Wednesday, 29 May 2013

A Journey on the Museum Train

Welcome aboard!

The Bohinj Railway, part of the large rail network that links Central Europe with the Mediterranean, is an outstanding technical achievement of our predecessors, proof of their skill and courage. This admirable monument combines the past, present, and future. It is a story in itself and weaves a rich history and tradition with the modern expectations of railway passengers. It offers an unforgettable experience of diversity in just a few hours.

Author: Misko Kranjec
Not far from the border with Austria, at the station in Jesenice we catch the train for a pleasant journey on the remarkable Bohinj Railway. Picturesque towns and mountain villages flash by, and after the bridge across the Radovna River gorge we pass through a tunnel and stop in Bled. Above this world-famous tourist resort with its lake and island a proud cliff rises on which Bled Castle stands guarding all this beauty. More tunnels and then the line follows the valley of the Sava Bohinjka River, which narrows and then opens to reveal Bohinj, a region that like Bled is a paradise below Mount Triglav surrounded by the steep peaks of the Julian Alps. 


We continue our trip through Slovenia’s longest tunnel (6,327 meters long) and from the alpine world we emerge in Primorska, a very different region with a Mediterranean climate and vegetation. Through Baška grapa gorge, whose steep green slopes rise dramatically on both sides, we soon reach the Soča River, which charms us with its unique emerald colour. Riding along the river at the foot of the hills of Goriška Brda, one of Slovenia’s best known winegrowing regions, and across the Solkan Bridge, whose stone arch is the largest of the world’s railway bridges, we reach the Goriško plain with its vineyards and orchards of peaches, cherries, figs, and other fruit. We stop in Nova Gorica, which together with its sister city of Gorizia on the Italian side of the border has become a symbol of coexistence between the countries of the European Union.

Author: Misko Kranjec
The ride continues through the fertile landscape of the lower Vipava Valley and then we cross the rocky landscape of Kras, home of the Teran wine that is offered to guests along with karst pršut (prosciutto). Finally we cross the border into Italy where the sea opens before us and our trip ends in Trieste.

Thus, in a few hours of travel on the Bohinj Railway from the Austrian border to Italian Trieste we have encountered three distinct regions of Slovenia that differ in climate, nature, vegetation, dialects and even languages, clothing, dances, and customs. Every stop offers a new and different experience.

More info HERE


Friday, 24 May 2013

Bovec, beauty of Slovenia

Bovec is located in the heart of the Julian Alps and it is close to the Triglav National Park. Bovec is a paradise for hikers, because of the variety of hiking trails, accompanied by many beautiful mountains and unspoilt nature. In the Triglav National Park you can visit the Kluže fort, botanical garden Alpinum Juliana, the Krnsko Jezero Lake, the Velika korita gorge and the Mala korita gorge and beautiful source of river Soča.

The Agency SportMix; www.sportmix.si
In Bovec valley there are many nice villages with gorgeous nature, many beautiful streams and waterfalls and other natural attractions. Bovec is also part of the Emerald Trail, which takes you from the wine roads to many other natural and cultural attractions and to a variety of entertainment. This popular tourist town is part of the Soča Valley, which attracts tourists because of its wonderful emerald color. It is considered one of the most beautiful rivers in Europe and it is an important natural asset of the Triglav National Park and the whole of Slovenia.

Bovec offers a large selection of possible activities such as paragliding, caving, hiking, biking, zipline, golf, fishing... Sports agency Sport Mix offers you a wide selection of sports activities that are carried out on the emerald river – they take care of good atmosphere and fun on the water as well as of all the necessary equipment you need to safely carry out the activities. Rafting is the most popular activity among tourists in Soča Valley - an experienced and qualified guide takes you on a one hour and a half long trip with the raft. On the trip you can stop and swim in the crystal clear Soča.

The Agency SportMix; www.sportmix.si
The Agency SportMix offers also fun and interesting canyoning. Canyoning will take you through narrow channels of streams and rivulets, which is full of natural water slides, small waterfalls and crystal clear pools. Canyoning is carried out at two locations. The first location is in Sušec, which is just 9km away from Bovec and it is also suitable for beginners. The second location is in Fratarica, where the canyon is more demanding and suitable for the more experienced ones.

For tourists hungry for adrenalin agency Sport Mix organizes hydrospeeding. Hydrospeeding on the Soča involves riding down the river with specifically designed dinghy, otherwise known as hydrospeed, which you navigate with flippers. For additional security, you are accompanied by a kayak guide on the river.

The Agency SportMix; www.sportmix.si
For experienced and inexperienced kayakers agency Sport Mix offers kayak trips - depending on your skills and experience you will paddle an appropriate part of the Soča with a guide. Agency Sport Mix also organizes kayak school for enthusiasts for kayaking who are looking for more. You can choose from 1 -, 3 - or 5-day course.

The Agency Sport Mix is ​​located in the center of Bovec, where you can visit and book the desired activities. Check out their website for more specific offer www.sportmix.si. They offer special benefits for the members of HostellingInternational. You can contact them via e-mail team@sportmix.si for any questions or bookings.


Friday, 17 May 2013

»Country road take me to Gorenjska«

Sometimes it seems that we Slovenians really do not appreciate enough the beauty of our homeland. We can boast of to foreigners about our vast forests, spacious grasslands, many castles, glacial lakes, karst features, the small but nice beach and a capital, full of life. However, how many times we go and actually spend some time in nature? I myself have missed the green hills and flowery meadows every time I visited desert regions of the world and only then I have realized what treasures are hidden in a small area of our little homeland.

Bled
At a young age parents ‘drag’ (at that time that kind of expression was suitable) me to Gorenjska as the holydays in Croatian sea were too dangerous because of the Croatian War of Independence (1991-1995). Therefore, my family and some friends spend hot summer days near the cold pools of river Soča, swimming in Lake Bohinj and Bled and in the early morning hours we were winning Slovenian peaks. Whit its charm Lake Bled has fascinated many travelers (among them Janez Vajkard Valvasor), it is surrounded by mountains whose peaks are decorated with white snow from last spring, the green trees and neatly mowned grass. It is the island in the middle of the lake that makes Bled so special. On island stands a baroque church and in the background on the mighty rock flourishes, according to written sources, the oldest Slovenian city. In Bled love is in the air all the time, romantic souls will not recover from beautiful walks and coach rides around the lake, traditional boats. Of course it is also catered for overnight stays; you can relax in Youth Hostel Bledec.

Bohinj
Only a few kilometers away from Bled lies no less romantic, but a little less tourist siege Lake Bohinj, which extends within the Triglav National Park. Best place on the lake is certainly Ukanc in the early morning hours, when the mist is enveloping around the trees and slowly rising above the calm surface of the lake. Even on hot summer days mornings are fresh, so the walk to the waterfall Savica (half hour walk) is a good morning exercise. If you're ready for a little more adventures, I recommend a hike to the Mountain Lake, then to the Mountain Laz. From lake Bohinj you drive through the Old Fužina to the parking lot. The circular route takes a little more than three hours, but it is really worth the effort. Through forests, over clearings, between boulders it leads to a small lake, surrounded by dark green pine trees, where you will be welcomed by friendly cows. From here leads a fairly flat trail to one (at least in my opinion) the most beautiful mountain, Mountain in Laz. Among the scattered house lambs are quietly grazing and their bells here and there override the birds singing. There you can still find people who spend summers in the mountains. Of course they take care for the hungry hikers. Sour milk and homemade bread is served, you can also buy cheese and cottage cheese. After such arduous hikes is nice to rest at Hostel pod Voglom that lies near the lake. I should mention that they will also kindly greet your pets.


An excellent base for many hiking tours in Julian Alps and Karavanke is also Kranjska Gora. Biking, hiking or just lounging on the grass in the Zgornjesavska Valley will relax your body and soul; the youngest will definitely be excited on fairy Kekec Land. Overnight stays will be supplied in the hostel Nika on the outskirts of Kranjska Gora near the Sava River. If in Kranjska Gora, you simply must visit the Trenta Valley. Magic glacial valley Trenta is reachable through Vršič pass and enchants with traditional houses, numerous bridges over the crystal clear Soča River. Driving through the valley, there are so many beautiful picnic areas, if you want a little recreation, you can climb to the source of the river Soča and if you're brave enough, you can take a bath in an ice cold Soča in Lepena. Winding roads on rocky slopes along the river leads to Bovec and Kobarid where the Kobarid museum of World War I. The museum recalls the suffering of soldiers in the mountains, and describes the human distress brought by the war. Tolmin, you can find accommodation at the Youth Hostel Paradiso.

Tolminc (Author-Srdan Zivulovič - Bobo); www.slovenia.si 
Gorenjska never leaves anybody indifferent, since its green forests, vast pastures, clean rivers, white peaks of the mighty mountains and many lakes and waterfalls catch attention. There are so many places for a picnic in nature, it is a paradise for mushroom picking, hiking and biking, and it is a great place if you love water sports and adrenalin. In short, let the way leads you towards insane adventures in Gorenjska.

ANJA TURK

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Welcome to Slovenia

Explore Slovenia with Hostelling International Slovenia!

Slovenia is a small and hearty country full of contradiction, which are connecting the Alpine and Mediterranean world and where the Kars melts together with the Pannonia straights. The diversity of this small country does not fail to surprise every time, even the most demanding travellers. With the smells of the sea life you can enjoy the beauty of high mountains. Is there anywhere else in the world, you can go alpine skiing and wet your feet in the warm Adriatic sea, in a single day? Mountain meadows offer you the most stunning views of river valleys and gorges carved by nature. The huge karst caves will open the secrets of the underworld to you. And the tastings of the homemade cuisine and excellent wine is just the icing on the cake. 

Kobarid, Drežnica (Author - Paolo Petrignani); www.slovenia.info
While exploring and experiencing these beauty Hostelling International Slovenia will help you with its network of 48 Youth Hostles in the whole country, which are meant for individual travellers, groups and families at affordable prices.

Hostel Pekarna - Maribor
You can experience Slovenia in a relatively short time, for this country covers only about 20.000 square kilometres. Cites are covered and connected with a good road network and offer quick access to mobile travellers. Those, who are a bit limited by being connected to public transport should above everything else visit these three destinations:

The capital, Ljubljana, has everything larger capitals can offer, but it succeeded in keeping the charms of the relaxed smaller city. It’s a picturesque and vivid city with many surprises in stored – you will not be sorry. The cultural happenings with many events is marked by rich tradition and modern creativity. The forests, rivers and lakes around it are offering perfect outdoor experience. There are 5 hostels to choose from in Ljubljana, opened through most of the year. There’s Hostel Tresor, which opened this year in centre of Ljubljana, with 105 beds in unique and carefully planed rooms, decorated in the spirit of banks and currency. hostel Park, is within the complex of a hotel and only 10 minutes from the railway station – offering many discounts. Hostel Ljubljana is meant for larger groups, for it has a bus parking and is only 10 minutes by public transport from the centre of the city. There are also two seasonal hostels Tabor and hostel DIC, which are open only during summer time and open doors to individual travellers as groups that wish to be in the heart of the city.

Cathedral of St. Nicholas, Ljubljana (Author-  B. Kladnik); www.slovenia.info
Bled with the surrounding natural beauty is one of the most beautiful Alpine resorts, known for the mild climate and thermal lake water. The beauty of mountains is reflected on the surface of the lake, sun and peace, fresh air give pleasant feelings in every season of the year for a relaxing or an active holiday. Bled is inviting business world, artists, athletes, researchers, young and old, from all over the world. The beauty convinces them to return again and again. You can spend the night in the hostel Bledec, where they’ll be happy to host you and give the homely feel to your voyage. Or you can chose the Radovljica hostel, which is in a lovely medieval town just 15 minuts away from Bled.

Lake Bled (Author - Bobo) ; www.slovenia.info
Maribor (the capital of culture 2012 and the capital of youth in 2013), the second largest city is just an hour away from the capital and is an university, cultural and theatrical city with many galleries, museums, concert and congress halls, shops, a famous park, sporting objects and more. It is developing high class tourism, which is based on excellent wine, well preserved city centre representing the long history, where gothic and renaissance are hand in hand, but the most obvious style is the baroque. The beat of the city is happening on the squares and streets of the city and the most popular area is the riverside of Lent and the oldest vine in the world, where the river used to divide, but now it combines the city. There are 4 hostels in the city. There’s the Hostel UNI in the very centre and is a part of the high class hotel. Just over the bridge from the oldest centre is the hostel Pekarna, opened as a part of the youth centre, where cultural events are taking place all over the year attracting young and young at heart. You can also decide to go to hostel Mlada lipa, just 5 minutes from the foot of the Pohorje mountain. And last but not least is the Videc hostel, located on top of Pohorje. Both are great for hikers, mountain bikers and winter enthusiasts.

Lent - Maribor (Author - Jurij Pivka); www.slovenia.info
There’s also many other great destinations, which we recommend to you, during your stay in Slovenia. For budget friendly options with high class offer, we invite you to see the list of all the Slovenian Youth Hostels on our site www.youth–hostel.si.

All the hostles offer 10% discount to HI members with the membership card, which you can get either in your country before the journey, or via the international website www.hihostels.com. Guests can decide to buy the membership card in the hostel itself by the pricelist of Popotniško združenje Slovenije. Daily guests, to whom purchase of the membership card would be more expensive than they’d profit from the discount, get a daily membership. With 6 daily membership vouchers, they can get the membership card for free and receive it from the Popotniško združenje Slovenije.

Apart the 10% discount in all hostels in Slovenia, members also get other discounts with various Slovenian tourist offers. Travellers can chose from many famous sights of natural heritage and sporting activities (rafting, canyoning, paragliding, cycling, trekking, caving, climbing, skiing, etc. ) at acceptable prices. Less active can use their discounts in one of the many museums, galleries and castles. As a tip here are two suggestions, you should not miss, while visiting our country. 

Stud farm Lipica is one of the oldest stables in the world and the birth place of the Lipizzaner horses. The tradition of raising white horses is over 4 centuries long and placed in the unique karst world and is one of the natural and cultural monuments of Slovenia. Come and see the world of the white horse at the place of its origin and at the great HI hostel membership price.

Lipica horses ( Author - Bobo) ; www.slovenia.info
Postojna cave is an underground cathedral, where centuries mean nothing. With its 20km of tourist halls, it is one of the longest and riches caves in the world and excellent for tourist visits, for it’s accessible to everyone. It was adored by about 34 million visitors so far, who rode the underground train through the lighted caverns and guided by professional cave guides. With HI membership cards you get to use the student discount.

Postojna cave
On the website of Hostelling International Slovenia you can also find other offers, where you can get a membership discount, with your membership card. 

So, what are you waiting for?! You can start your tour of Slovenia – the heart of Europe – which is also a great base for exploration of the rest of the central Europe and their capitals.