Saturday – Jubilee Bonus
A week in Slovenia was a bonus trip, due to the Jubilee Bank Holidays and a desire to flee from the flag waving celebrations in the UK. We chose Slovenia to give a Lakes and Mountains type of holiday as a contrast to the busy Spanish towns of Andalucia previously. Travel Man and Netflix’s Chef’s Table were also inspirations. We are fans of Croatia and we had met some Americans of Slovenian heritage who also gave some recommendations. Our kids had enjoyed Ljubljana on their Interrail trips.
We flew to Ljubljana in heavy rain, but at least our flight was reasonably on time and we had no airport issues. Luckier than many, according to the elderly lady who picked us up in her taxi.
Sunday – A grounding in history
Since Ljubljana closes down on Sundays with few shops or restaurants open, we concentrated on a day of learning about the history and the country.
We joined the free walking tour at 11am. We covered a small area over the 2hrs and learnt about local history and the architecture.
Plečnik and Prešeren featured heavily, the latter staring across mournfully at Julija, his unrequited love.
After the tour we stopped just near the market area for a lunch of wild garlic soup and local sausages. Local sparrows were assertive.
In the afternoon we went for a walk to take some pictures. There are a lot of interesting fountains around the city and the free spring water is very good.
We also visited the city museum which was particularly strong in the Roman history. The Communist years were glossed over a little, but we did get a sense of the city in different eras.
Dinner was Julija Restaurant . We chatted to our neighbours : one set from Bavaria and another from San Francisco.
Monday – Coypus and Castles
Taking Ljubljana at our own pace today. The rain stopped so we visited the market and some of the local shops. We had a mission to find the Milk Vending Machine as seen on Travel Man and indeed, there it was. We filled up a flask.
There were also vending machines for cheese, yoghurt and buttermilk which were popular with locals. Not sure if that would work at home.
In the afternoon we walked up river along the banks of the Ljubljanica River to Park Spica and a little beyond. There we saw a coypu family which delighted Una. On the way back we stopped at Gelateria Romantika.
We took the lift up to the castle to have a look around. The views weren’t worthy of a picture. The mascot of the castle is a naughty rat and they had taken this theme to the extreme in the gift shop. Everything was stripey rat related. At the castle wine bar before dinner, I tried the Teran wine which last night’s waiter had said to try before getting a bottle and he had given us an alternative wine which he thought we would prefer. He was right. The Teran was too acidic, slightly vinegary and lots of tannin. Not our thing.
Since the castle restaurant had not read our email requesting a booking we trudged back down the muddy path to town and consoled ourselves with burgers and beers in Pop’s Place again.
Tuesday – Into the Mountains
Walk up the road to the Europcar office near the train station to collect our hire car.
A short drive up to Vintgar Gorge. The boardwalk followed the river downstream along a pathway embedded in the cliff and hanging over the river.
It’s one way so you have to walk over the mountain to get back to the start or walk down into the village at the end of the gorge and get a taxi. The mountain option was scenic but we needed a beer and lunch afterwards.
We arrived at Lake Bohinj to our architect design wooden Hotel Bohinj which is quite spectacular inside and out.
After a walk around the hotel, we went to the lake jetty and caught the last electric boat trip of the day. Our guide was Špela and she was a great source of information on the local area. She is a local girl with ambitions who speaks 5 languages fluently and was about to graduate from the University of Lancaster in UK. Špela told us about the Visitor Card we could purchase from our hotel and we worked out it would be good value. Including a boat trip on the lake every day, if we wanted.
Wednesday – The Beauty of Bohinj
Today we opted to stay local, in the spirit of the Visitor card. Lake Bohinj was beautiful and there was a path to follow to the Ukanc campsite at the opposite end. From there, we could proceed further up to a waterfall or we could go to the Mount Vogel ski lift and have a look from the summit.
The walk itself was lovely and we saw only a handful of other people, walking dogs or swimming from the banks.
Mount Vogel summit was rocky and cloudy, not exactly a lush alpine meadow so we had a light lunch from the uninspiring café and descended to take the electric boat back.
We thought the boat reminded us of one we have taken twice on Konigsee in Bavaria and in fact we learnt that this is where the boat had originally come from.
We paid to use the hotel spa area and David had a massage.
The immediate area of Lake Bohinj does not have many interesting restaurants. Crossing the bridge and walking up to the next valley gives more options so we ate in Majerca Hotel. They had space outside on a pretty terrace and food was very good.
Thursday – Paddling our own Canoe
Another day of leaving the car and enjoying our local area. We spoke to the guys at AlpinSport and opted for a canoe rental plus supplied picnic for €50. It was luxurious with a new sturdy canoe, a wooden board as a table and a vacuum- packed hot lunch. We brought some wine we had left over and set out to find the perfect spot to enjoy it all.
We didn’t rush out but covered around 6km including stops to eat and have a swim.
Our biggest surprise were the naturists on one bank who were clearly expecting full privacy when we paddled by seeking a mooring spot. I guess they were more surprised than we were.
Back at the hotel, we came across a sponsored medical event. It seemed to be attended by a chatty large group of young Slovenian doctors and run by a medical app company called Mediately. Una was fascinated by both the lavish corporate hospitality ( banned in UK for doctors ) and the product itself and could not resist speaking to some of the participants.
Dinner at Restaurant Triglav Bohinj which turned out to be our best meal in Solvenia so far. The manager, a level 3 sommelier, gave us a wine per course matched to the food and was very knowledgeable.
Friday – Contrasts of Lake Bled
Bohinj and Bled are very different lakes. Bohinj is rural tranquility. Bled is much more commercialised and busy. We took a tour from the tourist office with a local guide and her trainee. We were the only guests. It was free with our Visitor’s Card.
We learnt about the history as a spa resort, the gardens and the bees. Plus how the lake was so warm in late summer that many locals thought it too warm to swim. Unlike Bohinj where you can swim from any bank you like, it was regulated in Bled and only from designated areas.
We ate the famous Bled cake at the Park hotel café and walked some of the lakeside path. Then we returned to Bohinj where life moved at a slower pace.
We decided to have one last return boat trip and chatted more to Špela about politics, life in Slovenia and how it compares to UK. A second dinner in Majerca followed.
Saturday – A Gourmet Treehouse
Since we could not afford Hiša Franko, we had researched similar and booked in to Hiša Raduha, also well reviewed and run by a female chef and her family.
We had a stop in Kamnik along the way.
The Hiša Raduha was a set of tree houses next to a river. The Breznik family live in the main house and it is a small business with only a few covers for dinner. We had an area of the garden with a hammock so we could listen to the sounds of nature and the busy robot mowers.
We walked along the bank to the Bela dam and the area of restored historic cottages showing what life was like for villagers in years gone by. The river was freezing, a contrast from the almost warm waters of Lake Bohinj.
Dinner was 5 creative courses with wine parings as chosen by Filip.
Sunday – A Valley Ramble
Many possible walking options around the three local valleys. We decided on the most well-known, Logarska Dolina from the tourist information centre up to the Rinka Slap. It was meant to be around 7km each way and 2-2.5hrs. It was 30 degrees and the 7km was up hill gaining about 600m. Through wooded forests, past completely dry rivers (in the winter must be stunning as looked deep and wide), and up rock strewn paths.
We reached the Rinka steps and I pushed up the final ascent to the fairly dry waterfall.
We used the road on the way back as it was slightly shorter and easier walking, stopping at Dom Planincev for a snack.
Four hours walking in the heat was quite hard work – much need of the treehouse jacuzzi and zero alcohol beer.
Monday – The mountain of the herders
A trip up to Velika Planina where the summer herdsmen were returning, according to the tourist office in Kamnik. But sadly we were too early. The huts were still getting some early season repairs and the herdsmen were nowhere to be seen. Not even an Alpine cow with a bell though we heard some in the distance. It had been quite a trek up, a gondola and then a chair lift.
We had some great views of the surrounding mountains but cloud started bubbling up all around. At one point we couldn’t see much and the temperature required a fleece.
We had periods of sun then shade and walked around the shepherd huts – many are quite new (the Germans burnt down the original huts on the plain during WW2) and no toilets, cafes or restaurants etc were open. Interesting to see local people coming up to the hills to pick wild herbs and plants. Slovenians seem to be keen foragers and enjoy making tisanes and traditional remedies from plants.
Tuesday – Journey home
Slovenia was a good choice for an active holiday, based on lakes, mountains, alpine plains and waterfalls. Ljubljana is an attractive small city. It is a green country, both in its politics and ecology and also literally, as so much is forested still. People were friendly, spoke excellent English and loved our interest in their history, culture, food and wine.