Wörthersee – Austria

It’s been few months since I decided it’s time for me to leave “the ship life” and stay on land again. So far, I must say, I’m extremely happy with my decision and I’m enjoying summer as much as I can. Since I came back home I fell in love with SUP-ing (stand up paddling), so I’m still trying to stay as close to the water as possible.

My friend and I decided to visit a neighboring country for few days, Austria. Since I love adventures so much, we decided to go camping by the lake. It’s been a long time since the last time I slept in a tent and I really missed it, so I was super excited about it. We found a camp right next to Wörthersee Lake. Honestly, to me it was somehow new to actually be on vacation, to have all this free time, no schedule, no rush, I forgot how that is.

We used our first day there to explore Klagenfurt a little bit and to set up our camp spot. Towards the evening we went to the beach to relax and swim in the lake. And this night we were told there will be a party in the sky – one of the biggest meteor showers. So we grabbed few beers (and some rum), sat on a beach and watched the sky. Well, the sky show didn’t really reach our expectations, but there were still quite a lot of shooting stars, more than I’ve ever seen in one night. Wish upon a star they say… I had a chance to wish a lot of things that night.

In the morning we didn’t bother with an alarm clock. We woke up when we felt like. After late breakfast, we went for a short hike to a nearby hill. Luckily we had some random map of the area with us, but somehow we still managed to miss some path and made it all the way to the other side of the hill. Our plan was to hike for about two hours, it turned out to be four hours. But it didn’t matter, it was a nice walk through beautiful nature. After we had pasta for lunch, again, we finally put my SUP board in the water and paddled around for a while. We had to prepare for our big day…

So… the third day. Well, this is the highlight of the whole trip – we paddled on my SUP all the way to the other side of the lake and back again. Locals said we’re crazy and we won’t be able to do it. Watch us… Just watch us… Haha! Our plan was to rent another board, but the rent center opened too late, so we just shared one board. That turned out to actually be a better option in the end – yes, we were heavier, our board was much lower in the water, we were slower, but we had an option to switch positions, so each person had a chance to rest. We started our trip 8:15 in the morning. During the day we made quite a few stops along the coast, took time for a drink, for a snack, even for a pre-cooked pasta at lunchtime. Luckily we were very well prepared for a whole day trip. The other side of the lake was much harder to paddle. There were more boats, so the waves got bigger and from all sides and I still have no idea how the hell we managed to stand on board after all that. It was crazy and absolutely hilarious. I wish I could see us from some other perspective, I think I’d die laughing (well, my eyes were full of tears of laughter anyway). 🙂 Anyway, we had a bit longer stop at Velden, the town on the other side of the lake. After we got some energy back and got a cold beer at a nearby store, we were able to start our journey back. This was the hardest part of the whole trip – the waves were still high and now even the wind was our enemy, blowing towards us. Most of our way back I was just laughing. Maybe I was going a bit extra crazy because I was already tired, or maybe it was actually funny. My fight with a bee probably made it even funnier, since I was just saying that if I’ll ever fall in the water, it’s going to be because of these stupid bees flying around my head. It wasn’t even 5 minutes later when I flipped the board over and we fell in the water. When I looked around me my friend was still under water, but hey, he saved the beer can! Priorities… 😀

Despite nobody believing we’ll be able to cross the lake and come back to the starting point in one day, we did it. The whole lake is 18km long, so that made 36km of paddling. I think I paddled around 16km and my friend around 20km. We were tired, but we felt proud that we did it. I mean come on, it’s my first season SUP-ing and my friend actually stood on a SUP for the third time in his life… 😀

We were absolutely exhausted at the end of the day. We made it back to our camping spot around 7 pm, tired, hungry… The next day we had to pack up and we were still too tired to do anything special. We made a short stop in a nice canyon in Slovenia, but only to sit down in a shade for a bit and have a beer. We just needed to get home and get some sleep. Well, this was definitely one of the best adventures this summer. I think I’m getting used to this life on land quite well and I hope it will continue like this. 😀

My 2016 Ship Life

Long time has pass since I last wrote. I guess that should tell you I was a bit too busy enjoying life. =) So what happened this year? My new adventure started in February. I decided to return to ship life and start a new adventure with a different company. I got hired as a cruise ship photographer by American company named Image Group. So yes, I spent few months on the waves again and that’s more or less the reason I didn’t write anything on this blog. When you’re on board it’s just hard to find any free time to write, and when I do have time I spend it to rest, relax and have fun. =)

In February I flew to Miami where I joined the rest of us “new hires” and we all attended a few day training program. We were a fun international group and I could say we got along very well, considering we only met each other. For most of us this was our first time in USA, so we were all excited about small things. We were all impressed by cars in Miami, the avenues, the width of the roads and of course we were unable to resist some typical things we see online and on TV – Walmart… =D I know, for Americans probably silly thing to be excited about – for us, this was fun experience, because we hear so much about it. So yes, we all had to go to Walmart. =D Beside this unusual tourist experience we also went downtown to Miami Beach. Sadly we didn’t have much time to really enjoy it, but we had few hours and that was ok with us. Few drinks, some food, see the famous beach, stare at amazing cars that passed by and we even saw CSI van parked in front of some house! Now that was a proper TV scene. We kept saying: “OMG, look, it’s like in the movies!” =D

Last day of the training they told us what are our assignments and which ship will we be joining. I was one of the first ones to be told I was going to Australia. I was shocked and happy at the same time. I expected some Caribbean or Europe, instead I got the land down under! I checked the itinerary and I was immediately excited. I was joining in Brisbane in Australia, then we had circular navigation around Australian continent together with Tasmania. Then followed some New Zealand and crossing the Pacific Ocean with stops on French Polynesian islands and Hawaii. After that we had two weeks of dry dock in Portland, Oregon and after that 4 months of cruising in Alaska and in the end of my contract another crossing of Pacific back towards Australia. I was really surprised in a positive way, because I don’t think I ever imagined I’d actually visit this kind of places ever in my life.

So… First I was laughing because I packed one sarong with Hawaii text, some snickers with brand name Australian and another pair with brand name Polynesian. It was almost like I was packing and buying stuff that later led me to these locations. I thought it was really funny. But since my religion is “Law of attraction”, maybe that was it… =)

I started my journey in Slovenia, flew to Miami for those few days, then all across the US with airport stop in Los Angeles and continued my journey to Brisbane, Australia. Let me just say that I’ve been dreaming about LA since I was 16 and I always wanted to live there, even though I haven’t been there yet. But for me just changing flights at LAX was like a dream come true. The view of the city from the sky, the streets, lights and the airport itself… My eyes got a bit wet, and trust me, I don’t cry easily. When you dream about something so passionately and you can touch just a little bit of those dreams in real world, it’s absolutely indescribable experience. I went for some food at the airport and for the first time in my life I opened a fortune cookie – it said “Your future is bright”. I still carry this paper with me in my wallet and it gives me extra dose of optimism every time I look at it. =)

All I can say – my journey started absolutely amazing, even though I didn’t have Valentine’s day this year… Ok, this is another interesting story. =) My flight from LA was around 10PM local time on 13th February and because of the international date line in between I landed in Australia on 15th February, so I basically skipped the whole 14th February. Haha! My brother said to me: “Forever alone.” =D Haha!
So, let’s try to summon up these 8 months. In Australia I had a chance to cuddle a koala bear, pet a kangaroo, see some massive bats, some crocodiles, Tasmanian devils, dingo, seen the lightening hit the ground, touched the Sydney Opera house, snorkelled at The Great Barrier Reef and I visited some cool museums. Once I was on the forward outside deck in the middle of the night and I’ve seen dolphins jumping out next to the ship – absolutely amazing!

In New Zealand I’ve seen amazing Milford Sounds fjords, done some nice hiking and visited WETA workshop museum – the place where they make movie props. WETA is most famous for props in movies Lord of the Rings and Hobbit, but also Narnia, District 9 and many more. I took some photos at the shop and in front of the building, but we were not allowed to take photos inside. Let me just tell you I touched the mithril, seen original armors and weapons and I even held an original gun from the movie District 9. For movie buffs and LOTR fans this is close to paradise. =D
From there we actually did go to proper paradise. We had stops in Bora-Bora, Tahiti and Morea – three French Polynesian islands with proper tropical climate, palm trees, white sandy beaches and turquoise sea. I visited those small wooden houses that are built above the water, I’ve seen some amazing jungles and I was snorkeling with reef sharks and sting rays. It was absolutely amazing!

Another paradise stop were Hawaii. We visited Maui, Oahu, The Big Island and Kauai. I’ve been to the famous Waikiki Beach, I’ve seen volcanos and even a real lava flow coming into the ocean, I was swimming with turtles (we randomly encountered them while snorkeling), I’ve eaten at the famous Duke’s restaurant, seen dolphins, seen some waterfalls and I even learned how to surf! I guess I couldn’t pick a better place to learn this sport than the islands where it all started. =) Although I was told later on in the day that they spotted a great white shark just at the area where I was surfing… I guess luck really is on my side. =) Nevertheless, from now on Hawaiian Islands are my favorite place in the world and I think plumeria is now my favorite flower. =)

Following all these paradise islands there was dry dock in Portland, Oregon waiting for our ship. We disembarked all the guests and basically crew had the whole ship for ourselves. Well, obviously we had quite a lot of limitations, because a lot of areas were closed for maintenance. But we did eat at the main self-service dining room called Windjammer and we didn’t have to wear our uniforms (that was the most awesome part for most of us). Now and then certain sections of the ship would be without electricity or water, but hey, that was part of the fun of the dry dock. Photo team was one of the lucky ones that didn’t have much work to do during dry dock. That meant we had a looooot of free time. And that meant – have fun, enjoy, relax, discover, explore… One day we rented a car and went to see the famous Multnomah Falls. I actually had this place as desktop background on my computer for years and for a long time I thought it was some sort of fantasy style illustration and learned years later that this place actually exists. I had no idea that’s so close to Portland, so imagine my excitement when I realized we can drive to that place! This was like a dream come true for me and I think all my friends were really glad I suggested we go there. It was spectacular! =D

Beside exploring the waterfalls we’ve also done some hiking in the park above Portland, we visited the river side, we’ve all done some shopping, visited famous Saturday market, we even went to a strip club (Hey, they say try everything once in your life… Well, except drugs and other illegal stuff – don’t do that.). I even got a lap dance from some sexy male stripper. Never thought I’ll ever experience that, haha! =D Besides all that I even visited a “Filmed by Bike” festival, because my friend’s girlfriend was there representing their video. They even won some award there, so I’m definitely glad I went. And it was absolutely amazing feeling to meet up with another Slovenian. =D And since she knows my brother I even managed to give her some small souvenirs to take them back home and give them to my family when she comes back. =D

So… When the ship was back in the water we sailed towards Vancouver, Canada, got our new round of guests and started our Alaskan season. Four months of Alaska… For many people real fun and amazing experiences, for me it was kind of torture… Yes, I agree Alaskan wilderness and nature looks beautiful, but the climate is just not what I crave for and I’m used to seeing mountains every day, because I live under the Alps. I guess few cruises would be nice, but few months were too much for me. First few weeks we also had nice warm sunny weather and later on we had a lot of rainy and cloudy cruises. But I did see some whales, I’ve seen how the glacier ice is caving and falling into the water, I’ve seen some nice lakes, mountains and forests. Our last cruises we were even lucky enough to see northern lights. But even with all that beauty of nature, my head was set on tropical places and palm trees. =)
Luckily I was on board for another crossing, so I got Hawaii and French Polynesia one more time before flying back home. I must say that when I was on board we were quite lucky with the Ocean Gods and we didn’t have any really bad weather. We had a big storm a day before my departure home, but it didn’t feel that bad. It did look rather spectacular, because we were in the middle of Pacific, black night all around us, strong wind and then the whole sky would turn white when the lightening started. Amazing and a bit scary feeling, but I’m happy I’ve seen something as impressive as this.

I was flying home from Wellington in New Zealand, to Melbourne, to Dubai, to Frankfurt and in the end to Ljubljana. I had 28 hours in the air, 38 travel hours all together. This was for sure the longest journey I had so far. =)
When I look back I can only say these eight months were absolutely spectacular and I’m so glad I’ve done it all. On board I met some amazing people, got great friends, had the best parties, explored so much, seen places I never thought I’ll ever see, had experiences I never believed I can possible have and I came home believing anything is possible even more than before. It’s hard to explain to people how “ship life” works and how it changes a person. For sure it’s not for everybody. I mean, I’ve seen people quitting after few weeks, crying after few hours, being home sick and just had enough of being around people. But to me, this is the best adventure of my life so far. I truly feel blessed and often still can’t believe all this is happening to me, because it feels like a movie. But it is true, it’s my reality. =D
Thank you all that shared time with me in these few months, all of you that I consider my ship friends and everybody that was crazy enough to do some of these adventures with me. =D I’m also attaching a video of my adventures… =)

Video: Radiance of the Seas 2016

So now I’m already on the way towards new adventure… I’ll let you know about this one when I return. =) For now I just wish you all great start of New Year and keep dreaming – dreams do come true! =D

Autumn on Rašica

Fallen leaves, fallen leaves, fallen leaves on the ground… Every single year when the leaves fall down from the trees I can’t get the “Fallen leaves” song by Billy Talent out of my head. Well this was few days ago, when the weather was still quite nice here in Slovenia and most of the trees still had the leaves on. It was really nice and warm autumn day, so we decided to have a little hike.
We went on top of the Rašica, hill a bit north from Ljubljana. There is a tall iron tower on top, so I went up and took some photos from up there. Sadly it was quite foggy below, so the view wasn’t as nice as it could be. I guess I’ll have to return to the Rašica tower some other day when the visibility will be better.

Rainy foggy day close to Idrija

Actually this trip happened about a month ago, but these days I’m posting photos with a delay. Better late than never they say. =)

So it was a rainy and foggy day, but we decided to take a trip to Idrija anyway. In this blog post I decided to only publish photos that I took at Divje jezero and Brusove klavže – two places very close to Idrija, just a bit off the main road. I’ve never been here before, so this was very interesting. And I usually don’t really go outside and take photos when it is raining, but this time I just had to use this opportunity and the whole foggy ambient. The mist above water was giving this feeling of some hidden secrets, so it was perfect for a bit more mysterious photos.

First we stopped at Divje jezero. It’s a small lake, but it is actually connected to the nearby river Idrijca. Because of that I am not sure if that actually counts as a lake, but that is what it is called. It is surrounded by high rocky walls. When we were standing there we could even hear the rocks crumbling and falling deep down into the water. It is kind of crazy now that I think about it, because you can’t be sure where the rocks will fall down, so I guess it is a bit risky. Living on the edge! =D Anyway, this place is pretty amazing, probably even more when you see it with all the mist.

Then we took a rocky road a bit further into the forest and drove to the old river barrier. It is actually called Brusove klavže and the closest comparison would be with a regular river dam. I think it is a typical thing in this area, it has a historic meaning and too bad we can’t see how they actually worked. I assume it must have been a risky job. Working high above water, opening and closing the ramps that regulated how much water can flow through to the other side. The whole point of this monumental structure was to allow tree logs to travel further down the river, where they were used for the big mercury mine. This building is also known as Slovenian pyramids, because of the scale and the whole monumental feeling. And when you stand there, trust me, it is amazing, great and suddenly you feel so small…

Anyway, here are some photos to give you an idea of what I’m talking (writing) about, but if you get a chance I really recommend you to visit this place.

Soteska Predaselj

Gorge Predaselj, or in Slovene soteska Predaselj, is a beautiful place that is very easy to get to, but on the other hand most people probably never find it. It is not that it is hard to find it, it just isn’t very well known and there are not many signposts that would help you. The worst thing is probably that I live quite close and I’ve been in Kamniška Bistrica probably at least once per year, but I always passed this place until now. Well, I think I’ve been in this gorge before, but it must have been about 15 years ago or so.
It was about time to visit this place and so we went for a walk along river Kamniška Bistrica, from the bridge above the gorge, to the bridge that is next to a restaurant (or a bar, I’m not sure what they offer) and back again. It was a great trip for hot Saturday afternoon, because the air there is much more fresh.
So if you have a chance go and check the gorge Predaselj yourself, I am sure you would like it. =)