Slovenia 2016 Day 15 – Lake Bohinj and Trenta Valley

At 630am, I was woken up by baby K who was sleeping close to our legs. Quickly I shifted him back to original position. I couldn’t return back to sleep and googled good sunrise location and was surprised to find good view recommendation at Osojnica. Informed wife who was barely awake and quickly got out of bed.

I left at about 7am and quickened my pace in order not to miss the golden hour, the time when the scenery would look the best with the rising sun. Brought along my mifi and followed Google map, which showed a possible shortcut to the location and I took it. And as with the usual trekking in the forest using a shortcut, I got lost and ended up climbing steep hills to get to the top. There were no signs around and while I depended on my iPhone to guide me, it died (the battery was not so good already and I had Wifi on which drained it even quicker). The android that had the data plan on was working but somehow I didn’t know how to operate due to unfamiliarity and outdated apps (belonged to wife who had fully customised it with weird icons that I couldn’t decipher where the map was and also because it hadn’t been in use for a long time, the apps weren’t updated). I was on my own, like a survivor. After struggling for a bit, I finally found some routes that looked more like a clear path. Following it towards the lake direction, I finally ended up at the viewpoint. Beautiful view of the lake, definitely worth the climb.

Morning view
Viewpoint with a seat
Another viewpoint
Beautiful Lake Bled in the morning

I spent some time taking photos and selfies and also a deserved break from all the climbing to catch my breath. When I am finally ready to go, I found myself at a lost again, because I didn’t take the right route Initially, how do I return? I tried to follow the path back where the signs indicated a long journey back, I was doubtful. I ended up at another view point. Then it was just about do or die, I followed the direction towards Bled and as the path became clearer and wider (although there were multiple terrain changes from muddy to rocky to track), I knew it was right and then the feeling of relief when I saw people walking in the opposite directions and the main road. It was still a distance from the apartment and my brisk walk became a slow jog as I headed towards the apartment. I got back at 840am, got some drinks to quench the thirst from the morning exercise and returned to the apartment. I was pleasantly surprised then baby K was still asleep in bed.

Muddy terrain
Rocky terrain
Sandy terrain
Another view of the church

Baby K was cranky as he woke up, maybe he was tired. We were going around places near the lake for a visit, and one such place was the beautiful Lake Bohinj, a much bigger lake then Lake Bled. It was a short drive there, we managed to park at a public carpark as it was still early and paid 1.5 euros per hour for tickets. It was quite cold in the morning as we walked around the bank of the lake to take some photos. The water was so clear and looked like I could just drink from it. After that, we visited the tourist information center to see if what else we could do there. We walked to the small but interesting Church of St John the Baptist, and found it full of people from tour group. Then walking towards the bank again, we saw another family nearby, feeding ducks that were waddling in the shallow waters.

Parking ticket dispensor
Goldhorn Statue
Church of St John the Baptist
Inside the church
Tourist Information counter
Calm Lake Bohinj

Enough of being so close to water, we returned to the car and drove to Vogel, a gondola station that would bring us up into the mountains. The car park at the main level as the station was full so we parked at a level down, closer to nature. I bought the tickets 28euros for the gondola but there was a family package tickets which was only 12 euros but it was not available to us as baby K was too young to be considered as a family (weird but true). There was a schedule for the gondola and missed the 1130 one because while we were about to board, I showed the staff the receipt which I thought were the tickets and he told me that these were not the tickets. As mommy was pissed off with me, I ran back to the ticket counter and the staff there who wrote me a voucher for me to take the gondola (whom was herself pissed that I dropped my tickets which I explained that I didn’t receive any in the first place). We managed to board another one just before the scheduled 12 noon one.

Vogel receipt
Way to Gondola

As the gondola climbed steeply, we were offered the beautiful expansive view of the lake, the view constantly changing subtlety as we gained elevation. At the top, we could see the lake acting like a mirror, reflecting the mountains that surrounded it and also the fluffy clouds in the skies. At the top, the ice capped Julian Alps could also be seen. However, there weren’t much to see other than the view. We walked around the area to take some photos and didn’t venture further like the others who took the time to explore deeper than we did. There was a chair lift meant for transporting skiers but we didn’t pay for that (neither was it operational). Ended up at the cafe where we ordered some drinks before returning to ground level in the gondola.

At the top
From the top of Vogel station
Another view of Lake Bohinj

We drove back to the same parking lot and was lucky to find space, for another 1.5euros. We walked to the nearby cafe Pod Brezo Skalco to have our lunch, and ordered Panini ham and cheese and Slovenian desert cake, all for about 6euros. K was cranky and cried a lot and made a ruckus. After the uncomfortable lunch, we returned to the car and K fell asleep.

Panini for lunch

There were 2 more places to visit and one was the Vintgar gorge, about a 30mins drive away. As we got closer to the destination, what was initially road converged to small streets. We parked the car at the free parking space and checked out the ticket counter by myself (as mommy stayed with the snoozing baby), it costed 5 euros per entry with an estimated 30mins one way walk. Decided that we would skip this since it was said to be a smaller Plitvice, which we had already experienced it ourselves.

Small town on the way to Vintgar gorge
Vintgar gorge ticket counter
Stream near Vintgar gorge

Our last place to visit was Trenta valley, this was a longer journey away, smacked in between the Julian alps. Before we got off onto the smaller roads from the highway, I got the car topped up with petrol at service stop. The entire journey was about a 1.5hrs drive one way. The challenging part of the drive was the mountainous road that consisted of 24 hairpins up and 26hairpins down. The beautiful views along the way that accompanied us made the journey a little more enjoyable. As we went through the Vrsic Pass, there was a Russian Orthodox Chapel that was mentioned as something worth a visit. Wife went to have a look as I stopped by the road. We chose not to take up too much time there as before us was a bus load of tourists whom have disembarked to visit the chapel too and we didn’t want to end up driving slowly behind the bus. Baby K woke up as we continued on the roads so I slowed down to avoid any puking incidents. Along the way, we encountered cows grazing near the roads and even on the road while we were going downhill.

Russian Orthodox Chapel
Face to face with a cow
Julian Alps on the way to the Trenta Valley

We arrived at Trenta valley and parked at one of the open yard before visiting one of the small store to buy drinks and yogurt. We soaked in the calmness of the little town sitting on a wooden bench while baby K ate his yoghurt, our family surrounded by the mountains and the sounds of flowing water in the background. There was a tourist info center where we visited to use the toilet and bought ourselves a souvenir. After this short stay, it was time to get back, and it was the only the same way back (at least the shorter way back). I drove slowly and everyone seemed fine. We stopped at hairpin 28 as there was a viewpoint of the valley in which I took a few photos. We got past the hairpins and arrived at a little lake called Lake Jasna and stopped there for a breather and took the opportunity to feed the ducks there. After the 10mins of rest, we hit the the road again.

Shop at Trenta Valley
Tourist information counter
Trenta Valley
50th hairpin
Trenta Valley
A water mill at Lake Jasna
Lake Jasna
Another statue of the Goldhorn

Baby K asked for milk and bread and biscuits while driving back and it was quite a smooth journey. But then our nightmare returned when baby K puked the second time this trip just when we were reaching the apartment. We brought him up to apartment quickly to bath and mommy also washed up while I brought detergent to wash car. The familiar smell was back. The only difference this time was that I didn’t have to return to the apartment to fetch water, I only needed to go to one of the drains where fresh gushing water from the streams was readily available (I left the keys in the apartment and was locked out anyway and couldn’t enter! Thankfully somebody came out from the building and I was able to retrieve my keys).

After all the washing, we got ready for dinner and walked to the same restaurant we previously had lunch the day before. This time around, we chose the seats on the inside to avoid the cold. Ordered Gnocchi, chicken fillet Ljubljana and grilled dory. This was the first time for baby K to have outside food completely for his meal and as usual he didn’t eat a lot. For desert, we ordered Grmada which was pretty delicious. All these for 55 euros, paid with card.

Chicken fillet Ljubljana
Grilled dory

The night was about washing again, had to clean up the smelly clothes and hanged them in the balcony and hoped that the cold would dry them by the time morning come. After the work, it was bath time and then joining mommy and baby K in bed, who both had gone to bed earlier.

Escape plan to Croatia/Slovenia September 2016

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Plan to Croatia/Slovenia 2016:

Total duration 18D18N
Singapore is 6hrs ahead of Croatia and Slovenia.
Flight time is 11hrs 25mins on Turkish Airlines from Singapore to Istanbul, Turkey followed by a 1hr 50min flight to Dubrovnik, Croatia after about a 4hour transition at Istanbul.
Return is 2hrs 30mins from Salzburg to Istanbul, a 11hrs layover then a 11hrs 5mins flight from Istanbul back to Singapore.

Flight from Singapore to Istanbul at 10pm, arriving at 425am in Istanbul and fly off again at 920am arriving in Dubrovnik at 1010am. Return flight from Salzburg is at 1125am and touching down in Istanbul at 255pm and flying off at 150am and finally touching down at 555pm.

Day 0 Flight to Istanbul
Day 1 Arrival in Dubrovnik, old town visit
Day 2 Day trip to Perast and Kotor
Day 3 Day trip to Mostar and Blagaj Tekke
Day 4 Dubrovnik to Neum to Split
Day 5 Day trip to Hvar and Stari Grad
Day 6 Krka National Park waterfalls and Sibenik
Day 7 Split – Diocletian Palace and old town
Day 8 Split to Trogir to Zadar
Day 9 Plitvice National Park waterfalls and towards Zagreb
Day 10 Zagreb old town towards Opatija, Motovun visit
Day 11 Opatija to Pula to Rovinj
Day 12 Rovinj to Porec, border crossing, visit Postojna Cave and Predama Castle to Ljubljana
Day 13 Ljubljana old town and castle
Day 14 Ljubljana to Skofja Loka to Lake Bled, Bled castle
Day 15 Lake Bohinj and Trenta Valley
Day 16 Lake Bled to Salzburg, Mirabell gardens
Day 17-18 Flight to Istanbul then Home Sweet Home

This annual family trip we wanted to do a road trip as it would be easier for us to manage with toddler in tow. With a car, we could get from place to place at our own pace. A few other options did surface (such as Eastern Europe – Prague and Budapest) but we were more in favour of this itinerary as we thought in terms of security these countries had less issues as it seemed less popular amongst tourists and therefore lesser target for security issues. Though we had concluded that it was really difficult to travel with a toddler from our Europe trip last year, I guessed wanderlust got the better of us?

Budget – Depends – budget buster for us due to choice over comfort.

The total amount spent was about 12k SGD, mostly coming from the plane tickets and the car with all the tolls and petrol. Accommodation was the other major contributor especially in Turkey airport. Food expenditure was not very high and comparable to Singapore’s standard of eating out at a normal restaurant, unlike in other European countries. Croatia had its own currency and there would be some losses due to double exchange from SGD to Euros to Kunas.

Complexity – High without car. Ours made easy due to car and Google maps on data plan and GPS.

Although there were multiple border crossings, it wasn’t really difficult with our own transport since we have everything with us most of the time. Road signs were clear and easy to navigate. Only roads in old towns were narrow and parking were challenging to find. We had to purchase data SIM (12-15euros?) which eased the navigation bit as Google map was accurate to the dot. The map that was used in my Garmin GPS was neurotic, often choosing the smaller roads which made the journey longer than it should have been thus unreliable.