Travel slowly, staying in vacation rentals (villas, farms, cottages, apartments)
Report 866: Castles, Caves and Cablecars
By wendy lynn from California, U.S.A., Spring 2005
Page 10 of 16: Krma Valley, Vrata Valley and Triglav National Park
Wendy and kids near lower falls of Pericnik in Vrata Valley, Slovenia
Today we stayed local and explored the outdoors. We were staying in the middle of Triglav National Park after all. Why did we have to go anywhere else?
Psnak is located in the Krma Valley; the neighboring valley is Vrata. After telling Tanja about our woes last night, she pulled out her own personal maps and handed them to us, showing us various things of interest. Thank you Tanja! We wished we could buy a copy of these maps, but even Tanja wasn’t sure of the best way to get your hands on one.
Tanja suggested a nearby waterfall called Slap Pericnik in the Vrata Valley. “Slap” is the Slovene word for “waterfall.” In ten minutes we easily got to the place with a small sign and parked on the side of the road. We heard the roar of water and looked for a footpath.
We hadn’t expected to be so amazed because Tanja hadn’t seemed too worked up about the falls. Well, Slap Pericnik is a gigantic waterfall with a path that takes you behind it and underneath the lip of the limestone cliff above. Despite Joe having to carry Alex a large part of the way, it was still incredible. A tremendous wall of water (maybe 200 feet down) with lots of spray confronted us as we walked behind the rushing water. Julia was in heaven. (You can view Slap Pericnik by clicking on the weblink to the right.)
The weather was cooperating. More beautiful crystalline sunlight. Relatively warm too. We needed only a light jacket. Tanja had told us that at this time two years ago they had had snow.
We drove to the end of the road and walked to the foot of the imposing Mt. Triglav. By this time, we were joined by a few older couples enjoying a morning walk. The kids had fun looking for rocks. For lunch: another meat platter at a gostilna in Kranjska Gora.
After lunch, Wendy pushed everyone to drive to the Vintgar Gorge. Joe was skeptical because Lonely Planet recommended it, but the gorge was also listed in other sources and so we decided to try. This time we had Tanja’s map and found quite a few helpful signs. Nonetheless we ended up in a strange parking lot entering a gravel road with a “no enter” sign. The locals looked at us suspiciously. We kept going. 100m later we spied a mom with a pram. Wendy got out of the car and showed her our Vintgar Gorge picture. She smiled and said in good English that yes indeed, we were on the right way and to “enjoy” and “look for the stairs in 50m.” We continued on the gravel one-car-only road, clinging to the hill for 500m and finally saw another Vintgar sign… in the middle of a quasi-industrial area with only two cars parked nearby. We heard water and saw stairs so we assumed that we were in the right place. We were getting used to Slovenia.
Sure enough, we climbed the stairs and saw a beautiful gorge flowing with crystal clear water. It looked just like the guidebook photo. There was a ticket office that was closed, and no one was in sight. The path seemed open, however, so we continued. It was a pretty scary mile-long walk along a deep river with multiple waterfalls. Joe had to carry Brother the whole way over the scary boardwalks that had been staked into the rock above the water. At some places, the river must have been 30 feet deep, and you could still see the bottom with crystal clarity including multiple trout. A number of bridges allowed you to cross to the alternate side and then back again.
We did see a few groups along the way including some friendly Thai people who spoke good English. They had entered the gorge from an alternate entrance, the exact location of which we never could quite determine. Joe admitted that he had been wrong to doubt Vintgar and, in fact, that it had been one of the most interesting places he had ever been. Afterwards, the kids enjoyed a blue lollipop. (You can view Vintgar Gorge by clicking on the weblink to the right.)
After we returned to Psnak, Mom and Alex stayed at the apartment while Joe and Julia went off for an adventure. They visited the Psnak family mill and stuck their feet in the icy water. Joe let Julia steer the car down the deserted road. Then they tried to climb the mountain behind the house. Joe claimed that they almost fell off the mountain, although Wendy questioned how high they actually got.
At dinner, Tanja’s father-in-law, who spoke only Slovene and German, gave us some more honey schnapps. He had quite a history. In his younger years he was a “bearer”, which is something like a sherpa. He helped people carry things over the mountains before helicopters took over the job. The family Lipovec still does some organic farming and beekeeping. He seemed very nice although the language barrier kept the conversation somewhat short. We ate potato soup, marinated cabbage, rice and an almost Chinese tasting pork stirfry dish with red peppers.
We returned to our apartment and made plans for the next day—our last full day in the Julian Alps. Soon we were off to our beds to have a good night's sleep.
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