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Idrija

Kolpa River

Solčavsko Region

Soča Valley Soča Valley

EDEN Slovenia 2012/13

European Destinations of Excellence

Kolpa River

Discover the hidden treasures of Slovenia!

Solčavsko Region Idrija

Enjoy your COMPLIMENTARY COPY of EDEN Slovenia

Contents

All you need to know about where to sleep, eat, drink, visit and enjoy

3

E S S E N T I A L C I TY G U I D E S

Contents Arriving & Getting Around 6 Planes, trains and driving in Slovenia

The Basics 7 Statistics, prices, politics and more

Online

Language 9 Essential Slovene for visitors

Idrija

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The town of mercury and lace

Kolpa River 20

Mobile

A pristine waterway in a relaxing land

Solčavsko Region

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Breathtaking peaks and picture-perfect valleys You’ll feel like you’re on top of the world, while taking in the views of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps and the valleys below from the Panoramic Road in the Solčavsko region, photo by YMB

Print

Soča Valley

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Amazing sights along the Emerald Trail

Map

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Special Features

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pocket.com

Europe’s biggest publisher of locally produced city guides slovenia.inyourpocket.com

The crystal clear waters and amazing scenery of the Soča river make for some of the best kayaking, canoeing, rafting and other water sport activities in Slovenia, photo by FA Bobo, Archive LTO Bovec

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Idrija Lace

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Žlikrofi

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The Viniška Republic

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Kostelska Rakija

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The Legend of Peter Klepec

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Potočka Zijalka Cave

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Handicrafts of Solčavsko

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Triglav National Park

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The Walk of Peace

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Foreword

foreword

It’s no coincidence that the acronym EDEN was chosen for the European Destinations of Excellence project (even if it had to be finagled a little with the ‘n’ in Excellence used for the last letter), as the four Slovenian members of the group all boast paradise-like qualities - unspoilt nature, abundant wildlife, pristine rivers and a certain remoteness from the outside world. The first to gain admission to the prestigious club was the majestic Soča Valley in 2008, which is centred around the turquoise waters of the Soča river as its path cuts through the rocky mountains in the far northeast of Slovenia, comprising a section of the so-called Emerald Trail. On the opposite side of the country in the Kamnik-Savinja Alps, the Solčavsko region next got the nod in 2009. Famed for its photogenic valleys and breathtaking views, the region is perhaps more deserving of the label ‘sublime’ than anywhere else in the country. In 2010, the meandering Kolpa River often referred to as Slovenia’s longest coast - was awarded with the distinction of excellence, not only for the attractions of the river itself, but also for the beauty and cultural heritage of the land through which it flows. And last but not least, the town of Idrija became the latest Slovenian EDEN member in 2011. Most known (somewhat incongruously) for its mercury mine and traditional lacemaking, the town has actually developed a well-rounded tourism offer and is arguably the most accessible of the four destinations. To finish on a personal note, we had an absolute pleasure travelling extensively in all the regions prior to and while researching this guide, and hope that the genuine fondness and heartfelt enthusiasm we have for each of them is readily apparent in the pages below.

Cover story When selecting photos for the cover of this guide, we were faced with some difficult choices. One photo would not do, because the regions are too diverse to be represented with a single image. And even choosing single images to represent individual destinations proved to be a daunting task. These are the ones we finally settled on (clockwise from top left): one of many mills and other ethnological sights along the calm waters of the Kolpa river; the famous Kozjak Waterfall near Kobarid in the Soča Valley; one of the Klavže dams, the so-called 'pyramids of Idrija'; and Logarska Dolina, the most recognisable of the Solčavsko region's three valleys and one of Slovenia's most breathtaking natural attractions.

E S S E N T I A L C I TY G U I D E S

EDEN In Your Pocket Drenikova 33, 1000 Ljubljana Slovenia Tel. +386 30 316 602 slovenia@inyourpocket.com www.inyourpocket.com Director Niko Slavnic M.Sc. niko.slavnic@inyourpocket.com ©IQBATOR d.o.o. Printed Eurograf Published August 2012 30,000 copies Maps Slovenian Tourist Board, www.slovenia.info

EDEN Slovenia

The World of In Your Pocket Northern Ireland

Project EDEN

Estonia Russia

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Ireland

Lithuania Belarus Netherlands Poland Germany Belgium Czech Republic

Ukraine

Austria Switzerland Slovenia Romania Croatia Italy Bosnia Serbia Bulgaria Montenegro Kosovo Albania

FYR Macedonia

Greece

It was 20 years ago this summer that the first In Your Pocket hit the streets of Vilnius, Lithuania. Since then, we have grown to become the largest publisher of locally produced city guides in Europe. We now cover more than 75 cities across the continent (with Ghent, Belgium, the latest city to be pocketed) and the number of In Your Pocket guides published each year is approaching an amazing five million. Always an innovative publisher, we have just launched a new version of our iPhone app, which can be downloaded for free from the AppStore. Search for ‚IYP Guides’ by name. To keep up to date with all that’s new at In Your Pocket, like us on Facebook (facebook.com/inyourpocket) or follow us on Twitter (twitter.com/inyourpocket).

Editorial Editor Yuri Barron Writers Yuri Barron, Will Dunn Project Manager Irena Jamnikar Layout & Design Vaida Gudynaitė Cover photos (clockwise from top left) Dunja Wedam, Matevž Lenarčič, Samo Trebižan, Tomo Jeseničnik Photos Slovenian Tourist Board, Tourist Information Centres in Idrija, Črnomelj, Solčava and Bovec, Branka Jovanović, Yuri Barron Special thanks to Jana Kokelj, Erika Hvala, Mojca Ošep, Marko Slapnik, Gregor Jevšček, Lidija Ivanšek, Peter Črnič, Janez Weiss, Tina Gerkman and the Slovenian Tourist Board

Copyright notice Text and photos copyright IQBATOR d.o.o. Maps copyright cartographer. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form, except brief extracts for the purpose of review, without written permission from the publisher and copyright owner. The brand name In Your Pocket is used under license from UAB In Your Pocket (Bernardinų 9-4, Vilnius, Lithuania, tel. (+370) 5 212 29 76).

Editor’s note The editorial content of In Your Pocket guides is independent from paid-for advertising. Sponsored listings are clearly marked as such. We welcome all readers’ comments and suggestions. We have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of going to press and assume no responsibility for changes and errors.

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The “European Destinations of ExcelleNce” (EDEN) project, was started by the European Commission in accordance with European tourism policy guidelines. The aim of the project is to promote sustainable tourism development models across the European Union; that is to draw attention to the value, diversity and shared characteristics of European tourist destinations and to promote destinations where economic growth is pursued in such a way as to ensure social, cultural and environmental sustainability. The project is based on national competitions that take place every year and result in the selection of a tourist “destination of excellence” for each participating country. This European quest for excellence in tourism is developed around an annual theme, chosen by the Commission together with the relevant national tourism bodies. This theme functions as a leitmotif: so far, rural tourism, intangible heritage, protected

areas, aquatic tourism and regeneration of physical sites have been the main EDEN themes. Slovenia decided to participate in the EDEN project in order to identify and reward the most sustainable and green destinations that follow the principles of environmental, socially responsible and cultural sustainability, thus stimulating their further development. Visit our EDEN destinations and discover the hidden treasures of Slovenia! More information: www.slovenia.info/eden Europe: www.edenineurope.eu.

This p u blicatio n is f ina n ce d under the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP)

Press Box “Detailed, carefully researched guides.” Daily Mail “Solid, reliable information on everything from where to book a reasonable B&B to how best to spend 72 hours in a city.” The Guardian “In Your Pocket: a cheeky, well-written series of guidebooks.” The New York Times “Most of the traditional guidebook companies now have decent websites, with plenty of advice and information either freely available or downloadable for a fee, but inyourpocket.com is also well worth a browse. Concentrating on both wellknown and more offbeat European destinations, its free downloadable city and country guides are compiled by locals and regularly updated.” The Independent

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“The secret of the In Your Pocket guides is that, unlike many expensive travel guides, they are written by native English speakers living in the city they are writing about. That can lend itself to frank, matter-of-fact advice about your destination rather than jaded impressions from worldweary professional travel writers.” The Irish Times “With so many European cities now within easy range of a low-cost airline flight, this website is a (literally) priceless first stop before your holiday. The guides are free to download and print off as pdfs and have information on where to eat and stay and what to see on European city breaks.” The Times “In Your Pocket guides are each written by an English language writer who lives locally. All information is also available on the publisher’s website.” Sueddeutsche Zeitung

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6

Basics

Arriving & Getting around Arriving in Slovenia Located at one of the true geographical crossroads in Europe, Slovenia is easily reached by both road and rail from more or less all directions, especially if crossing one of the now invisible internal EU borders of the neighbouring Schengen countries (of which Croatia is not yet a member though). International bus transport is nowhere near as frequent as trains, but there are usually at least weekly direct connections to many major cities in Central Europe, the Balkans and Scandinavia. Of course this being the 21st century, most visitors opt to fly, and Ljubljana’s Brnik airport has direct flights to up to two dozen cities in Europe depending on the season, with long-haul flights most often connecting in Germany and Austria. In recent years budget flights have become ever more common, and while Ljubljana only has a couple of budget options, the airports in Trieste, Venice and to a lesser extent Klagenfurt are well-served by budget operators and often represent the cheapest method of getting to Slovenia even after factoring in transfer costs.

Getting to EDEN Slovenia’s EDEN destinations are not the easiest places to reach once you’ve arrived in the country, but this is of course relative in a country of Slovenia’s size. Aside from Idrija and the upper part of the Kolpa river, which are both around an hour or so drive from Ljubljana, you can expect to spend between an hour and a half and two hours in a car, and considerably longer on a bus, while train routes manage to skirt the regions almost entirely other than long journeys to Most na Soči in the south of the Soča Valley and Črnomelj/Metlika along the lower Kolpa river. However, as the Soča Valley, Solčavsko region and Kolpa river are all found on Slovenia’s borders, they may be more easily reached if visitors arrive directly from Italy, Austria or Croatia respectively. This also means that booking flights to an airport in a neighbouring country may not only be the cheapest option, but also the most convenient. In any event, the extra effort it takes to get to the EDEN destinations will be well worth it once you’re there. More specific transport information is included in each of the destination chapters.

Vinjeta - A Ticket to Drive Vinjeta w w w.dar s. si. Slovenia requires all motor vehicles travelling on Slovenian highways to have a vinjeta (veen-yehtah) sticker. This system exists in lieu of tolls, and the vinjeta can be easily obtained at nearly all gas stations and kiosks.

Yearly/monthly/weekly stickers are €95/30/15 for cars and yearly/halfyearly/weekly ones are €47.50/25/7.50 for motorcycles. Also be aware that border police will likely not remind you to purchase a vinjeta when entering the country, but are highly likely to issue you a steep fine when leaving if you’ve failed to do so. For more info check www.dars.si.

EDEN Slovenia

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Climate

Rules of the Road The speed limit is 50km/hr in built-up areas, 90-100km/ hr on main roads, 130km/hr on highways. Cars must use headlights at all times and must have a spare wheel, warning triangle, spare lightbulb, first aid kit and, in winter, either snow chains or winter tyres. The alcohol limit is 0.05%, and EU residents should be aware that any fines and/or driving license points incurred whilst in Slovenia will theoretically follow you home. The traffic information centre has road webcams and maps of current traffic problems at www.promet.si.

Temperature, °C

Rainfall, mm

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Buses

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S O N D

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Osvobodilne Fronte 4, tel. (+386) 12 34 46 00, fax (+386) 12 34 46 01, avtobusna.postaja@ap-ljubljana. si, www.ap-ljubljana.si.

such either directly in their descriptions or with the relevant symbol from the symbol key. Further information is available from the National Council of Disabled People’s Organisation of Slovenia (or NSIOS by it’s Slovene acronym), by phone at +386 (0)4 30 36 46 or on the web at www.nsios.si.

Car Rental

Drinking

Avis D-2, Čufarjeva 2, tel. (+386) 1 430 80 10, lji@

Alcohol is only sold to people over 18, and sadly after 21:00 it cannot be bought in stores.

Bus Station (Avtobusno Postajališče) D/E-1, Trg

avis.si, w w w.avis.si. Wi th offices all over Slovenia (including Brnik Airport, Ljubljana, Maribor and Koper) the friendly folks at Avis can help you find the most convenient car rental solution for your holiday, business trip or weekend away. It’s always a good idea to enquire about special weekend rates, as they can be extremely easy on the wallet. Q Open 08:00 - 19:00, Sat, Sun 08:00 - 12:00. Airport office tel. (0)4 23 65 000, open 08:0022:00. Hertz D-2, Trdinova 9, tel. +386 (0)1 434 01 47, ljubljana@her tz.si, w w w.hertz.si. One of the most known and trusted names in car rentals has a total of eight locations across Slovenia, including an office in the centre of Ljubljana within easy walking distance of most hotels, as well as at the airports in Ljubljana and Portorož. They also conveniently offer free delivery and collection service within 20km of any office during working hours. Their large fleet of new cars has everything from the incredibly fuel-efficient Volkswagen Up! to larger vans and luxury models - there are even some with automatic transmissions for Americans. Q Open 07:00 - 19:00, Sat 08:00 - 13:00, Sun 08:00 - 12:00. Budget Grand Hotel Union, Ljubljana, tel. +386 (0)1 421 7340, budget.car@siol.net. Dollar & Thrifty Aerodrom Brnik, Zgornji Brnik 130a, tel. +386 (0)4 236 5750, subrosa@siol.net. Europcar Aerodrom Brnik, Zgornji Brnik 130a, tel. +386 (0)4 23 67 990/+386 (0)31 382 051, reservations@europcar.si, europcar.si. Sixt Trg Osvobodilne Fronte 5, Ljubljana, tel. +386 (0)1 234 46 50/+386 (0)51 601 804, ljubljana.dt@ sixt-slovenia.si, www.sixt.si.

Money

Set along the banks of the Rinža river, the Church of St Jernej dominates the city centrein Kočevje, photo by YMB

Disabled travellers Slovenia is increasingly well-adapted for the disabled. Venues that are disabled accessible have been noted as

Basic data Population Slovenia 2,048,951 (2011 estimate) Ljubljana 280,140 (2011 estimate) Area 20,273 square kilometres Ethnic composition Slovenian 83%, Former Yugoslav minorities 5.3%, Hungarian, Albanian, Roma, Italian and others 11.7% Official languages Slovenian, Italian, Hungarian Local time Central European (GMT + 1hr)

Airport Ljubljana Airport (Letališče Jožeta Pučnika)

Zgornji Brnik 130a, tel. +386 (0)4 20 610 00, fax +386 (0)4 20 212 20, info@lju-airport.si, www.ljuairport.si. Q Open 00:00 - 24:00.

Trains Slovenian Railways (Slovenske Železnice) Kolod-

vorska 11, Ljubljana, tel. +386 (0)1 29 13 332, potnik. info@slo-zeleznice.si, www.slo-zeleznice.si.

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Longest river Sava (221km in Slovenia) Highest mountain Triglav 2,864m. Borders Austria 318km, Italy 280km, Hungary 102km, Croatia 670km

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Slovenia adopted the euro in January 2007. Euro coins come in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents, 1 and 2 euros, while banknotes come in 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros. The Slovenian side of the euro coins are decorated with among other things storks, Mount Triglav, Lippizaner horses, a man sowing stars and a Jože Plečnik design.

Exchange rates 1 EUR € = 1.25 US$ = 0.80 UK£ = 1.20 CHF =7.95 CNY = 100 ¥ = 40 руб (26 July 2012)

Market values Compared to the rest of Western and Central Europe, prices in Slovenia are still fairly competitive despite noticeable increases since the introduction of the Euro in 2007. Here are some typical everyday products and prices: Product Price McDonald’s Big Mac €2.40 Slice of pizza € 1.80 Slice of burek € 2.00 Cup of coffee € 1.10 Bottle of name brand vodka € 12.50 Decent bottle of local wine € 3.50 Bottle of local beer in a shop € 1.10 Pint of beer in a pub € 2.70 Pack of cigarettes € 2.90 Movie ticket € 4.90 Postcard € 0.30 Litre of petrol € 1.49 Speeding ticket up to €2000

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Language

Basics National Holidays

Symbol key

1 & 2 January New Year 8 February Slovenian Day of Culture March- April Easter 7th Sunday after Easter Pentecost 27 April Uprising Day 1 & 2 May Labour Day 25 June National Day 15 August Assumption 31 October Reformation Day 1 November All Souls’ Day 25 December Christmas 26 December Independence Day

P Air conditioning

W Wi-Fi connection

6 Animal friendly

T Child friendly

A Credit cards accepted

H Conference facilities

Politics The Republic of Slovenia is a parliamentary democracy. The president, Dr DaniloTürk, was elected in 2007, and will likely run for re-election at the end of 2012. Early parliamentary elections in December 2011 brought the rather divisive former prime minister Janez Janša and his conservative party back to power.

Religion Although Slovenians are traditionally Roman Catholic, a recent Eurobarometer Poll in 2005 found that only 37% of the population believe in a god, with 16% atheists and the rest of them believing in ‘something’.

U Facilities for the disabled F Fitness centre L Guarded parking

R Internet

J City centre location

G Non-smoking rooms

K Restaurant

D Sauna

C Swimming pool

S Takeaway

E Live music

B Outdoor Seating

Smoking Cigarettes can’t be sold to people under 18. Slovenia recently banned smoking from public indoor spaces except in special smoking areas in offices, hotels and bars.

Tipping In Slovenia tipping is the exception rather than the rule, although rounding up taxi fares and café bills is becoming more common, while leaving 10% or more in restaurants with good service always appreciated.

Visas Many foreigners simply need a passport or ID card to enter Slovenia. Those requiring a visa will be able to travel freely between the Schengen-agreement countries for a limited amount of time, usually 90 days. Always check these details with a Slovenian embassy or consulate. Further information can be found at www.mzz.gov.si.

Tax free shopping

The entrance to Anthony’s Shaft in Idrija with the Roman god Mercury and the affirmation Srečno - which literally translates as ‘good luck’, but doesn’t sound quite so ominous in Slovene, photo by YMB

EDEN Slovenia

If you’re a resident of a non-EU member state, you’re eligible to take advantage of tax free shopping while visiting Slovenia. I f you spend over €50 at any shop displaying the Global Refund ‘Tax Free’ logo, they can issue you with a special Refund Cheque when you pay. At shops that don’t officially participate in the program, you’ll need to ask for a special invoice for foreigners - you can still get the refund, it just involves a little more red tape. When you leave the EU just show the item you purchased and relevant paperwork to a customs official, who will give you the necessary stamps. You can then receive cash or credit at any of the many Global Refund Offices around the world - at Ljubljana’s Brnik airport this is located at the news agents in the check-in area. However, before making any extravagant purchases assuming you’ll receive a 20% discount, make sure to double-check your departure info, especially if you have a layover in another EU country on your way home. Not all customs offices are open 24 hours, so depending on the time and length of your layover, it may be next to impossible to get the official stamps you need.

eden-slovenia.inyourpocket.com

Slovene is a Southern Slavic language with a 25-letter alphabet. It is closely related to Serbian and Croatian, and also shares many words with other Slavic languages. Although some words and letter combinations may appear unpronounceable at first glance, Slovene is actually a fairly phonetic language with very few irregularities - although the letters L and V can do some strange things depending on their position in a word. Luckily, most Slovenes speak either English, Italian or German embarrassingly well, so chances are you won’t have to worry about any communication problems. However, as with most countries, attempting to use a little bit of the local language can go a long way towards winning over your hosts. Even the odd ‘hvala’ and ‘prosim’ won’t go unnoticed. Pronunciation c - as in pizza e - as in egg g - as in go j - like y in yogurt

č - like c in cello š - like sh in ship ž - like s in pleasure

Basics Do you speak English? - Govorite angleško (Goh-voh- REE-tay Ahn-GLESH-ko) ? I don’t understand - Ne razumem (Nuh ra-ZOO-mehm) Where is the toilet? WC? - Kje je stranišče (Key-yay strahnEESH-chay) ? WC (Vay-tsay)? Good Morning - Dobro Jutro (DOH-broh YOO- troh) Good Day - Dober Dan (DOH-behr Dahn) Good Night - Lahko noč (Lah-koh noh-ch) Yes - Ja (Yah) No - Ne (Nay) Hello - Živjo (Jeeve-yoh) Thank you - Hvala (HVAL-a) Please - Prosim (PRO-seem) Excuse me/Sorry – Oprostite (Oh-PROS-tee-tay) Pardon me (asking for help) – Prosim (pro-SEEM) My name is....- Jaz sem (Yahz sem) ... I am from... - Jaz sem iz (Yahz sem iz)... Days Monday - ponedeljek (POH-nuh-dehl-yek) Tuesday - torek (TOR-ek) Wednesday - sreda (Sray-dah) Thursday - četrtek (chuh-TUR-tuck) Friday - petek (peh-tuck) Saturday - sobota (soh-BOH-tah) Sunday - nedelja (nuh-DEHL-yah) Questions Who? - Kdo?(K-doh) What? - Kaj?(Kai) Where? - Kje ? (Key-yay) When? - Kdaj (K-dai) How much does it cost? - Koliko stane (KOH-lee-koh STAH-neh)? Places Croatia - Hrvaška (Hurr-VASH-ka) England - Anglija (Ahn-glee-yah) Germany - Nemčija (Nem-CHEE-yah) Hungary - Madžarska (Mad-jar-skah) Ireland - Irska (Ear-skah) Netherlands - Nizozemska (NEE-zo-zem-skah) Scotland - Škotska (Shkot-skah) Venice - Benetke (Behn-et-keh) Vienna - Dunaj (Doo-nigh) Signs Open - odprto (Ohd-PURT-oh) Closed - zaprto (Zah- PURT-oh)

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Learn Slovene

Learn commonly-used Slovene words and phrases on our website - and from a British guy no less! Entrance - vhod (oo-hod) Exit - izhod (eez-hod) Push – rini (ree-nee) Pull – vleci (oo-LETS-ee) Travelling Bus - avtobus (OW-toh-booze) Train - vlak (v-LOCK) I am looking for.... - Iščem (EESH-chem) ... One ticket, please - Eno vstopnico, prosim (Eh-noh oo-stopNEETZ-oh pro- SEEM) Times Now - zdaj (z-dai) Later - kasneje (kaz-NAY-yeh) Today - danes (dahn-es) Tomorrow - jutri (yoo-tree) Yesterday - včeraj (oo-cheh-ray) In the morning - zjutraj (z-YOO-try) In the afternoon - popoldne (poh-POLD-neh) In the evening - zvečer (z-veh-chehr) At night - ponoči (poh-NOH-chee) Bar Talk One coffee, please - Eno kavo prosim (EH-noh KAH-voh pro-SEEM) One beer, please - (Name of beer), prosim (pro-SEEM) Cheers! - Na zdravje (Nah zuh-DRAW-wee-ay)! What’s going on? - Kaj dogaja? (kai DO-ga-ya) Let’s party! - Žurajmo! (zhur-AI-mo) You have beautiful eyes - Imate lepe oči (EE-mah-tay lehpeh oh-chee) You’re hot - Si lepa (see LAY-pa) Where are you from? - Iz kje si? (iz kye see) Can I have your number?- Lahko dobim tvojo telefonsko številko? (Law-koh doh-BEEM t-voy-yo teh-leh-FOHN-sko shteh-VEEL-koh)? See-you, bye! - Ajde, čao (ai-dai, chow)

Street smarts Slovenians usually leave out the word for street in conversation, so while your destination may officially be called ‘Poljanska ulica’, you can survive by just saying Poljanska Avtocesta (aw-toh-ses-tah) Highway Cesta (tses-tah) Boulevard Most (mohst) Bridge Nabrežje (nah-breh-dgee-eh) Embankment Trg (teh-rg) Square Ulica (oo-leet-sah) Street

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Idrija

Idrija Where to Sleep

Tourist Information

City Centre

Tourist Information Centre Vodnikova 3, tel. +386 (0)5 374 39 16, fax +386 (0)5 374 39 15, ticidrija@icra.si, www.idrija-turizem.si. Conveniently located opposite the main bus station, Idrija’s tourist information centre is housed in the building that was formerly the engine room for the Inzaghi mine shaft - although the large piece of machinery dominating the room looks to be brand new, it was actually the original pulley system used to transport workers into and out of the mine, and dates back all the way to 1890. Once you’ve had a chance to peer into the deceptively deep space below the wheel, shift your focus to the seemingly endless supply of brochures, guidebooks (including this one hopefully), maps and brochures covering every square metre of Idrija, as well neighbouring regions and sites throughout Slovenia. This is also the best place to hire a knowledgable local guide, or ask a friendly English-speaking member of the staff some basic questions before heading out on your own. Don’t forget to make a return visit before you leave town to pick up the necessary postcards, souvenirs or other gifts - including of course a selection of authentic hand-made Idrija lace.

Apartma na Starmu Placu Trg svetega Ahacija 7,

tel. +386 (0)31 603 333, mihael.podobnik@gmail. com. This large apartment directly opposite Anthony’s Shaft in the centre of the old town (it’s name means ‘on the old square’) has two separate bedrooms and can sleep up to seven people if the convertible couch in the living room is utilised. Minimally furnished, spacious and kept spotlessly clean, it’s great option for a big family or small groups that would like their privacy. Meals can be arranged with advance notice, but there is also a fully-equipped kitchen in the living room for self-catering. Each of the bedrooms have their own bathrooms and can theoretically be rented individually, although this can be difficult to arrange during the peak season. JL

Gostišče Barbara Kosovelova 3, tel. +386 (0)5 37

71 162, www.kut.si. Although it’s situated in the same building that formerly served as the main entrance to Idrija’s famed mercury mine and now houses the town’s fine mining museum, the eight rooms in this centrally-located guesthouse are all bright, airy and modernly furnished with en suite bathrooms. The house’s secondary claim to fame is as the birthplace of Stanko Bloudek, an artist, designer and engineer, who is often referred to as the Slovenian Leonardo da Vinci, and among his many other distinctions designed the giant Planica ski jump and is the only Slovene to ever be on the International Olympic Committee. Q 8 rooms (singles €30, doubles €60, triples €80, quads €90). PJALKW

A bird’s eye view of Idrija’s old town, photo by Jani Peternelj

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EDEN Slovenia

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

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Located in a river valley and surrounded by hills and plateaus, Idrija is only accessible by car - unless of course you’re an avid cyclist. It takes roughly 50 minutes to make the 60km drive from Ljubljana, about half of which is motorway, while the remaining half is along country roads that take you through several

NA DEDIŠ CˇI OV ET

R W O RLD HE

Arriving

UNESCO Heritage Site •

If you mention the name Idrija to most Slovenes, two words immediately come to mind (mercury and lace), perhaps followed shortly thereafter by a third (žlikrofi). The discovery of the what would grow to become the world’s second largest mercury mine here in 1490 led to nearly 500 years of prosperity and growth associated with the mining industry, while a unique lacemaking tradition developed amongst the wives and daughters of miners, which still continues to this day. The trifecta is rounded out by žlikrofi, a distinctive ravioli-like culinary speciality that became Slovenia’s first officially protected dish in 2010. While this would be enough to put most towns of around 12,000 residents on the map, Idrija’s tourism offer goes well beyond its most famous individual elements, combining its rich historical, industrial, natural and cultural heritage into one well-organised package. Within easy driving distance from both the Mediterranean coast and the Slovene capital Ljubljana, Idrija nevertheless feels as if it’s hidden away from the outside world by the three plateaus that converge around it. Thanks to this natural beauty (which includes the country’s first protected natural monument) and perhaps even more so to the foresight that led local industries to diversify away from mining, Idrija was not only able to avoid the economic hardships that befell other former mining towns, but has continued to prosper as a tourist destination - the culmination of which was its designation as a European Destination of Excellence in 2011.

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Heritage of Mercury. Almadén and Idrija inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2012

As had long been expected, Idrija was officially added to the ranks of UNESCO World Heritage sites in June 2012. Jointly recognised with the city of Almaden in Spain, which is the location of the only mercury mine in the world larger than Idrija’s, the much-deserved achievement was the result of a six-year effort by the two towns forever connected by their shared history of mercury, as well as the technical and industrial heritage that developed as a result of it. small villages and get increasingly windy as you near Idrija - if you get stuck behind one of the many school buses plying this route to take pupils to the mining museum, it can add an extra few minutes to your journey. Take the exit to Logatec and follow the 102 and signs from there. If you’re feeling adventurous, or it just suits your itinerary better, Idrija can also be reached via smaller roads over the mountains from Nova Gorica and Tolmin in the east or Žiri and Škofja Loka in west, which are usually kept clear of snow during winter. If you don’t have your own car, there are nine buses per day between 08:15 and 19:15 from Ljubljana’s main station, although this drops to eight on Saturdays and five on Sundays. The fare is €6.30 one-way, and can be paid on the bus.

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Idrija Youth Hostel IX Korpusa 17, tel. +386 (0)5 373 40 76, fax +386 (0)5 373 40 89, idrija@youthhostel.si. Basic inexpensi ve accommodation a few minutes up the hill from the city centre, if you’re on a tight budget or looking to meet other travellers who like to veer off the proverbial beaten path this place is for you. More than half of the 43 beds are found in private double rooms, which means you can also save some euros without sacrificing your privacy. Extras such as WiFi, sheets, towels and parking are all included in the price, and there are several common areas, a TV room and large garden at guests’ disposal. Q 16 rooms (doubles €26). JLW Hotel Jožef Vojkova 9a, tel. +386 (0)8 20 04

250/+386 (0)5 37 50 650, info@hotel-jozef.si, www. hotel-jozef.si. Instead of being discouraged by the lack of suitable accommodation options for its visiting employees and business partners, the Idrija-based Kolektor Group simply decided to build a four-star business class hotel across the street from its offices. No expense was spared in designing the spacious comfortable rooms, and the attention to detail is evident from the complimentary bath products and mini-bar selection to the ample workspace and smoking chamber in the hallway. There’s also an excellent restaurant on the first floor, while the professional ser vice ensures a pleasurable worr y-free stay. PJAULKXW

Around Idrija Kendov Dvorec Na Griču 2, Spodnja Idrija, tel. +386 (0)5 37 25 100, fax +386 (0)5 37 56 475, info@kendov-dvorec.com, www.kendov-dvorec.com. Kendov Dvorec is quite simply one of the finest hotels in all of Slovenia, and truly has to be seen to be believed. A sprawling country manor that dates back to 1377 and eden-slovenia.inyourpocket.com

was for generations the primary residence of the wealthy Kenda family, the building and surrounding grounds on a small hillock overlooking Spodnja Idrija have been painstakingly restored to their former splendour, while also being enhanced with all of the modern amenities befitting of a five-star boutique hotel. The eleven rooms vary greatly in size and shape, but are all furnished with authentic 19th-century antiques and handmade Idrija lace. A member of the prestigious Relais & Chateaux Hotel Association, guests can be assured superb professional service from the highly trained staff, and exquisite cuisine prepared by the house chef who was formerly awarded the title Chef of Year for Slovenia. Q 11 rooms (singles €130-230, doubles €180-330). PHAILBKW

Kmečki Hram Fortuna Idršek 1a, Idršek, tel. +386 (0)5 377 91 49/+386 (0)40 600 811, kmecki.hram@ siol.net. Perched at the edge of the Ledine plateau overlooking the Idrijca Valley and Spodnja Idrija to one side the the hills leading down to Žiri on the other, Fortuna combines the peaceful seclusion of the countryside with easy access to many of the area’s attractions. The rooms are comfortably furnished and all come with en suite bathrooms and tiny satellite TVs, but the real draw here in addition to the location is the restaurant on the ground floor, which is a popular destination for independent visitors, tour groups and locals. LBK Prenočišča Na Kluk Govejk 14c, Govejk, tel. +386

(0)5 3779 007/+386 (0)51 435 497, info@nakluk.si, www.nakluk.si. Tucked away between mountain meadows and thick forests just outside the tiny village of Govejk, which lies in the hills to the east of Spodnja Idrija on the main road to Žiri, Na Kluk offers nine tidy little rooms with a total of 28 beds. Modest but well-kept, the place is perfect for visitors looking to explore the surrounding natural sights on either bike or foot, or just relax under the shade of a tree as time slows to a crawl. We especially like the rooms upstairs with wood-panelled ceilings, but as they are all themed on different colours, you may want to ask what’s available when you check-in. TL

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Idrija Where to Eat Gostilna Kos Tomšičeva 4, tel. +386 (0)5 372 20 30,

www.gostilna-kos.si. One of the oldest restaurants in Idrija, it’s impossible to miss Gostilna Kos as you cross the the bridge leading into the centre of the town. The speciality of the house is what else but žlikrofi, with bakalco (mutton) and goulash being the most popular sauces to go along with the potato-filled dumplings. They usually have at least a few hearty set-menus to choose from at lunch time, and the ground floor dining area (and restroom) is also wheelchair accessible. QOpen 07:00 - 22:00, Mon 07:00 - 15:00. Closed Sun. PAUBX

Gostilna Metka Črni Vrh 78, tel. +386 (0)41 211

443/+386 (0)5 3777 015, info.metka@gmail.com, www.gostilnametka.com. Sitting atop the Črni Vrh plateau in the centre of a cosy little village of the same name, Gostilna Metka (or Gostilna pri Metki as it is sometimes called) is a family-run restaurant and guesthouse that was first opened in 1888. The traditional food is roundly excellent, and trying the Ferdinand dessert after your meal is a must. At an altitude of over 700m, a trip here offers a refreshing break during the hot summer months, and with six guest rooms available it also makes an great base for exploring the plateau on foot or bike. Bed and breakfast is €25 per person, and full-board is an absolute steal at only €30. QOpen 08:00 - 22:00. Closed Mon, Tue. PTALB

Gostilna Mlinar Žirovska 4, Spodnja Idrija, tel.

+386 (0)5 377 63 16. This is not only the best place to try Idrija’s famous žlikrofi, but it’s also one only a handful of restaurants in Slovenia that we consider amongst our personal favourites. Run by the husband and wife team Drago and Mira, he is about the friendliest host you can imagine, while she produces some wonderful dishes in the kitchen. The aforementioned žlikrofi come in a dozen different mouthwatering varieties - or a different one for each month as they like to say - while the rest of the menu is equally appetising. Drago is also rightfully proud of his carefully composed wine list, and finishing a meal without a glass of homemade schnapps is simply unthinkable. A terrace with sweeping views of the valley below and a play area for the kids round out the offer. QOpen 12:00 - 22:00, Sun 12:00 - 20:00. Closed Mon, Tue. PTALB

Gostilna Pri Škafarju Ulica Svete Barbare 9, tel. +386 (0)5 377 32 40, gostilnaskafar@siol.net, www. skafar.si. Named for the legendary bucket maker who first discovered Idrija’s mercury over 500 years ago, this place has a great atmosphere, whether you sit downstairs in view of the wood-fired pizza oven, upstairs in the room lined with the iconic works of a famous local artist, or at one of the handfuls of tables outside. Perhaps more importantly it has

Idrija some of the best food around, including what may very well be our favourite vegetarian dish in all of Slovenia: the spinach štruklji with cream sauce (which we admittedly first ordered by accident). The are also four newly opened guest rooms, which offer cosy modern accommodation in the very centre of town. QOpen 10:00 - 22:00, Fri, Sat 10:00 - 23:00. Closed Tue. PTJAB

Gostilna Žlikrof Vojkova 14, tel. +386 (0)5 377 11 65/+386 (0)51 428 606, zlikrof.stolc@gmail.com. A newish place that serves up inexpensive meals by the dozens to a clientele consisting primarily of workers from nearby companies on their lunch breaks, given the prominently placed word ‘žlikrofi’ on the façade you don’t get any prize for guessing what the most popular dish on the menu is (hint: it’s not spaghetti). To find the place just keep an eye out for the round façade on your right on the main road to Spodnja Idrija. QOpen 07:30-22:00 Mon-Thur, 07:30-23:00 Fri, 11:00-23:00 Sat and 11:00-15:00 Sun.

Cafés Amigos Rožna 8, tel. +386 (0)5 37 41578. The

first, and so far only, palačinkarnica that we’ve ever come across, in addition to the expectedly wide selection of both savoury and sweet pancakes (or crepes if you’re American) you’ll find a popular café that was lovingly renovated, expanded, designed and decorated over the years by the owner and manager - she even makes her own chocolate! The large covered terrace on the small square-cum-car park outside can get lively in the evenings during the warmer months, and is also a great place to enjoy your ice cream or other dessert during the day. QOpen 08:00 - 22:00, Fri, Sat 08:00 - 24:00. PTJB

Galerija Bar Ulica Sv. Barbare 4. This recently renovated café in the centre of the old town features red ceilings, moody soft lighting and an eclectic selection of contemporary art on the walls - all of which can be purchased from the artists. The thoroughly modern interior is supplemented by some shaded tables in the alleyway outside, and the clientele is a mixed group ranging from young people drinking draught beers and old men reading newspapers to tourists enjoying cocktails. Small warm snacks are also available. Q Open 06:30-23:00 Mon-Thur, 06:30-24:00 Fri-Sat and 08:0023:00 Sun. PJBW Kavarna Idrija Tel. +386 (0)31 356 554. This place would be cool and trendy even if it were in the capital Ljubljana (although it would likely be called Art Café or something similar), which makes it a pleasantly surprising find in a town the size of Idrija. Hosting temporary exhibitions by international artists as well as frequent concerts and other events, this is easily the hippest place to drink while you’re in town. Located in the same stately building as city hall in the centre of the old town, its large picture windows and comfortable modern décor make it a fine place to relax with a coffee during the day as well. PJEBW

Pri Zagodu Gregorčičeva 69, tel. +386 (0)5 377 35

These spinach štruklji tasted even better than they look, photo by YMB

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05. After a long day of fishing there’s no better place to come and satiate your thirst than this classic countryside bar, set just south of town on the main road opposite a large bend in the river. While the regular customers may not speak much English, they’re definitely a friendly lot, and the curious sight of a foreign visitor in their midst is sure to put you on the receiving end of some good-natured attention.

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Gostišče Barbara Kosovelova 3, tel. +386 (0)5 37 71 162, www.kut.si. Located on the first floor above the Anthony’s Shaft mining museum and information centre, this bright modern restaurant attracts a mix of locals and tourists, and has a good selection of regional dishes and interesting delicacies - if you’ve always wanted to try deer steak with chocolate sauce this is your chance! Ask to see the sheet with the specials of the month, as these multi-course set-menus always feature tasty seasonal dishes and are also usually the best value. Q Open 09:00-22:00 Mon-Thur, 09:00-23:00 FriSat, 10:00-22:00 Sun and holidays. PTJALBSW Gostišče Mostičer Mokraška Vas 1, Spodnja Idrija, tel. +386 (0)5 377 61 17/+ 386 (0)41 444 969, branko. bezek@email.si. Reached via a massive through arch bridge on the road to Spodnja Idrija Mostičer is a popular place for local families to gather for important birthdays, wedding receptions, anniversaries and other special events. While the outside is rather nondescript, the interior has character in spades, with wooden beam ceilings, a bar for grizzled fisherman to congregate at before heading home to their wives, and a room dedicated to Josip Broz Tito - we’re still unclear if he ever ate here, but his portrait is on the wall. Fresh river fish is the highlight of the menu, and dining outside along the river near the children’s playground is a must if the weather allows for it. QOpen 09:00 - 23:00. TALB

What to See Essential Idrija Gewerkenegg Castle & Idrija Municipal Museum (Mestni Muzej Idrija) Prelovčeva 9, tel. +386 (0)5

37 26 600, tajnistvo@muzej-idrija-cerkno.si, www. muzej-idrija-cerkno.si. Idrija’s award-winning city museum is housed in the 16th century Gewerkenegg Castle, which towers over the old town from its perch on a small hillock to the west. Built in the 1533, the castle’s somewhat odd sounding name is said to have come from the old German word for mine or mining company (Gerwerke) and the surname of the Habsburg vice regent (Jurij Egg) who was in charge of the mine at the time of the castle’s construction. First used as a simple storage facility for wheat and mercury, the castle long-served as the administrative offices for the mine, and at various times over the centuries parts of the castle also functioned as offices for other enterprises, schools and residential quarters. Its appearance largely dates back to the mid-18th century when renovations were carried out in the Baroque style, and it was also extensively renovated in the early 1990s. It has been the home of Idrija’s Municipal Museum, and music school, since 1953, which boasts a total of 26 separate exhibition rooms that cover a total space of 1300m2. The museum’s highlights include the mineralogical and petrographic collection, where among other items you can view a bowl of liquid mercury with a solid iron ball floating in it and pick up a mercury-rich chunk of cinnabar, and the Idrija lace collection, which was opened in 2008 and details the history of the city’s lace production from its 17th century beginnings all the way up to modern lace fashion by some of Slovenia’s top designers. However, the single most impressive lace piece may be the large intricate tablecloth that was created by a team of 12 master lacemakers in the 1970s as a gift for Tito’s wife Jovanka (which was never actually given to the Yugoslav first lady due to a dispute with the protocol office). Other exhibitions not to be missed are the so-called Mercury Tower (which combines mining equipment with modern art), a collection of artefacts from the time of Italian and German occupation, and a fine modern art collection donated by Idrijaborn Valentina Orsini Mazza. It was named the best European

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The imposing façade of Gewerkenegg Castle, photo by Dunja Wedam museum of industrial and technical heritage in 1997, and also received Slovenia’s top museum prize in 2008. In addition to the physical premises, the museum also boasts one of the most user-friendly and informative websites we’ve seen, which details the individual collections held at Gewerkenegg Castle as well as the separate sites it manages around Idrija (the Partisan Print Shop, Miner’s House, etc). Q Open 09:00-18:00. Admission €3.50, children and students €1.70.

Anthony’s Shaft Arkova 43, tel. +386 (0)5 377 11

42, antonijev.rov@volja.net, www.rzs-idrija.si. Anthony’s Shaft - or Anthony’s Main Road as it is sometimes called, as it long served as the mine’s main entrance - is the oldest part of Idrija’s unimaginably expansive underground world, which was once comprised of some 700km of shafts. Located at the spot where the mine was initially dug in the year 1500, an 18th century building called the Šelštev now serves as a living museum, education centre and entry point for tours into the mine itself, and is a must-see sight for those interested in Idrija’s rich mining history. Most visits begin with a screening of a short film (available in several languages) that gives a detailed history of the mine, from its geological origins to its discovery in 1490 by a now legendary bucket maker and the ensuing development and expansion of both the mine and town that occurred as a result. Special attention is paid to the lives of the hard-working miners whose sweat and blood made it possible, and prepares viewers for the journey they are about to embark on. While the majority of the mine was backfilled before being officially closed in 1995, part of that still open has been set up for tours, which take visitors some 100m below the earth’s surface and provide a firsthand experience of the conditions the miners worked under. One of the subterranean highlights

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Idrija Churches Church of St Anthony and the Cavalry Thanks to its

position atop Rožna Hill overlooking Idrija below, the Church of St Anthony is the most visible church of any in the region, which is fitting as it was originally built by the town’s miners in honour of their patron, St Anthony of Padua, towards the end of the 17th century. The adjacent Calvary, with its 13 smaller chapels and large upper one, which stretch their way even higher up the hill, were completed in 1766. Representing the 14 stations of the cross, despite being much smaller than the church they perhaps add even more visual splendour to the entire location. The church’s interior is of a baroque style

Idrija’s Mercury Mine

What life was like working in Idrija’s mercury mine, photo by YMB is the 18th century chapel of the Holy Trinity, with statues depicting the patron saints of mining, St Barbara and St Acacius. This is where the miners offered their prayers for successful work and safe return before entering Attem’s Shaft and descending to a depth of 200m. The tour lasts around an hour and a half, and once you’re back up in the light of day there’s a small gift shop where sadly you can’t buy any liquid mercury (as this would be illegal), but you can ask to hold a small glass jar of the stuff they have behind the counter - be careful, it weighs a couple of kilograms! Q Open 10:00-15:00 Tues-Fri. Tours depart at 10:00, 15:00 and 16:00 on Sat-Sun and holidays, or by prior arrangements for groups. Admission €7, children €4, multi-vision presentation only €2. Discounts for groups of 15 or more.

Francis’ Shaft and Technical Museum Bazoviška 2, tel. +386 (0)5 37 26 600, tajnistvo@muzej-idrija-cerkno. si, www.muzej-idrija-cerkno.si. Now under the administration of the Idrija City Museum, the collection of technical equipment and machinery at Francis’ Shaft was one of the main beneficiaries of the massive effort to modernise the city’s mines shortly after the Second World War. Although it may seem like the subject matter of the museum would only appeal to a niche audience, which is both knowledgable and enthusiastic about century-old Austrian-built steam-powered mining winches or six-stage centrifugal pumps of Czech origin, the various pieces of Idrija’s industrial past were impressive enough to grab our attention for a surprisingly bit of time. That said, if you’re a mining novice like us, it’s probably best to drop by after already having visited the City Museum’s main exhibition space in the castle and taking the tour of Anthony’s Shaft, which will make it easier to appreciate everything in its larger historical and technical context. Q Open 09:00-16:00. Admission €2, children and students €1.30. EDEN Slovenia

Quite simply put, Idrija was built upon the world’s second largest mercury mine and likely owes its existence, history and fortune (both good and bad) to the only metal that is found in a liquid form under standard conditions: quicksilver, Hydragyrum, Hg, atomic number 80, mercury. Known as živo sebro (living silver) in Slovene, legend has it that mercury was first discovered here at the end of the 15th century by a tub maker who witnessed it trickling out of the rocks in its native form while he was testing out one of his buckets in a small stream. Created in the form of mercury rich cinnabar ore some 235 million years earlier during a period of intense tectonic and volcanic activity, by 1500 a small mine and smelting plant had already been established, and thus began the extraction process that would continue for over 500 years. The cinnabar ore found here is exceptionally high grade, with up to 78% mercury content, and over its five centuries of operation the mine produced a staggering 13% of all the mercury ever mined in the world - making it second only to the famous Almadén mine in Spain, which was active for nearly five times longer. During an exceptionally productive period at the end of the 18th century, the value of mercury from Idrija’s mine accounted for 5% of the total economic output of the Habsburg Empire, an amount that is almost unfathomable by today’s standards. Due to both local environmental concerns and falling international demand, the mine began a two-decade process of winding down operations, which included backfilling most of the 700km of shafts out of which 107,000 tons of mercury had been carried. Nowadays visitors can visit the building that formerly served as the mine’s main entrance, Anthony’s Shaft, where they can watch a short video presentation explaining its history in more detail and take a tour through a section of the mine that is still open. In June 2012, the mercury mines of Idrija and Almadén were jointly recognised as official UNESCO world heritage sites.

The contemporary stained glass windows at the Church of the Holy Trinity feature some unusual images, photo by Branka Jovanović that is typical for rural Slovenia, with the majority of the paintings and sculptures executed by local artists during the 19th century, including the expectedly resplendent main altar by Luka Čeferin in 1837. With the construction of the new parish church of St Joseph the Labourer in 1969, local churchgoers are no longer required to hike up the hill on Sunday mornings, but it is still a popular venue for weddings, first communions and other ceremonies.

Church of the Holy Trinity Ulica Nikolaja Pirnata,

tel. +386 (0)5 374 39 16, ticidrija@icra.si. More than just an active building of worship or a monument to over five centuries of architectural styles, this small church perched up the hill from the main square is the symbolic heart of Idrija and a testament to the town’s history of wealth, perseverance and preservation. Set on the very spot where mercury was first discovered in 1490 - a fact that is confirmed by a still surviving document from Udine in Italy - the church initially took the form of the small wooden chapel, which was subsequently expanded and modified over the the next two hundred years. With the completion of the much larger parish church of St Barbara at the beginning of the 18th century, the Holy Trinity was left neglected and had fallen into disrepair by the middle of the 19th century, so much so that the townspeople considered turning it into a store room for mercury, or even demolishing it altogether. Luckily, the archbishop of Ljubljana at the time, Alojzij Wolf, who coincidentally happened to be from Idrija, interceded to ensure that the church was protected. In the early 1980s the municipality undertook lengthy renovations, which restored the building and furnishings, while emphasising its contrasting stylistic elements. The one embellishment made was the addition of some exquisite stained glass windows around the presbytery that combine Biblical themes with Idrija’s history, and are perhaps now the church’s most interesting detail.

Museums & Exhibitions Idrija Aquarium Prelovčeva 5, tel. +386 (0)40 33 66

Photo by Jani Peternelj

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99/+386 (0)5 37 71 130, akvarij@visit-idrija.si, www. akvarij-m.si. What started as the private collection of a local fish and reptile enthusiast has since grown into a full-fledged aquarium that is now run by the city. Despite its small size and visible spots of wear-and-tear, this place manages to pack in a dizzying number and variety of exotic fish in some three dozen separate aquariums - including piranhas, eels,

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various tropical species and even some clownfish, the latter of which will forever associated with the film Finding Nemo. A selection of other animals also call the premises home, among which are a lazy iguana, some curious turtles and a couple of poison dart frogs. The highly qualified and Englishspeaking staff members will be more than happy to show you around, pointing out the highlights and providing further information about each animal. When we last visited a children’s education centre was also in the works. Q Open 14:00-19:00 Tues-Fri, 13:00-19:00 Sat-Sun and holidays. Closed Mon. Admission €5, children ages 3-18 €3, under 3 free.

Idrija Military Museum Kosovelova 23, tel. +386 (0)5 377 16 88, vmi@email.si. Aficionados of military history shouldn’t miss Idrija’s petite but memorable homage to the conflicts and occupation that took place on Slovene soil during the 20th century. What it lacks in size, it makes up for with the sheer number of individual items on display in its three rooms, which are arranged by event if not chronology. The first room covers the ultimately successful struggle for national liberation during World War II, as well as a few items from the contemporary Slovene armed forces. The second room is dedicated to the World War I, with light equipment, uniforms and weapons used by soldiers fighting on the frontlines across Europe. While the third and largest room has a collection from the years when Idrija along with much of the west of Slovenia was occupied by Italy (1919-1945), and also documents the country’s 10-day war of independence in 1991. With so many tightly packed items presented, it’s the kind of place that you are practically guaranteed to see things for the first time, no matter if it’s your first visit or your tenth. Miner’s House Bazoviška 4, tel. +386 (0)5 37 26 600,

tajnistvo@muzej-idrija-cerkno.si, www.muzej-idrija-cerkno.si. If you come here before heading down into the tunnels below Anthony’s Mine Shaft, the low ceilings, dark walls and slightly miniaturised furnishings will likely feel claustrophobic. On the other hand, if this is your second stop of the two, then it may feel downright spacious in comparison. The point being, Idrija’s miners tended not to be the largest of people, and their homes were built accordingly. Consisting of four floors rising up out of a foundation not much larger than 20m2 the houses were usually shared by several families, and are still a common sight in and around Idrija. However, most have long since had their interiors remodelled to incorporate modern comforts and larger spaces, with the house at Bazoviška 4 being the only exception.

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The mysterious Wild Lake is one of the main attractions of the Zgornja Idrijca Landscape Park, photo by Samo Trebižan Dating back to 18th century, the house was purchased by the Idrija Municipal Museum in 1985, and is now a protected cultural monument after being painstakingly restored to its original condition. On the ground floor there’s a traditional ‘black kitchen’ used for cooking, a living room area complete with board games and heirlooms, and a tiny bedroom with a pint-sized bed for two - which our guide slyly credited as one of the reason women in Idrija used to have so many children. Q Open 09:00-16:00. Admission €2, children and students €1.30.

Natural Heritage Divje Jezero Literally translated as ‘wild lake’, there’s more to this small pool of water than meets the eye. Found only a couple of kilometres south of Idrija, at the base of nearly 100m high sheer rock cliffs, the setting is undeniably impressive,

Sport Fishing on the Idrijca The crystal clear waters of the Idrijca river make for some prime fishing grounds - a fact that the locals have known and taken advantage of since at least the 13th century. In fact, it was so popular an activity that by the beginning of the 20th century the river’s fish stocks had become dangerously depleted, leading to the formation of Idrija’s first fishing association in 1947. Since then, careful preservation and repopulation measures have lead to a marked increase in fish, and the river now regularly attracts professional anglers and amateur enthusiasts from all of Europe. Fishing licenses can be bought at numerous locations around town - including Hotel Jožef, where guests receive a 20% discount - with prices depending on where exactly you’d like to fish.

Idrija especially during the spring months when several varieties of native flowers cover the surrounding area in a carpet of white, yellow and intense purple blossoms. While we were admittedly sceptical when first told by locals that the lake was bottomless, not only is this claim true, but several experienced divers have lost their lives trying to find its subterranean source. What is currently known for sure is that the lake originates from a Vauclusian karst spring of at least 400m in length and more than 160m in depth, and is the second most important spring of this type in all of Europe - with only the namesake spring outside the village of Vaucluse in Avignon, France more well-known. Fed by a series of underground waterways that cover an area of some 125km2 above ground, during the heaviest rains the lake can discharge an enormous 100m3 of water per second into the 55m long Jezernica river (which is the shortest in Slovenia), while during the drier autumn months the flow can slow to a trickle and the river completely disappears. In 1967, the area was designated as the first protected natural monument in Slovenia, and now includes a small walking path, signs detailing some of the extensive flora and fauna and benches on which to rest while contemplating the magnitude of what lies beneath the turquoise surface.

Rake Water Chanel and Footpath Constructed some

400 years ago to power the massive kamšt (or water wheel pump) outside Joseph’s Shaft mine entrance, the Rake water channel runs nearly 3km into the Zgornja Idrijca landscape park to the Kobila Dam. The original wooden structure was replaced by brick and stone in the mid-18th century, and while the flowing water no longer powers the kamšt, it is still used to this day to generate power at Lenštat hydro-electric plant. The pathway is well-kept, even during the snowy winter months, and is extremely popular with locals, with doctors often prescribing daily walks to patients recovering from heart problems. For those interested in the region’s diverse plant life, there are informative signs posted along the length of the trail, beginning with the Scopoli Memorial Garden, which is named after Johannes Antonius Scopoli, Idrija’s first doctor and an avid botanist who wrote extensively on the area’s vegetation among other topics. At the path’s opposite end, the reservoir behind the sizeable dam was a popular swimming spot in the 1960s and 70s, with ample photographic evidence showing locals enjoying themselves during the summer, but nowadays is most notable for the karst springs that flow out of the rocks next to it. From this point trails lead further into the landscape park, and you can also reach

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Photo by Jani Peternelj Mercury and lace are indeed an odd couple, but they are also the two things most inextricably connected to both Idrija’s past and present - mercury being the main driver of its economy for nearly 500 years, while its centuries-old lacemaking tradition has more recently become the most recognisable symbol of the town. The oldest document that mentions Idrija’s lacemaking is from the very end of the 17th century, but the tradition almost certainly dates back much further as at this time tradesmen were already buying finished lace products from local women who produced it in their homes while their husbands were at work in the mines. Far from being just a hobby, the craft provided a valuable second source of income for local families. It was not until the end of the 19th century that the production of lace moved from individual homes and become a more standardised industry in Idrija. Credit for this transformation is often given to a young local lady, Ivanka Ferjančič, who brought lacemaking to the attention of some important people in Vienna and lobbied for the establishment of Idrija’s first lacemaking school in 1876. Ms Ferjančič became the school’s first teacher, but unfortunately died three years later at the age of only 29. However, her memory will never be forgotten, and thanks to her work the school is still operating today with up to 400 part-time students at any given time.

Fishing Association of Idrija (Ribiška Družina Idrija) info@rd-idrija.si, www.rd-idrija.si. The local

fishing association in Idrija is an invaluable resource for visiting anglers. Their multi-lingual website includes everything you need know about different fishing districts in the region and the different types of fish they contain. And if you can‘t find what you need, they are glad to respond to any enquiries sent via email.

Idrija Lace

The Rake footpath is Idrija’s most popular jogging route, photo by Dunja Wedam

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Of the many exhibitions and galleries located in and around Idrija’s old town, the best place to view the history of the tradition and the see exquisite examples of finished lace products is the multi-room exhibition at the City Museum that was opened in 2008. And of course there is also the annual Idrija Lace Festival, which is held on the third weekend in June and is now in its 32 year.

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Lace Shops Čipka Art 2000 Mestni Trg 14, tel. +386 (0)5 37 22 537, cipka-art2000@volja.net. Q Open 09:00-18:00.

Closed Sun in winter.

Čipkarska Šola Idrija Prelovčeva 2, tel. + 386

(0)5 37 34 570, info@cipkarskasola.si, www.cipkarskasola.si. QOpen 09:00-12:00, Wed 09:00-17:00. Closed Sat-Sun. Šiviljstvo Mal Lidija Anzelm Prelovčeva 9, Castle Gewerkenegg, tel. +386 (0)5 37 73 788. QOpen 09:00 - 18:00. Studio Irma Vončina Mestni Trg 17, tel. +386 (0)5 377 15 84, voncina.irma@siol.net. Q Open 10:0012:00 and 13:00-16:00, Sat 10:00-12:00. Closed Sun. Studio Koder Mestni Trg 16, tel. + 386 (0)5 37 71 359, info@idrija-lace.si. Q Open 10:00-12:00 and 16:00-19:00, Sat 10:00-12:00. Closed Sun. Trgovina Vanda Mestni Trg 13, tel. +386 (0)5 37 73 444, vanda.lapajne@siol.net, www.vanda-lapajne.si. Q Open Tues-Wed 16:00-19:00, Thur-Fri 09:00-12:00. Closed Sat-Mon.

Photo by Dunja Wedam

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Idrija

Idrija stone. The foremost architect of these monumental water barriers was local Renaissance man Joseph Mrak, a mining expert, cartographer, cave topographer, painter and builder, who also designed a mechanism for more efficiently opening and closing the Klaže’s massive doors that controlled the release of water. This system was in use until the 1920s, after which they fell into a state of disrepair and slowly began to deteriorate. However, in the 1980s several of them were restored and are now protected as a unique part of Idrija’s technological and cultural heritage, and can be visited independently or with a guide.

Idrija Žlikrofi Often described as a ravioli-type dish, Idrija’s famous žlikrofi dumplings were the first Slovene dish to receive recognition and protection under the EU’s Traditional Speciality Guaranteed label, which took place in 2010, some eight years after it had been granted traditional product status domestically by the Slovenian Ministry of Agriculture. While the comparison to Italian ravioli is not completely unfounded, as žlikrofi are essentially stuffed pasta dumplings that are boiled - indeed even we had long assumed this relation before we first tried them ourselves - they are a completely unique culinary speciality. And in fact, they are thought to have first come to Idrija by way of a German mining family sometime early in the 19th century, as the name bears some resemblance to the German word ‘schlichtkrapfen’ or ‘slippery dumpling’. Although the exact origins are still, and will likely remain, unclear, as a matter of historical record they had already become well-known in Idrija by the mid-19th century. Regardless of where they came from, the end result is tasty, or at least has been every time we’ve had them. The filling consists of mashed potatoes mixed with smoked bacon (or fried lard), onions and various seasonings and herbs, which is then wrapped in homemade eggflour dough and formed into something of a hat shape. But what really makes žlikrofi special are the sauces that accompany them, with mutton or rabbit with vegetables (bakalca) being the most common, and local restaurants usually having at least a half dozen options and some offering a dozen or more, including sweet dessert versions that are filled with minced walnuts. As the locals say: if you haven’t tried žlikrofi, then you haven’t been to Idrija!

Feast of Idrija Žlikrofi

Held the first Saturday each September, this culinary event aims to promote Idrija’s traditional žlikrofi with a series of workshops, demonstrations, tastings and other events. If you’ve never had the chance to taste these famous dumplings then this is a great chance to see what you’ve been missing - and even if you have, it’s a great excuse to pay Idrija another visit.

Tourist Farms

The Kamšt is the largest wooden water wheel in Europe, photo by Samo Trebižan

Technical Heritage Kamšt Water Wheel Vodnikova, tel. +386 (0)5 37 26 600, tajnistvo@muzej-idrija-cerkno.si, www.muzejidrija-cerkno.si. While the aged stone building surrounded by sports fields and tennis courts along a bend in the Idrijca River is impressive enough from the outside, the façade gives few hints as to the magnitude of what’s contained within its walls: namely, the largest wooden wheel in Europe. Measuring 13.6 metres in diameter, this absurdly large structure was built in 1790, and operated more or less continuously until 1948. Idrija’s miners began building such wheels as far back as the end of the 16th century in order to supply power for lifting ore and pumping water out of the pits. Somewhat ironically, they were also powered by water, which in this case came from a channel that was diverted 3.5km upriver and still serves as a popular jogging path nowadays. When it was operational the wheel rotated at the very judicious rate of 4.5 revolutions per minute and managed only a modest 100 horse-power, however, thanks to its girth it was still able to pump approximately 300 litres of water per minute from depths of almost 300 metres. Although the wheel and its premises were completely restored in recent years (and look as if they could have just been built!), not only is everything original, but it’s also the last remaining device of its type in Slovenia that is still in its original location. Q Open 09:00-16:00. Admission €2, children and students €1.30.

Turistična Kmetija Pr’ Jureč Ledine 19, Spodnja Idrija, tel. +386 (0)5 37 79 096/+386 (0)41 919 473, pr-jurec@volja.net, www.pr-jurec.net. Set in the hills high above Idrija on the Ledine Plateau, Pr’ Jureč is a tourist farm unlike any of the many others we’ve had the pleasure of visiting in Slovenia. While they serve up delectable homemade cuisine and offer seemingly limitless glasses of excellent Slovene wine, what really sets the place apart is what they have hidden in the barn. Calling it simply an ethnological museum would be a grave disservice, as the numerous items on display are not only meant to be viewed, but are also put to their intended uses by the eager curator, tour guide and owner of the farm Dušan Bogataj. An excitable fellow, Mr Bogataj leads groups through a comprehensive collection of tools, equipment and personal possessions that had been passed down from previous generations, and in some cases stored for nearly two centuries before being dusted off and put back into service. Every facet of rural life is on display here from shoe repair and cooking utensils to large horse-drawn ploughs and more modern 20th century tractors. Perhaps the most interesting - and sometimes interactive - part of the tour is an educational demonstration of how one of humanities most basic ingredients, flour, is produced, which begins with a pile of wheat and ends with a loaf of bread fresh out of the oven of Mrs Bogataj. Of course as with many things in Slovenia, the tour is not finished until you’ve sampled a few glasses of homemade schnapps. A highly informative, entertaining and tasty place to visit indeed.

Klavže The so-called ‘pyramids of Slovenia’ are another of

Žlikrofi with traditional bakalca sauce, photo by Andrej Križ

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Idrija’s sights that are inextricably connected with the town’s mining history. Melting down the mercury-rich cinnabar ore extracted from the earth in order to obtain more easily transportable pure liquid mercury was an energy intensive task, which required huge amounts of timber to be burned to heat furnaces to some 600°C. Luckily Idrija was - and thanks to good management still is - surrounded by vast forests. However, getting the fallen trees from the surrounding countryside to the smelting plants was a tricky matter in the time before mechanised transport and modern logging equipment. To overcome this problem, an ingenious system was implemented whereby trees were slid down hillsides to small riverbeds, where dams were built and reservoirs were released to carry the wood all the way into town. Towards the end of the 16th century these structures, or Klavže as they are known, were made of wood themselves, but by the end of the 18th century the design had been refined and they were now more soundly constructed of brick and

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Around Idrija Partisan Cemetery This burial ground for the parti-

san fighters who lost their lives in April 1945 at a major battle near Vojščica on the Vojsko Plateau is one of the largest and most visually interesting World War II memorials you’ll see anywhere in Slovenia. Set in an open field a few kilometres to the north of the village of Vojsko, the site consists of three dozen or so rounded stones of different sizes bearing the names of the 305 brave soldiers from the 9th Corps who perished here, and the entire ground is surrounded by a short stone wall. This area was a focal point of the national liberation struggle against the occupying forces, and saw frequent fighting during the war, however, this was one of the bloodiest days and occurred less than a month before the war came to an end in Slovene territory. A visit here can easily be combined with the nearby Partisan Printing Shop, ideally on a day hike across the larger Vojsko Plateau.

Slovenian Partisan Printing Shop Vojsko 64, tel. +386 (0)5 37 26 600, tajnistvo@muzej-idrijacerkno.si, www.muzej-idrija-cerkno.si. If the exhibition of original printed works at the City Museum pique your interest, a follow-up trip to the legendary partisan printing shop hidden away in the forest below Vojsko plateau is a must. First set up in September 1944, to call it simply a ‘printing shop’ is a vast understatement, as the facilities are comprised of an engine room, kitchen, dining room, composing room, binding station and an electric power plant, where between 40-50 people at a time worked until May 1945. The trickiest endeavour in setting up the place was procuring the modern electric printing machine, which was purchased in Milan at a cost of over one million Italian lira, disassembled and transferred illegally to the newly constructed facilities. However, the money and effort were well spent, as the machine is still operational to this day. During its eight months of operation, the main activity was printing the Partisan Daily, which had a circulation of between 4000 and 7000 copies and has the rather impressive distinction of being the only daily opposition newspaper printed in all of occupied Europe. Numerous brochures, leaflets, flyers and other items were also printed, and many of these as well as the original linocuts and engraved lead seals can be viewed both here and in the City Museum. Q Open daily 09:00-16:00 from 15 April to 15 October. Admission €2, children €1.30.

Tourist Agencies

Klažve, the so-called pyramids of Idrija, photo by Samo Trebižan

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Active Idrija Tourist Agency Mestni Trg 15, tel. +386 (0)31 291 263/+386 (0)31 601 620, info@ active-idrija.com, www.active-idrija.com. In addition to all of Idrija’s natural, cultural and technical heritage sites, the surrounding region also offers many sports activities - and the professionally trained instructors and guides at Active Idrija make taking advantage of these opportunities easy. Some of their most popular activities include hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing and horseback riding, while other possibilities include spending the day with a local hunter (viewing and tracking animals) or taking a scenic off-road guided tour on remote gravel roads and mountain tracks. Prices and itineraries of all activities are fixed and available on the agency’s website, but can also be tailored to meet the individual needs and wishes of customers. QOpen 10:00 - 12:00 and 16:00-18:00. 2012/13

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Kolpa River

Kolpa River Bela Krajina Hiking and Cycling Paths The varied landscape of Bela Krajina offers some great opportunities for hiking and cycling, and the local tourist offices have produced some excellent free guides detailing over a dozen specific routes that can be covered both on foot or by bike, and can also provide info on renting bikes. The very useful 3-D maps make reading the lay of the land easy, and each route has a lengthy description of the sights and attractions to watch out for along the way, as well as technical info about the length, difficulty and average duration of the trips. The most popular cycling routes for tourists are unsurprisingly those that follow along the Kolpa river, although we are personally fond of the paths that follow the seemingly endless vineyards running along the edge of the valley east of Črnomelj all the way to Semič and beyond. Hikers also have a wide variety of paths to choose from, and organised hikes take place throughout the year.

Črnomelj

Rafting on the Kolpa river is the region’s most popular summertime activity, photo by Vesmin Kajtozovič, Archive STB Named a European Destination of Excellence in 2010, the pristine Kolpa river is often referred to as Slovenia’s longest coastline. While this distinction is meant to have a bit of fun at the expense of the country’s diminutive 47km long Mediterranean coast, it’s more a testament to the Kolpa’s popularity as an aquatic destination, especially during the hot summer months when the water of the lower river can reach a bath-like 30°C. Forming some 113km of Slovenia’s (Schengen) border with Croatia, the river begins its journey in Osilnica, the country’s smallest municipality and the land of Peter Klepec. From there it winds its way through the breathtaking green hills of Kolpa Gorge, past Kostel’s famous castle and the thick bear-filled forests of Kočevje, before it slows down and meanders along the entire south and east edges of Črnomelj, finally moving through some of Slovenia’s best wine growing land in Metlika before entering Croatia and eventually joining the Sava river at the end of its 297km journey. These lands touched by the Kolpa’s placid waters have much more to offer visitors than just the river itself though. They include a diverse selection of protected natural landscapes, rich cultural and culinary heritage, and genuinely friendly welcoming locals who will make you feel at home the moment you arrive. In the pages below we’ve presented a brief overview of the things to see and do in the region, but if you still need more convincing, or would just like to see some more photos, you can visit the official Kolpa river website (yes, even river’s have websites these days) at www.kolpariver.eu.

Arriving The most convenient way to reach and explore the Kolpa river is with your own car. If you’re headed to the areas of the upper river from Ljubljana, Route 106 will take you directly to Kočevje in about an hour, and then it’s just a matter of following the sign south from there to Kostel and Osilnica. If the slower moving waters of the lower river

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in the region of Bela Krajina is your destination, take the motorway in the direction of Zagreb to the Ivančna Gorica exit, pass through the pretty little town of Žužemberk and onwards on Route 216 through the forests until you emerge near Semič (alternatively, you can take the motorway all the way to Novo Mesto and head south from there to Metlika). As for public transport, buses are your only option to the upper river, with a trip to Kočevje taking about 1.5hrs and leaving every hour or so on weekdays. For Bela Krajina and the lower river, the train is a much better option, with up to a dozen per day making the 2-3hr journey from Ljubljana to Metlika via Črnomelj.

Tourist information TIC Črnomelj Trg Svobode 3, tel. +386 (0)7 30

56 530, info@ric-belakrajina.si, www.belakrajina.si, www.kolpariver.eu. The tourist information centre located inside Črnomelj’s castle also serves as the main info point for the Bela Krajina region, and actually pulls triple duty as the official centre for the entire destination of the Kolpa river. In other words, if you can’t get the info or answers you’re looking for here, then you might as well stop looking. In addition to piles of useful maps, brochures and booklets, there’s also a small gift shop with the most typical traditional crafts. W TIC Kočevje Ljubljanska 26, tel. +386 (0)1 89 382 26, turizem@obc-kocevje.si, www.kocevje.si. TIC Kostel Vas 4, tel. + 386 (0)1 89 48 070, info@ kostel.si, www.info-kostel.si. TIC Metlika Trg Svobode 4, tel. +386 (0)7 36 35 470, tdvigred.metlika@siol.net, www.metlikaturizem.si. TIC Semič Štefanov Trg 7, tel. +386 (0)7 35 65 200, www.kc-semic.si.

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Črnomelj is the largest municipality in Bela Krajina, both in terms of size and population, with some 14,500 inhabitants residing on the 340km2 of land within its borders. It’s somewhat ironic then that the medieval old town at the centre of it all is relatively tiny, squeezed as it were on a narrow raised strip of land in a tight bend of the slow moving Lahinja river. The first settlers here didn’t have the foresight of modern urban planning, as it was still only the Late Iron Age some 3,000 years ago. But in fact, the bit of land on which these early humans settled provides such as good natural defence that is has been inhabited more or less continuously ever since. The first Slavic people moved here at the beginning of the 10th century, and Slavic identity is perhaps still felt more strongly in these parts than elsewhere in Slovenia - some churches still bear symbols from Slavic mythology, and the most important annual festival also has Slavic roots. Modern Črnomelj extends northwards from the old town, and is where you will find the train and bus stations, large shopping centres and most of the industry in the region. Aside from a couple of fertile valleys to the west and east of the town, most of the rest of the municipality is covered in forests, while the entire south and east are bordered by the Kolpa river.

What to See in Črnomelj Church of the Holy Spirit Ulica Mirna Jarca. Set at the very southern edge of Črnomelj’s old town, above where the smaller Dobličica flows into the Lahinja river, the Church of the Holy Spirit is a testament to the town’s long and storied history, which goes back much further than Christianity itself. Archeological excavations have found evidence beneath the church confirming the existence of an Iron Age settlement here, while an earlier church was built on the exact same location by the Byzantines during late antiquity, from which parts of the foundation and some mosaics still exist. The predecessor of the current church was first mentioned in the historical record in 1487, but the actual building only dates to the middle of the 19th century, when it was extensively renovated and expanded. Severely damaged during the Second World War, the church was subsequently deconsecrated, and reopened as a cultural space in 2007 after undergoing further renovations. In addition to hosting frequent exhibitions by well-known Slovene and international artists, visitors can also view partially preserved mosaics and see different layers of history eden-slovenia.inyourpocket.com

uncovered by excavations through a transparent section of the floor. Visits can be arranged though the tourist office at the other side of town.

Around Črnomelj Beekeeping Educational Path Žuniči, tel. +386 (0)7

356 52 40, info@kp-kolpa.si, www.kp-kolpa.si. Beekeeping has always been an important part of rural life in the Bela Krajina region, but in recent years it seems that fewer locals here have the time necessary to devote to the activity. It is within this context that the Beekeeping Educational Path was opened in the Kolpa Krajinski Park in 2008, in order to educate visitors and especially the youth about the role that bees and beekeeping play in the larger ecological picture. Some 300m of pathways lead visitors between various different trees, flowers, shrubs and other plants, all of which are marked with education boards detailing when they are bloom and how useful they are for the production of honey. The path is located right next to the Šokčev Dvor farmstead in the village of Žuniči, and is usually combined as part of a single tour.

Events in Črnomelj Jurjevanje www.jurjevanje.si. First held in 1964, Jurjevanje is the oldest folklore festival in Slovenia, and in recent years had also become one of the largest. The festival is actually the culmination of two months of celebrations that begin with St George’s Day on 24 April, which officially welcomes the spring season. The cultural programme includes various workshops, lectures and exhibitions, but the main events are the singing, dancing and musical heritage performances given by folklore groups from both Slovenia and abroad. While the focus is primarily on groups from the Bela Krajina region, in recent years the organisers have been able to book some world famous international folklore bands as well. During the five-day festival the party usually goes well into the night, with ethno-folk, pop and rock bands also taking to the stage. Events are held in late June at several venues in Črnomelj’s old town, but main venue is the natural amphitheatre called Jurjevanska Draga located in the north of the town near the train station. Schengenfest www.schengenfest.si. How can

you not like a festival whose motto is to be ‘bigger and sexier each year’ - especially when this goal has actually been accomplished in full for over half a decade? When Schengenfest first began in 2008, it was little more than a one-day concert with only half a dozen performers taking to the stage. Now in just a few short years it‘s grown into a full-fledged music festival, with dozens of musicians playing over three days, including some of the biggest names in pop and rock music from Slovenia and neighbouring countries, including Siddharta, Big Foot Mama, Dan D, Riblja Čorba and Parni Valjak, as well as well-known international bands such as Kaiser Chiefs, Parov Stellar and Leningrad Cowboys - and this was only the line-up for 5th anniversary festival in 2012. With Croatia scheduled to join the EU any time now (although this has been the case for years), there‘s no word what will happen when/if the Kolpa river loses its status as a Schengen border, but we have faith that the organisers will find a way keep the ‘sound, sun and fun’ going well into the future. The festival is held around the first week of August each summer near the village of Vinica. Three-day passes are between €49-65 depending on how early they‘re purchased, and single day tickets are also available.

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Kolpa River Viniška Republika Vinica is an unassuming village of around 200 residents some 18km south of Črnomelj, lying just before the Kolpa river and border with Croatia. It’s also one of our favourite places in Slovenia. Known nowadays primarily for being the birthplace of acclaimed early 20th century poet Oton Župančič, as well as the site of the increasingly famous Schengenfest music festival (which is “bigger and sexier each year”), the village has long had a reputation among the locals of Bela Krajina as a peculiar sort of place. One legend that perfectly captures the spirit of the people here goes back to the time when the region was under the constant threat of Turkish invasion. One day someone from the village spotted the advancing Ottoman army, and knew that with a population much the same size as it is today they would be helpless to defend themselves against the imminent attack. Without hesitation the town elders calmly asked their fellow townsfolk to quickly gather as many lizards as possible, and then proceeded to catapult a boot full of the tiny reptiles towards the Turks, which of course struck the general of the army squarely in the face. Assuming that the village in front of them was so infested with dragons that their offspring were falling from the sky, the general made the decision to find another route and Vinica was spared, although it’s still unclear if the boot was ever recovered. As impressive as this legend is, even if it were true it wouldn’t be the strangest occurrence in the history of the village, which undoubtedly goes to the events of April 1919. In the confusing weeks and months that followed the cessation of fighting in the autumn of 1918, but before comprehensive Treaty of Versailles was signed in June 1919, the new national borders that would be carved out of the Austro-Hungarian Empire were not officially established. It was under these circumstances that the village of Vinica officially declared it’s independence and became the Republic of Vinica (or Viniška Republika), electing the 87 year-old Jure Pavelšiča as their president. But alas, the hard-fought independence of the good citizens of Vinica was short-lived, as they were forced to abandon their statehood and once again rejoin the newly formed Kingdom of Yugoslavia after only five days.

Kolpa River that weaves the thread into raw linen fabric. We witnessed several minutes of the work progress millimetre by millimetre with each pull of the creaky wooden levers, and it made us tired just watching. After seeing this, visitors will definitely have more respect for the finished pieces that are displayed in the small gallery next door, which include both strictly traditional garments, as well as more modern interpretations. The second local craft demonstrated here - egg dying - may seem downright easy in comparison, but it too takes a level of skill and patience that require years to learn. Although most people probably remember dying Easter eggs at some point in their lives, the process of making Bela Krajina’s famous red and black designs takes it to a whole other level, using traditional wax applicators and homemade dye. With prior arrangements groups can experience hands-on workshops in both of these crafts, and also purchase one-of-a-kind souvenirs from the gift shop.

Kolpa Krajinski Park Tel. +386 (0)7 356 52 40, info@kp-kolpa.si, www.kp-kolpa.si. The Kolpa Krajinski Park covers the over 4300 hectares of diverse natural landscapes along the Kolpa river in the southernmost reaches of the Črnomelj municipality. Stretching from the settlement of Fučkovci (yes that is the actual name, and yes there is a sign you can take your photo in front of) in the east to the town of Stari Trg ob Kolpi in the west, the park includes the Veliko Bukovje hills between Adlešiči and Vinica as well as the eastern edges of the vast Kočevje forests. Beyond simply protecting the natural heritage of the area, one of the main aims of the park is to promote and preserve the cultural heritage and traditional way of life or the local people in environmentally-friendly and sustainable ways. In addition to the various natural sights for tourists to visit, there are many well-marked cycling and hiking routes, an educational path devoted to beekeeping, an ethnological museum at Šokčev Dvor, organised adventure tours, and of course plenty of opportunities to enjoy the warm water of the Kolpa river. First established on the initiative of the local administration in Črnomelj in 1998, the park has been given further protection and support by the Slovenian state since 2006.

Šokčev Dvor Žuniči, tel. +386 (0)7 356 52 40, info@

kp-kolpa.si, www.kp-kolpa.si. This traditional Bela Krajina farmstead in the village of Žuniči, in the heart of the Kolpa Krajinski Park, is a protected cultural monument and the best preserved example of this type of architecture. The structure consists of a family home, a barn and stables that surround a large inner courtyard, which is enclosed on the fourth side by a thick stone wall and heavy wooden gate. The house dates back to the late 18th or early 19th century, but the design is much older, as it was first developed to protect against pillaging Turkish soldiers in the 15th and 16th centuries. The site is also a full-fledged ethnological museum, with rooms in the house arranged as they would have been years ago. Visitors usually come in groups with prior arrangement, so the hosts can arrange some light snacks for the end of the tour. Žuniči is on the main road leading from Vinica to Adlešiči.

especially windy and picturesque stretch of the Kolpa River Valley, we were amazed to hear that the charming little village of Stari Trg had never received first place in any of Europe’s most beautiful village competitions. One long street lined with well-kept single floor houses comes to an end at the massive Church of St Joseph’s sitting at the highest point on the ridge. Nowadays home to just over 100 inhabitants, for centuries Stari Trg was an important market town (the name literally means old square in Slovene) and religious centre. Its primary school is also still a great source of pride, with roots going all the way back to 1820 it’s one of the oldest in Slovenia, and was long known to produce some of the country’s best chess players.

Cvitkovič Traditional Crafts Adlešiči 3, tel. +386

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info@ric-belakrajina.si, www.belakrajina.si. Located in the heart of Bela Krajina, the Lahinja Krajinski Park is a protected area covering the first 7km of the Lahinja river in the valley just south of Dragatuš. Lovers of nature, history and rural customs can easily spend the better part of a day exploring the area on foot (or a bit less by bike). The park contains several interesting archeological sites, including the remains of some of the most important Neolithic and Copper Age settlements in Slovenia, as well as a somewhat eerie prehistoric village near Pusti Gradec. Of the many ethnological points of interest in the park, the highlights for us are the Klepec mill and sawmill, which is little changed since the 17th century and quite amazingly still functions, and the tiny village of Veliki Nerajec, where friendly locals will happily show you around and likely treat you to some buckwheat potica (a local speciality). You won’t be the first person impressed by the village and hospitality of the locals, as the place won a European award for countryside development in 2000. With two separate nature reserves, natural sights are the main attraction for most visitors, and the southern portion of the park has some lovely pastures and forests to walk through on the way to the source of the Lahinja near the village of Belčji Vrh. The park also include a portion of the Oton Župančič Path, which runs from Dragatuš all the way to the famous poet’s birth house and museum in Vinica and offers the possibility of extending your walk or ride all the way to the Kolpa.

Stari Trg ob Kolpi Set on a high ridge overlooking an

Nowadays little remains of that glorious 72 hours of freedom, aside from a monument, the memories and souvenir T-shirts and currency that can be purchased online from the Republic’s own website (republika.vinica. si) - it is the 21st century after all.

(0)7 30 70 028/+386 (0)40 730 504, nada.cvitkovic@ siol.net. In the village of Adlešiči, about 13km southeast of Črnomelj, you can view two nearly extinct traditional local crafts still being produced not only in the very same house, but by the very same woman: Nada Cvitkovič. Although the traditional linen clothing is one of the most important and recognisable symbols of the Bela Krajina region, Ms Cvitkovič is currently one of only two local women who still produce the material using completely traditional methods. If this seems strange, the reason is simple, it’s an incredibly painstaking and labour-intensive process. While the process of harvesting, drying and transforming the flax into spools of useable linen threads is understandably time-consuming, the real effort comes in the skill and strength it takes to operate the massive centuries-old loom

Lahinja Krajinski Park Tel. +386 (0)7 305 65 30,

Metlika

See how Bela Krajina’s traditional Easter eggs are made and then give it a try yourself, photo by YMB

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One of Bela Krajina’s three main towns, Metlika has a population of around 3500 (with 8500 or so in the whole municipality) and several interesting attractions for visitors aside from the picturesque town itself. The riverside castle will likely be one of the first draws, housing the regional museum. Firefighting enthusiasts will undoubtedly be fulfilled on a trip to Metlika as well, as the national museum of firefight-

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Most events in Bela Krajina feature traditional dancers in the region’s unmistakable white costumes, photo by Tomaž Urh, Archive RIC ing (integral to Slovene culture) was founded here in 1969. Three Gothic churches in nearby Rosalnice are another well known sight, drawing pilgrims for centuries. Metlika was officially recognised as a town back in the 15th century, a century after the area and river Kolpa became important as the Carniolan/Croatian border. Having been originally inhabited since pre-historic times, the area of Bela Krajina then saw some tumultuous times; Ottoman raids in the 15th and 16th centuries were harsh and a fire in 1705 saw Metlika burned to the ground. It was in the 19th and early 20th centuries that the town like the whole area became notable for its craft and trade. Culturally Metlika seems like something of a mix, traditions of agriculture and crafts with an injection of modern music in terms of the arts.

What to See in Metlika Bela Krajina Museum & Metlika Castle Trg Svobode

4, tel. +386 (0)7 306 33 70, belokranjski.muzej@guest. arnes.si, www.belokranjski-muzej.si. First opened in 1951, the Bela Krajina Museum does an excellent job of presenting a comprehensive picture of life in the region from prehistoric times right up until the museum opened. Renovated and modernised in time for its 50th anniversary in 2001, visits to the museum’s permanent collection now begin with an informative 15min film called ‘The images of Bela Krajina’. Arranged for the most part chronologically, the oldest items in the collection are some rudimentary tools used in the area during the Neolithic period, while the most recent section of the permanent exhibition covers the difficult interwar years and WWII. From the latter you can learn how Bela Krajina became a free partisan territory during the last years of the war, which was a completely unique phenomenon in Europe. In other rooms a significant amount of space is dedicated to the nearly two hundred years of constant threat of invasion by the Ottoman Turks during the 15th and 16th centuries, and here is also a very interesting viticulture exhibition, showing the traditional wine growing methods and equipment from the last 200 years. The castle is also home to the Metlika tourist information centre, a temporary exhibition space and a wine cellar. It’s also a popular venue for weddings and other events. Elsewhere in the region the museum manages several other cultural collections including the Kambič Gallery in Metlika, the Semič Local Museum, the Črnomelj Municipal Museum and the Memorial Collection of Oton Župančič in Vinica.

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Kolpa River

Kolpa River need arose - paying back the latter with a steep 50% ‘interest’ the following harvest. A novel system of keeping track of the accounts using long wooden sticks with lines carved into them was devised. Extra wine from the cellar was also sold, with all the proceeds going to things such as maintain pathways, renovating the town church and paying for funerals. Due to the accounting involved the cellar is often referred to the town’s Wine Bank. Visits to the cellar can be arranged in advance.

Vinska Vigred www.vinskavigred.com. In a region known for its wine, the Vinska Vigred festival is the largest wine event in Bela Krajina, attracting thousands visitors to Metlika’s old town over three days during the third weekend in May each year. First held more than 30 years ago, the event began strictly as a wine fair for exhibiting and tasting local wines, but it has since grown into a multi-faceted cultural festival as well. Nowadays the festival boasts three separate stages for music, folklore and other performances, and various smaller stands presenting traditional handicrafts, artistic products and of course lots and lots of wine - there are over 300 different types, so if you plan to try them all, you’d better pace yourself! One thing visitors need not worry about is drinking up an appetite, as there is also lots of tasty food on hand, including roasted lamb, suckling pigs and of course plenty of freshly baked Belokranjska pogača flat bread.

Kambič Gallery Cesta Bratstva in Enotnosti 51, tel. +386 (0)7 305 8332, belokranjski-muzej@guest.arnes. si. The namesake of this gallery happens to be a collector, whose birthhouse it is now housed in. Vinko Kambič (19202001), a doctor, professor and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine in Ljubljana, and Vilma Bukovec Kambič, his wife and opera singer, were something of conoisseurs of Slovene impressionists and aggregated names such as Kos, Kregar, Pavlovec, Perko and Pogačnik. To be found on the ground floor and in the attic, respectively, are the temporary exhibitions of works by lesser known artists and the memorial of the collectors and former proprietors. Being managed by the Bela Krajina Museum and owned by the Municipality of Metlika, Kambič is well-run and a pleasure to experience as a visitor. Otok’s DC-3 If you’re driving from Metlika to Črnomelj and

see something out of the corner of your eye to the left beyond golden wheat fields, rest assured that you’re not hallucinating, that is in fact an actual WWII-era Douglas DC-3 - or to be more precise, it’s technically a modified DC-3 that was referred to as a C-47 Skytrain or Dakota. What is the plane doing in this otherwise normal-looking field? Decommissioned by the Yugoslav National Army in the years following the war, it was placed here to commemorate all of the American and British soldiers who used such planes to fly wounded partisan fighters from a makeshift airport in the liberated territory of Bela Krajina to Allied hospitals in Italy. Rumour has it that when the plane was first set here, it contained all of its original equipment, which then slowly disappeared over the years. Regardless of whether or not this

A bird’s eye view of Metlika’s compact old town, photo by Dunja Wedam, Archive STB

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The numerous dams along the Kolpa river used to provide power for mills, but now mainly provide excitement for rafters, photo by YMB is actually true, the exterior of the plane has recently been restored, and looks as if it could still take flight if the moment called for it. The real mystery for us is not the status or history of the mighty flying machine, but the fact that no one seems to know how or why the nearby village of Otok (meaning island in Slovene) got its name.

Slovenian Firefighters’ Museum Trg Svobode 5,

tel. +386 (0)7 305 86 97, muzej@gasilec.net, www. metlika.si. In August 1969, the doors were first opened on this museum dedicated to the historical heritage of firefighting in Slovenia. The date was chosen as it marked the 100th anniversary of the formation of Slovenia’s very first volunteer firefighters’ association right here in Metlika. Located in two separate buildings, both of which are just steps away from Metlika’s castle in the heart of the old town, the vast collection is arranged chronologically. The first gallery covers the founding and development of firefighting in Slovenia with lots of well-presented pre-WWI photos from associations all over the country, as well as memorabilia and light equipment such as helmets, uniforms and medals. In the next hall a similar collection presents the years from WWI to WWII and beyond, while some old fire engines and other heavy equipment is displayed in the basement. The second building, which is to the right of the castle’s entrance, contains an even larger collection of fire engines and equipment, including one fire engine dating all the way back to 1836 (which at first may not even be recognisable as a fire engine), and another from 1908 that was steam-powered and built in Vienna. The museum is officially named in honour of Dr Branko Božič, who was the long-time president of the Firefighting Association of Slovenia and the driving force behind the museum’s establishment.

Soseska Zidanica Drašiči Drašiči 41, tel. +386 (0)41 753 017/+386 (0)31 306 180, www.soseskadrasici. net. Outdating the founding of socialist Yugoslavia by nearly two centuries, the Soseska Zidanica in the village of Drašiči (or Neighbourhood Wine Cellar as it translates to in English) developed a community-wide system for sharing wine and raising funds for community projects at the same time. As with many great ideas, this one was born out of necessity, as it was often the case that at times of big events (namely weddings) individual families did not have a large enough supply of their own wine to meet the demands of thirsty guests. Thus is was agreed that a communal wine cellar should be established, from which every member was free to make ‘deposits’ when they had extra wine and take ‘withdrawals’ if the eden-slovenia.inyourpocket.com

Tri Fare Pilgrimage in Rosalnice Tel. +386 (0)7 305 83 31. A prominant pilgrimage site, Rosalnice’s three Gothic churches have been suggested to date from perhaps the 12th century (on account of Valvasor and others). Situated in the northeastern part of the village of Rosalnice (near Metlika), the site is ringed by a high wall. The northern of the three, The Church of Our Lady of Sorrows, is the largest and probably earliest although specific dates are debated. It also has one of the oldest pipe organs in Slovenia and some unique frescoes. Building features of the central, Ecce Homo (Behold the Man) Church, suggest it dates from the late 15th or early 16th century, and elements were added including a prominant belfry in the 17th century. The southern church is that of Our Lady of Lourdes, Valvasor being the first to mention it in 1689, although grafitti recently found suggests the construction is much older. The historical timeline of the churches is long and complex, but as a pilgrim site its height of significance seems to be in the 18-19th centuries, when those of both Catholic and Orthodox faith congregated here. Guided tours of the churches can be arranged. Entrance is free of charge. Vinomer Birch Trees Although Bela Krajina’s famous birch trees are not as abundant as they were centuries ago, when the region was given its name in part because of the vast white forests that grew here, there are still areas covered with them. The most popular spot to view the trees (called breza in Slovene) is along the road between Metlika and Drašiči, where the sight of the thin white trunks is made all the more intense by the sea of pillowy green ferns that blanket the entire area. These can grow as high as 2m, but when they’re cut in the late summer each year it looks almost like a golf course. The forest is part of Metlika’s protected Natura 2000 site, and is also several interesting plant and animal species including Ural Owl. Vinska Klet Metlika Cesta XV. Brigade 2, tel. +386 (0)7 363 7000, info@kz-metlika.si, www.kz-metlika.si. One of the images most strongly associated with Metlika, and indeed all of Bela Krajina, is the bottle of dry red Metliška Črnina wine and its label depicting a human pyramid with three gentlemen dressed in the traditional white linen costumes of the region. A ubiquitous sight in supermarkets across the country, the wine is produced by Vinska Klet Metlika, which is part of a larger farm cooperative called Kmetijska Zadruga Metlika. Working with some 200 individual wine growers with vineyards in the sun-soaked hills of Bela Krajina, in addition to Metliška

The sun-soaked hills around Bela Krajina provide the perfect climate for producing award-winning wine, photo by YMB

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Rafting on the Kolpa Rafting or canoeing (or travelling in any other water-born vessel for that matter) down the Kolpa river during the summer is just about one of the most enjoyable ways to spend a day anywhere in Slovenia. Whitewater rafting this is not, so adrenaline junkies may wish to look elsewhere, but for the rest of us a slow trip along the water allows ample time for appreciating the surrounding environment and stopping at various points to swim, visit attractions, have a picnic or explore. The upper sections of the river keep a slightly less meandering pace and the water is a few degrees cooler than the 30°C or more it can reach further downstream. There are over 50 dams along the route that do provide a bit of excitement, but the key word on a Kolpa rafting trip is relaxation. To arrange a trip you can contact one of the agencies below directly, or call or email one of the local tourist informations centres and they can help with all the arrangements as well as providing recommendations for what may best suit you.

Kolpa Adventures Srednji Radenci 2, Stari Trg

ob Kolpi, tel. +386 (0)41 518 536/+386 (0)51 205 159, info@kolpa-adventures.com, www.kolpaadventures.com. Kolpa Raft Laze Pr Predgradu 1a, Stari Trg ob Kolpi, tel. +386 (0)41 426 110/+386 (0)1 8943 754, skender@kolparaft.com, www.kolparaft.com. Kolpa Rafting (Alen Klarič s.p.) Potok 4, Kostel, tel. +386 (0)41 806 355, raftingkolpa@gmail.com, www.raftingkolpa.com. Stari Pod Jankovič Gorenjci Pri Adlešičih 15, Adlešiči, tel. +386 (0)7 30 70 315/+386 (0)41 880 330, kolpas@siol.net, www.kolpas.si. Črnina and a white called Belokranjec - both of which are protected and certified by the Ministry of Agriculture under the PTP label - the cooperative produces a wide variety of more than a dozen regular wines, as well as a selection of special vintages such as extra sweet ice and dry grape wines. While the red Metliška Črnina is produced from a combination of Blue Franconian (60%) and the autochthonous Zametna Črnina (30%) grape varieties, the majority of wines here are actually white. Tastings and tours of the facilities can be arranged in advance for groups of up to 55 people.

Vinska Klet Prus Krmačina 6, tel. +386 (0)41 690

112/+386 (0)7 30 59 098, info@vinaprus.si, www.vinaprus.si. If you follow the road past Drašiči to the even smaller village of Krmačina just before the Croatian border, you’ll find one of the most decorated wine producers in all of Slovenia: Vinska Klet Prus. Of the numerous awards that the vineyard has won over the past decade and a half (including several Decanters), the passionate and excitable owner Jožef Prus is most proud of the all-around Best Slovene Winemaker award he has taken home for the past three years (2009-2011) and counting. Awarded at the prestigious Gornja Radgona Wine Fair, the prize is given not for a single wine, but is based on the aggregate scores received by a producer’s entire selection. Although all of wine here is indeed of the highest quality, thanks to the vineyards’ position at the top of some of Bela Krajina’s highest, sunniest hills, the speciality of the winery is undoubtedly sweet whites, namely Rumeni Muškat, as well as even sweeter late harvest and ice wines, which are frequently included by the State Protocol Services during formal events at Brdo pri Kranju. The wine cellar and production facilities were completely rebuilt in 2009, and can now accommodate tastings of up to 60 people or more.

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Kolpa River Semič Semič is something like a little brother to Bela Krajina’s two older, larger and much more well-known municipalities, Metlika and Črnomelj. However, the town does have a surprise or two up its sleeve for visitors, including the fact that while it has less than half the population of Metlika, it’s actually some 30% larger in size. And although Semič is also the only municipality included in the Kolpa river region that the Kolpa river doesn’t flow through (at it’s nearest point it’s just over 2km away), it is an inseparable part of the destination. The western two-thirds of Semič’s area is comprised of the sparsely inhabited forests of the Kočevje Rog mountains, while much of the rest is made up of fertile hills and fields that are ideal for vineyards and have been put to good use for such purposes. The Church of St Stephan, which was likely built in the 12th century, is the dominant feature of the town’s appearance, set on a small square of the same name and rising above everything else. Meanwhile the newly built cultural centre and library have become the main focal point of cultural life for locals, and with its modern design the building definitely stands out from its surroundings. Outside of the town itself, the main sights include the powerful karst spring that is the source of the Krupa river, the ruins of Smuk castle on a hill overlooking the valley, the peak of Mirna Gora (the highest mountain in the region) and of course the many vineyards that can be found in all directions.

What to See in Semič The Source of the Krupa River When it comes to springs,

you never know what you’re going to get. While a bubbling puddle in the middle of a field or a trickle of water coming out of rock have every right to call themselves springs, these lesser phenomena don’t do much to impress visitors. On the other hand, the karst spring a few kilometres south of Semič is a spring of the first order. With a 30m high cliff of colourful tectonic layers serving as a backdrop and reflecting in the water, it is one of the of the most beautiful sights in the region, and if you’re here on a Saturday you can expect to see newlyweds having their photo taken. Despite its placid outward appearance, beneath the turquoise waters an average of 1000 litres of water per second is gushing out from a vast network of subterranean waterways, feeding the Krupa for its short journey to the Lahinja river. The spring is also home to the infamous creature known as the human fish (or more properly the proteus anguinus) as well as a rare type of cave mussel, and the area around the spring and the entire 2.5km length of the Krupa river were designated a protected natural monument in 1997.

The famous birch and fern forests for which Bela Krajina was named, photo by Dunja Wedam, Archive STB

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Kolpa River Semiška Ohcet

Kostelska Rakija

In the town of Semič the most festive day of the year is not a religious holiday, Slovenia’s independence day or New Year’s Eve - it’s a Saturday in July when multiple young couples participate in a traditional wedding celebration. Semiška Ohcet, which means Semič wedding, is also the name of a well-known folklore group that is the main attraction at the event. Founded in 1945, the group has frequently performed throughout Bela Krajina, Slovenia, the former Yugoslavia and elsewhere in Europe for over 60 years. Other folklore groups also perform, and local cottage industries, handicrafts and traditional cuisine are presented. Traditional weddings had all but died out in Bela Krajina by the 1990s, so the first Semiška Ohcet was organised in 1995 in order to preserve and promote the region’s cultural heritage.

Located on the steep hilly terrain between the Kočevje highlands and Kolpa river, Kostel is covered in thick dark forests with that are home to almost as many bears as humans. As mystical as it all appears, living in such a rugged land is not easy, and the inhabitants here need something a little stronger than beer or wine to take the edge off - or at least this is what we assume, since one of the region’s main agricultural products is Kostelska Rakija. This fruit-based schnapps is made primarily from apples (jabolkovo) and pears (hruškovo), but also from plums (slivovka) and mixed fruit (sadjevec), and is an officially protected spirit and a registered trademark of the Tourist and Sport Association of Kostel. This means that if you see the label you are not only assured that it’s of the highest quality, but was also produced using traditional methods. Quality is strictly controlled by a special commission of professional rakija tasters - which is surely one of the best jobs in Slovenia! - who assess the fiery spirit in terms of taste, fragrance, colour and clarity. The samples that score less than 15 out of a possible 20 points are deemed unworthy of the official label (although we assume they don’t go to waste). At the tourist office in Kostel and other info points around the region you can find a free catalogue that describes the distillation process in details and also presents more information about some the indigenous fruit that is used. Of course the best way to find out more about Kostelska Rakija is to visit one of the local distilleries and try it for yourself!

The Orchard of Dr Derganc In the past nearly every

homestead in the region of Bela Krajina was surrounded by orchards, which not only provided fresh fruit for the inhabitants, but also protected them from the scorching sun in the summer and cold winds in the winter, and prevented the soil on steeper terrain from eroding. While nowadays there are not as many orchards as there used to be, in 1983 a local doctor by the name of Viktor Derganc donated his carefully tended land to the Paraplegic Association of Slovenia, so that it could be used as a place of relaxation and well-being for guests. In 2010, the property in Semič was opened as a learning garden to further encourage an awareness of fruit growing and the region’s agricultural traditions in general. Visitors can see apple, pear, peach, apricot, cherry, prune and walnut trees, as well as specimens hazel, elder, medlar and quince. A bust of the good doctor is found near the information board outside, while the Paraplegic Association has also set up an exhibition of paintings and handicrafts inside.

Kočevje The largest municipality in all of Slovenia by area, covering a total of 564 km2 with some 17,000 inhabitants, Kočevje is one of the most preserved natural parts of Slovenia and all of central Europe, with 90% of the landscape covered by forests. For those wishing to explore this pristine natural environment, much of the area is marked with various hiking trails and natural learning paths, as well as cycling routes, which lead through nature preserves, virgin forests, Karst caves, viewing points and a hidden animal world - the latter most notably including the largest population of Slovenia’s famous brown bear. But as the true jewel of the Kočevje region is the Kolpa river at its southernmost end, twisting and turning through the lush green forested hills. The town of Kočevje, is the administrative, economic and cultural centre of the municipality. Originally built up by German speakers in the 14th century, this sleepy provincial capital has a unique history and makes a pleasant base for exploring the surrounding area. Secessionist architecture gives the town a slightly regal appearance, with various old villas lining the main road, while the most impressive building is the neo-Romanesque parish church of St Jernej dating from the turn of the 20th century, whose twin bell towers also serve as good point of reference. The town boasts several good restaurants and a casino, while there is plenty to see and do nearby, including a thriving lake, pond and restored well and of course miles upon miles of forest.

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The source of the Krupa river in Semič, photo by Dunja Wedam, Archive STB

What to See in Kočevje Kočevje Lake One of the little talked about and perhaps

unexpected side benefits of industry, Kočevje lake was inadvertantly formed after the closure of a coal mine here in the late 1970s. The stream water formerly used for washing the coal flooded the mine site, thus creating a thriving ecosystem and highly appreciated recreation site. Sixty-four species of bird nest here (15 of which are on the red endangered list), on migration paths spanning northern Europe to Africa, there are 15 species of dragonfly and the lake’s banks are bestowed with lush flora. Summertime sees swimming, winter ice skating (providing there’s sufficient ice) and there’s even a 3km educational trail with information boards.

Pond in Jelenja Vas Worth a look if you’re charmed by

quaint rural villages and/or you’re looking for some natural swimming during the summer heat. In the old days village women would do their washing at the banks of the lake, the children would swim or ice-skate depending on the season. There’s a well and pond, both restored in 2002, situated in a a karst valley just off the road from Kočevje to Predgrad. After the pond you enter the village of Jelenja vas, in the centre of the valley and above the river Kolpa, along the Brezovica to Stari Trg ob Kolpi road.

Tamburanje va Kostele Taking its name from the tamburica, a long-necked lute that is a traditional musical instrument in this part of Slovenia and throughout the Balkans, the festival is much more than a mere musical event, and offers visitors a chance to experience a rich and colourful programme encompassing cultural, ethnological and ecological activities, as well as sports competitions. In addition to a souvenir and local handicrafts market and various performances that are entertaining for the whole family, the highlights for us include the traditional costume parade and the big party (Kostevska Veselica) that brings the event to a close. The Tamburanje va Kostele is held in Kostel each summer around 15 August.

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Regional Museum Kočevje Prešernova 11, tel. +386

(0)1 895 03 03/+386 (0)51 26 99 72, fax +386 (0)1 895 03 05, muzej@pmk-kocevje.si, www.pmk-kocevje. si. Housed in the same building where partisans convened in 1943 for the first parliament of the Slovene nation, Kočevje’s regional museum has presented the area’s heritage since 1960. There are two permanent exhibitions: the first is a collection of Božidar Jakac drawings depicting the Kočevska region and is considered important heritage of the German population who previously lived here, while the second is dedicated to Slovene nationhood and its conception, ‘from idea to republic’. Visits to the museum can be pre-arranged outside of official opening times, with German or English speaking guides provided (when arranged at least a week in advance). Q Open Mon-Fri 08:00-15:00.

Kostel Though twice as populous as its neighbour Osilnica upriver, with less than 700 inhabitants Kostel is still one of the smallest municipalities in Slovenia. However, thanks to its famous castle - perfectly placed atop a hill overlooking one of the most picturesque stretches of the Kolpa river valley - the name Kostel is well-known throughout the country. The municipality is more than just one building

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Kolpa River though, and the main built-up area here (if you can call it that) is the settlement of Fara and several other small hamlets further down the road leading to the border crossing with Croatia. The incredibly rugged karst landscape is perfect for hikers and cyclists looking for a bit of a challenge and a lot of beautiful scenery. There are a few tourist farms to stop at for a bite, and lots of natural attractions, such as waterfalls and caves. If you stay here on a cold night, don’t forget to fortify your own spirit with the locally produced spirit called Kostelska Rakija, while in the summertime the biggest day on the calendar is 15 August, when the traditional Tamburanje va Kostele ethnological festival is held.

The Legend of Peter Klepec The story of Peter Klepec is one of the most widely known folktales in Slovenia. Likely originating sometime in the 16th or 17th century, it was passed down orally from generation to generation until finally taking written form many years later. Peter Klepec was a kind, hard-working sepherd boy from a very poor family in the village of Osilnica, who struggled to make ends meet on a farm where hardly any crops would grow. Peter was not the strongest boy around, and as adolescent males tend to do (apparently even 500 years ago) Peter was the victim of some rather unpleasant bullying at the hands of the other young shepherds - being forced to do their work, serving as the butt of their jokes and even taking a beating from time to time. One hot summer day while Peter was off trying to find water for his tormentors, his flock disappeared. While he was searching for the wayward sheep he came across a beautiful young girl sleeping in a meadow. Being the kindly boy he was, Peter took the time from his desperate search to arrange some branches to provide shade for this lovely maiden during her afternoon siesta. This humble act turned out to be a decisive one, because when the girl awoke Peter found out that she was not a girl after all, but one of the mysterious mountain fairies who populate the forests here. To show her gratitude, she told Peter that she would grant him one wish, to which the boy (making the classic mistake of not wishing for more wishes!) asked simply to be strong. Despite being sceptical at first, Peter quickly discovered that he could uproot giant trees and hoist enormous boulders over his head. And the rest, as they say is history. After locating his lost flock, Peter set about wrapping up some other loose ends. First he subtly made it known to the other shepherds that they’d be doing their own work from then on. Next he removed all the rocks from his mother’s garden, so plentiful crops could grow. And finally, in some versions of the story at least, he defeated all of the invading Turkish armies and saved the entire region from Ottoman rule, which surely played no small part in helping to cement his legacy as a folk hero in both Slovenia and neighbouring Croatia. In the past century or so the story has been depicted in various different artistic mediums, including countless books. The most famous version is likely France Bevk’s work from 1958, which includes beautiful illustrations by the noted Slovene painter Tone Kralj.

EDEN Slovenia

Kolpa River What to See in Kostel

Osilnica

Kostel Castle Kostel’s mighty castle is inarguably one

With a population of just over two million, Slovenia has managed to make local administration a true art form, so far dividing itself into an astounding 211 separate municipalities as of 2011. But even in a country so keen on creating ever smaller administrative units, only one can lay claim to the title of being the smallest - and with a total population of only 332 inhabitants, Osilnica is that one (by quite a large margin even). However, as the saying goes, good things do indeed come in small packages. Despite its size, Osilnica is notable for two primary reasons: It is the land of Peter Klepec, one of Slovenia’s most beloved folk heroes, and it is the place where the Čabranka and Kupa rivers converge to form the Kolpa. Just a couple hundred metres from the confluence is the Kovač Hotel and Sport Centre, the modern family-run establishment that is the primary tourist destination in the area. While the unspoilt nature of the surrounding area and timeless images of rural life are the main object of photographers lenses, there are also no less than seven aged churches and countless chapels in the municipality,

of the most magnificent and recognisable in all of Slovenia, which is no small feat in a country that is not exactly lacking in fortified residences. Not only is Kostel the second largest castle complex in Slovenia (after Celje’s Stari Grad), but it’s image also adorns the label of a popular Slovene brand of bottled water that is produced nearby. Built in the 13th century, the castle long-served as an important defensive outpost against frequent Turkish incursions, and dutifully withstood all but one of their attempts to capture it over a period of centuries. Nowadays the castle itself and its immediate grounds are sadly closed to the public, with the blame for this falling squarely on the shoulders of the French, who destroyed it in 1809 as punishment for a local rebellion. After a wait of nearly two centuries renovations works finally began in 1999, but this major project is still ongoing and the castle’s interior is currently closed for sightseeing. However, it’s well worth the short drive from the main road to take a closer look and experience the mightiness of the castle complex for yourself. There’s a large parking area on the left just before you reach the village Kostel, from where it’s a short walk to the best vantage point on the path leading up to the castle gates. A large info board has a detailed history of the castle, church and village in English.

Svet Kolpe www.svet-kolpe.si. It is believed by some

that there is a strong bio-energy field with a spine of seven chakras running across Europe, from roots in the Greek island of Crete to the crown in Iceland. The large central Europe chakra passes directly through the Kolpa region in Slovenia and represents the solar plexus, which acts as a sort of inner sun providing life forces to the rest of Europe. In the area of the Kolpa, this perhaps difficult to imagine and impossible to see concept has been put into concrete form through the Svet Kolpe project, which has been organised by the municipality of Kostel and others in the area. To make the energy more palpable, a series of 40 white stone monoliths with special symbols carved into them have been arranged at various points throughout the Kolpa and Čabranka river valleys. This practice is referred to as lithopuncture, as in a manner similar to acupuncture it helps to open the energy present in the land. Even those who are sceptical of such ‘new age’ beliefs may want to take the time to stop and see if they feel any different while near the stones - at worst they will get to enjoy a beautiful view. English language information boards and maps are posted at many of the sites, and brochures can be found at many tourist offices.

Accommodation along the Kolpa River Hotels

Hotel Bela Krajina Cesta Bratstva in Enotnosti 32,

Metlika, tel. +386 (0)7 305 81 23/+386 (0)40 327 49, fax +386 (0)7 363 52 81, gostinstvo-turizem@ gtm-metlika.si, www.hotel-belakrajina.si. Q 26 rooms. Hotel Kovač Sela 5, Osilnica, tel. +386 (0)1 8941 508/+386 (0)41 652 048, info@kovac-kolpa.com, www.kovac-kolpa.com. Hotel Lahinja Črnomelj Kolodvorska 60, tel. +386 (0)7 307 03 30/+386 (0)51 809 426, hotel.lahinja@siol. net, www.sloveniaholidays.com/hotel-lahinja-crnomelj. Hotel Pri Belokranjcu Cesta Bratstva in Enotnosti 77, Metlika, tel. +386 (0)7 30 28 444/+386 (0)41 921 694, hotel@pribelokranjcu.si, www.pribelokranjcu-vp.si. Q 11 rooms. Hotel Smuk Semič Štefanov Trg 1, Semič, tel. +386 (0)7 30 677 14, hotel.smuk.semic@gmail. com, www.sloveniaholidays.com/hotel-smuk-semic. Q 8 rooms.

Apartments

Apartmaji Bilpa Spodnja Bilpa 6, Stari Trg ob Kolpi, tel. +386 (0)1 894 36 77, apartmaji.bilpa@gmail.com, www.apartmaji-bilpa.si. Q 5 apartments. Apartmaji Malerič Podlog 3c, Dragatuš, tel. +386 (0)7 30 57 120/+386 (0)40 300 676, maleric@ turizemmaleric.si, w w w.turizemmaleric.si. Q 6 apartments. Apartmaji Šuster Stari Trg ob Kolpi, tel. +386 (0)41 359 073/+386 (0)7 305 51 53, www.apartmajisuster.si. Q 6 apartments.

Camping

Kostel’s magnificent castle is the second largest castle complex in all of Slovenia, photo by Dunja Wedam, Archive STB

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including the 17th century Church St Giles in Ribjek, which is the oldest preserved church in the entire region of the Kočevje forest. Squeezed into an area of some 36km2 between the rocky Borovška Gora mountain range on one side and the Kolpa river (as well as the Schengen border with Croatia) on the other, the municipality includes various tiny settlements along the river leading to Osilnica town from the south, as well as several more hamlets and farming estates in the hills to the north, making it quite literally one of the most isolated corners of Slovenia. Until recently the easiest way to get here was to first past through Kostel and then follow the river for some 30km before the somewhat frightening monument of Peter Klepec on the left let’s you know that you’ve finally arrived. However, in May 2012 a new road opened that goes directly over the mountains to Kočevje Reka, Ribnica and on to Ljubljana, saving drivers at least 30 minutes on the trip. With some two dozen switchbacks and a change of over 700m in elevation in just a few kilometres, the road provides spectacular sweeping views of the valley below and several prime locations for impromptu picnics.

Kamp Muhvič Dol 9, Stari Trg ob Kolpi, tel. +386 (0)1 894 36 75, peter.muhvic@gmail.com. Kamp Podzemelj Podzemelj, tel. +386 (0)7 30 69 572, gostinstvo-turizem@gtm-metlika.si, www.kamppodzemelj.si. RC Kamp Primostek Primostek 50, Gradac, tel. +386 (0)7 305 85 28/+386 (0) 31 652 851, info@ primostek.si, www.kampprimostek.si. Kamp Žaga Gorenja Žaga 1a, Kostel, tel. +386 (0)1 89 42 291. eden-slovenia.inyourpocket.com

Tourist Farms & Guesthouses

Domačija Lobič Grgelj 5, Kostel, tel. +386 (0)31 770 959/+306 (0)41 628 043, darinka.mravljak@siol. net. Domačija Raztresen Rim 16, Adlešiči, tel. +386 (0)7 30 70 516/+386 (0)41 736 587, rim@rim.si, www.rim.si. Gostilna Pezdirc Metliška 11, Semič, tel. +386 (0)7 356 81 21, pmmdoo@siol.net, www.gostilnapezdirc. si. Gostišče Kapušin Krasinec 55, Gradac, tel. +386 (0)7 369 91 50, gostilna.kapusin@siol.net, www. gostilna-kapusin.si. Gostišče Tri Zvezde Pri Unionu 32, Kočevje, tel. +386 (0)1 895 30 36, fax +386 (0)1 893 16 68, info@ trizvezde.si, www.trizvezde.si. Gostišče Veronika Ljubljanska 35, Kočevje, tel. +386 (0)1 89 53 017. Gostišče Veselič Podzemelj 17, Gradac, tel. +386 (0)7 363 72 33/+386 (0)31 391 517, gostisce. veselic@siol.net. Gostišče Župančič Hram Dragatuš 22, Dragatuš, tel. +386 (0)7 305 73 47. Kmetija Padovac Selo 3, Kostel, tel. +386 (0)31 338 645, kmetija-padovac@gmail.com, www.kmetijapadovac.si. Kmetija Pri Papeževih Banja Loka 19, Kostel, tel. +386 (0)41 792 816. Lukčeva Domačija Vrh 1, Kostel, tel. +386 (0)31 285 723, bine.likar@amis.net, www.lukceva-domacija. si. Kmetija z Nastavitvijo ob Izviru Krupa Krupa 9, Semič, tel. +386 (0)7 306 80 12, daniela.cerjanec@volja.net, www.turisticna-kmetija-cerjanec. si. Penzion Tušek Rudnik 18, Kočevje, tel. +386 (0)1 895 22 30/+386 (0)40 396 400. Turistična kmetija Majerle Dol 7, Stari Trg ob Kolpi, tel. +386 (0)1 894 36 77, info@turizem-majerle.com, www.turizem-majerle.net. Turistična Kmetija Žagar Damelj 11, Vinica, tel. +386 (0)7 306 44 41, info@tk-zagar.si, www.tkzagar.si. 2012/13

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Solčavsko Region

Solčavsko Region Where to Sleep & Eat

Tourist Information

Logarska Dolina

Tourist Information Centre Solčava 29, tel. +386 (0)3 839 07 10, info@solcavsko.info, www. solcavsko.info. Located in the basement of the Rinka Centre, Solčasko’s regional tourist information centre has pretty much every piece of information you could hope to find about Where to Sleep and eat, and what to see and do in the region - with detailed material in English, Slovene and German. Just let the staff know what you’re interested in, and they will gladly help you find what you need, including making arrangements and bookings with local tourist farms, guesthouses, travel agencies and tour guides for you. The premises also contain a multipurpose room (to the left of the huge wall map of the region), where you can view several films detailing different aspects of Solčavsko’s culture and history, and view temporary art exhibitions that change every month or two. However, the most interesting attraction here is the permanent exhibition, which offers an eye-opening and comprehensive trip through the region from pre-history to the present day. Arranged in a large semi-circle, the very well-presented pathway is packed with from floor to ceiling with photographs, ethnological items and an extensive presentation of the indigenous flora and fauna from the surrounding area. Most exhibits are presented with English translations, but it well-worth having a guide come with you to give further context and more in-depth information about what you’re looking at.

Dom Planincev Logarska Dolina 15a, tel. +386 (0)3

584 70 06/+386 (0)70 847 639, domplanincev@ gmail.com, www.domplanincev.si. This venerable alpine mountain hut offers basic accommodation for hikers, budget travellers and others who don’t mind roughing it a bit. There’s a total of 32 beds, half of which are in two large dorms on the second floor, while the rest are in smaller rooms on the first floor. All rooms have washbasins with hot and cold water, and there are shared showers and toilettes. There is also a restaurant and bar on the ground floor where hikers can fill up on tasty staples like Logar goulash, mushroom soup, buckwheat and stuffed cheese dumplings after a long day on the mountain. Q Open from 20 April to 31 October, and by prior arrangement for groups in the winter. 7 rooms (beds €15/person, €19 with breakfast). 6BKW

Hotel Plesnik Logarska Dolina 10, tel. +386 (0)3 839

Logarska Dolina (or the Logar Valley) is one the most beautiful, and remote, places in all of Slovenia, photo by Tomo Jeseničnik While the name Solčava (or Solčavsko or even Logarska Dolina) is not widely known outside of Slovenia, the region is truly one of the most incredible places in the country, which of course is the reason why it was selected as an EDEN destination in 2009. In fact, if we weren’t contractually prohibited from playing favourites, it would be tempting for us to declare the Solčavsko region first among equals when it comes to tourist destinations in Slovenia. Geographically isolated by the Kamnik-Savinjska Alps in the far north of the country, the area only got its first road to Ljubno and the rest of the Savinja Valley in 1894. This isolation has led Solčavsko to develop at its own pace, maintain its own distinct cultural identity and extensively preserve and protect its natural heritage. Fortunately for those wishing to visit, nowadays it is a relatively short drive (ie less than 1.5hrs) from Ljubljana, Maribor and Celje - the three largest cities in Slovenia. Comprised of three roughly parallel valleys - Robanov Kot, Logarska Dolina and Matkov Kot - which are connect by a small river valley to the north that eventually becomes the Savinja river, the main town of Solčava gives the region its name. Some 517 or so inhabitants are dispersed over and area of 103km2, and everyone literally knows everyone here, but don’t worry about being an outsider, the close sense of community is one of the things that makes the place so friendly and welcoming for tourists. It’s virtually impossible to get lost on even the smallest unsealed mountain road, because the first person you meet will know exactly where you’re going (and will quite possibly be a relative of the owner!). Of the three valleys, the wide picture-perfect Logarska Dolina is the most known (so much so that even Slovenes colloquially refer to the whole region by that name), while forest-covered Matkov Kot is the narrowest and least developed, and Robanov Kot is something like the balanced middle child of the family. To the north separating Slovenia from Austria is Mount Olševa, along which runs the so-

EDEN Slovenia

called Panoramic Road, where the best views in the entire region are found. However, in Solčavsko there are amazing sights around every corner, from breathtakingly sublime landscapes to countless simple wonders that never cease to amaze visitors such as ourselves: galloping alpine horses, friendly pot-bellied pigs, tiny weather-worn chapels, centuries-old farmhouses, feisty roosters, fields exploding with flowers of every colour and so on seemingly infinitely!

Arriving Coming to the Solčavsko region with your own car is really the best option. While it is possible to arrive by way of public transport - this is limited to three buses per weekday (there are none at the weekends) from Celje, which take nearly two hours and cost €6.90 each way - if you’re keen on exploring all that the area has to offer, having your own vehicle is a must as the distances between the three valleys are quite far (nearly 10km from Robanov Kot to Matkov Kot) and the must-see Panoramic Road is almost 20km from start to finish. The drive from Ljubljana takes roughly 1.5 hours regardless of whether you take the most direct route (which means following the country roads through Kamnik, around Velika Planina and then up over the mountains through the tiny settlement of Podvolovljek before descending to Luče just east of Solčava) or take the motorway to the Šentrupert exit and then pass by Mozirje, go through Ljubno and Luče. The first option is our preferred choice as the scenery is amazing the entire drive, although large stretches of the road are not for the faint of heart and it’s probably best avoided altogether during icy winters or heavy rain. All accommodation provide ample parking space, and parking in Solčava is free of charge, however, there is a one time fee of €7 for bringing a car into the Logar Valley (€5 for motorcycles, €8 for vans and €25 for buses).

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23 00, fax +386 (0)3 839 23 12, info@plesnik.si, www. plesnik.si. The crème de la crème of accommodation in Solčavsko, the four-star Plesnik seems almost out of place in the rustic natural setting, as it offers luxurious amenities, exquisite dining and professional service that is rarely found in the countryside. Highlights for us include the breathtaking views from the south-facing balconies, the splendid hotel terrace, and of course the heated ground-level pool and sauna facilities in the basement with a glass wall through which you can view the valley while you swim. These are free to use for guests, and various massages and other treatments are available for an extra charge. The hotel is a popular destination for business retreats and meetings, and multi-day packages for couples and families are also on offer. Additional accommodation is offered in the adjacent Villa Palenk, which has rooms of similar standards (and all important access to the pool) for slightly lower prices. Q 30 rooms (singles €65-89, doubles €130), in Villa Palenk 10 rooms (singles €49-72, doubles €98). PTHA6ILBKDCW

Kmečka Hiša Ojstrica Logarska Dolina 13a, tel. +386 (0)3 838 90 51/+386 (0)31 56 52 29, plesnik. franc@siol.net, www.logarska-ojstrica.si. Located at the busiest intersection in Logarska Dolina, with one house on either side of the street and another just up the hill, Ojstrica is the centre of the action with a restaurant open to non-guests and a bar at which you’re almost guaranteed to find a local or two chatting in front of beer. The building is newly constructed with all the modern amenities, but was modelled on the traditional alpine farmhouse style. One interesting detail is the oriental-themed furnishings present throughout - these are not just kitsch, the family that runs the place spent some time living in China before returning to Solčavsko to open the guesthouse. Q 7 room and 2 apartments (singles €36, doubles €58, apartments €72). TA6LBKW Planšarija Logarski Kot Logarska Dolina 9, tel. +386 (0)5 995 86 92/+386 (0)41 210 017, logarski.kot@ gmail.com, www.logarski-kot.si. Formerly an alpine dairy cottage, this rustic guesthouse is tucked away in a small clearing surrounded by thick forests at the upper end of Logar Valley. Built in the 1930s, the entirely wooden structure is one of the best preserved of its kind in the area, giving it a romantic charm that more modernly equipped accommodations simply can’t match, and the traditional Solčavsko cuisine prepared by the lady of the house is also regarded as some of the best around. The small dining and eden-slovenia.inyourpocket.com

Logarska Dolina Tourist Information Point

Logarska Dolina 9, tel. +386 (0)3 838 90 04, info@ logarska.si, www.logarska-dolina.si. This small wooden hut opposite Hotel Plesnik is open during the summer and has much the same info, brochures and helpful advice as the main tourist information centre in Solčava - although it’s primary focus is of course Logarska Dolina.

common area on the ground floor is about as cosy as they come when the fireplace is crackling on cold evenings - and we’ve seen this place covered in snow as late as May before, so cold evenings are a conveniently common occurrence here. Q 8 rooms with 23 beds (€20-22/person). 6IL

Help feed the horses at Lenar Tourist Farm, photo by Avgust Lenar

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Solčavsko Region Other Accommodation Apartmaji Mala Hiša Robanov Kot, tel. +386 (0)3 584 61 80, info@malahisa.com, www.malahisa. com. Q 2 apartments (€50-75). Apartma Prepadnik Robanov Kot, tel. +386 (0)31 369 529/+386 (0)31 443 282. Q 1 Apartment (€50-70). Apartma Tisa Solčava, tel. +386 (0)3 584 60 64/+386 (0)41 889 021, solcava.tisa@gmail. com. Q 1 apartment (€50). Penzion Na Razpotju Logarska Dolina 14, tel. +386 (0)3 839 16 50, razpotje@siol.net, www. logarska-narazpotju.si. Q 10 rooms (singles €35, doubles €70). Planinski Dom Majerhold Logarska Dolina, tel. +386 (0)3 584 71 24/+386 (0)41 336 864, majerhold@gmail.com, www.majerhold.si. Q 7 rooms and 2 apartments (rooms €25/person, apartments €50). Prenočišča Valentina Solčava, tel. +386 (0)3 584 60 52/+386 (0)31 870 893, valentinaspruk67@ gmail.com, www.valentina-solcavsko.si. Q 4 rooms (singles €24, doubles, triples and quads €20/person). Sobe Elizabeta Slapnik Solčava, tel. +386 (0)51 256 804/+386 (0)41 690 011, ziki.slapnik50@gmail.com, www.turist-slapnik.eu. Q 8 beds (€20/person). Sobe Štiftar Solčava, tel. +386 (0)3 584 60 93/+386 (0)41 522 228, sobe.stiftar@siol.net. Q 8 beds (€18/person). Turistična Kmetija Ambrož-Gregorc Solčava 53, tel. +386 (0)3 584 60 97/+386 (0)41 705 949, rgregorc@siol.net, www.ambroz-gregorc. com. Q 9 rooms (singles €24, doubles, triples & quads €20/person). Breakfast €5. Turistična Kmetija Bevšek-Ošep Robanov Kot 29, tel. +386 (0)3 838 60 36, bevsek.osep@siol.net, www.bevsek-osep.si. Q 6 rooms (€24/person). Turistična Kmetija Juvanija Logarska Dolina 8, tel. +386 (0)3 838 90 80, info@juvanija.com, www. juvanija.com. Q 4 rooms (singles €24, doubles €48). Turistična Kmetija Ložekar Logarska Dolina 27, tel. +386 (0)3 838 90 60, lozekar@siol.net. Q 23 beds. Open only during winter. Turistična Kmetija Majdač Podolševa, tel. +386 (0)3 839 49 40/+386 (0)31 715 293, anica. klemensek@siol.net. Q 7 rooms and 1 apartment (€26-28/person, apartment €50-60). Turistična Kmetija Perk Logarska Dolina 23, tel. +386 (0)3 5 847 120/+386 (0)41 282 485, krivec.neza@siol.net, www.perk.si. Q 12 beds (€24/person). Turistična Kmetija Pečovnik-Ošep Robanov Kot 33, tel. +386 (0)3 584 60 56. Q 6 rooms and 4 apartments (singles €22-28, doubles €44-56, apartments €44-108). Turistična Kmetija Plesnik Logarska Dolina 13, tel. +386 (0)3 838 90 09/+386 (0)41 329 383, tkplesnik@gmail.com, www.logarska-tkplesnik.si. Q 5 rooms (singles €25, doubles €50). Turistična Kmetija Rogar Podolševa 24, tel. +386 (0)3 839 50 30/+386 (0)31 204 703, www. nad1000m.si. Q 5 rooms (singles €24-25, doubles €48-50). Turistična Kmetija Strevc-Selišnik Podolševa, tel. +386 (0)3 838 60 20/+386 (0)40 477 909, strevc@turizemnakmetiji.eu. Q 4 apartments (€59). EDEN Slovenia

Solčavsko Region

Turistična Kmetija Lenar Logarska Dolina 11, tel.

Robanov Kot may be just the thing you’re looking for. Well-known for its culinary excellence, the farm has a tradition dating back over 50 years and is a popular destination for locals, weekend hikers and foreign tourists alike. Dining on the back terrace surrounded by rolling green pastures, encroaching dark forests and soaring mountains is one of the most pleasant experiences to be had in Solčavsko (there’s even an old mill house), but be aware that the multi-course set lunches are virtually impossible to finish. With a reputation like this, it’s no surprise that the recently added accommodations are every bit as splendid - the large rooms are furnished in a traditional alpine style, and there’s even a small jacuzzi and sauna at guests’ disposal. Q 10 rooms (singles €2935, larger rooms €26-29/person). TILKDW

+386 (0)3 838 90 06/+386 (0)41 851 829, tk.lenar@ siol.net, www.lenar.si. A favourite amongst foreign tourists and resident expats (including ourselves), this place is almost too charming for words. Perfectly placed at the edge of the meadows in the middle of the valley, it has sweeping views in all directions, including of the orchard in front of the house where guests can enjoy there ecological homemade breakfasts and cavort with the two beautiful alpine horses that are often roaming about. Accommodation is in either the lower house, which has large newly renovated rooms and apartments, or the upper house, which is slightly more basic, but just as comfortable and offers the best views from its south-facing terraces. For those seeking the more ‚authentic’ farm experience, mats are also available in a renovated hay barn during the warmer months. Easily one of the best values in the valley. Q 6 rooms and 3 apartments (singles €27-29, doubles €54-58, apartments €60-110, hay barn €12 per person). T6ILBXW

Matkov Kot Turistična Kmetija Gradišnik Logarska Dolina 18,

tel. +386 (0)41 526 699/+386 (0)41 704 599, info@ gradisnik.si, www.gradisnik.si. Only a couple kilometres from Logarska Dolina, upon rounding the last corner before reaching the still wild and largely undeveloped Matkov Kot, you’ll see signs directing you to a small meadow at the bottom of the valley, which has been the ancestral home of the Gradišnik family for generations. Rebuilt and expanded by the renowned family patriarch Matija Gradišnik in the middle of the 19th century, the farmstead has been perfectly preserved to this day. The extra effort needed to reach Solčavsko’s most distant valley is well worth it, as you’re guaranteed a warm welcome and a relaxing stay. The farm’s speciality (in addition to the usual friendly service, homemade cuisine and cosy accommodation) is archery. Those interested in this most fascinating sport, can borrow a bow and arrows and get basic training. Once you’ve got the hang of the basics, you can try out the 3-D archery track or hunting simulation that’s been set up in the nearby forest. Q 2 rooms and 2 apartments (singles €25, doubles €50, apartments €60). Breakfast €5. Archery with instruction €10/person, hunting simulation €13-15/person. T6LW

Turistična Kmetija Matk Logarska Dolina 21, tel.

+386 (0)3 584 71 16/+386 (0)41 556 752, klemen@ matk.si, www.matk.si. Situated high above the valley that shares its name, the Matk family farm extends from an altitude of 900m near the bottom of the valley all the way up to more than 2200m at the summit of Mrzla Gora (or Cold Mountain). The rooms here are of a typical modern alpine style, and there’s a large play room in the attic to keep the kids busy. Most guests come here to get away from it all, and are usually keen on cycling or hiking on the mountain roads and trails that crisscross the large ecological farm, which includes four different types of autochthonous Slovenian animal breeds (the Cika cow, Jezersko-Solčavsko sheep, Carniolan bee and Styrian hen). Guests are also more than welcome to join the family in their daily chores around the farm, as in these parts in widely believed that a little hard work and dirty hands will cure most ailments of the modern man. Everyone can find peace in the silence of the forests and mountains. Q 7 rooms (singles €38, doubles €56, triples €84). TLNB

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Culinary specialities of Solčavsko

The award-winning views of Klemenšek Farm on the Panoramic Road, photo by Tomo Jeseničnik

Panoramic Road Ekološka Turistična Kmetija Žibovt Logarska Dolina

24, tel. +386 (0)3 584 71 18, kmetija.zibovt@gmail.com, www.kmetija-zibovt.si. In a place spoiled with breathtaking views like Solčavsko it’s difficult to say that one place offers the single best vantage point, but if we were forced to do so, Žibovt would get our vote (no pun intended). Set at the edge of a grassy field with panoramic views of the entire KamnikSavinja Alps spilling out in front of you, its resemblance to the most famous image from the Sound of Music is hard to ignore. An ecologically certified farm with a selection of homemade treats such as dried fruits, mountain honey, cured meats, hearty bread, sour yogurt and all kinds of cheeses our personal favourite is the wild garlic variety - gourmands will definitely want to make a stop here. However, perhaps the most unique aspect of the farm is the game room in the basement. Like none other we’ve ever seen, it’s packed with large-scale wooden games handmade by the family’s youngest son, including chess, bowling and a labyrinth so difficult you could stay here a week and not master it. Q 6 rooms (singles €26-35, doubles €52-70). TLNBKW

Kmetija Klemenšek Logarska dolina 29, tel. +386 (0)3 838 90 24/+386 (0)41 593 715, info@na-klemencem. si, www.na-klemencem.si. Thanks to its perch at the crest of small grassy clearing of a forested hill with a panoramic backdrop of the mighty Kamink-Savinja Alps, the the nearly 600 year old Klemenšek farm is almost as literally pictureperfect as they come - gracing the cover of countless Slovene and international tourism magazines. While they don’t offer accommodation, busloads of tourists turn up here to sample the award-winning cuisine, visit the huge ethnological museum in the old barn or simply enjoy the views. The premises can also be rented for celebrations, team-building outings and other events, and the farm had the distinction of hosting the awards ceremony for the European Destination of Excellence in 2009. TLBK

As with all of Slovenia’s surprisingly diverse regions, sampling the local cuisine is one of the highlights of any trip to Solčavsko. The central theme tying together the culinary specialities here is the fresh locally grown (or raised) ingredients that are used to produce them - most, if not all, of the farms are organic and/or ecological and run for generations by the same families. The dish most often cited as a regional delicacy is sirnek, which is alternatively translated as ‘aged Solčava cheese’ or the somewhat less-appetising ‘ripened cottage cheese’. The pungent taste may be a bit on the strong side for most people (ourselves included), but for cheese lovers it’s a must-try. Other, more palatable, varieties of homemade cheese are also plentiful and commonly flavoured with some kind of herbs or spices. The second-most typical food is zgornjesavinski želodec, or Upper-Savinja ‘stomach’, a succulent salami that is not only a geographically protected product, but is also featured on an official Slovenian postage stamp. Produced from the highest quality local pigs, its taste is further enriched by being cured in the pristine alpine climate. A third speciality that often makes its way onto menus is žlinkrofi. The close cousin of Idrjia’s more famous žlikrofi, Solčavsko’s version of the boiled dumpling tends to be slightly larger, is almost always filled with meat (or dried pears for dessert) and serves as a side dish rather than a main course. Other staples of the regional diet include lamb and deer meat, countless homemade breads, honey from alpine bees, and various compotes, with pears being the most commonly used fruit. The best place to purchase many of these treats is from the local farmers of course, but the gift shop at the Rinka Centre has a fine selection of certified local products to take home with you as well.

Robanov Kot Turistična Kmetija Govc-Vršnik Robanov Kot 34, tel. +386 (0)3 839 50 16, fax +386 (0)3 839 50 17, govc. vrsnik@siol.net, www.govc-vrsnik.com. If the more famous Logarska Dolina is too hectic for you (relatively speaking of course), then a stay in the equally beautiful but less developed eden-slovenia.inyourpocket.com

photo by Tomo Jeseničnik

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Solčavsko Region Potočka Zijalka Cave

Solčavsko Region

Solčava Ekološka Turistična Kmetija Ramšak Podolševa 13,

tel. +386 (0)3 584 60 50, info@tk-ramsak.com, www. tk-ramsak.com. Known throughout the region for its highquality organic products, the farm has been officially certified as ecological since 1999. For overnight guests there are two double rooms in the main house and a separate apartment cottage with two bedrooms that can sleep up to five people, and lots of things for the kids to make use of, including a playground and sports equipment (table tennis, badminton, etc). During the summer, guests can also make use of a covered area with a large stone fireplace for their own picnics or BBQs. Alternatively, home-cooked local cuisine is never in short supply, and vegetarians will be glad to here that a number of non-meat dishes are among the specialities of the kitchen. Q 2 rooms and 1 apartments (singles €30, doubles €50, apartment €65). T6ILW

Gostišče Firšt Logarska Dolina 1a, tel. +386 (0)3 839

The entrance to Potočka Zijalka Cave on Mount Olševa, photo by Marko Slapnik Resembling a gaping mouth or mysterious dark eye at the base of the south-facing rocky cliffs of Mount Olševa, the Potočka Zijalka Cave is arguably the most important archeological site in all of Slovenia. Although it had long been known to locals thanks to its auspicious appearance, the 115m long cave was only first excavated in 1928 by Dr Srečko Brodar. Over a seven-year period Dr Brodar and his team discovered over 300 stone objects (80 of which were tools), 123 bone points and a mind-boggling amount of animal remains, including an estimated 1000 cave bears, as well as 39 other species of wolves, foxes, lynxes, deer, chamois, marmots and other small mammals. The artefacts date from the Upper Palaeolithic period between 40,000-30,000 years ago, and judging from what was found it was first hypothesised that the cave served as a hunting outpost - and quite an advanced one by Cro-Magnon standards, given the presence of what are thought to be some of the earliest known arrowheads. However, a more recent theory posits that the site was actually a place where early animistic rituals were carried out. This is based largely on two of the most intriguing items that were discovered: a rudimentary flute that is considered to be one of the oldest musical instruments ever discovered (it’s made from the lower jaw of a cave bear, with three holes bored into it) and a rare bone needle, which was threaded through the hollow of the bone rather than an eye as modern needles are. The most extensive public display of findings from the cave can be found at the regional museum in Celje, although many of them were unfortunately destroyed (along with much of the rest of the museum’s collection) during allied bombardment in the waning months of WWII. The Firšt Museum in Solčava also has a fine exhibition detailing the history of the cave and what was found during the excavations. The cave itself is open for those interested in making the steep hike up the mountain from the settlement of Podolševa at the eastern end of the Panoramic Road although it’s not strictly required, hiring a qualified and knowledgable guide through the tourist office in Solčava is definitely recommended.

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46 78, info@first-logarska.si, www.first-logarska.si. Just west of Solčava proper, Firšt is something of a one-stop-shop for tourists, with an in-house museum, organised hiking trail, accommodation and the town’s most popular restaurant. The latter specialises in fresh river trout, but also has an interesting selection of game dishes (we can say without reservation that they serve the best chamois goulash we’ve ever had!) and local cuisine. The six comfortable rooms are completely furnished in light wood décor, and guests can use the Finnish sauna, rent bikes and visit the nearby nature trail to Fidov Gaj. Q 6 rooms (singles €30-38, doubles €44-60). Lowest prices are for stays of 3 days or more. PJLBKDW

Pod Macesnovo Streho Robanov Kot 5, tel. +386 (0)3 838 60 00/+386 (0)41 287 742, fax +386 (0)3 838 60 01, info@pod-macesnovo-streho.si, www.apartmalogarska.si. Harmoniously combining the traditional with the modern, no expense was spared in the environmentallyfriendly design and construction of this alpine retreat. The main focus here is on the ‘mini wellness’ centre, which is actually quite large by private accommodation standards. Built to resemble a cave, complete with artificial rock walls, ceilings and nooks, it boasts various saunas and treatments, even including something called a bio-spectrum chamber. However, for our money the apartments here are the real draw: bright, spacious (40-57m2) and filled with custommade furniture, they’re named after the mountain they have direct views towards. One of the apartments (Savinja) is also fully wheelchair accessible, with wide doors, an extra large bathroom and no obstructions. Q 5 apartments (€21-23/ person depending on availability, €66-116/apartment). Extra cleaning charges may apply. Guests receive a 15% discount on the wellness facilities. PTAULDW

What to See Logarska Dolina While many people outside of Slovenia may be unfamiliar with the name Logarska Dolina, or Logar Valley, there’s a good chance that they’ve seen photos of it at some point: wide green meadows broken by a single winding road and several perfectly placed linden trees, thick alpine forests spilling down from the sloping mountains on either side, and the craggy Kamnik-Savinja Alps rising like a mirage in the background, often with a light dusting of snow. Based solely on aesthetics, Logarska Dolina would find itself near the top of any credible list of must-see natural sights in Europe, however, the valley is more than just a pretty face. Jointly managed since 1992 by both a locally owned tourism development company and a separate dedicated tourist association, as well as the official municipal tourism office, the entire valley is a protected natural landscape park, meaning that its preservation is painstakingly maintained, while at the same time its varied and diverse tourism offering is well-organised for guests. With new development strictly prohibited, virtually every farm in the valley now offers some form of accommodation and/ or catering services.

Chapel of Christ the King (Kapela Kristusa Kralja).

This large chapel is perhaps most notable for its location in the lush green meadows surrounded by a wall of trees at the entrance to Logarska Dolina than for any of its physical characteristics, but as they say in real estate the three things that matter most are location, location, location. Built at the behest of local farmers to honour the memory of the son of the good doctor Šuman, it was originally intended to serve as a small church, where mass could be held for residents of the valley, and the commission for the design was given to renowned Slovene architect Jože Plečnik. However, these plans were never realised, and it was built in a similar style by the architect Martin Golob, which has led to some confusion amongst visitors who often mistake it for one of Plečnik’s own. For visits to the interior, prior arrangements need to be made with the management of the parish church in Solčava.

Črna Spring Shortly after crashing nearly 100m to earth,

Enjoy the cool spray at the base of the towering Rinka Waterfall, photo by YMB

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the water from the majestic Rinka Waterfall disappears deep underground, emerging several kilometres later towards the entrance of Logarska Dolina. Not far from the Juvanija Tourist Farm along the fringes of the large meadows at the very bottom of the valley, the subterranean stream encounters

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The Church of Our Lady of the Snows watches over Solčava village, photo by Tomo Jeseničnik impenetrable layers of rock, which forces it through the surface. Flowing through dark sedimentary clays gives the chilly water a blackish appearance, and the name Izvir Črne in Slovene (or Black Spring). The spring has been proclaimed a natural heritage site, and a small wooden viewing platform gives visitors a better angle from which to gaze into the dark waters. Found at the beginning of the nature trail running through the valley, the spring is only a couple minutes walk from the road.

Fairytale Forest Logarska Dolina 14, tel. +386 (0)3 839 16 50/+386 (0)31 249 441, razpotje@siol.net, www.logarska-narazpotju.si. If you’re travelling with your family and the kids have had all the walking, hiking and/or cycling they can take, a trip to the Fairytale Forest may be in order. Located on the property of Penzion na Razpotju just about in the middle of Logarska Dolina, the themed forest trail has over 35 different stations covering an area of over 20,000 square metres. The fairy tales depicted come from both wellknown international stories as well as Slovenian folk tales, all of which include a short informative card about the story and authors, and most are made of natural locally-sourced materials. The pathway is designed for unaccompanied visits, but guides can be arranged with advance notice, which is especially useful option for non-Slovene speakers, and admission to the forest also includes a chance for the kids to pet, play with and otherwise annoy the farm animals kept in the meadow out front. QOpen 10:00 - 18:00. Admission €2.50. Discounts for groups larger than 30. Logar Farm One of the only farms in the valley that is not

open to tourists, the Logar farmstead is nonetheless an interesting attraction - even if only viewed from the road. First, and most obviously, Logar is the family after which the entire valley was originally named. And second, one the main activities on this large working farm is tending a herd of Scottish highland cattle, a shaggy long-haired and horned breed of bovine that looks entirely too exotic to still exist in Europe. Be prepared to pull off the road shortly after entering the valley to let the kids have a look and snap a few photos of the strange-looking beasts.

Logarska Dolina Walking Trail By far the most popular walk or hike in all of Solčavsko is the 7km path that runs the length of Logarska Dolina, from the wide open meadows of the lower valley to the crashing waters of 100m high Rinka Waterfall at the valley’s opposite end. The walk will take a minimum of two to three hours for a return trip, but is sub2012/13

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Solčavsko Region Annual Events Mountain Wood Festival Held each year at the end of May, the festival includes presentations of mountain forests, special trees and properties of mountain timber, demonstrations, workshops and sale of mountain wood products, as well as the promotion of special culinary dishes connected to the forests. Organised hikes and other activities in the forest are also arranged.

A perfect place for a picnic!, photo by YMB

Panoramic Road

The Rinka Centre in Solčava village combines traditional materials with modern design, photo by Marko Slapnik stantially longer if you stop to take in the sights along the way. Of course the trail never strays far from the road (this is a valley after all), so the route can be as long or short as you like. The trail officially begins on the right hand side of the road opposite the Juvanija tourist farm, but most people park near the gatehouse and walk from there. The first sight you come to is Črna Spring, and only a short distance further is a typical lumberjack’s hut, which shows how the men from this age-old profession lived and worked in the vast forests of Solčavsko. From here the trail crosses the road several times before passing by Dom Planincev (a great place for a basic but tasty and filling lunch) and arriving at still-functional charcoal pile. In the 19th century, charcoal was the main source of fuel for blacksmiths in the region, and the practice of producing it greatly altered the appearance of the valley as most of the natural beech trees were cut down. On organised trips a charcoal burner will demonstrate how it was made. As the trail continues its upwards ascent to the upper valley it cuts through thicker alpine forests and finishes at the parking lot and outdoor snack bar just below the short path that leads up to Rinka Waterfall. While on your journey through nature, remember that this is a protected park, so picking flowers, leaving any kind of rubbish or disturbing the animals is strictly prohibited.

Rinka Waterfall The second highest waterfall in all of Slovenia, the Rinka plunges a total of 105m from the small river above to the pool below, with a single drop of 90m. Arguably the most impressive individual attraction in Logarska Dolina, if not the entire region, the waterfall is a must-see stop on any visit. From the parking lot at the end of the road running through the valley, a well-maintained footpath leads to the viewing area just below the falls (about a 10-minute walk slightly uphill), although the best place to take in the gushing vertical stream is from the café that clings to a rocky crag just next to the water itself - nicknamed the Eagle’s Nest, refreshingly cold beers, tasty ice cream bars and generously poured glasses of schnapps can all be enjoyed on the terrace. During winter it’s not uncommon to see adventurous climbers scaling the icy cliff face. EDEN Slovenia

Matkov Kot The wildest and most preserved of Solčavsko’s three valleys, Matkov Kot was ironically the first to have a proper road, which was built here around 1860 to connect the region with Austria and was mainly used for the export of wood and charcoal. The road is still used and little changed (meaning largely unsealed) to this day. The bottom of the valley is completely uninhabited, while the several farmsteads here are clustered around the pastures well up the western slopes of the mountain. One of these farms is that of the Matk family, from which the valley takes its name and at 700 hectares was once one of the largest farms in all of Slovenia. Most of the visitors who come to the valley are after some serious hiking (or even more serious mountain biking), although many tourists also opt for the relatively straightforward hike all the way to the upper end of the valley. The route follows along the Jezero stream and much larger dried riverbed through which it runs. The stream’s rather odd name (jezero means lake in Slovene) is a reference to the giant glacial lakes that once filled much of the valley floor.

Matkov Škaf Alternatively referred to as Matk’s tub, Matk’s bucket, Matk’s tube or simply the snow pit, this natural seasonal phenomenon in the upper reaches of Matkov Kot is one of the region’s most bizarre sights. Created by the force of a 40m waterfall which appears each spring as the snow begins to melt, the falling water slowly erodes an enormous hole in the compacted snow below. Although its size varies depending upon how much snow has fallen over the winter, the hollow usually reaches a depth of some 20-30m and measures between 10-20m across - in recent years it’s tended to be at the lesser end of these estimates. Located at a height of nearly 1500m, it’s quite a long hike from the nearest parking, as cars can only go as far as the dry river bed near the beginning of the valley. The best time to visit is in early June, and local tour agencies can arrange visits here, as well as a proper climbing adventure down into the icy abyss. eden-slovenia.inyourpocket.com

Winding its way along the foothills of Olševa mountain at an average height of over 1200m, the Solčava Panoramic Road is one of the most scenic drives in all of Slovenia. Beginning at the fields in the upper reaches of Matkov Kot in the west, the road twists and turns its way through various farmsteads and vantages points, past countless flocks of sheep and small herds of cattle, all the way to the settlement of Podolševa in the east and then back down to Solčava from there - covering a total of nearly 20km. Even for those who have spent time exploring the valleys below, and have thus become used to the imposing sight of Kamnik-Savinja Alps looming overhead, the views from the panoramic road are truly a sublime sight, and it’s not an exaggeration to say that you feel like you’re on top of the world. Other than the various vantage points and unobstructed views, highlights include the grassy meadows and homemade cheese at Žibovt farm, the ethnological exhibition at Klemenšek farm, the Iron Water Spring, and the picture-perfect Church of the Holy Spirit. If you’re feeling even more adventurous, activities such as paragliding and hikes up to the famous Potočka Zijalka cave can also be arranged. The route is maintained and promoted by the Panorama Society (Društvo Panorama) and even has its own website (www.nad1000m.si), which is a bit of a work in progress but already a good resource for prospective visitors.

Iron Spring Located at the end of a short well-kept footpath just off the Panoramic Road, the water from this underground stream or spring originates deep within the mountainside from the tectonic fault that runs along the Kamnik-Savinja Alps. Rich in iron and carbonic acid, the water has long-been thought to have healing powers by the locals who drink from it. We couldn’t resist the urge ourselves, and although it tastes something like a handful of coins and has a noticeable tingly feeling, much to the surprise of the other members of our group we couldn’t stop drinking the stuff, and actually ended up filling up an empty plastic bottle to take with us. The sign indicating the spring’s location is easy to miss if you’re not familiar with the area, so keep an eye out for it after passing Klemenšek Tourist Farm if you’re coming from the west, there will be a small parking area on the side of the road to the right.

Days of Solčava This traditional ethnological event is the highlight of the annual cultural calendar in Solčava. Taking place in late July, visitors can taste the homemade culinary specialities of the region, see exhibitions of local products, medicinal herbs and indigenous animals, as well as watch presentations of the most interesting sights in the area. Like all small town festivals, there is always a full programme of music concerts and other entertainment events. The “Bicka” Sheep Wool Festival In mid to late September, after the shepherds have brought their flocks back down from their summer grazing in the high alpine pastures, a festival dedicated to Solčavsko’s indigenous breed of sheep is held. Activities include a demonstration sheep shearing and wool processing, workshops on the basics of producing felt and felt products, a fashion show featuring all wool clothing, traditional mountain cooking, and of course an accompanying cultural programme and lots of live music. Rinka Centre Events The Rinka Centre hosts many cultural, business and other themed events throughout the year, including art exhibitions in the multipurpose space downstairs. built in the early 1950s, during a period of reconstruction following the devastating destruction wrought in the final years of WWII, Rinka long-served as a meeting place for locals and offices for various local services before falling into disrepair in the late 1980s. The building was purchased by the city in 2007, and beautifully renovated, modernised and reopened with the help of funding from Norway. With a sheer façade of mountain wood and jagged geometrical design resembling one of the many mountain peaks that surround it, the building is a glowing testament to what can be achieved with local initiative and proper support. The basement is now home to the region’s tourist information

Solčava Rinka Centre Solčava 29, tel. +386 (0)3 839 07 10,

fax +386 (0)3 839 07 11, info@solcavsko.info, www. solcavsko.info. Officially called the multipurpose centre for Solčavsko development, Rinka is the geographical, administrative and tourism centre of the town of Solčava. Originally

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A shepherd in traditional clothing poses with some indigenous Jezersko-Solčava sheep, photo by Tomo Jeseničnik

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Solčavsko Region centre, which in addition to the usual brochures, guides and maps, also boasts a multipurpose hall and well-arranged permanent exhibition that combines historical, natural and ethnological presentations. Looking like something out of a Scandinavian design magazine, on the ground-floor there’s a bright, modern and entirely wood-covered space that includes a café, gift shop with local crafts and agriculture products, a internet corner, and a children’s play area (complete with toy sheep and thick wool rugs). Meanwhile, the upper floors have local municipal offices and facilities for use by local businesses under the framework of a rural development incubator.

Church of Our Lady of the Snows Of the countless churches and chapels we’ve visited across Slovenia over the years, Solčava’s Our Lady of the Snows manages to stand out from the rest. This is thanks in no small part to its remote mountain location, perched on a little hill just above the centre of Solčava with a backdrop of mountains in every direction, but the church itself is also a fine specimen of Gothic architecture and its interior contains several intriguing artistic and religious elements that are well worth viewing. A church was first built here by monks from the market town of Gornji Grad in the 12th or 13th century, while the much larger church that can still be seen today was completed in 1485 after a quarter century of construction, and the neo-Gothic bell tower was added at the beginning of the 18th century. Special attention should be paid to the uppermost niche of the main altar, where the impressive sandstone statue of the Solčavsko Marija stands. Often considered one of the most beautiful religious sculptures in Slovenia, this Romanesque work dates back to the middle of the 13th century. As the church has been without its own priest for some years, it is kept locked except for during Sunday morning mass, so enquire at the tourist information centre in Rinka if you’d like to visit.

Solčavsko Region

provides an in-depth history of the folk medicine and medicinal plant life in the area, including the extensive research conducted by a rather peculiar local called Vid Strgar, who lived in the nearby Fidova Zijalka cave with his wife for the better part of nine years. Definitely worth visiting either before or after sampling the fine cuisine upstairs. Q Admission €1.50, children €1. Video presentation €10/group.

The Needle Unless you’re coming to Solčavsko by way of the small mountain road leading from Austria, an even smaller partially unsealed road leading to the Koroška region or on foot over the mountains, you will have to literally pass through the eye of a needle to get here. The needle in question is a towering obelisk shaped natural rock formation along the upper Savinja river on the main road between Luče and Robanov Kot. And before you bristle at our use of the word ‚literally’, know that a hole has actually been bored into the massive rock’s base leaving just enough room for vehicles to squeeze though - completing the needle imagery with an eye that even a camel could pass through (sorry, we couldn’t resist). In any event, this is just about the most appropriate entrance to one of Slovenia’s most remote and naturally beautiful regions. Adventure Valley Luče 103, tel. +386 (0)51 606 410/+386 (0)51 606 420, info@adventurevalley.si, www.adventurevalley.si. The name of this outfit was not chosen at random, if it’s adventure you’re looking for then these are the people to get in touch with. They offer more or less any outdoor activity that you can imagine, from the standard choices of rafting, rock climbing and mountain biking to those suitable for the most extreme adrenaline junkies, such as paragliding over mountain peaks, canyon-

292, info@fidov-gaj.si, www.fidov-gaj.si. Fans of medicinal herbs and natural remedies won’t want to miss a chance to visit the mystical Fida Grove and nearby Fida Zijalka cave, which was for some nine years the home to a local eccentric, doctor of folk medicines and accomplished author Vid Strgar in the second half of the 19th century. Recently renovated and opened to tourists, the relatively easy walking path to the cave passes through some beautiful little mountain meadows and forests, with an extended visit to Strgar’s garden of medicines, which served as the inspiration for his widely read tome of folk medicines Health of Patients (Zdravje Bolnikov), first published in 1866. Of course most interesting for most people is the visit to the small karst cave where the good doctor resided for nearly a decade. Tours take between 2 and 2.5 hours. Q Admission €4, children €2.50. Groups of more than 10 receive a slight discount.

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Archery is only one of the many activities offered at Gradišnik Farm, photo by Tomo Jeseničnik ing up crashing waterfalls and cycling through caves - and these are just the summer adventures. In the winter you can chose from tour skiing, ice climbing, sledding, snowshoeing and much more. Operated by a young energetic team of highly trained professionals, they even offer multi-day packages that include room, board, transport and all activities. While they are technically located in Luče just across the municipal border from Solčava, their trips cover the entire Upper Savinja Valley, and are primarily focussed on the Solčavsko region. Detailed info can be found on their very user-friendly English language website.

Robanov Kot

Fidov Gaj Logarska Dolina 1a, tel. +386 (0)41 742

Firšt Museum Logarska Dolina 1a, tel. +386 (0)3 839 46 78, info@first-logarska.si, www.first-logarska.si. On the ground floor of the Firšt restaurant and guesthouse just west of Solčava there’s fine little museum that details the discovery of and findings from the Potočka Zijalka Cave, which is considered one of the most important archeological and paleontological sites in Slovenia. A total of 18 information boards are in Slovene, with shorter explanations in English and German, and there are some interesting and self-explanatory maps of the area, charts and photos that include the most famous item from the cave: the world’s oldest needle. A 25-minute multi-vision presentation is also available, but this is currently only available in Slovene. In 2007, a separate exhibition opened at the museum, which

Traditional handicrafts of Solčavsko

The road to Solčava literally passes through the eye of the Needle, photo by Andrejka Lončar Horvat

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In many ways Robanov Kot is the perfect combination of Solčavsko’s other two valleys, Logarska Dolina and Matkov Kot, as it offers the wide open meadows, photogenic farms and easy yet rewarding walking paths of the former, along with the serenity and authentic undeveloped nature of the latter. Protected as an area of natural importance since 1987, the valley takes its name from Roban farmstead, which was first written into the land registry in 1426, but likely dates back to at least the 12th century. We’re not sure if this makes it one of the oldest continually operating family farms in Slovenia (or perhaps even Europe) but nine centuries and countless generations in the same family seems an impressive achievement to us. While the family’s farm is not open for tourists, they do operate an alpine dairy at the far end of the valley, which also sells homemade goods and is a popular destination for hikers during the summer months. It takes about an hour to walk there from where the road becomes closed to traffic, through wild forests and pastures filled with grazing sheep and cows. From the dairy the trail very quickly climbs upwards leading to Molička Planina and further still to the beautiful Korošica plateau located at over 1800m. From mid-June to the end of the September hikers can stop here at a mountain hut to rest before attempting to reach the peak of Ojstrica at 2350m. Even for those who’d rather keep their hiking on more or less horizontal ground, it’s well worth hiring a guide to accompany you - if for no other reason than to tell you some of the stories and fables of the acclaimed folk writer Jože Vršnik, who was born in Robanov Kot in 1900 and spent a good deal of his seventy years here writing about the true essence of rural life in Solčava.

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While the most valuable thing most visitors to Solčavsko take home with them are the lasting memories of their trip, and perhaps some unbelievable photos documenting it for their friends and family back home, there are plenty of options for those who’d like to purchase more tangible souvenirs or gifts. The region’s traditional handicrafts are focussed on three materials: wood, wool and marble. With 88% of the region covered in forests, it’s no surprise that wood plays a key role in the lives of locals, from the construction and furnishing of their houses to fuel for their fireplaces to material for their crafts. More than just a natural resource, Solčavsko’s mountain wood is believed to contain a special energy from the environment that is able to positively affect people. Mountain larch and spruce trees are the most commonly used species, as they have the perfect combination of malleability and hardness when they are cut down at the right time. The items produced range from the functional (bowls and dishes) to the entertaining (simple games) to the purely aesthetic. Sheep, or more specifically the indigenous JezerskoSolčava breed that was created by cross-breeding domestic sheep to be more adapted to alpine conditions, have been a common sight in Solčavsko for centuries. Lovingly referred to as Solčavka, the wool they produce was long the main material used for traditional clothing, but somewhat fell out of use during the socialist era. However, there has recently been a concerted effort to promote the use of wool once again, and in particular the art of felt making. Bicka (www.bicka.si) is a locally-formed cooperative of over a dozen women, which utilises traditional felt making methods to create new and innovative products and designs. Many of their creations, such as slippers, hats and cute stuffed animals, can be seen at the Rinka Centre, and they also have a workshop and showroom nearby which can be visited with prior arrangement. For years the beautiful pink marble that is native to certain parts of Solčavsko’s mountainous terrain has been used to create religious objects in churches, decorate the region’s simple farmhouses, or for other functional construction purposes. More recently it has been used by one local craftsman in particular, Medard Šumet, to create decorative items like vases, small dishes and paperweights, as well as purely artistic pieces. These can also be purchased at the Rinka Centre, and visits to Mr Šumet’s workshop high above Matkov Kot on the Panoramic Road can also be arranged.

Photo by Uroš Acman

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Soča Valley Alternatively you could rent a bike from Tolmin (6km from Most na Soči) and cycle the rest of the way, if you’re feeling a little adventurous.

The Walk of Peace

By bus

Gregorčečeva 8, Kobarid, tel. +386 (0)5 389 01 67/+386 (0)31 586 296, info@potmiru.si, www. potmiru.si. The most important sights connected with the first world war in the Soča valley have been joined together on this trail since 2007. Divided into five sections of varying difficulty, it begins at Log Pod Mangartom and ends at an outdoor museum on Mengore hill near Most na Soči, spanning a total of over 80km. Needless to say, there are possibilities to sleep at settlements along the way, including at the section start/end points and at a mountain hut on Kuhinja. Hikes to other nearby mountains are easy to access, and indeed the Walk of Peace itself utilises mainly existing mountain and tourist paths, itself being extra-marked.

There’s a direct bus from Ljubljana every day (11:15 and 17:50 weekdays, 06:30 and 17:50 at weekends), and there are lots of international links to and from Ljubljana.

By bike You could even rent a bike in Ljubljana (or use your own) and cycle the whole way (about 120km), if you’re a very keen adventurer or crazy, or both!

What to See The Soča River The river Soča, all 136km of it, is an

almost untouched piece of nature waiting to be discovered. At its source in Trenta the pure clear alpine water springs from a dark karst crevice, then flows rapidly towards the Adriatic sea, along the way featuring such natural beauties as deep gorges and graceful waterfalls. The bright turquoise colour of the Soča deser ves a paragraph itself. Utterly awesome just about begins to describe the thoughts that come to mind when gazing upon its splendour. The best time of year to experience its full impact is spring, when freshly melted alpine snow seeps into its tributaries. Apparently the green-blue colour is retained even as far as Friuli, northern Italy - a testament to its pure alpine origins. All manner of watersports and river-based activities begin to thrive on and around the Soča come springtime: kayaking, rafting, hydrospeed and fly-fishing for the famous Soča trout. The mystique of the Soča is still held dear by the locals who live on its banks, representing an almost spiritual presence, undoubtedly a symbol of natural perfection.

Mountaineering on Kanin, photo by FA Bobo, Archive of LTO Bovec As Slovenia’s first European Destination of Excellence in 2008, expectations are bound to be high, the country itself brimming with natural beauty and culture. As one transcends the winding road up from Tolmin, or descends the southside of Vršič mountain pass, they become mesmerised by flashes of turquoise appearing at their side. Steal a glance or two more and you realise it is an enchanting river, none other than the Soča. Along its banks, in its catchment area, several towns and numerous villages have lain since the Slavic tribes settled here in the 6th century, the ancestors of modern day Slovenes, their luck untold. It is a beautiful valley, in the true sense of the word. Towering rocky mountains of Triglav National Park, lush green forest and that crystalline water on pure white stones. Breathtaking. It is not often said that we are in a golden age of travel. We Westerners at least, can afford to travel almost anywhere in the world and there are indeed too many things to see in one person’s lifetime. However, the ease of travel within Europe at the moment is obvious. Thus the accessibility and proximity of the Soča valley for many Europeans makes it something not to miss. For those who can appreciate natural beauty, or enjoy it through outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking, fly fishing, whitewater rafting or paragliding, it’s perfection. Its significance in modern history undoubtedly draws visitors too, the world wars having seen key front lines on this territory. The stories of war and the area’s heritage are told through excellent indoor and outdoor museums, mountain trails and historical

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remains such as the medieval Kluže fortress, all linked by the Walk of Peace. Culturally speaking, the self-reliant Soča valley offers stone and sand art, wax and wool products, folkloric song and dance, and the cuisine, oh the cuisine. From Tolmin and Bovec cheese to the native Soča trout, unique ‘čompe’ Bovec potatoes and sweet sweet Kobarid ‘štruklji’, there’s plenty to discover.

Arriving By car From Ljubljana take the A2 motorway north towards Jesenice, exit there for the main road to Kranjska Gora. Turn left through the centre then keep going out of the town and over the Vršič mountain pass (1611m). After about 30km you will see signs for Trenta, then for Bovec, just keep going along main road 206. From Trieste take the A4 north towards Udine, keep following Udine on the A23 north, then exit at Udine. Take the main road west from Udine toward Cividale Del Friuli, stay on this road all the way to Kobarid (Slovenia). Then turn left for Bovec at the far end of the town. If you don’t have your transport, take a bus first to Ljubljana.

By train Trains are quite tricky. The closest they get to Bovec is Most na Soči, approximately 40km to the south. From there you could take a taxi, but bear in mind the distance.

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Ustanova “Fundacija Poti Miru v Posočju”

pools follows the experience. Upwards of twenty agencies in Bovec offer whitewater adventures on the Soča.

Fly Fishing on the Soča www.flyfishing.si. For

angling enthusiasts the river Soča should be some kind of Mecca, fly fishermen mandated to visit its waters at least once in their lifetime. A haven for trout, the only kind of fishing allowed here is that of the fly. Be them dry, wet, nymph or streamer, you may put your flies only on barbless hooks (just singles), but any kind of line and leader is fine. Those are not the only strict rules for fishing on the Soča, so one would be well advised to do their research in advance and have the required permits. Then get out there and catch yourself some dinner!

Triglav National Park Triglav National Park, the only one of its kind in Slovenia, covers only 3% of the landmass, yet what a spectacular proportion it is. Located in the south-eastern section of the Alps, the Eastern Julian Alps stretch across much of north-western Slovenia, bordering Austria to the north and Italy to the west. The park’s breathtaking landscape, including jagged peaks, expansive spruce forest, lush valleys and harmonious ecosystem has all been protected since the Alpine Conservation Park was founded back in 1924. The centrepiece and inspiration for its name is Mount Triglav, the highest in Slovenia (2864 metres). The mountain is the symbol of Slovenia (it appears in the coat of arms), and the country’s flag was flown here on June 26th, 1991, the day Slovenia declared independence from Yugoslavia. The name, Triglav, means three-headed, as it looks to have three peaks when seen from the Bohinj valley. The climb to the summit is not all that hard, but it is long. It’s a two-day ascent to the top, and requires an overnight stay in a mountain cabin. In short, it’s a special piece of nature, well worth visiting. Watersports on the Soča Rafting, kayaking, hydrospeed, what better ways to experience the grandeur of the river Soča? On the waters themselves you can enjoy (and endure) a great little adventure, with a team of friends in a raft, a group of them in kayaks or gliding through the tourquoise liquid crystal with little more than a wetsuit. Qualified guides make sure the experience is safe, yet there should be no less sense of awe as you rush across rapids, float through dark green pools, pass huge rocks and cheer your arrival at the finishing point (Trnovo ob Soči). A customary, actually obligatory dip in one of the brisk river’s eden-slovenia.inyourpocket.com

Evening on the Soča river, photo by Dan Briški, Archive LTO Bovec

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Soča Valley Tourist Information TIC Bovec Trg Golobarskih Žrtev 8, tel. +386 (0)5 389 64 44/+386 (0)31 388 700, fax +386 (0)5 389 64 45, info@bovec.si, www.bovec.si.QOpen 09:00 - 17:00, Sat, Sun 09:00 - 14:00, 14:30-17:00. During summer open every day 08:30-20:30. TIC Kobarid Trg Svobode 16, tel. +386 (0)5 380

04 90, fax +386 (0)5 380 04 91, info.kobarid@ lto-sotocje.si, www.visit-soca.com. Q Open 09:0016:00, Sat-Sun 10:00-14:00. During the summer open every day from 09:00-20:00.

TIC Tolmin Petra Skalarja 4, tel. +386 (0)5 380 04

80/+386 (0)51 600 549, fax +386 (0)5 380 04 83, info@lto-sotocje.si, www.visit-soca.com. Q Open 09:00-16:00, Sat-Sun 09:00-13:00. During the summer open every day 09:00-20:00.

Information Point TNP Dom Trenta Na Logu v Trenti, tel. +386 (0)5 388 93 30, dom-tnp.trenta@ tnp.gov.si, www.tnp.si. EDEN Soča Valley Tel. +386 (0)5 38 96 444, info@ dolina-soce.si, www.dolina-soce.si.

Bovec Still on the sunny side of the alps, Bovec is a real green piece of Europe, a must if you really want to feel sLOVEnia! Catchy official slogans aside, Slovenia’s supreme summer and winter sports town really offers a lot. Lying in the magnificent upper Soča valley in northwestern Slovenia, Bovec allows you to explore all the natural beauties of Triglav National Park. The town is a great base for summer activity holidays, hiking and mountain biking on land, paragliding from the surrounding alpine peaks through the air, or rafting and kayaking on the truly awesome turquoise waters of the river Soča. The area is also extremely popular during the winter ski season. The lifts to Kanin ski centre sit only half a kilometre from the centre of Bovec, making it a popular winter sports destination as well.

What to See in Bovec The Soča Trail This marked hiking trail starts way up at

the source of the said river down toward Bovec, winding with the emerald river and featuring several rope bridges, perfect for getting those ‘‘is this picture from photoshop?’’ shots.

Soča Valley

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Krn Lake (Krnsko Jezero) At the end of the Lepena Valley, 16km from Bovec, lies a gem of a lake that represents the treasure at the end of a two to two and a half hour trek. The basin at the bottom of Mount Krn is almost completely filled with Krnsko jezero’s waters, at 400m long and 17m deep the largest Alpine lake. At an altitude of 1340m, you can admire serene sunsets from its banks amidst the rocky Julian-Alpine peaks. The smaller shallower Duplje lake is nearby, just above it standing a newly built mountain lodge.

Boka Waterfall Acknowledged as one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Slovenia, Boka is the enormous threshold of waters descending from the Kanin mountain range. As such, late spring happens to be the best time to visit: when the thick snow is melting, up to 100 tons of water per second falls first 106m freely, then a further 30m on an incline. It is visible from a bridge on the Kobarid-Bovec road (near Žaga). A rather demanding footpath from the road leads to the source of the waterfall, which takes about an hour and a half to reach.

Prestreljenik Window on Mt Kanin After alighting the

huge Kanin cable car at the final stop, there’s a fair chance you’ll be embaking upon a trek or hike of some description, should you not be here to hit the slopes for winter sports fun. Marked routes from the last station on the cable car lead to the peak of Mt Kanin and the natural rock window formation of ten by seven and a half metres. Stunning!

Great Soča Gorge (Velika Korita Soče) The river

Soča never ceases to amaze: about 7km above Bovec (near the road to Trenta), the Great Soča gorge has been carved by the meandering tourquoise waters. Now 15metres deep and 750m long, you can go and look in awe at its jagged walls and colourful, ever-flowing alpine torrent.

Ravelnik Open Air Museum (Muzej na Prostem)

Accommodation Gostišče Andrejc Soča 31, tel. +386 (0)5 388 95 30/+386 (0)41 33 25 20, gostisce.andrejc@ siol.net, www.andrejc.eu. Ideally located for those wishing to be IN the thick of the outdoors, rather than merely on their doorstep, this guest house of sorts lies between Mala Korita and Velika Korita (the small and large gorges) on the river Soča. In the village of Soča, in fact, Andrejc can really sell itself as an excellent base for outdoor activities, especially hiking to the Julian Alps (notably for Bavški Grintavec). The restaurant serves both local and international cuisine. TIRLBK

Hotel Mangart Bovec Mala vas 107, Bovec, tel. +386 (0)5 388 42 50, fax +386 (0)5 388 42 51, info@hotel-mangart.com, www.hotel-mangart.com. A medium-sized and luxurious residence set out of the centre of Bovec, in the middle of the valley and surrounded by natural beauty. One of a couple of hotels named after mountains in the area, the Mangart offers rooms, family rooms and suites within its traditionallly Alpine walls. It’s all very fresh, new , conveniently located and accordingly popular. Q 92 beds. THLKDWhhh Pristava Lepena Lepena 2, Soča, tel. +386 (0)5

Tasting Bovec’s famous cheese is a must, photo by Samo Vidič, Archive LTO Bovec

is remembered with a small exhibition of the Soča front and other local battles. Find Kluže on the main road from Bovec to Log Pod Mangartom and the Predel pass to Italy.

Sights along the trail, which connects secluded spots via older footpaths, include the Alpine Botanical Garden Julijana, Trenta Museum, Great Soča Gorge. It makes for quite a full tour of the region and one which is very attractive to everyone except those averse to any kind of walking.

388 99 00/+386 (0)41 67 19 81, pristava.lepena@ siol.net, www.pristava-lepena.com. This place is special. On arrival you are greeted by the famous Lipice horses and friendly mountain goats. Run as a hotel and horse-riding centre and taking the form of a typical alpine village, you can find pretty much everything in this perfect blend of modern and traditional. There‘s even a sauna, fitness room and conference room within the beautiful log cabins, all amid the spectacular mountainous scenery. Located 9km from Bovec. Q €50-69 per person. HAIFLBKDCW hhhh

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The Great Soča Gorge at Trenta, photo by Dan Briški, Archive LTO Bovec

Alpine Botanical Garden (Alpski Botanični Vrt)

Trenta Valley, tel. +386 (0)1 241 09 40, uprava@pms-lj. si, www2.pms-lj.si. Slovenia’s natural diversity in terms of flora has been presented here since 1926. Around the time of Alpine Conservation Park planning this beautiful and peaceful place was set up, and allows you to see Central European, Illyrian and sub-mediterranean, as well as Alpine flora all together. Even if you don’t really care about the scientific details of what you’re looking at, or if you instantaneously forget the Latin name of the said plants, it still makes a pleasant sheltered walk for young families or elderly visitors to Slovenia’s Alpine region.

Cycling Mangart and Bovec cheese-tasting The highest mountain road in Slovenia also happens to be one of the most scenic. You depart from Log Pod Mangartom and make your way up towards the Predel pass (Italian border), turning right for Mangart and winding up the steep final 11km. The beautiful scenery is a welcome distraction from the slog, and should you be riding in summer the numerous tunnels will bring some welcome cool. The first or last stop will be the Mangart pasture for cheese-tasting. Bovški sir (Bovec cheese) is a full flavoured and slightly spicy sheep’s cheese, and the Bovec area boasts a rich heritage from the 14th century. In addition to the cheese of course, another reward for your efforts is the view of two lakes from the Magartsko Sedlo (Mangart Saddle), but of course the uphill cycling can also be at least a masochistic pleasure in itself.

Located at a small hill dense with remnants of the first world war, this open air museum’s aims are firmly focussed on authenticity. Visitors can also go on a guided tour led by a ‘‘WWI soldier’’ in full uniform, drink military tea from tin cups and traject a circular path running along the once AustroHungarian first line of defence, with trenches, tunnels, caves, pillboxes and reconstructed cabins.

Šunik Water Hurst (Šunikov Vodni Gaj) The water

hurst at Šunik combines beautiful natural scenery: several cascades and pools with healing energy properties, which are in abundance in the territory of Slovenia. The remains of an old mill, which still functioned well into the middle of the 20th century, adds a bit of ethnological interest to the trail as well.

Mangart Saddle (Mangrtsko Sedlo) In addition to

being a cycling heaven, the highest mountain road in Slovenia also affords the visitor on foot abundant natural delights. The rock composition makes for a large array of mountain flora. Walking through the blossoming slopes, you may spot the friendly native Marmot, if not the two pine-green lakes. The latter, along with the high peak of Grossglockner on clear days, can be viewed from the saddle itself. On your way up a cheese-tasting at the Mangart pasture seems a great excuse for a break, with the opportunity to try the top quality Bovec cheese courtesy of a cheese-making tradition 700 years old. Your next proper break might well be the mountain hut at the top, for some warm tea, cold beer or ‘hrana na žlico’ (food from the spoon, for example goulash).

Kluže Fortress (Trdnjava Kluže) Tel. +386 (0)5 38 86 758/+386 (0)51 361 070, trdnjavakluze@gmail. com, www.kluze.net. As hilltop fortifications go, Kluže is one of Slovenia’s most impressive. Set above the Koritnica gorge, it falls against a backdrop of the Julian Alps. As well as the immense natural virtue to be soaked up there’s also the cultural; it is increasing serving as the region’s centre for social, artistic and entertainment events. The first world war

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Performance 1313 in Kluže Fortress, photo by FA Bobo, Archive LTO Bovec

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Soča Valley Gostilna Sovdat Trg Golobarskih Žrtev 24, tel. +386

Kanin Dvor 43, Bovec, www.boveckanin.si. Perched high above Bovec, Kanin is Slovenia’s only high altitude (i.e. over 2000m) ski centre and boasts the country’s longest “winter’’ season, actually running all the way from November until well into spring and the May national holidays. Previously a medium sized resort with 15km of ski runs, in 2009 Kanin is joined with a new lift to the Sella Nevea ski centre across the border in Italy, to make it Slovenia’s only transnational resort. With a good range of slopes it will appeal to everyone from complete beginners to advanced skiers and boarders. If that’s not enough for you, guests with a six-day Kanin pass can also ski in a third country for two days, at the Arnoldstein centre in Austria. There are off piste opportunities at Kanin, but we wouldn’t recommend this without an experienced guide. The imposing peaks of the mountain range overlook Bovec and the truly magnificent Soča Valley, with its famous emerald river. The Soča Valley was even featured in a Hollywood blockbuster, The Chronicles or Narnia. The panorama from Kanin extends all the way from the eastern Julian alps to Trieste, the mouth of the Soča River and the Adriatic sea, the proximity of which ensures a tangible mix between crisp alpine air and Mediterraneanlike warm breezes. In the spring this great combination really blossoms, when you can you can ski in the morning, then sunbathe on the snow-beach, or trek in the warm lush valley in the afternoon. It even makes skiing in a t-shirt a real possibility! Summertime attracts hikers, climbers, paragliders and mountain bikers - the latter flocking to the 4.5km long and 600m high Kanin MTB park. There are also deep shafts for cavers, the biggest of which, Vrtoglavica Jama, has the longest vertical drop in the world (603m). Kanin is reached by way of a massive cable car, ascending from 436m to 2,200m above sea level it’s an adventure in itself, as you can witness the vast change in flora and fauna in just a few minutes - it has to be seen to be believed.

Trenta Museum and Triglav National Park Information Center (Trentarski Muzej) Tel. +386 (0)5

388 93 30, dom-tnp.trenta@tnp.gov.si, www.tnp. si. The important point of reference for those hungry for information about Triglav National Park. As the full name of the Trenta lodge suggests, this place presents the natural idiosyncracies of the Julian Alps aswell as quaint ethnological and cultural heritage of the Trenta and Soča valleys. Set over several floors, the permanent exhibition first of all covers the environment, geology and hydrology of Triglav National Park. The Trenta Valley ethnological collection is to be found on the third floor, showcasing history, domestic culture and including a reconstructed typical local house, not to mention Alpine dairy farm and sheep pasture. Despite its seemingly inaccessible location (deep in the Trenta valley at Na Logu), the museum has full disabled access (wheelchair access, toilets, lift). As with many rural attractions in Slovenia, special guided tours are possible if arranged prior to arrival.

Sports Agencies in Bovec Aktivni Planet & Zip Line Slovenia Trg Golobarskih

Žrtev 19, tel. +386 (0)40 639 433/+386 (0)31 653 417, info@aktivniplanet.si, info@ziplineslovenia.com, www.aktivniplanet.si, www.ziplineslovenia.si. All kinds of river based watersports, plus caving, offroad tours.

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(0)5 388 60 27/+386 (0)41 473 620, gostilnasovdat@ gmail.com. If you want good hearty Slovenian and European food you don’t have to walk far. Sovdat - just within view of the main square in Bovec - is a typical Slovenian restaurant, simple and friendly. If you can forgive the decoration outside (fake flowers and seaweed green cushions), the garden is a pleasant environment with a great mountain view. Fish, Wiener schnitzel and a variety of local dishes are all served here in big portions. QOpen 12:00 - 22:00. Closed Thu. (€4.80-16). JAB

The heavenly views from Mt Kanin in the wintertime, photo by Danijel Žagar, Archive LTO Bovec

Bovec Šport Centre Kot 2, Bovec, tel. +386 (0)5 388 60 32/+386 (0)31 26 36 32, info@bovec-sc.si, www. bovec-sc.si. We like the open and quite spiritual director of this activity centre. He and his guides aim to offer a deeper connection and experience than that of the usual host/client relationship. A good choice for the inexperienced (and/ or terrified), they have just introduced an easier-to-control inflatable kayak to the Soča. They tell us you can become at one with nature, both on water and on land. Rafting, kayaking, canyoning, hydrospeed, hiking, mountainbiking, caving and winter packages are all available. An office is also located in Boka Pension, between Kobarid and Bovec. Hydromania Mala Vas 119, tel. +386 (0)31 80 80 75,

info@hydromania.si, www.hydromania.si. Watersports on the river Soča, especially rafting, canyoning, kayak and hydrospeed, plus they also do paintball. Based in Bovec.

Soča Rafting Trg Golobarskih Žrtev 14, Bovec, tel. +386 (0)41 72 44 72/+386 (0)5 389 62 00, info@ socarafting.si, www.socarafting.si. One of the leading sports and adventure agencies in the area and the oldest in Bovec, Soča Rafting offers activities directed by friendly local guides and equipment rental. They are open every day, all year round - unique, so they say. In summer they organise rafting, canyoning, kayaking, caving and mountain biking, and in winter ski lessons and courses and equipment rental. Everything is photographed and available for purchase at the end of the day. QOpen 09:00 - 12:00; 16:00 - 18:00. SocaRider Trg Golobarskih Žrtev 40, tel. +386 (0)41 596 104/+386 (0)41 859 941, info@socarider.com, www.socarider.com. Focussing on rafting, kayak and canyoning, Soča rider offers trips especially for families, handpicking stretches of the river safe for children as young as three. Excursions are also offered to natural jewels in the area such as Krn lake, Boka waterfall Tolminka gorge and the source of the Soča.

Stari Kovač Rupa 3, tel. +386 (0)5 388 66 99/+386 (0)41 646 427, info@starikovac.com, www.starikovac. com. Adoreable are many a guest house and restaurant in Slovenia, and here is an example with a charming rustic atmosphere. With an interior reflecting a Blacksmith’s heritage, typical local specialities such as ‘frika’ (eggs, cheese, potatoes and bacon), international dishes including sea food and mixed grill are lovingly prepared. Good quality pizzas are also served, having been baked in a wood fired oven. Self catering apartments are available, but to pass up the many good culinary opportunities in Bovec, not least those at Stari Kovač itself, is definitely a waste. JLBKW

Where to Drink in Bovec As one would expect from a small town, it’s mostly restaurant based, with a couple of bars and late cafes entertaining the locals and visitors until the wee hours. Expect it to be much busier during ski season.

Jojo Bar Rupa 7a, tel. +386 (0)5 389 60 10/+386 (0)41

880 906, info@joffitours.com, www.joffitours.com. Part of the Joffitours tour agency, who organise adventure sports and accommodation in the Soča Valley, Jojo bar (pronounced ‘yoyo’ by Slovenes) offers Illy coffee, sandwiches, warming drinks for winter (including teas and hot chocolate) and juices. Sports events are screened inside, or one can just enjoy the aesthetic treat of the surroundings from the Jojo bar garden. Located down the street from Bovec’s main square, near the Hotel Kanin. QOpen 07:30 - 22:00, Fri, Sat 07:30 - 24:00, Sun 08:00 - 22:00.

Pub Mangart Bovec Mala Vas 107, tel. +386 (0)5 388 42 50/+386 (0)40 291 751, info@hotel-mangart. com, www.hotel-mangart.com. On the ground floor of the Hotel Mangart, the pub with the same namesake, the nearby Mt. Mangart, is a pleasant place to relax or indeed dine (also being a restaurant). With space for up to ninety

389 61 60/+386 (0)31 87 19 91, team@sportmix. si, www.sportmix.si. Full range of outdoor activities and adrenaline sports, specialised in river-based watersports. Gift certificates available, and they have a multilingual website with comprehensive price-list.

Where to Eat in Bovec

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guests, special functions are possible in the pub part, and the open surroundings of the hotel building itself give unobstructed views of beautiful nature, making it attractive for such events. The summertime sees the opening of a garden, the kids having the possibility to let off steam on the playground. Worth a visit least not for the free wireless internet. PTALBKW

Kobarid Usually it’s the natural attractions that are proclaimed gems in the Soča valley, but Kobarid also goes some way to earning itself such a description. In what is a cosy and affable town, you can indulge in some fine dining courtesy of a ‘Kobarid Gastronomic Circle’ restaurant, or launch yourself into an active holiday (with opportunities such as rafting, kayaking, hydrospeed, mountain biking, paragliding, hiking and hill walking, fly fishing). Here you can learn about a significant period of modern history, the first world war. The award winning Kobarid Museum tells the story of bloody battle, a story recounted by Ernest Hemingway in A Farewell to Arms, having been a war correspondent at Soča. The Italianicised and Germanicised versions of the name (Caporetto and Karfreit) come from periods of violent assimilation or annexation, and in fact Kobarid was almost completely destroyed by the end of WWI. After being passed around during the interwar years and falling under temporary military administration after the second world war, the town was finally returned to Slovene hands, under Yugoslavia at the time of course. From the 1960’s until the present day, Kobarid has been frequented by tourists, not only because of its historical heritage but also for the natural beauties nearby, and there are other charming villages in the area, for example Vrsno and Krn, under the mighty Mt. Krn, from which a couple of notable noble locals come (Simon Gregorčič, poet, and Simon Rutar, historian).

Golf Bovec

Sport Mix Trg Golobarskih Žtrev 18, tel. +386 (0)5

A few good quality eateries, you can’t really go wrong with traditional Slovenian gostilnas or pizzerias here. Just watch out for hidden supplements (€1-2) on the bill for bread and your table.

Open air museum Kolovrat on the Walk of Peace in the Soča Valley, photo by Tamino Petelinšek, Archive Fundacija Poti Miru

The Alpine Botanical Garden in Trenta, photo by Tina Gerkman

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Podklopca 15, Bovec, tel. +386 (0)40 38 22 29/+386 (0)41 25 38 14, info@golfbovec.si, www. golfbovec.si. If you need to unwind a little after engaging in too many adrenaline charged adventure sports, or you’re just a secret golf addict, sneak off here for a sly round. There’s a nine-hole course and driving range, with five tee-off positions, all just a few kilometres from Bovec. Prices are quite reasonable for Slovenia, especially given the setting, with weekday rounds starting at €26 for 9 holes. QOpen 08:00 - 18:00.

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Soča Valley What to See in Kobarid Kobarid Museum (Kobariški Muzej) Gregorčičeva

10, tel. +386 (0)5 389 00 00/+386 (0)41 71 40 72, fax +386 (0)5 389 00 02, info@kobariski-muzej.si, www.kobariski-muzej.si. With a wealth of information and an impressive audio-visual presentation of the events of the first world war Soška fronta (Isonzo front), the collection here won an award for Best European Museum in 1993. Two and a half years of fighting and one of the major mountain battles in history (the 12th Isonzo battle - or Caporetto breakthrough) are covered, the sorry story told with sensitivity. Perhaps the bloody Soča front is most known because of one Ernest Hemingway, whose novel A Farewell to Arms remembered the man’s experiences on that very battlefield. The museum is located in the old centre of Kobarid, and tours to the battlefield itself are also available by prior arrangement.

Kobarid Historical Trail Tel. +386 (0)5 380 04 90, fax +386 (0)5 380 04 91, info.kobarid@lto-sotocje.si, www.visit-soca.com. Something you can do yourself, or be guided around (recommended), Kobarid’s historical trail takes you on a magical historical tour through some of the area’s important eras. Included in the places linked by the trail is the Kozjak waterfall, a 5km stretch taking you into ancient times, and a major historical period - World War One, in the Kobarid Museum. Taste the renowned local cheese, Tolminc, and learn about the pastures and cheese-making traditions here, then buy some to take home of course. Set aside three to five hours for the tour. Kozjak Waterfalls Kozjak brook comprises six waterfalls,

originating at Mt Krnčica (2142m) and serving as a tributary to the Soča river. Veliki Kozjak is the largest and most impressive of the said waterfalls, representing one of the most picturesque in Slovenia. Another highlight is the vast underground hall and pristine pool, the latter we presume is very cold (we didn’t swim): both are 250m lower than Veliki Kozjak. To reach the falls head towards Drežnica from Kobarid, there’s a turnoff just after Napoleon bridge.

Soča Valley Kolovrat Open Air Museum (Muzej na Prostem)

One of a couple of open air museums dedicated to the first world war, Kolovrat was strategically important for the Italians, forming its army’s third line of defence, or ‘linea d’armata’. Positioned on a ridge between Slovenia’s Upper Soča and Italy’s Veneto regions, Kolovrat features a lookout and favourable panoramic views. Reach the site by heading towards Tolmin from Kobarid, turning to Livek village near Idrsko, then Livške Ravne, or take the right turn approximately 2km before Tolmin.

Sports Agencies in Kobarid Tandem Jump from Stol Of course you won’t be seated

for this attraction, notwithstanding the mountain’s name: Stol (Chair). In fact you’ll be soaring through the air, sometimes for a good while. Above the slopes of Julian Alps, your view will include the Adriatic sea to the south and the prominant Central Alps to the north. The tandem jump is the ideal first paragliding experience, and there’s nowhere we’d rather take that plunge, or rather flight (hopefully) in Slovenia than in this valley.

X Point Trg Svobode 6, Kobarid, tel. +386 (0)5 388 53

08/+386 (0)5 388 53 08, info@xpoint.si, www.xpoint. si. Being established over 15 years means that Kobarid’s main outdoor activity agency are fully connected when it comes to arranging your rafting, canyoning, hydrospeed, canoe, miniraft, kayaking, tandem paragliding, mountain biking, walking or climbing. Indeed, on your sporting trips or teambuilding exercises (also possible) you can be accompanied by highly experienced guides. All of the above are of course the agency’s summer activies, as are picnics by the river, but in the winter they up sticks to Bovec for the ski season, dealing primarily in ski renting, service and also a ski/ snowboard school.

Where to Eat in Kobarid Hiša Franko Staro Selo 1, Kobarid, tel. +386 (0)5 389

EDEN Slovenia

the expensive side but for good reason; cod platter, shellfish and lobster here are all memorable and exceptionally fresh. The waiting staff are attentive, reflecting their pride at being a member of the Kobarid Gastronomic Circle. A pleasant terrace is perfect for the warm summer months, and the Hotel Hvala is attached should you wish to prolong your stay. QOpen , Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu 12:00 - 22:00, Fri, Sat, Sun 12:00 - 24:00. AUB

Tolmin

41 20, fax +386 (0)5 389 41 29, info@hisafranko.com, www.hisafranko.com. Roundly regarded by gourmands, amateur foodies, tourists and locals alike as one of best restaurants in the country, it’s not uncommon for diners to make the trip to Slovenia for the express purpose of eating here - especially for neighbouring Italians, who can appreciate top quality cuisine like few others. Run by a husband and wife team, Ana is in charge of the kitchen, while Valter’s knowledge of Slovenian wines and cheeses is unrivalled. Set in a rustic villa outside the town of Kobarid in the far west of the country, a meal here will not soon be forgotten. Rooms are also available. Q Open Wed-Sun 12:00-15:00 (last orders at 12:30) and 19:00-23:00 (last orders at 22:00), and Tues evening in the summer. Closed Mon and Tues. PALBW

The most famous time of year in Tolmin is festival season, when for a couple of weeks in July and August the city, actually more like a town or village, is given up to thousands of revellers. Metalcamp is held on the banks of the magnificent turquoise Soča, a true (hedonistic) paradise at that time of year. However, they are by no means the only reason people come to Tolmin, the cultural and administrative centre of the region. Lying in the awesome Soča Valley, it is a great place to start your sports/adventure holiday as everything from rafting, kayaking, mountain biking, hiking and paragliding is all within easy reach. Tolmin is also culturally rich, and among other events, every September an annual festival sees teams compete to lovingly prepare the best ‘Frika’, a traditional dish of potatoes and locally-made Tolminc cheese.

Restavracija Kotlar Trg Svobode 11, Kobarid, tel. +386 (0)5 389 11 10/+386 (0)51 397 978, kotlar. restavracija@siol.net, www.kotlar.si. A hint of the sea is to be found in the Alps, specifically at Kotlar in the centre of Kobarid. A restaurant in the conventional sense of the word, there’s an elegant ambience that’s best enjoyed after dark. For dinner, whether it be romantic or celebratory in essence, the specialities include a mixed seafood entree, karst ham with mushrooms, grilled crab and of course the local delicacy, Kobarid ‘štruklji’. After dinner some immediate relaxation may be in order; rooms with breakfast are available, as is a Turkish sauna/solarium. One of Slovenia’s best restaurants. PJA

What to See in Tolmin

Restavracija Topli Val Trg Svobode 1, Kobarid, tel. The so-called Bear’s Head of the Tolmin Gorges, photo by Matevž Lenarčič

The Memorial Church of the Holy Spirit at Javorca, photo Janko Humar

+386 (0)5 389 93 00, info@hotelhvala.si, www.hotelhvala.si. Essential dining for those who love their fish, the Topli Val is one of the finest seafood restaurants in the country. On

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Tolmin Gorges (Tolminska Korita) Tel. +386 (0)5 380 04 80, fax +386 (0)5 380 04 83, info@lto-sotocje. si, www.visit-soca.com. The spleandour of a thermal spring and confluence of two tourquoise rivers, not to mention much more, have been arranged for your average non-hiking type in the form of a ‘secured’ circular trail. Although the path also takes you over the 60m Devil’s Bridge, we are assured the attraction is ideal for families. Perhaps it is indeed especially good for young boys with adventure in mind. Also watch out for Dante’s Cave (shelter for the famous Italian poet Dante Alighieri) and the rock in the shape of a bear’s head. Q The starting point (parking area) can be reached from Tolmin via Zatolmin by car or on foot (2 km). The gorge is open from April-November. Admission is €4 for adults with discounts for children, pensioners, students and groups. eden-slovenia.inyourpocket.com

Memorial Church of the Holy Spirit in Javorca A

wooden church and shrine the Austro-Hungarian soldiers lost in the first world war on the Tolmin battlefield, Javorca is perched above the Tolminka stream. It also happens to be the finest WWI monument in all of Slovenia, having been bequethed with the European Cultural Heritage sign in 2007. There’s that ever present Slovene scene-scape to be admired if nothing else, green hill plus church plus rocky mountain backdrop; we personally can’t get enough.

Where to Eat in Tolmin Gostilna Skrt Most na Soči 62, Most na Soči, tel. +386 (0)5 388 70 25/+386 (0)41 520 989, rajko.skrt@gmail. com, www.facebook.com/gostilna.Skrt. Something of a pillar of the community, Skrt (the surname of the proprietor) sits above the Soča/Idrijca confluence in the lovely village of Most Na Soči. In summer you may well find a throng of locals enjoying a drink on the terrace, but in all seasons good old Slovene hospitality can be enjoyed here. The interior is simple and rustic, maintianed with care. Serving breakfast through dinner, a standard array of Slovene and European dishes (including vegetarian options, and pancakes!) are prepared with love and accompanied by Brda wines. Located in the heart of the village, by the hand-painted sign and street map. QOpen , Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat 09:00 - 22:00, Sun 11:00 - 22:00. JAB

Italian Charnel House near Kobarid, photo by Željko Cimprič, Archive Fundacija Poti Miru

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Soča Valley Where to Sleep Bovec Hotels Hotel Alp Trg Golobarskih Žrtev 48, tel. +386 (0)5 388 40 00, info@hotel-alp.si, www.alp-hotel.si.Q 218 beds. PJHAULBKDC hhh

Hotel Sanje ob Soči Mala Vas 105a, tel. +386 (0)5 389

60 00/+386 (0)31 303 131, valentina@sanjeobsoci. com, www.sanjeobsoci.com. Q 55 beds.

Guest House Martinov Hram Trg Golobarskih Žrtev 27, tel. +386

(0)5 388 62 14, fax +386 (0)5 389 63 69, sara.berginc@ gmail.com, www.martinov-hram.si. Q 28 beds.

Apartments Alpha center Dvor 41a, tel./fax +386 (0)5 389 60 16,

Soča Valley Apartma Rozi Brdo 40, tel. +386 (0)41 21 93 45, rozi. kravanja@gmail.com. Q 15 beds.

Počitniška Hišica Na Biru Gabrje 10, tel. +386 (0)51 310 365, apartma.nabiru@gmail.com, www.nabiru. si. Q 6 beds.

Domačija Škvor Robidišče 10, Breginj, tel. +386 (0)31 345 958, robidisce@gmail.com, robidisce.blogspot. com. Q 21 beds.

D-D Čezsoča 63, tel. +386 (0)41 74 78 40, darinkavs@ gmail.com, www.apartma-dd.si. Q 3 beds.

Počitniška Hiška Tinca Most na Soči 62, Most na Soči, tel. +386 (0)5 388 70 25/+386 (0)41 520 989, rajko.skrt@gmail.com, www.facebook.com/tinca. mostnasoci. Q 6 beds.

Počitniška Hiša Ivančič Drežniške Ravne 30b, tel. +386 (0)5 384 86 40/+386 (0)41 337 403, apartmaji. ivancic@siol.net, www.apartmaji-ivancic.si. Q 10 beds.

Ktrenč Mala Vas 53, tel. +386 (0)5 388 66 88/+386

Privatne Sobe Černilogar Brunov Drevored 34, tel.

Apartment Dana Kot 33, tel. +386 (0)41 23 43 87,BovecKot33@gmail.com, www.apartmadana.com. Q 15 beds.

(0)41 57 93 56, marjan.komac@siol.net, www.bovec. net/apartmajiktrenc. Q 10 beds.

Stari Kovač Rupa 3, tel. +386 (0)5 388 66 99/+386

(0)41 64 64 27, info@starikovac.com, www.starikovac. com. Q 24 beds.

Camping Kamp Polovnik Ledina 8, Bovec, tel. +386 (0)5 389

+386 (0)5 388 14 03/+386 (0)31 607 234, info@sobecernilogar.si. Q 6 beds.

Camps Camp Gabrje Volarje 57, tel. +386 (0)40 153 490,

Tourist Farms Jelenov Breg Pod Matajurjem Avsa 22, tel. +386

Turistična Kmetija Pri Kafolu Prapetno 15, tel. +386

Apartmaji Bovška Hiša Kot 2, tel. +386 (0)5 388 60 32/+386 (0)31 263 632, apartment@bovec-sc.si, www. bovec-sc.si. Q 6+2 beds. JW

Kamp Soča Soča 8, tel. +386 (0)5 388 93 18/+386 (0)31 82 44 86, kamp.soca@siol.net. Q Camping €6 per

Where to Sleep Kobarid

person, apartments €50. TLBDW

Hotels

Apartmaji JOJO Rupa 7a, tel. +386 (0)5 389 64

Pension and Camp Klin Lepena 1, Soča, tel. +386 (0)5 388 95 13, kampklin@siol.net. ABKD

Hotel Hvala Trg Svobode 1, tel. +386 (0)5 389 93 00, info@hotelhvala.si, www.hotelhvala.si. Q 61 beds.

Apartmaji Komac Klanc 10, tel. +386 (0)5 388 62

Where to Sleep Tolmin

Guesthouses

Apartments

Hiša Franko Staro Selo 1, tel. +386 (0)5 389 41 20, info@hisafranko.com, www.hisafranko.com. Q 26 beds.

07/+386 (0)41 91 02 80, apartmaji@komac.si, www. apartmaji.komac.si. Q10 beds.

Apartmaji Makuc Klanc 15, tel. +386 (0)5 388 67

80/+386 (0)41 66 32 73, mmakuc@siol.net, www. apartmaji-makuc.si. Q 5 + 2 beds.

Apartmaji Mavrič Majda Dvor 61, tel. +386 (0)5 303

52 25/+386 (0)40 55 98 82, majda.mavric@siol.net, www.apartments-mavric.com. Q 8 beds.

Apartmaji Mrakič Dvor 53, Bovec, tel. +386 (0)41

Apartmaji Mengore Volče 140b, tel. +386 (0)41 427 386, info@mengore.com, mengore.com. Q 16 beds. Apartmajska Hiša Blazar Volarje 48a, tel. +386 (0)31 529 946, info@blazar.si, www.blazar.si. Q 14 beds. Apartma Kavčič Poljubinj 24m, tel. +386 (0)5 381 17 33/+386 (0)41 692 299, dragica.kavcic@siol.net, www.apartma-kavcic.si. Q 12 beds.

32 91 74, apartmaji.mrakic@siol.net, www.mrakic.net.

3 nights. PJALW

Apartmaji Skok Mala Vas 111, tel. +386 (0)5 389 63

00/+386 (0)41 32 86 29, fax +386 (0)5 389 63 01, info@apartmajiskok.com, www.apartmajiskok.com. Q 22 beds. 06/+386 (0)31 70 61 11, fax +386 (0)5 896 20 7, pszorc@gmail.com. Q 18 beds.

Conference Centres Stergulc House Tel. +386 (0)5 389 64 44, info@

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Picerija Fedrig Volaričeva 11, tel. +386 (0)5 389 01 15/+386 (0)31 249 147, fedrig@t-2.net. Q 15 beds. Restavracija Kotlar Trg Svobode 11, tel. +386 (0)5 389 11 10/+386 (0)51 397 978, kotlar.restavracija@ siol.net, www.kotlar.si. Q 15 beds.

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Turistična Kmetija Kranjc Koseč 7, tel. +386 (0)5 384 85 62/+386 (0)41 946 088, info@turizem-kranjc. si, www.turizem-kranjc.si. Q 20 beds. Turistična Kmetija Robidišče Robidišče 3, Breginj,

tel. +386 (0)5 384 85 8/+386 (0)41 332 668, kmetija@ robidisce.si, www.robidisce.si. Q 7 beds.

Directory Društvo za prosto letenje POSOČJE Dijaška 12c, Tolmin, tel. (+386) 41 966 367, kobala.info@ gmail.com, www.kobala.si. Ustanova “Fundacija Poti miru v Posočju” Gregorčečeva ulica 8, Kobarid, tel. (+386) 53 89 01 67/ (+386) 31 586 296, info@potmiru.si, www.potmiru.si.

Casino Igralniško-Zabaviščni Center Aurora Staro Selo 60a, Kobarid, tel. +386 (0)5 388 45 00, info.aurora@ hit.si, www.aurora-hitstars.si.

Sports Agencies

Apartments

641 899, info@a2rafting, www.a2rafting.eu.

Apartma Berginc Drežniške Ravne 42, tel. +386 (0)5

Agencija Metulj Cankarjeva 8, Tolmin, tel. +386

Apartma pri Koptanhu Drežnica 45, tel. +386 (0)5 384 85 05/+386 (0)31 599 480, apartma.koptanh@ gmail.com, www.apartmaji-dreznica.com. Q 4 beds.

Alpin Action Trnovo ob Soči 26a, Kobarid, tel. +386 (0)5 384 55 04/+386 (0)41 708 132, alpin.action@ siol.net, www.sloveniarafting.si.

Apartma-Ra Gregorčičeva 6c, tel. +386 (0)41 641 899, apartma-ra@siol.net, www.a2rafting.eu. Q21 beds.

Transport

Apartma Šavli Magozd 5a, tel. +386 (0)5 389 37

info@jojo-prevozi.com, www.jojo-prevozi.com.

07/+386 (0)41 421 007, nada.savli@siol.net, www. apartmasavli.com. Q6 beds.

Rafting on the Soča river, photo by Andraž Krpič, Archive LTO Bovec

(0)41 494 560, medves.branko@gmail.com, www. jelenov-breg-pod-matajurjem.si. Q 6 beds.

36/+386 (0)41 494 565, stanko.kurincic@volja.net, users.volja.net/lowriz. Q 11 beds.

389 37 08/+386 (0)31 370 133, berginc.bogdan@ yahoo.com, www.apartma-berginc.si. Q 10 beds.

Apartmaji Tajčr Brdo 44, tel. +386 (0)5 389 62

bovec.si, www.bovec.si. Run by the Bovec tourist board, this antiquated bourgeois residence is a good alternative option for conferences, seminars or weddings. Whilst there are modern additions to ensure one’s comfort, specifically a lift, bar and two conference rooms (70 or 100 delegates), the house is packed with old stories which you can pour over in the museum.

Nebesa Turistične Hiše Livek 39, tel. +386 (0)5 384 46 20, info@nebesa.si, www.nebesa.si. Q 8 beds.

Sobe pri Lovrižu Drežnica 22, tel. +386 (0)5 384 86

Q 6 apartments €50-130, 30% more for stays of less than

Kamp Koren Drežniške Ravne 33, tel. +386 (0)5 389 13 11, info@kamp-koren.si, www.kamp-koren.si.

Tourist Farms (0)41 618 698, info@prikafolu.com, www.prikafolu. com. Q 20 beds.

70/+386 (0)41 88 09 06, fax +386 (0)5 389 64 71, info@joffitours.com, www.joffitours.com. Q 12 beds.

Camps

info@camp-gabrje.com, www.camp-gabrje.com.

60 07/+386 (0)31 34 44 17, info@kamp-polovnik.com, www.kamp-polovnik.com. Q €5.25-8/person, tents €1-2, or caravans €3. A

tel. +386 (0)31 33 52 35, alpha.center@siol.net, www. apartmaji-alpha.si. Q 4 + 4 beds.

Žonir Staro Selo 57, tel. +386 (0)5 389 30 20/+386 (0)41 686 997, zonir@siol.net, users.volja.net/zonir57. Q6 beds.

Chalet Kamp Koren Kobarid Drežniške Ravne 33,

tel. +386 (0)5 389 13 11/+386 (0)41 371 229, info@ kamp-koren.si, www.kamp-koren.si. Q 36 beds.

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A2rafting Volaričeva 15, Kobarid, tel. +386 (0)41

(0)5 381 00 10/+386 (0)51 411 944, metulj@siol. net, www.agencija-metulj.com.

Jojo Prevozi Dvor 5, tel. +386 (0)41 880 906,

Tourist Agencies Ta Tmin Tours Trg 1. Maja 8, Tolmin, tel. +386 (0)5 381 19 93, tmintours@siol.net, www.tmintours.si.

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EDEN 2008: The Soča Valley TIC Bovec Tel.: +386 (0)5 38 96 444 E-mail: info@dolina-soce.si www.dolina-soce.si

EDEN 2009: The Solčavsko region The Rinka Centre – the Solčava Tourist Information Centre Tel.: +386 (0)3 83 90 710 E-mail: info@solcavsko.info www.solcavsko.info

Bovec

EDEN 2010: The Kolpa River RIC Bela krajina Tel.: +386 (0)7 30 56 530 E-mail: info@ric-belakrajina.si www.kolpariver.eu

EDEN 2011: Idrija TIC Idrija Tel.: +386 (0)5 37 43 916 E-mail: ticidrija@icra.si www.idrija-turizem.si

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EDEN - In Your Pocket 2012