Slovenia: How walking saved one travel blogger’s summer
As a local Slovenia travel blogger, at the end of February this year I was already making plans for another great summer of going around places in Slovenia and blogging about them.
But then a global pandemic has put the entire planet on pause.
To stop the spread of coronavirus epidemic around the country, one of the Slovenian government restrictions was the cross-municipality movement ban – meaning you couldn’t leave your home municipality (in my case Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana) except to go to work, seek emergency services or offer assistance to relatives.
For me, this was the moment when “the new normal” and the the entire set of rules around it kicked in the hardest. Suddenly, it was like the curtain fell down, without a last call. Though, at times it was hard to imagine my life without going around & exploring new places around the country, I would be the first to urge everyone to stay at home and stay safe.
Slovenia is neighbouring to northern Italy, where the epidemic was hitting the worst in Europe at the time.
While sitting at home, thinking about my travel blogging future, I was also thinking how lucky I am to be living in Slovenia, where forest cover almost 60% of its surface (in fact, the whole country is like one big natural reserve) 🙂
As the summer was approaching and the virus still didn’t go away (but the ban on travel outside the home municipality was already lifted by now), the plan was obvious to me.
JULIANA TRAIL – JUST KEEP ON WALKING
Hiking has always been a thing in Slovenia. Besides the Alpe-Adria Trail, some new great hiking trails have been set up in the last years.
The latest popular long-distance hiking trail is called Juliana Trail – it circles the highest peaks of the Slovenian Julian Alps (hence the name), and at the same time connects valleys and pastures of the Triglav National Park.
Juliana trail takes you through remote Slovenian villages and untouched wilderness, but it also passes through the popular places such as Bled and Bohinj (lakes), the Soča River Valley, Kranjska Gora and Pokljuka Plateau.
Did someone say remote?
There are several great things about walking the Juliana Trail, especially in the times of the Covid-19. Most importantly, you get to see some best of Slovenia without being in a crowd of people.
In total, the Juliana walking trail is 270 km long and it has 16 stages. The stages are varying by length and walking difficulty; it’s possible to spend the night where a stage starts or ends, along with opportunities to stop for meals and get refreshments.
My idea for this summer was not to walk the entire Juliana Trail (takes 2-3 weeks), but to organize the stages to fit into the five days I had. Since it was a hot summer after all, the Soča Valley part – known for its emerald green cold river Soča – sounded like a right thing for me to do.
To prepare for a walking trip – which started in Most na Soči and ended in Bovec – I checked the stages on the map and made reservations for my over-nights.
The rest was all about putting on my hiking shoes, and in no time I was out there experiencing the exceptional nature area, away from the crowds and all the fuss.
Nature Is the Best Place to Be
Except when reaching a major local town, there were not many people in sight along the picked stages – even though it was a peak of the summer season, and despite the fact that Soča Valley was one of the top domestic destinations of this summer.
When walking through the forest, feeling the coolness of the Soča river all over the heated body, you don’t feel the need to rush from A to B. Taking time (literally), making stops at your own pace and just enjoying the walking, travelling, forgetting about the rest of the world.
This brings a simple, but very magical meaning to your experience of here & now.
Find detailed Juliana Trail stages information HERE.
About me HERE.
DISCLAIMER: It’s quite difficult to pinpoint at this point in time how travel will ramp up once the world recovers from the coronavirus pandemic and its impact. My heart goes out to people whose livelihood depends completely on tourism: small hotels, restaurants, tour companies and people working with them. I just hope the situation gets better soon and we go back to the normal world we once knew.
Ljubljana, August 2020