THROUGH AUSTRIA TO SLOVENIA AND OUR HAPPY PLACE

Snowy scene in Austria
Snowy scene in Austria

We chose not to go to Salzburg as we’d been told it was really, really touristy. I know it sounds like a cop-out and it is. I had been looking forward to exploring Mozart’s city, But it was due to rain all day and the dogs have a total lack of enthusiasm for traipsing around cities.  They are totally transparent and we end up feeling guilty. Plus we can’t walk around for too long with Bodger’s arthritis and they aren’t admitted in most sightseeing attractions. Lets face it, Salzburg will still be around for years to come so we can always come back. We headed due South.

Austria
Austria

Our aim was to seek out some nice sunny, warm weather for the last hurrah of our 2018 trip. Staying away from the high altitude mountains was part of our strategy, and this had been reinforced all too well by the polar conditions we had on top of the mountain. However, first there was just the small matter of crossing the Alps.

In Austria if you want to use the motorways and you’re over 3.5 tons you have to buy an electronic device called a GoBox which is detected by sensors on the roads and calculates your mileage. You are then charged per mile and the cost increases with your weight and number of axles. With our 4.5 tons and 3 axles, it was looking pricey. So with time on our side, we planned to avoid the motorways and use the A-roads instead. From research we’d done we knew that other motorhome tourers had chosen this approach with no problems. We chose our route which went through the mountains and even though it was the lowest pass we could find, it was still 1800m high. The scenery was amazing and it was a very wiggly and winding route. Near the top it had just snowed and was like a winter wonderland. We stopped to have lunch near a ski resort – Obertauern – and give the dogs a run. They thought it was pretty exciting to have a romp in the snow!

Obertauern, 1800m
Obertauern, 1800m

 

Stopped for a lunch break
Stopped for a lunch break

On the way down on the other side – a sign informed us of a 23% slope – which I reckon is the steepest incline of our trip. I was relieved we were descending rather than attempting to ascend this, as it would be on the limits of the Elf’s ability – her torque is amazing but her front tyres struggle to grip at a certain point as they are all that are dragging her considerable bulk against gravity.

In the green valleys lower down, we passed a lot of farm produce on sale. Mainly pumpkins and squashes. But also some funny bright purple sprouting globes. I had recently discovered these were artichokes, which are part of the thistle family. I bought a couple to cook for dinner.

Pumpkins, squash and artichokes on sale

After a further night in Austria, it was just a short hop to Slovenia. In the summer of 2017, we’d had a brilliant holiday in Kranjska Gora, a Slovenian ski resort set on the edge of the Triglav National Park, a beautiful oasis of nature. We wanted to return as we’d had such a great time. It’s a really lovely place with lots of character and with a backdrop of the Julian Alps, a stunning, rocky mountain range. There are wonderful hiking trails, plus a railway line converted to a cycle path that runs for miles and miles. The people are also really friendly and relaxed. Our official spot for the night was at the base of a ski lift. It wasn’t particularly scenic, being next to a barn containing all the piste maintenance machinery, but the location was brilliant as it was a five minute walk into town.

The Julian Alps
Kranjska Gora and the Julian Alps

That day we walked into the town and once again, felt very at home and relaxed. There were such positive associations here, it felt like we had returned to our happy place. But this time we had our boys with us so it was complete. We returned to our favourite bar in town – The Vopa Pub (Vopa means Bat). My mobile phone settings remembered the wifi password and I am fairly sure I recognised some of the patrons from last time. It was as if no time had passed at all!

Martha with a beer at The Vopa, Kranjska Gora (Summer 2017)
Martha with a beer at The Vopa, Kranjska Gora (Summer 2017)

 

A very happy Bodger at Lake Jasna
A very happy Bodger at Lake Jasna

We visited the beautiful Lake Jasna, a crystal clear, turquoise-blue vision with a mountain backdrop. Simply heaven.

Therapeutic stone walk
Therapeutic stone walk

Tim tried the therapeutic stone walk which is meant to be mood-enhancing. The idea of the stone walk is to walk through a stream of freezing cold river water on small pebbles, followed by woodcuttings, then slightly larger pebbles, then big pebbles. I asked Tim if he felt better afterwards and he said yes – but only after he’d got off the pebbles !

A dog walk on the pistes
A walk on the pistes

Another day, we tried cycling along the converted railway line, but with Charlie’s protestations from inside the dog buggy, that didn’t last too long. The walks on the piste were more successful, as the grassy terrain was the most comfortable surface for Bodger’s arthritic paws.

Jasna Lake
Lake Jasna

Jasna Lake or paradise ?Lake Jasna or paradise ?

 

No encouragement needed to swim !
No encouragement needed to swim !

 

Even Charlie braved the glacier-fed lake for a paddle !
Even Charlie braved the ice-cold glacier-fed lake for a paddle !

 

Kranjska Gora church
Kranjska Gora church

We ended up staying four nights in Kranjska Gora – a sign of how much we love this place !