Big bends, bendy sausages, mind bending schnapps.
There’s a short distance, but a serious drive, to be done today.
We pack up early and leave the site at 6.30am in heavy cold rain.
It’s going to be hard, but at least we’re out before the mad Italians get on the roads.
Today our destination is the new home of long term friend, photographer Frances Gard, in the Bohinj Lake region of Slovenia.
ArchieVan and I are now becoming more comfortable with the mountain passes, even in heavy rain. Polly though still has no love of the constant switchbacking, and generally pants her distress. The poor girl will eventually get used to it I know, but I don’t like knowing she’s uncomfortable.
It’s a green lined route – and beautiful often means bendy – sorry Polly! After doubling back to Dobbaccio we followed the gathering Drau river until Arnoldstein for a coffee and fresh raspberry strudel breakfast.
Fortified, and thankfully so, we tackled the little used Wurzen Pass. At 1073 metres it’s hardly one of the greats, but blimey the road up to it was steep. I loved this sign – and it was bang on. Archie climbed in first and second, occasionally with brief forays into third.
This is a country that seems to take its green credentials seriously, not selling out everytime Big Oil offers another handout. The rivers are clean, the lakes are not only beautiful but hold plentiful fish stocks, and farming is extensive in the true sense of the word. This is one of the most forested countries in Europe and its capital is small, cosmopolitan, cultured and 2016’s green capital.
As with entering Switzerland, you are most definitely in a different country having come over the pass. Most immediately noticeable were the open barns, for drying grass crops, logs, and sliced timber. Throughout the area we travelled through these beautiful structures crop up, and in close proximity too.
Having set off so early I was pretty tired as I drove through the rains, dependent on my new friend, the lady at Google. Thankfully she knew where my friend Fran lived and delivered me to the bottom of Fran’s track.
Koprivnik v Bohinju.
I couldn’t swop the far west of Cornwall for this, my heart is too strongly attached to the place we currently call home, but blimey, this does give Cape Cornwall a run for its money.
Our friend has bought a big cottage, and a much bigger barn from which she’ll create her home from next year. It’s a massively exciting project, and I hope I can help in some small way.
Our experience of Slovenia from two brief visits is one of overwhelming nature. Clean rivers. Karst scenery. Lakes. Few people. And an overwhelming sense of the joy of life.
Up the road Bled is overrun with tourists, stop for one Japanese to cross the road and wonder where all their friends have come from, armed each of them with well used cameras.
Minty joined us on Monday, flying in to Ljubljana and a simple pick up at the small airport – Polly and I have to behave now! Although saying that we’ve been disciplined and kept the van clean and tidy, the morning sweep out is now just a part of the routine.
Bohinj though is a slightly smaller lake down the road in the Triglavski National Park where we swam, walked and even tried SUPping (nothing to do with drink – stand up paddle boarding).
Thanks to our friend and her connections we attended a wonderful concert of Mozart’s Requiem in Ljubljana, where we spent a while ambling the streets before hand. This is a city of beautiful people, faded glory, rubbing along with the most modern and challenging – in particular some wonderful sculptures.
After our cultural injection, and an entertaining multi lingual gathering in Ljubljana’s old town ArchieVan swims back through incredible rains for an hour or so. Sleep. Tidy up at Fran’s. Then head north to Austria.
Music: OK Computer, Radiohead. With frequent replays of the magical track “I promise”. Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack to Once Upon A Time In The West.