In my next few blog posts I will write about my holiday adventures in Slovenia, the first time I have been abroad as Andrea; as it’s a holiday, and quite a long one, then there will be quite a lot of photos! Before I departed it seemed like it was quite a big step in a way, the first time using my passport, the first time travelling in busy airports and on planes, and of course the first time in a foreign country. Just how would people there react to me?
It was a damp, drizzly morning… and so I relaxed and took it really easy – just what holidays are all about! I painted my nails (something I’ve not done on a summer holiday before), read some of a novel, rested and listened to radio shows. In the afternoon I went into the town and browsed the few shops there, in one I had a good long browse and eventually bought a pretty hand bag – the lady owner was very pleasant and eager to help, and I also bought postcards from her.
After breakfast I chatted to another British couple, from Newcastle, for a while, and suggested a walk to them that I did on the Sunday… but within an hour it was raining, and so I rested again until 5.00pm when it finally dried up and I just had to get some fresh air; I had a two hour walk up and down a river valley, near the hotel I noticed a cyclist pass me from behind and give me a quick look up and down. Back at the hotel I caught up with the couple from the morning, and also another lady, then later I had a good chat with a Scottish girl – the couple ended up also talking to her about their day, and their walk that they said “this lady suggested it to us” (i.e. me).
Wednesday was, finally, a good, dry day, although there was alas a lot of low cloud which obscured the higher mountain peaks from view for quite a bit of the day – good for walking, not so good for photography, another hobby of mine. It was lovely and warm though, and I did a long walk from nearby village Ratece back to Kransjka Gora, including two climbs that together exceeded 4200 feet which is more than the climb of Ben Nevis in Scotland from its valley floor; I noticed quite a bit of interesting looking fungi along the way as I traversed the forest paths. My first climb of the day was to a tree-clad peak called Pec, the walk itself is called Tromeja which means ‘three borders’, this is because it marks the border point between Slovenia, Italy, and Austria; every year members of the three nations meet here, the conical construction behind me in the selfie is the point where the countries meet. I then walked roughly along the border for several hours, and eventually back into Slovenia… where I got a bit panicked towards the end of the afternoon because my walk went on and on as I struggled to find a way down the steep valleys, due to the absence of marked paths, from the forest logging tracks which zigzagged seemingly for ever; I really got quite upset as time went on and, although the occasional views through the trees were worth the walk, I was immensely relieved once I got to the valley bottom.
A beautiful, sunny, hot day, with a major walk of 16.5 miles. I took the bus from Kranjska Gora to nearby Ratece, near the Italian border, and then walked a few miles to two nearby lakes in Italy, and around one of them from where the picture just below is taken; on the way a guy on a small, motorised plough paused in his work to give me a big smile. Then I climbed about 1200 feet to a refuge, at which points visions of climbing further evaporated as my legs felt like jelly, perhaps from the climbs the day before, and so I took another, more gentle path back down to the lakes – on the way I caught up with a very loud, Italian summer-school group, scrabbling gingerly down the slippery forest path in plimsoles and trainers, eventually a girl just in front of me who had given me a couple of glances figured I wanted to get by, and so said to her friends something along the lines of “Move aside for the Signora”, and as I passed others said similar things, all calling me Signora… which was really quite nice. Then I walked all the way back to my hotel, buying an ice cream along the way.
I had a rest day from walking, and had quite a social day on a day-long coach trip to visit two beautiful lakes in Slovenia; it was a good day, with not too much driving in it. Our initial stop was at Bled (pronounced a bit like ‘Blade’), quite a touristy town with a lovely big lake before it. We first went to the castle, perched on a cliff overlooking the lake – the guide took us around the grounds, including looking at one of the first printing presses, the views, and a museum in which there was a huge 3D landscape map of the entire Julian Alps area and he asked where we thought our resort was, when nobody immediately answered I pointed to a spot at the bottom of a valley and said “Is it there?” and he said “Yes, the lady is right”! This selfie is taken from the castle, and shows the church on an island in the lake.
We had a good amount of free time at the lakeside, including a piece of ‘free’ Bled cream cake – the tradition is that when a guy wants to date a girl, he takes her for a walk around the lake and then buys her some of the cake… and, well, of course nobody offered to take me, but I had a nice time wandering around, in a few over-priced shops, and then into the impressive church nearby, its spire stretching towards the castle enclosing a beautiful interior (see photo). Some people actually went swimming in the lake, for the water is very warm, almost 27C degrees… though definitely not me, I am not a swimmer… and my hair and face would have washed away even had I joined those intrepid swimmers.
Then we drove onto Lake Bohinj (pronounced ‘Bochin’) where we went up and down a cable car (with stunning views), to an old church on the lake side, and an hour of free time to wander around what has now become a potential tourist destination for me now.
Back at the hotel, after a little walk beside the lake in front of my hotel (see below) on a warm evening, I had the usual nice chat with the Newcastle guests, and later a catch up with the Scottish girl again – when I told her about my lake trip she asked “were you wearing a white hat?” and, when I said yes, she replied “I saw you by the lake side, I said to myself that looks like the lady I the room next to me, she did say she was on the lakes trip today”… and so we compared our opinions of the area, me glad of course that she thinks of me and labels me as a “lady”.
(end of part 1 – thanks for reading)