I have been knocking on the door of this country for over 20 years and only this year did I make it over the border to take in the delights of Slovenia.
As a regular visitor to Austria its Southern neighbour of Slovenia has really been easy reach but it may have been a rather long wait but what a great revelation it has been to me now!
I arrived flying into Ljubljana’s small and very efficient airport with WizzAir and then headed off to its most visited of towns Bled and its picture perfect lake location.
It was not long before one of the treats of this resort town in the mountains was handed to me. A ‘Bled’ cream cake, mine was served to me in the Grand Hotel Toplice located right on the lakeside. This deep creamy layered concoction with delicate pastry is smooth and sensuous and once tasted you will be back for more.
The lake is focal point with the island church and the almost fairy-tale castle perched high above it providing views that it seems to be rather unfair for one small resort to have so many in one place.
This spa and resort town was once part of the Austria Hungarian Empire and was the spa town of choice, I can see why.
If you prefer getting closer to nature which, is what this area has in abundance then perhaps try Glamping at Sava Hotels camp site adjacent to the lake area where you can stay in wooden cabins that even have wood fired hot tubs outside. A different and not to be missed experience!
The one time Communist leader of Yugoslavia President Tito had a summer residence nearby with again wonderful views over the lake and the Church of the Assumption of Maria.
Located on the edge of Slovenia’s Triglav National Park its here where you will find some of the most exquisite views of Slovenia. The highest peak Triglav Mountain it’s river valleys and forests provide wonderful views all year round.
It is indeed outline of Triglav Mountain that appears on the national flag and is a symbol you will see everywhere.
The rivers and numerous waterfalls that flow in and around the national park and its forests provide both entertainment with many water sports that use the natural resource and the woods themselves have any number of tracks for hiking or biking on and if you are really lucky you can have the chance to go with licensed guides and spot wild bears that still roam free in some of the most densest of woodland you find in this very special national park.
NATIONAL PARK’S PURE NATURE
The mountains are perfect in many ways for enjoying the pure nature of the country to places like the Bohinj and the Bohinj Waterfall called the ‘Slap Savica’ the fall tumbles78 metres from the craggy limestone rock face. Nearly 500 steps will take you from the entrance to its hidden viewing platform. The well-trodden path to Slovenia’s most popular waterfall is well worth the effort.
One unique and quick way of getting from Bohinj further west into the Julian Alps is to take the car train that runs from Bohinjska Bistrica and Most na Soči this will cut a couple of hours driving off your journey and is a very different way of travelling.
The area around Bovec has much to offer those of a sporty disposition here you can tackle Zip lining from mountain to mountain or ride the waves of the fast flowing Soca river whitewater rafting, canoeing or even take on the chance for a parachute jump!
Located on the edge of Bovec is the Hotel Mangart a modern and a good base to operate from with great views of the mountains that surround the town. Local cuisine from that area is served at the Martinov Hram and they also have more traditional accommodation too.
I ended up rafting, which, turned out to be an excellent choice the team from Sportmix provided all the equipment and safety brief needed for the trip. After 13kilometres on the River Soca and with three other travel writers all paddling frantically together we were all delighted, dowsed and drenched laughing and cheering all the wet way!
With Betty an enthusiastic guide who made the whole experience exciting and fun as we bounced around boulders down the surging Soca on a day to remember!
Another environmental get away near to the Soca river is to the traditional cabins of the Pristava Lepena hotel village charm and contemporary living in wooded and rock strewn complex. An outdoor pool an on site restaurant and the chance to go riding on their Lipizzaner horses all part of the experience.
Onwards to the town of Cerkno here is an alpine resort that in summer has stunning views from its mountain top hotel and restaurant.
Nearby is a touching reminder of the Nazi fighting Partisans of the old Yugoslav Republic the troops cunningly managed to build a complete hospital to treat their wounded fighters and kept the 14 wooden huts in a narrow river gorge a secret from their enemy for over 2 years until the end of the war in 1945.
Called the Franja Hidden Hospital this is a must see. It may sound a bit dull but believe me a visit to Cerkno without seeing it would be tragedy.
Heading further south this too is another must see place but this time the mountain views are from within a mountain this busy tourist site attracts millions of visitors each year the Postojna Caves.
Getting into the caves requires yet another train, this time its passengers only and a very narrow gauge.
Plus its mind your head!
Ignore that advice given at the start and severe injury could soon follow!
The rail ride into the mountain of 2 kilometres is just the start, once deep inside and at the unloading area you are in one of the most massive stalactite and stalagmites adorned caves you could possibly wish for and you have a hint of that on the ride in.
Giant pillars that have taken thousands of years to grow are everywhere and walking through this underground forest of stone some made of delicate strands others bulky shapes and in all colours from pure white through pink to brown and black. There are even fine folds of curtain like growths hanging from the cave chambers the tour lasts around two hours in a year round temperature of 10C.
Nearby a group of hunters now turned wildlife guides can take you on wild bear watching sessions deep in the woods of Green Carst area.
Whether above or below ground the sights and experiences of Slovenia are truly amazing and although a small country it’s certainly not lacking in anyway.
What does puzzle me is why I had never ventured over her northern board? I will never know, but I know much better now!
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