What an amazing country to visit. Beautiful countryside, lovely wine and fantastic people. Mountains, lakes and coast. We planned to stay for a month, mixing camping with staying in small guest houses and apartments. We took the van and drove through Italy with mountain bikes, hiking stuff, camping kit and climbing kit.
A good place to start, especially when arriving from Italy, is the wine region around Kanal. Mountain Bikes are a fantastic way to explore the vineyards and the cherry orchards. The karst scenery is breathtaking with deep cut limestone gorges and caves.
On route to the coast we called by the Church of the Holy Trinity at Hrastovlje where the procession of death is painted on the wall. We had to phone the caretaker to let us in but we got a private viewing and explanation of all the medieval paintings. Outside there was a very bizarre gate to a paddock made up of wartime memorabilia welded together. We took a wander through to village and got chatting to a guy about a very old blue moped. He then turned round and asked if we wanted to see his private museum of wartime stuff. It was his paddock, garden and a room at the back of the house, crammed with anything to do with the first or second world wars.
Next stop Pirea on the coast. A touristy town with a wealth of history. All the historical plaques were in Slovenian and English. This is a theme throughout the country.
Inland again to a tiny hamlet near Cernica. On the way we took in a medieval castle in a cave. At one time it belonged to a “Robin Hood” style character who mocked the law and survived a long siege of the castle by getting supplies in through the cave network behind the castle. This only came to an end when he was hit by a cannonball while sat on the privy.
More exploring by bike and a visit to the wondrous caves at Postojna. Now I used to go caving for fun and take groups caving. This cave is incredible and so well presented as a tourist attraction. The guides are superb and all my scepticism about show caves has been blown away. Alas, no photos of the cave as I think they want you to buy theirs.
From here we headed north of the capital to Kamnick. We were lucky with the weather to get up to see the Velika Planina, highland pasture with old style herdsmans huts. Beautiful wooden structures in a series of tiny hamlets. We also jumped on a bus for a day trip into Ljubljana. The mountains here were holding too much snow and the weather was not good enough for much hiking so we then drove over to the Julian Alps, Bled and Bohinjska Bistrica.
Triglavski National Park are stunning. It is very touristy and although it was out of season it cost more to park the car than drive it. Bikes are brilliant. There’s a plethora of climbing and hiking options.
Other places visited and well worth a mention.
- The Bee Museum at Radovljica is amazing. Very interesting insight into beekeeping and the history of it.
- Franja Partisan Hospital – Built in an inaccessible gorge this is an incredible insight into the organisation of the Partisans in this part of the world.
- Kopa is a village famed for the production and working of iron. We went on a Sunday in the rain but it’s lovely to just walk around and see all the old ironwork.
- On the way to Kopa we took a scenic route and stumbled across a memorial which appears to have been a battle site between Partisans and Germans in the second World War at Dražgoše.