As the taxi pulled into the drive of Pri Lenart, Zana came out and warmly greeted us with a big, cheerful smile. But it was obvious that she was concerned about Jeannie, as she was aware of the stomach distress of the past few days. Zana was eager to make sure that Jeannie was comfortable.
We were given a brief tour, and then shown across a well, cared-for lawn to what was in the past, the barn but is now mostly a large outdoor porch where we were served tea, coffee, and cookies. It was nice to just sit and enjoy the views, sounds of birds chirping, and a conversation with Zana – getting to know each other.
In the foothills of the Julian Alps, Pri Lenart is a lovingly-restored, Slovene farmhouse from 1662, operating as sort of a boutique hotel – though it is really much more. The current owners are a young husband and wife team, Luka and Zana. They are the extra spark that makes the beautiful buildings, stunning scenery, and guided walks even better. Surrounded by mountains, valleys, pastures, and forests, and at the edge of the Triglav National Park, this would be the perfect base for our walking holiday in Slovenia.
After our conversation and tea with Zana, she took us inside (one of the staff had already taken our large heavy bags up the three flights of stairs!) and showed us our room. Though the previous week’s guests had departed at noon, Zana had a beautiful room cleaned and ready for us.
We settled in, and before long we heard Luka arrive with the other guests – Paul and Janet from England. They chose to come to Slovenia based mostly on the recommendation of a friend, but seemed a bit trepidatious about the difficulty of the walks. However, Luka and Zana assured us all that there were many options and that they would adjust the itinerary once we began.
The plan for the first evening was to gather on the porch of the restored barn for an aperitif around 19h00, then the first course at 19h30 would be served in the dining room, and then dinner at 20:15 or so, followed by dessert. Of course, delicious local wine and wonderful conversation flowed the entire evening. Jeannie’s stomach was a little unsettled still, so she ate lightly. She passed on the 3-kinds of salami and 6-types of cheese, with various pickled veggies and mushrooms, and settled for a piece of cheese. I, on the other hand, felt fine and took up any slack.
The main course this evening was pasta and sauce, and of course all homemade. Jeannie asked for a small portion and it was perfect, she also indulged in two sips of wine and then, feeling brave, she finished almost all of her tiramisu dessert.
Our hosts, Zana and Luka then joined us for more conversation and to discuss the next day’s weather forecast and walking route.
The dialog was fascinating as the six of us from different nations, age groups and experiences sat around the table talking about subjects far and wide; as we would every night we were there. And we finished each night with a small glass of local, homemade brandy/schnapps. Tonight was blueberry, but would be different every night.
It had been a long day, and it was 22h00 so we said good night then went up to bed, where we were serenaded into sleep by the millions of crickets outside our open windows. Tomorrow would come early, and we were excited about the prospects of our first day of walking about the Slovenian countryside.
Over the next several days we would follow the same basic routine: get up early enough for a delicious breakfast at 08h30, grab a sandwich and fruit to put in our packs for lunch on the trail. Next, before our departure we would get our pants and legs sprayed as a preventative against ticks which, as in many parts of the world, do carry LYME disease.
Then we would head out on foot or by van to hike about 11± km/7± miles, with a total ascent of maybe 600 m/2000 feet. Every day was different, and we were treated to an incredible variety of beautiful scenery, birds, fungi, and wildflowers, and always with delightful conversation along the way.
Of course, the muscle-burning, never-ending climbs over a varied rocky terrain were indeed challenging, but the views and sights along the way made it all worthwhile. Each day we walked through hamlets and villages, and climbed big hills and mountains each with interesting names and stories, like Malenski Vrh and Gorenja Žetina.
The accompanying images are of Pri Lenart, and the first day’s hikes. Of course there will be more to follow.