03 Aug, 2016

Slovenia: Of The Love For Nature

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03 Aug, 2016

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In this article I’d like to tell you about my trip to Slovenia. This won’t be a typical travel guide to the various hot spots of Slovenia. No Where-to-go, what-to-see. I want to share my experiences with you, want you to take part in the journey that I owe to the incredible surroundings and beautiful nature I was in and the people that joined me. And why it is so very worth it to take a trip to a place where you are cut off from the rest of the world- without internet, without TV and all the other things that seem so essential in our everyday lives. This one turned out to be pretty long, but I hope it will inspire you anyway! Enjoy! 😉

 

You can find some images and further impressions of my Slovenia trip here or at the bottom of the page in my video “Slovenia // Love For Nature” or in my Slovenia photo post.

 

The Road Trip

We started our trip- 3 of my closest friends and I- in our hometown of Düsseldorf, and headed down south to pick up 2 other friends who live in Aschaffenburg, Germany. Thus we spent our first night there, but not before having our first Schlappeseppel (which is the local beer of Aschaffenburg) at a tiny little bar called the „Dreimädelshaus“ (which roughly translated means the „Threegalshouse“). The next morning we headed from there (not from the bar) to Bavaria, where our first official stop was the Königssee (the “King’s lake”) in Berchtesgaden.

Since up until then I hadn’t been around the South of Germany all that much, the beautiful, mountainous scenery really knocked me off my feet. That night we camped out in the middle of the mountains, at a camping spot not far from the lake. The following morning we headed to the next McDonald’s with our self-brought cereal and fruits so a few of us could grab their morning coffee (and/or breakfast burger).

So, we then headed off towards Slovenia. And a few hours, very impressive sceneries from the car windows and a lot of driving through little villages later, we found our little house.

 

The House at the Lake

At this point I’d like to mention a very nifty platform that we used to find our little house by the lake in the midst of the vast mountains of the Triglav National Park: Airbnb. Airbnb is a wonderful platform that I have been using for quite a while now, where you can search for and book private accommodations all over the world at very reasonable rates. The great thing about it: You have your own little place with your own kitchen and you can experience what it’s like actually living in a certain place instead of just being there as a tourist. (Here you can get 30€ off your first visit if you decide to use Airbnb for your next trip.)

The accommodation we chose was a little cottage which was had the typical style of the region, very rustic, but absolutely adorable. To all sides we were surrounded by mountains, green and a few cows. One of the things, that turned out to be really great: We had no WIFI! Initially it was a bit strange not being able to use the internet but we got used to it pretty quickly and shortly thereafter even left our cell phones at home for most of the time, stowed away in drawers and backpacks.

On that first day, after getting set up in our new home, we set out for the lake which was only a minute’s walk from our house. And I can tell you: After months of working and the hustle and bustle of everyday life, seeing a crystal clear lake like that with the reflections of the mountains to all sides with the beaming quietness that lake exudes, all that heaviness just drops from your shoulders in an instant. That same day we took out one of the canoes that the owner of our accommodation had provided for us to go paddling on the lake for a bit.

 

About Slovenia

At this point I’d like to butt in and tell you a bit about Slovenia itself. With a little more than 20.000 square kilometers and a population of about 2 million people the ex-jugoslavian country is about one twentieth the size of Germany. More than a third of Slovenia is under conservation- how lucky for us! Because Slovenia is an absolute paradise for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Regarding outdoor activities, Slovenia has pretty much everything you can dream of: Hiking, rafting, skiing and snowboarding, climbing, canoeing, mountain-biking, paragliding, swimming, fishing.. here, pretty much anything is possible!

In regards to the people: During our trip (which was way too short, by the way) we ran into nothing but open arms, warmth and friendliness. No one ever wanted to rip us off in any way, the people were all open to us and happy to see and speak to us, (and yes, in Slovenia they do speak English and even a lot of German, since they already learn these languages in school at a young age, but of course it’s always nice to know some local expressions!) about their land, their food and customs.

About traveling in Slovenia: The infrastructure Slovenia has to offer is great, the bus and rail network is good and traveling itself we felt was very safe. The cost of living is pretty cheap, as well as cost for accommodation. (And Ljubljana, the capital, also has lots to offer!) A perfect travel destination in my mind.

 

Into The Wild

What our week looked like?
We would usually get up at a very humane hour (not too late and not too early 😉 ) and either do some yoga together and meditate or jump into the ice cold river (8 degrees celsius, thank you very much!) and have a nice long breakfast together. After a short food coma we’d then either head to the lake, go hiking, kayaking, canoeing or fly fishing (yes, I went fly fishing 😉 ). In the late afternoons or evenings we’d head back to out house, chill out for a bit, read a book or start preparing dinner. We’d then talk, make music, play guitar, sing or play cards into the night. What a dream!

 

On Top of the World- My highlight of the trip

On one of the days the boys wanted to go on a super long hike. I knew that his hike would definitely be too much for me and my lungs (the one or other of you might know that I have a chronic illness called Cystic Fibrosis which you can read more about here), so I decided that I would later that afternoon hike starting from the opposite direction of my friend’s circular route, meet them at a small lake that was said to be up in the mountains and then hike back to our house together. What I didn’t know was, that said lake, our meeting point, was located at an altitude of 1400 meters. Our house was at an altitude of about 500.

So around 4 o’clock in the afternoon I innocently began hiking, music in my ears, in hiking boots that- as it turns out- weren’t that well broken in as I thought they were. The bus, that was supposed to take me to the nearby Slap Savica waterfalls, which would have saved me about an hour of hiking uphill, of course did not arrive because I had misread the timetable (I had obviously left my brain in good ol’ Germany). So I began to make my way and realized after a short period of time that the fact that my boots weren’t broken in well might actually force me to turn right back around. Nonetheless, I kept hiking and began to realize that my way was inclining pretty quickly. Another while later my way uphill began to get so steep that I literally had to start climbing and maneuver along some pretty scary-ass cliffs. As I mentioned, I didn’t really think about how high I had to climb in a relatively small amount of time.

As my way gradually went up and up it seemed as though I would never reach the top. Again and again the summit of the mountain seemed right within my reach while in the next moment it seemed as though I’d never reach the top. I started to worry, because conditionally and lung-wise I was definitely not cut out for a hike like this. If I hadn’t set my mind on pulling through I probably would have turned around way earlier. But there was a point where I just couldn’t go back.

I cannot describe to you the feeling of that moment after I finally arrived at the top after approximately 3 hours and I saw the clearing of the forest that was to lead to the lake. I suddenly realized how my heart was racing and how concentrated I had been on not falling down. At the sight of the incredible view from the top of that mountain and seeing how high I had just climbed- I honestly couldn’t fathom what I was seeing.

After I had crossed the section of forest, I finally arrived. The first glimpse of that lake up in the mountains was the last straw for me. The sun was already setting and it’s rays were breaking through just above the peaks of the surrounding mountains, glimmering on the surface of the lake in front of me. In that moment a huge load just fell from my shoulders and tears instantly shot into my eyes. The incredible physical strain of the previous hours, the fear that I had had- it all faded away as I just stood there in sheer awe of that lake and was just happy beyond all measure. Thereafter, jumping into that clear, cool lake was just the cherry on top of the whole experience.

 

Pure Happiness

On my last day in Slovenia there was a similar happiness-filled moment in which I (much less drastically) was laying in the grass after just having been kayaking with my friends. Looking towards the sky, I couldn’t remember the last time I had really been as happy as in that moment. My body was completely exhausted and sore, open wounds on my feet, mosquito bites literally everywhere, but my heart, my head and my soul were suddenly all in complete unison with each other. I felt the warm sun on my skin, the grass under my feet and arms, heard the birds chirping, the purling sound of the river nearby and the distant voices of my friends.

In that moment I thought to myself: „This moment, this is pure happiness.

 

 

 

Have you ever taken a trip out in nature like this? Have you ever been to Slovenia before? Would you consider taking a trip like that? Tell me about it in the comments section! 😉

 

 

2 Comments:

  • Ella August 08, 2016

    I’m so glad you had a wonderful time in Slovenia and it really does sound like you had a dream trip. I loved the video as well and how you said that as human beings we are nature, we just need to find our way back to it and reconnect with it. I couldn’t agree more on that point and have never understood the mentality that we are above or separate from nature because we aren’t. We literally need nature to live and to not take care of it, means to not take care of ourselves. Great post as always! 🙂

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