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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Slovenia - Day 12: A Settlement in the Mountains: Velika Planina and Kamnik

During the planning stage of this journey, we've come across some pictures online of Velika Planina, a settlement in the Kamnik Alps, and thought that this should definitely be included in our tour of Slovenia. Yet you have to plan way ahead if you want to visit the place and don't have a car or don't want to invest in expensive taxis as there aren't many public buses plying that route. We had to wake up very early considering this particular sightseeing plans.

The first local KamBus from Kamnik to Velika Planina (the buses heading to Kamniška Bistrica stop there) already left at 7.20 a.m. Fortunately, our hotel in Kamnik, the Guesthouse Špenko, is located just opposite the central bus station in Kamnik, so we didn't have to walk far. 


After about 15 minutes we already had arrived at the Zicnica Velika Planina Bus Stop and had a coffee, while we waited for the ticket office for the cable car to open. Soon we went steeply upwards and arrived in excellent sights of the Kamnik Alps. It was quite impressive! 


But we weren't at the main attraction yet, the Herdsmen Settlement, which consists of beautiful traditional houses. You can either walk from the upper cable car station or take the chairlift. We took the chairlift.


At the top, we started a walk through the settlement, where we also came to the Snow Mary Chapel. It is a settlement in the mountains and regardless where you look, it's just incredible. We opted not to taste the dairy products like sour milk sold by the farmers since I'm lactose intolerant. The path led to the settlement and then back to the chairlift area, where the way down to the upper cable car station started. We just followed the signs, went past the cows and were back in time to take the cable car going back down.


We went down to reach the bus, and there was even time for another coffee and ice cream. The bus stop for the journey back to Kamnik was not opposite the bus stop where we came, but a few steps down the road to the south. Like all the buses we took in Slovenia, this one too was exactly right on time. It was quite a change regarding our Malta bus experiences.  


Back in Kamnik, we finally explored the Old Town. We walked past the Franciscan Monastery and came to a statue of the military officer and poet Robert Maister. The main street was decorated with umbrellas as an art installation, and when we walked up to the Little Castle (Mali Grad), we saw, that we would need umbrellas if we were still in Velika Planina. The mountains had disappeared into the clouds. We couldn't enter the Little Castle, but enjoyed a beautiful panorama.


We were getting hungry and opted for a late dinner at a restaurant on a side street, where I got risotto with shrimps (at the second tryout from the distracted waitress). Kamnik´s Old Town is neat and can easily be explored on foot. So we continued along some beautiful houses to the Church of the Immaculate Conception with its free-standing Bell Tower.


Finally, we walked up to Zaprice Castle, which houses the Intermunicipal Museum of Kamnik. The museum is rather large and offers a lot of information on Kamnik's past with a lot of artifacts in a modern exhibition. For me, the most impressive were the exhibition of Kamnik as a commercial center and the products that came from Kamnik, like the invention of wood bending to create furniture such as rocking chairs. We learned that other famous products of Kamnik were fur and leather products, candles and also gingerbread. 


When we were finished with the museum, we just walked around a bit further, to the train station and the Church of St. James, and then northwards, before we turned back south and walked a bit along the foggy river, passing a fitness course. After a little rest at the hotel, we later had dinner at a nearby eatery at the river and enjoyed local specialty Cevapi, which we already loved in Croatia.


The next day, we would continue to our final destination in Slovenia, the capital, Ljubljana. We easily could have stayed a day longer in Kamnik, as there are more attractions nearby, like the Terme Snovik and Volcji Potok, a vast Arboretum. Both are connected to Kamnik by some buses from Kamnik Bus.


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