When I was young, I competed a lot in orienteering. It’s basically a cross-country running, where you have to find your own path through forests, shrubs and other nasty stuff and do it as quickly as possible. Toward the end of the high school I slowly stopped competing, but did manage to get quite good at it. Last year, at one point I found out that Jakob did couple of orienteering competitions each year and somehow persuaded me to join him at Lipica Open cup, which is one of the biggest cups in Slovenia or rather Europe. For reasons beyond anyone I registered in the toughest division and not surprisingly finished last, although at least I finished, there were few people who got disqualified or DNF, out of about 120 people competing in my division. I actually felt quite proud to at least finish, the course was really hard, and I was competing against professional orienteers and Belgium special forces (for some reason). Anyway it was fun getting lost in the forest again after so long.
For a couple of years I wanted to finish a Marathon. My first goal was to finish Mali kraški maraton (halfmaraton in Sežana/Lipica), which is organized toward the end of March. It actually went quite well, I finished it under 2h, which was my goal and didn’t feel completely dead after it.
So the next step was full marathon in end of October. I needed to step up my training quite a bit, although now that I think about it, didn’t approach it really well. What I did was trying to make as many runs per week as I could, usually at the pace I felt comfortable. Now I know that was not the best approach, or at least not as efficient as it could be. Nevertheless, I did manage to finish my first full marathon at Ljuljana’s marathon in October.
So how does it feel to run a marathon? Well, despite sleeping really poorly that night the first 20 km went by pretty well. At kilometre 25 I started to feel my legs a bit, but it was still manageable. I was running with the pace runner for finishing just under 4 hours, the problems was that the girl was running a bit faster, I actually couldn’t follow her until the end, but since I finished 3 minutes sooner, I can only imagine that she was a minute or so faster as well, which is not totally ok. Anyway, the really suffering came at around kilometre 30, everything started to hurt, I gained small blisters on my feet at kilometre 35, and every step afterwards was a battle within myself. The only reason I did not stop was because I would then have to run it again one more time. However, toward the end there were a lot of spectators cheering us up, so basically they carried me toward the end. After finishing for a couple of minutes all I could do was lie down and try not to puke, everything hurt, I was thirsty and tired, thank god my dad was there, so he could bring me stuff and help me recover. Strangely after about half an hour I was more or less recovered. I, on purpose came to the competition area with a bike, so I could stretch my legs a bit on the way home to prevent cramps and to recover a little faster.
So in summary, I managed to go from barely running 3 km to running 42 km in about a year. I’m not sure how many km I did toward the end per week, cos fitbit sucks, but I think I did about 40-50km / week in last four months Not that much. Before the race I had a week of carbon loading, with pasta without any sauces and during the race I ate 5 gels, 1 every 5 km starting at km 15.
After arriving home, instead of putting my legs up in the air and resting, some of my friends came over, and we had something that could only be described as a baking party. Out of 8 people, 3 of us ran that day. What is funny about it is that we were the last man or rather women standing that day, struggling with the baking late into the night. All in all it was a very interesting and fulfilling day, the party at the end was also super fun although I don’t think I will repeat it anytime soon.
So what were the results? Well ….
I was so frustrated with the cake tho, that we redid it next weekend and I must say, not running a marathon before really makes a difference.
So we decided to spend a bit more time in nature last summer, do some hiking on the mountains and for final boss, climb the tallest mountain in Slovenia – Triglav (2864 m). Through the summer we did some smaller preparation hikes, e.g. exactly 2 hikes to Stol and Ojstrica, well at least from my side, I think the others did couple more, and then already prepared for Triglav.
The best time to visit Triglav are last week of August and first weeks of September. Last year the weather wasn’t cooperating nicely and it was raining on both the last weekend of August and first weekend of September, so when the weather finally cleared for the second weekend, half of Slovenia wanted to go there. We unsuccessfully tried to get a reservation at all three of the cottages below the Triglav, moreover they warned us not to come, as there were so many people expected to come, there will be no room to sleep anywhere. As we later found out, the cottages were actually so full, quite a few people actually had to sleep outside. I can’t imagine that being very fun, at around 2.3k, with temperatures going close to 0. Anyway we decided to postpone the journey for one day, i.e. departing on Sunday and returning on Monday, which turned out to be a great idea.
So on the early Sunday morning we departed from Ljubljana and arrived to our destination at Fall Savica. We (I) chose the path over the 7 Triglav’s lake, which is among the longer paths to the top, you can take, but as the name suggests, it goes through the picturesque valley of lakes. The hike starts with quite a steep hike over Komerča pass and then straightens out a bit after an hour and half. The weather was cloudy or rather foggy in the morning but after about two hours clear skies and sunshine waited for us.
After a longer break at the first cottage – Cottage at 7 lakes, we continued through the valley. It was a nice day, warm and sunny, the landscape is truly amazing and picturesque. After additional two hours we reached the end of the valley and started to rise above grass line over the Hribarice pass, which is at about 2.3k sea level. On the way we saw some mountain goats (chamois) and some marmots, which are quite common in the valley of the lakes.
At the top of the pass, we could finally see the cottage Planika, where we had reservation for the night in the distance. We were already feeling the legs at that point, and the cottage was still far, far away. I guess we were a bit slower than I anticipated and had a bit longer breaks as it was already getting pretty late, we still had more than 2h of walking ahead of us and it was 6pm already. But there was not much to do, except to suck it up and continue walking. We rearranged our backpack a bit, so me and Jakob, who still had some stamina left carried some other things and backpack, and we continued. When we finally reached the cottage, sun was already down, and we were walking in the dusk.
I was so relieved when we finally reached Planika, I was starting to get worried, that we are going to have to walk in the dark, which is not idea at that height. We checked in our rooms, and I was so glad, we chose to postpone the trip for a day. We got our private room for 6 people, and even though we were only 5, we kept it for ourselves. We spent the evening in the kitchen area, talking with other hikers, eating jota and relaxing a bit. We went to bed quite early as the next day the main hike or rather climb awaited us.
We got up something past 6 next day, in order to watch the sunrise and to eat and prepare for final climb. I must say that the sunrise was truly amazing, haven’t seen such colours since Sweden a year before.
We departed from the cottage at around 8, the climb is quite steep and lasts about 2 hours. We were lucky there werent many people, especially the ones going in the opposite direction as it is a bit dangerous to give way or wait at some of the stages. Speaking of dangers and heights, I remember the previous times I hiked to Triglav to be quite uncomfortable with the heights and climbing parts, luckily this time I felt super comfortable, not sure what changed, maybe because I live in 14th floor now.
And so we finally made it. There were quite a few people on top already, so we had to wait in line to take a photo in front of the iconic Alajž’s tower, and of course as I was the only one who was here before, I took it upon myself to baptize the others, well at least Jakob, he then proceeded to do the rest while I took the photos, haha.
This was my 5th time on Top, I still can’t believe how I managed to climbe on top when I was 6, and I’m not sure how I feel about bringing so young kids on top, but I guess those were different times. The first time we went we did a 3 day hike, from Trenta to cottage Dolič, then next day to the top and down to Krederica (the toughest climb) and down to dolina vrat, and then the last day back over the Luknja pass to Trenta. I don’t remember much from the trip anymore except that my dad had to carry enormous amount of supplies for me, just in case I would fancy a glass of milk or another jacket. I don’t know how he managed it, on this trip I carried about 8l of water with me and uff, it was tough, especially at the beginning, when all the bottles were full.
Anyway after taking quite a few photos on the top and resting for some time we descended toward Dolič. There are 3 main paths considered for the masses, each going from one of the three cottages. The Planika is considered the easiest, Dolič is in the middle, while the Krederica is quite hard, requiring quite a log climbing. After three hours we were at the cottage, where we had another break and ate a freaking melon, which Jakob carried with himself.
It was already after noon, and we had a long walk ahead of us, so we didn’t linger long. At one point we were thinking of making a small detour to Prehodalci cottage, which would prolong our descend for an hour but luckily decided against it. We reached the cottage at 7 lakes at around 5pm, made another rest there and decided to instead of going over Komarča, which is quite dangerous, to take a bit longer path over the Komna, which had an added bonus of another cottage, where we could make a stop. We were quite tired already from all the hiking over the two days so it took us almost 3 hours to reach the cottage, we arrived there just as the sun went down. We ate some warm food at the cottage and then continued down in the dark. Luckily we had the couple of small flashlights with us and the path was soon wide almost rode like so it was possible to do it in the dark. All in all it took us about 90 minutes to reach the dark and on the way Jakob was telling his stories about his travels to China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Russia. It was really fun and unbelievable what he had done, e.g. sleeping on the Great Wall of China, smuggling himself in a truck through China-Mongolian border and so on… frankly, I’m surprised he’s not in some Chinese prison at the moment. But as it is, it had woken this wish of trying to go for a longer backpack trip. As it later turned out, we did it in Portugal.
In summary, we did about 50 km, if Fitbit is to be believed, although I have a feeling it should be a bit less. We walked for over 17 hours of pure walking, although I must say that total time was more than 20 hours and damn, even if I could run the same distance, my legs actually hurt at the end. In total I think I carried about 7l of water with me, some of which I refilled at Cottage at 7 lakes, which has a spring of drinkable water just in front of it. I carried all my food with me, just some nuts, chocolates, cookies and energy bars, it’s quite efficient as its high in calories and low in weight, I tended to avoid food from cottages as it is quite expensive, although I do admit that a hot meal at the end is very nice.
When foreign looks up what to visit in Slovenia there is one destination everyone agrees is a must see, I’m talking about Bled. We saved a nice whole day trip for Friday, where we left Ljubljana, visit Bled, go through Karnsja Gora, over Vršič and back to Nova Gorica.
We rented a rowboat at Bled in order to visit the small island in the middle. Since Jean is the most experienced sailor among us it was only natural that he would be the one rowing for next two hours. 🙂
We soon reached the central island and despite being April it was crowded with tourist. To be fair it was a gorgeous day, warm and sunny, somehow I managed to get sunburned in April.
The island is small with a small church on it, not much to do really. We took some photos, fed a swan and went rowing around the lake again.
After it we climbed up to the castle above the lake to visit museum and for great vistas.
Before we left Bled we went for a Kremšnita, sadly everyone thought it was better than the monstrosity I made in Luleå. After Bled we went to Kranjska Gora to visit Planica. We climbed on top and wow I forgot how high it is. When you’re at the top you can barely see the cars parked at the bottom. I think you can also do zip lining now that’s why there is a cable in the middle.
After Planica we departed toward Nova Gorica over the highest pass in Slovenia – Vršič, where there was still snow around, despite being almost 20 degrees in the valleys below.
When we arrived in Nova Gorica we got a chance to eat my grandma’s minestrone soup and for desert we had pancakes from Kekec. Next day (saturday) was the last day in Slovenia. We went to visit casino in Perla and go see Miramare Castle near Trieste.
We were pretty lucky with the weather in general it was much warmer that is usual for April, well until the last day that is. On Sunday we departed early in order to visit Venice before Jean and Maggie left. The visit was not the best one, it was pouring rain as we were walking around Venice and despite bad weather there were still tons of people around. We didn’t spend a lot of time in the city but rather retired to the coffee shop near the airport where we waited for their flight.
It was very nice hosting Jean and Maggie here in Slovenia and I hope they liked it here as well. Don’t know where our next meeting will take place but by now, it has become almost a tradition to see each other every few years. 🙂
Last year toward the end of April, Maggie and Jean finally visited Slovenia. We met with them in the evening at Venice airport and just after an hour and half we were in Slovenia. We went to one of my favourite restaurants OK Corral near Nova Gorica, and Jean and Maggie had a chance to try some Balkan food like čevapčiči and pleskavica.
Next day we went to visit one of the most well known tourist attraction in Slovenia Postojna’s cave and Predjama castle. If I remember correctly driving in a train through a cave was a first time for them :).
After it we took the local roads back to Ljubljana in order to see some of Slovenian landscape. Next day we had a seaside to visit. The weather wasn’t the best possible as Jean and Maggie got a chance to experience burja, despite a bit of chill Jean decided to go for a swim. Since this was April, and it was only about 15 degrees he was the only person Swimming at that time, needles to say passers-by were looking at him quite interestingly.
Next day Jean and Maggie had a chance to explore the Ljubljana on their-own. In the evening we went to Brazilian restaurant near our apartment. We had a chance to try around 13 courses of meat dishes, it was very good experience, despite not being Slovenian. In the evening we walked through the city center and ended up in Nebotičnik bar with a great view of Ljubljana.
On Thursday we went to Ptuj, to see kurent and to eat some gigantic donuts in Trojane.