Certainly many of you have felt the same way. Since last year we have been wondering not only where do I want to go, but also where I can go this year? Of course, the dichotomy between sustainable tourism and wanderlust also plays a decisive role alongside the current possibilities.
Since the entire Balkans was still completely new territory for me, the perfect opportunity arose to change this this year. Together with a friend, I borrowed a converted Mercedes Vaneo (a small panel van) in Berlin via a sharing platform. I think this is a great offer because on the one hand it is cheaper than conventional car rental companies, but it also strengthens the sharing of private products.
With a stopover it goes to Raduha in Slovenia
This is how our trip to Slovenia began. With a stopover in Munich (from here it's about four hours by car to the border) we reach the small country with just two million inhabitants: inside, which is between Austria and Italy in the northwest, and Croatia and Hungary in the southeast lies. The advantage of such a small country quickly becomes noticeable - the incredibly short distances from one highlight to the next. Usually we don't drive more than 30 to 45 minutes to the next stop.
Spend the night at Raduha between history and modernity
After a day at Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj, we come to the in the evening Raduha at. The Raduha house has opened its doors to guests since 1875. In the Slovenian village of Luče, the property is now being rented out to the fourth generation. Today the house is owned by the Breznik family, where the hostess Martina ensures that the traditions of earlier generations are still preserved today. At the same time, it creates a modern charm: from the food to the interior design.
The last rays of the sun just make it over the wooded mountain range - the foothills of the Raduha mountain which gives the hotel its name - which is directly adjacent to the area behind the river. The reception is located at the reception in the old stone house directly on the street. We are welcomed in a friendly way and led directly into the garden, where next to the tree house and the old stable there is also the hay barn, where we can spend the night. The building consists of traditional Slovenian scaffolding, which was previously used as a shed and for drying hay. The barn was rebuilt with great attention to detail. On the first floor there is a fully glazed room that seems to float above the completely open terrace with a hammock and whirlpool.
Hand-carved handrails by a local artist
Inside, the old beams run through the modern room, which is made of fine wood, so that you always have to take good care of your head. A small staircase leads to a plateau, which has a double bed over the entire width of the room. To the right and left of the living room there are two more raised single beds and a large net that stretches across the room between the beds. Everything is furnished with an incredible amount of attention to detail and, above all, very stylish. The handrails, for example, were carved out of wood by a local artist. The next day we were allowed to inspect the other rooms and such elements quickly became visible again.
The life of "good taste"
After we put our things down, we went back to the old building, where the table for our dinner was already set. Since the meal at Raduha is an essential element of the experience, according to the motto of "good taste", a four to six course menu is conjured up for each guest every evening, always individually tailored to the wishes of the guests. The hostess Martina serves us our starter personally. Her son Filip is also a sommelier, so that the choice of drinks is perfectly coordinated. Since we don't choose the food ourselves beforehand, every course is a surprise in itself. And every time we are amazed. When do you eat celery and mango salad with chicken with a small black bread or fried trout with wild garlic and kohlrabi casserole?
In total there are only five tables in the restaurant, so it was calm and relaxed during the meal, almost devout, so that you can let the fine tastes melt in your mouth all the more. We then let the evening fade away in the whirlpool.
The Raduha is a project with heart and soul
The next morning after breakfast we are allowed to take a look around the premises while Kristina and Martina tell us more about the history and development of the Raduha house. We spoke English with Kristina, while Martina spoke German with us. Martina proudly shows us a wall in the entrance to the kitchen with the signatures of her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother who ran the hotel in front of her. Above her name are three question marks for the next generation. In addition to Kristina, who actually studies in Ljublanja, her son Filip and Martina's husband Matjaž also help. We immediately notice that they live for this project, the house and the food.
The plans for the renovation and expansion of the hotel began 15 years ago. In the following years, from 2010 onwards, the free area directly on the river was built on with the new elements of the hay barn and the tree house. The dining room and kitchen were last renovated in 2019. Meanwhile, the first floor is being converted in the main building, which will provide space for four spacious double rooms. With a solar system, geothermal energy and a recuperation system, the hotel should also become even more environmentally friendly.
Here, too, the regional reference to architects: inside and artistic elements in the design play a decisive role. All rooms and houses should reflect nature and the surrounding area. The tree house is shaped like the rocks of Mount Raduha and the wooden bowls in the dining room are reminiscent of the stones in the river. Of course, Martina and her husband have other plans. For example, an open kitchen, which is already being implemented, and a wellness area are in the planning stage. And who knows what will come after that.
Much self-cultivation in the in-house vegetable garden
The hotel's vegetable garden is right next to the car park. Here the family grows a large part of the food themselves. Accordingly, it is also cooked seasonally. In this way, the family can produce many of the products they process themselves. The Slovenian cuisine in this region is very much influenced by the Alpine cuisine. Nevertheless, Martina tells us, she is constantly working on new ideas and is happy to be inspired by her surroundings and the wishes of the guests. She visits friends regularly, especially in France, to try out new dishes and wines with her husband. With her innovative ideas, she has even made it into a Slovenian cookbook.
The experience is right outside the door
From here our journey continued. The name of the place Luče is derived from the river Lucnica, which flows through the middle and flows into the river Savinja. In addition to water sports such as kayaking, the region primarily attracts anglers. Many guests of the Raduha come back every year, often for several weeks.
Even in the main travel season, you rarely meet other people
Then it went a piece along the Savinja River. Depending on whether you take the direct route or the scenic route, you can reach the Logar Valley after about 20 minutes. You can go on a number of hikes here. We drove the valley to the end. From there it takes about ten minutes to walk to a waterfall. We hardly met any other people on the way. Even during the main travel season you can still find mostly untouched nature, especially on the longer hiking routes through the Slovenian Alps.
In addition, there are bike and mountain bike trails everywhere, actually all over the country, which are signposted everywhere. Cyclists are specially drawn to the attention of the inside on the streets and there are even e-bike charging and repair stations in more touristy corners. By the way, you can also rent e-mountain bikes on site at the Hotel Raduha.
From here our journey continued over the Alps to Ljubljana, which can be reached in just about an hour's drive. In the end, Slovenia impresses me above all with its incredible diversity and the love and care for nature. This is reflected in the Hotel Raduha and the family on a small scale, but everywhere else.
This country is just incredibly green, natural and varied. But what is even nicer is that the people here have really understood how much this nature is worth and that it is worth protecting this diversity. So an absolute recommendation for everyone with “good taste” and definitely stop by the Hotel Raduha, it's worth it!