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Slovenia 2019

All quiet on the blog recently, WordPress has decided not to work on Chrome, it’s a little wobbly on Edge too…
….Anyway, June 2019 (yes it really has taken me that long to complete this post!). Another year, another trip to Slovenia.
This was a rather impromptu and virtually free trip using the money I’d built up via TopCashBack…..and I gained more cashback with my booking!

I set an alarm (and a backup alarm!) for 02.30. Argh!
On the bright side the roads were quiet . 
Sadly, things went downhill at the rather chaotic Manchester airport. A queue had formed just to get upstairs to the check in area! To avoid this, I went into the multi story car park and used the stairs there.
When I arrived at check-in for my TUI flight, there was the usual very, very long queue which seems common with all their flights.

Airside, I filled up my empty plastic flask with water from the fountain (saves few quid!), bought a much needed coffee and an egg & (apparently) bacon baguette for the flight.

Arriving at the gate, I was told one of the toilets on the aircraft was not working. The flight would be delayed while they attempted to fix the problem. I plugged my phone in to charge and waited…..
I was due to fly on the new Boeing 737 Max, however, following a couple of accidents, every aircraft of that type had been grounded. We were now flying on an Olympus Airways Airbus A321. This resulted in some faffing due to the changes to seat configuration once we did get onboard. 
Our Greek crew eventually got us airborne 40 minutes later than scheduled.

A couple of hours later, we arrived in Austria. From here it was a three hour trip in a minibus over the border to Kranjska Gora.

My room in Pension Milka was comfortable and a good size for a single room but the best feature was the view!!

View from balcony Pension Milka Kranjska Gora, Slovenia

After unpacking, I made my way downstairs on to the outside eating area. I was staying half board which included a three course evening meal. There was no choice, you got what you were given, but the quality was phenomenal.
The ‘amuse-bouche’ was a beetroot bread with smoked butter and hummus. All home made. Next came celery, bacon and walnut soup .
Main course was duck with beetroot reduction. A lavender panna cotta with berries rounded off this fantastic meal.

The next morning I woke at around 07:15 to the sound of grass cutting. They start early here! 
I helped myself to a selection of ham, cheese, bread and cereal while a very nice ‘proper’ Americano coffee was prepared for me.

After breakfast, I headed out, up the road to path 7 towards Vrisc. This was a very easy route to follow. Taking a left from the hotel, I followed the road up as far as the footpath to the left.
Although this was a climb, it was fairly gradual with plenty of views and things of interest, such as the Russian Chapel. I arrived there at 10:30, before the tourists descended so had a good look round.

Vrisc pass, Slovenia. Face in rock

My route took my past the ‘face in the cliffs’. Needless to say, there is a story behind this.

On reaching the part of Vrisc where the tourist coaches stop and their passengers get a photo, I continued past the dom (a large mountain hut serving food) to a much quieter peak where there was still some snow on the ground. I passed through the white stuff towards a little grey box containing a book to record my visit (for safety) and a rubber stamp. It would have been nice to mark on my map that I’d arrived but, sadly, the ink had dried up.
It was a beautifully warm and sunny day. This was a great spot to sit a while and take in the views.

View from Vrisc pass, Slovenia

The route back was similar to the route up albeit slightly quicker. The total distance being around 12.5 miles. A GPX file can be downloaded from the Viewranger website    

Italian lakes near Slovenian border

Friday 7th June and I’m the only person at breakfast. I was offered eggs cooked any way I wished to go with my coffee and cereal. 
It was another hot and sunny day. The plan was to take the path/cycle route D2 to the  Fusine lakes across the border in Italy. This was a walk I’ve done a few times but it really is beautiful and well worth a return visit.
I did a figure of eight loop stopping at a quiet spot for a quick drink and to take in the views.
I continued along D2 the far end of the village Fusine in Valromana but there was little reward in extending the walk. I’ve removed this extra part from the GPX file.

Saturday was looking to be another hot sunny day. The car park around the lake Jasna was already busy when left my room at 9am. 
My original plan was to get bus to Mojstrana but I decided to walk. This was perhaps not best idea! It was 26 degrees in relentless sun. On a previous visit, I got as far as the foot of Triglav,  today, I only reached the gallery rock formations.  Still, it was a nice if surprisingly tiring walk.
I returned to Mojstrana for the hourly bus back to Kranjska Gora. I felt quite smug. After a quick look on Alpetour website, I’d got to the stop a few minutes before the bus and had the correct change….I hadn’t spotted that the 16:12 bus didn’t run on Saturday. Could have been worse, the bus stop was closed on some days due to road works.  

 Sunday 9th June
After being the only person at breakfast on the previous mornings, today there was another English lady travelling alone and an Austrian family.
Later in the morning I popped in to the shopping area for some cash. Two cash machines were out of money. I assumed there had been a rush on Friday and Saturday. I had enough money for some drinks so headed to the supermarket. It was closed. Using my limited Slovenian, I’d worked out it should have opened at 8am. It was now 9.20
Giving up on that idea, I grabbed my stuff then went on walk to the Koca v Krnici hut. A nice simple walk following the river through woods. I took the track back making it fairly circular.
I’d returned to Kranjska Gora quite early in afternoon so took D2 to Gozd Martuljek, crossing the river for the walk back.
This walk can be easily split in to two separate shorter walks from Kranjska Gora.
I later discovered that today was Pentecost or Whit Sunday, a national holiday in Slovenia. Explains why everything was shut!

Monday 10th June
The plan today was to do the three borders walk but the dark clouds were gathering in that direction.
I started walking towards where the borders of Slovenia, Italy and Austria meet but took a left a Ratece towards the Planica centre.
Passing the visitor centre and ski jumps, I continued on to walk to the Nadiza waterfall.
I’d walked up the waterfall last year so today I followed one of the paths south just because it was there! I was glad I did! More snow to play in and some fantastic views.
This is a great, easy circular walk from Planica although I removed the extra bit to the south off my GPX file

Once I made my way back to Planica, I took the path beside the hotel and on to the Slanta ski lift. The path had the usual yellow signs pointing to Kranjska Gora and Ratece. Then I hit a sign saying ‘private’.
Was walking across here still possible?
There was nobody around so I carried on but no yellow footpath signs until I got over their land. According to my GPS I was still on the footpath. Had it been removed?
My route, legal or otherwise, came out near the bizarre labyrinth, from here it is an easy walk on D2 back. 

Tuesday 11th June 
Today I was going to try a new route, head towards the Martuljek waterfall. then take the path towards Spik and the bivouac
The further I went along the path, the more difficult the terrain. Not hugely difficult but rain was predicted, the clouds were getting darker and I was rapidly loosing confidence in my Scapra approach shoes.  It was enough for me to think to myself, “I’ve seen nobody since leaving D2 and the phone signal has disappearing. As much as I want to stay in Slovenia, I didn’t want to prolong my stay by being stuck up a mountain after a slip.”
There were a lot more contours on the map ahead and, looking at the map, there would not be much more in the way of views although seeing the bivouac would have been fun. 

I followed the path back down to a track which led me down to D2 opposite the memorial for cyclist Jure Robic.  From here, I followed D2 to Gozd Martuljek taking the road through the village and up past a waterfall.
Taking a left at Srednji Vrh, the route continues through pastures, woodland and past a house selling fresh yogurt.
There were some great views over to Kranjska Gora but the weather was turning so I cut the walk a shorter and headed back to the hotel the rain became very heavy.
The Pension Milka kitchen was closed today at the hotel so I headed to Kotnik’s for a takeaway pizza. I got the most expensive pizza on the menu (€10 plus 50c for box). Truffle; Mozzarella, sweet cream, truffle, deer prosciutto, Karst prosciutto, Parmesan. Fantastic!!
I made my way very quickly in the torrential rain to my balcony where I sat with my pizza and a Slovenian IPA beer watching the storms in the valleys.

A 5.30 pick up for the airport in the morning so an early night this evening. A total of 214.67km or 133.4 miles to add to the total this year.

Slovenia Again Part 2

Wednesday 5th September
Today’s plan was to head to Tromeja,  the border of Slovenia, Austria and Italy. I had a few possible routes planned.  Route one was through Italy but not  on recognised paths. The other two routes stayed in Slovenia just north of  Rateče.
Not knowing how good the paths on the Italian side would be, I decided to stay in Slovenia. 
Tree management was taking place along the route and I concluded it would be easier to get past the workers on the wider track rather than the narrow path through the trees. Besides, I had taken the route through the woods last year, albeit in thick snow. 
Today was another lovely warm, sunny day and I was soon down to t-shirt and shorts. It was a pleasant, easy walk up to the peak.
At the top, it seemed a number of people had taken chair lift up from Austria and strolled to the border. Needless to say they were fully kitted up; “all the gear but no idea”. One of my gripes climbing Snowdon  is reaching the summit to find people swarming around after getting off the train, but I digress.
I managed to find a quiet spot off the footpaths. I dug out the lunch I acquired at breakfast and sat a while with a fantastic, endless view over Austria.

View over Austria

I  returned to the border, a place where, if you had three legs, you can stand in three different countries at the same time.  From there, I retraced my route for a while before taking a track to my right heading south.  I clambered over a stack of logs before heading south through a clearing in the trees. I hit another ‘fence of logs’ and carried on.
Hmmm, I seemed to be heading in the wrong direction. A quick check on my GPS and yes, I was heading down a dead end although, there are worse places to be ‘lost’. I was in a lovely dense pine forest. The smell was fantastic.

Beware of the bull
No translation required!

I went back to the log fence where I saw a group of English people sliding the top rows of logs across. Ah, so that’s how it works!
I pointed out to them that the track they were following was unlikely to be the one they wanted but they pressed on regardless. I do wonder what happened them.
The  actual path was hard to find. It is a track to the left  close to pylons. Once on the right route, I continued though a field of cows who were very reluctant to get out of my way!
The rest of the walk was far easier to follow and brought me out in the village of Podkoren. The path to Kranjska Gora is at the east side of the village, just before the main road and passing over a stream.
The path enters woodland just after passing a field containing ostriches. There are a few routes back to Kranjska Gora. One, lower walk, follows the river, I climbed to a higher path.
This route is available as a GPX file.

After dinner I took a stroll to the edge of town towards the petrol station for some bat spotting.

Thursday 6th September
I wanted an early start to day and woke at around 06.30. I got my bag packed and clothes ready and wandered down to breakfast which started at 7, it was already busy.
I filed myself with eggy bread,  bacon, omelette and croquettes.
After initially thinking, “tea and coffee making facilities, that’s a novelty”, I found myself getting peeved that my supplies hadn’t been replenished. I hid the last of the teabags in a drawer in the hope that would prompt housekeeping to leave me some more.

I decided I’d walk the first half of the route today. 21 miles should be do-able, I’d already proved that earlier in the week, besides, I didn’t want to try and pronounce Mojstrana to the bus driver!
Two hours twenty minutes later, I reached the start to get to start of walk, by  the Alpine Museum in Mojstrana.
The Triglavska Bistrica Trail runs along the Triglavska Bistrica River  along roads and paths to the Vrata Valley and the north face of Triglav.
Once again I passed the Peričnik Fall. Further along the route was the Galerije, an impressive collection of overhanging rocks.
After stopping at Aljažev dom to use their facilities, I continued on to the majestic north face of Triglav.

view of Trigav, highest peak in Slovenia

I decided that it was just a little too much to walk back so I took the bus back from Mojstrana to Kranjska Gora. The bus arrived at 15:30. I couldn’t decide if this was the bus I planned to get running very late or the next bus running early. Either way, it was a comfortable and quick way back to the hotel.
The website https://www.alpetour.si/en/public-transport/bus-schedule-browser great for finding the times of buses, length of journey and cost.


Lake Jasna Kranjska Gora

I was knackered, but resisted temptation to go to room, instead, went to Pri Jezersk, a little bar near the lake. 
It was well worth the 2 mile round trip. I sat with a nice drink and a beautiful view of lake.
I had timed my day perfectly, getting to my room just as the thunder and torrential rain started.  In the room, my coffee supply had been replenished but only decaff….must think I need calming down!

Fri 7th September
Just went for the cereal  for breakfast today, wasn’t planning strenuous day…but what’s the saying about best laid plans?
Again, it was a nice warm day, albeit a bit cloudier.  Took D2 as far as the Zelenci nature reserve.  After wandering around for a short while, I rejoined D2 and walked to Ratece before taking the road to Planica. Work was under way on a new  cycle and footpath from Ratece.
Ski jumping was taking place in Planica, nothing new there, however, there was no snow!   The centre also has an indoor real snow cross country course, complete with snowman!

B24 memorial near Planica Slovenia

Continuing south from Planica, I started a circular walk to the waterfall  Slap Nadiža. Passing the church and Tamar mountain hut, I went to see the memorial for a B24 bomber which had crashed in the area during World War 2.
I then headed towards the waterfall.

 

 

 

Waterfall near Planica, Kranjska Gora

The path soon became a more of a hands on scramble than a walk. 
I gained height quickly over the rocky terrain and the views back down to the valley below were lovely.
Personally, I think Mojstrana is the more impressive waterfall of the two but Nadiža is well worth a visit!

I took the other path back towards Planica to make this part of the walk circular.

After dinner I popped out to see Harley Davidson events.  Sporty bar had stage set up and Harley Village near the village centre. A great AC-DC tribute band were playing and the roads were filled with motorcycles.
A great way to spend the last night!!

Friday 8th September
My last day 😢
Chips on the menu at breakfast so had to have one for novelty value!
This was likely to be my only hot meal of the day so I filled my boots.  Pancake with lemon to start, bacon (which is fantastic), two types of sausage, hard boiled egg, veg and a cheesy bread roll.
For the large part of my holiday, the football team
NK Olimpija  were staying at my hotel. I noticed a signed shirt at breakfast. I suspect it’ll be auctioned off.
The team were busy doing touristy things today, some in cafes, a couple on the Vitranc cable car, saw some more on a coach trip.

It didn’t take long to pack then I wandered downstairs, paid my €15 for the week’s drinks, left my luggage in a cupboard near reception and went for a final walk.
The weather was glorious. Such a shame to be leaving. I circled Lake Jasna before zigzagging around the village and took the D2 cycle way to Zelenci.
Everywhere was quite busy today, especially with the Harley Davidson European Bike Week event which was taking place. The main venue seems to be in Austria but it makes sense to extend it across the border over some great mountain passes.
All too soon and 10 miles later it was pick up time.
We rook road over Karavanke mountains stopping at the same services we did coming out. Had my 50 cents ready for the toilet I was realising Austria is an expensive place especially compared to Slovenia!
I sat out on the grass outside, eating my breakfast banana and chatting to a couple who sat next to me on the minibus coming out . I think most of us could have done without the long wait at the services.
Salzburg airport terrace We arrived at the airport nice and early, before check in. While the others follows the rep, I glanced at the screen and made my way to the front of the check in queue.
After checking in, I went for a wander to the control tower and for a peek at the apron. As I walked back I noticed an open roof top terrace. That’ll do!
There’s definitely more to see and do in this airport before you pass through security. As the flight has been delayed 20 minutes and there was no queue at all for security, I hung around a while. Not that there was much going on on the tarmac. It is a very quiet airport.
Needless to say there are no screens on the terrace so, just in case the inbound flight made up some time, I wandered to security 20 minutes before we were due to board.
Straight through security, I wish all were so quick and easy.

Given the time of the flight (19.35) I thought I’d grab some food to take on the flight. Ideally I’d have got a nice, cheap sandwich from the Mercator but, a baguette can be a dangerous thing to take through airport security so I bought a salami and cheese baguette at the airport for the extortionate price of €7.
Top tip, of flying with Flybe, just buy a sandwich on board. Luckily I’d noticed that rather than pay silly prices for a drink in the cafe, I could get a water for a Euro
This ‘snack’ was getting close to what I’d spent all week in Slovenia!
It always amuses me that people rush to board when its obvious that there is a bus transfer to the aircraft and you have allocated seating. I hung back and charged my phone. Paying that much for a sandwich I was going to use some of their electricity!

And so after almost 150 miles of walking, fantastic views, lovely people and an unexpected concert, I was heading back to England……. thinking about my next and 10th trip to Slovenia.

 

 

 

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!

 

100 miles later

Friday 10th June
Well, that time has come, the final day. I had pondered a few different activities during the week. Cycling was a possibility along with a few more adventurous ideas but the week was spent walking. This choice was partly down to the unpredictable weather but mostly down to the ‘100 mile challenge’ put before me by work colleagues and today I was just a few miles off completion.

After breakfast  I wandered back up to my room to fill the rucksack. The weather forecast was good but I didn’t trust it so in went the waterproof jacket and (extremely muddy) waterproof over-trousers along with sunglasses and travel towel. All bases covered!
I’d left my boots on the balcony and they were still wet after yesterday’s 24 hours of rain. Hopefully I’d get some sun to enable them to dry of a little.

I could have started the day in a hectic fashion to get the 8.20 bus to Bohinj, instead I decided to go for the more leisurely 9.20.
I left the hotel and crossed to the bus station opposite.  The tickets are bought from the driver costing €3.60*  for a single adult journey. Make sure you ask for and get off at Bohinj jezzero (lake) rather than the town of  Bohinjska Bistrica  6.5km/4 miles up the road. ‘Bohinj’ itself is the valley or basin.

As the bus pulled in to a stop in the outskirts of Bled, we were passed by a man wearing what is best described as wheely skis, I suppose you have to practice cross-country skiing somehow during the summer months!

Lake BohinjI left the bus at Ribčev Laz, a village to the East of the lake side of the lake and  the most recognisable part of the area as it features in all the tourist information for the area.
The bridge at the end of the lake does get busy with people getting the perfect photos but it’s not difficult to see why, it really is a picture postcard view!

I started my walk by crossing the bridge, towards the church of Sv Jenez then following the road up to Stara Fuzina. The Bohinj International Ironworks festival was taking place in the top end of the village which seemed to be popular with the local school kids.

I crossed over the bridge to the North of the village then took a left following the river Mostnica to Hudičev most, The Devil’s Bridge.  The bridge was built in the 18th century to improve the supply of iron ore from the surrounding mountains to the iron ore plant.
Legend says that the people of Bohinj built a bridge before nightfall, but by the morning it had been destroyed so decided the Devil  should build the bridge for them (as you do). In exchange for building it, the Devil demanded the first soul that crossed it.
When the bridge had been completed, a peasant threw a bone to the other side for his dog, therefore, the Devil received the dog’s soul and was a bit miffed. In his anger he thrashed his tail  bringing down the fence but the bridge still stands.

After crossing the river I took a right and continued North, eventually reaching a pay booth for the Mostnica Gorge.
It cost me €2.50* to enter the gorge but it was well worth it. Personally, I think this gorge is on par with the more popular Vintgar Gorge near Bled. It’s a pleasant walk through the woods and it’s easy to leave the path and take a closer look a the picturesque gorge.

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At the end of the gorge, I crossed the bridge then joined the road up towards the Planinska koča na Vojah mountain hut.Sign to Triglav

Navigation wise, this  be the easiest walk of the trip as it was so well signposted.
Bohinj caters for walkers far better than Bled having so many more well marked routes.
The signs also give a fairly accurate idea of how long it takes to reach the chosen destination.

 

Sign to Triglav

The plan now was to go and see the Slap Mostnica, the 21 meter high waterfall at the end of the valley.

I continued, past the mountain hut to a fork in the road. Both directions head to the waterfall. I chose the left hand fork. This turned out to be a very good decision!

I didn’t see a single person as I made my towards the waterfall, keeping the river to my right. Once I arrived there it was clear that the ‘Health and Safety Rule Book’ went out of the window! No handrails or barriers, you’re free to wander where you like to get the best views.

Waterfall near Bohinj SloveniaAfter taking some photos and video footage, I sat for a while near a smaller waterfall slightly downstream the main falls. The sun was out, the views were amazing and I felt I was the only person around for miles.

Eventually I worked my way back to the path  South, crossed the river  and headed back towards Stara Fužina. As I left the woods to join the main track, I passed a group of walkers heading towards the waterfall. I walked past a few more people heading the opposite way as I continued. I had obviously gone at the right time and gone the right way around the circuit!

Once I got back to Stara Fužina it was too early to get the bus back. It was my last day and I was going to make the most of it!
I  took a right out of Stara Fužina to the lake. My plan was to go part way round and see how I was for time.

While it doesn’t have a pretty church on an island or a castle over looking it, Bohinj is as beautiful as Bled, perhaps in some ways, more so. It’s less touristy and the imposing mountains make a fantastic backdrop.  I was aware I had to get back for the bus, but couldn’t resist lots of stops to take photos….lots of photos!

The path around this lake is far more rugged than the route around Bled. At one point, it crosses over some rocks but nothing too difficult if you take time and care.
Boat on lake Bohinj SloveniaAlthough the route on one side of the lake through woodland, the path on the other side is predominantly tarmac where I could make up some time.
I reached Ukanc, a small village at the far side of the lake containing mostly holiday accommodation.
A sign by the, now closed, hotel Zlatarog claimed it would take me 1 hour 15 minutes to reach Ribčev Laz. It was 15:30, my bus was at 16:50. I had to get wriggle on!
I managed to make it back to Ribčev Laz. at 16:15. Enough time to sit by the waters edge for a while!

There were a lot of people milling around near the bus stop and I assumed the bus would be full but no, all the English had taken an organised tour bus tour  from Bled to Ribčev Laz.  They paid had €32 per person for a half day trip, I paid €7.20 (two single bus tickets)* I also had the bonus of arriving and leaving when I wanted!

The bus arrived dead on time and dropped off at the bus station right outside my hotel, the Jelovica

The last evening meal of the holiday started with kulen, a tasty salami style sausage. There is some debate as to whether this is a Slovenian or Croatian sausage, either way, it’s very good!

Needless to say, as it wasn’t raining, I needed my final evening passeggiata and this was going to be a memorable one!
Sign on Bled castle doorI left the hotel and took a left up Graska Cesta then the next left, climbing up to the castle.
The sun had set over Bled as I freely entered through the castle walls. Although the castle itself was closed, the grounds were still open and if the worst came to the worst, a telephone number was pinned to the back of the castle gates so I would be able to get out!
I sat on my own on one of the walls looking out across the town and lake  – a great way to end the holiday!
This 2.7 mile/4.3km route is available as a GPX file.

 

Epilogue
So, in conclusion, my seventh trip to Slovenia didn’t disappoint!
When I first came to Slovenia I travelled to Bohinj on my last day and I clearly remember walking back to the bus stop wishing I could stay.  I vowed to return and I did….several times!
This occasion was no different.  The weather wasn’t great and some of the walks didn’t go to plan but I still loved every minute and travelling back to the airport,  I started planning holiday number eight!
While it was lovely seeing Bled again, I don’t think it has as much to offer walkers as other areas such as Bohinj, Kranjska Gora or Bovec. Yes there are walking routes, fantastic scenery and plenty of establishments offering all sorts of activities but I think be another trip to Bohinj will be next…watch this space!

*Prices as of June 2016

Chasing Waterfalls

Tuesday 7th June
Ohh eggy bread for breakfast, been years since I last had that!  Put a couple of pieces on my plate along with bacon, omelette and, to complete the egg theme, scrambled eggs….a bit of protein overload!
Mlino, Bled, SloveniaThe plan today was go around the lake as far as Miinska Cesta (by the supermarket) then take the first road on the right, Prežihova cesta, seeing  the small village of Mlino.
Shortly after leaving the village, the road becomes a gravel track heading in the direction of the Kozarca and Obroč hills.
The path follows the river round to join  Cesta Svobode, one of the roads leading from Bled,  passing the military area on the way (plenty of shooting today).
Following the Sava (river) Bohinjka  to the road, I  crossed over, taking a slight left  to join route 5 towards the church of St sv. Marjete and the pleasant village of Bohinjska Bela.
So far so good…..

I continued to the Slap Iglica  (Slap being the Slovenian word for waterfall). Initially there were a few tourist signposts but as I made my way around town, I struggled to find any other signs. I decided the most sensible option was to follow a stream to the west of the village then find my  way from the bottom of a dead end street.
Iglica falls A small group of climbers had gathered near the falls but no other walkers and to be honest I’m not surprised. Unfortunately,  I didn’t  really think it worth the effort.
I’m sure the 18 meter narrow falls are lovely at the right time of year but today, despite all the rain, it was a slight trickle.
There is a rather rickety set of steps up the side. I didn’t climb them but apparently  there are great views over the whole area.

The plan now was to head to Slamniki, a small settlement 872 meters above Bohinjska Bela.
Heading West out of town, Slamniki was marked on a sign post but, this was the only sign I saw and trying to follow the tracks marked on the GPS and map was not easy. I headed up hill with with the stream to the left, loosing and regaining not only the path but also my footing in the mud. I trudged continually uphill until the woodland cleared near some houses.
I could see a track  to my left but I could find it on my GPS or paper maps?
My GPS had one potential route; heading South East before rejoining the path I came up on. My paper map had a road heading East towards the Northern side of Bohinjska Bela. I didn’t want to investigate too much as there was a large group of people gathered outside one of the buildings. I didn’t trust my maps enough to go boldly striding towards them!

The GPS suggested only one route, paper map two.
I was getting confused and the more I tried to compare the two maps with the actual terrain, the more confused I became. I didn’t want to walk one particular route to find it took me miles off course.
Views to BledI decided to take the ‘wimps way out’ and headed back the way I came. This is something I hate doing but, if I got back early, I could do another planned walk to Vintgar.
So, I turned 180 degrees and feeling rather deflated headed back. ….after taking  some photos of the view!

Once again, I made my way through the extremely muddy woodland. Maybe it was the ‘familiarity’ of Bohinjska Bela, but I started to got a spring in my step, I could find my way now even without a map and compass.

I  passed straight through Bohinska Bela, towards the church,  joining path 5 heading back the same way I came earlier.
Before reaching the road I noticed this brightly coloured  mobile bee hive.
Mobile Slovenian bee hiveBeekeeping is a traditional agricultural activity in Slovenia. In the past, when sugar was in short supply, almost every farm kept bees.  Virtually all hives  are painted,  many with intricate designs. These are mobile hives are used to move bee colonies between pastures.

After crossing  the road, I took the first road on the left rather than continuing around Obroc.  This road led to Lake Bled were I walked anticlockwise round to the hotel for a wash,  drink and plot the rest of the day.

Sadly I wouldn’t recommend the full 11 mile walk, however, I have added the route to Bohinjska Bela on ViewRanger as a GPX file.

It was 14.30 and I’d only walked 11 miles  so time for another walk this time in the opposite direction to Vintgar gorge.
The best way to the gorge is along the road heading North  East from Bled to Podhom. I followed Partizanska cesta crossing a bridge before  a fork in a road where I took a left up Cesta v Vintgar. I remained on this road, passing under a railway bridge before entering the village of Podhom whose name means ‘below Hom hill’.
There are plenty of signs through the town directing both walkers and vehicles to the gorge. The route is easy, just keep following the road until it crosses the Radovna river. Shortly after passing Gostilna Vintgar you’ll see the car park and then the entrance.
Entry is €4 at time of writing * and is paid at a small hut, there is one on both sides of the gorge. Each entrance to the gorgealso has a small snack bar, seating and toilets.
Slap Sum, waterfall Vintgar Gorge, SloveniaThe route follows a wooden walk ways  which can get narrow especially as it’s two-way.  The views are spectacular and I assume there were especially good today  following the large amount of rain that had fallen in the area recently.
The route passes pools and rapids  and at the end is the 13 m (43 ft) Slap Šum  (which translates as ‘noisy falls’). This is the largest river waterfall in Slovenia.
I walked down the steps past the pay booth and through the woods to the viewing area which is a great place to see this powerful waterfall.


I returned to the booth/snack bar to take the path back through the woods toward Sv Katarina church. Just ahead of  me in the woods was a man dressed in a t-shirt, cargo pants and trainers. His only nod to being in the great outdoors was a Craghopper hat. He had no map and stood in the middle of the woods looking confused.
“Is this the right way?” He asks, surely that depended on where he was going.
I told him to follow the red and white markers painted on the trees. He was wondering what they were for!
At the end of the woods  is the chuch, a restaurant (Pizzerija Jurček )and some beautiful views.I took a short break on one of the wooden benches to take in the vista.

View near Zasip Slovenia

Zasip near Bled SloveniaHeading in to the pretty village of Zasip with its distinctive red roofed church, a lady with presumably her husband calls out a cheerful ‘Dobrodensdki’ .
‘Dober Dan’ I reply almost exhausting my Slovenian vocabulary.
‘Dober dan’ they  both say,  beaming.
If only every village in the world was so welcoming!

Wandering through the Zasip I paused to watch a game of boules taking place outside Gostilna Kurej. The sun was shining and, despite the navigation issues in the morning, this had turned in to another good day!
Continuing on the road out of of the village, I soon reached the fork in the road and bridge where this circular walk to Vintgar started.

Some travel companies offer this trip for around €14 per person. Save €10 and do the trip independently. It’s fairly easy walking and far more rewarding! A copy of this walk is available in GPX format.

I retired to my room after a dinner  and sat on the balcony as the entire town plunged in to darkness for few minutes, the only lighting coming from the emergency lighting from various hotels. Never found out what  caused this, it was one of the few nights we hadn’t had sorms.

Part 4 >>

 

*Prices as of June 2016

  • Note – click on any image to view full size

Back to Bled

Saturday 4th June
For the first in a long while, I was flying out to my holiday destination at a decent time, I didn’t have to leave my house until 10 am. The traffic  flowed freely and I arrived at Manchester airport before check in opened.  It was interesting to see how many pairs of  shiny new walking boots I saw  in the check in queue, perhaps new to walking? During the course of the week it became worryingly obvious how little experience and knowledge of the outdoors some people have.

Adria airways view from window This would be my seventh time  to Slovenia. The first visit was when the former Yugoslavian country was still outside the EU and my old passport has a few Brnik stamps.
I was now returning to the area where my love for the country first started, Lake Bled.

So what’s changed?
Well flight wise, a lot. Slovenia’s national carrier,  Adria Airways  still have the traditional check in at Manchester i.e. no online check-in (although it is slowly being rolled out) The only seat choice you get is aisle or window.
I was sat by the window on seat 9A on the Airbus A319. The place between me and the aisle seat was free which allowed me to spread out a little.
Gone are the days of the free meal and drinks, the only free beverage now is water although various drinks and snacks were available to buy.
The airline’s ‘OnAir’ service is good. Connect with the WiFi on your phone or tablet to play games, read magazine articles, play games or chat with other passengers. The aviation section  of the magazine is a particularly interesting read and, when the views were lost beneath clouds, the 2048 game passed the time.
It was a nice flight with a smooth landing.
Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport is small enough to allow you to pass through quickly and, once outside, a number of shuttle buses to Lake Bled were parked up. .Despite the terrible weather forecast, we saw blue skies when we landed and remained as I made my way to the Hotel Jelovica in Bled.

Balcony view hotel Jelovica Bled Slovenia
Balcony view

I was told at check-in that the hotel has no single rooms so I was given a good sized double room (369) with views of the church and castle. As with most hotels in Europe, there are no drink making facilities in the room, but there is a vending machine on the second floor filled with soft drinks and a few snacks.

Dinner is an all you can eat buffet which included free drinks; wine, beer, water or pop. As I entered the restaurant,  I gave my room number and was shown to my table for the week then just got up and helped myself.
My meal started with the Slovenian staple, thin beef soup with noodles. The salad came with a choice of dressing (I went for pumpkin oil), then it was steak  in a porcini sauce with duchess potatoes. There was also an impressive array of deserts which were very popular with those with a sweeter tooth than I!

I took a leisurely  wander to the lake after dinner, returning to room at 9.30 pm  for a drink and early night. Luckily, the church which was a few feet from my balcony turns the bells off at night, however, the ringing starts again at around 6.

Sunday 5th June
Woke fairly early after a decent sleep.
After breakfast, I took a stroll to the shopping centre by Hotel Golf.
Bled hasn’t changed much over the years but the supermarket opening times certainly have! Gone are the days of the Mercator closing Saturday afternoon and staying shut until Monday morning. Supermarket wine
One supermarket just up the road from my hotel on Presernova Cesta is open 7am – 9pm Monday to Saturday and 8am – 5pm Sundays & holidays. It even has a 24 hour vending machine offering drinks, sweets, ham, cheese and sandwiches.  I think this shop also has draft wine for you to fill your own bottles, I’m not 100% sure of this but have seen something similar in Pescasseroli, Italy.

The shopping centre contains a few bars and restaurants, the supermarket, pharmacy, clothes shops and the tourist information office.
Shopping in Slovenia is cheap – although compared to England almost everywhere is!  50p buys a half litre of Cola, 40p for a can.  80p gets a half litre bottle of beer.
Not that you go to Bled for the shopping!

After stocking up on a few drinks for the walk and for the room afterwards, I headed to the lake.
It was 9.15am and still reasonably quiet as I walked along the path on the ‘road side’ of the lake. It’s worth doing the lake walk early as it can get busy later in the day.

The 88 StepsNot far from the bottom end of the lake, there are three paths all heading to Osojnica, I took the third option.
Here came the start of the climb.
Although the path was through woodland and it was still early in the day, the temperature was already quite warm and humid.  I was glad of the drinks in my rucksack!

At one point there are 88 steps to ascend and some climbing, assisted with an iron rope and footholds but the views from the top are amazing!
Staza Hill dominates the right hand side of the lake with Bled directly ahead and Mlino on the right. I could also make out the mountains of the Karavanke range which mark the border with Austria.

Views over lake Bled

I continued on route 6 to Velika Osojnica. My map implied that once I got there I would need to retrace my steps a bit. The lack of markings past the view seemed to confirm that.
chamoisTo be honest, there are better,  unobstructed views along the walk but it’s another peak ticked off (756 metres) I returned to the junction of paths and continued straight on, passing some local wild life!

The path descends through woodland back to the Lake. I carried on around the lake until reaching a path to Visce. The route around the lake was getting busy and I was keen to get off the beaten track again.  (Continuing around the lake would make the walk five half miles in total)

SnakeIt didn’t take long to loose the crowds…. and come across  a snake doing battle with a frog!
Both went their separate ways when the sensed me coming, much to the frog’s relief! The masses on the lake path would probably have no idea of the types of wildlife just a few metres away.

I zig zagged around, passing the monument to Adolf Muhr, a merchant who once owned Bled castle.
The path eventually came out near the castle and from there I returned to the hotel to plan the next route.
This walk  was 7.45 miles/12km in total (starting and finishing at Hotel Jelovica)  and can be downloaded from the ViewRanger website

Given that it was early afternoon and the sun was still shining, I headed out again. I followed the single track roads through some villages to the South East of Bled.
It doesn’t take long to leave the centre of Bled and begin walking alongside fields with views of the mountains beyond.

Ribno
Ribno

This route took in the villages of Koritno, Bodešče and the larger village of Ribno.
Although I was  walking, I imagine it would make a nice bike ride which can be easily extended to include other villages.
I was walking mostly on roads but they are so quiet that it  never caused a problem. I also find the drivers in Slovenia to be extremely patient with walkers and cyclists.
This 5.8mile/9.44km route is available to download.

Dinner tonight was  tomato soup, salad, garlicky cray tails, venison ragu with 3 grains and mixed vegetables. Once again, very nice!

After dinner, at around 9pm I got my head torch and went for a walk round the lake. Initially I wondered if this was the best idea, lots of midges flying around but (unusually) none bothered me (perhaps it was the garlic) so I continued on for around  four miles.
Most of the path has some street lighting but it’s well worth taking a torch as it can get very dark in places particularly on the wooden walk way on the side furthest from town. It’s also worth taking a tripod, there are some lovely photo opportunities.

Lake Bled at night

This brings me on to something else, safety.
Despite being a female travelling alone, I am sometimes a little blasé  especially in Slovenia. I didn’t think twice about a night walk, however,  Slovenia is a very safe country, the World’s  10th safest in 2016 . Yes, there is a small amount of petty crime in the larger cities but the risks can be reduced by taking the usual common sense precautions.

Back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep….another walk planned for tomorrow!
Part 2 >>

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Getting lost, getting wet

Monday 6th June
I started the day early with cheese and tomato sandwich, fruit salad and fresh orange juice (oddly, the fresh juice was only available this one morning).
I took a stroll  to the tourist information office in the centre of town to pick up a walking map for €7. My current map only covered a small part of Bled and it was also showing signs of its age.
Back to the room to change in to my walking gear then I headed out towards the picturesque village of Ribno.

At the southern end of Ribno , I crossed the bridge before taking a right on to route 11. It was a bit of a climb up through the woods and it wasn’t always clearly marked but I just kept heading up!

SignpostThe path came out on to a track. A right takes you to the mountain hut Lovska koca Talez , a number of signs in the woods pointed to it earlier. I gave this a miss and instead went to the left then  a right on to what was supposed to be a marked route to Babji zob.
It was a pleasant walk, passing meadows on the gravelly track. A wooden sign confirmed I was heading in the right direction… but, could I spot the path?!
I continued to the end of the road with out seeing anything remotely path like. Not to worry according to the map, there were potential routes at the end of the road…..nope….
I retraced my steps to the point the GPS claimed the path was. I headed upwards. I knew there would be a climb  but  this was steeper than expected, then this ‘path’ stopped in a clearing.
Once again, I retraced my steps, returning to the point where the stream crossed the road, an obvious feature marked on both my paper and GPS maps. I measured the distance between this point and the required path then paced it out. Still no luck!
Returning to the wooden sign didn’t help so decided to give up  and hastily drew up ‘plan B’.

Heading  back to the hut junction on the track,  I pondered about heading towards it for the view but decided to press on, something I would later be very grateful for.

Get wet!I took the track heading East, slowly working my way down hill through the trees, then came the rain.
Just a few spots at first then a torrential down pour.
Out came the water proof pants and jacket. The nifty built in rain cover went over the Lowe Alpine sack.
Both me and my kit was protected from the elements but it didn’t make for pleasant walking.

By the time I reached Konica the rain had almost stopped. I left the track, taking a minor road to the left.
There was a bus stop on the main road where I packed away the water proofs, refolded the map and plotted where to go next.
It was still early afternoon and the sun was making another appearance.
I pressed on to the church Sv Lambert and into Lancovo, crossing over the river  continuing in the direction the picturesque, medieval town of Radovljica.

 Radovljica. Slovenia Radovljica has the largest number of sunny days in the Gorenjska region and sure enough, the rain had stopped and there was a little bit of blue sky around.
Radovljica streetsAfter wandering around town, under some buildings which once formed the moat and passing houses dating from 15th and 16th century, I went out towards the airfield – I couldn’t resist it!

Wandering past the large garden centre on the outskirts of town, I joined the cycle path alongside the A2/E61 road. I stopped to  watch a light aircraft doing a few circuits with the majestic  mountains behind. It reminded my of a fantastic holiday I took here a few years ago. I hired an aircraft from the Adria’s flight centre and piloted myself from Ljubljana to Bovec, unforgettable! It’s funny though, wherever you fly int the world,  the pilot always wants a cuppa.  As soon as I landed  the owner of the airfield at Bovec comes out with a mug of coffee.

Lesce Bled AirfieldGetting back to my walk…I took a left at Letaliska Ulica, following the signs to the airfield, peeping over to glimpse,  the control tower, hangers and runways.

Returning back through the town of Lesce (a settlement dating back as far as 1004!), I took the cycle route to Bled. At one point the track ends and it’s not too clear that you need to take a quieter road running parallel to the main road.
By now the clouds had darkened and there were a few rumblings of thunder. Despite walking almost 18 miles toady,  I some how found the energy to do the last stretch very quickly! Just as I got to the hotel the heavens opened with some of the heaviest rain I’ve seen!
The rest of the evening was spent in the hotel.

A 14.25 mile/22.9 km version of this walk without the ‘getting lost’ parts is available for download.

Part 3 >>

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