Day Tripper

By Jane Mountain | May 8, 2013

1500 km so far.

We are loving Ljubljana so much, we decided to spend one more night; we are not yet tired of great beer and great food.

We don’t really go in for churches and museums, however, so we decided to take a day trip to Velika Planina, a plateau-ish area 1600 m up in The Alps, which, it turns out, are only 30 km north of Ljubljana.

Riding out of Ljubljana was a minor drama. Pocket Earth, in its infinite wisdom, routed us along a ‘cars only’ freeway during rush hour, even though we had asked it for biking directions. We got stuck on the freeway for about 2 km before there was a turn-off and we managed to re-route ourselves onto more bike-friendly roads.

Once we got out of the city, we were surrounded by farmer’s fields, wood piles, hay drying racks, lots of beautiful churches, and small patches of forest. It was some of the easiest riding we’ve done so far.

bike with leather satchel

Best pannier ever, belonging to a man in his 70s.

Ticket To Ride

When we reached the tram there were several touring bikes lining one wall of the hut, and we later saw a family with four very small children to whom, we assume, the bikes belonged. They had a tandem bike (reclining bike in front, regular seat behind) pulling a trailer, plus a child-sized bike, and an full-size bike. All were fully loaded. This puts any of our trials and tribulations into perspective.

We’re guessing the planina is not a huge destination for foreign tourists, as it took two staff members to figure out how to swipe a credit card so we could buy tickets to the top. They also forgot to give us our tickets after charging us, and provided no information whatsoever.

Oh well, we are getting used to being clueless everywhere we go.

Good Day Sunshine

The day had been overcast so far, but the clouds began to clear as we climbed in the tram up to the planina. All of a sudden, towering sheer rock faces covered in snow appeared.

We were in the Alps.

The thing to see on the planina – apart from nature, the alps, the valley below leading to Ljubljana, the plain, and the 60 varieties of wild flowers – is the Huts. The huts are a few kilometres from the tram, so we hiked along, with songs from The Sound Of Music in our head, and beautiful purple and white croci at our feet.

slovenia valika planina

Checking our altitude on the iPad.

People have lived and herded animals on the the planina since the Middle Ages, and they lived in circular huts in small communities. The last original huts were destroyed during WWII, but in the 60s they were rebuilt to help preserve the heritage and encourage tourism.

herder huts valika planina

Traditional herders huts, Velika Planina.

You can now stay in some of them, outfitted with solar panels for hot water, and, we hope, insulation. The planina is at 1600 m, so even on this relatively warm day down in the valley, it was chilly, wind-swept, and there were still lots of places where the snow hadn’t melted.

Get Back

We spent two hours hiking, which gave us just enough time to visit the huts and then rush back for the return tram to the bottom.

The ride back flew by. It was literally all downhill from the tram base to Ljubljana, and we rode the 33 km in not more than an hour. This gave us plenty of time to get more delicious soba and sushi and MoySushi and drink a few more Human Fish beers.

There was a huge university student party in the main park in Ljubljana in the afternoon and evening called Skisova Trznica. It is an annual event where all the student organisations try and recruit new members, show off their local food, and the like. Essentially though, it is a big music festival / opportunity for university students to get drunk.

I went to check it out for an hour in the evening, and saw/listened to a female DJ playing the most current music I’ve heard since leaving Los Angeles. On the main stage there was a Slovene rock band, Arthem, who were murdering The Beatles Help! when I arrived. It did them no favours in my view, but people really seemed to like them and knew the words to all their songs, so I guess they are local heroes.  

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