FIRST COUNTRY OF THE BALKANS: HIKING IN SLOVENIA
HIKING IN SLOVENIA - 1 month hiking in this amazing country
Obviously the 18 border crossings will all remain etched in our memory forever. Each one was different, each one was loaded with singular emotions. We crossed some borders regretting already not to spend more time in the country that we were leaving, we crossed some others excited to discover the next country. We left Spain full of the comfort that being back home can provide and then we left France knowing that we were inevitably embarking on what would undoubtedly be the hardest test of the trip.
You may remember that our last days in Italy and our ascent to the Sella Prevala were epic. The Alps did not let themselves crossed without a grande finale. But that was it. We were on this windy and snowy frontier pass and in our head was jostling everything we could only imagine from the future developments. New language, other culture, different landscapes, unknown cuisine... After more than 8 months crossing Europe on foot, we were at the door of the Balkans, we entered the former Yugoslavia, we arrived in Slovenia!
One and the other, it was probably the first time we visited such a small country. To give you an idea, there are as many inhabitants in Slovenia as in Paris intra muros, on an area smaller than New Jersey. When we know that 60% of the territory is covered by forest, we understand that the living space is limited. This probably explains why we have met several times people who knew other people we met elsewhere in the country. It is, for us Parisians, something highly improbable.
This small territory is nonetheless a varied playground for nature lovers like us: steep mountains, crystal clear rivers, picturesque lakes and enchanted forests...
To welcome us, the Soča river had pulled out all the stops. The storm that we had experienced in Italy had also hit northwestern Slovenia and all the water courts had rarely been so full, in Slovenian memory. The mythical Soča had kept its turquoise color and the many waterfalls around us left us speechless and soaked from head to toe.
We did not know, but Slovenia is full of underground caves and lakes, especially the Inner Carniola region in the west of the country. The humidity that did not leave us of the month gave this region a special charm.
In particular, we were lucky enough to visit Krizna Cave. An underground wonder, incredibly preserved. We loved the fact that the cave is kept as naturally as possible. The number of visits is limited and the layout is simple and raw to respect the fragile balance of this place.
Our steps took us to the shores of two unusual lakes. The inevitable and photogenic Lake Bled did not fail to look like a postcard. The one in Cerknica is known to be the largest intermittent lake in Europe. Do not feel silly, we did not know more than you were the first we heard about an intermittent lake. From a few pools in summer, it reaches an area of 38 km2 in winter, the water circulates through holes in the soil and subsoil.
Slovenian forests are known to host a large bear population. Yes, on a territory 31 times smaller than France live 20 times more bears. And everyting is going well... We have not seen, but our journey in the Balkans is far from over!
A capital yes, but pedestrian
You are getting to know us, visiting big cities, it's not really our cup of tea. However, on the approach of Ljubljana, we let ourselves be tempted. Or rather, we wanted to make sure that Paul, our thirteenth guest, found the way to the airport and we made that last step with him. We did not really regret this detour because Ljubljana is a very nice city, in the pedestrian center and very cute.
The lesson of determination
Paul and Marie have been friends since there are teenagers. When he told us that he wanted to join us and that he dreamed of discovering Slovenia, the three of us got very excited. Paul had not made so many trips and even fewer treks in the past 10 years, after he had a serious car accident. We did not know exactly how Paul's stay would be, what we could or could not do or how fast we would go. We had planned a modest program that we had to revise upward so Paul was determined to go every day a little further, to walk a little faster. His thirst for discovery and his desire to excel transcended himself and impressed us. A waterfall? He would bath in it! A lake? He would row through it! A mountain? He would climb it in one go!
Other encounters marked our crossing of Slovenia. After crossing the border, we arrived in the village of Bovec where we quickly became friends with Anja who has largely contributed to us discover the surroundings of Soča.
We quickly realized that in Slovenia, everybody speaks English! At first, we were a little worried about how we would deal with the Slavic languages but we realized we had just been granted with a reprieve. The mastery of English by Slovenian people, at all ages and all socio-professional categories that we have met, is enough to make blush the French education system.
A few kilometers before reaching the Croatian border, we had an ultimate meeting. On a rainy day, we were looking for a cheap room to dry our stuff and work. We found it on the internet but as soon as we arrived we realized we had found a lot more. A youth hostel out of the ordinary, a cultural association, a place of living, an artist, a friend... We do not tell you more, Beno takes care of it:
We finally spent a lot more time in Slovenia than we expected, because we felt so good and we felt there was a lot to discover here. We found open and welcoming people, an overwhelming nature and extraordinarily clean trails! 1KG FOR THE PLANET did not have too much work during our month in Slovenia, here the cleanliness and the respect for the nature seem to be the affair of all and we are delighted!
In Slovenia, we will return, that's for sure! If only to see our friends and see the Triglav a little closer.
Talk to you soon!
Marie & Nil