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CYCLING THE BEST OF SLOVENIA – ALPS TO THE ADRIATIC
FROM THE MOUNTAINS THROUGH THE VINEYARDS
TO THE SEA
July 19 – 23, 2009
Fantastic Scenery * Uncrowded Roads * Charming Inns * Wine Tasting
From the mountains to the sea, this Tour of Slovenia is for the cyclists who want something different in a region where few westerners have ridden.
I am excited to offer my family and friends “Best of Slovenia Tour” as part of our holidays in Europe, in 2009 year. This time we will travel to the spotlight of the western region in Slovenia and include a number of fantastic sights that are definitely off the main tourist track.
Starting in the northwest, our first ride will be in Kranj region. Next will be a ride around the beautiful Lake Bled, famous for its island castle, and Kranska Gora, a well known World Cup ski area. Here, the tranquil alpine valleys offer staggering views of tall peaks and still ring with World War I history. A big climb to the top of Vrsic pass followed by downhill cruise is in the plan for the good claimers in our group. Leaving Vrsic behind, we will be riding in the beautiful Soca valley surounded by fantastic views of the Julian Alps. This is one of my favorite places in Slovenia!
No tour of Slovenia would be complete without visiting world fameous caves in Postojna. The caves in Postojna are about 4 million years old and are home to the Proteus anguineus – a sort of blind salamander which can only live in cave like conditions. A small takes you 2 km down to the starting point of the . What you will see there is hard to desrcibe but I can assure you that Postojna has one of the most impressive cave systems in the world. Postojna Caves are open all year round. Visits last one and a half hours, and the temperature inside the caves is a constant 8° C.
This tiny country is located on the sunny side of the Alps between Austria, Italy, Hungary and Croatia. Here, one finds a land of fantastic scenery and natural beauty; alpine peaks tower above pastoral farm valleys and mountain lakes reflect the alpenglow of sunset. Vineyards dominate a good portion of the country and medieval castles emerge from tree-covered hillsides and echo a rich past. The rural character of Slovenia makes it a natural for cycling.
Slovenia has a fascinating history influenced by numerous empires and conquering nations. It existed under the Hapsburg dynasty from the early 14th century until the end of WWI, and by the middle of the 20th century became part of Yugoslavia. In 1991, Slovenia declared its independence and has remained a prosperous, peaceful nation that tourists are just beginning to discover. Formally recognized by the European Community in 1992, it was admitted into the European Union in 2004. Slovenian people are friendly, industrious, easy going and many speak English, making travel rather easy.
During the tour, you will have to use your own car (or rented vehicle) to travel between the towns and our bike rides. Cycling “The Best of Slovenia” is a tour for the riders who want to experience the diversity, history and beauty of this little known country, from the saddle of a bike.
So, the next time someone asks, “Where is Slovenia?” you can say, “It’s that little country where I’m going on my next vacation!” I hope you will join us on this fun cycling adventure in one of Eastern Europe’s most unique and undiscovered regions.
Day 1, July 19: Zagreb – Kranj (135 km)
Kranj is about 2 ½ hours drive from the city of Zagreb (Croatia). The City Municipality of Kranj is located in the central part of Gorenjska, Slovenia’s northwestern region at the foot of the Alps. It has a population of 51,000.
The City of Kranj is situated 385 meters above sea level and has a favourable geographical position at the intersection of major highways running from northern Europe to the Adriatic and from Western to Eastern Europe. Roads from the border crossings at Jezersko, Ljubelj, the Karavanke Tunnel, Ratece, and Podkoren lead here. Kranj is seven kilometers from the international airport at Brnik, and the transcontinental railroad from London to Istanbul runs through it.
In Kranj we are going to meet the Slovenian veteran cyclists, which some of us raced with, some thirty or even fourthy years ago. Zdenko initiated this event hoping to get all these old friends together after such a long time. The plan is to ride with them from Kranj to Jezersko, a small mountain village in the Alps 35 km away. Our destination is a small lake in the town of Jezersko, and the restaurant “Gostišče ob Planšarskem jezeru”. We are going to stop there for refreshments and an hour of going back in time and remembering all the cycling events from the past.
Day 2, July 20: Kranj – Bled (24 km).
We’ll begin the day with a transfer from our hotel in Kranj, to the Bled, a lovely alpine village in the Julian Alps not very far away.
In Bled, we’ll take the bikes out and go for the ride, while our families can take a tour of the lake. Our ride begins with a scenic route along the lake followed by rolling terrain to a small pass. We’ll enjoy a magnificent downhill to the romantic Bohinj Valley. From the shore of scenic Lake Bohinj you can see Slovenia’s highest peak, Mount Triglav. This picturesque town is surrounded by mountain peaks and borders a gorgeous lake. Then we’ll cycle back to Bled, where our lodging overlooks a medieval castle that is perched atop a steep cliff overlooking the lake.
Day 3, July 21: Kranj – Kranjska Gora – Bovec (55 + km)
In the morning, we’ll transfer from Bled to Kranjska Gora and Vrsic pass (1,611 m) with our cars.
In Kranjska Gora we get a beautiful view southwards, to the Julijske Alps and the valley of the Vrsic pass. I think it is worth spending there minimum two or three days (visiting the Vrsic-pass, Lake Bled and Bohinj), but we won’t have that much time.
The Vršič Pass
For those who want some uphill climbing, you can begin in Kranjska Gora for a 10 km of climbing to the top of the Vrsic pass. For the rest of us, we’ll get to the top with our cars, and than begin our bike ride. From the top you will have the ultimate downhill ride! This is one of the most magnificent passes in the Alps with 50 hairpin turns – (24 uphill and 26 downhill). Wild, romantic and a bit forgotten the spectacular Soca Valley on the other side of the mountain is where battles of Isonzo Front were fought during World War I. Hotel lodging is in Kranjska Gora..
Many cycling races use Vrsic pass and the climb itself became a legendary in the cycling world. During the Alpe – Adria stage race in 1973, your guide Zdenko was first over the top, in front of many best amateurs from all over the Europe.
The road over the Vrsic Pass was built by Russian prisoners-of-war during WWI. In 1916, an avalanche buried and killed hundreds of them (the exact number is still unkown) so a small chapel was built in their honor. Even though I included it here, it’s a chapel rather than a church — that’s why I called it “a place of worship” — but mass is held there at least once a year.
Day 4, July 22: Kranjska Gora - Bovec – Kobarid – Tolmin (77 km)
From our hotel in Kranjska Gora, we’ll transfer over the Vrsic pass in our cars. On the other side of the mountain, we’ll mount our bikes (again!) and ride on the road that follows spectacular river Soca. We’ll pedal through the most beautiful region of Slovenia along rolling terrain constantly going downhill.
The Soča Valley
Italian Ossuary, Kobarid Church of the Assumption
Tucked away in Slovenia’s northwest corner is one of the country’s most interesting areas. As we head downstream along the turquoise Soča River the scenery becomes ever more grandiose. When you tire of admiring the works of nature you can reflect on the works of man by seeking out reminders of the battles that took place here during World War One. The two main settlements in the upper valley are Kobarid and Bovec. We’ll pass thru both towns during our bike ride.
Bovec is surrounded by dramatic scenery. This is definitely the place to come if you are interested in rafting, kayaking, mountaineering, paragliding, or a variety of other organised activities – cycling included.
The town of Kobarid is just a few kilometres from the Italian border, at the point where the Soča emerges from the narrow confines of its upper course and begins to meander through a broader valley. It’s a small cluster of flower-bedecked white houses clustered around the elegant belfry of the Church of the Assumption.
By lunch time we should reach town of Tolmin where our bike riding ends. After short break for lunch, we’ll continue with our cars to Postojnska Jama which is about xx kilometers down the road.
Postojna’s caves are about 4 million years old and are home to the Proteus anguineus – a sort of blind salamander which can only live in cave like conditions. A small train takes you 2 km down to the starting point of the . What you will see there is hard to desrcibe but we can assure you that Postojna has one of the most impressive cave systems in the world.
The Postojna Cave is complex of 20 kilometres of tunnels filled with stalactites, galleries and halls, into which experienced guides have led more than 31 million visitors during the 185 years. This is the biggest cave in classic Karst, and at the same time, the most visited tourist cave in Europe. The most interesting tunnels were idiscovered n 1818 by Luka ÄŒeÄ and the locals opened the cave for tourist visits the following year. In 1872 railway tracks were laid in the cave, and in 1884, electrical wiring was installed. The Postojna Cave is the only cave in the world operating a cave train, so visitors can admire the immensity and the powerful allure of the underground world, where the geological past is revealed to visitors in its own way while riding a train. Their gazes are filled with the innumerable richness of stalactites of various shapes, colours and generations, calcareous sinters and other works of art which nature developed over millennia, and which had been admired in the previous centuries by kings, caesars, presidents of countries and other important people. Since the middle of 17th century, the Postojna Cave has been a point of interest for natural scientists and explorers, and thus it is also known as the cradle of speleobiology, the science of life in the underworld.
The Postojna Cave is open throughout the year, visits lasts for an hour and a half. The constant temperature in the cave is about 10°C.
More information is available here:
The cave under The Predjama Castle
Under the Predjama Castle, the underground stream Lokva formed an underground cave, whose tunnels are divided into four levels. The highest level is represented by Erazem’s Hole and FiÅ¾enica. An entrance into the Horse Barn and Name Tunnel (Main or Old Cave) leads into the second level where researches discovered signatures of visitors from the 15th century onwards. The third level is more pronounced in the entrance part. The fourth, and the youngest, is an active sinkhole cave of the Lokva stream, closed by a siphon, behind which lie undiscovered waterways, which lead to Vipava.
A part of the cave, the so called Western Tunnel, can be visited only by experienced cavers and enthusiasts, for the passage through narrow parts can be quite difficult. With appropriate caving equipment, an especially adventurous tour with a guide can be organised by booking in advance, of course.
Day 5, July 23: Postojna – Lipica – Labin (80 km)
On our way to the Adriatic, we’ll drive through the Karst region of Slovenia along rolling terrain. We’ll stop on route to visit one of the less “touristy” town – Lipica. Lipica is known for the famous Lipizzaner horses.
A great “downhill finale” from the Karst plateau to the Adriatic Sea takes us to the sea level and Koper region. Shortly after, we’ll cross border to enter into the Croatia again. This is where our tour “The Best of Slovenia” ends.
I am sure you all will have a blast!
So far we have 16 people confirmed for this trip. I am still expecting to hear from some invited families, to confirm that they will join us (or not) on this exiting adventure trip. Since I did not hear yet from Pavlic, Kernc, Perokovic and some others, they are not listed in this table:
|HOLIDAYS IN CROATIA 2009||Version 3.|
|17-Jul-09||FRI||Zagreb||Ladanjski Raj – Marija Gorica|
|19-Jul-09||SUN||Zagreb – Kranj||Susret Generacija:
Kranj – Jezersko – Kranj
|20-Jul-09||MON||Kranj – Bled – Kranj||Visiting Bled – Bohinj|
|21-Jul-09||TUE||Dolina Soce – preko Vrsica||training over the Vrsic|
|22-Jul-09||WED||Bovec – Postojna||training in the Soca Valley|
|23-Jul-09||THU||Postojna – Labin||Visiting Postojna cave|
|25-Jul-09||SAT||Labin||Labin – V. Losinj|
|02-Aug-09||SUN||Losinj – Labin||Leaving Losinj|
Tags: Summer 2009