FALL IN THE JULIAN ALPS: sLOVEnian PHOTODIARY

“I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees.” H.D. Thoreau

…or in case of this trip, my friend and I went to the mountains and came out taller than all the peaks. When we started planning our nature getaway that we wanted to fill with hiking, biking and eating, my friend and I could have not picked a better place. Slovenia is a tiny country in Central and South-eastern Europe bordering the Mediterranean and touching the Alps. This alpine treasure is often overlooked by tourists because the beach-goers head straight to Croatia or Italy and mountain enthusiast choose the safe bet of northern Italy or Austria, possible also France. But this country with rolling hills, snow-capped mountain peaks and enchanting valleys is pretty much an outdoors paradise for every budget.

First, we arrived to the capital city of Slovenia, Ljubljana, and took a local bus to a little mountain town of Bohinjska Bystrica which became our base for travelling around the Radovljica region. The journey was quite long but as soon as we got off the bus and the fresh mountain air hit our faces, we knew it was all worth it.

We could have not wished for a more perfect weather. It was one of those warm autumns when you can still warm your skin on the sun but the crisp air is already touching your cheeks and fallen leaves try to cover the pavements. Mornings and evenings were cold, especially as we were located in the mountains, but that had only made us appreciate the warmer day time even more.

The country might be small in size, but it surely has a lot to offer to every nature lover. Our Slovenian adventure started in the most visited place in the whole country, Bled. Classic tourists, I know. 😊 This charming town lies at foothills of the Alps and is famous for its beautiful lake with a little island in the middle of it.  It did not take much for us to see that the city is definitely not overrated. The view of the Bled Lake with mountains standing proud in the background is straight out of postcard.

We rented a bike and cruised around the lake and then hiked all the way to the beautiful lookout point, Osojnica, where the entire town opened up in front of us with its medieval castle in the middle. It was beautiful even though the Alps were playing hide and seek with the sun at the moment. In the afternoon, we biked 6 km further to the northwest, to a place where the Radovna river has carved a 1.5 km long gorge called Vintgar. The way the pristine glacier colour water makes its way through the vertical rocks has created one of the most extraordinary natural wonders of Slovenia.

Our Saturday was devoted to hiking in the Julian Alps. We hopped on the cable car which, in few minutes, took us approximately 1000 m higher to Vogel national park, the largest ski resort in Slovenia. The upper station of the cable car is a starting point for many trails leading to the mountains with Mt. Vogel being the highest peak in the area. I must admit that the level of our preparation was zero. We were keen to climb Mt. Vogel but hesitated since it was a bit cloudy and windy and mainly because the Lonely Planet guide book suggested that everyone who attempts to hike to the top should be well equipped and even have a compass! With all due respect, I think the LP team was exaggerating on this one a little bit, as much as I am always down for preparing yourself.

We started walking and decided to decide later 😊 And since the track to the Mt Vogel was clearly marked, the weather had cleared up and the view was getting better with each altitude, we kept hiking until we’d reached the top of the Mt. Vogel. From the summit it was possible to see all the surrounding peaks of the Julian Alps with Mt. Triglav proudly dominating them all. Do you know that feeling when you see or experience something so extraordinary but you know that the moment will pass shortly so you try to memorize it and “take photos” of it in your head so you can go back to that memory later on? That was me standing on the top of the Mt. Vogel. On the way down we decided to take a different route and hiked through a colourful valley. This trail was much longer than we had expected but the autumn colours of the trees along the way lifted our spirits despite our hunger (hanger?:)) kicking in.

Last but not least we devoted an extra time to Bohinj Lake. According to the Lonely Planet, “many visitors to Slovenia say they’ve never seen a more beautiful lake than Bled…that is, until they’ve seen Lake Bohinj“. And while the ongoing debate which of the lakes is prettier will probably never end, I am with Lonely Planet on this one. The largest lake in Slovenia is calmer and set deeper in the mountains which gives it a mystical feel and so the Bohinj Lake should not be skipped when visiting the country.

The food in Slovenia was as dreamy as the views and when we discovered that, our hiking trip had almost turned into a foodie trip. We tried delicious pastries, cheeses, and potatoes with cottage cheese, cream cakes, and wine which is one of the Slovenian prides. Especially worth mentioning is a restaurant called Strudl in Bohinjska Bystrica where they bake a huge delicious strudel (apple dessert) which makes your mouth water just by looking at them. Food the real foodgasm, I also recommend heading to a tiny cure restaurant set on the banks of lake bled called Sova (an Owl). Their taste buds pleasing dishes belong to one of the top experiences I have ever had in a restaurant.

And because pictures can speak a thousand words, here are some shots from our mountain getaway.

 

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