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Published: October 13th 2021
So we left you on a cliffhanger... had the parcel arrived, well of course it hadn't, so we decided to cross the border, completely unnoticed into Slovenia. Our idea was to stay close to the Border so we could drive back when or if the parcel arrived.
It turn out that at our first stop we find that Slovenia has gone into stricter lockdown and proves the case when we are almost unable to buy a glass of wine at the hill top village we are spending the night in. After viewing our Covid passes we get our first glass of local Slovenian wine! Followed by a local supplier where I purchase a litre and half, the size of the empty water bottle! for 3 euros, and very palatable it was. The next problem could be our ability to purchase diesel which would then force us back into Italy, but as we drive into the Petrol station no checks are made and with a full tank we head further in. That is when we find out how hilly Slovenia is. With its windy roads?!? 80% of the country is above 300 meters and the rest well you guess it is
where the roads go. So Slovenia becomes our road of circles, and repeated trips on the same roads.
We make a short hop to Skojan Caves, Slovenia has a few but we pick this one because of its phenomenal size, something you really can’t fathom until your in it!! Not only do you have to negotiate over 1000 steps, you descend some distance, no photos are allowed (of course some people do!) but in many ways just walking and absorbing the caves without wondering about the best picture angle is quite refreshing. The river runs along the bottom of the cave and as you descend a plaque commemorates the 330ft high water mark that has been achieved, today the river is a trickle. The largest and most impressive of these is Hankes Channel which goes into Martels chamber, this underground channel is approx 2.2miles long, 33-197ft wide and over 450ft High!! After a 4 mile walk we reamerge to make our way back and up to the start, a tiring but mind blowing visit.
The following day the call comes from the Italian campsite, the part has arrived so we head back and spend a few hours back
on the beach much to Poppy’s delight. Our overnight stop really shows the real spirit of ‘van life’ one up from just holidaying! We arrive at the aire at Palmanova, Italy and its full. I am just talking around the opportunity of us tucking ourselves in, when Gerard, a Dutchman approaches and says ‘you look tired would you like a cup of coffee” truth be known we want to collapse but hospitality should never be declined, this leads to Lasagne (I make a salad) and an evening of chat and travel stories unfolds. A gesture which sums up the best of this travelling community. Palmanova turns out to be a fascinating stop its a star shaped fort designed in Venice and built around 1593, in good order and open so that you can meander by its walls as are daily dog walkers.
But we need to move on, we have made contact with Sonja and HP a ‘which country are you in??’ creates an opportunity to meet at Lake Bled so we have 3 days to get there. Our last meeting was when we were all stuck in Morocco at Camp Ourika, we were a supportive gang during our
forced 2 months of lockdown and made good friendships so it will be lovely to see them again. They have travelled from Switzerland.
We make a stop at Tolmin on the river Soca known for its aqua waters, although a little depleted are very tranquil and accords us an educational and moving find of an ossuary. This ossuary, a place or a building for preserving bones dug up from previous graves. We chance upon The German Charnel House built by the company from Munich in 1938, there are the bones of 965 German soldiers from the Austro-Hungarian campaign, this house commemorates the last battle of the Isonzo Front. The so called 12th offensive proved fatal for those buried here who supported the Austro-Hungarian army with only a few divisions, a fitting resting place with a long view down the Beautiful Soca River.
The campsite at Lake Bled sits at one end of the Lake and Bled the other. After Sonja and HP's arrival and tea and cake we go for a leisurely walk into Bled, that evening we open a bottle of the Champagne from France, its accompanying curry may be not ideal, but the situation perfect! HP
(Hans Peter) is our walking guide for the next days 5km walk. What I didn't realise, perhaps the others did, it was literally 2.5km up and then the same down on some very dubious stairs, well definitely not the best for a person who suffers from a fear of heights!! The dogs descent is not very elegant but we all get down and celebrate with a lovely slice of Kremnista, a rather large Slovenian custard cake... Well deserved after, for some, a tiring walk.
We move on to make our way to the Vrisc Pass, Slovenians tourist mountain pass, to be fair the passes we have done so far have been challenging so we can’t wait to see what this one affords! The weather delays us and luckily with a tip from Sonja we head to Planica Nordic Centre it is the only centre in the world with 8 ski jumping hills, varying heights and the largest looking rather scary... much to our delight the sprinklers come on and out come the ski jumpers. All ages are covered the youngest probably only 8 years, I chat momentarily with one of the youngest who tells me he is from Poland.
We are both trying to rescue a toad that has made his way into the crash zone, for these novice jumpers are unable to stop they clatter their skis and them into the run off board, and the toad is in the zone, but the athletes they brush themselves down, grimace a bit and then go back for more! And the toad well he is steered to the side out of harms way.
The next morning we cross the road to Vrisc – The Russian Road, originally built for military purposes in the early 19th century and followed an earlier trade route. On the way up is a small Russian Orthodox chapel built by Russian POW's to commemorate those who died during its construction. The pass is expectedly busy, there are parking spots but we are too large to fit most and its on our way down the 50 hairpins that we find a place to stop. It affords us spectacular views up and down this pass which make the journey worth it, but we are glad when we have finished as Slovenian drivers and others don’t heed to a large Motorhome on the road.
We finish our
time here in Ljubljana the capital of Slovenia, its a lovely capital, has a young feel about it and there are plenty of street cafes and the market large and diverse is up and running. We soak it up with the architecture of the city as it meanders along the River Ljubljanica with its many bridges. Its a fine way to finish the visit to this country.
We had done no homework on this country, that’s nothing unusual, but we have found some real stars of this trip and that is in our opinion the best way to Travel!
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