For Nicola’s birthday, I thought it would be nice to take her to a beekeeping museum, as she’s a keen apiarist. It turned out the nearest one to our home (other than Devon, and we’ve already been there) was in the Slovenian village of Radovljica, so that’s precisely where we headed.
We based ourselves in Ljubljana (read more about that here), but as well as the beekeeping museum, we set out to explore the nearby Lake Bled and Vintgar Gorge.
Somewhere online (here) I had found a handy guide to the best views of Lake Bled. I thought it would be a lovely (and fairly simple) romantic walk, so we parked up, I popped on my suede shoes, Nicola grabbed her best handbag and we started our ascent. Within a couple of minutes we thought it was getting quite steep, but we persevered – I’d seen photos of people at the top in flip-flops, so it couldn’t be that bad.
It was as we passed a small herd of mountain goats that we realised we might be in the wrong place. Our route was angled at an incline of well over 50°, and the polished soles of my shoes were becoming a real problem on the carpet of frozen leaves. I peered back at Nicola, who was clinging on to an exposed tree root ten feet below me, and decided that we were definitely lost, and it was probably a good time to turn back. This proved surprisingly difficult, and we ended up in an ungainly slither down the side of the mountain, Nicola’s handbag bouncing along the ground, watched on by a group of bemused goats.
After landing back at the side of the water and checking our limbs were all still intact, we took approximately 32,000 photos of the beautiful island in the middle of Lake Bled. We then walked 50 yards around the lake, and promptly took a further 32,000 as the view was ever so slightly better from there. It looks beautiful in photos, but when you’re there, with the water gently lapping at your feet, and with frost-jewelled trees reflected in the clear water, it’s absolutely stunning.
Just north of Lake Bled is Vintgar Gorge, where the Radovna River slices its way through a narrow canyon. It was officially shut for winter, but we hopped over the gate and made our way along the wooden walkways bolted to the edge of the rock. The turquoise blue water cascaded noisily along the rocky straits, and I spent a not insignificant amount of time trying to take a ‘blurry waterfall photo’. No success; my hands got too cold.
We arrived late afternoon in Radovljica, parked our hire car squarely in someone else’s space, and walked into the village centre. Local families were selling festive models of animals at cosy stalls, sipping on steaming drinks and offering reindeer rides on animals which looked suspiciously like ponies with antler hats on. After Nicola was accosted by a man trying to sell her a felt mouse, we retired to the sanctuary of a gingerbread museum and listened to a history of Slovenian gingerbread. They had one piece that dated from the 1940s, which Nicola and I duly treated with the reverence one can only summon when faced with a 70-year-old biscuit.
I’m fairly certain we are among the only visitors who have ever specifically flown across Europe for a trip to the beekeeping museum. From the reception we received from the receptionist, I don’t think she knew how far we had travelled. We were sullenly handed perforated tickets before entering the museum through a velvet curtain. It was exactly how you’d expect a Slovenian beekeeping museum to be, and they had clearly put some considerable effort into the exhibits. We spent an enjoyable hour wandering through the displays, which included everything from painted beehive panels to a board detailing the different types of Carniolan honey Bees. One particularly noteworthy point is that the English translations on the information boards were spot on. Not a single grammatical error or misspelling in the entire place. Even the Musée du Louvre, with their multi-millions in French governmental grants, can’t manage this.
So, if you ever fancy going on a trip that includes slithering down icy mountains, taking 64,000 photos of a lake, some surprisingly-accurate bee translations and gingerbread that is older than the country in which it resides, get in touch; I know a place that has it all.
We brushed up on our beekeeping at: Museum of Apiculture, Radovljica (radolca.si)
We broke in and entered: Vintgar Gorge (bled.si)
We encountered historical gingerbread at: Gostilna Lectar, Radovljica (lectar.com)