Slovenia 2012

What did we do

Slovenia was the first part of Yugoslavia to break away and it provided a beautiful 12 days cycling. 13 of us set off from Preddvor to circumnavigate this beautiful country.

Starting at Preddvor just to the west of Ljubliana we headed south to Kranj and then over the mountains to Bohinj. I had no real thoughts as to the scenery, but this was Austria surely? All the houses had a compulsory order to display everlasting geraniums from window boxes and everywhere was clean - lovely. The flat ride to Kranj was replaced by a very steep climb and a descent to Zelezniki, but the reward was a great view and pizza for lunch. Bohinj was next but another hard long climb awaited us via the ski station that was full of walkers and coffee. Bohinj was beautiful, sited by the lake and the busy outgoing traffic late on Sunday, showed that Slovenians liked this place too.

Lake Bled beckoned the next day. Half the group went over the top, whilst the other half took the valley route having admired the multiple Toplarji's that lined the fields where hay is hung to dry. Lake Bled is famous for Blesjski otok, or in English, the 15th century church on the island. The horse carriage rides and tourists everywhere suggested this was indeed an attractive place. Over a hill and into Triglavski National park for a smooth gravelled road, throuh an area where partisans roamed in WW2. A fabulous cycle track took us to the outskirts of Kransjka Gora.

The big climb awaited, over the Vrsic pass. 24 switchbacks, all numbered - how helpful. The flat bits were steeper than the switchbacks but the reward was apple strudel at the top as Phil welcommed us all in as we arrived over a 2 hour gap. The descent took us down, down and down again to run alongside the blue Soca river. A poignant reminder of just how much this country has been fought over was made at Soca where 800 Italians were buried during WW1

Rest day in Kobarid, raining, water, river soca.....rafting of course as 11 of us splashed and jumped about in the cold drinkable? water and our guide trained the olympic K2 champions, or so we were told.

The next day started wet, so we chose the valley road via Nova Gorica rather than over the top via Cepovan. Highlights were pizza at Kanal and standing on the 17 metre diving board above the Soca river that was just .......there, strapped to the bridge. Now that wouldn't have been seen in the UK. We were now in the wine growing areas and there was a distinct Italian feel, anyone speak the language?

The Bora winds can occur at any time, but especially Nov-March, so we were unlucky to find winds of 102kmh the next morning. We took the ride through Vipava that protected us from much of the wind. The small town was a classic, fabulous ice cream made by mummy bar tender and the most amazing artwork in the church. The zig zag climb took us to 17km of track that wended its way through the woods to Bukovje. A coffee and a dance at the bar and onto Postojna and its caves. We stayed at Rakov Skocjan in a hotel in the woods, wonderful

Industrial tourism comes no better than this, the caves at Postojna at 27 euros wasn't cheap, but they are worth the visit. About 400 coach parties and us were crammed onto 2 trains and like a Disney ride sped into its interior. There divided into Italian, English, German and Slovak speakers we were ushered along to the sounds of chatter and 'no photography' at a fast pace whilst admiring the 15000 year work of nature. I dropped back, stood still and let them all pass. Being alone with the drip drip of water and the stalemites was very memorable

North to Cerkno. It was Sunday, so quiet roads. Two routes, half went the main road to Idrija and thena delightful gravel side trip. Half of us went via Logatec and its coffee/beer cafe (they are everywhere) and the quieter back road up to a plateau, where the mountain views were extensive. lunch at a pizza place, more undulations before a final fast descent to Cerkno

Last cycling day to Preddvor and nature takes revenge. The route goes up via the ski station. However the back road has been washed away and repairs are nearly 3 years now. owever we were allowed through having checked at the tourist office (just bicycles) The final climb over the top after Zelezniki was yet more views, geranium, Toparji's and greenery, beautiful.

The holiday finished with a trip to Ljubliana. Enough for a day, a funicular ride to the castle and a river trip set the scene amidst cafe culture and a pedestrianised central area, a fitting end to the holiday.

Slovenia is a regular for CTC Holidays, I'd go back and would thoroughly recommend it.

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