(A VILLAGE IN SLOVENIA)
Podhom is a tiny but quaint and very picturesque village in Slovenia.
To reach this village, one has to rent a car or take a train from Jesenice, the nearest town. Jesenice is well connected to Austria through Villach and Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. All trains going to Nova Gorice and Sezana, south Slovenia, from Jesenice pass through Podhom. It is single track and the journey is through small villages, forests and occasional waterfalls.
The station, itself is just a few wooden benches, a coffee and beer shop under a shed. Out of the world place!!!
Podhom and Zasip are the two villages on either side of the train track. Both offer self-catering apartments to visitors. A small, but well stocked supermarket in Zasip serves both the villages. The hosts offering rooms to the guests are very friendly, helpful and present a very happy and cheerful ambience. My husband and I had rented a one bedroom apartment with full kitchen, balcony and living room for five days. Our hosts gave us access to their organic vegetable and fruit garden and we were extremely grateful for that.
Lake Bled is about 4km and the next trains stop from Podhom. It is a major tourist attraction and has many hotels and inns. We preferred to hike down to the lake from Zasip. It was a very pleasant walk through fields and villages, over small wooden bridges on rivulets, listening to the cow bells and occasional cycling tourists calling out greetings.
Lake Bled is beautiful, though very commercialized. There is an island at the centre which has a castle with a church inside it.
A pathway circumvents the lake and is a good way to see the whole lake and the town. But the best part of the visit was the walk from the village to the Bled town…I loved it!!
Another awesome place near Podhom is the Vintgar Gorge. It is about 2.5km through the village to the entrance of the gorge. The wooden pathway across the gorge takes about 1.5 hours one way. Visitors can drive upto the entrance ….the road is paved, but narrow, and passes through the Podhom village. Walking is more enjoyable, though!
The wooden pathway is specifically constructed for the visitors to walk through the gorge and enjoy the different sight and sound of flowing water….sometimes tinkling like a bell over small stones and around boulders…then a bend and loud roaring sound while gushing down in form of waterfalls. As we walked along the winding pathway, the sun played hide and seek with us….sometimes going behind the mountains and then suddenly shining down from between the overhanging cliffs. I could have spent hours standing on one of the numerous crossover bridges and gazing down at the rushing river, dancing over stones, carrying with it, fallen leaves and twigs. ….birds chirping, flying around from rock to rock, frolicking with each other…..droplets of water spraying over my face…..with only the sounds of nature all around.
The third place we visited was the awesome Lake Bohinjska and the mighty Savica falls. It is a short train journey from Podhom to Station Bohnjska Bistrica and then an hour’s bus ride through the town to the lake. Lovely town!!
Visitors can hike (takes about 2 hours uphill and is through the forest) to the entrance of the Savica waterfalls or ride along the road (tourist buses take this route). After hiking through the forest, we reached the entrance, bought the ticket and were aghast to see a long winding pathway consisting of steps going further uphill. Gritting our teeth with determination, we started climbing. A German lady, descending, warned us that there were about 350 steps…. We certainly didn’t need that information at that time!!!!
But the effort was worth it.
The lake is the most beautiful one, I have seen. There is no commercial activity around the lake…no hotels, no restaurants, no souvenir shops…absolutely nothing. One doesn’t find many tourists around too, which is a blessing. The lake and the forests around it, is a protected area.
This part of Slovenia is a wonderful getaway for those who enjoy hiking and being with nature. There are very few towns which have hotels and public transport is infrequent, more so on weekends. There is a “laid back”ambience around the small towns and villages. People are friendly, ready to help including car lifts to lake areas, fruits and vegetables from their gardens and generally being very hospitable. I have come back feeling rejuvenated and wanting to go back again.
No less than Switzerland in natural beauty, but more peaceful (no hordes of chattering and selfie clicking tourists) and much cheaper (our self-catering apartment was just 30 euros per night!!!). It should be on all avid nature travelers list…. Bon voyage.