Hello from Slovenia!
Cycling through a country is such a great way to see it up close, and there are many interesting places to see here in Slovenia. Our goal is to experience as much of the area as possible. We start riding around 9:30 a.m. and typically finish up by 3:00 or 4:00 p.m., and cycle between 20 – 40 miles each day. The rides can vary between covering a lot of miles rather quickly to a leisurely pace, stopping often to take in special points of interest. Our lunch stop always includes a restaurant featuring regional cuisine.
We are fortunate to be accompanied by Vlasta, our incredibly knowledgeable guide, who has enriched our experience immensely. Vlasta provides us with the history of the country and small villages that we travel through, including interesting tidbits of information and patiently answers all of our questions along the way. We have also included a motorcoach that travels along with us every day adding some security should the dreaded “flat tire” occur. We do feel a little bit lavished having both of these luxuries.
From Kranjska Gora to Lake Bled: Cycling Below the Julian Alps and Walking in the Vintgar Gorge
Our travels from Kranjska Gora to Lake Bled started out a bit chilly and then it began to rain. Mother Nature has her ways, but we were prepared with the right attire for the situation and made the best of it.
Surrounded by the Julian Alps, the ride begins with a gentle downhill through the river valley. We stop for a couple of hours at the unforgettable Vintgar Gorge, one of Slovenia’s premier destinations. This one-mile- long canyon is lined with a scenic trail of boardwalks and bridges that allow the visitors to see and feel the force of the rapid waters forming pools and rapids and impressive waterfalls. These are some of the most dramatic and extraordinary sites you’ll ever see.
We climb over a small pass that levels out and ends with a downhill into Bled. Lake Bled is a very short distance from Vintgar Gorge. Since the skies were clear we decided to take a 2-mile hike through a lush forest, stopping for lunch in an off the beaten path neighborhood that provided very nice local specialties.
Lodging at Lake Bled and Rafting the Sava River
Lake Bled is truly a spectacular sight. Every photo is postcard perfect. We chose a hotel that would provide us with a view of the lake. The lake is bluish-green and the rain gives it a mystical appearance. In the middle of the lake is Bled Island home to an old monastery. A very old castle towers above on a nearby hillside with a church just below. What do you do when it’s raining? Get in the water and go rafting! We actually had a rafting trip planned, so we geared up with neoprene wet suits and had a great time rafting and body surfing in the Sava River.
Hallelujah, the sun has returned and everything is crisp and sparkling! Slovenia is filled with sweeping lush green valleys, dotted with small villages and churches hundreds of years old with ringing bell towers announcing the time to the residents.
Cycling to Lake Bohinj in Triglav National Park and a Bonus Gondola Ride Up Mount Vogel!
Another 20 miles and we are on our way to Lake Bohinj, located in the Triglav National Park. This is one of Slovenia’s largest lakes and while it is also unbelievably picturesque, it has a different type of beauty than that of Lake Bled. The reflections of the nearby mountains in the water, give it more of an alpine lake appearance.
We continue cycling alongside the lake for a few miles before stopping for lunch. We take a cable car/gondola up 5,043 ft to the ski area of Mount Vogel which is certainly one of the most scenic lunch spots thus far. The Julian Alps are stunning. Our guide, Vlasta, whisks off to a restaurant, largely unknown to the other tourists, for more Slovenian specialties.
A Motorcoach Ride to the Savica Waterfall
After lunch, our motorcoach drives us to the entrance of the Savica Waterfall. To get up to the waterfall there are approximately 500 steps of varying sizes, depths, and shapes. The hike up was well worth it once we saw the incredible sight of this waterfall cascading 256 ft down on its way to Lake Bohinj. Whew, what an incredible day!
Yesterday’s ride was more level with a slight descent, but today is a different story. We have a couple of options. We can tackle a long hill climb over Sorica Pass with grades between 10 – 18% for a 40-mile day, or hop a train that will take us over the mountain pass for a 20-mile day. We decide to give the mountain a good hard effort. How many times in your life are you going to have a motor coach nearby to assist you should you decide it’s too much? Was it hard? In places, yes. But, with a few breaks, we all did it and were pleased with the monumental effort. As we know, what goes up must go down and we were not disappointed as we enjoyed the long downward descent.
Day 9: the Kolovrat Saddle and it’s Open-Air World War II Museum and a Fabulous Home-Cooked Lunch with ‘Miss Josephine’
Day nine of our cycling tour begins on the Kolovrat Saddle. This is also an open-air WW1 museum, that sits on the border of Slovenia and Italy. This area was also a very important site in WW1. The original bunkers are still in place and you can see where the heavy fighting took place. There are many memorials and museums throughout this area of Slovenia and more than a million soldiers from this war are buried nearby.
In contrast to the solemnity of the Kolovrat Saddle, our next visit is with Miss Josephine, who also has a museum in her home. We spent some time with her when we were here in May and became fast friends.
Miss Josephine is quite the hostess, offering us coffee that she has prepared in her Black Kitchen which is an open-fire pit in its own room inside the house. It’s an unbelievable sight for sure. We are served a broth soup with tiny star noodles, cold cuts and a savory crepe “as a starter.”
From there, Josephine brings out a large pot of potatoes that have just been boiled. She informs us we are going to peel them and help finish preparing lunch. After the potatoes are peeled, the men are handed a large wooden mashing tool and told to mash the potatoes. She places a few more ingredients in the pot and serves a flavorful meal.
Before we leave, she invites the group to see her museum of Slovenian artifacts and WWI memorabilia. She tells me that since I’ve already seen it, I should grab a ladder and pick some grapes from her grapevine hanging over the patio. Miss Josephine is quite the character, but that’s just one of the many reasons we love her.
We still have a few days left of our two-week adventure in Slovenia. We have had a great time so far, I think you should plan on joining us next year when we return,
More to come….