Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Julian Alps and the Soca Valley

On our crystal clear day we ventured into Triglavski Narodni Park. The park is nestled in the northwestern corner of the Slovenia - tucked right next to Italy and Austria. We were bowled over by the Julian Alps. It felt like we jumped inside 'Sound of Music' country with views that couldn't help but to bring tears to your eyes! Not at all what I always associated with Eastern Iron Curtain Europe.
I kept trying to put my camera away, but around every bend were even more and more spectacular views. I would immediately go into another contortion from my car seat to try to get a good photo around the windshield. It is a wonder Kirk was even able to keep driving with my Ooohs, Aaaahs, Slow Downs and Waits! Just look at the road in the photo below as an example. I still have to pinch myself we were really there!These hay racks are Slovenian symbols and dot the countryside. I don't totally get the functionality, but whatver. They were fun to point out amongst the stunning backdrops.Our first official rest stop took us to the world's largest ski jump. Looked pretty different as the snow had melted away, but you can nevertheless tell the magnitude.We kept on chuggin and ventured next up the Vršič Pass - Slovenia's highest mountain pass now named to honor the Russian Prisoners of War who helped build it. The road was first built for military purposes back during WWI. It is defined by 25 consecutive hairpin turns up and then 26 back down - I wouldn't want to be driving it with a military tank!Here are just a few of the tummy-turning curves on our GPS - as just a taste....It was sunny enough and blooming Spring below, but up top the white blanket of snow was still thick. There were plows up there clearing the road.Slovenia has an unusual emphasis on beekeeping. They paint the hives - supposedly to help the bees remember their address!After descending from the Vršič Pass we immediately descended into the Soca Valley. It was a mind-blowing change of pace from the snow-capped mountains to the emerald aqua waters of the Soca River!Connor and I walked across the rickety bridge while Kirk went down to the water to get a closer view.Their bridge needs some repairs! Peekaboo.The Soca valley was stunning, beautiful, and every other synonym you can think of.We stopped for lunch in the tiny town of Kobarid where we picked up another on the go picnic. No lolly-gagging for our team! We ate and went to the nearby "Italian Charnel House." This memorial is a crypt of sorts for Italians who died in WWII battles here.
The site provided more wonderful views overlooking the Soca River.Due to its emerald green water, the river is also marketed as "The Emerald Beauty". It is said to be one of the rare rivers in the world that retain such a colour throughout their lengthHere is an aerial shot from the internet that really shows good perspective on these unusual green waters.
The Julian Alps were a real treat for us on this beautiful day. This day we felt our adept travel rhythm. We were able to experience so much without a lot of effort. Just hitting our stride and enjoy the Earth's beauty.

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