Slovenia with a dash of Italian

26th September – 4th October

We had the chance of picking two countries today as our destination and we chose to pop into Italy for a quick visit before heading into Slovenia. We had a pleasant drive heading towards the Giulie Alps and our border crossing was non existent. We drove a short distance into Italy to the town of Tarvisio, 7km short of the Austrian border and 11km from Slovenia. The coldest, snowiest pocket in the whole Alpine region, Tarvisio is the main ski centre and the town is typical of ski resorts with lots of accomodation, restaurants and the odd cable car. We parked at one of the cable car stations and had a walk into town and a nice antipasto platter with an Italian red wine for lunch. From there we drove another 9kms to Lago Di Fusine, in the Parco Naturale Di Fusine where two lakes that lie close to the Slovenian border are popular with hikers in summer and cross-country skiers in winter. We plan on doing a hike tomorrow, maybe even venturing the 11kms up Rufigio Zacchi, one of the taller mountains in the park. That will be a decision for tomorrow.

Not a bad night spot!

Not a bad night spot!

We decided on a easy hike today so after breakfast we set off on the path which would take us into the forest area and circumnavigate both lakes. The area was like a magic forest with gnarly tree roots crisscrossing the path, ferns, moss and lichens on the trees and moss covered boulders scattered throughout. Some of the larger boulders made us feel like we were in the land of the giants. The first of the two lakes is the more beautiful of the two with bright green fern-type weeds growing in the turquoise coloured water. On one side of the lake we had views back across to the Giulie Alps, which were misty in the morning light. The second lake, Lago Superiore had no weeds growing and the colour was more green but still a lovely sight. Back to Tilly for lunch and a sit before heading out again later in the afternoon for more photos of the lakes in a different light. The walk was enjoyable but we didn’t take anymore photos as the light wasn’t as good as this mornings.

Lago Inferiore

Lago Inferiore

Lago Superiore

Lago Superiore

28th September – Happy Birthday Dave 🎂🎂🎂🎉🎉🎉🍺🍺🍺

After a pleasant two days in Italy we headed to Slovenia across another non existent border check with our first destination being Lake Bled. We arrived to find the free Stellplatz closed for roadworks and headed to option 2, the carpark of the bobsleds and a small ski lift. A very narrow road took us to a beautiful spot with lots of trees and glimpses of the lake through the trees. A quick change and we headed down towards town where we had views to the island and the hilltop castle across the emerald green Lake Bled with the Julian Alps as a backdrop. A little way around the lake, we stopped at a small restaurant to have lunch for Dave’s birthday. With very full tummys we then ventured up to the castle where unfortunately the road with the best views was also closed for repair. I think with it coming to the end of the tourist season, we may find this a regular thing. Along the way we called into St Martin’s church which was adorned with murals and the biggest chandelier in the centre aisle. A pleasant stroll along the lake and a quick trip to the tourist office, we then headed home to plan tomorrow’s hike.

We had a varied hike today, starting with a leisurely stroll along the foreshore of Lake Bled for 1/3 way around before we got to the two paths that headed up to Velika Osojnica for the best views of Lake Bled. One path zig zagged its way straight up the mountain and the other was a more gentle path, albeit a longer one. Of course we took the first path! It really was straight up through the trees and in some places the path didn’t exist due to what looked like land slips. Many fallen trees crossed the path as well but the views along the way and at the top were just stunning with the island church and the castle as the centrepieces. The lake colour was a lot deeper from higher up and we stood and admired the view while catching our breath. We opted for the gentler path coming down, although the first section was very steep. Once back at ground level, Dave cooled off by having a swim in the lake. Fed by natural springs, while it was a bit cold when he first got in, he did enjoy his swim saying that the water colour looked different again when in it. We continued around the lake stopping half way to have lunch at the waters edge before completing the round trip of about 10kms all up.

The best view of Lake Bled

The best view of Lake Bled

Our drive today took us through very different scenery from what we have been used to. There were mountains surrounding us but we couldn’t see them due to heavy mist. As you would expect the houses are very different and in most instances are well cared for. The secondary roads here remind us of Poland roads, desperately in need of repair but if we aren’t prepared to pay for a vignette to drive on the autobahns, we shouldn’t complain! We arrived in Kranj, Slovenia’s fourth largest city, packed our lunch and headed for the old town which is very small. A visit to the tourist office and we decided to do a small walk along the river to the gorge. Only a couple of kilometres in length, it was very pleasant. The rest of the day was spent in the sunshine reading.

We had to move last night from the Stellplatz due to an extremely loud heavy metal band playing in one of the clubs nearby. We found a spot 2 kms down the road at the sports club and settled down for a quiet night. After breakfast we travelled a short distance to the town of Škofja Loka. The old town was really pretty with beautifully painted houses and it was lovely to see young children in the streets playing and riding their bikes and skateboards. We walked up to the castle that now houses a museum and the view back over the old town was fantastic. We sat in the town square for lunch before completing one of the walks recommended by the tourist office that took us to several points of interest across the devils bridge to the town of Puštal finishing on the hill of Hribec and the Church of St Cross which gave a different view of the town of Škofja Loka. We then drove to the very small village (one street) of Lipica, our stop for the night which is famous for breeding the snow white Lipizzaner horses for the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. Of course there are two Lipica’s in Slovenia and we have come to the other one. No wonder we couldn’t find the stud farm when we went for a walk! Fortunately we had to come this way for Ljubljana so it wasn’t a wasted journey.

The devils bridge

The devils bridge

We have been very lucky with the weather over the past week or so, however the rain has returned. It was quite heavy for part of the night and our journey to Ljubljana today was in the rain. We are staying at a camperstop about 7kms outside of the city and there is a little petting farm here with pigs, goats, a rabbit, an old dog and an abundance of cats. The rain stopped after lunch so we went for a walk for an hour or so around the area through a small forest, passed many vegetable patches along a Nordic skiing trail and back home again. We had dinner in the restaurant here (which means no charge to stay for the night). A three course meal of soup, stuffed cabbage leaves with mashed potato, crepes and with beer for €22.40, can’t complain about that! After breakfast, we picked up our bus tickets from the restaurant and headed into Ljubljana. The bus took about 20 minutes and we had a reasonable view of the snow covered Austrian alps on the way in. Ljubljana is a city to wander and that is exactly what we did. With no set destination we roamed the streets of this lovely place passed some beautiful old buildings, heading up to the castle which gave a great view over the city to the alps in the distance. While the castle has been heavily renovated, there was quite a few sections of the original structure left, including the penitentiary, a couple of the towers and the well. We visited two of the churches which were built in the baroque style with all of the walls covered in murals. We ate our lunch at the three bridges in town before visiting the local market in the square. From there it was back to the bus and home again.

Entrance to the old town over the Dragon bridge

Entrance to the old town over the Dragon bridge

View over Ljubljana from the castle

View over Ljubljana from the castle

The gentleman at the camper stop was so helpful, as we have found with all Slovenians, highlighting a route to take to our next destination, avoiding the 22% incline on the road ahead. We had a pleasant drive through many little villages on our way to Novo Mesto, our last Slovenian town for the time being as we need to come back through Slovenia to get to Italy from Croatia. We had a walk into town, not much here really, the old town was very small. We visited the main church, which like all of the others we have seen in Slovenia was very ornate with lots of brass and murals on almost every surface. Back home to plan out our next leg and a quiet afternoon. We have decided that time is on our side so we are going to drive down to Split and Dubrovnik which I’m really excited about, Game of
Thrones tour here we come! We will then drive back up the middle of Croatia/Slovenia to Italy for the winter. A quick trip into Greece from Italy may be possible, we will just have to see how we go for time as we have a lot to see in Italy.

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