Wow, the Dolomites are beautiful. Ok, I guess that shouldn’t be such a surprise. Visiting the Dolomites has been on my list for years, but still I was stunned.
Our first pass was Staulanza. From the Piave River down at 420m in Longarone we climbed up to 1760m at the pass. We took our time. It wasn’t hard. The most disturbing thing is that there’s a 5km section of road between Igne and Mezzocanale that is closed to cyclists. The alternative (via Pieve di Cadore) is over 50km longer with an extra 1300m of climbing. WTF? We rode the 5km illegally and didn’t get caught.
Above Forno di Zoldo we started getting views of the high mountains.
The Russians built the road over Vrşiç Pass during WWI after the Italians invaded the Austrian Empire. The aim was to supply the Isonzo Front. There’s still a well kept Russian chapel about half way up the north of the side of pass.
The 800m climb was my first riding with a full load since crashing 10 days earlier. I was happy my knee did as well as it did. I wasn’t so happy with the views. Vrşiç Pass is the highest (paved?) pass in Slovenia and gives access to the highest mountains in the country. I guess I expected the scenery to be more impressive.
Ferda and I had heard there was a lot to do in the Kranjska Gora area. When we finished our via ferrata in Mojstrana, we looked for a place to stay there for a few days. Everything seemed full. On the internet I found Boršt Apartments in Gozd Martuljek and booked an apartment for a few nights. It said the room had a “mountain view”. Ferda and I laughed because everywhere we turned in this area had a mountain view.
Well, uh, they weren’t kidding. This was the view from our room:
They also weren’t kidding about the things to do. We kept extending our stay. Here’s a list of our excursions while we were there:
visit Jansa Lake by bicycle
climb the Jerm’n via ferrata
a 60 km 3-country (Slovenia, Austria, Italy) bicycle loop
climb the ferrata Hvadnik
visit Fusine Lakes (in Italy) by bicycle
watch ski jumpers at Planica
explore the Vrata Valley by bicycle, then on foot
explore the Krma Valley by bicycle
walk to the lower Murtuljški waterfall (there’s an upper one as well)
Here’s a short list of some of the things we thought we might do but didn’t have time for:
explore the Kot Valley
explore the network of trails below the mountains that we looked at everyday from our room
Yes, it’s a great part of Slovenia to spend a few days. Note that it’s all about sport and mountain scenery. There’s not much in the way of culture and history. Also, it seems difficult to get around if you don’t have a bicycle.
This is how we started most of our excursions, heading straight toward the mountains to access the bicycle path that heads up and down the main valley (Sava Dolinka):
Bicycle tourists had warned us that the direct road from Bohinj to Bled was narrow and busy with traffic. You can take the train instead, we were told. However, that route was never even on my radar. Another option is the 900m climb to Rudno Polje which gives access to the highest mountains in the Julian Alps. The choice was obvious.
When people asked about our bicycle route heading west from Ljubljana, they often corrected me when I said we were going to Bohinj and then Bled. No, no, they said, you go to Bled, then Bohinj. That’s the main route, of course, and probably a fair bit less climbing than our route. We were quite satisfied with the small roads we chose through here and really started to enjoy the touring in Slovenia. Sure, it got hillier, and at the same time the scenery got more interesting.
We had only spent one night camping when we decided to spend a couple nights in an apartment in Hotavlje. It was a good call as it was raining when we left camp and ended up raining most of the day and even more the next day. Marta and Peter welcomed us at their place with coffee, apple brandy, bread, and three kinds of prosciutto, one from pig and two from cow.