river soca

10

Falling in love with Slovenia



Neither of us knew much about Slovenia before we crossed over, so the country was a complete surprise to us both. Unsure how long we planned to stay we purchased a month vignette at the border for €30, €15 would cover 7 days so it made sense to get the longer vignette. We made the initial mistake of heading coastal to find a place to stay, but it was overcrowded and packed, hardly a surprise as their coastline is only 47km. Driving around getting stressed looking for a place to stay is never fun so we headed in land towards Tolmin Gorge, staying at a services along the way.

The weather was stunning when we awoke, hot and sunny making life easy and packing the bikes away wasn’t a pain at all. Spring was blooming all around us on the drive towards Tolmin, green is the colour that springs to mind when I think of it, everything was just green. Amidst the fields stood numerous hayracks, a structure we’d never seen before and were about to see a lot of in the days to come. 

A narrow country lane opened up to a gravel car park and the entrance to Tolmin Gorge. After paying our entrance fee and receiving a free sweet from the young boy assisting the cashier we were on our way, walking along the trail into the stunning place. Two turquoise rivers meet along the gorge; Soča and Tolminka, and have smoothed away the beautiful gorge you see today. We captured our visit to Tolmin Gorge on our video blog here.

That night we drove into the mountains, finding snow (nothing new there!) and staying opposite a closed ski slope - Theo took our little camping table for a sledging session that evening, cracking the table but having a great time. 

Bohinj lay at the bottom of the mountain pass so we visited Savica falls nearby, climbing the steps along the trail to take in the impressive waterfall and even more impressive view leading out from there over Bohinj lake. 

It was Easter weekend and we’d ran out of water, we’d been on the lookout for days but hadn’t found anywhere to fill up, and purchasing 1.5litre bottles wasn’t exactly cost efficient. Opting to stay at the campsite nearby we were happy to discover heated bathrooms with hot showers, electricity, water, and super fast wifi, and spent the next morning eating our Easter chocolate we’d bought from Aldi a few days before overlooking the river right by our door. An English couple currently living in Hungary were parked nearby and we stopped for a chat, amazed at the warmth their heater spouted out in their motorhome. Dan and Carolyn were really wonderful and had plenty of stories to share about the area.

Lake Bled was a lot closer than we’d realised so we were there that afternoon, parking up overlooking the lake by the train station and jumping on the bikes for a cycle tour of the lake. It was quite crowded seeing as it was Easter weekend, and the temperature had really dropped - it kept snowing as we stood around waiting for Theo’s timelapse to complete. Temperatures were nippy overnight so we layered up under our many duvets and pairs of socks to keep warm in the van, not having a heater ensures you stay creative in your efforts of finding a comfortable nights sleep. Watch our video blog of Lake Bled here.

We’d seen advertisements for the local delicacy - Bled cream cake - so the next morning I walked back along the lake front to buy a slab from the cafe opposite the campsite. And wow, it was delicious, especially as it was 75% custard!

10

Vršič Pass, Soča Valley, and Solčavsko

 

The next few days were about to become extreme in terms of beautiful landscapes and stunning weather. Summer seemed to blossom overnight, the green flora ramped up a notch, and the landscape took our breath away. But first, it got cold. Super cold.

Awakening the next morning in front of the waterfall to blasting sunshine but chilly temperatures wasn’t exactly a surprise – every night in Slovenia had been nippy so far. As the sun crept round the horizon and eventually touched the van it was time for us to leave so the dashboard heaters warmed us up instead as we made our way up to Vršič pass.

Speaking to Tourist Info they informed me the road may be slippery and appropriate tyres were recommended. Initially I balked at the idea of attempting the road now, our summer tyres were in no way equipped for this, but we did it anyway. And it was fine. Not a drop of winter remained on the road itself; the snow was piled in 6ft walls at the edge. Our Slovenia video blog includes our journey over the mountain in all its 4K glory.

The road was windy and bumpy, but in no means boring. Pulling up mid-way for lunch we couldn’t believe our eyes, this pass was by far one of the best we’d driven through and by now we’d driven through a lot. The snow covered mountains were rugged and enchanting, blue skies and white capped peaks took over the landscape in a 360° panoramic view. We were reluctant to continue on in case the road diminished from here, but our socks were knocked off as we crested the pass and were greeted to a full frontal mountain extravaganza directly in front of us.  

The Julian Alps are not to be messed with, they’ve got ‘Awe Inspiring Mountain Range’ plastered all over them and contain a whole lot of amazing stuff within them too. The other side of the pass leading towards Bovec was a sharp contrast temperature wise to the beginning of the pass, almost all snow had melted here and the climate was a lot more pleasant. The Soča River cuts an emerald streak through the valley, powering its way through deep and winding gorges where Marble trout meander in the clear waters. We stopped on the outskirts of Soča to walk along the gorge itself, pausing repeatedly to take in the beauty of the place – we overheard a tourist exclaim it was paradise and we couldn’t agree more. There’s a video of our time in the valley here.

Carrying on along the road we stopped in Bovec after finding a camper spot in the public car park on the periphery of the town: free water and waste dumping facilities, as well as power for a small fee depending on length of usage. We stopped there for a while to give the leisure battery a charge and Theos laptop a chance to recharge, it worked out cheaper than a coffee and we could stay in the van so we were happy.

We drove back over the pass to the panoramic location we’d stopped at for lunch – perfect for the night. Temperatures dropped to -8°C during the night and we awoke to a frozen interior, something we hadn’t encountered since Scandinavia.

Rising to watch the sun come over the mountains we then retraced our steps over the pass one last time, continuing onto Tolmin before venturing northwards for Solčavsko. Haze obscured the mountain range preventing us from getting a decent view of the area we were heading towards. We pulled over nearby Igla (The Needle) – the oldest needle in the world. It stood overlooking the road between Luče and Solčava with an interesting background: a girl the size of the giant once lived in the area and whilst sewing a garment her needle broke, causing her to drop it into the valley where it is found today in the form of a 40m high rock separate from the surrounding rocks. The Savinja river flows past the rock and we crossed over into the alpine forest by the bouncy wooden bridge connecting the two sides, having an impromptu balancing session on the protruding cables in the forest (footage here). Whilst the river was absolutely freezing it was the perfect place to have a wash so a wash in the river happened in the sunshine, feeling refreshed for the rest of the day.

The area was quiet; we only passed a few vehicles during the entire day. Driving along the panoramic road was fantastic, we saw a couple of nervous deer dart off the moment they heard our engine, and had our lunch overlooking the mountain range and valleys. We ended up going further than expected, ending up in Austria briefly before turning back and taking the correct road back into the valley.

Driving into Logarska dolina Theo spotted an A-frame cabin, immediately pulling up and diving out to have a look, accidently ripping the cabins door off its hinges in his haste. After reattaching the door he had a good look at the structure and size of the cabin before taking a few snaps and continuing on. Theo’s love for cabins grows each time we pass a unique one like this. The road took us to Rinka  waterfall, nestled amongst the mountains a ten minute walk opens up to a high waterfall cascading down into a huge pile of compacted snow. A closed bar stood high up a steep set of stairs protruding from the rockface, the balcony was still open allowing us to walk up and sit down overlooking the waterfall and surrounding area.

Not far down the road stood an out-of-the-way, secluded, car park with a softly flowing river in the background where we pulled up for the night, messing around with the pinecones in an impromptu game of baseball with the monopod.