What a pretty little country it is!
We visited Slovenia in June and it was utterly new, making the countries that I’ve visited (not that I’m counting you understand!) to be 37 countries in Europe, 12 countries in Asia, 6 countries in Africa, 2 countries in North America, 1 country in South America, 1 country in the Middle East, and 5 dependent islands! 3 countries (so far), have been new in 2017.
That makes a grand total of 64 countries and 5 continents!
Slovenia has been nothing but an utter pleasure!
And the locals have been fantastically welcoming, friendly, and enormously helpful.
If you’re just joining, and why is that?! This is what I have written so far:
Because I’m weird and I like going to interesting exotic places!
Seriously though, the reason why I wanted to go to Slovenia is because I’d heard such a lot of wonderful things from practically everyone! And remember, just two years ago, I hadn’t heard of any of the Baltic or Balkan States. In fact, I couldn’t even pronounce them!
But the other reason that I wanted to visit was because of Ljubljana. I was hearing mixed messages and that some “experts” were saying that Ljubljana wasn’t worth more than a few hours!
When I hear things like this, it makes my blood boil!
However, I am a strong supporter of Europe, and I have a weakness for tiny countries in the middle of beyond! Besides, I had such a wonderful time in Croatia, why wouldn’t I want to go to it’s “sister country” – Slovenia – too!
One of the amazing things about travelling to a country that is extremely small, is that you can do day-trips to other regions of the country, fairly easily!
Even with 7 days, we didn’t have time to do that, but if you’re determined, YOU certainly can!
This week, I’m going to tell you about the charming time we had in Kamnik!
Kamnik, otherwise known as Stein in Oberkrain, is a town in northern Slovenia, beneath the peaks of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps!
Kamnik was first mentioned in 1229, when it was an important trading post between Ljubljana and Celje, thus making Kamnik one of the oldest towns in Slovenia!
In the Middle Ages, Kamnik was one of the most influential centers of power for the Bavarian Counts of Andechs, and developed into a charming medieval town. Sadly, the only remnant of the Bavarian nobility are the ruins of two castles near the town center, and the Franciscan monastery!
Having said that, Kamnik still retains it’s rich history and many cultural sights with the Old Town still very much present in the Austro-Hungarian style, as well as it’s surrounding area, representing a starting point for the numerous outdoor activities such as hiking through the valleys, hills, and mountains around Kamnik, and the breath-taking nature of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps!
Courtesy of Ljubljana Tourism, we were invited to go on a day-trip to experience what it was like to be a craftsperson for the day, how to be a herdsman or a shepherd in the Velika Planina, and to do a few hikes up the Alps, mountains, and waterfalls in Kamnik!
We were supposed to take a local bus and make our own way to the city of Kamnik.
At first, we were a little confused as the bus station in Ljubljana doesn’t really look like a bus station, and is sort of in the middle of the road! And we thought we would be meeting our guide in Ljubljana, so we spent a bit of time wandering around and wondering where our guide would be!
Once it clicked that we were to meet in Kamnik, we found many a bus going in that direction. Our ticket was just €3.10 each, and the journey took about an hour!
Once we got to Kamnik, our smiling guide – Matej Hribar – was there to meet us!
We shook hands and then drove through the village in his car to the next meeting point, which was to the Velika Planina cable car, and also to meet our lady cheese guide!
Unfortunately, I can’t remember her name. ‘So sorry!
The aerial cable car usually takes just five (5) minutes from the Kamniška Bistrica Valley at 560m, to the Velika Planina’s Šimnovec at 1419m above sea level, which we had to go up to!
Even though we were in Slovenia in June, the weather was visibly cool and even rather foggy and misty, but the view was incredible!
And stupidly, for some strange reason, I opted to wear my nice orange suede shoes rather than my hiking shoes!
I mean, I knew that I was going hiking, and took my hooded jacket and rain coat, but it just didn’t occur to me to take my hiking shoes too!
Well, I paid for that, as my suede shoes were ruined and utterly soaked through!
The Velika Planina, otherwise known as ‘big pasture’ is an independent settlement of herders and shepherds on the Big Pasture Plateau, in the Kamnik Alps of Slovenia!
In fact, the Velika Planina is one of very few herders’ settlements of this scale, and is the largest shepherds’ settlement in Europe!
It is distinct because of the homes which are scattered around the Velika Planina.
The wooden huts and barns are single-room dwellings with oval roofs covered with pine shingles, and extended extremely low, so that space is created for livestock to be inside the huts too!
Nowadays, there are very few permanent residents in the settlement, but every June, the local herdsmen bring the cattle to the Velika Planina, move into the herdsmen’s huts, and stay there until September, to tend to grazing cattle!
Sadly, we arrived at the beginning of June, and were a little too early to see them all!
And so the hike began.
There is actually a chair lift that takes you from the highest summit in the Velika Planina at 1666m, and is used during the skiing season or for cycling and running competitions!
I don’t like chair lifts as when I was younger, I fell off the ski lift in the Czech Republic! It wasn’t pretty, so hiking down the mountain it was!
On the way down we saw many more huts, and hiking trails for brisk walking, trekking, sprinting, and mountain biking!
But do be careful, as running down the mountains and valleys could lead to breaking your ankle, as the path is rocky!
And if you’re ever lost, just follow the signs!
As part of our hike journey, we went to Preskar’s Hut Museum!
Preskar’s Hut Museum is a hut that exhibits the life of herdsmen in the 19th century. We were far too early in the season for the traditional herdsmen and workshops, but our guide – Matej – had the key, so we could venture inside!
And what an exhibition. Take a look at the photographs!
We continued our hike and by this time we were pretty peckish, so to the Zeleni Rob Lodging House we went!
And in this lodge, we not only had a bite of lunch, but we also learnt how to make cheese!
Not your typical hard cheese but a Slovenian speciality called “trnič.”
Cheese making has a long tradition in Slovenia and the Velika Planina is particularly known for Trnič, which many consider the most romantic of Slovenian cheeses!
Trnič is a pear-shaped hard cheese made in the Velika, Mala, and Gojška Planina, in the Kamnik-Savinja Alps, which resembles a female bosom!
In the 19th century, “Trnič” hard cheese was only made by the herdsmen, and was a symbol of love, given to a sweetheart as a sign of faithfulness, and also a promise of marriage! They were always made in pairs and decorated with the same ornaments.
The herdsmen kept one of them and presented the other to their beloved. If she accepted this gift, it meant she agreed to his courtship!
First, the curd is made from heated sour milk, and cream or salt added!
Next, the clumps are shaped and kneaded into a dough. We found this difficult to do, as the dough is kneaded into the shape of Ahem!
A female bosom!
Afterwards, the dough is decorated with patterned wooden sticks!
They are then left to smoke in the shingle over an open fireplace or dried in a warm, dark and airy space for about two (2) to three (3) weeks!
Finally, the trnič cheese is grated and sprinkled on risotto, porridge, pasta, soups, salads, or very thinly sliced and sprinkled with honey, pepper, olives, pumpkin seeds, or butter!
Now for a bite of lunch!
‘Remember when we had Štrukli Truffles in Zagreb – Croatia?
This time we had the Štrukli with trnič cheese and berries.
It was amaaaazing!
We needed to work off some of that delicious snack so more hiking was necessary, and a drive to the valley of the Kamniška Bistrica!
The Kamnik Bistrica, otherwise known as Kamniška Bistrica, is an Alpine river in northern Slovenia.
The valley of Kamniška Bistrica Valley is named after the Kamnik Bistrica River, which is 33 km or 21m long!
The river is one of the cleanest in Slovenia and boasts a series of natural attractions.
I wasn’t able to hike on the Koželj Trail ‘cos of the wetness of my orange suede shoes, but “The Tall Young Gentleman” did a short version, with our guide!
The valley of Kamniška Bistrica plunges from the south, into the heart of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps and is a very popular starting point for outdoor activities such as the gorges of Veliki and Mali Predaselj, and the 30 metre high Orglice Waterfall, otherwise known by the locals as Worglše, Orglice, Orličje, Orlišče, or simply, the eagle!
What can I say!
Next, we had even more food!
I think I’ll postpone it and tell you all about it in a few weeks!
That’s it for now.
See you next week.
This article is part – sponsored, and even though I’m working in partnership with Ljubljana Tourism, absolutely all opinions, and the trnič cheese that we made, are my very own!
I’ll be spending the summer in Germany!
Watch this space!
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See you in Berlin.
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