Saturday 10 October: Trieste to Skofije
Trieste GPS Position: 45.682174, 13.751221
We woke and fell out of bed like two big sloth’s with runny noses and aching bones. We coughed at each other, had a nasal chat and then utilised half a bog roll in a nano second. They joys of a cold. We opened the blinds to find the weather as equally miserable with a nasty cold breeze.
During the night more motorhomes arrived on the little marina car park and it looked more like a campsite. Italians like to squeeze into the tinniest of places and our new neighbour was no exception. He’d swashed in leaving a gap of 2 inches between us. As we peered down the gap Mario popped up at his window with a big, cheesy smile. Chow Si Chow You just gotta love um.
We planned on leaving Italy today but not too sure we want to do anything never mind move countries. Maybe draw the blinds and slip back in to bed until our colds pass? We debated what to do over a cuppa and once the caffeine kicked in we zipped to life. Stopping in bed sounded a good idea but instead we had lunch, a shower and then decided to head off. The wind was now bordering on gale force and Vin was rocking like mad, so we headed in land for a bit of shelter.
It is funny, every time we leave a country I get a sad almost teary feeling. A feeling like I don’t want to leave, a warm feeling just like home. The prospect of heading in to a new country is filled with excitement but it is unknown territory, so elements of anxiety. So why Slovenia….we want to visit a bit of Eastern Europe just to get a taste and whilst we have no idea what to expect we certainly don’t expect much. Some say it is beautiful, whilst others say it doesn’t have any appeal. So with mixed views we are going to Bumble over and have a toot.
The road from Trieste to Slovenia took us up steep hills but with strong winds and open countryside we felt every gust. Once at the top we peered back towards the coast, which looked stunning even in this weather. Shame it was so gusty otherwise we would have stopped for a coffee n cake and admired our ocean view, the last we will ‘sea’ for a while.
Within ten minutes we were crossing the boarder in to Slovenia. The once border control building was now an abandoned unit with bare walls. Hard to imagine this little building was once a hive of activity for people entering Slovenia. At this point, the road signs all changed. Our comfort blanket of Italian language gone and now, a language we couldn’t even pronounce never mind understand. We were slurring words at each other that made us sound like complete plant pots. Tongue tied and baffled we followed the road and then all of a sudden, we were driving on a single track road through a lawned area with small white picket fencing.Where the hell are we? Did we miss a ‘private, don’t enter sign?’ Is this a highway or private property?
We couldn’t tell. We travelled a bit further before we hit some road works. We tried to get further to the village of Lipica, so we could visit the famous white horses but not today. The road works and bad weather cut the village access point and being new to this area we didn’t exactly know the back streets. We did a 180 shuffle and drove back to the main road.
Soon the road narrowed, the hills grew more dramatic and quite suddenly we turned in to karst region. The rolling hills and lush green countryside, so pretty. A shame the weather is so grey and wet! We drove a short while until we arrived at a small piece of land just out of Divača. By now the wind was now seriously blowing a hoolay and getting very gusty. The drizzle had turned to hard core rain and driving with limited visibility was no longer an option.
Fortunately, we’d pulled on to a small cemetery car park with a surrounding stone wall. We tucked Vin in up to the wall, away from the trees and snuggled down for our evening meal.
Skoflje GPS Position: 45.653934, 14.012130
Not long, it was dark and although frustratingly hard to see what was out there, we had a sense of being somewhere quite special. Hopefully tomorrow the weather will improve and we will see this spectacular landscape. We then looked up, stars white as pearls, playing hide and seek behind the fast moving storm clouds. Think we need to take cover. Time to lock up, batten down the hatches and snuggle down.
Our Bumble verdict: Looks good so far, just a little too damp & too much cloud.
Sunday 11 October: Skofije to Logatec
After spending the night in the grounds of a cemetery. Craig chinned a bottle of wine, so he slept like a log. I slept like shit. At first, I couldn’t sleep for thinking about ghosts, followed by a combination of Craig’s heavy breathing, pelting rain, jolts of wind and brown bears. Yip, bears and not the cuddly variety but the brown, rip your head off and eat you for lunch kind.
This morning, we needed to up and off as soon as possible as we wanted to visit the caves. So no dawdling up and off. On the way to the caves, I told Craig about the bear howls, growls and rustling around outside. Apparently, he heard them too! He didn’t say anything just in case it frightened me. Thank god, I am not imagining things.
We arrived at Skocjanske caves, opted for the 10am classical two hour tour for €16 each and then wrapped up warm with 50 layers. It was a bitter cold day and such a shock to our system. Only a few days ago and we were in our shorts and t-shirt. Now, thermals, woolly hats and water proofs.
Matavun/Skocjanske caves GPS Position: 45.662621, 13.988333
On the way down to the cave we had a good chat with a couple from Surrey who were also touring in a motorhome for 6 weeks. They had spent most of their time in Croatia and loved it. At the entrance, we were split in to 3 groups – Slovenians, English and Italians and informed no photographs permitted, sigh. Inside, a labyrinthine complex of passages and collapsed valleys, which is believed to be the world’s largest network of subterranean chambers. First, the silent cave with magnificent formations of stalactites and stalagmites that seem to stretch endlessly in all directions. Then on to the great hall with a massive 50ft stalactite. We wound down and deep inside the caves (Sis, you would freak!) Then to a pretty collection of limestone pools. The last cave, Murmuring cavern was a real wow. It was huge but the noise from Reka river, as it raged through the cavern was deafening. We entered at the top and we could see a small meandering path winding down to the bottom and then carved out around the perimeter a narrow ledge. The whole way lit with tiny LEDs. We descended 350ft to the bottom, passing the underground river and several waterfalls, it was stunning. Soon the two our trek was over and we popped out at the bottom of a Škoflje valley with excellent Belvedere gorge and view point.
After lunch, we set off to find our next camping spot. The area is manly agricultural, so plenty of fields with the occasional farm houses. Very unspoilt and under developed. The farm houses made of stone with large apex roofs are very Austrian alpine lodge in their style. Overall it very much reminded us of the Lake District combined with Austria.
Slovenia is only a small country tucked in the middle of Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia. To match the country, the cities are like towns, the towns are like villages and villages like hamlets. Everything is pocket sized and compact. According to the Tom Tom we passed lots of villages!. We looked aimlessly for a spot but everywhere is either water logged or covered in tree logs. Then Craig spotted a Lidl and the rest of the day got a whole lot brighter! We popped in for some bits. Overall, things seemed a little bit cheaper than Italy. but not drastically. Oh nearly forgot, we got a krem resina and so good. Its like a vanilla slice but the vanilla is mixed with whipped cream, so a lot lighter….sooooo goood. Dad you would love these.
Logatec GPS Position: 45.914464, 14.228380
Eventually, we arrived at Logatec, a true village. We parked on spare ground and then then took a stroll. It is picturesque and soothingly quiet, but as we walk through the village towards the sports ground things start to heat up. An early evening training game of football attracts well wishers aka mum and dad. We listen to folk chatting and cheering. You can definitely hear the mixture of German and Slavac in their tone. Not that we can understand a word but it definitely sounds German with lots of vok, vik and vak on the end.
After our evening meal, Craig chinned some wine and watched a movie, whilst I went to bed to get warm and sleep off this damn cold.
Our Bumble verdict: Superb varied cave system to visit and well worth your time and money.
Monday 12 October: Logatec to Brezovica
Woke to the sound of rain and as we opened the curtains we were greeted with a warm fluffy blanket of fog. Right now, we could do with a dose of sunshine to warm us up and let us have a good look at this little country. We keep seeing glimpses of stunning countryside but blink and its gone, covered in cloud or fog.
After a few nights in Slovenia you certainly feel cut off from the world. We have hardly see a soul since arriving here with the exception of the people at the cave. On top of that no WiFi as our 3 mobile doesn’t extend to this part of the EU. Craig’s dad goes in hospital today for an operation and with no signal we are a bit worried we can’t contact him. We know he will be fine but still, it would be nice to wish him well and a speedy recovery…thinking about you Barrie x x x
Mid morning, Vin rolls over the bridge and down the hill, the valley narrows behind until the village and the thin strips of green fields disappear. We wind through a small snake like road with giant boulders clinging to the side of the road. Soon the valley widens to reveal open pastures with sheep.Bloodiel Craig, did you see that? Sheep. Not seen a sheep for months. Does that mean we will have lamb for dinner!
Craig grunted, I take that as a no! Then on to tranquil stretches of woodland with the odd farmer checking out his roaming goats.
Out of the middle of nowhere we hit an small industrial zone. It felt rather weird after all that countryside. At the end of the zone, a retail section with Hofer (Aldi). We nipped inside and came out with some bread, biscuits and a big fluffy wrap around blanket thing. It is ace and will keep the cold at bay for sure.
We carried on and then spotted a nice hamlet. We turned off and parked on the church car park right next to the cemetery. No wonder they call this place the dead centre of Europe! We had a walk around but not much to see just a handful of ladies tending to the graves. Back in Vin, our view was beautiful with rolling hills, low cloud and a peek of a church spire on each hill top. But it didn’t last long and the heavens opened. At 4pm the car park filled up with hundreds of vehicles. What is happening we wondered? Everyone headed towards the church and within minutes we could hear the priest saying mass. Surrounded by cars we were stuck and couldn’t move and by the time mass finished it was too dark to move, so we stopped with the free spirits, once again.
Brezovica GPS Position: 46.023626, 14.406842
It was bitterly cold and the wind chill factor made it feel even colder. The temperature gauge showed a low of 8, think we need to swap out our summer wardrobe, quick. Good job we got the snuggle blanket!
That night, we slept reasonably well but the occasional bump in the night did make me bolt a few times. Oh and the church bell chimed on the hour all the way through the night. Then just before sunrise the wind picked up and falling conkers broke our sleep. The gusty wind forced the little hard buggers to break free from the tree, bounce on to Vins tin roof then roll around in a wiggly, wobbly way before plopping off the roof or getting stuck.
Our Bumble verdict: Good place to stop before the capital.
Tuesday 13 October: Brezovica to Ljubljana
We woke to you guessed it, more rain, wind and grey cloud. I decided to make the most of the bad weather and start cleaning, whilst Craig then nipped outside and cleaned the dirty bits of Vin. I stripped the bed but I cant put the washing on because we are running low on electricity, so I cant spin which means I cant dry. I placed all the dirty washing in the garage for now and fingers crossed we get a dry day soon. As it’s rained none stop, we aren’t getting any solar, so the batteries aren’t getting fully charged. Yes they are holding some but not enough to run spinner, charge laptops, juicer etc. This is were our views greatly differ – I would just go on a campsite and plug in or find a laundrette. Craig’s view – do without. He is such a tight sod. Rant over but if I start dragging my knuckles and carrying a club you know why.
After lunch, we moved to the capital Ljubljana. Slovenia has a very colourful past. Starting out in 6th century when Slav tribes settled in the Sava valleys. Over the years its been ruled by Hungarian kings, German emperors and Austrian Habsburg family. Its been cut up and divided and then stitched back together again. It joined forces with its neighbours to create Yugoslavia only to leave it and gain independence in 1991. In 24 years, this little country has grown and you can see and feel the buzz in its capital.
Traffic jams, roads works and several river crossing proved a challenge after country life. We managed to spot a GPL station and filled up costing €0.58 per litre. The fuel stations in Slovenia don’t display fuel prices like the rest of the EU, so it is difficult to see the range of fuel prices. However, diesel looks to be around €1.10 litre.
Parking in the city wasn’t an option with all the road works and Tivoli park was full, so we headed just a few kilometres out to a Spar car park. We arrived just in time for the rains, again.
Ljubljana GPS Position: 46.039668, 14.478232
For evening meal, we planned on spaghetti bolognese but the mince looked a little too brown. We were sure we had bought beef mince but the colour and smell would suggest horse meat, yuk, so we binned it. With mince off the menu, we settled on simple pasta with smoked ham and picante sausage. Swilled down with cherry and vanilla ice-cream.
Wednesday 14 October: Ljubljana to Skofja Loka
The rain didn’t stop all night and the grounds are now seriously saturated. The drains can’t take any more water and the rivers are close to bursting. If it doesn’t back off then it could get serious. Think it might be a good idea to go check out the weather….we did and flood alerts everywhere, Eeek.
Despite the rain, but more for preservation of our sanity, we decided to go explore the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana. We wrapped up warm with several layers (thanks for the fluffy body warmer mum) and topped off with the raincoats and bob hats. The cycle ride in to the city was relatively straight forward just a tad wet from car spray. At the university we noticed a brown information sign, so we stopped for a look. A slight detour round the buildings and we found an unusual triangular arch, which we believe is one of the original gateways. Further down the road and we spotted a lovely building with two very ornate white spires. We tootled over and yip, a church. We peaked inside before being completely surrounded by school children on a morning visit. Needless to say they found our Brompton bikes and our Lancashire accent more fascinating than teachers lecture. We crossed over the river in to the old town and up the gruelling climb to the 11th century castle. We stopped at points along the way to catch our breath and admire the view. This city is beautiful and if it clouds lifted we could see the Karavanke mountains and countryside, it would be stunning. Eventually, we reached the top and crossed the bridge to the entrance. It was free to enter and €7 if you wished to climb the last floor of the clock tower. Behind the castle walls an open air section with lawns and an outside seating. All the rooms were built in to the castle wall but only a couple of rooms of interests as the majority taken up with shops and cafes. A small dungeon and quaint chapel of Saint George, were a nice gentleman made me book mark. The views over the city were really spectacular and definitely worth the trek although the castle building didn’t really appeal. The restoration was a little too immaculate and disney like for our tastes with souvenir shops and more restaurants than Rick Stein, it felt more like a theme park than a medieval castle.
As always the cycle ride down was much better than the ride up and we landed straight in Prešeren square. The colourful pastel Baroque buildings were neat organised and clean. This compact little city had everything from arcaded 18th-century houses, domed churches and fountain-studded piazzas. We wandered in and out of national buildings such as the museum, the archive rooms and tourist office to not only have a look but to also take shelter from the rain. The cathedral tucked down a cobbled alley and under an archway was pretty and the organ music made the visit even more memorable. The best bit of cathedral has to be the bronze doors, decorated with scenes from the history of Christianity in Slovenia.
A stroll through the market with just a few harden traders hoping to sell their wears. Mainly fruit and veg sellers with odd clothing stall. Craig stopped for a fag break under one of the empty stalls, whilst I went for a toot and found some old market scales, a milk dispenser unit (love it) and a smelly fish food joint. The smell was awful and by now we were getting hungry. Think we will avoid the fish cafes.
We walked over the Tromostovje bridge to Franciscan Church of the Annunciation, a vivid maroon coloured church in the new part of the city before grabbing a bit to eat. We were dripping wet through and the only place we could find to eat outside but with shelter was McDonalds. We were way too wet to sit inside a nice cafe. After our burger, we carried on down the tree lined riverbank watching the willow tree branches dangle in the rushing river below. Endless bars and cafes lined the river bank with empty chairs and tables.
As we crossed another small foot bridge we stopped to watch tree trunks float by as the river raged through the city. We cycled over to the national museum, the gallery and the most delightful opera house. We found out the Ljubljana used to be swampland and the people of the city were given the nickname of the frog people.
By now, its was lashing it down and the streets were deserted with only the homeless, the drunks and us left in the city. We called it quits and headed back to Vin. To say we were wet is a slight understatement but we had a fabulous time in a little city with lots of character.
The whole area is now on flood alert. The grounds are saturated, the drains are full and the rivers are about to burst, think we need to move to higher ground. We packed up Vin and headed out of the city along with hundreds of others. Not long and we were back in the countryside but the fields resembled mud baths rather than lush pastures. The farmers were trying to take the cattle to higher ground and secure them in the mountain sheds. But wading through 2ft mud was a challenge.
On route we spotted a Lidl and decided it would be wise to stock up just in case the rivers do burst and we get stranded for a few days. We dashed in and out, as the light was fading quick and we wanted to find somewhere before nightfall.
We are not too sure where we actually turned off the road but it was beautiful and safe. Yet again, another parking spot at the side of a church but this time no cemetery. Tonight, we’ve given the dead people of Slovenia a bit of peace and quiet. The scenery around was stunning but once again, cloud cover kept on drifting by and spoiling the view.
Just outside Skofje Loka GPS Position: 46.167812, 14.325507
Craig said the cloud covered hills reminded him of huge steaming piles of manure. His mind is warped, I tell ya. On top of each little hill a church either with a long elegant spire or a colourful onion dome. This place must be truly gorgeous in summer. Oh I do hope we get to have a cloud free day then we can really see this country and also, show you guys what Slovenia looks like too! Maybe tomorrow!
Our Bumble verdict: Great city to visit, dampened only by the rain.
Thursday 15 October: Skofja Loka to Bled
Well it rained none stop all night and have a bad feeling some places may well be flooded. We have seen some rain in our time but this takes some beating. Unfortunately, no break in the weather and no view folks! It also means no solar and no energy. Our poor batteries are not happy bunnies and neither are we. Anything that involves electric is banned until sunlight returns. We are charging a few items via the inverter during travel journeys but saving everything for our heating and water, which is clearly our priority.
After breakfast of home made pancakes filled with hot cherries (today, I love Craig) we moved from our church pad to the village of Skofle Loka. We parked on the sports centre car park and walked in to the village.
Skofje Loka GPS Position: 46.170285, 14.302199
The rain stopped for 5 minutes but returned as soon as we arrived in the centre. The village is one of the oldest settlements in Slovenia and translated it means Bishops Meadow. It really is a pretty place but it has a colourful past and the scares to prove it. We crossed the river, which looked frighting full over in to the old town. We wandered up and down the lanes and through the elongated village square with colourful buildings named ‘painted Loka’. The rain was persistent but so were we, we kept on going all the way up to the Loka Castle. As we climbed the hillside, the sun came out and all of a sudden the country completely changed. It was like switching on HD, everything seemed so colourful. It was beautiful but it lasted minutes before the cloud returned and everything went back to vintage. The castle was nice from the outside but inside just a few gallery rooms. The gardens however were great and not a soul around, I wonder why. We wandered around and found a millstone, some ruins, a sleigh, a plough as well as fabulous views over the village below.
Back in Vin and we dried off, again. The worst thing in this weather is drying clothes. It really can be a challenge in a motorhome because too much moisture and everywhere steams up making it difficult to drive. On top of that everything starts to feel damp.
We set off through steep slopes and deep valleys but just couldn’t see the tops. Grrr. I wish I could blow that cloud away. Eventually, the hills sloped off and we hit flat land but it wasn’t good. The meadows were temporary lakes and many of the small mountain rivers had burst their banks. Pockets of mini floods everywhere. In times like this you can’t help but feel for the people who depend on the land for a living. I do hope the rain backs off if nothing else but to give these guys a break.
We carried on and not long before we arrived at an industrial zone. Large units, massive plants and the odd chimney dotted in between. It felt completely different from anywhere else in Slovenia. We’d arrived in Kranj.
We parked Vin on a nice open car park or so we thought. The reality, we had parked on the parking lot of Slovenia’s only remaining trace of the Eastern Block. Several large apartment blocks with underground car parks and ancient concrete air funnels. Whilst we saw some reasonable looking people walk by, we also noticed half a dozen unsavoury characters and it made us feel uneasy. We had a quick cycle round but to honest, we didn’t like it. It was more of a dull working town with zero appeal. The only thing that grabbed our attention was a neon coloured sign of two scantily clad women hugging a large vertical object. The object became a discussion point of the day. I recon it was a large dildo and the red lights in the window above suggested it was a brothel. Craig on the other hand seemed to think it was a snow board shop. I challenged him to nip in and check out the boards at which point he rev’d up his Brompton and shot off to the opera house. Then round the corner to a large empty town hall square with the exception of half a dozen men in a doorway watching our every move. This town did nothing for us, so we quickly moved on.
The drive to Bled was slow. The side vents on this Hymer are extremely weak, so our constant view of grey rain clouds were hindered by steamy windows. At times it was difficult to tell if it was cloud or steam. As we headed off the main highway the valley widened and revealed a perspective of broad mountain slopes. We wipe the windows and our eyes naturally look upwards to the sheer bulk of the Karavanke Alps. The caps of which are surprising covered in cloud.
We found an excellent parking spot just two streets back from Lake Bled. With fading light we called it quits for the day, shut the blinds, turned on the heater and snuggled up to watch the film, Green Mile.
Lake Bled GPS Position: 46.371803, 14.114306
Friday 16 October: Bled
I shot up, pulled down the blind and stuck my head out the window. It was absolutely stunning. We were parked in the middle of a green valley floor dotted with dairy farms and steep mountain sides. The forest ablaze with burnt orange leaves climbed high up the mountains until it reached the bare cliffs and snow capped peaks. I quickly got dressed and ran outside but the view had gone. Once again, the rain clouds descended to hide the wonderful world of Slovenia.
Craig opted to remove the bi-folding doors in an attempt to see if he could get them to line up properly. An hour of huffing and puffing resulted in stalemate.
By 9am it was rather grey outside but no rain, so things are looking up. We piled on the layers only to ended up looking like a sumo wrestler and set off for a walk. It only took 5 minutes to reach the lake but unfortunately, we had to take shelter just before we reached the waters edge. This time thunder and lightening accompanied the rain fall. A nice wooden band stand in the middle of well maintained gardens became our rescue centre for an hour until the storm passed. However, we did managed to find a wifi signal if only for a minute or two. Finally, we got the good news we’d been waiting for. Craig’s dad operation had gone fine and he was on the road to recovery.
The rains backed off and we ventured over to the waters edge. On the way, we passed a load of ducks taking shelter under a tree and as we walked by the little buggers just laughed. Quack, quack, quack. The lake was beautiful even though we couldn’t see the castle or the island in the middle of the lake. The only thing in sight, half a dozen large hotels on the north side of the lake. Then whoosh the blinking heavens opened again and god continued to chuck bucket after bucket of water on us. We trudged back to Vin and dried off.
Half way through a coffee and we spotted a glimpse of china blue sky. We nearly choke, blue sky, bloody hell, blue sky lets go. We grabbed the coats and rushed out of Vin like we were fighting for air. Outside the sun was shining and the sky was blue. We jumped around for joy, we couldn’t believe it. Yippee! We run around trying to look at everything, at Slovenia. We walked around the corner and even the cemetery looked fantastic. We then followed the road until we found the sign post for the hike to the castle. We skipped all the way to the top through the wet woodland covered in slugs and snails. At the top we castle wasn’t anything to write home about but the views were superb. We walked around the base of the castle wall and did a 360 degree on the surrounding area. Looking down on Lake Bled and it was better than imagined. The calm petrol blue lake with fairy tale island church all offset by a back drop of smokey mountains dotted in autumn woodland. Even though the blue skies were slowly disappearing, it was absolutely beautiful. We wound down the slutch trail with natural tree root steps until we reached the lake. We then slow sauntered around admiring the view and appreciating the dry weather. The lake 1 mile by 1 mile was enchanting. As with most tourist destinations the landscape is spoiled by hotels and tourist tat but thankfully Slovenia has kept the development just to one side of the lake. We sat by the lake, a hollow left at the last ice age by a retreating glacier, and pondered over its raw beauty. The weather aside, Autumn is a good time to visit as the tourist numbers are quite small. Just a handful of Japanese tourists taking photos and a dozen or so couples walking or taking a the rowing boat to the middle of the lake. Behind, a colourful carpet of burnt orange and bright red leaves covered the terraced gardens. We watched a couple shake the conkers from the trees with long sticks and then tentatively bag them. A little chocolate brown squirrel darted around behind them nicking their scraps. We had a chat with a young girl who is out here doing some voluntary work on a farm. Apparently, the caves we visited a few days ago are now flooded along with several of the villages we mentioned. Feel so lucky we moved. Then all of sudden the air changed and we decided to make a dash for it. We didn’t make it all the way back without missing a rain drop but then again, we’ve come to accept a good soaking from Slovenia.
We dried off, again but this time we didn’t care. Our soaking was worth it, we got a couple of hours of sunshine and blue skies, what more could we ask for. Enjoying our hot cuppa we glanced outside and wow, look at that rainbow. It was a perfect vivid band stretching out right in front of us. What a colourful end to a colourful day.
Our Bumble verdict: Stunning little town with enough things to keep you enchanted for a few days.
Saturday 17 October: Bled to Bohinjske BistricaJoanne look out the window Ok No don’t bother just get up, you will just was to see this, it is ace.
I jumped up and flew to the door. The view was a wow wow+. The sun was shining and not a cloud in sight. Immediately outside, several perfect rows of apple trees amidst a bright green meadow, the sort you would see on a country bunch kin postcard. The meadow continues until it hits a wall of trees. The trees then climb high up the mountain until there is no soil just solid rock. The cold steel rock is topped with solid ice, which looks frightening cold. Just the most wonderful scene to wake up to.
To make the most of the day, we showered and got dressed double quick. Then just as we were about to set off, tap tap tap. We opened the door to a frowning, beastly bloke. He informs us we cannot stay on this parking slot and asks to see our documents. The guy is in some kind of company uniform but he is not an official. As it turned out this is a new car park and only yesterday (whilst we were out) he fitted a parking meter. Apparently, he has the authority to issue a fine but he didn’t, he just gave us a warning. Phew, that was a close shave.
Lake Bled cemetery GPS Position: 46.373658, 14.105936
After a couple of bum turns up tiny single track roads we finally reached Vintgar. A nice big car park for our visit to the gorge. The sun was shining and so we stuck Vin’s screen facing the sun to optimise on the heat. We hung all our washing in the screen to dry then had a bite to eat before setting off to the gorge.
The sun was shining but it was still cold, so we rapped up warm for our walk. We paid our €4 per person entrance fee and trundled off down the muddy path. We then arrived at our first wooden bridge and crossed the swirling Radovna river. The river was so high we were getting covered in spray. Plus the sheer cliff walls were oozing water from all the heavy rains, so we ducked and dived the mini waterfalls. We followed the 1600m wooden path all the way down the river to the Sum waterfall. At several points the wooden walk way crossed the river providing wonderful meandering views of the pea green river and the pathway. It was amazing. At points where the river widened it created a more tranquil swirling water pool, a time for leaning over the rails and watching the autumn leaves gently flutter down the valley, land on the river and be carried away down stream. The Sum waterfall was pretty but not the highlight. The highlight certainly had to be the overall setting – sheer gorge, rapids and rickety wood path. On the way back we took our time and enjoyed the view as well as mooching for mushrooms.
Back in Vin and the washing was not quite dry, so we wandered back to the gorge entrance hut and utilised their free wifi for an hour. Once the bedding dry, we set off to Lidl, stocked up including a ‘you’ve been tango’d’ fleece for Craig. I think I forgot to mention that in Trieste he finally binned his grey coat without any encouragement from me. That says something cause I normally have to nag him for months before he bins it! With Vin fully loaded we set off in search of our next spot. But before we called it quits, we did have another drive around the beautiful Lake Bled for one more look at the tear drop island and cliff hanging castle. Oh I do like this place.
Our Bumble verdict: Super spot to visit, but be prepared to get a little wet.
Our journey took up to Bohinjske Bistrica, a small village just before you reach Lake Bohinj. We are now in Slovenia national park and aware it is illegal to wild camp, so we are now seeking a campsite or approved parking spot. We had a brief walk around to see if we could park anywhere but they were repairing all the roads, so the camping signs were all on the grass verge. We couldn’t work out where we could and couldn’t park. Everywhere was shut, no tourist information, no police, so we couldn’t even ask someone for guidance. A could of campsites but clearly not open. We didn’t want to upset anyone by parking inappropriately, so we ended up driving a couple of kilometres out of town and hiding behind a picnic area. Hardly the best thing in a national park but most of the campsites are now closed until next year.
Bohinjske Bistrica GPS Position: 46.273471, 13.935363
By now it was dark, so we had our evening meal and shut shop. Hope no one spots us then we don’t get fined!
Sunday 18 October: Bohinjske Bistrica to Tolmin
Up before the birds could tweet good morning, so we could head off to a car park and not be fined. With hair everywhere and still half a sleep we set off to Lake Bohinj. We parked on the car park just at the side of the tourist information building. The cloud was pretty low this morning, so we could not see the surrounding mountains but we knew it would be nice. Last night just before the light faded, we managed to get a glimpse of the snow capped mountains.
During breakfast we managed to log on courtesy of Bohinj free wifi and check out a few options for local campsites. At 9am we wandered over to the tourist office for some help and whilst very friendly they weren’t that helpful. But they did provide us with several camping brochures and a map of the area.
By 10am it was still rather cloudy but the sun was trying hard to break through. We walked over to Lake Bohinj. We passed a couple of cafes, crossed the little stone bridge, had a walk in to the little church of Saint John the Baptist (with weird paintings of beheadings) before walking around part of the lake. The sun popped out for half an hour and we sat at the side of the lake. It is one of those moments I will never forget, it was the most beautiful ‘picture postcard’ scenes I have ever seen. Not a soul around, a calm lake, steep mountains covered in vivid autumn colours and topped with snow. It was mesmerising, so beautiful it brought tears to my eyes.
Craig’s back is quite sore today, so we just had a gentle stroll around the lake. Today, was all about soaking up the natural beauty of Lake Bohinj. It is funny, I loved Lake Bled and thought it wouldn’t be beaten, but here is really quite special. It has a raw beauty that really does take your breath. As we walked back the beginning of the lake, we did toy with going to the waterfall but as we spotted a few tourist buses we decided to not venture over. Lake Bohinj had provided a wonderful tranquil image and thats how we wanted it to stay.
Our Bumble verdict: Don’t ask silly questions – just go.
Soon we were running north, deeper in to the Trivlag national park mountains. We drove 70 kilometres over mountain roads, climbing to over 1800m before dropping back to just over 400m and all without passing a single car or bus. It was so peaceful and so beautiful. The first half of the drive is not for the faint hearted, it a windy road with unstable cliff face on one side and sheer drops on the other. Many pinch points turn in to single track roads and it was a squeeze to make sure the cliff overhangs did not gauge Vins roof. The unfenced road with crumbling slopes provides plenty butt clenching opportunities unless of course your name is Craig, who has nerves of steel. Once over the highest point, we cruised down the valley in to what looked like one massive green golf course or a botanical garden. The meadows were so perfect you were swear someone is running in front with a lawn mower, so lush and velvety. In the distance, little hilltop churches and the odd farm house. About half way down the mountain, we pulled over for a walk. Down a loose gravel path to a mountain stream. A little further and what can only be described as a local made dam. Small scale and still work in progress but interesting to see.
We arrive in Tolmin and drive around to seek out the gorge but fail miserably. Every road seemed to turn in to a footpath, so we opted to head to Kamp Siber. Just 2km outside of the town. We caught the owner slightly off guard as clearly this time of year he does not get many visitors. Once he woke from his nap, the very friendly chap welcomed us to his campsite and helped up park up on the gravel surface. At a cost of €7 per person per day and €2 for electric we tucked in tight and plugged in to the grid. Not long and we were both snug and snoring our little heads off.
Our Bumble verdict: Superb drive with stunning views over the landscape.
Monday 19 October: Tolmin
Tolmin GPS Position: 46.180313, 13.738178
Another rainy day in Slovenia but as we are on the campsite, we made the most of the facilities and caught up on all the chores.
We’d managed to do some washing a few days ago but not the big stuff like bedding, towels and jumpers. Craig did the washing whilst I gave Vin a good old scrub. He managed to hang the washing under one of the BBQ shelters to dry and then we finished them on our little electric heater. With chores done we finished off with an end of summer season BBQ.
The owner of the campsite is a really nice chap and he brought us two large bottles of beer to share with our chard offerings.
What a tough life!
Tuesday 20 October: Tolmin to Zaga
We left the electric heater on last night, so we slept snug as a bug in a rug. Craig up first as usual and just as I was drifting back to sleep I heard him yell. I jumped up and shot over over to find him on the sofa in pain. His back was killing him and he could hardly move. After a few minutes he slowly moved, he was in pain but mobile. Craig trapped a nerve several years ago and he gets shooting pains from lower back all the way down his leg. Every so often it flairs up without any warning. Apparently the best thing for it is to keep moving and not to lie down and rest.
As per the doctors orders he kept mobile and took a wee walk. Well, I say wee but it turned out to be quite a long jaunt of 15km. We were only expecting to walk 3km to the Tolminkse gorge but instead we walked straight passed the turning by a few miles! The walk was great. The sun was shining, the sky was blue and the trees were still clinging on to the last colours of autumn. We walked through the valley which hugged the Soca river as it meandered high in to the mountains. At each corner the turn got a little tighter and the incline a little steeper. With each twist and turn the views changed. Starting with meadows full of grazing cattle, to bright red tree lined hills to cold snow capped mountain peaks. One mountain almost looked link a monks cap with its little round tuft of snow. The diversity of the walk was stunning. We passed endless little mountain streams and plenty a bare slope cleared by what we can only assume to be a mud or tree slide. Most of the path had no barrier but on the bad bends over steep gorges you could see where the crash barriers had served their purpose. Along the route we kept bumping in to two stray sheep. They were rather skittish in character but after several hours of sniffing our trail they got quite friendly. Ugly buggers up close but with a bit of mint sauce they will look wonderful. On the way home we passed a new born lamb. It could only be a day or two old. Still wobbly on its legs but managing to dry out and warm up in the heat of the afternoon sun. So cute and so were the new calves who looked at us in a rather perplexing way.
By the time we got back to Kamp Siber we were utterly shattered but delighted with our walk. We paid up and said cheerio to Mr Siber and tootled off to our next place. We knew the direction of travel but had no idea where we were heading to.
We followed the Soca river and hugged the valley road. As we travelled further in to the valley the view just got better and better. No matter where we looked it was stunning. Jagged mountain peaks, aqua marine water and in the middle a burst of autumn sunshine. How lucky are we to visit this country at this time of year. I know we had the rains at the beginning but look how we have been rewarded. This is definitely the prettiest, pocket sized country in the world.
We turned off and down pebbled path to waters edge. Like being at beach with aquamarine water and white sand. It was ever so pretty but with all the heavy rains of late the river was rather high. May be parking here in summer but at this time of year a bit too close especially if we get any more rain. As we carried on, we passed Charnel House, a distinctive memorial for the fallen Italian soldiers of WW1 and when western Slovenia was part of Italy. Then on to Kobarid and popped out at Zaga. We found an overnight car park right by the river facing a wall of warmly lit mountains. No idea what they are but they look lovely.
We tucked Vin behind a wall, locked up tight and then watched the warm evening light slowly fade before we hit our bed for an early night.
Zaga GPS Position: 46.316276, 13.494364
Our Bumble verdict: Great little location with superb walking and a simple but great little campsite.
Wednesday 21 October: Zaga to Bovak
Jeez it was cold outside this morning and when we checked the temperature it was down to 3 degrees. Brrrrr thing I will jump back in bed for a snuggle.
We didn’t know until we stepped out of Vin, but we had parked in front of Slovenia’s highest waterfall, Boka. It was like one huge mound of water pouring out of a rock pool and tumbling hundreds of feet to the ground below. It was spectacular and how the hell we didn’t hear that last night, I will never know. It is big, bold and noisy!
After a brisk shower we set off winding through the Soca valley all the way to Bovec. We pulled up on a small car park just outside of town, parked up and then cycled in. The town was pretty much destroyed in WWI, so it has quite modern feel about it. In the middle, a pleasant square with a tourist office, half a dozen cafes and a few tiny shops. Plenty adrenalin sports outlets offering everything from canoeing through to high speed powered scooter runs. The town is very quiet and everyone seems to be embracing the time and preparing the resort for the winter ski activities.
Back in Vin and we moved a few meters to an elevated aire we had spotted on Its absolutely one of the best located aires with an amazing 360 view. Simple facilities and at €6 for 24 hours, its good value. If you want electric add €3. Surrounded by the snowcapped Julian Alps, the aquamarine Soca river below and Trivlag national park behind us this one amazing beautiful place. We are sat in a green valley surrounded by sheep, goats and a noisy donkey. To our side the Kanin mountain with the highest ski lift in Slovenia. Then on the valley floor a small airstrip for then tiny heart attack two man planes.
Bovek GPS Position: 46.332994, 13.539361
The sun disappeared behind the mountains signalling the end of another day. But it did provide one final burst of evening glow, lighting the mountains in a warm amber glow. We sat watching the creaks and crags of the peaks change mood when a glider appeared in the distance. It glided between the mountain peaks in to the meadow air strip. As we looked back the mountains were mere silhouettes against the ink blue night sky. Craig popped back outside, chargrilled chicken, Slovenian sausages and roast potatoes done to perfection on our little BBQ.
Thursday 22 October: Bovak to Lake Jansa
Another glorious day. Sunshine, blue sky and all in the middle Soca valley surrounded by peak upon peak of mountains. It was so nice, we put pulled out the chairs, put our feet up and enjoyed the view. A rare occasion for us but this view is heaven and we need to make the most of it.
The good thing about parking up and watching the world go by is you get to chat to all the locals. We chatted to a lovely mix of people from the sports centre owner to an old gentleman. It was very interesting to hear them talk about Slovenia and they said stuff that we had never even considered. For hundreds of years they had ruled by another country and then 24 years ago they won their independence. Not long after they were accepted in to EU and adopted the Euro. A lot of change in a small time frame. Now for the first time in history they had to run a country and they really didn’t have the expertise, so its been a real struggle for everyone and they still have a lot to learn. Also the split from Yugoslavia brought about a change, which most consider a bad thing. Slovenia was the upper class region of Yugoslavia and so when it split it mainly consisted of a well off population. These people have thrived under independence and are now looking for greater and better things, so they are leaving Slovenia. This is leaving the farming community behind but the living standards are a struggle. It also challenges the fundamental cultural values of a once close knit community. It will be interesting to follow Slovenia over the coming years. The one thing they all said, this time of year is not the best time to visit Slovenia, we get lots of rain. But if you are lucky enough to get a dry day like today, then you will get to see Slovenia at its best. It is when the country comes alive with colour, a colour so bright and intense that people will not believe you. They are so right and we are so…lucky.
Around 2pm we realised it was a Thursday. Blinking heck, when did we want to do the mountain pass? The vrsic pass is only open for another week or so and it can get busy with bikers and day trippers at the weekend. With this in mind we wanted to make sure we crossed on mid week then we didn’t get stuck especially with Vin the motorhome being a larger than your average family vehicle. Guess we had better pack up and move to Trenta today then we can do the Vršič pass tomorrow, eh! With that, we cracked on, battened everything down and set off.
First stop, Kluze. A Only 4 kilometres outside of Bovec. This 17th century fortress is one of the most ugliest buildings we have ever seen. It was grey and horrid but located on top of a wonderful deep ravine. Needless to say we didn’t venture inside. We carried on following the Soca river with its turquoise water with a brief stop at Alpinium Juliana. A lush botanical garden on the southern road towards of the mountain pass. At Trenta, we parked up and went inside the tourist office with the hope we could stop somewhere close by. The lady was very friendly but unfortunately nothing for motorhomes, every thing closed, so we had two choices. Crack on up the pass and out the national park or back to Bovec. We cracked on and opted for a sunset safari up the mountain pass..,bring it on!!
Later that evening….OK…listen quick, we just had the drive of our life. It was amazing and so excited, I just got to tell you right now. No waiting until tomorrow to type up. We just drove over the Vršič pass at sunset. We had hoped to stay at Trenta but no where to stay and being a national park we did not fancy wild camping. With that we set off up the pass. The 14 percent incline had Vin almost vertical, it was bloody steep. We twisted and turned around 50 hairpin bends that had Vin occasionally peaking over the edge of sheer drops to the soca rapids below. It was heart pound stuff but it was ace. Initially the whole mountain range was covered in trees ranging from lime green and dusky purple through to warm auburn and vibrant red. A blaze of autumn colours, bloody fantastic. For half an hour we snaked through a forest teetering on the edge of a mountain, At the 1600m we reached the snow capped peaks just in time to watch the sun disappear behind the valley. Then the sunset light show began turning the wispy clouds through a whole spectrum of pink and reds. It was ace but very cold. We jumped back in Vin to race down the other side before it got too dark. But little did we know the best bit had yet to come. The tarmac road instantly changed to a single track cobbled road. This must be the road built by the Russian prisoner of WW1? We wound through a couple of bends and then wow.Stop Craig, stop.
We were up close and personal with the fearless north facing Triglav mountain. It looked like ‘a don’t mess with me’ sort of face. The cold grey limestone mountain with deep crevices like veins stretching up to the snow capped peaks. But tonight, it had the edge. It was the most serene colour of blue. The moon was out and shining the most cold but mesmerising light on the mountain. Lit purely by moonlight it was one hell of a magical view.
We slowly wound our way down the pass stopping at every opportunity to gawk at the magnificent view. I just didn’t want it to end, it was special, a rare moment when you want time to stand still. But stopping on an unlit, single track road is not really a good idea, so we cracked on…slowly!
At the bottom of the pass we arrived at an unexpected lake. It was too dark to see the lake but with a mountain back drop it looked great, so what the hell. We were out the national park, so we pulled over on to a closed hotel car park. Sod it, lets wild camp. This is what we travel for, to stop in beautiful places that you can’t buy a ticket to. Then as we stepped out the final wow of the night. An amazing sky, silhouette mountains, tranquil lake and one big almighty moon bow. A bloody big whopping moon bow, it was the best ever. Surrounded in an array of colours that lasted several hours. How good is that to end the night!
Our Bumble verdict: The dogs bollocks.
Friday 23 October: Lake Jansa to Wacht
Jansa Lake GPS Position: 46.475623, 13.783062
Last night, I felt like a kid on Christmas Eve. I could not get to sleep, I was too giddy wondering what view we might wake up to. This morning, I jumped out of bed and dashed over to the blind. Santa Claus did pop down the chimney!
It was 6.30am and the sun was just peeking over the mountains. The morning light was magical. We got dressed and ran out the door. Jansa lake is like a green / blue glacier lake with white limestone peddles all around. The peddles are so white that from a distance they look like sand. All around the lake little wooden bridges and piers. Running alongside the lake the Pivnica river. In the middle a small park area with chairs, tables and benches and even a little wooden library box full of children’s books. No matter where we looked it was gorgeous. I ran around taking pictures of everything whilst Craig was more selective. He got out the tripod and spent ages getting the perfect photo.
A perfect day for our last day in Slovenia, what more could we ask for.