Via Alpina, Yellow Trail, B01-B04, 29.08.-02.09.2016

There are numerous paths on our planet. Some make you a pilgrim, some take you over mountains and some simply from one house to another. Since Bojana and I love mountains, we took a liking to the Via Alpina trail. Under this name we can find five trails that cross eight European countries and are colour coded: red, purple, yellow, green and blue. Two go through Slovenia, the red and the purple, but we decided on the yellow one, which starts near Trieste in Muggia, Italy, and ends in Oberstdorf, Germany. The stages of the trail stretch across Italy, Austria and Germany. The official Via Alpina web page can be found here (, but we will note just our view on a minor part of the yellow trail, since we only walked the first four stages due to time constraints. But we tasted the trail and we liked it, especially since the good parts are yet to come. Another year, perhaps.
This is the official Via Alpina sign. The left side of the V symbol tells you which trail you are on, in our case it is yellow. Unfortunately, we came to the conclusion that it is quite poorly marked. The signs are too far apart and navigating without a guide book, navigation or a map is troublesome, especially on intersections. The trail seems deserted, that is why we are writing this, to help raise its popularity and to better the infrastructure, as is the case with the famous Camino de Santiago.  We do not recommend hiking without guide books or a good map. We carried along two books. This one was sent to us for free via mail from the tourist organisation PromoTurismoFVG. Unfortunately it is not helpful and lacks the information needed to orient ourselves. The inclosed map is horribly inadequate, so it was more of a burden than help.  This one was bought on Amazon. There are no reprints, so it is quite hard to obtain it. We had some problems, since it is in German, but it is not bad and we deem it quite helpful.  The yellow Via Alpina trail has 40 stages, beginning near Trieste in Muggia, Italy. We could only afford to make the first four stages, but we hope it could encourage someone to hike it as well and increase the information found on the internet to make it more lively.  We began our journey in Logatec, Slovenia, on Monday morning on the train station, waiting for the train to Koper.  The official start of both the yellow and the red trail is in Muggia, Italy, but we started walking in Koper. The picture shows the hiked trail on the first day. The official stage B01 is 17 km long and goes 580 m uphill and 500 m downhill. The early start from Koper added 10 km more.  We started walking from the Koper train station at 9:00 am.  We could take the bus to Ankaran, but we missed it by five minutes and the next one would not have come for another hour, which is how much we would need on foot. So we went.  Leaving Koper behind and gazing forward on what is to come.  The way to Ankaran goes along country roads, previously encountered on our cycling tour.  We didn't know how to go from the center of Ankaran to Muggia except over Hrvatini.  We admiti it: we hitchhiked and a nice lady gave us a 2 km ride on an extremely steep road. Thanks again! The view opens up to Muggia and Trieste.  The official starting point of the yellow and red Via Alpina trails is the Marconi square (Piazza Marconi) and we went there as well.  Here begins our problems. There are no marks on the square itself (as far as we know), so caution is needed. We visited this site on bikes before, so we already knew where to go. Through that archway...  ...along a narrow street, which leads us to... 
...the exit from a tunnel from the right (not seen on the picture). We cross the street and go alongside it.  We spotted some marks at the beginning of the street that went up a steep slope. They seemed right, so we followed them.  The concrete pillar bears the mark, all right, but it signifies a completely different path. The blame for letting such a slip up to occur still lies heavily on my shoulders.  A quaint little church by the road. After a half-hour hike we realise that we are not on the right way, so we backtrack to the crossroad by the tunnel, find XXV. April street and follow the red-white marks with the number 1.  The trail leads us above Muggia to a hamlet called Santa Barbara. Walking on burning asphalt under the scorching sun...  Bojana in the back.  Our spirits rose, knowing we were on the right track. Let the adventure begin!  The hamlet of Santa Barbara, where we go left across some stairs.  In Santa Barbara we follow the marks, sometimes hidden, to a scenic trail through a lovely shady forest above Muggia towards Trieste.  Now what? No problem, left and downwards.  We see the Parenzana bike trail somewhere near the Italian-Slovenian border. We haven't been here before.  The need for sugar cannot be shown on this picture and the freshly picked figs hit the right spot.  In a bar in the Osp industry zone we replenish our water supplies and continue towards the Noghere lakes. Bojana was her usual sightseeing self and found a perfectly good cap for her to wear as protection from the sun.  The asphalt road of the Osp industry zone turns into a pathway by the Noghere lakes, which are difficult to see because of all the foliage.  The first stage of the yellow and red Via Alpina trails is almost identical with another trali, called the Alpe Adria Trail, which is far more lively, the signs are more frequent and more people knew it than Via Alpina. 
Past the Noghere lakes we cross a road which leads to Črni Kal under the viaduct, but we quickly leave it and turn into the forest. The guide says to go left, but since we didn't find anything, we went right and followed the marks.  The path leads us up higher above the famous tanks by Trieste. We found out later that they are connected by pipelines with Muenchen, Germany. The odour of gasoline is very much present and we wouldn't recommend living here.  A nice forest path, where we meet the only person on the trail so far. The guy was probably on the red Via Alpina trail, but we don't know his starting point - we quickly went our separate ways since it was late in the afternoon so we didn't talk much.  This sight should never be found by paths like these or any path for that matter, but it wasn't the last.  The forest path ends before the Dolina village where we replenish our water containers and go forward through the forest. We've lost the Via Alpina, so we followed the Alpe Adria Trail signs, since we couldn't make sense of the guides. We were probably on the right way since the 37th stage of the Alpe Adria Trail was supposed to be the same as the first stage of the red and yellow Via Alpina trails.  We emerge to the Bagnoli della Rosandra village.  Ah, end of the stage after about 20 km and 9 hours on the way. We quickly find a store to buy some fruity and isotonic drinks.  We barely have time to pick up our backpacks when a lady stops us in the square and takes us directly to some rooms she has to rent. We did not say no to an offer like that. The best part of the day was a good shower and a soft mattress.  Our lunch was made on the balcony. We ate spaghetti and then made a tour of the town and went for a beer.  The main square in Bagnoli was deserted and the stores quickly closed. It's lucky that we had the bar.  The house where we stayed was also the birthplace of the Slovene composer Fran Venturini.  The second day marks the true beginning of the yellow trail when it branches off the red one in the Glinščica valley, as well as the Alpe Adria Trail. The second yellow stage begins in the Glinščica valley, goes across the flatlands above Trieste all the way to Villa Opicina. The length of B02 is said to be 15 km  and 5 hours long with 460 m of uphill and 220 m downhill walking.  Breakfast was provided from the Bagnoli store and eaten with coffee in the cafe close by.  The centre of Bagnoli is much more lively in the morning than in the evening. Time: 9:00 am.  The way goes through Bagnoli along a narrow street towards the Glinščica valley. 
A nice little village on the way.  The previous village marks the official beginning of the Glinščica valley, or Val Rosandra in Italian.  The beginning of the valley shows some impressive remains of a Roman aqueduct.  The other direction of the aqueduct is overgrown.  A nice wide path shows us the way through the valley.  The Glinščica river, which gave power to over 30 mills a century ago.  This is the first and the last spot where we see all three signs together. The top one is the red Via Alpina, the middle the yellow Via Alpina, followed by the well known red-white mark (we've been following it for the last day) and finally the Alpe Adria Trail.  A gorgeous view up Glinščica valley spices up the feel of adventure, despite the heat.  A waterfall in the Glinščica valley.  After 45 minutes we walk into Bottazzo.  A bit before the aforementioned hamlet we see the remnants of a mill, whic testifies about the life in the Glinščica valley. It is also the only valley in the Karst that has regular water.  Some historical reading.  Information boards showing the past life in the Glinščica valley.  In Bottazzo we need to go across the yard of a small cafe and then turn left uphill. We follow the path to Monte Stena.  The steep path from Bottazzo brings us to the popular recreational way of the old railroad track that went from Hrpelje through Kozina and to Trieste. The yellow path branches off through the tunnel and to the left. We got here after an hour and 15 minutes. 
Through the tunnel we must mind the mark on the iron railing which leads us up and left.  The sun has spared the sign and it still seems brand new.  The path rises above the Glinščica valley and we can see the way we took when going to Bottazzo. We can also see a part of the Trieste bay.  Panoramic view of the karstic lands above Trieste bay. Beautiful flat land, pleasant bora wind, beautiful!  An impressive view of Trieste and Muggia.  The plateau path slightly rises in the direction of San Lorenzo (Jezero) where we cross a marked peak. No idea which one it is.  Bora, peace and us.  The trail in the direction of San Lorenzo goes right above the Glinščica valley. You need to be disciplined and look at your feet, because the view is so beautiful.  You can see Capodistria (Koper) and its surroundings on the Slovene side as well.  The village of San Lorenzo has a large restaurant. There we ordered a litre of water and some juice in Slovene, as well as replenished our water supplies. Despite the bora wind the sun is merciless.  At 11:45 am we were looking from the terrace of the San Lorenzo restaurant on the Hrpelje-Trieste railway and the Saint Mary church, mentioned on the information board in Bottazzo.  Leaving the restaurant we had to be very careful. The guides weren't helpful, but the restaurant manager directed us in the right direction. We took the asphalt road in the direction of Trieste and be mindful of the mark on the right, some 100 or 200 m after the official end of San Lorenzo.  We are leaving the Glinščica valley behind across some grassy fields with a lack of shade, crossing road SS14 (still a two-lane), past a golf course. When you arrive at the golf course you go left on a T-crossroads slightly downhill along the course. We soon arrive at a crossroads of two forrest roads where we go right, forgetting the marks that lead us further down, and keep rising slightly. We soon see the correct marks after a couple of metres on a pillar, but they soon disappear again.  We arrive at an asphalt road at 1:10 pm, which we cross in a straight line and continue the journey. This was the place where we had the most difficulties in finding the right way, since there are no marks. We first had to use navigation to position ourselves and then follow the grassy path and the marks appear again.  A pleasant path which leads us to an underpass below a four-lane road, where we finally decided to take a break. 
The relaxation took place at a park next to the road, where we find the marks again, as well as the yellow trail signs.  A smile on Bojana's face shows her high spirits and lack of blisters, but the pause at 2:00 pm simply had to be.  I had problems with the ball of the foot, so I resorted to first aid.  The trail leads us through a park with free roaming animals.  Follow the marks uphill.  After a formidable climb we reach a panoramic view.  The panoramic view is quite pleasant, is it not?  We leave the park and follow a forrest road in the direction of our goal, Villa Opicina, which is close by.  We could feel ourselves being radiated with all sorts of wavelenghts.  A tombstone with a crest and a sign, unknown to us.  Every effort is repaid and after 7 hours on the road we arrive at the motor camp by the Obelisk at Villa Opicina at 4:15 pm.  We were quite early, but it was quite enough for day two.  Arrival in the camp.  After settling in we had enough power to take a stroll to the centre to find a store for some breakfast and beer.  The famous trams are stationary since two of them recently crashed. 
We had to go to the centre and back to the Obelisk, and to the centre again to find a store. We definitely added 5 km to the daily toil. Why are we showing beer? Ok, Serbian beer and our Union are no surprise right across the border, but the location of the store, hidden in some inconspicuous street. You can find a jewlery shop or a pet store sooner than a regular store for people. Bojana had to suffer through my tantrums and the determination to find a store. Well, she soon had enough and asked for directions...  Who would think that this was the way to the store!? It was lucky that we bought everything for our breakfast today and not the following morning.  The Obelisk is a sign of the Trieste bay and the inland of the Austro-Hungarian empire (source:  Enough walking for the second day. We prepared ourselves some spaghetti with bologna sauce, a beer and sleep. The following day we had a longer journey in store.  Day 3 and the third stage of the Via Alpina yellow trail goes from the Obelisk at Villa Opicina to Sistiana. Officially 17 km of walking, 4 hours 45 minutes and 240 of downhill walking. The latter is slightly suspicious, since we definitely walked uphill as well. :)  Breakfast in the morning, packing the tent and away we go at 8:45 am.  We go through the underpass at the Obelisk in the direction of Napoleon's road.  Us by the Obelisk.  This is the first instance we found the official information board for the Via Alpina. The yellow trail is clearly seen, as are the others.  Yup, all 40 stages are here!  We need to comment that a sign like this is needed at the beginning of the trail and not after some 35 km of walking.  The history of Napoleon's road.  The history of Napoleon's road.  Not a bad start for our feet.  Beautiful view from Napoleon's road. 
If you're thinking photoshop, you are wrong. Two young deer hesitated before jumping below the road, just as their mother did.  Life on water.  We soon see the picturesque castle Miramar.  Last view of Trieste and the Slovene coast from Napoleon's road.  It soon widens to asphalt, impressively carved into the stone walls.  A crest in the walls, unknown to us.  After an hour and a half we arrive in the village of Prosecco, which apparently is not related to the famous wine Prosecco.  Cat's life.  We followed the marks through the narrow streets to the old part of the village. The marks disappear at the main road, so we walked blindly uphill to the old town centre, where we found the marks again, but for the Alpe Adria Trail, which joins the yellow Via Alpina trail again.  We leave civilization behind and stroll through a pleasant forrest.  It's just us, the sea, grass, trees and a breeze.  The first two stages are far behind.  The path leads us to the panoramic spot called St. Primož.  From the St. Primož lookout spot we can see the end of the Trieste bay.  Bojana insisted on me being on a picture. 
After 3 hours we arrive at 11:25 am to the next settlement called Santa Croce.  Our observations: each house has at least one dog, is completely borded up and has a separate entrance for people and cars.  The marks take us through Santa Croce. Our search for a bar or a restaurant to relax a bit was fruitless.  The church in Santa Croce was just being renovated. It is interesting to note that we failed to find any people here, just as we did in Prosecco.  The trail continues through another forrest, much more feet friendly.  On the way through the forrest you bump into a large tower.  We find out that this was a water tower. We follow the marks and turn right in the forrest. Well, we didn't, so we had to find ourselves again, but my intuition didn't fail us and we were soon on the right trail again.  The correct marked road, no shade, no real pause and a near depleted water supply.  We were slightly worried if we were still on the right road, but the Via Alpina sign put our minds to ease.  We follow a fisherman's trail for a short while.  Unfortunately we saw many signs like this one. After a year or two the rest will follow and there won't be much to see.  Going across some rocks in the burning sun (12:52 am).  Looking down on the Sistiana-Trieste road.  We soon arrive at the road that we visited before on our bikes this year.  There isn't much further to Sistiana, so we decide to make a longer pause there and make new plans for today. 
The only time this place has shade is when it's cloudy.  View on the tourist covered Sistiana.  At 1:30 pm we storm a restaurant just after the sign for Sistiana where we thoroughly hydrate ourselves, replenish our water supplies and decide to continue walking, despite having finished the stage for today. This was done because tomorrow would lead us all the way to Gorizia.  After an hour we continue our way along the marks and instructions from the guides.  The path leads us to the so called Rilke's road. We are proud to announce that we walked a bit of the Camino trail as well.  Rilke's road above the cliffs.  Watching the tourist spot from above. Apparently the purification plant works splendidly.  The view back on the marine.  Rilke's road joins another road and we should be making a sharp right turn. We didn't...  After a minute or two we see the castle of Duino (3:10 pm). We figure out that we are missing marks, so we return back to the aforementioned crossroads. We later find out that both paths lead to the same point below the castle. Well, we at least looked at it better.  By the road.  We continue through the forrest a bit tired, where we had some orientation problems. Thanks to the Bruckmann's guide we safely found our way.  We descent to Villagio del Pescatore where we are determined to find a place to stay for the night.  Interesting...  ...especially the item pressed into the rock in the centre of the picture. A preserved skeleton of a dinosaur ( siamo 2.html). 
Good one!  A nice town to stay. But we couldn't seem to find anything suitable. We ask some lads who take us to a bed and breakfast, unfortunately full, and the second one only had one bed to rent and we couldn't get it despite our pleas that we could use it anyway. The owner probably didn't want to bother with the authoroties.  So we continue along the river Timava (5:00 pm).  By Timava.  But we soldiered on. We couldn't find anything by the river Timava springs, so we decided to find ourselves a nice spot to pitch our tent somewhere by a village called Medeazza.  The guides tell us that we need to turn left at Medeazza. The time was 5:40 pm and we had 9 hours on the way with 7 of those pure walking, we estimate we made 17+10=27 km.  Bojana hops to the farm tourism near by and I search forward for that left bend. Luck favours the brave, or so they say. I found it, but Bojana couldn't find anything good, until a local talks to us. His son takes us to a house with a bed and breakfast Rosmar or B&B Casa Rosmar. Well, we wanted a bead and a solid shower to remove the unpleasant odour that wafted from us, so we took it.  Time flies and we found ourselves halfway on stage B04 that began in Sistiana. Its official characteristics are 31 km, 360 uphill and 390 downhill with its official end in Gabria - 10 km from Gorizia. Both guides suggest public transport for the last stint to Gorizia, but we trudged on and walked the entire way.  In Medeazza after breakfast...  ...beautiful view from the balcony...  ...and starting a new day at 8:45 am. We stop following trail number 1 and begin following trail number 3. No sign of Alpe Adria trail marks...  Feet feel the same as two days ago. Well, at least they aren't any worse. We walk effortlessly to the village Iamiano, which is close to the Italian-Slovene border.  Last view of the sea. We are definitely leaving the coast.  A big boat, or as we call it, big tub.  Travellers. 
Hm...what is this? Sounds like blackberry.  In Iamiano we cross the main road SS55 and turn a while towards Gorizia.  By the road...  After a really long time we find our signs.  We leave marks nr. 3 and follow marks nr. 72.  The trail goes across a completely different terrain with low growing trees and consequently less shade.  Or so we thought. Some places had plenty of shade.  Bojana lead the majority of the trail.  A crossroads in the middle of effing nowhere...  Path from Iamiano to a natural park with a lake. It'll be quite a while to get there.  Every day we learned something new and we had less problems with navigation. I used my intuition and it never failed us.  In the park in the middle of nowhere there should be a place to shoot the breeze by the lake.  Too bad, the complex was deserted and our goal of gaving a pause at 11:15 fell down the drain.  Lots of information by the road.  Now how did this tyre come here? 
The trail ascends after the lake, but we had no problems shape-wise.  After 20 minutes of walking we reach a sort of alpine cottage Casa Cadornia where we took a breather in the pleasant shade.  We finally see the lake from up here.  We follow the number 72 marks right from the cottage.  Some stairs, some rocks and we reach the top, followed by a pleasant karstic forrest road.  On the horizon we see two souls. We exchange a few words and they tell us they're from Germany and have started the Alpe Adria trail in Tolmin.  A stone by the road reminds us that we are approaching Gorizia.  No breeze, just heat and enough water.  We come across sparsely placed settlements, for instance a bunch of villas.  A kind local filled our bottles with water. We didn't want to risk dehydration, so we topped off all of them.  Narrow path with barely any view.  Next village on the way is San Martino.  A nice church in the middle of the village.  In San Martino we leave marks nr. 72 and start following marks nr. 71. This information came from the Bruckmann guide, otherwise it's nearly impossible to know where to go. The Alpe Adria trail sign has faded away long ago.  Public counter. :) 
Nice villas by the road.  What a lovely prison. Fences everywhere.  The road to Gabria leads us away from civilization once again.  But not for long. The asphalt leads us towards San Michele.  Heavily laden Bojana.  San Michele.  We are very close to the Italian-Slovene boarder and all the signs are bilingual. The Slovene language is very much alive here.  At 3:30 pm and after 21 km of walking we arrive to the official end of the B04 stage of the yellow trail Via Alpina. We failed to see the bus that would take us to Gorizia. And so ends our journey of the first four stages of the yellow trail. The initial impression is positive, we had some problems due to to insufficient marking, very adventurous. If time permits we will continue the journey from Gorizia to Resia or even a bit further. It would be nice to reach the Dolomites.  We used GPS tracking on the tablet for the way to Gorizia and the train station in Nova Gorica where we would take the train to Most na Soči.  Oof, the heat, asphalt, no luck with hitchhiking, 10 km of pure torture...  Sveta Gora nad Solkanom pri Novi Gorici.  The soles of our feet were throbbing, but we had to move forward. Walk, walk, walk.  At the former border crossing Rožna dolina in Gorizia we make our last selfie in Italy.  By the railroad, lookin at the Fraciscan monastery Kostanjevica by the border.  Just through the tunnel and we will reach the train station. 
The Nova Gorica train station at 5:45 pm, so after 9 hours on the way.  Tired, thirsty, the beers kept coming. :)  On the train towards Most na Soči. A picturesque trail, but the night fell prematurely.  At Most na Soči we were picked up by Miha, who took us to Žabče. Tina prepaired dinner (thank you again), we showered and went to sleep. Next day we still had a couple of kilometres to the great picnic place at Boško's by river Idrijca.  Starting in Žabče at 8:00 am.  We walked for just a while by Soča (Isonzo) because we soon joined river Idrijca and went alonside it.  A family of ducks in the morning.  We cut a corner and went through Modrej and reached Bača pri Modreju directly.  A nice morning view on the Idrijca valley and the confluence of river Bača and river Idrijca.  Us.  I always admired this bridge. We rode it earlier this year and it was glorious, woo-hoo!  Unfortunately there is no modernization in these valleys. Although the old trains do have a kind of romantic tone.  On foot you can see that the valley is truly beautiful. You can't see anything from the car and I haven't been gazing around when on my bike. Yup, walking truly is a new experience.  Morning grazing by the main road.  River Idrijca. Unfortunately we found out later that we could have gone on the other bank instead on the asphalt road. Maybe next time. 
Us again, a bit after lunch that we had in the restaurant Pod Korito. I have never seen larger steaks on my plate.  The weather was kind to us. The sun hid behind the clouds, so it wasn't too hot. But the soles of our feet had a different opinion...  A lovely house by the road with a nice large garden below the road.  Primary school? We need to ask the locals about this!  And with raised arms we reach our goal at 2:45 pm. We estimate that we made 120 km in five days, which isn't such an achievement. Only the good memories remained and the blisters healed.  Us on the bridge across Idrijca with Boško's homestead in the background.  Even before we put down our backpacks we are greeted by Pepa the pig. Now that is a piece! With this picture we conclude our section of the Via Alpina yellow trail. After three weeks the memories are still vivid. The trail is hard, especially inland where there is no wind and the sun is merciless. But we smile when we think about all the good moments of the road, nice views and moments of doubt if we're still on the right path. Yup, it's all part of the package that comes with walking the WAY.