Bohinj isn’t just about Ribcev Laz and Ukanc. As previously discussed the region takes the Bohinj name but no individual settlement actually does; the closest thing to anyone laying claim to this nomenclature is Bohinjska Bistrica, which automatically should give it a not inconsiderable public relations boost. The reality though is somewhat different, with many travellers, including myself, motoring through the administrative centre as quickly as possible, usually impatient at the prospect of nearby Lake Bohinj becoming a not too distant and tempting reality.
Despite being such a small but perfectly formed country it is perhaps surprising that Slovenia is divided into 212 municipalities, each one locally known as an Obcina; every pearl though must be housed in a more prosaic shell and of course, Lake Bohinj is no exception to this. Being harshly overlooked though as a place to base ones assault upon the Julian Alps can potentially work in the favour of travellers choosing to eschew the inevitable peak-season crowds at Ribcev Laz, whilst taking advantage of the surprisingly high-standard of overnight and dining options that Bohinjska Bistrica offers.
Bohinj Park Eco Hotel – Bohinjska Bistrica
This hotel couldn’t have been built any nearer Lake Bohinj, which has correctly been the subject of a moratorium precluding new builds near to the lake and in the Triglav National Park in general. The national park’s inner-core doesn’t start until within a cast of an angling-rod of the lake itself but with Bohinjska Bistrica residing outside the outer-limits of TNP’s boundary, no such restrictions, in theory at least, form part of the planning process. It is questionably right but perhaps inevitable that Slovenia’s jewel in the crown would in some way be serviced by a ‘super-hotel’, notwithstanding the fact that the hotel-stock elsewhere and nearer the lake is at times of dubious quality, albeit admittedly hamstrung by the aforementioned planning limitations. The BPEH is a large, striking building which is not a pejorative description, nor though is it a particularly complimentary one. Complimentary or complementary, it certainly doesn’t complete the area or sympathise with the natural surroundings but at least the hotel walks the walk by doing what it says on the tin. Run on a strict ecological mission statement, this award-winning hotel can certainly with some justification claim to have balanced out any negative effects its construction had on the area, if not the permanent blot on the basis of visual amenity. Expect a whole range of rooms to choose from, spanning from standard accommodation to a presidential suite, assuming the power-brokers from Ljubljana aren’t in town. Advocates of the now ubiquitous Wellness concept and those wishing to knock over ten-pins are well catered for, as are gastronomes in Restaurant 2864, so named after the altitude, in metres, of Slovenia’s iconic highest peak – Triglav. Staying here is not a cheap option but the BPEH undoubtedly benefits from an advantageous position, born out by the positive reviews it predominantly receives.
Hotel & Restaurant Tripic – Bohinjska Bistrica
More traditional in style and design but no less welcoming, the Tripic succeeds in not spreading itself too thinly, despite being better known for its culinary excellence by tourists ‘passing through’. Containing two restaurants, a pizzeria and a open-air terrace the Tripic certainly betrays the proprietor’s confidence in being an archetypal one-stop-shop, giving guests the chance to not only gorge themselves on traditional Slovenian fare but also later head upstairs, fully sated, to sleep soundly in well-appointed rooms. Guests also benefit from a 20% reduction for entry to Aquapark Bohinj(more to follow), a standalone Wellness centre that inevitably draws its patrons from locals and guests probably not staying at the Bohinj Park. Room tariffs at the Tripic, in common with many lakes and mountains hotels vary depending on the time of year of your stay, although I think a €15 per night flat fee for single-travellers, whatever season they choose to visit, is excessive and sadly would dissuade me from giving the Tripic my custom.
Aquapark Bohinj – Bohinjska Bistrica
Don’t let the fact that Bohinjska Bistrica is the immediate area’s regional centre confuse you into thinking it is a big town – it isn’t. Having the seat of local power in the Bohinj region’s most densely populated settlement goes without saying but BB is compact; everything within its confines involves a walkable distance. To emphasise this point appositely the town’s Aquapark is only 50 metres from the Tripic, ensuring on a wet day you’ll only get a brief soaking going from point A to B before a more substantial drenching at this facility, both impressive in size and range of facilities. The profusion of saunas, pools, slides and fitness studios require patrons to every-so-often cast their eyes upon the mountainous vista outside, reminding them that despite appearances to the contrary they are not just anywhere in the world. Such waterparks are now therefore diez-al-stotinov throughout Europe but this one does give you a more controlled environment for getting wet through, rather than heading off into the mountains on one of the wet days that Bohinj can do better than anywhere else.
Bohinjska Bistrica is serviced by public-transport, being on the Ljubljana-Bohinjska Bistrica route. Ribcev Laz is a little under four miles away and while the bus journey gives travellers a leisurely view of the many hamlets and sparsely-populated settlements between BB and the lake, I would advise holidaymakers to meander along the Sava Bohinjka river, taking as long or short a time as they wish. An alternative, albeit involving a hair-raising descent would be to reach the peak of Rudnica from either the Ribcev Laz or Stara Fuzina approaches. On making your way to Rudnica’s summit keep a close eye out for signs to Brod, which will direct you down a quick but precipitous path that requires some experience and no little nerve. On reaching the bottom then continue along the river to Bohinjska Bistrica. If looking to do this tour in reverse I would strongly advise against ascending the path up from the Brod side of Rudnica. An alternative route from the BB side would be via Senozeta.
Bohinjska Bistrica is an ideal base for hikers wishing to walk the South Bohinj chain, taking in the peaks of Crna Prst, Raskovec and Rodica, eventually reaching Vogel. This though is a hard trek, taking in many hours of walking, involving at times steep and/or exposed sections, necessitating intermediate levels of fitness and experience. Crna Prst offers weary walkers a welcome stopping off point but as this route is popular please carry adequate provisions. If planning on bedding down at Crna Prst, ringing ahead or organising your stay-over through the tourist office will avoid an inconvenient disappointment.
Rumours abound regarding the financial status and delivery of a new resort at Bohinjska Bistrica, connecting the existing ski-centre at nearby Kobla with Soriska Planina, potentially presenting skiers of all standards with challenging terrain not easily found in Slovenia. This project, misleadingly titled 2864 Bohinj seems to have faltered, spluttered into occasional action and attracted controversy from the nascent stages. When land disputes such as these arise, it would suggest to outsiders that somebody somewhere, has got ahead of themselves by assuming all the relevant stakeholders would reach a consensus on such a project. Similar to the Bohinj Park Eco Hotel this area does not fall within the Triglav National Park but is nevertheless part of a sensitive environment, ecologically and aesthetically. It would seem that large developments are banging on the TNP’s boundary door; let us hope its gatekeepers are strong enough to resist the financial blandishments that Slovenia’s vulnerable financial-state are in dire need of.