Monday, September 26, 2016

Day 4: The Julian Alps in Slovenia

Next up in Slovenia was a drive through the beautiful and windy Julian Alps. We spent the day meandering through Vršič Pass and its 50 hairpin turns, and then followed the spectacular Soča River through WWI sights and quaint towns.
Hairpin turns

First stop after the 8th switchback was the Russian Church which was built to honor Russian POWs who were killed in an avalanche while building this road.

The whole area is surrounded by lush green trees and towering mountains. However, it is fairly steep and I can't imagine what it took to build a road in 1916.

Tunnel from 1916

After a few more stops at varying vistas, we ate lunch on some picnic tables at the summit of Vršič Pass (5,285 feet) with lovely views. There are a couple of restaurants along the way, but we were glad we brought lunch. 

We also took a quick hike around the summit behind the restaurant to what they call the Fifth Hut which has ruins of a telpher cable car line that would carry supplies during WWI. 

After our descent we finished off our final 50th hairpin turn before entering the Soca River Valley. We visited Church of St. Joseph (beautiful art) and the sobering WWI cemetery behind the church.

We took a minor break from the history sights to catch a little movie action. The Soča River was where the Prince Caspian movie was filmed. The water is actually that turquoise. If you can, stop off at one of the suspension bridges and give it a little jump. :)


Near the end of the day, we made it to the little town of Kobarid. We tried to make it to the WWI museum but it was closing, so we were only able to view the traveling exhibit which was fascinating. The Italian Mausoleum sits on the hill overlooking the town. It was built in 1938 when the area was part of Italy and houses more than 7,000 soldier's remains. It is built in pure Mussolini style and rumor has it that a townsman planned an assassination when Mussolini came to dedicate the building but changed his mind last minute as to spare the lives of those who might have been collateral damage.

Our day ended at a roadside diner with huge crowds and milky turquoise waters. It was a fantastic day.

  • Transportation: to get the best of the area, you need to rent a car. While there are some tight turns, it is a really enjoyable drive.
  • If we had more time, I wish we could have stayed one more night along the way so we could have more time to hike or play in the river (although it was a little cold when we were there). Also, I wish we had time for WWI Kluze Fort and the WWI museum in Kobarid.
  • Bring a picnic. There are plenty of places to stop off and eat and enjoy.
  • We spent the night in Nova Gorica which was fine. The best place for dinner was not at the hotel, but at the popular roadside diner. 

Traveled May 2015. 

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