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Slovenia Again

Saturday 1st September 2018 

Yet another trip to Slovenia, and once again, back to Kranjska Gora.

An afternoon flight seemed great initially. No bleary eyed driving to Manchester Airport in the early hours.

The motorways flowed well and I got to the Jetpark Ringway car park in good time. Check in for my FlyBe flight was quick, I’ve been in some very long queues at Manchester in the past.

As I was early, I left the terminal building and sat in a little garden between terminals 1 and 3. Just as well, I discovered a can of pop in my carry on bag from the walk earlier in the week!

Gone are the days of the package companies using Adria Airways and their Airbus aircraft. I was boarding a Bombardier Q400 Dash 8. A turboprop with a ceiling of around 25,000 feet and a top speed a little over 400mph.

I had the two seats to myself which resulted in a decent amount of leg room and a fairly comfortable flight. I was lucky, all other seats appeared to be taken.

The low altitude and decent weather resulted in some nice views as we headed over the Netherlands and Germany towards Salzburg….

…then a three hour minibus journey with a 45 stop at a service station. Argh!!  I was soon cursing the later start as we drove along the dark roads, arriving at my hotel at  around 11pm.

The Ramada Resort hotel room was lovely. Despite being a single room there was a lot of space inside and, outside the glass patio doors, I had a balcony overlooking the centre of the village.

A plate of meat, cheese and fruit was waiting for me in the room and, surprisingly, there was a kettle with a collection of tea and coffee.  A pleasant unexpected meal before I settled down for the night.

Sunday 2nd September

After a very good sleep, I wandered down to the large restaurant. It was quiet and I could sit where I wanted, I took a seat by the window overlooking the mountains.

Italy Slovenia borderThe weather forecast was poor so I thought I’d do a route that was easy to navigate, I didn’t want to soak my map on the first day.

I headed out on the D2 cycle path towards Italy.

The weather in the morning wasn’t too bad, I hoped it would at least stay dry at least until I reached the lakes. As I crossed the border, there were a few spots of drizzle, nothing too bad. I stopped at a picnic bench and put on my waterproof jacket and trousers.

Resembling a failed model from an Arc’teryx catalogue, I followed a small road from the cycle path towards the lakes.  The road came out at a T-junction on Via del Laghi. I took a left, initially staying on the road before joining the pleasant path following a steam.

The last time I came here was at the end of a very long walk, the sun was shining and the view was beautiful. Last time I only got as far as the cafe by the side of the lower lake but knew I would return to investigate further if I was ever in Kranjska Gora again.

Today, in the gloom, the view wasn’t as dramatic and, as I passed the cafe, the rain became torrential. I found shelter by crouching under an overhanging rock . I stayed for a few minutes but it was obvious it wasn’t going to dry up any time soon.

Italian lakesI continued around the lower lake then through the woods to the upper lake. I didn’t go completely around the second lake, maybe in retrospect I should have. Instead I went around the East shore towards the car park. After a quick visit to the toilets, I made my way back to the lower lake, through the woods.

It had stopped raining as a left the lakes and followed the stream to the road junction. As it was still quite early in the afternoon, rather than take the right hand track back to Slovenia, I stayed on the road a while longer, joining the cycle track again further West.

I pressed on for a bit but soon realised that this strip of tarmac just went on and on and on. I retraced my steps back to a sign pointing to a castle and church. I do like a good castle, so left the cycle track and took the quiet road to the village of Fusine in Valromana.

I walked as far as the church which was situated at the far end of the village but no sign of the castle. I circled a few times but no castle or any more signs so I turned around and  went the same way back to the hotel, following the cycle track to Kranjska Gora.

Download the route as a GPX.

Back at the hotel I found the village on Google maps and Street View. I could not see a castle or the signs to it. Surely I didn’t imagine it!?

Monday 3rd September

I took a stroll to the local  Mercator supermarket for supplies  With the surprise addition of tea and coffee in the room, I picked up some milk along with some other drinks, there was plenty of room to store them in hotel room’s minibar fridge.

For just over €2 I had a litre of milk and enough soft drinks for the week.

Clouds over Kranjska GoraMy waterproofs were needed straight away today. The constant rain was forecast to stay for most of the day.

I was heading north out of Kranjska Gora, following path 2 to Srednji Vrh.

I walked up the road and took shelter in some sort of building I assumed was used by  farmers. Needless to say, views were minimal as the clouds hung low over the hills.

Leaving the road, I took the path through  woods, the trees offering little protection from the rain.  Old Slovenian farm houseFrom the woods, the route continued through a farming village. I passed an old farm house with an interesting toilet!

Speaking of toilets, I knew there was a compost  toilet near Srednji Vrh. Welcome relief from the rain if nothing else!

From Gozd Martuljek I joined the D2 cycle route to the railway bridge. Here, I took a track to the right which soon became a footpath.

This was uncharted waters. The recognised walking routes in the area are extremely well marked, but there were no red and white painted blobs or big yellow arrows here. Initially the route was easy to follow with clearly defined paths, however, I reached a junction various options. I tried to keep going West as much as I could.

At one point I stumbled upon an area were new electricity pylons were being installed. I wasn’t entirely sure I should be there but pressed on regardless. In the back of my mind was the river crossing at the end of this section. On an ‘official’ path, there would be a nice, sturdy, well built bridge but here, who knows?  The map showed a crossing of some sort. There may be a bridge or I may have to wade through water or, worst case, I may have to retrace my steps.

Log bridgeI reached the river at the point I intended. There was a bridge, of sorts. Two logs  spanned the  river. My Mamut Trovat boots grip to most things…..

…..except wet logs.

To add to the problems  I have no balance what so ever.  I could risk falling in (highly likely) or find the shallowest area to wade through. Thinking wet feet is better than wet everything, I went for the second option and zig-zagged my way over the water.

I managed to cross with only my shins getting wetter, I was still quite damp after the earlier rain.

It was a short walk from here, up the track to the road in to Gozd Martuljek.

The return trip passed through the large hotel and campsite complex Spik.  The easy to follow path passed through the site and along side a stream. It was quite pleasant, apart from the  constant drizzle.

The path moved away from the water and up though  woodland before dropping back down to the side of the river Sava Dolinka.  I walked around the back of the large sport complex and in to Kranjska Gora.

The route is available on ViewRanger as a GPX

Tuesday 4th September

After a very quiet period at the hotel, a  couple of coach loads of guests had arrived overnight. Bizarrely, one of the new arrivals came to breakfast with a can of  WD40!

I had planned a long walk so smuggled a banana out of the breakfast room, that would do for lunch!

My boots were still very wet. My waterproof trousers had been on the balcony overnight and I concluded they were just cold rather than wet, I needn’t have worried, an hour in to the walk, it was t-shirt weather.

I had left the hotel early and took D2 to the east towards Mojstrana. The walking and navigation was simple which is one reason I did this route last year when the weather was bad. I decided then it was a good walk to come back and do again.

There were three plans; walk to the waterfall then get the bus back, press on to the North Face of Triglav and get the bus back or, see the waterfall and walk back. The Alpine museum  in Mojstrana had an information board describing the Triglav walk. As it was a 6 hour round trip from Mojstrana. I decided I’d come back by bus to do that walk.  Today, I would visit the Peričnik waterfall.

via Ferrata near Kranjska Gora SloveniaMojstrana has a number of via ferrata routes, I stood and watched three people making their way up Grančišče before continuing.  There is a footpath I could have taken me towards the falls but, given the distances I was covering today,  I thought I would take the easy, direct route and followed the fairly quiet road.

The views were beautiful and at one point, I got a peek at the mighty Triglav.

The waterfall itself is impressive. I viewed it from the road then noticed a path up through the trees. I decided to follow it. I was glad I did!

The fairly steep and uneven path  heads up through the trees to a flat-ish area with great views of the cascade. A rather ‘interesting’ path went behind the fall itself. It was narrow, quite slippery and very impressive! I ended up getting as wet as I had in the previous rainy days!

After a few photos,  I took the same path back down from the falls to the road. I continued up the road a bit to find a spot by the river for a drink and lunch (the smuggled banana!).

Suitably feed and watered, I took the road back down to Mojstrana and decided to walk back taking the full distance walked to 24 miles! The route was flat so I made decent progress although my legs did feel the last mile. A drink on the balcony was very welcome!

The full route is available as a GPX file but can be shortened, using the reliable buses between Kranjska Gora and Mojstrana.

After dinner ( cottage cheese souffle, roast veal and veg), I took a walk up to Lake Jasna. Just after passing the Best Western hotel, two deer crossed over the road. I’m often lucky spotting animals on holidays (although I didn’t think it lucky when I was face to face with a bear in Italy!)

That evening stroll completed my marathon for the day.

Part 2…

Kranjska Gora, Slovenia

Saturday 16th September
Another trip to Slovenia started with long delays.  At the time we were due to depart from Manchester I fired up FlightRadar,  the Adria Airways A319  I should now be sitting on was still making its way over Belgium.
Once the aircraft arrived, we were delayed further, apparently due to Manchester being short staffed.
Things on board improved. I had all three seats to myself and the row in front of me was empty.
It was a very pleasant  flight with mostly clear, turbulence free skies, however,  over Slovenia things became  very cloudy and very wet!

I got in to my hotel at around 20:00 and went  straight to dinner.  An all you can eat buffet. I went for the beef soup, croquettes,  pork ribs and a bowl full from the salad bar. The food was alll very nice, as was my room at the Hotel Kompas The single room was a good size and  had a balcony over looking the hills.

After dinner, the rain had stopped so I took a short stroll around town, passing just one person walking their dog.
Typical Saturday night in Kranjska Gora!

Sunday 17th September
After a very good night’s sleep, I went down to breakfast which included apricot dumplings and  carrot souffle!  Sufficiently fed, I wandered to the local  Mercator for some supplies before heading back to pack my waterproof gear.

One word to describe today….wet!
Leaving the hotel I joined the D2 bike path West towards the start of route  9. All well signed posted easy paths so far.
As I ventured further in to the woods I hadn’t seen a sign for a while and the path was climbing. My golden rule when walking in Slovenia; if you’ve not seen a sign or a painted red and while ‘blob’ for a while, your probably going the wrong way. I headed back, yes, there was the sign but I shouldn’t be going up hill and my GPS said I was way off course. At least I was heading in the right general direction towards Planica so continued until I reached a hut at across roads. There were no signs or painted marks here but I knew a right should get me in the right direction and loose the excess height I’d gained. Sure enough, it brought me out where I expected on the track I had originally planned to walk on.

Indoor cross country skiing
Indoor cross country skiing

I soon reached the ski jump centre at Planica.
Wow, it has changed a lot!

Last time I was here, there were a number of ski jumps and a ‘mountain hut’ to the side of them. There is now a hotel, indoor skydiving centre, indoor cross country, a cafe and toilets. Good for escaping the rain!

Leaving the centre, I continued on towards the Nadiza waterfall, I had to cross the river at one point, just in case I wasn’t wet enough already already!

Nadiza waterfall is impressive although you can’t get very close to it. Luckily it had  stopped raining long enough  for me to get some photos from the best vantage point I could find.Nadiza waterfall Kranjska Gora Slovenia
From the waterfall, I crossed a field to take shelter in a church and take a look at the map.
I took same path back to Planica then continued along the road to Ratece.
The weather had become worse, along with the rain was plenty of thunder and occasional lightning
At Ratece,  I rejoined D2 stopping to take a look at the Labarinti.  I assumed this to be a maze for kids, however, after reading in to it online, the labyrinth is somewhere you go to find your inner well being….or something like that!
Deciding my being was well enough, I continued on my way, towards  Zelenci, a  nature reserve just outside Kranjska Gora. As it had finally stopped raining I thought I’d extend the walk a little!
This route is available to download as a GPX file

Back at the hotel I took a quick shower then down for dinner at the ‘help yourself buffet’. Garlic soup to start followed by veal. I put a bit of shark on the plate too, just to try something different!
The weather got worse in the evening so I stayed in the room and  watched Slovenia beat Serbia in  the Eurobasket basketball tournament. I’d later discover this was big news in Slovenia!

Monday  18th September
After breakfast I once again headed out in more rain and again I took the D2 cycle path, this time towards Gozd Martuljek., taking a right on the track just south ofThe difficult path the village.
Just past the information boards and a clearing where a charcoal pile was being ‘cooked’, the path split in two. I took the left hand fork up what was described as ‘the difficult path’.
I like a challenge!
Initially this was a lovely route along the gorge.  The paths were well marked following the cascading water.
The path climbed and, with the help of steps and bridges, crosses the river. Then, came the awkward part…. passing over and climbing up the torrent!
It didn’t help matters that my  boots were already wet due to all then rain.

Metal Ladder in Rocks
Metal ‘ladder’ in the rocks

After the first waterfall,  Lower Martuljek , or ‘Slap 1’ as it is signed, I had a climb through the  woods  to the next upper waterfall.
Towards the end of the route, hand rails have been put in to the rock, along with metal ‘ladders’ to help with the climb. It’s not an easy walk but the views are fantastic!
I’ve since read websites detailing the dangers of this route.
I managed on my own and, as long as decent boots are worn and care taken, it shouldn’t pose any major problems.

Another Waterfall to cross
Another waterfall to cross

I wandered back the same way before taking the left hand fork to the ‘easier’ path through the woods.
I decided it was too early to go back to the hotel and, as the rain had stopped, I followed the quiet road climbing from Gozd Martuljek  to Srednji Vrh passing another waterfall on my way.
The views across to where I had walked earlier were beautiful, especially now the weather had cleared slightly
From here it was an easy walk back in to Kranjska Gora.

The full route is available as a GPX file

Tuesday 19th September
Horrible weather forecast;  yellow alert for rain and the temperature during the day not rising above 8 Celsius.
My  phone (running the ViewRanger GPS app)  and paper maps wouldn’t last 5 minutes in the persistent heavy downpour so I opted for an extremely easy to navigate route.  I joined D2 and just kept on going  to Mojstrana, a lovely village,  shame about weather!

I concluded it was too far, too cold and too wet to continue on to the waterfall. On a nicer day I may have continued to  Peričnik Falls and got the bus back but today, the prospect of standing waiting for the rather infrequent bus wasn’t something I wanted to be doing.
Instead, I popped in to the Alpine museum in Mojstana, an interesting little museum with the bonus of being warm and dry!  There is a small shop in the museum offering souvenirs and maps. It is also, a good place to get information about weather conditions in the mountains, details on mountain huts etc.
Not far from the museum is the start of via ferrata trail maybe something else for me to tackle in the future!

IMG_3118 Bivouac II
Bivouac at the Alpine museum in Mojstana

The hotel had a themed night tonight, traditional foods and band in costume playing Slovenian folk music. The meal included beef soup, local smoked hams, pasta stuffed with potato in a cheese sauce, goulash and buckwheat.
After my evening meal, I decided I ain’t going back out there so the evening was spent planning some more walks. If the weather forecasts were to be believed, the worst of the weather was over

Wednesday 20th September
Blimey blue skies!
I was up early. Buckwheat on breakfast menu along with ‘semolina tower’.
After my unusual first meal of the day,  the waterproofs went in the rucksack, where they stayed for the duration!
I followed the D2 cycle path West to Ratece,  the last village before the Italian border and  one of the coldest places in the country.  I walked North through the village to  the path leading the point  where the borders of three countries meet.
The route climbed steadily. It was partly path, partly track and easy to follow.

As I climbed I started to see little patches of snow, these became larger and larger patches. Before the final climb, I had a choice,  track or path. I opted for the winding path. The patches of snow became bigger and nearing the peak it became a thick layer of crunchy fresh snow.
An unexpected surprise in September!
Austria, Italy and Slovenia all covered in snow… At least, they were up here!
Over to Austria

I took a brief stroll along the Austrian hills before taking the obligatory photograph where the borders met.
Back in Slovenia,  I followed the wide track from the top down, taking a right at the first fork then a took a right and descended towards Podkoren.
Annoyingly, happily wandering along I missed my path(s) into Podkoren and ended up on the road but at least the traffic was light.
From Podkoren I headed East and just before joining the main road, I took route 3 following the River Sava before dropping down back down to Kranjska Gora.
Download this route as a GPX.

Thursday 21st September

Chilli peppers at breakfast! (-;

Mist on the hillsHeaded out today following the river south passing the Zlatatog statue.
Initially I was following a road. A cyclist rode past singing Bohemian Rhapsody…as you do.
It was early in the morning, the roads were quiet and the mist was rolling down the hills.

I stayed on the road until I hit a bridge, here I crossed and continued up the quiet Vršič Pass. Partway along, road works were being carried out. I wouldn’t say little happens in this part of the world but I later spotted myself on local news walking past!
I left the road when I reached the Russian Chapel, a chapel built by Russian prisoners of war engaged in forced labour in the area during World War.
The climb up to Vršič was well signed as it zigzagged up towards Vršič and, once again I found  snow!

IMG_20170921_130626348_HDR~01

This is virtually a linear route I altered it slightly by crossing on to the other side of the river on the way back.
Despite having to return the same route, this was a lovely walk with some fantastic views!
This route is available to download

IMG_20170921_131746658

As I got back to Kranjska Gora, a number of interesting cars were driving through, many parking up in my hotel’s car park. All were taking part in the Ramble Rally, a 5 day rally through Europe.

Friday 22nd September
Sadly, all to quickly the last day had come….and my walking boots are still saturated! It was a short walk from the hotel to Vitranc chair lift.  I Paid €7 for a one way trip.
This was a new and fun experience given that this was a chair lift more usually taking skiers up the hill.  It was a strange feeling looking down to see nothing below my feet.
Alighting at the top was something niggling in the back of my mind during the journey up. It was fairly simple, lift the bar and run off….well jog quick enough to be quicker than the lift!
I filmed a section of the ride

From the station the walk to Vitranc was well signposted and, once again, it wasn’t long until I found the snow!
The sign below amused me, Vitranc 15 minutes  or 25 minutes for tourists…needless to say I saw this as a challenge and, I’m pleased to say, got there in 15 minutes!

Sign to Vitranc

It was a bit of a slog to the top of Vitranc which, in the winter months, is used for down hill skiing competitions 
Views from walk down VitrancSadly, the hut at the peak was closed so I continued towards Ciprnik.
As this was a 15 mile walk and I had packing to get back to, I decided to give the snowy route up to Ciprnik a miss and continued on.
The snow actually making my navigation easier, just follow the other set of footprints ahead!
The path slowly made its way down, through the woods towards the ski jump centre at Planica.  A little hut along the path offers some great views.
At the bottom of the hill I took the road down to the D2 cycle path. From here, I could have taken a right back to Kranjska Gora but instead decided to quickly pop over the border to Italy.
 Lago di Fusine Inferiore Lake ItalyThe walking was easy, just stay on the D2 before taking the road for the last part of the way to the lake, Lago di Fusine Inferiore.  This is a lovely spot to sit and take in the last of the sunshine. There’s a bar on the side of the lake and plenty of seats offering fantastic views.
From here it was a straight walk back to Kranjska Gora, although I did go via one of the local villages to stock up on drink.

The walk, from the top chairlift station is available as a GPX file.

Saturday 23rd September
Time for a quick cup of coffee and cereal before heading back to the airport for the flight back to Manchester.
A real mix of weather, torrential rain, snow and warm sunshine but another fantastic trip and I know I will be back and I’m sure visit number 10 won’t be too far off!

 

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