Slovenia

Slovenia is something else. Full of mountain ranges and greenery, an emerging green adventure capital and as one of the first countries broken from the former Yugoslavia, it is doing relatively well for itself.

To be honest we didn’t know much about the area. Mitch was the Slovenian nation liaison at the World Rowing Championships in 2011, but really that just meant he just swam and hung around sitting on bean bags with the team physio and took them to Raglan for a days surfing. They always mentioned that Lake Bled was a must to see.

So here we were, in Bled. A picturesque lake in the middle of the Julian Alps, the medieval Bled Castle perched high above and a church isolated in the middle. The rowers were out in force for the Rowing Championships. However, New Zealand didn’t have a contingent at this event – the absent Eric Murray and Hamish Bond did get a few mentions though.

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The Vintgar Gorge in the Triglav national park made for a nice walk. A school group of teenage boys with us managed to escape their teacher, strip off and swim in the river. Once he found them, his throat slitting actions made it clear what trouble they were in.

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Getting a couple mountain bikes we toured the region, the small towns and highways as most the paths we found were filled with spring growth. Talking to a local we heard how in the winter the lake freezes over for skating. Lately it hasn’t been so, but he remembers cars driving over it during his childhood. Motorbikes with spikes would pull people on skates.

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To add to the adventure, we had a go at canyoning. Bob, our guide, was an expert at jumping into rock pools – he does it all over the world. The jumps and abseils were impressive. We got up to 8m. The wetsuits broke the sting of the impact and insulated us against the constant 5 degrees water year round.

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Marg and Rich meanwhile managed a walk around the lake, Rich still nursing a dodgy ankle after the marathon. Tam had only just regained a normal walking style. Dropping them off at the Ljubljana Train station, they left to see the newly engaged couple – Anna and Tim in Split, Croatia. We would see them again in a couple weeks in Mallorca.

Ljubljana was a trendy little city of a couple hundred thousand people. It was a great example of a minimalist, green and traffic free city centre. The artwork was something different, we couldn’t quite put a finger on it. In all the place just was young and uncrowded. Nice.

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