Ski Slovenia

I was introduced to skiing by my husband 2 years ago and fell in love.

As an expensive holiday we haven’t been able to go as often as we would like, but this year we took the opportunity to book a last minute trip to Slovenia for some skiing, hiking and sightseeing.

While Slovenia may not seem the obvious first choice for a ski holiday, a recommendation from a Slovenian friend combined with a bit of research and the availability of £80 return flights to Ljubljana (albeit at 6am in the morning) confirmed our decision to book.

There were a number of ski resorts to choose from but we settled on Kranjska Gora, an alpine resort situated in northwestern Slovenia, near the mountains and glacial lakes of Triglav National Park, approximately 5 miles from Austria to the north and 10 miles from Italy to the west. Getting there couldn’t have been easier; a straightforward one hour drive from the airport (in a very reasonably priced hire car) without any of the perilous, steep and winding roads that I associate with getting to Austrian and French resorts.

We chose the perfect time to travel too, arriving to a gentle downfall of snow, a forecast of sun and further snow showers and daytime temperatures of 0 to -4 for the week ahead.

Our hotel was even prettier than the  picture and our room was just perfect – big but really cosy, with a balcony and a beautiful view of the mountains, a sofa, coffee table and plenty of space to read and relax when we weren’t skiing.

The hotel also went out of their way to make sure I had plenty to eat for breakfast everyday, buying in soya milk, vegan cheese, vegan butter and three flavours of soya yogurt, not to mention the extensive range of cereals, fruit, nuts and seeds, breads and jams.

The resort was picturesque, with wooden-fronted chalets lit up with fairy lights. There were plenty of cosy little restaurants and cafes, sports and souvenir shops, stalls serving mulled wine and waffles, a well-furnished supermarket and a pool with a spa (where we may have treated ourselves to a swim and a massage!).

 

Our hotel was only a short walk to the slopes but there were also lockers directly next to the piste so we could leave our skis, poles, helmets and boots at the end of each day and stroll back through town in the comfort of our walking boots.

All of the pistes were below the tree line, offering a stunning alpine, snow-topped landscape wherever you looked. I love being outside and this, almost too perfect setting, combined with the gorgeous mountain air, made getting out everyday irresistible! We were even lucky enough to have warm sunshine on a couple of days, allowing us to sit outside the mountain huts for a hot drink or snack during our breaks, but even taking the lifts up the slopes was made pleasurable as it gave you the opportunity to enjoy the the views.

The runs were graded blue, red and black, with some of the blue routes beginning as red runs. As a second-time skier the resort was perfect for me. I was happy to spend the first few mornings on the blue button and chair lifts, taking lessons to get me back up to speed, while R was able to go off and ski the black runs at the other end of the resort. We would then ski the reds together for the rest of the day, with the occasional stop for a hot drink and some leg rest.

The pistes were open 9am to 4pm and we were on the first lifts everyday. There was also night skiing available every evening from 7pm to 10pm.

We only went one evening and while it was really fun it was pretty busy and there were a lot of kamikaze kids which meant that it wasn’t quite as relaxing as the daytime runs! Still, I enjoyed the incredible full-body workout offered by skiing during the days and was certainly aching by the end of it.

If you are looking for a picture-perfect resort for up to 5 days of skiing, provisions for cross-country and night skiing and a chance to watch ski jumpers in training at Planica, which is just a 15 minute drive away, some spa time, a beautiful little village with lots of delicious restaurants that are more than happy to cater for vegetarian and vegan tastes, then I can’t recommend this resort highly enough.

 

There is also some great hiking nearby and a short walk away from town is the beautiful Lake Jasna, which is well worth a visit.

Skiing holidays are such a unique experience and I feel so lucky that we were able to discover this little gem of a resort. While we were too sad to leave I hope we will return!

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New mountains to climb

IMG_9723With no x-ray results and a dogged determination to go on press to see my book printed, in the early hours of Wednesday morning, (3:30am early), I got up, took a good handful of painkillers and set out on my trip to Slovenia.

With the early morning and with my sleepiness and blood sugar all over the place I decided to allow my normal eating routine slip for my trip, and by the time I boarded the plane at 6:30am had already devoured an apple and a banana bread Nakd bar.

Blessed with the Simpson travel-narcolepsy gene I was able to sleep on the plane, waking up only to drink what was possibly the worlds worst, but most needed, cup of coffee.

I landed in a very sunny, very hot Ljubljana and was picked up by Miha, our account manager, to go to the factory.

Having not been to Slovenia before I wasn’t sure what to expect. Bordered by Italy, Austria, Croatia and Hungary, and with a little window to the Adriatic Sea, it combines beautiful mountain ranges with beaches, forests and lakes. The Alps run through the northern and north-west of the country and even though it was 36 degrees in Kranj, where the print works were based, there were still flecks of snow on the peaks

I hadn’t expected to have been able to see much of the country, but as the book before ours was delayed we had some time between final page approvals and going to print so I was treated to a tour of the print works followed by a tour of the nearby area.

IMG_9698We took a trip to Bled, where there is the most a beautiful lake, surrounded by mountains and trees. The nearest peak is topped with a fairy tail castle and at the centre of the lake is an island which houses a beautiful church. It is so picturesque. There is a path round the lake which would make for a good afternoon stroll, and it is also a popular swimming spot. There are a couple of campsites nearby, which I earmarked for a future trip.

We had lunch near to the factory at Gostilna Kristof where I was surprised to find a dedicated ‘vegan’ section of the menu. The food was beyond delicious, with an amuse-bouche of tiny tofu burgers with pumpkin seeds, flaked almonds and flavourful  Slovenian olive oil (which I can confirm rivals that of its Italian neighbour), followed by cabbage leaves wrapped around quinoa on bed of wilted and seasoned spinach. Although we we did not order pudding we were brought a  shot of the most amazing vegan chocolate ice cream that I’ve ever tasted, topped with a strawberry, and finished with a perfect, rich cup of coffee with soya. The restaurant also served meat and fish dishes also and I would strongly recommend it.

Back at the factory we worked late to get the first sheets approved, and then, despite being totally exhausted from my early morning, ventured out for a late night tour of old town Ljubljana and to enjoy a glass of something by the river.

IMG_9724It happened that Miha was also a climber and hiker and he recommended a number of walking routes to some of the many mountain-top restaurants, which freckle the faces of the peaks. There are also longer hikes between huts and refuges, trad and sport climbing and skiing in the winter.

He sent me some links of activities including the Postojna Cave, Predjama Castle, Prian and the seaside and climbing. With mountains, skiing, beautiful beaches, lakes, forests and vineyards, what more could you want?!

The next morning I found my 6:30am alarm a welcome relief after the early start of the previous day and enjoyed a quick breakfast and coffee at the hotel.
As is always the case with hotel buffet breakfasts I went all out and had oats with all the toppings – pumpkin seeds, linseed, sesame sees dried apricots, figs and raisins – and I was pleasantly surprised that they also offered both soya and rice milk.

The second day was spent in the factory and with the heat of the previous day breaking we were treated to a spectacular thunderstorm. As we were checking proofs off as they were printed we didn’t manage to get lunch until 5pm, so I was pleased to have eaten a hearty breakfast! However the printers had done their research and we filled our plates at the  Ljubljana ‘Loving Hut‘, a Europe-wide vegan chain, where we enjoyed a delicious mix of spinach, green beans, lentils and mixed roasted vegetables.

IMG_9754Once everything was approved to continue to print overnight I was able to go back to the hotel and luxuriated in a swim in the rooftop pool and a relaxing sauna, which was a real treat. It was my second swim since the FFFD and having just spent 40 minutes doing freestyle pull for the first swim (not the most exciting set in the world) I braved some freestyle kick and breaststroke. The kick was ok, the breaststroke less so and I had to adjust my tumble-turns to push off with just one foot. Nonetheless it was nice to do something and I can hopefully write some sets to fit around what I am able to do.

I then spent a rather decadent half hour lounging in my hotel robe while catching up on work emails, which is how all email correspondence should be done in future!

IMG_9714For my last evening I was taken out to sample Slovenian wines and can confirm that they are deliciously deadly.

My foot held up well for the trip; I discovered that if I place the arch of my foot on stairs when I walk down them the pain is less acute and if I keep the pressure to the side of my foot and away from my big and second toe then I can walk reasonably well. The main issue is the aching at night where toes feel like they are cramping. I’ve been trying to cut down on the pain relief and listen more to my body but it’s a slow process.

Back in the UK I have a couple of swims planned for the week and some abs and upper body gym workouts. I’m also debating going back to climbing as I’m feeling particularly sad at the moment about missing it. I wonder if I just do some easy routes where I don’t need to worry about jumping (or falling) down I might be ok? I just have to see if I can face putting my climbing boots on…hmmm, maybe not quite yet!