or more commonly known as Kremsnita……YUM!!!
We got back to Pinot and met a couple of Swedes with a Sydney sign on the front windscreen, so joined them for drinks and had a great night with a very funny couple…….they live in Sydney 6 months a year then travel Europe for 6 months and have been doing it for 9 years. Great night!
Off North again in search of Lake Bled. Found a large car park just 2 minutes walk from Bled and decided to stay there overnight as there were a few other Moho’ doing the same. Only 10 Euros for 24 hours. Bled and the Lake is heavily geared towards tourism, but nothing too outrageous (again the Green theme and slow tourism is winning) hats off to that! We walked around the whole lake (about 7 Km’s ) and won’t bang on about it, will just add the pictures below..A couple doing a spot of fishing…at least I think that’s what they’re doinga bit of fancy work with this pic..another way to see around the lake .. A great day well spent here and a fairly peaceful sleep till the supermarket deliveries next door started arriving from 5.00am
Nice breakfast and were off again. This time we traveled along the valley toward Lake Bohinj through the Triglav National Park. Looking up we were surrounded by the Julian Alps with the highest being Mount Triglav. We ended up going along a ridiculously tight road and through some beautiful little hamlets, can’t call them villages as they are tiny. We stopped for morning coffee in Stara Fuzina then had a wander around. Clearly they get a very cold Winter with a lot of the white stuff judging by the apex roofs and firewood neatly tucked into every nook and cranny outside their homes. .We then parked for a couple of hours in Ribcev Laz, the main village on Lake Bohinj. This is a fantastic spot, filled with trout (I think that’s what they were) just lying close to the surface, unperturbed by nosey tourists. The water is crystal clear here, in fact the water everywhere in Slovenia is amazing.
A group of 4 men, sponsored by some Count in 1778 to make the first successful ascent of Mt Triglav, in hope of discovering new Iron ore sites. Courageous men indeed for their time.The picture below is a bronze statue of The Golden Horn, a stag believed to guard the lake.
We enjoyed a picnic by the Lake then deeper into the National Park to Savica Waterfall. 500 steps up to the best vantage point. A LOT of water tumbling down as you can see in the pic below.and from here we backtracked around the National Park toward Gozd Martuljek, 5 klms from Kranjska Gora, set in the valley of the Julian Alps. What a place we found to explore the surrounds….an absolute cracker. The Manager of Camp Spik was a font of information about the walks and rides and we took full advantage of it over the next few days. Our spot for Pinot wasn’t too shabby either. Below is a pic outside our front door….a grand spot for breakfast or a glass of wine with dinner. The view from our van was amazing.From here we had so many options and spent 4 great days either hiking or riding. We spent the first day riding from our site in Slovenia, across the border into Italy, a mere 11 klms away and stunning scenery all the way..We stopped (again) for our coffee and cake in the quaint village of Kranjska Gora. It’s currently transforming from a Winter playground for skiing etc into an equally fabulous Summer destination for Mountain biking, kayaking, skydiving etc whilst out cycling we passed the ski slopes where the Audi World Cup downhill skiing was this year. Watching it on tv is one thing but when you see how steep it is and what a short area they have to stop in is crazy…these guys have no fear,
There were a lot of chairlifts along the cycle path and this weekend the area played host to Mountain Bike tournament. Actually it was Trail Days bike and music festival. There were hundreds of cyclists here from all over Europe. The chairlifts hooked their bikes on and took them to the top where they hurtled down specially built tracks along the way there’s lovely meadows and Spring flowersWe never tired of riding here with the Julian Alps as a backdrop.From here we cycled up a VERY steep hill to Laghi du Fisine in Italy which was something special as you can see below. It’s so mountainous and the huge forests everywhere really compliment everything. It really is a very magical area and feels really quiet and unspoiled…we were concerned that after the beautiful Croatian coastline, we’d be a little flat. No chance, this place is bloody brilliant..An long and satisfying day and a well deserved beer or two before retiring.
Next day was a ride in the other direction toward Mojstrana and an uphill7 k stretch to the Pernicink Waterfall. They actually refer to the waterfalls as SLAPS, so by the end of the week we’d visited so many of them perhaps we could be referred to as a couple of old SLAPPERS….I’ve been called worse !
Amanda stayed by the face of the Slap and I crept along a narrow bath behind and got soaked for my troubles…..but a nice pic showing the force and volume of water cascading past meAfter a couple of cycling days we opted for some hiking. There is a great hike from our front door in Gozd Martuljek to Martuljkov Slap…..commonly referred to as Slap1 and if your feeling particularly fit, you can slog up to Slap 2.A mere trickle before we got to the Slap proper.The next section which was another hour and a half up….very steep in parts with a bit of scrambling thrown in but when we turned a bend and saw Slap 2 it was worth every step..We’d run out of water so decided to scramble down and fill them up……the water was absolutely frigid and my hands were only in it for seconds and the picture below shows my reactionOn my way back to Amanda I noticed a way to climb up to the next level…..I wish I hand,t noticed to to be honest. I’m not frightened by heights but a combination of age and limbs not as agile as they once were left me a wee bit nervy on the way back down….the little area to climb which runs parallel to the waterfall is almost vertical and very narrow. You can just see me in the middle of the below picture to the left of the guy in yellow if you zoom in with my hand raised……and a nasty brown stain on my pants ????NowI have to get back down….oh oh.Another fantastic day out and some sore legs. The rest of the day was spent back at base camp going through maps and trying to decide where to from here. Before we could leave, we wanted to drive across the Vrsic Pass….IN PINOT. The pass starts just a few kilometers from Kranjska Gora and is an engineering marvel. It’s an alpine road with 50 hairpin bends and many many more other bends winding it’s way over 1,600 meters high to Bovic. It was commissioned during WW1 and the labor was done by Russian POW’s. Sadly an avalanche killed many of them near the top and there’s a wooden church commemorating them near the top. It’s only open from May until October each year so it was great to go over it……a car or motorbike may have been more sensible but needs must. Apparently a rider during the Giro Italia cycled to the top in a record breaking 37 minutes….WOW that’s amazing, I reckon it took me 40 minutes in Pinot.
From here the descent was low gear and brakes all the way. There was still snow on the tops even in June and Amanda tells me the views up and down the pass were great.We drove following the Soca river to Bovec and stopped for coffee and did a bit of food shopping.However it had turned a bit cool and the rain started so stayed in the campsite bar and streamed the State of Origin match live………disappointing result (NSW won) so after a quiet evening planning the next days route we decided to head North to who knows where.
A full week in a fabulous little Country and if you like the great outdoors, Summer or Winter, then get yourself here, it’s a beautiful corner of the World and sits very highly on our favoutite places to visit
Love to All xx