Archive for the ‘Tourism (English)’ Category

From Rogla to Ribniška koča (Ribnica hut)

If there wouldn’t be peaks as Velika Kopa (1.542 m), Ribniški vrh (1.537 m), Črni vrh (1.543 m) and Rogla (1.517 m), Pohorje would be 1.200 metres high plateau. But with the peaks Pohorje is a mountain range. Also at the top of it you can find lot of small streams and brooks. But not only water rumbling down the hill, but also water caught atop. Lovrenška jezera (Lovrenc lakes) is a group of about 20 lakes, which are not true lakes. They are true high peat swampland about 8.000 years old (Lovrenc). Starting from Rogla, the way is more or less flat, but if you continue to Ribniška koča (Ribnica hut) you need to go across about 200 metres higher peak Ribniški vrh. Big part of the way you walk in the shade of the forest but you can warm up crossing wide meadows. From Rogla to Ribniška koča about 3 hours are needed (1 hour to the Lovrenc lakes).

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Planica

It’s almost Planica time again. As every year. Glacial U shaped 7 kilometres long valley of Planica is every season the last stop of ski-jumping world cup. The history of ski jumps in Slovenia begun with first championship and record in 1921 in Bohinj. Jože Pogačnik jumped 9 metres. In Planica the first ski jump was built just few years before 1930, but unfortunately it was not built according to FIS standards, therefore big competitions were not allowed to organize. Unofficial world record in 1931 was 81,5 metres (by Norwegian ski jumper Ruud in Davos). A wish of Yugoslav winter sport commission and Ski-club Ilirija from Ljubljana was to build a ski jump, where would be possible to jump more than 100 metres. They decided for Planica, where the best possible terrain was found. In February 1934 there was first competition, the Yugoslavian Championship. In March the same year first international competition on the new ski jump was organized where new world record was achieved. The longest jump was 92 metres. Planica was covered with glory. It was the biggest ski jump in the world. Austrian Sepp Bradl was the first man flying more than 100 metres (101 metres in 1936). Until 1950s two bigger ski jumps were built than the one in Planica: Kulm and Oberstdorf. Bluodek tried to improve it, but anyway Planica was the third in the world. Once again a wish of local enthusiasts was to build even bigger and higher ski jump, to be again number one in the world. Brothers Lado and Janez Gorišek made a project for new one. They designed it to be enlarged if necessary. The chosen location was west from old Bloudek ski jump. First competition was organized in 1969. In 1994 Toni Nieminen as a first man jumped more then 200 metres (203 metres). World record from 2005: 239 metres by Norwegian Bjorn Einar Romoren. But with the development of the sport and ski jump, it was expected, one day someone will build new larger ski jump. And it happened. Norwegian Vikersund. And as expected, new longest ski jump was achieved. But it will come back. With new Nordic centre, which will be built in Planica in next few years, also the ski jump will be enlarged.

Programme for this year you can see here.

New ski-jumping hills in Planica

New ski-jumping hills in Planica

Banjica and Sajmište concentration camps in Belgrade

Driving towards Avala, the hill above Belgrade with TV tower and mausoleum of unknown soldier made by Meštrovič, you pass Jajinci, today memorial park, in the Second World War Nazi execution place, where their last home found over 80.000 people, mostly Jews and Serbs. Many of them were prisoners who opposed the German occupation imprisoned in Banjica concentration camp. At the place in a memorial park stands a monument of victims.

If you take an old road from Belgrade to Kragujevac you pass former concentration camp Banjica as well. It stood close to military hospital at the exit from Belgrade in direction to Kragujevac. Before Germans entered Yugoslavia, here were Yugoslav Army barracks, after it was quisling Nazi concentration camp opened from 1941 to 1944. It was intended for systematic destruction of Jewish population living in Serbia. But later beside Jews included also Serbs, Roma, captured partisans and other persons which opposed Nazi regime. All together 23.637 names are registered.

Just after conquest of Yugoslavia all Jews were removed from professional and public services, some of them sent to forced labour, they had to wear yellow badges and registration of their property started. It was forbidden for Serbian population to hide Jews.

Already in 1941 in Central Serbia and east part of Bosnia Užice Republic was proclaimed. It was the first free-from-Nazis area in Europe. Upsprings were organised in fact all around German-occupied Serbia and as a respond to rebellions, Germans from Serbian Jews demanded forty hostages weekly.

The camp at Banjica was closed in September 1944. Link to the Museum of Banjica camp.

There was another camp in Belgrad, just at the enter to the city from west. The camp was formed on the left bank of the Sava river, on the place of pre-war fairground or sajmište. The camp was named after that – Sajmište. The area was deserted at the time, uninhabited and marshy, formally part of NDH (Independent State of Croatia). The camp was formed for imprisoning of Serbian resistance members and political prisoners, Serbian Jews and Serbian Roma. The number of prisoners is estimated at 40.000 of which 32.000 Serbian and 8.000 Jewish population. More about at Staro sajmište.

Jože Plečnik

The Slovenian architect Jože Plečnik (1872-1957) significantly contributed to the appearance of three Central European cities: Vienna, Prague and Ljubljana. In Vienna, where he studied under Professor Otto Wagner, he distinguished himself with Zacherl Palace (1903-1905), which belongs among the pioneer works of the European Modernist architecture. Having designed a number of family houses, interior decorations, the Fountain of Karl Borromeaus (1906-1909), and finally the Church of the Holy Spirit in the Viennese district of Ottakring (1910-1912), he left Vienna. His works in Prague comprise the redesign of Hradcany Castle and its gardens (1920-1933) and the design of the Church of the Sacred Heart in the Vinohrady district of Prague (1928-1932).

Church of the Sacred Heart in Prague

Church of the Sacred Heart in Prague

3rd courtyard of Prague castle

3rd courtyard of Prague castle

3rd courtyard of Prague castleIn 1921, when Plečnik returned from Prague, where he had lectured at the School of Arts and Crafts, he devoted his career to urban planning and architecture in Ljubljana. He wanted to design Ljubljana, Slovenian’s new capital, on the model of Athens. All of his most significant works except for the Križanke Summer Theatre, which was built between the years 1952 and 1956, were created between the years 1925 and 1944. Characteristic of his style are Classicist architectural elements such as columns, lintels, balustrades and turrets, which he reworked and combined in a most inventive way. Plečnik’s Ljubljana rates among the 20. century’s most prominent holistic pieces of art.

National and University Library Ljubljana

National and University Library Ljubljana

Park Tivoli Ljubljana

Park Tivoli Ljubljana

In the 1980s, Plečnik’s work was presented to the world at his much talked about Paris Exhibition, a retrospective which later toured Ljubljana, Madrid, Vienna, Munich, Karlsruhe, Milan, Venice, New York and Washington. The exhibition, which was set up by the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris in collaboration with the Ljubljana Architectural Museum, was later donated to the city of Ljubljana. Currently it is on view at Fužine Castle, the seat of the Ljubljana Architectural Museum.

His the most tignificant works in Ljubljana:

  • Parish church of st. Francis
  • Promenade Tivoli
  • Peglezn
  • Šance on Ljubljana castle
  • National and University Library
  • Žale Cemetery
  • Market and Adamič Lundrovo nabrežje
  • Central stadium in Bežigrad
  • Sluice gates on the Ljubljanica river
  • Cobblers’ bridge
  • Triglav insurance building
  • The tree bridges
  • Navje cemetery
  • Zois Street
  • Revolution Square
  • Roman Wall Mirje

Vienna times 1892 – 1911

  • Zacherl house, Vienna I, Bauernmarkt 7 – Wildbretmarkt 4, 1903 – 1905
  • Parish church of st. Spirit, Vienna XVI, Herbststr. 82, 1910 – 1913

Prague times 1911 – 1921

  • Masaryk’s residence, coutyards and gardens on Prague castle
  • Masaryk’s summer residence in Lanyh, 1921 – 1922
  • Parish Church of the Sacred Heart in the Vinohrady district of Prague, Namesti Jiriho, 1928 – 1932

Plunge to Neretva river in Mostar

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Lakes of Austria and Slovenia (part 10)

From Adergas to Ljubljana

The last day we have been observing Kamnik-Savinja Alps from far. Today we continue our ride at the foot of them. At the beggining of today’s ride we see Devil’s Forest on the slope of Mt. Zaplata. The last day we have been observing Kamnik-Savinja Alps from far. Today we continue our ride at the foot of them. At the beggining of today’s ride we see Devil’s Forest on the slope of Mt. Zaplata. Legend has it that two brothers from the plains below Mt Zaplata were quarrelling over a forested plot of land near their farm when one of them bemoaned “to hell with it!” at which point the Devil himself picked up the forest and carried it on his back up the mountain. However, before he reached the top the day broke, causing him to lose his strength and drop the six hectare patch of forest where it still rests today.

First bigger town today is Kamnik. The first time it was mentioned as a town was in 1229, when it was an important trading post on the road between Ljubljana and Celje. This makes the town one of the oldest in Slovenia.The town was one of the the most influential centres of power of the Bavarian counts of Andechs in the region of Carniola at the time. The only remnant of the Bavarian nobility are the two ruined castles which are both strategically built on high ground near the town centre, one on the hill on the other side of the Kamniška Bistrica river and one practically in the town centre, on the lower hill above the main street.

Little Castle in Kamnik

Little Castle in Kamnik

In Kamnik Rudolf Maister was born. He is another notable Slovene. He was a Slovene military officer, poet and political activist. In 1918, near the end of the war when it was obvious that Austria-Hungary was losing, the city council of Maribor proclaimed the annexation of Maribor to Austria. Maister organized Slovene volunteer forces of 4000 soldiers and 200 officers and in the night of 23 November 1918 seized control of the city of Maribor and the surrounding region of Lower Styria. At the beginning of next year, to Maribor came American peace delegation, to see the ethnic structure in the city. Germans wanted this visit to turn to advantage and organized mass gathering. Data shows, that in Maribor at the time lived 80% of Germans. Lot of Germans joined the gathering. In shooting, that followed on Main Square, 13 Germans were killed by the army and 60 were wunded. Witnesses of the event dr. Maks Pohar, testified that the Austrians (some still in the uniforms of the pro-Austrian paramilitary organization called the Green Guard) attacked the Slovene soldiers guarding the city hall. He said, Austrian fired a revolver in the direction of the Slovenian soldiers, who responded spontaneously by firing into the civilian crowd. The event is known as Maribor Bloody Sunday.

Kamnik

Kamnik

We end the day and the tour in Ljubljana. Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, is a lively Central European city lying in a basin at the confluence of the Sava and Ljubljanica rivers, between the Alps and the Adriatic Sea, at 295 metres above sea level. It covers 273 square kilometres and has a population of about 300.000.

Ljubljana

Ljubljana

Ljubljana lies at the crossroads of important transport routes from Northern Europe to the Adriatic Sea, and from Western Europe to Eastern Europe, the Balkans and the Near East. Its geographical position overlaps with that of the so called Ljubljana Gateway, a one kilometre-wide natural passage between Central Europe and the Mediterranean leading through the very heart of the city, between the Golovec, Castle and Šišenski hrib hills. As Ljubljana is located in the immediate vicinity of both the Alps and the Adriatic Sea, a stay in the city allows you to enjoy skiing high in the mountains and swimming in the sea in a single day.

Market in Ljubljana

Market in Ljubljana

Legend has it that Ljubljana was founded by the Greek mythological hero Jason and his companions, the Argonauts, who had stolen the golden fleece from King Aetes and fled from him across the Black Sea and up the Danube, Sava and Ljubljanica rivers. They stopped at a large lake in the marsh near the source of the Ljubljanica, where they disassembled their ship to be able to carry it to the Adriatic Sea, put it together again, and return to Greece. The lake where they made a stop was the dwelling place of a monster. Jason fought the monster, defeated it and killed it. The monster, now referred to as the Ljubljana Dragon, found its place atop the castle tower on the Ljubljana coat of arms.

Lakes of Austria and Slovenia (part 9)

From Bled to Adergas

The village of Kropa, the cradle of Slovene iron-forging, lies in a narrow valley beneath the Jelovica Plateau. It is one of the most important Slovenia’s historic places due to its preserved architecture and technical heritage and has been protected as a cultural monument since 1953. It started to develop in the 14. century when the forest ironwork industry started to move from iron ore deposits on the Jelovica plateau towards the valleys and brooks.It has been established that over 100 different types of nails were for sale at home and abroad. In the 18. and the beginning of the 19. century, the time of the greatest production of the Kropa ironworks, there were also seven iron foundries in addition to two forges, that took care of producing semi-manufactured goods and 19 nail factories that jointly provided a living for a little over 1000 people. At the end of the 19. century, due to the crisis, competition from abroad and lack of ore, producers united into nail production cooperative. It later became the screw factory Plamen and artistic iron works UKO, which still operates today. The Iron Forging Museum in Kropa demonstrates the entire iron working process: from iron ore to a spike. It shows the economic, social and cultural conditions in Kropa and nearby ironworking location since the 15. century. The collection of nails has 94 types of preserved nails, from the smallest, used in shoemaking, to those that are 70cm long which were used in dam building. It is said, that even Venice is built by Kropa nails. Famous people from Kropa:

  • Dušan Petrač, physicist, works at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, at NASA in Pasadena

  • Janez Potočnik, economist, former commissioner in the EU

Kropa

Kropa

When you will ride up the hill from Kropa, remember the man, who won the 2012 Monte Carlo des enegies nouvelles. He lives and works in the village of Češnjica. Monte Carlo raly was 1380km long. On the first day the most important was crossing the finnish line in time, the volume of energy spent was not the issue. The second day the track was 430km long with 5000m of vertical climb and 480km with 2500m of vertical climb on the third day. If we translate the energy into the money: Andrej spent about 12 EUR to complete the race. How much energy spent the best in the rally Monte Carlo:

  1. place: Andrej Pečjak and Frederic Mlynarczyk (Dacia sandero); total spent energy 149,45 kWh
  2. place: James Morlaix and Sebastien Chol (Tesla roadster), total spent energy: 151,50 kWh
  3. place: Jean-Paul Oger and Benjamin Lardans (Tesla roadster S), total spent energy: 160,76 kWh

On the rally also took part a team in Ferrari 458 spider. For the same track they spent 154,10 l of fuel, what is 977,30 kWh of energy. They finished the race on 80. place.

Bitnje is a typical colonized village. Colonizers came from Bavaria in 12. and 13. century, in the times, when bishops of Freising (Bavaria) owned Škofja Loka and its land. They received a narrow and long stretch of land to work. At the time of arrival the land was completely forested. They had to chop the trees first and prepare the land for cultivation. The strethes were about 50m wide and 2km long. On one one side they were connected with a road, by the road was a house, barn and storrages. In base the ground plan stayed unchanged until today.

Škofja Loka, a thousand-year-old city at the confluence of the Poljanska Sora and Selška Sora rivers, was the center of the Loka dominion owned for 830 years by the Bishops of Freising, who placed an indelible stamp on the city. There is a Negro with a crown in all symbols of Loka, which relates to the legend about the land lord Abraham and his servant. The legend says that they were travelling along the Poljanska dolina valley and they met a big bear in dark woods. Bishop Abraham stopped, but the Negro drew a bow and shot the bear. Abraham had the head of the Negro pictured in the town coat-of-arms in order to thank the servant for having saved his life. The old city core boasts numerous points of interest from the past, and the Loka Castle, built before 1202, reigns above the city. Škofja Loka is considered the most beautifully preserved medieval city in Slovenia.

Town or Upper Square in Škofja Loka

Town or Upper Square in Škofja Loka

You can enter the old city crossing the Stone or Capuchin’s bridge. The bridge was built by bishop Leopold in the middle of the 14. century. The fate wanted that the same bishop, riding across the fenceless bridge, together with his startled horse fell from the bridge and got drowned in the water. The bridge was built from carved stone in the semicircular form. It was restored in the year 1888 and equipped with iron fence. In the middle of the bridge stands the statue of St. John of Nepomuk with the seal of Škoja Loka, already mentioned Negro.

The heart of the town is Town Square. There were all important buildings of the medieval town. Mainly the buildings have two stories, different coulours and three windows. If any building had four windows, the owner had to pay an extra tax for a forth window. On the stone fountain you can notice town’s seal again, the Negro. Lower Square or Lontrg runs parallel with Upper Square or Town Square. Lontrg was more like coountryside-looking square. There were farmers and craftsmen, who wanted to become middle class citizen. In groundflors were shops and workshops, in frst stories they lived. Groheč house still has an old outlook, from middle ages. It is the only one storey building built from wood.

Lontrg with Groheč house in Škofja Loka

Lontrg with Groheč house in Škofja Loka

There are another two important buildings in Škofja Loka: the castle and parish church of St. Jacob. The castle was mentioned for the first time in 1215. It housed the administrative seat of the vast feudal estate that encompassed the river basins of the Selca Sora and the Poljane Sora, and the plain of Sorško polje; the land belonged to the diocese of Freising, Bavaria, for as long as 830 years (973-1803).

The castle today houses the musum, which shows life in Škofja Loka and surrounding villages (cultural history, archeology, art history, natural science, ethnology, recent history,…).

The parish church of St. Jacob is a magnificent, late-Gothic, hall-like building that was erected in the 15th century on the foundations of a church at least 200 years older than the present one. In the past century, the interior of the church was renovated in accordance with the plans of the architect Jože Plečnik; chandeliers and a new baptistery were added at that time, too. The church tower, which bears the date 1532, is one of the features that makes the panoramic view of the town so distinctive.

The most important event in Škofja Loka is Passion play, which was recently brought back to town streets. If we look back in our history we can see that the play was written during the time when Slovenia was affected by a disastrous plague which killed a lot of people. Those who survived became very scared. They tried everything to stop this terrifying disease. They organized processions during Easter time when they performed the suffering of Jesus-Christ. These processions were proposed by the bishoph Tomaž Hren from Ljubljana who asked the Jesuits to organize them. The processions took place in the streets of Ljubljana. Behind them walked people who carried crosses or who flogged themselves. Many times the chief officer of a district of Škofja Loka Mr. Anton the noble Ecker suggested to organize a procession in the honour of the suffering of Jesus-Christ. In 1720 the Capuchin Romuald Marušič was elected in order to prepare everything that was necessary for the procession. At first he found volunteers from the city and farmers from the villages around and both valleys. Then he wrote the text and the play was performed in 1721. Later on the play was performed only twice; in 1727 and in 1728. After the Baroque period the Passion Play vanished for almost three centuries. It was renewed only in 1999 and 2000. It was a great success because about 53000 visitors came to see it. To run parallel with the Passion Play some visitors were offered special food and drink typical for the Baroque, others visited the monuments of Škofja Loka as well as those in the surroundings. There was an interruption of eight years after the year 2000. Then the authorities in Škofja Loka community decided to renew the Passion Play because they wanted it to become traditional. It will be possible to see it again this spring. It is worth to be seen because it has preserved all Medieval and Baroque elements that make Škofja Loka Passion Play unique and a very important European play. The latest Passion was performed in 2009 (800 actors, 80 horsemen, 24,000 spectators in 8 days) and will be re-staged again only in 2015.

Church and monastery in Adergas

Church and monastery in Adergas

Lakes of Austria and Slovenia (part 8)

To Bohinj

Bohinj is a valley that stretches from Soteska to Ukanc. The entrance to the basin is very narrow. Turks and Napoleon with his army turned around and not tried to invade it. They thought, there is the end of the world. This narrow gorge strethes between forested Jelovica and Pokljuka high plateaus. At the narrowest place is place only for road, railway and Sava Bohinjka river. Bohinj basin is much wider. It is caught between Lower Bohinj Mountain Range on the south and Triglav on the north. The basin is dividen into two valleys: Upper and Lower valleys. Through Bohinj we make round tour. Through the Lower valley by the Sava Bohinjka river to the lake and back through the Upper valley. The Lower valley was traditionally more farming part of Bohinj, the Upper valley was more industrial. Stara Fužina and Bistrica were strong ironwork centres. That’s already a history. The last blast furnace was closed in the middle of 19. century and business moved to Jesenice.

Vogel and Triglav, between is Bohinj

Vogel and Triglav, between is Bohinj

Today one of the main sources for living of the locals is tourism. When God’s been distributing the world among his people, he wanted to leave this part of the world for himself. But when he saw last people standing in the row, and there was no other place to give them, he decided to give them this paradise, Bohinj. The paradise attract visitors from all over the world. Lake caught between high mountains, which rise above the lake for 1500m and more. Lake Bohinj is 4,2km long and 1km wide at its maximum width. It is a glacial lake dammed by a moraine. And it’s also the largest natural permanent lake in Slovenia. Its largest feeder is stream Savica flowing into the lake from the west side. The largest effluent is Jezernica, later Sava Bohinjka river. It is interesting, that outflow from Bohinj is larger that inflow. That means, that lot of water comes from underground springs.

Lake Bohinj

Lake Bohinj

Bohinj was also an important rear of Austrian army during Soča Front in World War 1. The railway through the valley, that was opened in 1906, was extended to Ukanc on the other side of the lake. From there all material, equipment and arms were transported on the backs of horses and mules. It is said, that a train engine is still in the lake, covered by mud. Nobody has found it yet.

Waterfall Savica is one of the most famous and popular waterfalls in Slovenia. It is where Krst pri Savici (The Baptism on the Savica), the masterpiece of France Prešeren, takes place. Official height is 78m. Water from the Black Lake sink 500m higher in the mountains and come through the underground channels to the waterfall. One part of the water sink in a tunnel again and come out as a 25m high waterfall, left part of the Savica waterfall.

Waterfall Savica

Waterfall Savica

Triglav National Park is the only national park in Slovenia. It stretches from Bled to the border with Italy and from Sava Dolinka river to Tolmin. It covers almost complete Slovenian part of Julian Alps, the area of 838 km2. Its highest point is Triglav with 2864m, the lowest is Tolminka river with 180m.

Triglav from Debela Peč

Mt. Triglav from Debela Peč

The first proposal for conservation dates from the year 1908, and was realised in 1924. Then, on the initiative taken by the Nature Protection Section of the Museological Society of Slovenia together with the Slovene Alpine Society, a twenty year lease was taken out on the Triglav Lakes Valley area, some 1400 hectares: It was destined to become an “Alpine Protection Park”, however permanent conservation was not possible, in 1961, after many years of effort, the protection was renewed this time on a permanent bases and somewhat enlarged, embracing some 2000 hectares. The protected area was officially designated as “The Triglav National Park”. Under this act, however, all objectives of a true national park were not attained and for this reason over the next two decades, new proposals for the extension and rearrangement of the protection were put forward. Finally, in 1981, a rearrangement was achieved and the park was given a new concept and enlarged to 838 square kilometres the area which it continues to cover to this day.

Triglav Lakes Valley in Triglav National Park

Triglav Lakes Valley in Triglav National Park

The park is named after Mt.Triglav (2864m), symbol of the Slovenia, which is situated almost in the middle of the protected territory. From it the valleys spread out radial, supplying water to two large river Systems which have their sources in the Julian Alps: the Soca river and the Sava river flowing to the Adriatic and Black Sea respectively.

In the past the narrow valleys of the Julian Alps did not offer favourable conditions for settlement. However traces of older settlements can be found, particularly in the Bovec basin, the Bohinj area and the Upper Sava river valley. The mountain way of life has given an indelible stamp to this mountainous region. A great part was played by cattle-breeding and very early on the inhabitants pastured their cattle in the mountains (the pastures on the slope of Krn were first mentioned in 1178), and established seasonal hamlets in the high mountain pastures. From very early times people were also engaged in producing iron, they found ore in the vicinity of their residences, smelted and then traded iron products. This economic activity reached its climax in the 15. and 16. centuries when the ironworks beside the rivers in the Trenta valley, in the Bohinj area and in the Jesenice basin were established. At the same time, the forests were thinned extensively to obtain charcoal from wood for the needs of the iron working industry. On account of a lack of ore and timber the ironworks of Trenta was closed in 1778, while obsolete technology and arrival of the railway, led to the closing of the ironworks of Bohinj in 1868.

A characteristic feature of the Slovene Alps was development of mountaineering. It is one of the oldest and most popular activities in the country which led to the foundation of the famous Slovene Alpine Society. This Society played a special role in the awakening of the Slovene national consciousness during the period of Austro-Hungarian rule. In these times there was a race between Slovenes, Austrians and Germans who will climb more and more difficult. It was the time when mountain huts begin to grow, when new mountain tracks have been marked and when new climbing route have been climbed. If you don’t climb Triglav at least once in your lifetime, you are not a Slovene. Today we have a network of 1661 mountain tracks in a total distance of about 9000km and 176 mountain huts, refuges bivouacs. Mountain tracks are well marked. If you have a proper map and you follow the yellow-red marks, you’ll hardly miss your way.

Jalovec from Sleme in Triglav National Park

Jalovec from Sleme in Triglav National Park

The biggest achievements in Slovenian mountaineering:

  • Valentin Stanič is considered as the first Slovenian alpinist and one of the pioneers of European alpinism. In 1800 he climbed Grossglockner (the highest mountain of Austria) one day after the first ascenders and installed the summit cross. Few weeks later he climbed Watzmann (the second highest mountain in Germany) as the first ascender. In the year 1808 he climbed Triglav and measured his real hight.
  • Firs documented climb to Triglav happened in 1778. Four Brave Men climb it from Bohinj.
  • In 1975 Marjan Manfreda and Stane Belak as first Slovenes stood on the mountain highest than 8000m. Marjan climbed it with no additional oxygen as the first man in the world.
  • First climb to Mt. Everest was in 1979.
  • In 1998 Tomaž Humar performed 3. solo climb (or 1. solo by non American) of the route Reticent Wall (marked A4-A5) in El Capitan (Yosemite)
  • In 2000 Davo Krničar became the first man in the world, who successfully made an interrupted descent on skies from the top of Mt. Everest to the base camp on 5350m
  • In 2005 Tomaž Humar attempt to solo climb Rupal Face of Nanga Parbat. At about 7000m of hight he was stopped by bad weather and rescued by the famous helicopter action of the Pakistani air forces.

Lakes of Austria and Slovenia (part 7)

From Podkoren to Bled

Today we pass towns, that are home towns of some world famous Slovenes, to you probably  mainly unknown, but some you might know. Mainly they are athletes. First we pass Mojstrana. From Mojstrana are Jure Košir, Alenka Dovžan and Martina Čufar. Jure Košir and Alenka Dovžan are former alpine skiers. Jure won 3 gold medals and additional 20 top 3 podiums, 18 of them at slalom. That’s all Italian Alberto Tomba let him to win (they were rivals almost all his career). Rock climber Martina Čufar stood 32. times on the podium in international competition and was once champion and once vice champion. Her the most difficult ascents are graded 8c in French grading or about 5.14b in Yosemite Decimal System. In the village close to Mojstrana lived and worked Jakob Aljaž, priest, poet and mountaineer. He became known by having built mountain huts around Triglav, which fostered the development of mountaineering in Slovenian Lands. His by far the most known constructions are Aljaž Tower built on the summit of Mt. Triglav and Aljaž Hut in Vrata Valley at the foot of it.

Aljaž Tower at the top of Mt. Triglav

Aljaž Tower at the top of Mt. Triglav

Hrušica is home town of Anže Kopitar – Kopi, Slovene professional hockey player, the first Slovene hockey player in NHL and 2012 Stanley Cup winner. He started his career playing for Acroni Jesenice. Jesenice is famous after at least two things: just mentioned hockey club and steel industry. Small streams on the slopes of the Karawanks were no longer sufficient. The ore-extracting industry moved to the valley to a larger water source Sava river in 1538 and creating a settlement that was to become Jesenice. In the golden years of iron production in Jesenice iron-works stretched through almost complete town.

From Jesenice was the world’s toughest and craziest athlete, endurance cyclist Jure Robič. Robič won the Race Across America (RAAM) 5 times (a record in the men’s solo category): in 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2010. He was in second place at the final time station in 2009 when he dropped out to protest time penalties he had received. Robič swore never to enter RAAM again, but changed his mind and came back and won again in 2010. During the 2004 Race Across America, it was reported that he had only eight hours of sleep during his eight-day, 2,958.5-mile (4,761.2km) ride across the United States. On 19 September 2004, Robič broke the world 24-hour road record by cycling 834.77 km (518.70mi).

Anton Janša was educated as a painter, but was employed as a teacher of apiculture at the Habsburg court in Vienna. He became famous for his lectures in which he demonstrated his knowledge of bees. He also wrote two books in German: Discussion on Bee-keeping (1771) and A Full guide to Bee-keeping (1775). In his Full guide he noted: Bees are a type of fly, hardworking, created by God to provide man with all needed honey and wax. Amongst all God’s beings there are none so hard working and useful to man with so little attention needed for its keep as the bee. The Empress Maria Theresa issued a decree after Janša’s death obliging all teachers of apiculture to use his books. In bee-keeping he is noted for changing the size and shape of hives to a form where they can be stacked together like blocks. As a painter he also decorated the fronts of hives with paintings. He advocated moving hives to pastures. Janša’s beehive in Breznica was preserved by Slovene bee-keepers and in 1884 a plaque was put on the house where he was born. The Museum of Apiculture in Radovljica is also named after him.

About 1km of our way is village Vrba, where our poet France Prešeren was born. In 1945, the anniversary of his death, called Prešeren Day, was declared as the Slovenian cultural holiday. In 1989, his Zdravljica (A toast) was declared the national anthem of Slovenia. In 1992, his effigy was portrayed on the Slovenian 1000 tolar banknote, and since 2007, his image is on the Slovenian two-euro coin.

Begunje is a home of the most successful music band in Slovenia, folk music group Ansambel bratov Avsenik (Brothers Avsenik Ensemble). They sold 31 mio records, they also have the world record in uninterrupted playing music – more than 300 evenings in the row. Brother Avsenik are also the most times played European compositors. Their composition Na Golici is the most times played instrumental composition in the world in 20. century. Just for comparison: Bruce Springsteen sold 120 mio albums; Depeche Mode, Green Day, Beyonce, Aretha Franklin sold 75 mio.

During the time of Nazi occupation Katzenstein Castle served as a Gestapo prison. In the years from 1941 to 1945, a total of 11.477 prisoners were interned, mostly followers of the resistance movement from Gorenjska region, as well as from other Slovenian regions. The former prison in the castle houses Museum of Hostages. In the park and nearby Draga valley are 667 burial sights of hostages and partisans.

In Begunje is also Elan factory and its shop. Elan is Slovenian ski producer with long history and many successes, achievements and awards. Their invention is also carving or sidecut ski. First real carving ski was SCX ski (Sidecut Extreme) and first descent on the race was made by Swedish skier Ingemar Stenmark in Austrian Sölden in 1988. They were 203cm long. After that slalom it took 10 years this skies to be used in racing competitions. In the USA (and to the world) the carving revolution (shaped or parabolic ski, as it was then called)  was introduced in the season 1994-1995 for the first time. The engine of promotion was Bill Irwin. He was the one who, after testing the skies, believed to the success of the skies. The start was not easy. Elan was just a small player on the huge market of this industry and with 7% of market share they couldn’t turn the trend. It’s interesting, that nobody noticed the potential of this change, until Rossignol presented his carving skies. In three years only (between 1995 and 1998) the number of skies sold increased from 18.000 to 210.000 pairs. But recently, they presented another innovation or revolution in skiing: Amphibio. Basically, these left and right skis have inside edges with a traditional camber (which result in excellent edge grip and power transfer), while the outside edges have a slightly rockered design, allowing easier turn initiation and flotation. Earlier previous decade, Elan introduced the concept of an all-in-one ski-binding system and, five years ago, the benefits of WaveFlex technology. (Think softer flex with torsional stability through the concept of corrugated strength.) Elan’s WaveFlex technology has been incorporated into all models of the Amphibio line.

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Radovljica is medieval town, built on the glacial terrace above Sava river. The old part of the town forms main Linhart square with one row of mainly Gothic buildings on each side and on places preserved town wall. The square is named after Anton Tomaž Linhart, Carniolain playwright and historian. He is the author of the first comedy and theatrical play in Slovene, Županova Micka (Micka, the Mayor’s Daughter) and writer of a history of all Slovenes as a unit, rejecting the previous concept which focused on single historical provinces. The most prominent building on the square is Baroque Mansion house. The mansion today houses Beekepers Museum and Radovljica Municipal Museum.

Lectar inn

Lectar inn

On the main square you can also find restaurant Lectar. It is located in a house with more than 500 years of history and is in business for over 180 years. It was opened on the premises of an old chandlery and bakery known mostly for its lect or gingerbread hearts. This is how the restaurant got its name and trademark. Lectarstvo (producing gingerbread hearts) is an old and renowned traditional handicraft of Slovenia. The decorated pastry is made from honey dough and shaped either with a wooden or tin mould, or by hand.  During the Middle Ages, lect was popular with social elite in cities and squares, while in the countryside lect workshops appeared in the 19. century. In those times, these products were highly regarded as meaningful tokens of love.  The oldest preserved wooden mould dates back to the 16. century. Today, honey-bread products are precious souvenirs from Slovenia.

Linhart Square in Radovljica

Linhart Square in Radovljica

Lesce is a home town of another three around the world known persons. The first one is Iztok Čop, a Slovenian rower, winner of many medals from the most important world class races, an Olympic gold medallist and one of the best Slovenian athletes. The second one is Franci Petek, former ski jumper, winner of gold medal in the individual large hill. The third one isme.

Lake with an island and a church on it, castle raising above and a backdrop of high mountains and forests. That’s Bled. Due to it’s natural beauties it became one of the most popular resorts in Slovenia. Everything started in the middle of 19. century, when a Swiss doctor, Arnold Rikli, found the lake, when searching for the most appropriate place for perfect healing effect of the natural environment. Rikli proposed various therapies, mostly based on exposing the body to sun and air, called sun tanning, preferably done while naked. He is one of the forefathers of a movement called naturism today. The lake is just enough long, that rowing competitions can be organized there. Bled was a host to the World Rowing Championship already four times, in 1966, 1979, 1989 and 2011. Bled has three symbols and you should go for all three of them. The recipe for Cream cake was brought to the local Hotel Park in 1953 by Ištvan Kovačevič, chef of the hotel’s confectionery store. So far about 12 million cream cakes have been baked at the hotel’s patisserie since its invention. Main ingredients are puff pastry, vanilla and custard (a variety of culinary preparations based on a cooked mixture of milk or cream and egg yolk) cream. Traditional woodenhorse carriage can take you for a ride around the lake or to the surrounding villages. And also wooden pletna boat can take you to the island.

As you might read somewhere, the lake is of glacial origin. Well, that’s not so. The true story goes like this: There, where today the lake is, a long time ago was no water, but a valley with small hill and huge rock atop. At a moonlight, mountain fairies gathered and danced. In the green valley and steep slopes of the hill, shepherds herded sheep. Sheep grazed all the grass, which grew around the rock. One day fairies got angry and threatened to shepherd-boys: „Make a fence around the rock, or we will.“ Shepherd-boys just laughed and continued taking cattle to pasture. Sheep grazed all the grass and one night the youngest and the prettiest made broke leg on a hard ground. Fairies revenged on boys for broken leg, call water to run down from the hills above to the valley and encircle the rock on the hill, so just the rock was above the water. That’s how fairies fenced the rock on the hill to dance undisturbed in the moonlight.

Lake Bled

Lake Bled

Jalovec – the most beautiful mountain in Slovenia

Jalovec is with 2.645 metres the sixth highest mountain in Slovenia. The peak crowns three alpine valleys: Loška koritnica, Zadnja Trenta and Tamar. From the top opens the amazing view to the highest mountains of Slovenian and Italian Julian Alps and Austrian Hohe Tauern.

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The easiest way to climb the mountain is from mountain pass Vršič via Zavetišče pod Špičkom (mountain refugee), but even though you need to be experienced mountaineer, because the climb is still very difficult. From Loška koritnica it is possible to climb it via Kotovo sedlo and from Tamar also via Kotovo sedlo or Jalovška škrbina. The most difficult is climb from Tamar through spectacular couloir Jalovčev ozebnik.

07 Ozebnik

If all other climbs to Mt. Jalovec are just very difficult, the climb through couloir Jalovčev ozebnik is very-very-difficult. But definitely worth of the effort.

You see the couloir soon after entering Planica valley. Planica is well known after ski jumps. The hut is placed on the clearing with the backdrop of the jagged mountains of Mojstrovka, Šite, Travnik, Jalovec and Ponce. All mountains over 2.000 metres high. Easy path takes you through the forest to the land of stones, rocks and overhanging walls. Approaching the end of the valley the path will become steeper and from step to step more unpleasant to walk. You make one step up and you slide half of it back down. You struggle with stones and sand all the way to the foot of the wall. Just before a path to Kotovo sedlo branches off. From here you have three possibilities:

  1. to go right to Jalovec via Kotovo sedlo,
  2. to go straight and soon after left to go to Jalovec via Jalovška škrbina or
  3. to go straight all the way to go to Jalovec through couloir Jalovški ozebnik.

The way via Kotovo sedlo is by the time and difficulty quite similar to one via Jalovčeva škrbina. The way through couloir is at least one grade harder. Jalovčev ozebnik is a steep, deep and narrow couloir between Mt. Jalovec and Mt. Goličica. In the winter, when there is enough snow, skiing it and slope all the way down to the hut might be very enjoyable (max. 45°). If you are good prepared and experienced enough to climb very crumbly grade II (UIAA) it is worth of the effort. By being prepared I mean to have at least helmet, crampons and axe with if not even rope, harness and other free climbing equipment. In the couloir is snow all year around.

The easier way goes around Mt. Goličica you see on your right hand side. The one is equipped with pegs and iron ropes. When you climb Jalovčev ozebnik you leave the path at the bottom of the couloir and join it again at the top of it. From there follow a marked route to the top of the mountain. There are some short sections that need to be climbed, but all such sections are equipped with pegs and iron rope the way to be easier to climb. From the top an excellent view will open and there you will see and feel, why this mountain is the most beautiful in Slovenia.

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