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Croatia, Slovenia & Czech Trek

Discussion in 'Europe' started by rime noreason, Apr 11, 2019.

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  1. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us

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    Have this Soul Mate, they said.
    It'll be fun, they said.

    I did and it was. Until we discovered Soul Mate doesn't ski. Soul Mate doesn't even like snow. Despite this major flaw, we have had remarkably good holidays for years.

    That's because I go skiing in the USA while SM goes fishing in New Zealand. Our Yours and Mine holidays have worked terrifically. Until a few months ago when this happened.

    Let's go to Europe together. SM said. It will be fun, SM said.

    My thoughts go straight to Zermatt, Dolomites, Chamonix, Verbier and all the other places I've read trip reports about and salivated over for years. I can work with that

    Until SM says we should go in May so we can enjoy the Croatian coast and swim in the ocean. Apparently that's also when most things that have closed over winter have re opened. SM did the homework.

    So we'll be spending 5 weeks together (5 exceptionally long weeks with no snow) through Czech Republic, Slovenia and Croatia.

    Did I mentioned, in an extraordinary coincidence it also happens to be peak fly fishing season in Slovenia. How handy. For one of us. Which isn't me

    I don't know how to holiday if I'm not dragging my ski bag like a fifth limb. How do I occupy my hands when they've always been wrapped in ski gloves, gripping my poles as if my life depends on them (Which it frequently does). Do I stroll along quaint cobblestone lanes and on mountains that are covered in spongy green stuff instead of fluffy snow, and occupy my hands by holding SM's?

    I assume there's not even a glimmer of hope that somewhere around the Julian Alps and Lake Bled there would be a chance of skiing in early June?

    In which case, aside from the usual tourist things,does anyone have must-do non skiing recommendations in these areas?

    Thanks :)
     
  2. Jacko4650

    Jacko4650 One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Good excuse to case the area for a solo winter trip later on. I have aimed to ski those areas a couple of time but the weather or other circumstances have re-routed me toward Austria and the Dolomites. Like Slovakia, the skiing may not be world best standard but the immersion in a different culture, language and so on is nonetheless very enjoyable. You may have white powder withdrawal symptoms for the first few days but I'm sure you will get over it. We are talking third world issues here afterall!
     
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  3. PMG

    PMG One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    We'll be in Slovenia in February. Triglav National Park looks spectacular as does Logarska dolina.
    As for skiing, maybe a quick diversion up to the Kitzsteinhorn in Austria? ;)
     
    #3 PMG, Apr 11, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2019
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  4. Untele-whippet

    Untele-whippet beard stroker Ski Pass: Gold

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  5. Rick Ross Da Boss

    Rick Ross Da Boss One of Us

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    Plitvice lakes national park in Croatia is a must in summer imo, and Postonja caves in Slovenia.
    Motovun, Pula, Zadar and Mt Sljeme in Zagreb are all well worth a visit :thumbs:
     
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  6. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us

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    Much of the above is tongue in cheek. Even without skiing, I'm anticipating this trip with as much crazy excitement as an adult can have without being carted away and certified insane :woohoo:

    I haven't been to Europe for years (never to these particular regions) and will enjoy the surroundings, people and culture immensely. Nor have I been on a long trip with SM for years (we may regret being together 24/7 for over a month by the end of it thoughLOL )

    We've been to Austria a couple of times previously @PMG so this time SM suggested we go places we've not seen. Still, I won't rule it out.
    We'll be driving through Triglav in a few short weeks. Logarska dolina looks stunning too. I don't think you can go wrong anywhere from what I've seen of Slovenia. It seems to have a little of everything.

    Except for June skiing. You should have no problem in February though. Wanta swap? :D
     
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  7. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us

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    LOLJust as I was about to say that if we stop in Austria, I'll probably need hiking boots rather than skis, @Untele-whippet comes up with the ideal solution!

    I love it. I can see SM on those now (who surely can't whinge when the freezing-factor of skiing has been removed)!

    [​IMG]



    Thank you @Rick Ross Da Boss The Istrian Peninsula was on my travel list but we'd need to spend a week minimum to do it justice. which we don't have this trip. I blame SM's fly fishing:rolleyes:
    Next trip will encompass Istria, Northern Italy, and Montenegro. Maybe skiing. What a shame fishing and ski seasons don't coincide.

    I’ve added Mt Sljeme and Medvednica to Zagreb now though, thanks.

    Plitvice is on our itinerary. I'd love to see it in autumn colours and winter with snow too

    Our 5 week itinerary goes about like this

    CZECH
    Prague, castles and old stuff


    CROATIA
    Zagreb
    Get rental car and road trip

    SLOVENIA
    Ljubljana, castles and old stuff
    Škofja Loka, Bohinj, Radovljica (although I like PMG's idea of Logar Valley, so perhaps even a day trip from Bled)
    Lake Bled
    Vintgar Gorge
    Vršič Pass through Triglav-Julian Alps
    Bovec, Soča River fly fishing, Ohh hooray
    Thermal springs, day spas maybe
    (I'd have liked to find a natural thermal spring river to frolic in, but apparently there aren't any, they're all resort style pools and complexes)
    Most na Soči, stone bridges & waterfalls
    Soča River so we can domore fly fishing
    Mt Kolovrat,
    Goriska Brda Šmartno wineries
    Please Sir I want some more, so Vipava Valley wineries too
    Skocjan & Postojna Cave
    Piran-Portoroz, via Socerb Castle & Trieste Gulf (this is the closest we get to Istria region, but it's high on the travel list)

    CROATIA
    Plitvice
    Krka
    Sibenik
    Split: Old Town, Marjan Hill
    Hvar & Islands, Trogir Island
    Coast drive via Trsteno to Dubrovnik

    Dubrovnik Old Town, Wall, Mt Srđ
    Korcula Island & Ston
    Mljet Island, Elaphiti Islands, Lokrum Island
    Mostar
    Zadar to Zagreb, fly home
     
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  8. Rick Ross Da Boss

    Rick Ross Da Boss One of Us

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    Solid trip :cool: you’ll have blast! All those areas bring back memories from a couple of years ago:love:
    Enjoy!!
     
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  9. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us

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    Thanks @Rick Ross Da Boss It's a pretty full schedule so we'll see how much we actually pack in without exhausting ourselves. After 10 months of planning and only 2 weeks until lift off, it feels very real now. Also worrying though, with still so much to do!

    I thought with the European ski season wrapping up, it probably wouldn't interfere too much if I tried doing a trip report(either during or after our trip). May be uselful in case there are any other forum members in future who might have to endure a similar snowless European holiday

    Alternatively, there is this option

    (I don't know if this video will embed but it's Candide Thovex skiing a snowless Europe)



     
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  10. PMG

    PMG One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    You've given me more locations re Slovenia but time is limited for us too. Have a great trip.
     
  11. cold wombat

    cold wombat Twitter Contributer Social Media Mod Ski Pass: Gold

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  12. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us

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    Thanks @PMG Happy to provide a more detailed summary of our itinerary and will also do some form of trip report with photos.

    T minus 10 days :woohoo:

    After your trip I’d be interested to know how you enjoyed it and compare notes

    Thanks @cold wombat, I love this idea!

    Although it was met with somewhat less cheerful enthusiasm by SM. The response I got went something like this

    [​IMG]

    I replied to SM that the cold might not be felt so much if wearing these particular pants that are made specially for such wimps people.

    [​IMG]

    Interestingly, this suggestion was also met with somewhat less cheerful enthusiasm by SM LOL

    ]
     
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  13. cold wombat

    cold wombat Twitter Contributer Social Media Mod Ski Pass: Gold

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    Oh well, at least you tried!
     
  14. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us

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    No skiing, but a fantastic bonus to see snow covered mountains. This was flying over Turkey and Romania on the way to Prague.



    Onwards to begin our Bohemian Rhapsody.

    When we opened our window, we discovered that someone has planted a Town Square right in our front yard!

    All the buildings date from at least 7 centuries ago, some earlier. We look directly out to the medieval Church of Our Lady before Tyn with its Gothic twin turrets. They’re actually quite different from each other, so more like fraternal twins than identical

    As Czechs are the world’s highest per capita beer drinkers, this may well explain the different window sizes and placements, and different bricks on both turrets. even the turret size differs from each other.

    We also see the Church of St Nicholas on one side of us and the Astronomical Clock Tower on the other. This the oldest working astronomical clock in the world dating from around 1410. Each hour it puts on an animated display.

    People stand waiting often for the full hour to see this display. Many are disappointed when the 26 second show is done, and locals will tell you that the greater entertainment is to watch these tourists’ expressions of “wtf, is that ALL.”

    While some scoff at the slowly moving figures of apostles and the brief, bland burp from the golden rooster, I like to think this is the 1400s equivalent of today’s CGI




     

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  15. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us

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    Cruising the picturesque Vltava River in Prague which is lined on both sides with beautiful and ornate buildings. Afterwards a Mozart concert of Figaro in the grand Estates Theatre. This is the last theatre still standing where Mozart himself conducted.

    We got the last two remaining tickets. When people say they were in the nosebleed section, that would be sea level compared to where we were seated. I’m sure we bumped our heads against the Pearly Gates.

    Legend says Mozart first played this opera in Vienna, but the Emperor fell asleep during the performance and the opera was therefore poorly received. So Mozart packed up his toys and flounced out of the sandpit to play them in Prague. Here he received a 13 minute ovation, and so the city became his favourite stomping ground.

    Our performance was superb. The orchestra was amazing and the opera singers were absolutely sensational. Just to sit in this magnificent theatre was reward alone.

    Countless statues dot the city including this more recent animated one of Kafka. Each section rotates in either direction and they create constantly changing formations before returning to fo m his head and face again.

    The King Charles Bridge is lined with huge statues on each side. The oldest two are from bronze, but being so expensive, subsequent statues were made from sandstone. The climate is slowly eroding the porous stone now so they’re in the process of being replaced by replicas, while storing the originals indoors.

    After all this sightseeing, we need some refreshments. Prague has plenty of options!

     
  16. PMG

    PMG One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    How's the trip/fishing going rime no reason?
     
  17. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us

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    @PMG it’s been fantastic. The entire trip surpassed all expectations and better than I could have hoped. Although sightseeing, eating great food and drinking some delicious wines rudely impacted social media activity.

    We’re back now but sorting through photos and memory cards is my current big task. I somehow deleted a bunch of photos instead of importing them from a memory card :( I need to try and find out if it’s possible to recover them.

    Between winter skiing sessions, I’ll try and get this done before the northern winter and Europe section picks up again with winter posts.

    Here we go
    Old Prague is a gourmet wedding cake of Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance architecture. It’s everywhere you look as you lose yourself in the rabbit warren streets of cobblestones. A few streets further in each direction from the Old Town are palaces that are only 2 - 4 centuries old. They’re still old, but that’s now “New Prague”.



    Tucked in a tiny traffic island between Renaissance palaces was this gorgeous Gothic Church of St Martin in the Wall (it used to form part of the Old Town wall). As you walk around it, you can even see where old doorways and windows were once framed by stones, long since walled up


    We toured Prague Castle and Cathedral, filled with medieval decor. Both Castle gardens and Cathedral Tower provided amazing views over the city. I climbed all 287 steps up the very steep and very narrow spiral staircase. There are no railings. Then navigated the downward journey while others began their climb up :eek:

    SM waited far down in the castle courtyard below. If you look really hard, there is a little blue speck near the top angle of the courtyard, wearing a peaked cap. That’s SM.

    As magnificent as the Cathedral is, we found that the Church of Our Lady before Tyn, directly opposite our apartment on the Old Town Square, was even more beautiful inside.


     
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  18. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us

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    We crossed Charles Bridge numeorus times. Sometimes early morning with barely a soul around except for the ubiquitous Asian bridal parties having theme-wedding photographs, always numerous at any given time. Other times at night.

    A few severe floods over the centuries has seen some bridge damage and some of the statues replaced, which are the light coloured ones.

    Czechs can appear a bit brusque and aloof, but their modern architecture combines a quirky sense of humour. Yes those are babies climbing all over the huge antenna. And this is called the Dancing House. It’s designed to resemble a couple dancing, his arm sticks out around her waist, her skirt flares out.




    Despite their quirky sense of humour, don’t mess with Czechs. While on the walking tour, we paused on the Charles Bridge as our guide explained one of the sculptures. This is St John of Nepomuk who was sainted after being thrown off the bridge and in to the drink where he drowned. While our guide wasn’t tall, , she was nonetheless a bit of a bruiser and not someone you’d try and mess with in a dark alley. So halfway through her spiel, another tour group stops. Their guide, a towering man, who I later learned was Polish, stops right beside her, and begins talking into his microphone, completely drowning our guide’s voice.

    While the bridge was busy, there was plenty of space on the other side of the St John statue, so this was unbelievable! She asked him politely to move, and explained that as he can clearly see, she is also leading a tour group. He completely ignored her, even took a step across to stand right in front of her, and kept speaking in to his microphone. We were astounded.

    So she grabbed his microphone cord and pulled it from the socket strapped to his chest and held it tightly in her fist, as she then continued to talk about St John. Despite his best efforts, she wasn’t letting go for her life. He got very aggressive trying to pry it from her fist, raking her fingers, so as she was still describing the statue, she began whacking his arm with her guide’s brolly with her other hand

    In our roughly semi-circular group, I was standing right beside our guide when this all broke! It took a few moments to actually believe what we’re seeing.

    I was stunned too but the moment he raised his own umbrella to retaliate, was the trigger. I couldn’t stand by and do nothing! Now I’m no bruiser, you could knock me down with a feather. I’d have been level with this horrible man’s navel, but when I glanced around to see which of the big strong men in our group might intervene, they were all frozen in disbelief too

    SM is tall so always stands at the back of such groups so not to block them, which is usually very considerate. This time though,it meant he couldn’t break through the crowd quickly enough to come to my aid. So there was nothing else for it but to put on my Superhero undies and intervene!

    Our guide was still whacking his arm with her brolly, which actually snapped the handle in two as he wouldn’t let go of her, and still describing the statue as though nothing untoward was happening! So just as he lifted his arm to clout her, I grabbed his arm and yelled at him to just stop, cut it out, just go to the other side of the statue, and tried to separate them like two naughty children! I stood between them and yelled at him to stop or I’d call the police.

    (I have no idea how I would have actually called the police, but it was all I could think of in the heat of the moment! LOL

    He was probably caught by surprise that someone half his size would dare stand up to him, but it was enough to distract him. Others in our group snapped out of their state of surprise and began to move towards us to help, and SM managed to break through, realising I’d intervened and could end up being thrown off the bridge and follow St John of Nepomuk straight in to the Vltava River! SM met Mr Polish Guide at eye level, and between us both, the guide stopped in his tracks. He left in a hurry, taking his bemused tour group with him.

    So that was a most educational walking tour! This is the statue of the infamous site, which is the oldest on Charles Bridge, and is in the centre of it. Also the very spot where he, and I almost, made a swallow dive into the river.


     

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  19. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us

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    We ate a delicious lunch at the Priory mill cafe and had a table on that tiny little balcony platform over the river, seen on one of my photos.The mill wheel over Devil’s Stream isn’t of functional use but still turns to avoid rust and rot. The troll decided it was too cold to be in the water and under the bridge that day, but we had knee rugs and upright heaters keeping us warm
    The John Lennon memorial wall is nearby. Initially it looks like any old graffiti wall, but it has a poignant history from the Communist era. People weren’t allowed to play Beatles (or western songs) during the harsh regime. Musicians would even be jailed for doing so. After Lennon’s assassination though, young rebels painted lyrics of peace and freedom, and images of him on the wall, clandestinely at night. Authorities painted over them each day, even posted a guard each night, but the graffiti would reappear the next morning. The Communism era had a poignant end for the Czechs, with a couple of young men setting themselves on fire in Wenceslas Square in protest of Soviet oppression. The wall has been retained and is now referred to as the Lennon Peace Wall




    We climbed to the top of the clock tower for great views of the city. We learned that Prague has quite a colourful and at times, barbaric history. Czechs were fond of their defenestrations, including from these Town Hall windows in 1483. The Mayor was probably quite grateful to have survived the fall…… but was then dragged through the Old Square with two broken legs before being executed. We made sure to keep a good distance from the windows and not agitate the locals!

    There are also 27 light paving stones in the shape of crosses and the date beneath the clocktower, marking where the Habsburgs beheaded 27 dissidents. Their names are on a plaque on the Tower wall. Once the Habsburgs were overthrown, the Czechs removed the commemorative Marian Column that represented the Habsburgs, and pavers now mark its position too. A miniature replica of this Column is inside the Town Hall.

     
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  20. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us

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    Prague has an interesting Jewish cemetery. Forbidden to expand outwards several hundred years ago, space was gained by adding more layers of dirt on top of existing graves. With each new level, existing headstones were lifted and placed beside the latest one on the top layer of soil. In some areas, there were up to a dozen layers of bodies and 12 headstones on a single-sized plot. There is now a thick jungle of gravestones here.



    The midnight sun further north was not conducive to sleep even in Prague. It was light until 10pm and again by 4am. This gave us even more daylight hours to enjoy the sights. Illuminations of Prague Castle reflected on the Vltava River and set the town square buildings sparkling



    This is Medovnik, a traditional Czech honey cake. This one is from the Mill café



    Kangaroo flavoured Klokanky?


    This is Trdelnik. It’s a Czech traditional dessert. For about the last………..10 years. It had to be tried anyway. It’s a hollow donut log filled with ice-cream.

    With pictures showing the ice-cream piled high and creating a swirling “chimney smoke” impression, there were Expectations




    The reality :rolleyes:LOL




    Then there's all the beer, and I mean ALL the beer! They say Czech Republic drinks the most beer per capita. There's lager and stout and pilsner and ale and malts and IPAs and porters and sours and wheats, blondes, browns and reds. There is even a pub called the Beer Museum dedicated to all the beers. These are just a few. They had to be tried too

     

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  21. Jarryboy

    Jarryboy Hard Yards

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    Skied Vogel resort in Feb just gone. Got an Airbnb apartment at lake Bohinj. Getting fresh tracks skiing side country up there is on par with the best in Europe. Oh wait, ur going in summer I can’t help u.
     

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  22. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us

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    Thanks @Jarryboy yes it was a ski-less trip this time although we at least got to see a little snow. Hopefully next time there will be more of that

    On to Zagreb. The Croat/Serb/Bosnia conflict in the 1990s took a huge toll here annd the economy is still recovering. This is visible in some older buildings that look a little run down. In those repaired and cleaned, yellow seems the favoured shade.

    They do parks and gardens very well, festivals too. There are loads of fountains, and a market of fresh produce is in the Town square every morning.




    There is a funicular to the Old town, one of the shortest in the world at only 60 metres long. After walking the steep stairs in muggy heat the first day, our legs thanked us for taking the funicular the following day for around $1 a ride.


    A wedding took place in the Old Town when we were there on a Saturday. By the commotion and yelling out on the street, it was difficult to tell whether they were celebrating or whether we were about to get caught up in a riot. Apparently such a fierce ruckus, with shouting, cars screeching madly and honking, gun shots fired in the air, is how these occasions are celebrated!:eek:


    Tthere seems a large Aussie connection, as even noted in the window décor. Everyone seems to know someone or have some family in Australia. I suspect the 1990s conflict played a major role in that.



    We had dinner on Bar St, or Rubbish St as it’s affectionately called by locals. In the 1400s it use do be a canal filled with refuse and toilet slop. They decided it’s easier to pave over than try and clean, and now it’s full of bars and restaurants. It’s where the locals eat out too, so the food is an ethnic mix of Italian, Asian, Indian and even American-burger restaurants, rather than local Croatian

    We finally managed to find a local restaurant and sat in the garden out the back of a centuries old building. They make little else but Strukli which is a traditional and humble farmers’ food of pasta and cottage cheese. Savoury cheese for mains followed by walnut and honey for dessert. So good, we then order another with apple and cinnamon. We rolled home afterwards:D:emoji_pig:
     
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  23. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us

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    We picked up our car rental but fog clung to the mountains in the warmth and humidity, so no Medvednica, We drove straight to Slovenia. It felt like we’d opened the cover to a fairytale.

    They say a man’s home is his castle. That was quite literally true for this one night. When we opened our window, we found someone had planted a moat in our front yard!

    We stayed in a castle originally built in the 1200s, that’s on an island in the river. It looks like a fairytale even down to the swans gliding back and forth.




    For a city that’s a tongue twister to pronounce, Ljubljana is charming. It’s compact, has a relatively small population, and the people are warm and friendly.

    The progressive city went “Green” a decade ago, including prohibiting cars from the city centre. It’s now a pedestrian zone only, so no concerns being run over while you’re strolling the quaint cobblestone streets and enjoying the many bridges over the river that runs through the middle of town.

    This is a good thing considering the speed limit which appears to be a suggestion only, is 130. SM felt rather daring when we were hurtling along doing 110....... until everyone constantly sped past us doing a minimum of 140LOL

    Slovenia doesn’t have road tolls. They have a simple system of buying a car sticker for 15 Euro that allows you to drive the highways for a week.

    SM had one job. Take care of car/driving/road issues. We learned that if you drive on the highways without one of these 15 Euro stickers, that will be a cool 300 Euro fine thank you very much. 100 Euro if you pay on the spot:confused::rolleyes:

    @PMG make sure to get one of these stickers!

    In Ljubljana when we looked out of our window, we found someone had planted a Franciscan church and Triple Bridge in our front yard. We got over it ;)

    The bridge is quite impressive, built by Joze Plecnik, who designed and built much of Ljubljana after a major earthquake in the 1895 demolished much of the city.

    We stayed in this palace for a night. I’ve always wanted to be a bit of a princess:D

    Apparently a prince called Filip once called it his humble abode. Fil doesn’t live here anymore but there were quite a few pieces of furniture from the Napoleonic era and gorgeous framed original maps that dated back a few centuries.



    The river flows through the centre of town and is spanned by several beautiful bridges. Pleasant cafes line the river promenade as well as a long colonnade of market stalls

     
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  24. PMG

    PMG One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Thanks for the tip. We'll be in Slovenia a bit over a week. Where do you get the stickers?
    We're in Ljubljana for 3 nights before heading to Bovec. Our accommodation may not be as grand as yours though. I've found hotels there quite cheap generally. Probably the time of year.
     
    #24 PMG, Jul 12, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019
  25. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us

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    No worries @PMG. SM had looked everywhere prior for info but had found nothing about the toll sticker. Looking online afterwards, it seems there have been MANY internationals caught out similarly. It doesn’t appear to be advertised anywhere. We were stopped at a large gantry and we assumed it was another passport and/or toll gate.

    When we mentioned this fine with our car rental people, they responded with, oh our colleague should have explained it to you when you picked up the car. Their oversight was a costly one for us

    We loved Ljubljana and would spend another night or two there next time. Our apartment was a regular apartment building in town, newly renovated. The buildings are pretty much all beautiful “old palaces”, and this apartment was much the same price as any, but a fun idea to stay in a “palace” for a night though.

    I was a bit apprehensive using air bnb sight unseen but every place turned out even nicer than their online photos. We found accommodation almost everywhere to be relatively affordable. We generally went with apartments as they were even cheaper, roomier with full kitchens (we didn’t cook though) and washing machines which were handy on such a long trip.

    We really enjoyed Bovec and the Soca Valley. I’ll get around to those photos soon too

    There are some lovely buildings and churches in Ljubljana, heaps of statues commemorating poets and artists rather than war generals, loads of pleasant cafes lining the river promenade and Old Town square. The library windows are created to resemble open books. The town feels leisurely, clean and modern, yet historic.



    Evidently there is a considerable Aussie connection here too. They say that the water throughout Slovenia and Croatia is amongst the cleanest on Earth. No need for plastic landfill, you fill your own bottle frrom these water fountains that are abundantly scattered throughout these countries, and supplied by natural springs deep underground



    This small city has a large share of castles and palaces. We wisely caught the funicular to the top of the castle. There is a sweet little church with a painted ceiling. The dungeons, each with tiny cubicles just large enough for a prisoner to be housed standing up

    The walk down the steep path back in to the Old Town is very pleasant downhill. We saw several hot red sweaty faces saving a couple of dollars by making the very arduous climb up.




    We went Neanderthal with some cave manning. This area of rocky escarpments and collapsed hills, beneath which are underground caverns with endless cave systems is called the Karst region. Postojna and Skocjan caves are but two caves. Both very different, both fascinating. Several people had said to us that if you only go to one, make it Skocjan. We went to both and very glad we did

    Skocjan features a colossal cavern formed by a river that is gushing far below you. When it rains, this gigantic cavern fills up in hours. You can also walk a short trail above ground to see the collapsed doline with the river in the gorge that then feeds in to the cave. It’s a typical collapsed mountain crater, or doline, defining the Karst area.




    This is the illuminated boardwalk above the river


    You can also walk in to this collapsed crater following the cave tour. This path takes you passed Tominc Cavern and to the waterfall and bridge that you also see from the Karst lookout point. That’s SM standing on the right outside the cave facade


    Postojna cave has is full of ancient stalactites and mites. You reach the further ones by riding a theme park ride style of little train.




    Nearby is an impressive castle last renovated in the 1500s and built into the cliff-side called Predjama. There’s a great view from the castle of the steep valley with a river far below


    . Inside the Castle, SM found a pair of jousting sticks and asked how much they wanted for them. When the staff replied, SM responded with “Tell em they’re dreamin”. SM considered this terribly amusing:rolleyes:LOL

    (The Castle movie reference)
     

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  26. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us

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    Medieval towns are scattered throughout Slovenia, each with castles and churches. You often see several spires at once dotting each hilltop. We drove the country roads every as they’re far more scenic. We rarely drove on the highways (despite having paid dearly to do so!)

    The scenery is sublime and you meander through tiny charming villages consisting of only several houses, on a lane that is barely wide enough for a single car. There are times that a corner of a house has been shaved away so a car can get through. When I say meander through, you zig zag at tight 45 degree angles. It seems as if the road is going to end right in someone’s loungeroom, then you turn sharply, go another 20 metres and repeat. If another car comes from the opposite direction, one of you backs up until a suitable driveway is found where you can both inch through.

    We wandered around Skofja Loka, one such medieval village with a gorgeous little stone bridge, apparently the oldest in Slovenia. The river lined with charming pastel coloured houses




    From Skofja Loka, the drive through the mountains to Lake Bohinj is stunning, with gorgeous scenery and little hamlets dotting the countryside, each punctuated by church steeples.

    Lake Bohinj is very picturesque and even fewer people than Bled. So many fish in the crystal clear water. There were a couple of fisherman near the bridge and SM was itching to join them.



    We arrived into Bled and when we opened our window, we discovered there’s a bit of Darryl Kerrigan and The Castle in our front yard because How’s the serenity. It has to be one of the most picturesque places anywhere on Earth. It looks more like a painting than reality, a place to just sit and stare with an aperitif.


     
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  27. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us

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    Lake Bled is all about the scenery. Any time day or night, it’s stunning.



    For something different to our usual foot plodding EVERYWHERE, we hired bikes to ride around Lake Bled. I even managed not to fall off and tumble into the water. I don’t think there is any better spot to eat an ice-cream. We sat here and had a picnic lunch watching glider planes being towed then let go over the alps



    .




    You can go up to Bled Castle where of course there are more amazing views

    There is an interesting museum in part of the castle with all sorts of relics and tools and weapons dating back around 3500 years. There are also fossils far older, and other interesting treasures that are still being dug up around the region.



    On the the photo above, through a castle window is Mt Stol & Karawanks, on the border of Austria. So close!!

    I think it’s Mt Triglav below.



    @PMG I think this is Logarska Dolina and Mt Grintovec below, also from the castle. It was in the right direction and well beyond Radlovljica which was in the foregournd and not far from Bled. According to google maps, it seemed the only range in that direction and vicinity. Looks pretty nice



    When in Bled, you’ve got to do the gimmicky thing and eat their famed Kremšnita, or Bled cream Cake. It’s a bit like our vanilla slice.


    The other gimmicky thing is to take a Pletna boat ride to the Church of St Mary on Bled Island. It was a pleasant afternoon on that emerald water, with gorgeous views from both the boat and the church tower.

    If you’re around the lake and wondering why the bell is ringing so frequently it’s because you’re allowed to pull the rope to make it ring. Gimmick number 3 that has to be done!

     
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  28. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Ja, Bled is stunning from every possible angle. Only takes around an hour and a half to walk around the lake and that includes stopping to take pics more more different angles - the church, the castle, the island and the various combinations. Then the walk up to the castle, the boat trip to Slovenia's only island etc. Amazing.
     
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  29. PMG

    PMG One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Stunning shots rime noreason. Will be a little whiter when we're there no doubt.
    We're not going to the Logar Valley now unfortunately. It was either there or Bovec and we chose Bovec. The lure of a short stint in Italy won out.
     
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  30. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us

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    @Heinz , I don’t think you can take a bad photo anywhere in Bled. It was stunning, and yet another place I hope to return to.

    Thank you @PMG. Will you spend any time around Bled?

    We were lucky to have as much snow on the mountains as there was, as there wasn’t much until a couple of days before we got there. What we saw was quite fresh (that’s the cloud cover on my Bohinj photos, as they’re what brought the snow). Over the few days we were in Bled, you could see it was already receding. It would look stunning in the winter all covered in white.

    When time is limited, we unfortunately had to cull places too. I can’t imagine you’d regret Bovec, it’s gorgeous and plenty of skiing to be had in winter. Italy will be fantastic too. Even around Bovec, Kobarid and the winery regions, the Italian influence is strong. No wrong choices in what you’re doing by the sounds.

    I found it really fascinating how much cross-border influences there are, and how much it varies in a relatively short distance, even with accents of inhabitants. When locals spoke English, I could hear a distinct German/Austrian accent around Bled and northern areas, then Italian accents an hour or south, once you hit the Bovec regions.




    Above was from our hotel. One of only a couple of places we stayed in hotels. They’re swallows flying around.

    Below are the gliders I mentioned earlier



    We stayed at Bled for a few days and loved it. SM had to pry me away from here, only succeeding with the promise of more beautiful scenery!

    We left for Kranjska Gora where we began our tour through the Julian Alps and Triglav National Park, driving the Vrsic Pass. This was absolutely magnificent. More majestic than anticipated and as an added bonus for me, it had snowed a few days prior.

    I can only imagine how unbelievable it would look in winter snow. As it was, we only needed t-shirts and shorts with the warm weather, so the snow won’t have last long.

    There are plenty of waterfalls to choose from, plenty of rivers and plenty of views. This one is from the crystal clear Jasna Lakes at the northern end of the Pass where we began from Bled to Kranjska Gora.

     
    #30 rime noreason, Jul 23, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2019
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  31. PMG

    PMG One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    We've booked 3 nights in Bled so should be enough time to explore the area a bit before heading south.
    Plan on getting in at least a day skiing at Bovec. Maybe more if conditions are good.
     
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  32. LiveToSki

    LiveToSki One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    I am loving being a part of your trip!! Keep up the reports..
     
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  33. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us

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    Thank you @LiveToSki. I’m really enjoying going through the photos, reflecting on the trip and consolidating it all in my head.

    When you’re away for that long, seeing and doing so many new and different things every day, it’s a lot of information to process and remember. This is a wonderful way to relive and recall all the little details

    I wasn’t sure if I’m just waffling to myself though and if anyone else was reading it or looking at the pictures. So I’m pleased to know that you and a couple of others are, and thanks for the feedback.

    (It may slow down a bit though because Mt Buller has been calling for me:D )

    @PMG . We spent 3 nights in Bled too. I’d always be happy to spend longer, but 3 is sufficient to do and see a fair bit here. We splurged on the hotel here to maximise the views and atmosphere in the brief time we had. We figured there aren’t oo many places on Earth where you can gawp at such scenery. It was worth it and we ended up being upgraded to the top floor.

    While here, we also visited Vintgar Gorge, a gorgeous gorge! There is a good nature trail of boardwalks and bridges that spans across and continues right alongside the river. It was in flood when we were there which was a pretty amazing sight and sound. I imagine when it’s at standard levels, the calm aquamarine water is also amazingly beautiful.



    Back to the Julian Alps. There is plenty of water here too. That’s me standing behind the 52 metre high Pericnik waterfall which is also at the northern end of the Pass.

    I think it was the Razor Mountain range and Mt Prisank that we saw much of the way, from various angles. Then over the top it was ridge after ridge. Photos never do sceneries justice but this never been more the case than here. The granite mountains soar directly in front of you as you navigate the 50 hairpin bends and switchbacks on a very narrow road.

    There are plenty of interesting and historic stopping points, monuments, statues and stunning views. Fir and pine tree colours were Fifty Shades of Green and more.


    We had a picnic lunch at one of these stops that looked directly at the “window” through Mt Prisank. It’s the tiny clover shaped gap on the top right of the ranges below, and a close up photo included. The window measures around 80 x 40 metres. Wildflowers of many colours were sprouting everywhere.



    Goats clanging their collar bells were our companions at the summit where we did coffee right




    I spotted someone walking down a track in the far distance here which may give an idea of scale, although even this doesn’t really give a true idea how vast it actually felt. He’s fully inside the tiny space inside the red oval I marked below. Included is a close up too.




    @PMG, I would highly recommend this remarkable drive if you’re able. All of Slovenia was a highlight but this day driving through Triglav National Park was something special and unforgettable.

     
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  34. PMG

    PMG One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Gorgeous pics as usual. We intend visiting Triglav. Never being there before just not sure how much of Triglav will be accessible in winter. It's certainly stunning in green season looking at your pics.
     
  35. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us

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    Thanks @PMG. Bovec itself isn’t of high altitude, and not far from the Adriatic Sea. Locals said it doesn’t snow much down in Bovec itself. I imagine the Vrsic Pass gets a lot up high though. If the summit is impassable, then perhaps it’s still possible to go part way from Bled and return again. That would be worth it, and isn’t far.

    If you only did one side, I’d say the north side is marginally more picturesque and more to see, but only by a whisker. This is the Russian Chapel built as a memorial to Russian POWs who perished in an avalanche while creating the Pass.



    Then perhaps it might also be possible to go part way again from Bovec. That way you would get to see most of it, even if the summit is inaccessible. There is a spectacular viewing point where you see both the Trenta Valley, and parallel beside that is the Soca Valley. Trenta is a rounded “U” shape carved by a glacier, the Soca Valley is a more jagged gorge carved by the Soca River.

    If the Pass is not at all passable, the drive from Skofja Loka to Bohinj, and on to Bled is also very beautiful.

    One stop near the southern end of the Vrsic Pass is a walk to the Soca River source. If you read articles that say it’s challenging, believe it. Don’t be fooled at the waterfall at the halfway point thinking that’s the end and that it was a pleasant, slightly steep track through the forest, but wouldn’t say challegning.

    It’s from there, that you turn right 45 degrees and go up the hill. And up and up and up some more. Find the stone stairway and wire railing on your left and then you cling to a sheer rock face by wire ropes hammered in.

    I left SM to stay behind with some kids;):D

    Wearing an unimpressed scowl at me as I continued on to the last section where there is barely even a naroow foot ledge in the rock while the Soca rages in a gorge of jagged rocks below.

    Then even that “ledge” disappears and you leap across a small canyon with the river gushing below, then down two small metal footholds in the rock like bike pedals. I hoped they were hammered securely enough in to the rock!

    (this part, and the rest of the crab crawl, wasn’t even visible from where SM waited, which is a good thing, otherwise SM may not have remained my Soul Mate for much longer, such was the displeasure at meLOL
    So please keep this information to yourselves )

    Then you leap across a couple of large rocks poking out of the deep, still, bluest coloured pool. I don’t know how deep, but it must be many many metres due to the raging torrent that falls just a few metres below this pool. This is where the Soca River emerges from its subterranean life and begins its surface journey. Did I tell you that the water is icy cold?

    Well the water is icy cold!

    Thankfully I didn’t fall in but I did test it with my hand, while clinging on tightly with my other.

    You can see a bloke stretching across on one of my photos. That is definitely not SM who wasn’t anywhere near the action here, but it provides a bit of perspective of the “stepping stones”. So believe the bit where articles say it’s a bit challenging, but some of us like a good challenge. SM is not one of those peopleLOL



    At the southern end of the Julian Alps is the gorgeous landscape of Bovec.
    Plenty of waterfalls and gorges here too.



    The Soca Valley around Bovec and Kobarid played a significant role between Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire during WWI. This was the Isonzo front, Isonzo being what Italians call the Soca River.

    Conseuqently, there are quite a few memorials, museums, open air museums and forts including Fort Kluze which was a castle fortress for centuries prior, and Ravelnik with trenches and bunkers in the hillside to wander through. It’s surrounded by meadows of colourful wildflowers.

     
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  36. PMG

    PMG One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    More great info thanks rime. I read somewhere the Vršič Pass is closed in winter so we will probably go as far as we can. Our next stop after Bled is Ljublijana so your suggestion of tackling it from the Bovec side as well sounds good. Aah, so much to see and do, so little time. Like the idea of skiing from Slovenia into Italy whilst were there too.
     
  37. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us

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    I’m not surprised if that’s the case @PMG. It’s a steep climb and the summit is high. If it’s possible from each side, it’s worth it.

    No skiing involved, but we did get to sneak over briefly to Italy.

    In beautiful Bovec, when we opened our window, we found that someone’s gone and planted some snow capped alps in our garden.



    The Soca Gorge is not far from here either


    Around Kobarid there are numerous waterfalls and stone bridges from ancient Roman times that span over impossibly turquoise-blue rivers.
    These are both called Napoleon bridges but at different locations in the region. The smaller stone bridge dates back many centuries and is near a nice spot for a swimming hole. The larger one is also at least a couple of centuries old, and provides a beautiful view from both sides from high above the gorge.



    They call Bovec adrenaline city with good reason. If you don’t like kayaking, or white water rafting, or mountaineering, rock climbing, hiking, biking or flying, then it’s not the place to go. In winter, there is skiing and frozen waterfall climbing too we saw these gliders constant flying above the mountains


    Bovec and surrounds is very big on gourmet food and local produce including trout of course, but also cheeses, honey, farm meats etc. They excel at it. We try and eat local foods wherever we go, it’s all part of the experience. This trip was sensational for it.

    If you enjoy a fine degustation of local produce and wine as well as countless tasting plates that resemble pieces of art, I’d highly recommend Hisa Franko in Kobarid. If you’re a foodie, I imagine it would be a must. The chef is Ana Ros, and well known internationally. We had a fantastic night here. Afterwards, Ana took us on a guided tour through the kitchens, the cheese cellar and Alen the Somelier gave a detailed tour of the wine cellars.

    They book out far in advance though and when we only learned about this restaurant a couple of weeks prior (foodies would probably use the term heathens for us) they were booked out. However we asked to be put on a waitlist, they contacted us a few days later due to a cancellation. Very glad!


    Our air bnb hosts recommended this one when we asked them (but we had already been the previous night), but also in Kobarid they recommended the sister restaurant, Hisa Polonka. Very casual, like a friendly small pub, in a gorgeous old building in the heart of the village. Bruschetta, Boar cheek with beer marinade pastry parcel and homemade gnocchi and lamb ragout were our meals here.


    Kobarid Strukli is very localised specialty dessert, most places seemed to have their own similar variations of it and I think we tried just about all of them! It’s a delicious dumpling dessert with a walnut filling, ice cream side, then sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. Some also had fruit fillings, depending on the fruit season.




    We also found that there seems to be quite a few disorderly people in Slovenia who require stern punishment LOL
     
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  38. Lady Penelope

    Lady Penelope One of some lot ... Ski Pass: Gold

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    @rime noreason , good for you in leaping into the fray to protect the guide!

    What a fantastic and wonderfully written trip report! This has kept me entertained (and envious) for the past half hour or so. I love history and alpine scenery, and your beautiful photos have inspired me to try and get back to Europe and visit this region. It was more difficult to access during my seminal backpacking tour in the early 90s (from memory, I think the Balkans war had already begun or was in the throes of doing so). I have a sweet tooth too, so those pictures of desserts and ice creams that you sampled were also particularly attractive ;).

    Thank you for taking the time to write this very comprehensive report and post such gorgeous photos. I hope SM and you survived the time together without too much disagreement!
     
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  39. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us

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    Thank you @Lady Penelope! I’m glad you’re enjoying it too:)

    It sounds like we have a similar love of majestic landscapes and history. Croatia has some stunning scenery too, although the history and ancient buildings was the primary reason I wanted to go there.

    I’m still in total awe of that portion of our trip now. I’ll get to those photos soon too.

    We found the 5 weeks went all too quickly for both of us. Fortunately no real disagreements, so we not only survived but thrived. While I poke a bit of fun in this thread, SM knows it’s in jest and we have a giggle. We both had a ball. There were one or two moments such as when we first got to Bled and it was overcast with drizzle which was so disappointing for me when I’d been longing to see Bled for so many years! SM managed to cheer me out of that, and I’d thankfully booked several nights here specifically in case of bad weather as it’s one place that you really want to see the scenery. Fortunately the following days were fine (and that’s what brought the fresh snow which was a bonus). Then vice versa when SM learned the hard way that Slovenia has a pre-paid highway toll and was so annoyed about it. I waved it off, said it’s done, nothing can be achieved by stewing over it, it would only spoil the rest of the day when we had good things ahead of us.

    I had anticipated things wouldn’t always go to plan, it’s all part of such a trip so no point letting things like that get to you. We have all the more amusing tales to giggle over now. So we bounced off each other well when we needed. Times like my Source of the Soca rock dangle, SM wasn’t actually annoyed either, it’s just another amused head shake and eye roll at the many nutty activities I enjoy:D

    It was a busy and tiring trip, but in a really really good way. You’d be hard pressed to be moody and unhappy being surrounded by all these sights and amazing beauty! If not for time and money we’d both go again tomorrow (and together!).

    As much as I will go on a ski trip any day of the week, I’ll take travelling like this anytime, too. There is so much more we’d like to see that we are planning Chapter 2 for a couple of years from now.

    Wildlife, wildflowers and wild strawberries were abundant through Slovenia. Frogs, fish, and we were lucky enough to even see a couple of water snakes! The one in the Soca River was around a metre long, but the tiny baby basking in the sun was only about 20 centimetres long. It turns out it was a European Viper which generally isn’t deadly but can inflict a nasty bite. I didn’t realise this until after I got down on my haunches and inched my camera lens about 10 centimetres away from it! It looked so small and cute! :eek:

    We also saw an occasional snake in Croatia.

    We saw quite a few Golden Eagles soaring overhead and a few deer here and there.


    We saw huge schools of fish all over the place, and when we caught sight of this trout, SM’s casting hand was twitching uncontrollably!LOL


    We left Bovec for nearby Most na Soci. When we looked out of our window, we discovered that someone had placed a water feature in our front yard!

    These were our breakfast views.

    The ducklings in our water feature were less than 24 hours old!



    The Soca River has been dammed into a small lake here and we walked around it and along a sculpture trail. Then we boarded a ferry at Most na Soci (which means Bridge over the Soca) that took us around the lake area, under the bridge and up to the dam walls.

    That colour though! We were in Slovenia for 2 weeks and I still can’t believe the colour of the water. It was as if someone had spilled turquoise paint in it. When European paintings have rivers and lakes of blue, I assumed they’d just picked a nicer colour than brown. Now I see why they chose blue. I’m still in awe of that incredible colour



    For Aldi fans, it’s called Hofer here
     

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  40. Lady Penelope

    Lady Penelope One of some lot ... Ski Pass: Gold

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    More gorgeous photos! Very brave of you to get that close up of the viper :eek:. I’m living vicariously through your trip report, so keep those reports and photos coming if you have more :)
     
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  41. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us

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    That’s fantastic, thank you @Lady Penelope I hope to travel to Japan and Canada someday, but until then, it’s trip reports like those excellent ones you did, that I enjoy. So I’m pleased to be able to return the favour

    Next was a walk through Tolmin Gorge, another gorge with plenty of hiking trails and many, many, many stairs. When it’s hot and humid and sweat is running down your back in rivulets, we can attest to the definite fact that there are many more stairs here in the summer than there are in winter.




    Near the exit, you walk across a bridge, towering far above the gorge and it’s quite a breathtaking and dizzying sight looking straight down at the aquamarine water far below.


    There is a fallen rock jammed in a narrow fissure that looks like a bear’s head. So it probably doesn’t take anyone their full allowance of 3 guesses to conclude they named a rock that looks like a bear, Bear Rock.






    This is the Kanin cablecar that takes you to Slovenia’s highest ski resort. The views would be stunning. We didn’t go up this time, but will aim for it next time. @PMG, I assume this is where you’d ski? Looks stunning

    .
    This is the Bridge over the Soca (Most na Soci), and a huge school of small fry in the Soca River


    We also visited the Caporetto Italian Military Shrine near Kobarid. It’s a huge monument-memorial on the summit of a hill, and is a tribute to fallen soldiers. Even if military history isn’t your thing, the views of the Soca Valley from here are gorgeous. At this height, we also saw a huge pair of Golden Eagles flying only a short distance above us.

    Here, we were so close to Italy, we snuck across the border too.


    We watched a lovely sunset on the Soca as the humid mist rose through the valley, then enjoyed some more fine local produce.

     

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    #41 rime noreason, Aug 9, 2019
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  42. Lady Penelope

    Lady Penelope One of some lot ... Ski Pass: Gold

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    Beautiful! The Slovenian Tourism Board (if such an entity exists) should pay you for these posts. Lovely pics once again. And that rock really does look like a bear.
     
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  43. PMG

    PMG One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    More superb shots rime. The Soca River is just an incredible colour.
    Yes, that's the place. Apparently it is a very slow trip on the cable car. Looking at the map the Italian side has probably the better skiing.
    https://www.bergfex.com/sella-nevea/
     
    #43 PMG, Aug 10, 2019
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  44. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us

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    Thanks @Lady Penelope amd @PMG .

    Still in the Soca Valley, we then stayed a couple of nights in a gorgeous little cottage. When we looked out our window, we found someone had dug a big fish pond in our front yard.

    We were just a few steps from the mighty Soca River.




    Aside from the wonderful sound of the river lulling us to sleep each night, there was a very good reason to be so close to it. @PMG , today was The Day. The rivers are an unbelievable shade of aquamarine. They say you can see trout from 100 metres away. What they say is true. SM flicked a piece of string and this happened.

    I called this one Tom.



    I called this one Frank





    and I called this one ...... Dinner




    Catch and release only for SM though. So those lived to tell the tale to their Grandkids about the day this Aussie deliriously enjoyed them as they jumped obligingly on to the line, over and over again at regular intervals

    So I had been watching paragliders over these Alps for quite a few days. I was getting really sick of watching them all soaring above us. So because dangling from a flimsy rope along a sheer rock face over a raging gorge a few days ago wasn’t enough, I did this.



    What a thrill!
    SM was only just beginning to recover from watching me doing the whole rock face dangle above the Source of the Soca gig (and didn’t even see the worst of that), so the unimpressed countenance only increased with this. SM could barely even look at the photos I took from my flight, let alone watch the footage I took as we soared above the Soca Valley.

    It’s hard to tell sometimes, but SM isn’t much of a daredevil;)

    Oh my God but this was sensational! The views were amazing, we flew directly above the Soca River. You can see two cottages roughly in the centre my aerial photo I took as we paraglided above. Ours is the top of the pair so you can see how close it was to the River, and the trout fishing. Bovec and paragliding here is at the top of my Return Here Again list.

    On these photos you can see a Golden Eagle as it was flying away. We were soaring with a pair of them, then suddenly one flew right up to us, chirping and flapping at us with annoyance for dropping by without calling first. My instructor said he’d never seen one come so close. Looks like I’m the Golden Eagle Whisperer:D




     
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  45. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us

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    We had to wave the idyllic Soca River farewell and drove to Mt Kolovrat via one particular very long concrete bridge that was so narrow that SM even folded the side mirrors in!





    From Mt Kolovrat, you can see the whole Soca Valley which is gporgeous. There is also another open air museum with WWI stone bunkers and trenches here.



    We drove onwards to Goriska Brda. Here, when we went out on our deck we discovered someone’s gone and planted Tuscan vineyards and rolling hills with castles and churches on them right in our front yard!




    Our apartment was built by, and overlooked the ancestral vineyards of, our very cheerful host who continues making wine with a passion. We can confirm he is extremely generous with his produce. You can see why he never stops smiling. He could regale you with tales until the end of time. We had an incredibly fun and funny night. And this was following a bottle of wine that our host had already placed in our fridge, which was after a winery tour which had help yourself tasting!

    One of our host’s tales was that when his Grandfather worked these vineyards, he suffered a couple of very bad seasons and was going broke. Just when he thought he’d have to sell up, which was one of the oldest vineyards in the area with the family making wines since 1725, the local monks came to the rescue! Those ever reliable monks ended up making a deal for a constant and large supply, and thus our host’s vineyards were saved.

    At least, I think that’s how the story went. The details were a little fuzzy the next morning. I do remember going out somewhere for dinner very very late that night, through some very winding narrow laneways, in very high spirits. Our lovely young waiter brought us a bottle of water when we were seated, and 5 minutes later, brought an even bigger bottle of water for us, along with a side smile, after realising the first bottle was clearly too small. He also returned with a large basket of cherries to nibble on while we waited for our dinner. I have a feeling he was quite accustomed to such dinner guests and know exactly what’s required without even being asked! At the end of our meal, we were given a complimentary glass of cherry schnapps after all that, too. Just what we needed (not!)

    Goriska Brda is THE place for vineyards and wineries. Apart from being a well known wine region, the scenery is gorgeous. Dozens of rolling hills dot the landscape, a tiny medieval village perched on each, and each is crowned by a church steeple like perfect little cake toppers. The views span over to Italy which is almost just a stone’s throw from here. There is a large winery and tasting collective, Klet Brda.

    You usually need to pre-book winery tours and tastings, you don’t just wander in apparently. My paragliding instructor knew the people who run this winery and called ahead and arranged for us to have a tour and tasting that afternoon when we arrived. Very interesting and very fun.





    Hills here are covered by vineyards and fruit trees. Great timing because it was cherry season. Apricot and strawberry and raspberry and blackberry season too. Fruit trees flourish along the winding lanes that link each hamlet. No Coles supermarkets here, the locals work their crops then sell them from roadside stalls in front of their farms.

    How wonderful it was having conversations with these warm and friendly people with my few tragic attempts of Slovenian greetings I’d learned along the way, and their far better English. We had a great deal of joy trying, though! And we ended up with some delicious produce as well.




    The villages are charming. Smartno has now been declared a cultural heritage town after it was abandoned for years during and following the Yugoslavian conflict. Inhabitants up and left everything, the town fell into total disrepair. It has largely been restored over the last couple of years, and there are numerous houses, information boards and sites to visit here. It’s somewhat like a museum town, although inhabited with locals once more. People have slowly trickled back to the area and the village is tiny and gorgeous. Good coffee and food, too. Everywhere through this region has the freshest and most delicious produce. It’s what they do. They’re justly proud of it, too.

    We will spend a couple of extra days here next time, it was a joy.

     
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  46. PMG

    PMG One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    We want to call in on Smartno too on the way to Bovec but we're going to be running out of time I think. We researched it a couple of weeks ago. We could just cut down on the skiing component of the trip but that doesn't really appeal funnily enough.
    Any of the local wines to recommend if we do get there?
     
    #46 PMG, Aug 19, 2019
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  47. Lady Penelope

    Lady Penelope One of some lot ... Ski Pass: Gold

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    Wow! You go, girl! Sensational colour of the river too (I would call it turquoise).
     
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  48. PMG

    PMG One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    There is something to be said for summer trips that's for sure. Yep, turquoise.
     
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  49. DPS Driver

    DPS Driver One of Us

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    Awesome trip. Lake Bled is one of my favourite parts of the world. I lived there for a while in 1990.

    There is an Australian connection too via the Hotel Toplice. In 1919 the Hotel was purchased by Jula Molnar a local business woman, it was in disrepair and she added to the building and effectively restored it to the state you see it in today. Obviously restoration has taken place since but in keeping with Jula's version.

    During WW2 Jula's the Germans commandeered the hotel and Jula's sons were captured for working with the resistance, they escaped and were captured by the allies as spies. Eventually they were released, one son heading to Canada and the other to Cooma to work on the Snowy mountains scheme. When I was there originally I stayed at their sisters place. They both were back in town fighting for control of the hotel, as ownership was stripped by the communists under Tito.

    I never could find out how they got on. This part of the story is shrouded. I did find a book written by the Canadian writer who was the wife of Jula's son but no mention there.
     
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  50. rime noreason

    rime noreason One of Us

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    It is difficult trying to cull places, @PMG. Two weeks in Slovenia alone was still not long enough and we plan to return in a couple of years.

    How long are you spending skiing? As much as I would love to ski Europe, and I know the snow and experience is completely different to here, I can actually still ski here. However, here, we don't have the medieval villages, castles, rolling vineyards, lakes, waterfalls and Alps, so even though I'd like to ski for a few days in Europe, I'd want to see and experience things that I can't at home.

    If it helps any in the decision making, this was our breakfast pictured below as we looked out across our “Tuscan Vineyards”, generously provided by our wonderful hosts :D

    Definitely turquoise @Lady Penelope. Somewhere above I said something about looking like someone had spilled turquoise paint in the Soca. It's quite amazing! Some rivers such as the Nadiza, were slightly more green, others such as Tolminka River through Tolmin Gorge were more a crystalline blue.

    I suspect there are slight colour variations depending on rainfall, snowmelt and mineral quantities, but always stunning.

    Thanks @Lady Penelope. Flying above those mountains with the birds was so exhilarating, it's at the top of my things to do if we're fortunate enough to return.

    Thanks for posting @DPS Driver wow that's some really interesting history. The Toplice is in fact where we stayed at Bled. Right on the top floor. A turbulent era to have been living there in 1990 though!

    I found it interesting how Tito is remembered throughout the region, as some people seem to revere him and appreciate the progress and infrastructure he established. Yet as a regime, it certainly doesn't lack corruption. I also have some connection to the general region through my family history, so personally know the damage done by the regime, which further increases my interest. Tito's little holiday shack on the shores of the lake is certainly indicative of a highly lavish lifestyle.

    There is an excellent 5 hour BBC documentary called "The Death of Yugoslavia" detailing the nation's dissolution. The most fascinating aspect is the candid interviews with all the main players, including Milosevic, Karadzic, Jovic, Bulatovic, along with many others. Filmed only a couple of years post-collapse, the events are fresh in all their minds. We found it riveting viewing, particularly travelling there, and also spending a couple of weeks through Croatia and even a brief visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina (Mostar).

    Anyway I digress, and this thread has taken a back seat to my skiing, so back to work here.....

    We also went to Vipava Valley, the neighbouring wine region to Goriska. We snuck across the Italian border on the way again, so briefly though, that if you blinked you missed it and were back in Slovenia before you knew it!








    The highway goes through Italy here with barely an acknowledgement, and shortly after we travelled across the Soca River on the Solkan Bridge. This is the world's longest stone arch railroad bridge, spanning dizzingly high above the water, and is now over 100 years old.






    . The town of Vipava is historic, charming and lovely, the vineyards spread out through flatter countryside, more of a deep wide valley. Sort of a generic vineyard area. We did enjoy another excellent local restaurant with foods created from homegrown produce, and a B & B, all in a gorgeous old farmhouse/villa.

    However, if I could only see one winery region, Goriska would win hands down simply for the stunning scenery with tiny medieval villages perched on hilltops.

     
    #50 rime noreason, Sep 2, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2019
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