Friday, 24 July 2015

Portoroz Salt Flats Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 11.2 km (7 miles), terrain: flat

If you're in Slovenia's main seaside resort, Portorož, then here's a waterside route that will take you to a quiet little bay away from all the other tourists. Just to the south of the main bay is a wide expanse of the Sečovlje salt flats, where local residents have been producing salt for hundreds of years.
Along the salt flats
The area was the sole supplier of salt to Venice in the centuries that Venice ruled the Adriatic coast. Most of the flats have been abandoned, but part of them are still used, and there is a salt-making museum for visitors. The whole area is wide-open, with vistas to Croatia on the far side of the bay, and waterbirds wheeling overhead.

And luckily, the way there includes a beautiful stretch of coast, with a marina, a long campground and then cliffs, parkland and quiet green hillsides full of olive trees and cane plants.

So, if you want to explore this quiet bit of coastline, get yourself to the beach promenade at the little white dome of the Portoroz tourist office, across from the Palace Hotel. This is the same starting point as the Piran route. But this time turn left and run southeast, with the water to your right side.
The start of the run at Portoroz beach
Looking out across the water, you'll see the green hill of the Seča peninsula across the bay: this is where we will run, and the salt flats lie behind it.

You'll run past the main Portorož beachfront, where you have to turn inland at the marina, heading east. You are now running along a canal full of little boats at their docks. The canal will soon come together with the main road into town, where you enter the neighboring town of Lucija, Portorož's uglier sibling. This is the dumb part of the run, but it doesn't last for long.

When you get to a traffic circle, follow the signs that point to the right for the marina and the bus-station.

You'll now run past a big parking lot, and the road, Cesta Solinarjev, will curve to the left.

When you almost get to the green Seča hill, you'll see a road to the right that leads to Kamp Lucija. Turn in here.
The Kamp Luzija campground
Don't worry about the gate at the campground entrance. It is open for all pedestrians: there's a public beach and park at the end of the campground. So now run through this stretched-out campground.

TIP: At the campground store and beachbar, there is a little restaurant that is open in the evenings, Gostilna Nonna Torca. It is run by one guy and his mother, and everything they do is by hand. They make their own noodles and bake the bread, and everything is fresh from the market. And the prices are quite reasonable. Try it out!

Right after the beach bar, you'll run past the swimming area, and then leave the campground through a fence-gate. You are now in a public park which goes around the west end of the Seča peninsula.
Running through the park, with Croatia in background
It curves to the left past some tall cliffs. There are exercise machines, and a little windsurf/kiters' camp.

When the park curves around to the left and you are now running eastwards, you'll pass another restaurant, Gostišče Ribič, located in a secluded spot at the end of the peninsula, which also has good seafood with a beautiful terrace.
Ribic restaurant: beautiful terrace!
You'll leave the park by getting on a little one-lane road that lines the north end of the salt-flats.

You'll first go by a little shipyard that works on wooden boats, on a little bay. Then the water narrows to a canal, which is full of little boats tied to home-made docks.
The shipyard
The Seča hill is now on your left side and the wide expanse of the salt flats is to the right. There is very little traffic along the road. There are olive fields and a few houses on the hillside.

Much of the salt-flat area is now included in the Sečovlje Salina Nature Park. The work was seasonal: when the local farmers had little to do on their farms, they moved into the little houses on the salt flats and made salt. Most of those houses are now in ruins.
View over the salt flats
Sluices are opened to flood the individual flats, and then are closed again to let the water evaporate and leave a thick layer of salt to rake together in the crystalization ponds.

You can follow the road until you get to a fenced-off factory grounds, between you and the canal. When you get to the factory gate, you'll see a little road heading over a bridge straight into the salt flats. Cross that bridge: you'll get a glimpse of the salt flats up close.

On the far side of the bridge is a gate into the Nature Park. This route officially ends here (it's already over 11-km) but you might want to continue into the flats to run in the wide-open country, with ponds in every direction.

Whenever you want to turn around, just follow the same way back home.

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