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Soča Valley Instameet

Soča Valley is one of the most beautiful and most visited parts of Slovenia, but a bit remote too – it takes two hours to get there from Ljubljana by car! It was the sixth Instameet by Igslovenia but first one at such a remote location so it took us a while to finally decide to do it. We have partnered with Dolina Soče tourist organisation and it’s representative and @socavalley administrator, Tatjana, has greeted us on Saturday morning in the charming small city of Kobarid. It was the first time that Sanja and me didn’t meet any of the participants before and they didn’t know each other so we were breaking the ice with coffee while waiting to enter the small bus, courtesy of Dolina Soče.

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It didn’t take long since the light is important for photographers and we were all there just for that – to take some photos together.

Soča Valley is very beautiful, long and popular. Success of the photos with Soča River can be compared to those with Bled Island, at least on our Instagram account. These photos are usually taken from 4 – 5 different locations  between Kobarid and the end of Trenta Valley (where is the source of Soča River). But the valley has so much more to offer and we are never satisfied with the obvious so we decided to start with some parts of the valley which are not so well known.

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Nadiža River is technically not a part of the valley – it’s turqoise waters, torrential during the frequent storms, originate under the massive Stol range. At the foot of mount Matajur it turns south, crosses the border into Italy and concludes it’s 60 kilometer journey when it joins the river Ter (Torre). Who would care about details like this since it is only a few minutes drive from Kobarid and it is in summer populated not only by locals but by people even from Nova Gorica, almost 50 km away – still  by the Soča River. And with a reason – it is very warm and has carved out pools and gorges, as well as depositing numerous shingle beaches. It is one of the cleanest and warmest Alpine rivers, some even say it has healing properties.

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Tatjana was also part time our tour guide and she proposed to start exploring with Nadiža throughs, one of the most beautiful parts of the river and even less crowded since the access by cars is forbidden. We parked the bus in a small village Kredo to reach the river after 10 minutes walk which was not without surprises.

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We had to cross the river with a hanging bridge and find a narrow steep path to the throughs – not without some effort but for a good reason though!

 

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The untouched wild beauty just put everybody in his own movie and the day finally really begun.

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More surprises on the way back to the bus – how to persuade one of the two horses to step over the wires back into its designated places. Just one hint – success is not proportional to the number of photographers who want to help:).

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Next stop on the Nadiža River was the famous Napoleon Bridge. The famous stone bridge crossing the Nadiža gorge dates to around 1812 and stands mute testament to the routes crossing the area since at least the time of Ancient Rome. The bridge used to form part of the ancient route from Pradol and Robidišče along the Nadiža riverand further to the east. Current bridge was built at the time of the French emperor’s conquests, hence its name. Its uniqueness and technical accomplishment make it a precious architectural monument and a memorial to times past.

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The bridge is just a few steps from the road so we were all immediately in full action – searching for different views, angles and approaches.

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We were never short of voluntary models.

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Of all sexes…

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and species…:)

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Photo by Ingmar Wein

There is a great photo of our dog, Tara, also in @sebo262‘s feed!

 

Our next destination was Robidišče: The village of Robidišče lies on the western edge of Slovenia. From the north, west and south it is enclosed by the state border. Across the border lies the Venetian Slovenia to which the village always gravitated. The old village is itself a living monument of times past.

After WW2 in 1947 Robidišče was cut off from Venetian Slovenia by the Iron curtain. Because of this more than 150 locals packed their belongings onto wagons, crossed the border into Italy and never returned. The village was drastically changed in 1976 when an earthquake with magnitude 8 on Richter scale shook the village. The reconstruction of the village was never completed and the village decreased. In 1869 the village had 178 inhabitants and in 1910 the number rose to 228. In 1991 there were only 17 people living in Robidišče and the number fell to 8 in 2000.

 Robidišče is a nice starting point for hiking in the neighbourhood and admiring the old architecture. The highlight is the Vanče’s house which is over 300 years old and in which the original smoke kitchen is preserved. /breginjskikoten.wordpress.com/

IMG_5600The village is charming but we have to admit that itself does not offer many photo opportunities – the village is small and houses renewed . We didn’t say it offers none though:)

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There is a magnificent view on Mt. Stol just beside the village but the sun was already pretty high and the skies clear – sunrise or sunset are definitely worth trying.

It was a hot day and after two working stops a short break with courtesy refreshments at Turistična kmetija Robidišče made no harm to anybody. The all local food was great too but we had to leave. Hop-on, Hop-off bus was waiting on us. It was his first day on duty in the season or better to say, a pre-day of duty since it served only our group – otherwise it is a seasonal service which a few times a day drives to some more remote tourist destinations like Robidišče. Visitors thus don’t need to drive their cars or rent them and are also start their cycling or hiking tours at the optimal starting points etc..

FullSizeRender-19Narrow and steep road took us again over the Nadiža upper stream, a pretty popular bathing spot and quite crowded already, so we just checked out @ingmarwein‘s levitation skills. We have already found out before that Tina of @followsunsets is a great model:)

Our next destination was Breginj, a village nested bellow Mt. Stol. The clustered old Breginj was an architectural pearl of Venetian Slovenian architecture. The ground plan of the village was round with concentric alleys called landrone. Most of the houses were built from stone with wooden exterior corridors (gank), stairways, balconies (linde) positioned on wooden or stone pillars with big overhangs and agricultural frescoes on the facade. The farmhouses were joined by intriguing sets of underpasses and overpasses. After the earthquake of 1976 the whole village was completely rebuilt. The remaining traditional houses are now a local museum/breginjskikoten.wordpress.com/

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Unfortunately rebuilding the village was focused only to give the people shelter and no historical elements were taken into account. Bot location itself is a very charming one and there are some views on the village, the mountains and the church above the village we wanted to explore.

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A short examination from the best photo spot above the village cut down our expectations  – it was middle of the day and clear skies, the light not appropriate for taking photos there so we decided to leave it for some other time. Photos above are from our previous visit.

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One of the most popular destinations around Kobarid and in the valley itself is a Kozjak Waterfall. The picturesque Kozjak waterfall is caught in a stony amphitheatre not far away from Kobarid. It can be reached by an easy walking path by the riverbed of the emerald Soča River. /www.dolina-soce.com/

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The Kozjak brook, feeding the Soča river from the east (on the left), springs high beneath Mt. Krnčica (2142 m), and runs through many pools making six waterfalls. One of Slovenia’s most picturesque waterfalls, the Veliki Kozjak, was created in the outlet of the lower Korita of the Kozjak Brook.

Approximately 250 meters lower, the water falls again. Here, the waterfall carved an underground hall. Its bottom is covered by a vast blue and green pool, and its walls are reminiscent of those in the Karst caves. A 15 meter high white water column offers its visitors an unforgettable scenery./www.dolina-soce.com/

Unfortunately popularity equals crowd. It is tough already to get a decent picture of the waterfall given the closed natural amphitheater with scattered source of light. When crowded it is even more difficult to get a shot without people standing in the way. But for dedicated photographer nothing is too difficult:)

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Photo Ingmar Wein

Activity on the photo is illegal though:) You can check out a bit more classical take at the waterfall on @lukakotnikphoto‘s, @alanjereb‘s and @dejskovski‘s feed.

It was time for beer, some great pancakes (salty editions) in the camp near the river and slowly saying “goodbye, nice meeting you”. Phones were also ready for first posts:) Also girls from @igposocje took break in their studying for exams to greet us on their home territory.

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On the way back to Kobarid some of us stopped at another classic spot to photographing Soča River, another bridge called Napoleon’s:).  @dani.kla got his classic shot with kayaks there (check out in his feed) and I got @ingmarwein  and @feinerkerl in action.

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Some of us stayed for the rest of the day or even weekend, some headed for other great photo spots in the area. A week would probably be enough to cover only the best spots of the valley, not even trying to hike the less accessible waterfalls, villages, pastures and peaks.

We had a great day, made great photos and most important – some new friends! We thank everybody for joining us and especially Dolina Soče for hospitality!

More photos from the event: #instameetsoca and feeds of the participants. More detailed descriptions of some destinations are available in Where to in Slovenia section and we will be adding more of them.

Photos @zokus_gf ,  @sanya_lt  and @ingmarwein.

Narration:@zokus_gf .

Maribor

Maribor is the second-largest city in Slovenia with a population close to 100K. The biggest and the oldest part of the city is located on the left bank of the Drava river. Probably are the vineyards which surround it, peaceful Pohorje Hills nearby and a lenghty shore of the river that create a special, somewhat Mediterranean easy going atmosphere in the city.

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City centre is relatively small and not difficult to find one’s way around.  A stroll from Glavni trg to  Slovenska ulica in the north would take only a couple of minutes and from Titova cesta on the east towards Strossmayeryeva ulica on the west shouldn’t last much longer. Huge majority of everything regarding architecture and history lies inside that square. But take your time and enjoy places on your way.

trgGrajski trg (Castle Square) with Kavarna Astoria and of course with the castle itself is a lively place on sunny days. Turn round at the castle tower and enjoy the view of the Franciscan church since it is difficult to find a shot from the other side, cars free. Always better to have some crowd and a  musician on the photo than some cars:)

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There is no history without a dark side, that day it was just around the corner, on the Trg svobode.

drevBut it was not difficult to proceed on the sunny side.

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Maribor is full of small parks and there is a huuuuuge (5 hectares) Mestni park (City Park) just north of the city centre, connecting the urban part of the city with the vineyards  covering the Piramida Hill just above the town.

parkkuglaThis is a classic view, but it is not difficult to find your own.

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A lot of trees and many of them are 140 years old. Should I add that autumn is the best time to play around with camera?

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Park is a beautiful combination of free space and order.

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Turning south-east near  Trije ribniki (Tree ponds, used to be a famous restaurant) would lead you to the Railway Station and Bus Station, further back to the city centre. Some pretty amazing details there.

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The back view was also worth a shot.

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A few hundred meters behind the bus station is an access to the river, close to the Railway Bridge. One could easily turn back to the city centre here because there is only a car park behind the station and the buildings across the street are new and ugly. But following the street to the south and crossing the road which goes along the river pays off heavily if you like that kind of view.

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It is necessary to return to the road from here and follow the river upstream but  first opportunity to go back to the river bank is just a few hundred meters away. From there on a path is always close to the water but the best views start again after the next bridge. This is Lent, the oldest part of the city with some amazing old buildings. It is a very popular place to eat and hang around with a lot of sun and plenty restaurants. Unfortunately parked cars can ruin your desired motif.stolp

Water Tower from 1555 was a part of the defence structure of the city. In reality it is not a tower at all and has nothing to do with the water. Well, almost nothing since wine is mostly – water and the tower now hosts an enoteca.

Over the water is another world and only a small part of old building worth to explore but you can cross the river and take a shot back at the Lent. A good photo from the other side requires more serious gear than a phone.

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We have found enough beautiful motifs on the Lent itself, like this one bellow the Koroški Bridge.

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Also on a beautiful sunny day one can find a photo opportunity without people in the way.

trtaMuch more difficult is find a moment without crowd in front of the Old Vine, the oldest vine in the world. The confirmed age is about 400 years and it still bears grapes. About 100 2,5, dl bottles are filled every year. It is an official THE sight of the city and is a must for all tourist groups but believe me – you can find a lot more in Maribor for your photographic thirst than that.

All information available regarding Maribor you can find in the link at the beginning of this post. For more photo inspirations about Maribor I can strongly recommend Igor Unuk who also acted as a photo guide during our Maribor #instameet.

Zoran Leban Trojar @zokus_gf

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Ljubljana (from Trg revolucije to the Town Hall)

Ljubljana is a small city by the standards of capitals but as Slovenia itself offers  many great views at the short distances. Since we are dedicated to show you not only the obvious few spots of Slovenia we decided to divide descriptions of Ljubljana to shorter walks which offer great photo opportunities.maximStarting point is Trg Republike (Republic Square). It is the centre of contemporary Ljubljana built in 1960 by famous architect Edvard Ravnikar and  surrounded by the Parliament (just behind my back), Cankarjev dom – cultural and congress centre, Maximarket department store and TR3 and Ljubljanska banka office buildings (on the photo). All building were built between 1954 and 1975  and that’s why I call the square “contemporary”. Until a few years ago it used to be a parking space. Now, when empty, these two buildings stand as a kind of entrance (or exit). Since the square itself is fairly empty it offers fine but tricky photo opportunity.The square and the buildings are huge and the sunlight comes mostly from behind of Maximarket or the towers. See it for yourself. In the late autumn sun sets just between the towers.

 

ursulinskaUrsuline church and monastery are just a passage of Maximarket store away – facing the towers just turn left. Too close in fact to find enough space for a proper shot. The church tower is also visible from the Republic square over the roof of the store and from some side views, but always just partially. But if you turn left again and use the underground passage just a few steps away you’ll find yourself in a fine park of Kongresni trg (Congress Square). Now, on your right, is a front side of the same church from 1726.

ursulinkskafrontThe concrete part of the square where you stand now also used to be a parking lot but now offers a clean view on the magnificent Ljubljana Castle over the building of Slovenian Philharmonic, one of the oldest of the kind, from 1701. Just behind your back, taken from the steps of the church.

gradThe beautiful park itself is also called Zvezda (Star), in past times also Sidro (Anchor). Just take a stroll and you find the reason for yourself.

zvezdaMany different approaches are possible now to the river bank, personally I prefer  the narrow one beside the Philharmonia building.

filharmonijaFrom the other side, back to the square, a few days of the year you can catch a sunset around late spring. But in the autumn the view on the river, old city buildings and the castle is enriched with large leaves.

listgradOn your left is now the famous Tromostovje (Triple Bridge). Many different angles are accesible, one of the best is from the new small bridge or from Makalonca bar just bellow the bridge.

 

tromostovjeThe best view on Prešernov trg (Preseren Square) in the front of Triple Bridge is from the steps of the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation, the red building on the photo above. It is difficult not to catch at least a glimpse of the castle from spots around here.

presernovCrossing the Tripple Bridge you’ll find yourself in front of the Town Hall and famous baroque Robba Fountain with a view on the Cathedral.

magistratEarly morning is always the best time to take photos around here since sun rises somewhere behind the castle, exact point of course depends on the time of the year. Daily sun can be very harsh and  the whole area is already in the shadow afternoons.

For more information about the sights and Ljubljana Visit Ljubljana, one of the best tourist websites and offices in the world.

 

Zoran Leban Trojar @zokus_gf

Kočevje

Today Kočevje is a small sleepy town in southern Slovenia but it has witnessed quite a part of a history. Unless one is heading to explore Kolpa river from it’s source or using one of the shortest routes from central Slovenia to Kvarner bay in Croatia, Kočevje is not very likely to be on the must see list while discovering Slovenia. On the other hand, distance of 60 km from Ljubljana to Kočevje is only a short trip worth traveling for the landscape itself, just make sure that you are not leaving at rush hour of Saturday morning in the summer.

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Nature lovers and hunters would enjoy in the surrounding woods which still keep deep secrets about not so distant past. The city itself offers a great photo spot, parish church of St. Bartholomew  (Sv. Jernej) above the slow Rinža river, covered with water lilies.

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Church is one of the biggest churches in Slovenia, but not so old as majority of others, it is from 1905.

The best spot to take a shot is across the river where it makes a bend behind the church.

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There you can also see the bridge close to the front of the church,  another bridge down the river offers an opportunity to shoot in the opposite direction.

I would definitely recommend to read some short history of Kočevje.

Zoran Leban Trojar @zokus_gf

Tacen Whitewater Course

It is easy to follow the guides and visit the objects of popular interest but the real challenge is to find less known locations which offer opportunities for a nice shot or two. Tacen Whitewater Course, a venue for kayak and canoe competition, is one of them and it is accesible by public transportation from Ljubljana city centre.

The course is known as Kayak Canoe Club Tacen and it is located in on Sava River in Tacen, 9 km NW of city centre. It held the first competition back in 1939 when it was still a natural rapid at the base of a dam in the river. Since then it was developed in a modern sport center.

 

Coming from the center just watch for the last turn left from the main road before the bridge over Sava. After 200 m there is a tennis course and a parking place can be found. River is only a few steps away and over the river there is also a nice view of Šmarna Gora, the most popular hiking destination of Ljubljana.

Dog leg dam (I am a golfer, I can’t help myself) spreads over the whole width of the river, only its right part is in fact a river sluice gate, with which amount of water to enter two sports canals is regulated.

Peaceful place to stroll along the river or just sit there and relax is just behind the dam. Even swans are regular visitors there and it is also one of the few spots around Ljubljana to catch a spectacular sunset over the water.

Zoran Leban Trojar – @zokus_gf

Kamniška Bistrica

Kamniška Bistrica (The Kamnik Bistrica) is an Alpine river, a 33 km long left tributary of the Sava River. It springs from the Kamnik Alps near the border with Austria.

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The valley of Kamniška Bistrica plunges from the south into the heart of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps. Since we mentioned name Kamnik so many times already – from most directions, with the exception of the access from Upper Savinja Valley, the small and charming medieval town of Kamnik is on the way to the valley. It was first mentioned as a town in 1229, when it was an important trading post on the road between Ljubljana and Celje. It is one of the oldest towns in Slovenia.

The valley is a very popular starting point for various hiking trips to the mountains of Kamnik-Savinja Alps and nearby waterfall Orglice. Cable car to Velika Planina, huge mountain plateau and ski resort with big and lively herdsmen’s settlement of unique architecture, is also located nearby the entrance to the most narrow part of the valley.

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In summer days, especially at weekends, it is probably the best decision to park the car at first opportunity from this point on and enter the pathways along one of the gorges, Veliki and Mali (Big and Small) Predaselj. Beautiful crystal clear water is at the deepest part of the Veliki Predaselj hidden 30 m bellow. Watch your step if you decide to take a closer look at it.

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Follow the pathways which lead to the small lake just at the spring of the river and to the mountain lodge Dom v Kamniški Bistrici. There is also a parking zone, which can be crowded at weekends in the season. .

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Forests and mountains around used to be popular hunting area over centuries. Close to the mountain lodge is another building, which used to be a Royal Hunting Lodge of the King Alexander I of Yugoslavia. Famous Slovenian architect Josef Plečnik designed it in 1932. Later it was used by Tito, as well as the smaller lodge on the boulder above.

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But don’t stop there. Above the lake the water comes into daylight from underneath many rocks, which are overgrown with moss. Spruce trees grow on larger boulders and the water creates tiny waterfalls and rapids. It is very refreshing in hot days, but it could also be pretty wild after heavy rain. Beautiful views on the mountains wait for you along the road from the lodge.

 

More information:

Kamnik Bistrica Valley

Kamnik 

Velika Planina

 

Zoran Leban Trojar, @zokus_gf