To Kobarid - Skipping About the Continent - CycleBlaze

June 17, 2022

To Kobarid

The streak of great weather continues, although there is a warming trend for later this week. My destination today is Kobarid, in the Soča River valley. My route will take me back up the Bohinj Valley to Bohinjska Bistrica where I’ll take a train through the mountains to Most na Soči, then follow the Soča River to Kobarid. Trains to Most na Soči were scheduled to depart at 9:15 and 11:50. As today's route was fairly short and I was not in a hurry, I decided to wait for the later train, giving me more time to enjoy the Bohinjska kolesarska bike trail to Bohinjska Bistrica.

The ride down the Bohinj valley was a delight, with the low hills and mountain peaks rising above as I followed the Sava-Bohinjka river through wooded sections and narrow alpine meadows. There were plenty of folks out enjoying the day on a bike, ranging from family groups to touring cyclists on tandems. Despite my leisurely pace and stops for photos, I arrived at the train station with more than an hour to spare. I cycled back to explore the town to and check out the sporting goods store. I again came up empty in my hunt for a  Slovenia cycle jersey, and as there was not much to the town other that lodging and places to eat, I returned to the train station to wait.

On the Bohinjska kolesarska bike trail
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On the Bohinjska kolesarska bike trail
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On the Bohinjska kolesarska bike trail
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One of the things I'm loving about Slovenia is seeing all the young children on bicycles. I apologize for the pic-stitch water mark - I wasn't willing to pay €23 for an ad-free app I rarely use
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Scott AndersonFYI, I use the free version of Photo Collage.
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1 month ago
Susan CarpenterTo Scott AndersonThanks for the tip Scott - I was hoping someone would recommend a free alternative
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1 month ago
On the Bohinjska kolesarska bike trail
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Approaching Bohinjska Bistrica on the Bohinjska kolesarska bike trail
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I arrived at the station shortly after a bus had disgorged a large contingent of young people with a wide assortment of backpacks and hiking poles. Two other cyclists arrived and I struck up a conversation with Dominick and Hieke, a German couple who were also headed to Most na Soči and from there to Nova Gorica and down the Adriatic to Ravena. A steady stream of cyclists began arriving as the scheduled time for departure neared, and we wondered if there would be enough room in the bike car for us and all our bikes. Fortunately, most of the cyclists were taking the autotrain to Nova Gorica, which was scheduled to leave ten minutes before our train, but did not stop at Most na Soči.

 The autotrain arrived, was loaded with cars, bikes and people, and departed on time as we waited for our train to arrive at the station. However, it turned out that the little red train that had been sitting on the tracks for the past few hours was our train. As soon as we were cleared to board, we climbed on with bikes and gear, followed closely by the young hiking contingent who nearly filled a whole car themselves. The engine came on, but the doors stayed open and the train stayed put for almost an hour. Finally, we started rolling, eliciting loud cheers from the other car - only forty minutes late for a forty minute train ride.

Church of St. Ahaca in Bohinjska Bistrica
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Waiting at the station in Bohinjska Bistrica
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Heike and Dominick, a German couple on their way to Most Na Soči and the Adriatic Sea
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Dominik VogtThank you for the picture! It was a pleasure to meet you. Have a nice trip. Dominik and Heike
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1 month ago
A group effort among strangers to load the bikes onto the autotrain - another example of the biking community working together
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I was surprised that passengers on the autotrain rode in their own cars rather than in train cars. Keep those hands inside your car!
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Bidding farewell to Dominick and Heike after finally arriving in Most Na Soči
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I bid farewell to Dominick and Heike and followed a dirt track to Most na Soči and then headed up the Soča River toward Kobarid. The route initially followed highway 102, but I noted that work is underway to install/improve a dedicated bike lane along the river. RWGPS directed me into one construction zone, but after several minutes trying to communicate with the friendly workers as to how I might connect with my route, I gave up and followed the highway into Tomlin. From there-on, I was on local roads winding through small towns as I made my up the valley. It was pleasant riding, with limited traffic and the Julian peaks looming in the distance.

The Soča River reaches at its narrowest point just before reaching Kobarid, where I crossed the Napoleon Bridge, whose origins date back to Napoleon. Kobarid, a town of about 5,000,  was all decked out in pink – pink banners, pink flags, and pink bicycles – apparently in celebration of a Walk of Peace event that had taken place in late May. I couldn’t find anything about that specific event, but the Walk of Peace is a designated hiking/cycling route from the Alps to the Adriatic that commemorates events from the first world war. In Slovenia, it travels through the Soča Valley and along the Isonzo Front of WWI. Hemmingway’s novel A Farewell to Arms writes of the Italian retreat in the 1917 Battle of Caporetto, also as the Battle of Kobarid. Today I was just passing through Kobarid, but its rich history and wealth of good restaurants indicate it might be a good overnight stop for those exploring the upper Soča River valley.

Most Na Soči
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Along the Soča River
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I lost my RWGPS route somewhere near this imposing construction site
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These men were friendly, but couldn't help find a way back to my route. Not only did we have trouble communicating, they weren't even sure that the language I was speaking was English
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A short rest after my ad-hoc navigation through Tolmin
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A roadside map showing location of Soča River and the area surrounding Kobarid. My route came up the valley from the lower left into Kobarid, and from there a couple of miles to the northwest
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Approaching the small town of Dolje
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On the way to Kobarid
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On the way to Kobarid
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In the small town of Kamno
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I have a soft spot for small outbuildings that evoke Mr Bill
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On the way to Kobarid
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On the way to Kobarid
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On the way to Kobarid
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Potable water from the mountains pouring through a roadside spigot - just what I needed on this increasingly hot afternoon
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Crossing the Soča on the Napoleon Bridge
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Kobarid, festooned in pink
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In Kobarid
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A large banner celebrating a Walk of Peace event on May 27, European Mother's Day
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I did not stay in Kobarid because my destination was Hiša Franko, a small inn and restaurant about two miles northwest of Kobarid. Readers who are not foodies or interested in fine dining should probably just skip ahead to the map at the end of the post.

 Hiša Franko is a two-star Michelin restaurant that was rated number twenty-one in the world in 2021; it’s chef, Ana Roš, was featured in the Netflix series Chef’s Table and was deemed the top female chef in the world in 2017. I won’t go on about the meal – only to say that the evening was beyond extraordinary – from each item on the 20 course tasting menu to the orchestrated and seamless movements of wait-staff making sure that each table had a most memorable dining experience. Enhancing my own experience were the short conversations I had with Ana Roš. She stopped by my table three times during the meal, once in greeting as she did all the tables, and twice to serve me an individual course, each with her own personal description.  It was a once-in-a-lifetime meal that I will never forget. 

From the Michelin guide:

Few cuisines reflect their chef’s personality as well as that of Ana Roš, a determined and extrovert character with an infectious and friendly manner, whose extensive tasting menu features dishes with intense and decisive flavours that allow for no half measures. Constantly surprising her guests, this chef takes them on a long culinary voyage which both starts and finishes in the Soča valley, but which crosses half the world in between. From America to Asia via Africa, Ana explores recipes from the most diverse places, which she then interprets in her own way with surprising imagination and the latest cooking techniques, all of which results in a truly extraordinary dining experience.

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The long, straight line is the train ride and the miles are not included in my daily tally
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Today's ride: 25 miles (40 km)
Total: 1,331 miles (2,142 km)

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Kathleen JonesWow. What a dining experience. I’d say that was worth anchoring your trip around.
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1 month ago
Sandra LawnHi Susan
Discriptions or pictures ( if any) of your dinning experience would be really interesting. Some how I don’t imagine the Restaurant was the type of place a weather worn cycling tourist could stand up and take a picture of each 20 courses of the benefit of every other cycle tourist who likes to see pictures of food

Well done on making your dream come true and I’m sure you weren’t weather worn

Enjoying your journal
Sandy
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1 month ago
Lyle McLeodLooks like you're having a great adventure in Slovenia. It's on our 'yet-to-do map', unfortunately we've only been in the country for about 15 km's and 45 minutes as we traversed from Opatija Croatia to Trieste back in 2017. Kudo's to you for having the foresight to make a well-in-advance booking as Hiša Franko. Kirsten and I love to sample places like this a few times when we're touring but we're never organized enough to get a booking! We just have to rely on the rare harmonic convergence of there being an opening at one of these transcendent places when we come stumbling by.
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1 month ago
Susan CarpenterTo Sandra LawnThanks Sandy for your nice comments - glad you are enjoying the journal. The whole experience of Hisa Franko was amazing and I will probably write up a post, but keep it private. If you're interested, I could send you a version - with the few pictures that I took. No promises on when I might get to it , but my gmail is susanlongcarpenter
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1 month ago
Susan CarpenterTo Lyle McLeodHi Lyle - you and Kristen should definitely tour in Slovenia. The countryside is beautiful and so far has been challenging , but great. The food outstanding almost everywhere I've been, and Hisa Franko is a must for you two. I just wrote to them and asked what their availability was in mid-June, when I planned to be in Slovenia. It is a stop worth planning around, for sure.
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1 month ago