Koroška - forgotten pearl

We went for a few days to Slovenian Carinthia, without great expectations and plans. The region is marked by the three river valleys - Mežica, Drava and Mislinja and three mountains - Pohorje, Karavanke and the Savinja Alps.In the region, as early as the Roman times, the mining industry began to develop, on the basis of which the iron industry and the wood industry flourished. To get the feel of mining tradition, we first went to the Peca Underground. During the operation of the mine under the mountain Peca, miners dug up a real labyrinth of about 1,000 km of tunnels, of which only a small part is open for tourist purposes. We toured the mine and mining pits with a mining train. Driving the train is an interesting experience. The wagons are small and pitch-black. When you "ride" a 3.5 km long tunnel into the heart of the mountain with a train, which is fairly noisy, vibrates and sometimes shakes, you really get the feeling of how work was hard in the mine before you see and know all the details. Before entering the train, you get a headlamp and all the necessary equipment, so while riding, you can see the markings that were carved into the wood of the wagon itself. With these thoughts running through my mind while driving, I did not have the desire for a conversation. Let me mention that I made the tour of the mine by myself; my children and my partner had remained outside, visited the  exhibition about the mining tradition, looked at dinosaurs and travelled the labyrinth outside the mine entrance. Children are allowed to take the train at the age of 5 (when there are smaller groups of guests) but I would recommend it only  to those, who are not afraid of the dark, rattle or big caves. The guide explained that they have a large number of visits from kindergartens and that children enjoy it very much.

 

 

Together with the guide, we discovered the secrets of miners' work in different historical periods. The size of the tunnels and the story of the life of miners are very interesting. From time to time, it dawns on you, how hard was the work that even children and women did. I was most surprised by the fact that women were offended when they and their children were no longer allowed to work in the mine, because it was prohibited for health reasons. They were later assigned to work in the construction industry. The work there was very hard, but they were paid less than for similar work in the mine.

 

 

A very interesting experience offered by the mine is kayaking along the canals and trenches. Driving is appropriate in all seasons and in any weather. However, if you take more time for this special experience, this kind of tour lasts at least 4 hours, the number of people is limited and it is necessary to announce it in advance. The previous announcement also applies to driving on a mountain bike mine. All cycling enthusiasts and other adventures really come here. How specific is the Pece underground is also a data item, it is named as the focal point and information point of the cross-border Geopark Karavanke, which belongs to the network of geoparks under the auspices of UNESCO.

 

 

The province of Koroška is really wonderful. It is one of the hilliest regions in Slovenia. It stops all lovers of nature and fascinates it with a view of the valley of the Topla Nature Park and its beautiful meadows. We also went to the lonely farms and enjoyed a lot of friendly people and wonderful views. The province between Olševo, the Drava Plain and the border with Austria is the largest area of ​​solitary farms. We were fascinated by Strojna, where Janeževa Homestead stands out. We continued the route through Jamnica and Šantanel. Despite the fact that we were not announced, they welcomed us everywhere, offered us a drink and a meal, and dedicated us to a friendly conversation. In addition, they offered us local Mocht drink, which could best be described as apple wine. To our surprise we also discovered a bicycle hotel in one of the lonely farms, where riders from all over the world come. Koroška is an exceptional destination for cyclists across different types of tracks. On all hillsides extend the magnificent forest, lakes and waterfalls. We visited the Ivarčko Lake under Uršlja Gora, which, unfortunately, does not glow in its best image. In order to correct the impression, we went towards Uršlja Mountain and really made good use of the late afternoon. We found a farm right next to the former ski resort, where they served us kindly and gave us some of their time, despite the fact that it was seven o'clock in the evening and they were right at dinner. They offered us part of our dinner for the item, but they did not want to count on us. Despite all of this, we paid them dinner because it was really great. The farm is full of pleasant feelings and astonishment, they live in the same house three to four generations, and at the dinner at one house the whole hamlet is gathered.

 

 

The next day we went to visit the Drava timber-rafting. If you are wandering around Koroška, you cannot really miss this. The first written sources mention timber-rafting along the river Drava in 1280. Rafting was the most powerful industry in the 19th and 20th centuries in the Drava valley. Floaters were transporting wood along the river to the cities of Hungary, Serbia and Romania. The work of the rafters was very strenuous and dangerous because of the daring tackling of river roses, but also well paid. Now, the rafts are adapted to the tourist drive. The best rafting experience is with the completed group, but you can check when there are announced groups and join them, as an individual or family. At the timber-rafting there are a lot of good jokes, music, food and elements of genuine of tradition.

 

 

Not far away are Radlje ob Dravi, where the only completely natural swimming pool. Only live organisms, special grasses and improved filtration are used for water purification. Anyone who wants to swim in a pool without chlorine and similar admixtures will be overwhelmed above the enthusiasm. The entrance to the swimming pool is very pleasant and it is also cheap for families who want to swim in natural water in a comfortable and safe environment.

 

 

In Koroška, you can see many well-preserved examples of traditional rustic architecture that familiarize us with the original appearance and internal arrangement with the peasant-working environment and life, as very clearly described by Prežihov Voranc. We went to one of these farms -Tourist farm Klančnik. The farm is really a paradise for children and all lovers of nature, animals and great food. At the farm you will be presented with a history in the 160-year-old cellar, with a tourist train you will be taken to the farmed game farm to the biological classroom, where you can learn about the diversity of animal species in Slovenia (over 100 different species of animals are stuffed). In the end, they offer excellent homemade yogurt, game salami and homemade cider (must). Our children were very impressed with the farm, because they love the animals, while the farm also has a playground for children and a large spacious courtyard. Of course, our one-year-old explored everything on her knees and enjoyed immensely. The highest rating was earned by home-made yoghurts with the taste of stracciatella, which we unfortunatly forget to buy for home, but for the joy of our brandy, we brought home some of their other products. It is advisable to announce a good visit to the farm because they have a lot of work on the 100 hectares they are processing.

 

 

For a sweet ending of the trip, a mandatory stopover at the Medieval Paradise Perger in Slovenj Gradec is mandatory. I can briefly say that this is a wonderful example of a family tradition; Meditation, lecture and candlelit crafts, which fascinates and thrills everyone.

Their experiential presentation, magnificent (including diplomatic) natural and extremely tasty products, offers you two hours of wonderful experience. Tasting of first-class homemade candies, several types of award winning organic gingerbread, non-alcoholic Old Slavic beverages - OL, honey spirits and, if desired, honey wine. At the end they have a surprise ready for all lovers of animals and a world attraction, which should remain a secret and a surprise. The visit is very fun for closed groups as well as for individuals, but only with prior announcement. We will always be left with wonderful memories, because the Perger candle (in a children's room) that has an apparently wonderful energy (without lightning) gave us the first nightly night after a year from the birth of our daughter.

 

 

 The kindness of local people is exceptional and the beauty of the landscape and tradition, invite us for a re-visit.