Kranjska Gora Banner
Kranjska Gora is an little village tucked away in the Julian Alps in the northwestern corner of Slovenia. Prior to our trip here in early June, the closest we had been to the Alps was the view from a car or bus window on the way to Lubljana. However, we did get to experience the Alpine atmosphere as AISZ had a weekend retreat there just two weeks before the end of school.  While the chairlift that we could see from our hotel window was a reminder of the area's winter activities, there was plenty to do in early summer as well.

Hotel Alpina
Hotel Alpina
            ExteriorHotel Alpina
            LobbyOur base of operations was the Hotel Alpina, a large lodge closest to the mountains and overlooking the town. Much of the hotel had recently been renovated, and it proved to be a convenient and comfortable spot from which to explore the area.  While most teachers rode up on the bus, we hitched a ride with Dawn, the curriculum coordinator for the school, and caught up with the rest of the crew at the hotel. The photo at the upper left shows the exterior of the Alpina hotel, while the photo at the upper right shows the lobby area. At the bottom left is a look up to the mezzanine level where we took 2 breakfasts and one dinner, while the photo at the lower left shows faculty congregating in the hallway shortly after arrival. We arrived late afternoon and
Hotel Alpina
            Mezzanine Levelenjoyed a communal buffet dinner Impromptu Faculty Meetingbefore resting up for the weekend activities. While initially the weather forecast called for rain, we were fortunate that, except for a brief downpour as we arrived (naturally), the rest of weekend was sunny and bright.  The mountain air proved a nice break from Zagreb, which was beginning to feel the heat of summer.  What better way to end up the school term than in a beautiful outdoor setting?

Martuljski Slapovi (The Martuljek Falls)
Trail to the FallsLower FallsOn Saturday morning our intrepid AISZ guide, Dalibor, took us on a morning hike to the Martuljek Falls. After a short bus ride out of town we crossed an open field, where we were treated to a magnificent view of the Julian Alps (photo upper left). The path then took us into the forest in search of the two waterfalls known as the "Pearls of the Slovenian Alpine world." Our first stop was the lower falls, where the water drops about thirty meters onto a stream bed (photo upper right). As the water levels were low, the stream bed below the falls were nearly dry. Hikers had created a series of stone sculptures with the rocks. The photo at the lower right shows head of school Paul Buckley surveying the artwork. This is clearly Rock ArtUpper
            Waterfallperformance art, as the spring rains will  eventually wash away the remnants of these stone sentinels, creating a blank canvas for the next group of hikers. After a fairly steep and slippery climb, our group arrived at a bridge spanning a gorge that afforded us a view of the upper falls (photo, lower right). Here the water cascades in three stages down the 110 meter rock face, a spectacular sight, and well worth the effort it takes to climb the mountain. The entire course of the falls from bottom to top is captured in the video below, created by Reinhard Biller.

A Video of the
Martuljski Slapovi by Reinhard Biller

Downtown Kranjska Gora

Walking from the ChurchRestaurant RowHiking and contemplating nature are bound to work up an appetite, so after we returned to the Hotel Alpina to freshen up, we headed down the hill to get something to eat. Passing by the Church (photo to the left),
we headed to the main square, which hosts any number of restaurants with outside covered terraces, much like those in Zagreb. We had to walk a fair ways down into the town, as the restaurants and taverns were filled with people (more on this later). We finally found a nice Italian restaurant with a single open table and had a rewarding lunch of pizza and calamari. Sated ,we strolled back toward the town center to see what all the fuss was about.

Red Bull Goni Pony 2022

The PonyPony RidersEven before traipsing down the hill for lunch we noticed that things in Kranjska Gora were bustling. When we went to breakfast, the place was absolutely bursting with people. Why? Well we happened into Kranjska Gora on the weekend of Red Bull's Goni Pony Rally!  The Pony, pictured in the photo to the left, is a distinctive bicycle manufactured by ROG Industries in nearby Lubljana from 1952 to 1991. The dimunuitive bike has long extensions for seats and handlebars, so that it can be ridden by adults.  Apparently once a year, these bike enthusiasts descend upon Kranjska Gora in all manner of outrageous dress, and parade around the city. Given that production of the bike ceased 31 years ago, it is a safe bet that most of the bikes we saw were more recent, as a company by the More Pony Ridersname of Gor kolesa has resumed production of the bikes. The point of the Goni Pony event is to cycle from Kranjska Gora all the way to the Vrsic Mountain Pass (at an elevation of 1,611 metres (5,285 ft.), which is the highest pass in Slovenia, as well as the highest in the Eastern Julian Alps. If that is not challenge enough Pony bikes  have only one gear. The other requirement of the rally seems to be to dress in "retro" fashion, in keeping with the Pony's heritage. We can only surmise that the crowds circling around the downtown area had finished the arduous climb and were now decompressing. Below is a video from the most recent Red Bull Goni Poni Rally by T Lafluria.

2022 Red Bull Goni Pony Rally

Goni Pony, the Rave

The AfterpartyAll day we heard persistently loud music, and it was only when we were walking to dinner (our bus ride cut off by the bike route) that we located its source. The Pony expressers may have had to pedal their single gear bikes up to the highest peak in the Julian Alps, but they were still ready to party.  Below is a video that Tracy made of the festivites as we returned from dinner.

Dining Slovenian Style at Bunarica Kosobrin
Bunarica Kosobrin ExteriorInside the RestaurantSaturday evening we dined at Bunarica Kosobrin, which offers traditional Slovenian fare. For us, this turned out to be a dried sausage appetizer, followed by two soups. One was a cabbage soup with sausage and the other a stew with veal, both delicious. The soups were served buffet style and we were each brought a bowl of buckwheat laced with pieces of bacon. (Apparently cardiologist do not dine here) And, for desert, (as if we needed it) there was a blueberry strudel with ice cream. The entire repast is shown below.
Cabbage Soup
Veal Stew
Blueberry Strudel
Dried Sausages
Cabbage Soup with Sausage
Buckwheat with Bacon
Veal Stew

Jazero Jasna
Jazero JasnaTracy on the BenchOn Sunday morning as Dale recovered from probably way too much meat at last night's meal, Tracy took a walk to Jazero Jasna, a nearby lake. This lake consists of two interconnected artificial lakes at the junction of the Velika Pisnica and Mala Pisnica streams. It is enroute to Vrsic, the end point of the bike rally the previous day. Although peaceful when she visited, it is a very busy area with swimming, diving, kayaking, and sunbathing all attracting large crowds in warm weather. For quiet mornings, there is a trail around the lake. Below is a brief video tour of the two lakes by Mateja Travel and Outdoors
Jazero Jasna

On Sunday morning we said goodbye to our first and only Alpine adventure and headed back to Zagreb.

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