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Boudin Noir Guêtres

Thursday 15th September
Eek, just before I’m due to fly out to Lyon, I discover French air traffic controllers are planning a strike. Many flights from the UK were being cancelled.
The strike was mainly affecting the budget airlines flying in to Paris and, luckily for me, my Air France/FlyBe  Embraer aircraft  took off from Manchester pretty much on time.

bus from airport to AnnecyAfter around 90 minutes in the skies, we landed at Lyon airport where I had a two hour wait for the coach to Annecy Gare Routière via Chambéry and Aix-les-Bains.
I had pre-booked my tickets online for €34.

I sat with a drink at the Premium Bar near the check-in  waiting for the coach to arrive at the stops opposite.

After chucking  my large rucksack in the boot space of the coach, I  settled down for the two hour journey through the French countryside.
After several hours travelling from my home in Wirral,  the bus station at Annecy was a very welcome sight and from here it was a short walk in  pretty much  straight line to the Ibis Annecy Centre Vieille Ville hotel.
The hotel situated in the centre of town  was nice and clean with a little balcony over looking court yard. Te room, however, was very small.

view from balcony hotel Ibis Annecy
View from hotel balcony

After taking some time to unpack and freshen up, I took a stroll to le Munich for dinner. It was the Boudin Noir on the menu which caught my attention!

I started with Carpaccio. An Italian starter at a German themed bar/restaurant in France near the Swiss border – truly European! I love my beef as rare as possible and it doesn’t get much rarer than this. A very good start to my first meal of the trip.
French black puddingAs for the French black pudding main course…very nice although I think the English black pudding still beats it!

After dinner I took a stroll around the picturesque old town before retiring to my room.


Friday 16th September
After a decent breakfast at the hotel, I took a stroll down to the train/bus station to pick up some time tables for some days out I was thinking of taking.
Annecy FranceToday’s plan was to take  good wander around Annecy’s market stall filled streets and on towards the mountain-fringed lake.  Getting lost in the old, narrow streets before  stopping for coffee at one of the many cafe cum bars in town.
The old town reminded me of Venice or Bruges with its canals and buildings bedecked with flowers.
A lovely place to aimlessly wander.

Saturday 17th September
Horrible weather.
I made my self couple of cheeses toasties for breakfast before getting the waterproofs on and walking around the lake to the village of Talloires.
Leaving the hotel, I walked East around the ‘top’ of the lake before following the shore around.
On a nice day I imagine the views across the lake are beautiful and the water to be filled with swimmers and sailors. Today, however, I was wet enough on dry land!

Lake Annecy shore

For the first part of this 11 mile route, I followed the tree-lined  path to the side of the lake until it ended near the village of Chavoire, here, I headed inland slightly along the D909, Route d’Annecy.
Château de Menthon-Saint-BernardIn the village of Veyrier du Lac, I took the quieter road to the right of Route d’Annecy, parallel to the lake. This road took me around housing estates before dropping back down to the shores of the lake.
At the Palace De Menthon hotel, I was forced back in land and slightly up hill where there I got some nice views over to Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard, the birth place of Bernard of Menthon (St Bernard), the patron saint of skiers.

The road continued round in to the ‘Reserve Naturelle du Rock de Chere‘ park. There are a number of routes around the wooded rocky outcrop.  I followed the well signed path nearest to the lake towards the view point  at Belvedere.
Despite the poor weather all day, it cleared up just in time to stop and take some photos.
It was a very good spot to see some Red Bull Elements which was taking place in the village!

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Talloires didn’t have much to offer and the Red Bull Elements was just finishing off so there was little to keep me in the village. Luckily I had just few mins to wait for the infrequent bus service back to Annecy and bonus… it was free!
This route is available to download from the ViewRanger website.

Sunday 18th September
After breakfast I donned the waterproofs again before making my way to Gorges du Fier,  considered to be one of the natural wonders of the Alps.Footpath to Gorges du Fier,
I headed West out of Annecy on D2201 road.  The route continued along roads through the town and industrial areas until reaching the woods around the river Fier with it’s ‘interesting’  footpaths consisting of seemingly randomly placed wooden planks!
The path follows the river, ending at the gorge’s pay booth. Entry at the time of writing (Sept 2016) was €5.50.

The route through is linear,  ending at a  La Clairière des Curieux, an information area  detailing the gorge.
Keep an eye out for blue footprints on the path to see ‘faces’ in rocks.

Two faces in the rock Gorges du Fier, Annecy
Two faces in the rock

The 6 mile route to and around the gorge is available to download as a GPX file.

Leaving the gorge, I took a different route back, following the railway line along a quiet road towards the hydro power plant.
This was a far nicer route than the one I took out to the gorge and is also available to download as a GPX.

Monday 19th September
This morning I was  travelling by bus from the main bus station in Annecy to Geneva, Switzerland. Return tickets are reasonably priced and are purchased at the Annecy bus station.
I got off at Seujet. (Google maps helped to find the right stop!)

To be honest, there wasn’t too much in Geneva to hold my interest but it’s another city to tick off my ‘to see’ list.  I took a wander around the town which was filled with watch shops. I passed through the park and on to Jet d’Eau.
I must admit, this jet of water is impressive. I took the jetty out to get up close to the  140 metres (460 ft)  jet.

jet d'eau Geneva
The area around the lake near the Jet is a nice spot to stop for a quick drink. Luckily for me, the shops and bars in town accept the Euro as well as the Swiss Franc, albeit at a 1-1 exchange rate.

Personally, I found a day trip was more than enough time to see the town, leaving on the 5.15 bus…bad move as we got stuck in the rush hour traffic.

Tuesday 20th September
Sunshine!
Today the plan was to climb the hills on the Western side of lake.
Wandering through the town, along the waters edge, I headed right down Rue des Marquisats, taking another right at the roundabout .
Continuing up Avenue de Tresum and Boulevard de la Corniche, I turned off to the left down Ave del la Visitation towards Cathédrale de la Visitation,  Catholic basilica dating from the early 20th-century.
Already there were great views back over to the town and lake.
Sign post on walk, Annecy FranceAt the end of the road I entered the woodland and followed the well signed paths to the South, parallel to the lake.
There were a number of view points along the route. A rather elaborate cairn marked the point at 767 meters.

img_2124
A cairn apparently!

Most of the views on this part of the walk were towards the town. I was surprised how sprawling the area actually is.
There are a number of routes through the woods, I continued to the point about 5 miles in to the walk, where the path curled round, almost in a horseshoe shape. In my mind, this was the part of the walk with the far better views.
Originally the plan was to drop down in to one of the lake side villages, however, the paths down where very steep and, to be honest, I was enjoying the views from the higher path.

Views of lake Annecy
Not a bad view!

Eventually the path slowly made its way down to the shore at La Puya.  From here it was a nice walk back through the port area  back to the hotel

I think must have been my favourite walk on the holiday and is definitely recommended.
A GPX file of this 9 mile route is available to download

 

Wednesday 21st September
More sunshine!
After breakfast, I wandered down to train/bus station to get a ticket for the 9am bus to Lyon, my home for the next night.
The coach had  plenty of luggage space  and even a coffee machine at front!

After arriving at the main bus station, I got 5 Euro 50 day ticket and boarded tram T1 to the  stop near Quality suites Confluence.  A very nice hotel but rather out the way from the main part of town.

Hotel room LyonThe room was lovely and included a kettle, hob microwave. Oddly though the hall way separated the toilet from the sink/sower room!

After unpacking, I wandered around for some snaps in the lovely weather.
Sadly this really was just a flying visit. My time was spent zig zagging between the streets of the old town and walking along the river.
It would have been nice to see the ruins but it just wasn’t possible on this whistle stop visit.

Dinner was taken at Les Chandelles. I later discovered this restaurant had very poor reviews but I enjoyed the meal….especially the unusual dish of head of veal!
Perhaps a return visit is required to see the rest of the sites and sample some better food?
Lyon at night

 

Thurs 22nd September
Time to go. After a quick shower, I walked to the train station and got a coffee and baguette. It seemed suitably French and definitely filled a corner!

Back to the hotel for check out which was at 11am. Luckily I left the hotel early as the trams weren’t running. A change of plan was required! I took two metro trains to  Gare part dieu. Easily done and covered by the €1.80 ticket.
From there it was on to the shuttle train to the airport.

All in all an enjoyable trip!

 

100 miles later

Friday 10th June
Well, that time has come, the final day. I had pondered a few different activities during the week. Cycling was a possibility along with a few more adventurous ideas but the week was spent walking. This choice was partly down to the unpredictable weather but mostly down to the ‘100 mile challenge’ put before me by work colleagues and today I was just a few miles off completion.

After breakfast  I wandered back up to my room to fill the rucksack. The weather forecast was good but I didn’t trust it so in went the waterproof jacket and (extremely muddy) waterproof over-trousers along with sunglasses and travel towel. All bases covered!
I’d left my boots on the balcony and they were still wet after yesterday’s 24 hours of rain. Hopefully I’d get some sun to enable them to dry of a little.

I could have started the day in a hectic fashion to get the 8.20 bus to Bohinj, instead I decided to go for the more leisurely 9.20.
I left the hotel and crossed to the bus station opposite.  The tickets are bought from the driver costing €3.60*  for a single adult journey. Make sure you ask for and get off at Bohinj jezzero (lake) rather than the town of  Bohinjska Bistrica  6.5km/4 miles up the road. ‘Bohinj’ itself is the valley or basin.

As the bus pulled in to a stop in the outskirts of Bled, we were passed by a man wearing what is best described as wheely skis, I suppose you have to practice cross-country skiing somehow during the summer months!

Lake BohinjI left the bus at Ribčev Laz, a village to the East of the lake side of the lake and  the most recognisable part of the area as it features in all the tourist information for the area.
The bridge at the end of the lake does get busy with people getting the perfect photos but it’s not difficult to see why, it really is a picture postcard view!

I started my walk by crossing the bridge, towards the church of Sv Jenez then following the road up to Stara Fuzina. The Bohinj International Ironworks festival was taking place in the top end of the village which seemed to be popular with the local school kids.

I crossed over the bridge to the North of the village then took a left following the river Mostnica to Hudičev most, The Devil’s Bridge.  The bridge was built in the 18th century to improve the supply of iron ore from the surrounding mountains to the iron ore plant.
Legend says that the people of Bohinj built a bridge before nightfall, but by the morning it had been destroyed so decided the Devil  should build the bridge for them (as you do). In exchange for building it, the Devil demanded the first soul that crossed it.
When the bridge had been completed, a peasant threw a bone to the other side for his dog, therefore, the Devil received the dog’s soul and was a bit miffed. In his anger he thrashed his tail  bringing down the fence but the bridge still stands.

After crossing the river I took a right and continued North, eventually reaching a pay booth for the Mostnica Gorge.
It cost me €2.50* to enter the gorge but it was well worth it. Personally, I think this gorge is on par with the more popular Vintgar Gorge near Bled. It’s a pleasant walk through the woods and it’s easy to leave the path and take a closer look a the picturesque gorge.

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At the end of the gorge, I crossed the bridge then joined the road up towards the Planinska koča na Vojah mountain hut.Sign to Triglav

Navigation wise, this  be the easiest walk of the trip as it was so well signposted.
Bohinj caters for walkers far better than Bled having so many more well marked routes.
The signs also give a fairly accurate idea of how long it takes to reach the chosen destination.

 

Sign to Triglav

The plan now was to go and see the Slap Mostnica, the 21 meter high waterfall at the end of the valley.

I continued, past the mountain hut to a fork in the road. Both directions head to the waterfall. I chose the left hand fork. This turned out to be a very good decision!

I didn’t see a single person as I made my towards the waterfall, keeping the river to my right. Once I arrived there it was clear that the ‘Health and Safety Rule Book’ went out of the window! No handrails or barriers, you’re free to wander where you like to get the best views.

Waterfall near Bohinj SloveniaAfter taking some photos and video footage, I sat for a while near a smaller waterfall slightly downstream the main falls. The sun was out, the views were amazing and I felt I was the only person around for miles.

Eventually I worked my way back to the path  South, crossed the river  and headed back towards Stara Fužina. As I left the woods to join the main track, I passed a group of walkers heading towards the waterfall. I walked past a few more people heading the opposite way as I continued. I had obviously gone at the right time and gone the right way around the circuit!

Once I got back to Stara Fužina it was too early to get the bus back. It was my last day and I was going to make the most of it!
I  took a right out of Stara Fužina to the lake. My plan was to go part way round and see how I was for time.

While it doesn’t have a pretty church on an island or a castle over looking it, Bohinj is as beautiful as Bled, perhaps in some ways, more so. It’s less touristy and the imposing mountains make a fantastic backdrop.  I was aware I had to get back for the bus, but couldn’t resist lots of stops to take photos….lots of photos!

The path around this lake is far more rugged than the route around Bled. At one point, it crosses over some rocks but nothing too difficult if you take time and care.
Boat on lake Bohinj SloveniaAlthough the route on one side of the lake through woodland, the path on the other side is predominantly tarmac where I could make up some time.
I reached Ukanc, a small village at the far side of the lake containing mostly holiday accommodation.
A sign by the, now closed, hotel Zlatarog claimed it would take me 1 hour 15 minutes to reach Ribčev Laz. It was 15:30, my bus was at 16:50. I had to get wriggle on!
I managed to make it back to Ribčev Laz. at 16:15. Enough time to sit by the waters edge for a while!

There were a lot of people milling around near the bus stop and I assumed the bus would be full but no, all the English had taken an organised tour bus tour  from Bled to Ribčev Laz.  They paid had €32 per person for a half day trip, I paid €7.20 (two single bus tickets)* I also had the bonus of arriving and leaving when I wanted!

The bus arrived dead on time and dropped off at the bus station right outside my hotel, the Jelovica

The last evening meal of the holiday started with kulen, a tasty salami style sausage. There is some debate as to whether this is a Slovenian or Croatian sausage, either way, it’s very good!

Needless to say, as it wasn’t raining, I needed my final evening passeggiata and this was going to be a memorable one!
Sign on Bled castle doorI left the hotel and took a left up Graska Cesta then the next left, climbing up to the castle.
The sun had set over Bled as I freely entered through the castle walls. Although the castle itself was closed, the grounds were still open and if the worst came to the worst, a telephone number was pinned to the back of the castle gates so I would be able to get out!
I sat on my own on one of the walls looking out across the town and lake  – a great way to end the holiday!
This 2.7 mile/4.3km route is available as a GPX file.

 

Epilogue
So, in conclusion, my seventh trip to Slovenia didn’t disappoint!
When I first came to Slovenia I travelled to Bohinj on my last day and I clearly remember walking back to the bus stop wishing I could stay.  I vowed to return and I did….several times!
This occasion was no different.  The weather wasn’t great and some of the walks didn’t go to plan but I still loved every minute and travelling back to the airport,  I started planning holiday number eight!
While it was lovely seeing Bled again, I don’t think it has as much to offer walkers as other areas such as Bohinj, Kranjska Gora or Bovec. Yes there are walking routes, fantastic scenery and plenty of establishments offering all sorts of activities but I think be another trip to Bohinj will be next…watch this space!

*Prices as of June 2016

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