The Soča Valley in Slovenia has mountains and dark green forests, waterfalls and perfectly blue water and massive marble trout, wooden suspension bridges and World War I trenches, meadows full of horses and wildflowers, and pretty little church steeples would ring in town every 15 minutes.
While we were on the gorgeous (and hot and crowded and expensive) Croatian coast, we decided that we wanted our time in Slovenia to be something different. We thought we wanted to be in a more rural setting, preferably in the mountains, and turned to HelpX. Help X connects travelers with people like farmers, homesteaders and B&B owners who are willing to offer free room and board in exchange for half a day’s work.
Tony came across Marie’s profile while we were in Split. Marie owns a guesthouse in Kobarid, in the Soča Valley in northwestern Slovenia near the Italian border. The area was the site of one of the major WWI front lines, and is the setting of Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms. Nearly 100 years later, it’s hard to imagine a more peaceful place.
Marie is also renovating a stone house in the outskirts of Livek, a village up a neighboring mountain. Renovating is not quite the correct word. The house itself was not salvageable, and only three walls of the former attached barn are being incorporated into the new structure. Marie is doing a lot of the work herself, but also enlists a few friends, colorful contractors, and HelpXers along the way.
The neighbors up at Livek had a flock of goats, which were a nice diversion. (Watch a little video of them.)
This particular goat reminded us of our dog, Ivan. It was a girl, but we still decided to refer to her as Ivan.
Ivan was extra friendly. Here she is, licking the camera.
And the views from Livek were unbeatable.
Mt. Krn saw its first snow of the season while we were there. Its peak is distinctively jagged due to wartime dynamiting.
Marie was more than fair about the amount of work expected in exchange for our cozy accommodation. Some of it could be a little frustrating due to the unavailability of a wide range of tools or materials, but nothing that couldn’t be overcome by a little determination and extra sweat.
Part of the deal was that Alicia would cook the evening meal for the three of us. She enjoyed walking to the Mercato every day, picking out our food and cooking real full meals for the first time in months.
We had pork chops with stewed apples and cabbage, chicken risotto, ham and cabbage soup, spaghetti and meatballs… lots of filling dishes that were perfect after a cold day up at Livek. Or a day spent hiking all over the valley instead. Marie treated us like friends and was good to make sure we saw everything the Soča Valley had to offer.