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The Surprising Soca Valley

Soca River, SloveniaI wasn’t really sure what to expect when I was invited to join a small group of colleagues on a trip to Hidden Italy and Slovenia.  We flew to Venice, which was everything - and more - that I’d expected it to be, but Slovenia was a completely unknown entity to me. All I knew was that Slovenia had a decent football team but I doubted that had anything to do with the Soca Valley, where we were heading!

From Ljubljana, we made our way into the Primorska region of western Slovenia, our destination being Kobarid and the Hotel Hvalva. We explored the town and learned from its small museum that a ‘famous’ battle took place here during the First World War, the Battle of Caporetto, which was described by Ernest Hemingway in his novel "A Farewell to Arms".  Suitably impressed, we returned to our hotel for a dinner of ravioli-like 'zlinkrofi' (Italian influence), 'golaz' or goulash (Hungarian influence) and 'zavitek' or strudel (Austrian influence) - strangely familiar dishes, yet with a distinctly Slovenian twist.

Craig, Elizabeth and Mark in SloveniaAfter a hearty breakfast the following morning, we set off on a delightful walk along the banks of the crystal-clear Soca River as it wound its way through some unbelievably pretty countryside. The sun was shining as we wandered along, chatting quietly to each other, while views of high jagged peaks and wooded lower slopes never ceased to impress us.

At lunchtime, we opened up our picnics on a wide, grassy bank beside the river, while we dipped our toes in the ice-cold water. There was no rush and we didn’t hurry. Places like this make you want to linger and simply soak up your surroundings. After hunks of rustic bread, spicy sausage, goat’s cheese and a glass or two of the local wine, we felt completely relaxed and ended up having a quiet doze in the sun!

However, we still had a way to go and were pleased to note that the rest of the walk proved as wonderful as the first half, the turquoise waters of the river still as pure and clear as ever. There was hardly a soul as we approached the quiet village of Bovec, although we did notice a couple of men fishing, waist-deep in the river, no doubt trying to outwit the local rainbow trout.

Imagine our surprise, when, two hours later, we arrived at the Martinov Hram Hotel and saw the same men in an animated conversation with our hotelier by the side door. We were slightly curious as to what was going on - until all became clear when we sat down for dinner. There, on the menu, in perfectly written English, we saw “freshly-caught trout”. And very tasty it was too...

Well, we’re back home now and back at work, but my eyes have been opened to what a truly wonderful country Slovenia is - great walking, beautiful scenery and friendly welcoming people. And the fresh fish isn’t bad either!

Fishing for trout, Soca River, Slovenia 

Posted: 08/10/2010 16:38:43 by | with 0 comments
Filed under: gastronomy, nature, Slovenia


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