Anja Turk, who works at Hostelling International, Slovenia, takes us along on her adventure through the country.
We were standing next to the car that betrayed us. Despite the fact that the rise was not too difficult, the car was just about to overheat. The red light was flashing, the water temperature was rising and the two women who have no idea about car mechanics – we had no other choice but to turn and go back.
We wanted to climb Mount Menino, 1,500m above sea level, which promises spectacular views. Locals say that in the nice weather with one view you can embrace on the one side Maribor and on the other, Ljubljana. But even when climbing up the dirt road we were accompanied by views of green meadows, pastures where cows lazily mooed and roads in the distance that appeared as white strips separating the areas cultivated by local farmers. The houses, scattered next to the narrow paved roads, are occupied by people who live in contact with nature. They are surrounded with lush forests that overgrow the surrounding plateau; in the distance, the snowy peaks of the mountains are revealed from behind the clouds; through the valley the Savinja and Dreta rivers flow in gentle meanders; and respect for the traditions and culture of the area’s ancestors is always apparent. Upper Savinja Valley is a typical alpine landscape where the high alpine karst plateaus, Golte Menina and Dobrovlje, are hiding hollows of Gornji grad and Mozirje.
Adrenaline, action and fun – all year round
As the locals say: “Savinja is cool.” Why? The abundance of water that flows from the alpine valleys feeds the river that in summer reaches a comfortable 26 degrees Celsius. At the banks of the Savinja river, attractive girls are sunbathing, children are building rocky bridges over the river, eager adrenaline freaks don lifejackets and get into rafts or kayaks to descend upon the rapids and pools of Savinja. The underwater world of the river can be discovered by snorkeling; you can discover the river by dropping into small and large waterfalls in wet suits, otherwise known as canyoning.
Even when you drive in the Upper Savinja Valley it is clear that this is a place for hikers – both for those who are in great shape, those who want only light exercise and for families. Turska mountain, Ojstrica, Grintovec, Golte, Raduha… so many options you’ll need the whole holiday if you want to reach all the peaks. Mountain bikers will also feel right at home. Local guides organise tours for ladies, gentlemen, young people and experienced riders. Tours include visits of tourist farms, which serve excellent local food. However, when snow covers the landscape, it’s time for the winter fun. On Golte the ski slopes for both skiers and snowboarders are arranged.
Romance, relaxation, adventure
The smell of freshly cut grass was not able to transcend the fragrance that came out of the kitchen. The fishes were being baked – trout. Probably the ones were just recently pulled out of the Savinja that flows nearby. Lush treetops are as a green canopy that have a cooling effect on the hot summer days in this paradise in the heart of Alpine valley. In Rečica ob Savinji on a large area Camp Menina stretches, surrounded by lush greenery, on which you can set up your tent. If you’re not the type to sleep on the floor, Camp Menina has a wide range of modern mobile homes and few trekker huts. In the complex, Youth Hostel Menina also lies and it is ideal for young travellers; groups often find a place there after parties. Through camp the stream flows and it is filling the lake – in the summer 200 children and playful adults find refreshment. In a wooden restaurant pizzas, stews and typical local food is being served; there is also an adventure park which stretches across the camp, a children’s park, “Spirit Laboratorium” (to spice up the holidays there are always crazy owner’s ideas available), and a sauna. Ah, the sauna is right on cue for romantic souls. In the evening by torchlight visitors can relax body and mind. For those who are into crazy adventures, in camp is a list of activities – tandem flights, canyoning, rafting, grass skiing (yes, that exists), water sports, guided tours by bike, and much more. In short, when in Camp Menina you will not be bored.
Youth Hostel Menina
To lick your fingers
On the way to the heart of the mountains, in the picturesque Logarska valley, where the breathtaking waterfall Rinka is, you cannot miss Gostišče Pevc & Hostel Ljubno ob Savinji. On Fridays meat lovers will definitely stop for a roasted piglet or lamb on a spit in front of the hostel. A house with wooden balconies, brown shutters and plenty of beautiful flowers promises familiarity. The family-run guest house and hostel serves the guests with seasonal dishes that are picked in the garden and freshly baked bread in the wood oven. Besides that, of course, they serve zgornjesavinjski želodec (a dry meat product) žlinkrofi filled with smoked minced meat, or dumplings with hemp seed. Even the hemp grows in the field a few metres away, but this is of course without THC. Guests who stay overnight in one of the 17 beds are the most enthusiastic about homeliness as in small hostels with the hospitable staff they feel at home.
Youth Hostel Ljubno ob Savinji
Marof, hayrack, house of youth
Although it is right by the road, you will not see it. You have to stop at the Youth Hostel Šmartno ob Paki where the hayrack stands. If you ever had the desire to sleep in a hay barn, this is for you. You will sleep on a mattress stuffed with spelt, but the atmosphere is right. In this hostel mostly a group of young artists and athletes are hosted. In the house of young, as they call the complex, you will find a hostel in the true sense of the word. Bunk beds in the attic stand side by side so that youngsters in the evenings, when the lights are off, share their secrets. Next to the hostel is a completely renovated marof, a former outbuilding, today the place where creative, dance and educational workshops take place.
Youth Hostel Šmartno ob Paki
Thanks to Anja Turk for this blog. Feeling inspired? Take a look at our Slovenia hostels here.