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Slovenia, while undeniably small -it’s only half the size of Switzerland, possesses so many attractions that it rivals much larger countries. And first among these attractions is the great outdoors. Slovenes have a passion for outdoor sports in this sunny playground on the south side of the Alps. Slovenes are big on hiking -almost as many hike as ski. Slovenia has an excellent system of hiking trails -some 7000 km altogether. There are countless opportunities for adventure from challenging mountain hikes and rock climbs in Triglav National Park, to underground cave explorations and white-water rafting.




 

Remember this is Slovenia, NOT Slovakia. Many westerners get these two countries confused. Slovenia declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. It is not part of the volatile Balkans and has close cultural and economic ties with central Europe. It is a beautiful and very safe country to visit. Close to the centre of the country lies its’ largest city, the capital, Ljubljana.
Bled is Slovenia’s most popular resort area with its’ emerald green lake, a picture-postcard white church on an islet, a medieval castle on the edge of a rocky cliff, and some of the highest peaks in the Julian Alps. If you tire of the tourist hordes in this special picture paradise, seek out the larger but quieter and less developed Lake Bohinj area 26 km further south.

 

Hiking the Bohinj Area

ah_3903_slovenia23Click image for slideshowLake Bohinj, 4.5 km long and up to 45 m deep, lies in a picturesque valley basin 523 m above sea level bordering on Triglav National Park. There is no town called Bohinj; the name refers to the entire valley, its villages and the lake. We begin the adventure with an afternoon walk around the lake to the tiny village of Ribcev Laz and passing the cable station car, the world war II cemetery, Hotel Zlatarog, the trout hatchery and back to the hotel with a climb up Mt. Rudnika. Early the next morning it’s off for a walk into Stara Fuzina at the mouth of the Mostnice Gorge and then across the river to the village of Studor. After a trek across farmers’ fields it’s time for lunch in Bohinj Bistrica - the largest town in the area with a population of over 3000. We continue alongside the River Sava back to our hotel -the Bellevue - where Agatha Christie wrote many of her mystery novels.

The next day we walk to the head of the lake to view the spectacular Slap Savica waterfalls. Savica is one of the reasons many come to Bohinj to view the 60 m drop into a deep gorge. Then its time for a strenuous climb up the Komarcha Wall to a mountain hut for lunch and a breathtaking view. The next day its off to the Voje Valley and along the river to the Mostnice gorge. Then its a cable car ride up to a lookout and a hike through the ski areas to Mount Sija, the Vratka Pass and Cez Suho. Before leaving the Bohinj area it’s time for a visit to the capital city of Ljubljana (pop. 340,000). Here you can stroll along the willow-lined walkways of the Ljubljana River, view a collection of 19th century Slovenian art, sip a cappuccino in the many outdoor cafes, enjoy the music of street musicians and visit the outdoor markets.  At Ljubljana Castle, the climb up the wrought iron staircase of the 19th century Belvedere Tower and a walk along the ramparts  provides great views of the Old Town below.   Then we relocate to Bled for a walk around Lake Bled and a visit to Bled Castle.

60 photos:   Photo Album 1: The Bohinj Area photo


 

Hiking the Bled Area

ah_4218_slovenia23A 4 km walk north of Bled takes us to Vintgar Gorge. A wooden walkway built in 1893 hugs the rock walls of the gorge for 1600 m along the Rodovna River, crisscrossing the raging torrent four times over rapids, waterfalls and gorgeous pools before reaching the Sum Waterfall. The entire walk is spectacular. We walk back via St. Catherine’s Hill. The next day we trek through the woods and follow farmers’ fields south of Bled to Lake Megre and the Sava River and on to the tiny quaint village of Bohinjska Bela for lunch and the lake. The “Taste of Slovenia” tour takes you on a boat & bus cruise through the wine producing regions with time for samplings.

For our next excursion we bus to Mt Triglav. There is a tradition that all true Slovenes should climb Triglav at least once. But Triglav is not for the unfit or faint-hearted. It is a strenuous and dangerous climb and walk along a rocky knife-edge. Then its an uphill climb to to view the spectacular Pericnik waterfall.

A visit to the charming nearby town of Radovljica is worthwhile. The town is full of historical buildings located as it is on an outcrop above a wide plain below. With increased trade on the mighty Sava River below, Radovljica grew into an important market town by the early 14th century. The town was built around a large rectangular square fortified with a wall and defence towers. It’s affluence in the middle ages can be seen in the lovely buildings still lining Linhartov trg today. Desiring to see Lake Bled from a unique viewpoint , I skip the last walk with the group and search out trail #6 and it’s spectacular lookout that provides that picture -postcard view of the area below. There is a steep long climb up a staircase, but the view is one of the most spectacular I have ever seen. Back to Bled and another walk around the lake ends the Slovenian adventure.

60 photos:   Photo Album 2: The Bled Area photo


The Flowers Of Slovenia

ah_3842_slovenia32Click image for slideshowSlovenia is home to some 2900 plant species and about 70 of them - many in the Alps - are unique to Slovenia or were first classified here. Triglav National Park is especially rich in endemic flowering plants, including the Triglav “rose”  (pink cinquefoil), the blue Clusi’s gentian, yellow hawk’s-beard, pink Julian poppy, Carniola lily and the purple Zois bell flower.

This album selects the photos from the various hikes detailed above and presents them here in this album along with the location in which they were spotted. While many are wildflowers, the common home garden species are not ignored either.

60 photos:   Photo Album 3: The Flowers Of Slovenia photo


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