Wild Flowers, Schnapps and Dragons
My Slovenian experience with Inghams continues as we leave Lake Bled and drive south for an hour to Lake Bohinj. The drive takes us through a glacial valley filled with wild flowers. Lake Bohinj hosts the International Wild Flower Festival each year situated at the centre of the Triglav National Park.
Our Inghams guide Marko, who we now all love, tells us that visitors can also travel between the lakes by train. In the summer months, there is a scenic steam train but it is so popular that it has to be booked well in advance.
Our hotel for the night is the 4* Lake Jezero, situated on the edge of the lake. This hotel again is clean and friendly, smaller than Hotel Golf with a pool and sauna and fitness centre. Spa treatments can be booked at reception.
Lake Bohinj is bigger than Lake Bled. A 12km walk will take your around the perimeter. Mountain and electric bikes can be hired opposite the hotel at the Activity Centre. This is a Slow Tourism area set in the centre of Triglav National Park, which means that there are no buzzing motorboats or jet skis to spoil the tranquillity. The only ripple on the water is created by a passing swan, kayak or electric boat which ferries visitors from one end of the lake to the other. This again is a walkers paradise.
Marko likes to keep us on the go, so off we go to see Savica waterfall. 575 vertical steps later (I counted them!) we find not one but two waterfalls plunging 78m to the lake below.
Thankfully, to catch a glimpse of top of the highest mountain in the Julian Alps, Mount Triglav, we can take a cable car, as this is a popular ski area in the winter months. There is also a chair lift to take you higher still. Shedding its cloak of cloud for us today, Triglav is still snow-capped and looking very impressive standing at 2,864 metres.
The 2 week programme for the International Wild Flower Festival is very impressive. There is really something for everyone. Walks, talks by botanists, photographic workshops on how to photograph wild flowers, even yoga and meditation classes. Lectures on Flowers in the Kitchen, concerts in the forest and exhibitions of embroidery with flower motifs. This setting is so tranquil and spell binding that I think everyone will be soothed into a peaceful state of mind. I read that there are 4,000 species of wild flower and plant in Slovenia and a visit to the Alpine Botanical Garden Juliana, which was founded in 1926, has 600 different plant species. There are 40 species and sub species of wild orchid alone.
Before we leave it is time for us to sample schnapps as an aperitif. Marko tells us that his grandfather’s home brewed plum schnapps is 60% proof! I could grow to like this fire water.
Our exploration of Slovenia with Inghams draws to a close but before the airport farewells we visit Ljubljana. In 2016 this fine city was awarded the title of European Green Capital.
On the approach to the capital city I am reminded that Slovenia was once ruled by the Austro-Hungarian Empire and see architectural influences from that period. I am then delighted to see really fine examples of Art Deco. Ljubljana is also called the Venice of Slovenia. Ljubljanica canal snakes around the old town protectively and supports a very impressive colonnade. To cross the canal you have to run the gauntlet with fierce dragons who stand on guard at Dragon Bridge.
Today is Saturday, market day and Slovenians are out in force. The cafe culture is vibrant with sun starved Europeans promenading. Cobbled streets fit snugly around the feet of the castle above, which is the green oasis of the city. Streets encircle St. Nicholas Cathedral which in turn looks down on the central market. Stalls of fresh fruit, vegetables, flowers and local chocolate fill the square and long tables under canvas act as pop-up eating places. An ‘Oompah’ band is building up a sweat while burly men stir huge cauldrons of goulash. Equally burly women pound dough for fresh dumplings. The atmosphere is buzzing.
I could have spent much more time in this fine city. It offers green spaces, environmentally friendly public transport, pedestrian ways, museums, galleries, restaurants and fine buildings. A day’s excursion from the lakes will give you a taste of what is on offer in Ljubljana.
I decide that neither Dragons nor potent schnapps will keep me away from visiting Slovenia once more and exploring further. It is a safe, clean and beautiful destination.
Inghams offer 7 nights H/B at the 4* Hotel Jezero, Lake Bohinj, Slovenia from £575 per person departing May 2017.
Price includes flights from London Gatwick to Ljubljana and resort transfers.
For further information and to book visit www.inghams.co.uk or call 01483 791116.
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Inghams Lakes & Mountains