A long weekend in Slovenia: The countryside

I visited Slovenia last June, after the invitation of a friend who lives and works in the capital, Ljubljana. The plan was to combine cycling, trekking and sightseeing and do as much as possible in three days.

We both took it seriously – some of us more than others – and woke up at 5:00 am on Friday. The roads were empty and the air clean and fresh. The sleepy neighbourhoods and weathered roads of North Ljubljana were not a serious obstacle and soon we were climbing the first hills. Beige church towers with grey pointy roofs overlook dark green and golden summer fields, big piles of wood and small villages. The smell of animals lingered. All was wonderfully rustic.

After passing places with difficult names, like Hrastenice or Polhov Gradec, we heard the bells ringing as we pushed through a steep uphill.

The asphalt became gravel, then asphalt again and we went uphill and downhill all the way to the small river Poljanščica, where we turned right.

Our midway milestone was the medieval town of Škofja Loka. Surrounded by hills and forest, it sits on both sides of the river. At the edges of the town we could see a church towering a hillock, manor houses with red roofs and a castle dominating all. We rode through the very narrow old streets. It was almost mid morning and people were out doing their business.

The rest of the route was passing through dense small villages and fields. At some point we needed to be creative and do a diversion, since the road heading back south to Ljubljana was blocked by road works. An opportunity to catch a glimpse and photograph some small corners.

Next morning, we walked to Ljubjiana main coach station. On our way, we passed through the old Olimpija Ljubljana stadium. Nowadays, it is full of weeds. My friend told me half-jokingly, half-seriously it’s safer to wear green clothes around here. And certainly not the purple colours of Maribor FC, their mortal enemies. Well, that’s the Balkans. Don’t be deceived by the clean wide pavements.

We caught a coach to Lake Bohinj. On the way, we passed by the famous Lake Bled, with its trademark small island and church on it.

When in Bohinj we began our ambitious trek, starting from the west end of the lake. We were about to climb the mountain that commands the north side and descend from the east side. Not too far from the start, though, we had to turn back. “Path closed”. My friend found on-line that there was recently an accident, a Dutch tourist falling over the edge and losing his life. We walked to the Savica waterfall instead, where the man selling tickets complained that many tourists take the trek lightly, wearing flat shoes. I looked at my shoes. Perhaps it was better it was closed!

We walked parallel to the north side of the lake. Many people had dropped their bicycles and had dipped into the water. Slovenian people seem to make the most of their outdoors. From the east end, we climbed the mountain until we reached a high point. There we sat and ate our sandwiches taking a good view of the wild Slovenian country.

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