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Workin the World The 4 month trip that lasted 5 years .. all the adventures from Workers final year o/s and the trip back to Oz.

The Surprise Packet

SLOVENIA | Friday, 24 August 2007 | Views [1153] | Comments [2]

Arriving in Slovenia we were all a little unsure what to expect, sure they had just entered the EU (and now use euro for those of you thinking of heading there), but for many of the eastern countries, entering the EU seems to be no guarantee of decent infrastructure or even stability. None of this could be said for Slovenia.

For the last leg of the run, our plan was to head straight to Lake Bled for a few days, drive on through to the capital, Ljubljana, finally calling in to see the famous Skocjan caves before crossing the border into Croatia. However, as soon as we drove into Bled, I was quite sure this plan would be thrown out of the window. Bled is, without doubt, one of the most beautiful places I have been to in Europe, situated on crystal clear lake (complete with a Monastery in the middle on an island), surrounded by the Julian Alps and with a castle nestled on the cliffs over looking the town, it is almost as if the setting was designed around producing the perfect post card.

Bled Castle

The Monastery

The Castle with Monestary in Background

However, it does not stop there, the beer and food is dirt cheap (80p for a pint) and the people are so friendly you wonder if they are ripping you off (at 80p a pint who cares), it reminded me of Switzerland without the tourists, high prices and ugly industry. I will try to give you a brief insight to how nice the Slovenians are, on our first day we decided to hire some bikes and ride around the lake, now, we also tried to do this in Avignon and were advised:

1) There would be a hire fee of €10/hour
2) We would need to leave a deposit of €200/bike
3) If the bikes got stolen we would need to pay €400 (the bikes were only worth about €150 new)
4) We would not be provided with a lock, the bikes were our responsibility, if we had any questions about losing them, see point 3

No such trouble in Bled, we paid our €7 each for 4 hours, left no deposit or ID, were given a lock but advised no one will steal them so don’t worry about using it and to drop them back whenever. Upon returning the bikes, Chesty dropped her bike back an hour early with not so much as a query to where the other 2 were, we returned ours to a former World Champion rower (he runs the shop with his wife and coaches current Olympians on the lake), with no inspection to see if the bikes were even out the front!

After checking out the lake for a few hours we decided the time had come for a swim, I had previously spied a rope tied to a tree so suggested we go for a dip there, however, it was a pretty lame rope and so I began wondering if you could actually jump out of the tree into the lake. There were nailed bits of wood up the trunk, surely this must mean it was safe, so up I climbed, to the branch I thought looked the strongest (I am not the lithe youngster I used to be). It was at this point I realised I had not actually checked the depth of the water so the jitters set in, it also came to the attention of a group of German teenagers that some idiot had climbed the tree and was going to jump. Now I was not only unsure of the depth, I had to jump as the crowd was giving me the German version of the ‘slow-clap’. After a few minutes a young lad from the supporters group, who was obviously the bravest amongst them or most stupid, decided he would come up and show me how it was done, yet he also froze upon arriving at the branch because, despite me asking him several times to check the depth, he was not sure it would be deep enough!! By this stage more people had milled around, I had somehow managed to split the crowd between the youngsters, cheering me on, and the parents, shaking their heads, chastising children for even thinking of doing something so stupid. Eventually the pressure became too much and I launched myself into the air, landing with a perfect pinny I had pulled it off, crowds applauded, champagne was popped, for 10 seconds I was the hero of Bled, until the guy behind me jumped and I became yesterdays news.

Sizing up the climb

The Crowd Looks On

The Jump


That afternoon I wandered into town, I had seen a camping/adventure shop and figured there must be something in there I need, given the great amount of outdoors adventure sports I partake in. And I was right, a portable stove beckoned, this would be great for camping through Europe, sure it had rained most the time I had been away and I’ll probably never use it, but I just had to get one. After making the transaction and agreeing to go canyoning and rafting the next day (despite the fact we were due to leave) I made my way back to the campsite to find the girls rowing out to the Monastery in a blow up dinghy Chesty had purchased for £4 in London, which also included aluminium oars. I figured at that price we would be lucky to pull out a garbage bag from the box but judging by their laughter, which I could hear before I even got to the lake, they were staying a float and even doing a good job at reaching their destination. I saw this as my opportunity, go over to the monastery girls, have a few drinks and I’ll cook dinner on my new cooker. My aim was to get them drunk enough to agree in staying an extra night for a canyoning and rafting trip I had already booked them in on.

Chesty & Mouse - Maggot Rowing

Making my way back to the campsite quite proud of myself I decided to have a celebratory beer, met up with another Aussie couple, John and Michelle, and ended up staying there until the girls came back, with no dinner prepared.

Anyway they were up for it, as were my new mates, so the next day we were up early, watching sunrise over the lake as the rowers trained in the clearing mist was pretty special (Bled RC has produced Olympic medallists at the last 5 Olympics). However we had more important things to do so we set off behind our guide for the drive into Italy and back into Slovenia, again with not one passport check, for a day of canyoning and rafting.

I had never been canyoning before but if you do ever get the chance I can not recommend it enough, apart from having to hike up the mountain in your speedo’s, everything else is magic. Sliding down rock faces into pools of water, repelling down 50m water falls as water tumbles over your head, and jumping from rock ledges into cavernous holes with the promise of deep water beneath, it is a truly amazing experience. We were lucky enough to be the first people on the mountain so had the canyon to ourselves and the girls were doubly lucky as our guide was apparently very hot, when I say apparently I mean hearing every couple of minutes just how hot he was.

The Canyoning Team - our canyon is behind us


After canyoning we drove over to a town, which appeared to be built purposefully for rafting trips. Every shop is either selling rafting tours or a restaurant, or both. Unfortunately it had been a very dry summer in Slovenia so the rapids were not too rough and the fact our raft had a slow leak in it meant we had to do a lot of rowing just to get through, however it was still great fun and something I would definitely like to give another go.

Returning that night, after a magical drive through the Julian Alps watching the sunset, we were all pretty knackered, but so glad we had stayed on. Unfortunately this meant we missed everything else we had planned for Slovenia so, if you do plan on coming here, leave yourself at least a week as you will not want to leave.

Pics of the Julian Alps

Sunset hitting the Alps

Closeup of the colours



This would be the final leg of the run, our next stop would be Croatia, for some magical coastlines and cruising. We drove that afternoon along the coast to Zadar and the next day into Split to meet the Colonel and others for our week long cruise down to Dubrovnik and back. By the time we arrived in Split the run had already surpassed 4,000km’s, by the end, once Chesty had driven back to London with Flange and her sister, she and Hamish had covered over 6,400km’s in just 3 weeks, some great times and funny action. I figure this type of performance is pretty special and as such, hereby enter them both into the Cannon Ball Run Hall of Fame.

Tags: On the Road

Comments

1

Hey Stu, sounds like you guys are having a blast, the photo's of Slovenia are amazing. I hit the road on sunday, can't wait. Take care, and keep the funny stories coming. Dea

  Dea Sep 15, 2007 2:15 AM

2

The Australian Judge awards a 7.4, nice pinny.

  Wooly Sep 21, 2007 8:47 AM

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