Slovenia Part 2, Solčava

What appealed to us most about Slovenia was it’s natural beauty. Of particular interest were the Alps of northern Slovenia that seemed perfect for the rest and relaxation we were seeking. We did our research and found a number of appealing places to spend a week, ultimately deciding on a farm in the Solcavsko region. We knew from the pictures that it was going to be beautiful, but seeing it upon arrival was a different story. Breathtaking is frankly an understatement, we were truly in awe.

We left the Vipava Valley early Wednesday morning, embarking on a 2.5 hour drive from southwest Slovenia to Logarska Dolina located in the far north Solcavsko region of the country. Geographically isolated by the Kamnik-Savinja Alps, the region is remote and sparsely populated (only 517 total people). The final half of the drive required us to cross over a long, twisting, single lane, mountain road. The spectacular views were both astonishing and distracting, as the drive required constant attention and lookout for oncoming cars. We successfully made it over the mountain and soon found ourselves driving through the charming village of Solcava. The isolation of the region allowed it to develop at its own pace – the first road into Solcava did not come until 1894 despite settlement dating back to hundreds of years prior. It has successfully maintain its own distinct cultural identity and preserved its natural heritage, all of which was on full display (we visited the tourist center in town and had the benefit of viewing their 15 minute multimedia presentation).

 

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The drive to Logarska Dolina

 

Ten minutes past the town of Solcava we arrived at the entrance to Logarska Dolina, one of three valleys that make up the Solcavsko region. It was absolutely stunning. A wide sweeping grass meadow, broken by a single winding road, flanked by steep mountain slopes packed full of colorful trees on each side. In the background, looking like a mirage and overshadowing it all, were the enormous limestone peaks of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps. A degree of natural beauty I had rarely seen before. As we drove into the park, through the meadow and towards the Alps, we found century-old farmsteads, galloping alpine horses, pot-bellied pigs, grazing cows and fall colors all around us.

We soon pulled up to the Lenar farm, one of the last homesteads before the road heads up into the Alps (ending at the Rinka Waterfall we would soon visit). The farm spans nearly 500 acres and consists of multiple buildings (two of which were lodging), a large field for the two horses to run free, and a pig named Mitsy roaming the front yard. I cannot possibly explain how good the air smelled as we got out of our car and met our host Ursa. Ursa gave us a brief introduction and explained her family has owned the farm since the 1400s (!!) before showing us to our room.

We walked up to one of the wood structures and were taken to a small, but updated room with a distinct log cabin feel. The room was located in the second floor of the building and had a balcony facing those incredible Alps.

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Balcony

We were awestruck. Ursa left us and we just started to laugh at how beautiful everything was. We tend to have high expectations of places we stay, but this far exceeded them. We unpacked, rearranged the room a bit (we were staying for six nights and wanted to utilize all of the space) and I took a nap. The drive was exhausting. I rarely drive cars these days and focusing that hard, on mountain roads drained me. I woke up a few hours later and smiled as I made my way to the balcony to see the view once again.

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View from our balcony

For dinner we went to Kmecka hisa Ojstrica – where we would go every night thereafter. Come October, most places close down in Solcavsko. With only a few options to begin with, Ojstrica was our only one. Luckily it was just a two minute walk from the farm (the Alps were especially spectacular at night when the moon would illuminate their silhouette) and served good traditional Slovenian mountain food. Offered in a prefix menu, we ate a lot of mushroom soup, river trout, the occasional bowl of pasta and a notable homemade sausage. The family who ran the restaurant was friendly and we were treated to a different homemade cake each night. By the end we became tired of the food, but generally felt fortunate to have such a good option within walking distance.

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Kmecka hisa Ojstrica

Our days were slow. We explored the valleys, meadows and trails that surrounded us, hung out on the farm and generally took it easy. Our most memorable hike was Thursday, the day after we arrived. We embarked on a 7km walk that runs the length of Logarska Dolina, winding through the woods, criss crossing the mountain road, and ending at the Rinka Waterfall. We headed out around noon. As we entered the forest, the smells were noticeably intoxicating – fall foliage mixed with fresh herbs, damp forest and crisp pine. We slowly ascended up the mountain, the peaks growing in stature at every step, ran into a few loggers along the way, and after 3.5 hours reached the waterfall.

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The road running through Logarska Dolina

We may have slightly underestimated the effort required to reach the second highest waterfall in Slovenia, but it was worth it. The Rinka Waterfall itself was beautiful and the views of the valley were even better.

The Rinka Waterfall:

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Views from the Rinka Waterfall:

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It was now late afternoon and the sun magically lit up the Alps. Unlike anything I have seen before and hard to describe, it looked like we were staring at the moon up close. There wasn’t snow (that would come a few days later) but the peaks had a grey-white mystique to them.

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We stood up there for thirty minutes taking it all in.

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Given we were running out of daylight, we descended down the mountain road. I felt rejuvenated – the mountain air, the views the exercise. Doing these activities really puts things in perspective and I was feeling great. And the views were never ending.

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We made it down the mountain in less than an hour, got cleaned up and watched the sun set over the mountains before heading to dinner. That was the best meal of the stay.

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Watching the sun go down from our balcony

Like I said, we took it slow. The rest of the trip was filled with smaller hikes, a lot of reading and a few days spent planning out our second half of the trip. We hung out in the beautiful common spaces of the Lenar Farm, enjoyed their breakfast and met some of the animals. We took a few drives to the surrounding valleys, to the “Panoramic Road” that overlooks all three and made a few trips to town (Solcava). We drank tea made by Ursa’s aunt from wild flowers and herbs found on the mountain and explored new genres of music. The beauty of the place made a lasting impression on me and it’s somewhere I will never forget. There are only so many adjectives to describe what we saw and felt over those six days, so I will end with some pictures as they often tell the story more effectively.

In the town of Solcava:

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Biking through Logarska Dolina:

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Hiking around the property:

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Making friends on Lenar Farm:

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Views from Panoramic Road:

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Exploring the neighboring valley:

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What a memorable stay.

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