Exploring the beautiful Soča Valley

A few months ago I somehow came across a short blog post about a hiking trail along the Soča river in Slovenia. It’s my home country, so I was surprised I never heard about the Soča Trail (Soška pot), which is actually part of a longer trailed called Alpe-Adria trail, that starts in The Alps in Austria and finishes at the Adriatic Sea. So I made a bit of a research and realized the Soča Trail is about 20km long (actually it’s more about 30km long) and goes along the river all the time, from the spring of the river to Bovec.

My mind was set on this trail the moment I heard about it and I decided this summer I’ll walk this path. So, to finish this summer the way I wanted, two of my friends and me decided to do it, to hike this path. Saturday, early morning, we started to drive towards Bovec, where we left our car. We took a bus from Bovec to the starting point. Around 10:20 am we were at the spring of Soča river and started to walk the trail – a bit later than we thought we will, but oh well, at least we started.

Obviously, at that time we were all still all full of energy, optimistic, positive and determined we will finish the trail. It’s a shame, but none of us were familiar with this area, we drove through it or been to parts of it before, but never really took time to explore this beautiful part of our country. The path mostly goes through the forest, sometimes through more open fields, but it’s easy to walk and absolutely lovely. There are few short hikes uphill now and then, but nothing dramatic, everybody can do it. Along the way, all the sweat is rewarded with stunning views of the mountains, Julian Alps, and views on the clear emerald water of the river. I’ve seen a lot of places around the world, but I must say, this was one of the best views ever.

We were making short stops about every hour, none of us is particularly fit, so we needed a break now and then. Around 3:30 pm we decided to stop for a bit longer, especially because Maja’s shoes were not as comfortable as she expected, so her feet hurt like hell. Nina had some troubles with her shoes too. I guess I was the lucky one, with comfortable shoes and still loads of energy left. So we just sat down on some rocks by the river, ate some snacks and enjoyed the view. The two of them decided this was the end of the trail for them and they would catch a bus back to the town. However, I was still full of energy and excited about the whole trail, so I decided to continue the path on my own.

Honestly, I loved this part of the trail the most. I love my friends and it was so much fun to walk, talk and laugh together – I’m a very extroverted person – but as soon as I started walking on my own a whole new experience opened up for me. Peace, quiet, nature, it was all so relaxing, gave me time to clear my mind and just be. It’s probably a bit weird, but instead of getting tired I just got even more energized. From time to time I was even running few hundred meters, and I usually never run! Definitely a whole new experience for me. I kept going for about four more hours, but then the sun was going down a bit too fast for me and I had to give up. My soul was saying to keep going, but common sense said it’s probably a good idea to stop where I am and call my friends to come pick me up. I believe I still had about 7km to walk to reach Bovec. I still walked about 23km, so I’m proud of myself, it was an absolutely amazing experience. But now I’m determined that I’ll walk this path again and next time, I’ll be prepared and start earlier. 🙂

Surprisingly, after a whole day of walking, I was all bubbly and full of energy even in the evening and I didn’t feel like going to sleep yet. In the morning I was up at 7 am and couldn’t wait for more adventures. 😀 I’m definitely one of those people that get all powered up by adventures… 😀

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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. 😀

Sailing – Day 4 – From Levrnaka to Biograd

Last day of our sailing trip. Great day, but sad at the same time, because we knew all that crazy world was waiting for us out there and this relaxed life on sailboat will go away… So we had to make this day count. We started it with a hike up the hill at Levrnaka. Our plan was to watch the sunrise from the top, but sadly there were clouds on the east side. But hey, it was still nice and the views were amazing.
There is a cross on top of the hill, but it seems you can find a cross on more or less every hill. But I am not sure if the same goes for stacking stones. On top of the hill there is a lot of stacked stones, some already look like a large pile, some are just few stones on top of another. Supposedly these bring luck. You grab a stone, you make a wish and you put it on one of the piles. I was joking what happens if you take few stones away from the pile, does that mean some people will not have their wish granted? I wasn’t so evil, so I didn’t do that… =D
When we climbed down we had some fun at the beach. We were like little kids, throwing stones in the water… But it was time for departure so we put our sails up and went into direction of Dugi Otok. We passed Sestrice, an island with amazing lighthouse, and if you ask me, that is the best thing at Kornati. Ok, yes, cliffs are amazing too, but this one is so iconic. At the narrow crossing between Kornati and Dugi Otok we passed ruins of Roman villa. When I see stuff like that my imagination starts working and I immediately though about the life 2000 years back. Sometimes I really wish I could live in that era.
Our next stop was small town Sali, that is actually the largest town at Dugi Otok. Guys cooked the fish they caught, so they had them for breakfast. I imagine it must have felt really cool to eat that well earned food, but I skipped that. I had enough vegan food with me. =)
On our way to Sali we passed a regatta and it seemed winds were great. And they sure were. On our way to marina in Biograd we were so lucky. The wind was just perfect and we were leaned to one side so we were able to touch the water with our feet! Really cool, but not so much for me – I was cooking inside! Well that was fun! And on top of all, our charter boat decided to clog the kitchen sink so it was full of water and it almost spilled. Luckily we were able to “take” some water out right on time.
Anyway, that was more or less the end of our trip. I needed it, I wanted it, I got it! I just hope we will be able to repeat it next year! =D

Blog post about our Day 1.
Blog post about our Day 2.
Blog post about our Day 3.

Sailing – Day 3 – From Žirje to Levrnaka

Another early morning and start of our day at sunrise. It is funny how nobody feels like sleeping late while on a sailboat. Your body just wants you to get up early and you don’t mind. It feels like if you don’t get up early you will miss something important (like sunrise for example). Right before we lifted our anchor guys decided they want to try to catch a fish or two, and who would guess, they actually did! So it was another great start of the day (at least for us, not for the fish). =)
This day was all about Kornati, the famous Croatian islands… to be honest, they are not so amazing. I mean, they are quite special and interesting, but I’ve sailed between these islands a few times before and you get a bit tired of them. They all look almost the same, with almost no trees, just rocks, grass and bushes. The only really amazing thing about them are the cliffs – these really are a true art of nature. Kornati probably look better from the sky, so perhaps I should take a trip with a plane someday.
We all really wanted to see the dolphins and this was obviously our lucky day, though we did see only one dolphin and even this one was quite far from our boat. But hey, we did see it, so it counts!
It is also quite special experience to have a lunch while passing the beautiful cliffs of Kornati islands. Ah, Croatia does have some unique charms. Well the fun part of the day was “rope dragging”. We threw a rope in the water and boys held on to it. At first they just had a little bit fun, but when we accelerated and our sailboat gained some speed they were all laughing so hard and yelling they can’t hold on any more and how they were about to lose their swim shorts… That is when the fun part really started. =D
We finished our amazing day at Levrnaka. We tied our rope to the pier of the tavern (that is also named Levrnaka). Before we finished our day we all went to the bay on the other side of the hill, that is supposed to be one of the most beautiful bays in Croatia (or maybe Adriatic Sea). And it truly is beautiful (photos of it in Day 4). So we went for a swim, had fun with sand in the water and enjoyed the rest of the day. One of the best days, really… =D

Blog post about our Day 1.
Blog post about our Day 2.
Blog post about our Day 4.

Sailing – Day 2 – From Drvenik to Žirje

Our second day of sailing started at Drvenik. We woke up in time of sunrise. We were still a bit sleepy, but the whole energy of nature and sailing woke us up very fast. Sun rays were peeking from behind the clouds and the whole scene looked even more magical. We agreed that the day started amazing.
While we were sailing we saw some tuna fish jumping out of the water again, but this time they were a bit further away. We passed some cute lighthouses, small church in the middle of nowhere and remains of ex Yugoslavian army bunkers. On these islands there is always so much to see. This day was warm an sunny, even though it was already October. Weather was like in the start or in the end of summer and we were all so happy to be able to enjoy the sailing only in our swimsuits. Winds were not so kind with us, but we did manage to sail a little bit. And of course most of the guys on a boat wanted to experience how it is when you are on top of the mast, they just had to try it. So this day we pulled two of them up and they took some photos and made some videos with GoPro camera (I still didn’t manage to go through those photos and maybe edit a video).
We stopped in a town named Žirje (that is as usually on an island with the same name), because we needed few things from the shop – and the shop there is in a place that is probably an ex garage. From there we sailed to a bay around the corner and we anchored there. Some guys went to the shore and to a local tavern, some of us stayed on board and did some chores, cooked dinner and so on. It was a little bit drunk night for some of the guys, but I think that will be the night most of them will remember as the funniest… =)

Blog post about our Day 1.
Blog post about our Day 3.
Blog post about our Day 4.