Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Lake Bohinj to Skofja Loka

May 26th - We woke up to a gorgeous day that quickly turned to mist, then soft rain, then rolling thunder and steady rain – all as we climbed up the challenging hill to Bohinj Pass – 850 m up in 10 km distance, roughly half a mile uphill in 6 miles distance.

We reached the 1,311 meter pass with only a few rests and a little walking. And the mist lifted so we got a little view. Then it was a lovely but chilly downhill ride. One of the villages we passed through was the home of the impressionist painter Ivan Grohar (1867-1911). We stopped at his statue and took a picture of the very scenic town, Spodnja Sorica, with wildflowers in front.

Spodna Sorica

Though the rain stopped, we were definitely cold and wet and looking for a restaurant for a hot bowl of soup, but it was Monday and most restaurants were closed. We did find a courtyard with a medieval blast furnace for smelting iron, but it wasn’t blasting anymore.
Medieval blast furnace for smelting iron
A little further down the valley, we finally found an Art Café open and had the best cappuccino’s ever for only 1 euro each! After eating some bread, cheese and apple, we continued our downstream journey, and saw a hay rack with hay on it.

Hay rack with hay!
After 6 hours, we had managed 58 km (36 miles) and entered the town of Skofja Loka, where we would spend the night.

Skofja Loka (SL from now on) is the best-preserved medieval village in Slovenia. The town was established more than 1,000 years ago, and archeological finds show settlements from at least 22,000 years ago. SL is at the confluence of 2 rivers – the Poljane and the Selca – and a natural terrace above the confluence supports a large castle. A defensive wall, from 1318, with five town gates was built for protection.

Stone Bridge - over 600 years old
We toured the old town with the beautifully painted buildings, requisite fountain and statues. We are continuously impressed with the longevity of the buildings and the care that goes into maintaining them. They are even reconstructing the cobblestone streets and walkways that had been paved over with asphalt.

We had dinner in the old granary – which was rebuilt in 1513 after an earthquake damaged the original in 1511. My dinner, pictured below, is a local pasta dish stuffed with potatoes and then covered in  mushroom sauce. I had bread with it as well, so I triple carbo-loaded!

Slovenian pasta stuffed with potatoes
We wandered home, satiated after a great day of biking, sightseeing, and eating. Thank goodness many Slovenes are excellent at speaking English (and often German, Italian, etc.), or this is what we would be trying to decipher!

The brilliant Slovenes read and speak this beautiful language!

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