On my recent visit to Slovenia, my first introduction to this stunningly beautiful landscape was the drive from Ljubljana Airport along the valley between the Italian / Slovenian Alps to the west and the Triglav National Park to the east, finally crossing a twisting over mountain pass to town of Bovec.
These jagged mountain peaks, rising high into the clouds above, provide a breathtaking beauty of forested slopes and bare, exposed grey mountain tops blending into the clouds above. The first thing that strikes you is the abundance of natural woodland stretching in every direction as far as the eye could see, broken only in places by small farmsteads and scattered homes, cameos in this green woodland blending into nature perfectly.
The drive to Borec, is about 120km and took roughly one and a half hours. This would be my base for the night in Hotel Mangart. Also set in a valley between the mountains with Rombon Mountain at 2208m to the rear of the hotel pointing skyward in a single peak. It’s resembles Mount Everest has locally earned a a title as the Slovenian Matterhorn. Around the village, farmers were gathering in the hay from the fields and visitors were relaxing outside the bar on the street enjoying the cool evening breeze. Bovec is a center for outdoor activities such as hiking, water sports in the Soča Valley and River, caving, skiing, rafting, trekking to mention a few.
The following morning after breakfast, we headed to the Kolovrat WW1 Outdoor Museum in the town of Kobarid, a town principally known for the aftermath of the Battle of Kobarid in 1917. The indoor section of the Museum brings together the horrors of War in well-appointed displays of armaments, photographs and action maps culminating in an electronic time lapse of the advancement of troops through this section of the Alps. In the outdoor section you are brought to the actual defense posts from where it is explained what was happening during the fighting from these high vantage points. Absolutely worth visiting.
Crossing the deep gorge outside Kobarid (at the Camp Site) via a 52 meter long Suspension Foot Bridge. Built in 1998, this bridge has been constructed on the very spot where the original wooden footbridge had been during the First World War. Wobbly enough, but the view beneath, the turquoise colored waters of the Soča River, its lush wooded shoreline with a backdrop of strata cloud slowly moving across the mountains was a pleasant distraction. Joining the trail on the opposite side, we trekked along the woodland walk through lush natural forest following a small river. We were heading for the Great Kozjak Waterfall. As we got nearer, the trail traversed the river several times, a rocky riverbed with small bridges to traverse. The walls of the gorge became higher and we could barely see the sky above. Finally we were there. A cavern hewed out of the rock by nature itself, an arena with the waterfall plummeting downwards into the green pool below. So beautiful.
Back to Kobaraid for some lunch in Hotel Havla in the main square. This 5th generation hotel and restaurant is owner run. We were treated to healthy, diverse traditional food and local wine. Excellent.
Lake Bled, located in Triglav National Park is the popular destination for the tourist. This Alpine lake is without doubt beautiful and perfect for outdoor activities such as walking, biking, fishing. Its natural beauty is impressive. The island in the middle of the lake has several buildings, one being the pilgrimage church dedicated to the Assumption of Mary built in its current form near the end of the 17th century. Access to the island is by boat. Overlooking the lake is the impressive 12th Century Bled Castle, clinging to a cliff overlooking the lake. Bled tends to be a high tourism area and can be quite crowded, but does provide many natural activities for all the family. Relax on the lake side in one of the coffee bars and try a “Bled Cream Cake”: a golden crispy crust made from butter, a delicious vanilla cream of exactly the right consistency, topped with whipped cream and a crispy layer of butter dough and finally, last but not least, a good dusting of icing sugar. Yum yum!
Bohinj Lake is also located in the Triglav National Park and not very far from Lake Bled. Far less crowded than Lake Bled, it is the largest natural lake in Slovenia and is a destination for nature lovers. Surrounded by high wooded mountains, the lake is about 4.2km x 1km (at its max) in size with sparkling clear waters. A trail takes you to the spectacular Savica Waterfall hidden amidst the steep walls of the Komarča. There are many enjoyable means of exploring the lake: tourist tour boat, kayak and canoes, walking trails.
This area of Slovenia, the Triglav National Park , is the Alpine region. Spectacular mountain scenery, natural woodlands, turquoise coloured rivers and lakes and nature at its best. Self-driving is the way to see and feel this Garden of Eden. Roads are good and I would recommend exploring away from the highways; the country side is so beautiful. All the people I met were so friendly, bent backwards to help and had the time and interest to talk to you.
Slovenia, a European Destinations of Excellence
The European Destinations of Excellence project, or EDEN, was designed by the European Commission in accordance with the guidelines of European tourist policy.
Slovenia Tourist Board – https://www.slovenia.info/en
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