The Soca / Isonzo front in WWI
May 18, 2014
|This week has been a revelation for both of us. Leaving the sophistication of the capital Ljubljana on Sunday we have spent the week in the Julian Alps in the north of Slovenia. This is spectacular country: high snow covered mountains and alpine meadows with endless hiking and a surprising step back in time.
This whole area was the front line between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Italians in WWI. Ian has been to many battle sites, notably on the Western Front, but has never seen anything like this. Many of the forts, trenches and tunnels are intact and accessible (some should not be accessible, but that is a sign of an undeveloped tourist country!). They are called “Outdoor Museums” and are wonderful and chilling at the same time. Concrete trenches, shell damage, craters, firing positions, are all there – remarkable! Also one of the best museums either of us has ever seen is in the tiny hamlet of Kobarid – it was voted Europe’s best museum several years ago. For anyone who wants to know more, an excellent website about this area and WWI is: THE ISONZO FRONT
We have completed 5 major hikes this week all touching on WWI sites, even in high mountain passes up to 7,000 feet above sea level.
Slovenia is one of the smallest countries we have visited (smaller than Wales), but also one of the most rewarding and interesting.
For those of you who share my passion for cycling, this would be one tough country to bike through – all mountains – one climb I saw today was 15% for 10 KMS…………….we met a fully loaded touring cyclist at the top (see photos).
Things we have learned this week:
1. If you drive the Vrsic Pass (highest pass in Slovenia at 1611m) and lose track of which of the 50 hairpin bends you’ve just negotiated, never fear; they number each one and give you the height as you ascend and descend.
2. OK, picture this. Liz and Ian are sitting on a precipitous mountain trail eating lunch and Ian innocently asks “What is for dinner?” Liz is surprised – how can that be, we have been together for 17 years……..
3. We had our second best meal of the trip in a little restaurant in Kobarid. We were the only diners and got VERY personal attention from the owner, her sister and her mother. We are now addicted to gibanica – a typical Slovenian dessert. Liz is going to try making it at home. Invitations for sampling at 347 Geddes Street, Elora to be announced shortly………….
4. Drinking two 7.5% proof beers before doing the dishes in a major windstorm does not make the task any easier.
5. When a neighbouring camper asks for help setting up his satellite dish and you explain you neither have one on your camper nor in fact have TV at home, you get a look of
b) pity and then
c) what do you people do without TV?!!
6. How can there have been so much senseless slaughter in a place as hauntingly beautiful as this…?
Each week we will give you a trivia question pertaining to the country we send the blog from. We will give you the answer the following week. No “Googling”………….
Last week’s question:
Slovenia: Which world famous horse stud was founded in Slovenia in 1580 by Austrian Archduke Karl II?
And the answer is: The white Lipizzaner from the Lipica horse stud.
This week’s question:
Slovenia: Ernest Hemingway drove an ambulance for the Italian army on the Soca/Isonzo front in WWI. Which of his novels was based on this experience?
Until next week!
Liz and Ian