Metal Days trip: Day 7 (Kobarid by bike)

Don’t worry, you didn’t miss a day – I just didn’t do anything particularly touristy on day 6!

Soča River

Today I decided to remind myself why I hate cycling so much. It’s not the exercise, or the effort, it’s the bloody saddles. I write this several hours after I got back and even though I’m on a soft seat in the hostel I can feel the bruises on my bum! Regardless, for €10, the hostel rents bikes out and I decided to use one to explore places a little further afield.

The next large town along the Soča Valley is Kobarid, about 18km away. The route passes through a handful of smaller townships – the kind of places where the addresses don’t go as far as streets; you live at “number 6 in This Town”. Despite being up in the mountains, the road wasn’t too hilly with only a couple of stretches which were hard work.

Slap Kozjak

The villages and townships I passed through were gorgeous. Brightly painted houses, many in a modern version of traditional styling and all with the most stunning views of the mountains and the river which flows through the foot of the valley. I stopped at a couple of waterfalls for some photos, but my first major break was at Kobarid itself where I grabbed some lunch at a supermarket (and got talking to a guy in a Huddersfield Town t-shirt who, it turned out, follows Moshville Times on Twitter!).

I took a quick detour around nearby Idrsko before heading into Kobarid and back out again to pass a few sites. I stopped off for a brief look at the Kostnica s Cerkvijo Sv. Antona, a church up a steep hill which also plays host to a war memorial to Italian soldiers who fell in the area during WWI.

Slap Kozjak stones

I continued up the hill and onto a path through some woods, eventually (after many ups and downs) reached Kamp Lazar, a campsite with a large restaurant attached. A shame to waste a visit, I popped in and enjoyed a fruit pancake for €4 and a pint of Budvar for only €3. Surprisingly good value for somewhere which could easily charge more based on its location. The serving staff were excellent, also. I could see this as being a very nice place to stay if you’re in the area for a couple of nights.

Napoleon Bridge view

Further on from there, I visited the Slap Kozjak, a waterfall at the end of a gorge. Close to the waterfall, visitors have stacked countless rocks and pebble into little towers. A nice walk (not a cycle-able path) and worth the time spent. Back downhill I passed the impressive Napoleon Bridge and began the long cycle back to Tolmin, arrive back around 6pm – very sweaty and with a sore bottom!

The thing that struck me was how friendly the people in the area are. It’s not just the service staff at the various shops and restaurants, it’s everyone. From the people on the street who greet you with a smile, to the motorists who know how to deal with a bike in front of them on a narrow road. This is a very friendly part of the world, making it all the more pleasant to be here.

Metal Days trip: Day 5 (Tolmin Gorge)

With day five of the festival not kicking off until 5:30pm, I had plenty of time to explore the local area. Within a short walk of my hostel is Tolmin Gorge, a local beauty spot which was recommended by the lovely lady who sits at reception.

While there is a bus once an hour which goes there for 50c, it’s only a 2km walk so I made my own way there in the morning sunshine. There is an entrance fee, which gets you a map and a sense of knowing that you’re helping to maintain a lovely piece of the countryside. It’s usually €6, but with a festival wristband you get €1 discount which is nice.

The gorge is enormous in terms of height and scale, as any good gorge should be, and contains a couple of particular features to see on the circular path around it. Expect to spend an hour or so on the route if you come here, and beware the 300-or-so steps towards the end! There are rest spots, so don’t panic too much.

The first thing that struck me was the colour of the water. Other than a slight blue tinge, it’s so clean and clear it may as well be tap water. It is the main water source for Tolmin so this is perhaps a good thing!

I’d set off fairly early as the weather for after lunch was set to turn to more rain, but even then the air around the gorge was pleasantly cool due to the cold water. There is a spot with warmer water as there are some underwater thermals, but it doesn’t take the chill out of the air!

A couple of bridges have been put in place for crossing the water, all recently installed and maintained, and the path is generally wide enough for a couple of people, as long as anyone coming the opposite direction is polite. Or friendly enough to squeeze.

Towards the top is Dante’s Cave, apparently somewhere the famous poet visited which inspired his “Inferno” opus. Only the opening 20m or so are accessible, but you do get the feeling that they could lead to somewhere… unsavoury.

The views were fantastic and there are a few photos scattered here for you to look at. Obviously, they’re no substitute for the real thing.

A quick run back to the hostel and a visit to Hofer (Aldi) ensured I had some snacks for after the festival tonight, as well as a cheap dinner. Usually the shop closes at 3pm on a Sunday, but with Metal Days officially opening today, they’d extended the hours to 8pm. Given the size of the queues, this made sound business sense! The place was absolutely full of people in black t-shirts buying everything from cheap local beer to Haribo and barbecue supplies.

An alarm kept going off over by the tills. I assume this was a metal detector.


Metal Days trip: Day 4 (Trieste to Tolmin)

I decided to walk from Alessio’s flat into Trieste again, purely as I had about 2 1/2 hours before my transfer coach was due. I didn’t get to say goodbye to him as he was at work, but I passed the key over to his next guest, a guy from Peru who had arrived overnight.

The view from the garden

So another hot, sweaty couple of miles (via McDonalds) got me to the train station and then onto my little minibus with Walter, a financier from Austria who was also heading to Metal Days. As it happens, he’s friends with Fearancy, who are on stage tonight just before Ten Ton Slug – who I’m here to see! We picked up three ladies from the airport (one from Barcelona, two from Helsinki) and detoured through local roads as the “faster” toll road had a 30 minute queue… due to the toll collection!

The journey was through some astoundingly beautiful scenery and towns, ending at the bus station in Tolmin, only 250m from the Hostel Hildegarden where I’ll be for the next week. The hostel is fantastic. Quiet, clean and in a beautiful location. Check-in was quick and smooth and my hostess has given me a shortcut to the festival entrance.

The only downside is that a thunderstorm is rolling in (it hasn’t hit yet), due to peak around 6 or 7pm. Things should ease overnight with another one due to drop its watery load on us around 11am tomorrow. Thankfully after that, things should settle and be a little less extreme!

From this point, I’ll put the touristy stuff on this blog – any trips I do, things I see and so – until I get to Ljubljana next Saturday. All the music / festival reviews will be over on Moshville Times.

Prepping for Metal Days, Slovenia

[This post was originally published on The Moshville Times, which I also own and run]

This one caught my eye when I saw the poster and checked out the price. An incredible lineup over five full days, three stages and only about £135 including camping, showers and phone charging? What, really? Wow…

But first, travel. There are festival shuttles for €25 to €40 each way from various places such as Venice, Trieste and Ljubljana. I’ve not been to Trieste before so I’ve booked a flight there from Stansted (about £85), will sort out some couchsurfing over two days and get the coach to the festival on the Sunday.It turns out a couple of our Crew have been in the past and recommended it as well, though the couple of warnings I was given included “it’s not all sunshine, expect rain” and “you have to get there early to get the warm water for the showers”. Because I’m expecting to do a fair bit of work when I’m there I opted to try and get some accommodation rather than crashing in a tent.

On the way back, I’m going to Ljubljana where I’ll spend a night and see the Slovenian capital before flying back to Luton (around £25). I’m in Glasgow and have already sorted trains to/from London at £30 a pop, so just the airport transfers to worry about which are cheap enough.

Accommodation was a little tricker as I left it a little late and it seemed everywhere in town had already gone. It’s not just the festival, Tolmin is a tourist hotspot for hikers, bikers, parascenders and so forth. It is, frankly, beautiful.

After looking a little further afield (20 min drive, half hour bike ride), I put in a couple of emails through the local tourist office which seems to conveniently bring together every hotel, hostel and guesthouse in the area under one website roof. I got offers back for six nights in both places, one a hostel in town (20 mins walk) and one a bed and breakfast but some distance out. Pricewise there was little in it, but I’ve gone for the hostel. They’ve been in touch to sort out deposit and so on and have been fantastic so far. I’m really looking forward to getting there!

Cost – around £150 for 6 nights which, for a premium site and booking late in the day, is cheap enough. If you’re sharing and book a little earlier, you can find very nice places for around £100 per room for the same period. I may be going back another time just to explore the place!

So five days of metal, one day to chill and then back home to see some friends in London before getting the train back to Glasgow. Can’t wait!

Metal Days: official