Showing posts with label Sports. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sports. Show all posts

Wednesday 19 March 2014

On the slopes of Civetta ski resort


Monday 25 March 2013

Charming mountain huts on ski slopes

I can hardly imagine snowy white slopes without those charming mountain huts scattered around. I am not the kind to go "skiing" and then spend the whole day sunbathing in a deck chair - quite the opposite actually. I am whooshing around on skis all day usually taking up to three short stops per day to catch my breath and get a snack and something to drink. Nonetheless I would miss those few breaks if did not take them - even more so on cold, windy days.

A mountain hut is simply called rifugio in Italian, but these are often a mix between a ristorante and a rifugio. This does usually not effect their genuine look. Mostly they are made of wood - roof tiles and gutters included, and fit into the surroundings perfectly. In some cases you can actually ski directly up to a bar and order something to warm you up.
In some you can find many local delicacies usually home-made by the staff.

The always cozy atmosphere inside those mountain huts and breathtaking views of the Dolomites can make you quickly forget the cold and simply enjoy every moment of the experience.

On these photos there are of just some of many rifugios scattered around the Civetta ski resort. I did not make it to visit all of them in my all too short week there. Have to save some for another time I guess.


Wednesday 20 March 2013

The end of ski season...

...or is it really?

It has been some time now since we have returned from our skiing week in the Italian Dolomites and I expected for all this snow to give way to spring by now. Winter however has something different in mind since we had some heavy snowfall the other day here in Slovenia. This also means the start of mountaineering higher in the Alps will probably be delayed a bit this year - I guess it might take a while for all this snow to melt.

I believe there is a similar situation in the Dolomites. Even when we were there a month ago, there was lots of snow and now there is well over 2 meters of it at higher altitudes. More then enough for the skiing season to last for a while I guess.

Like every year until now we had a great time in Civetta skiing resort. If you are interested in my previous skiing trips to the region you should look for the Dolomites label.

Weather was great and there was even some fresh snow for us to enjoy. It fell during the night which was pretty convenient. You can hardly beat a right amount of fresh powder in the morning.

I included a few photos taken this year and I think they nicely represent the beauty of the area. There is Mount Pelmo visible on all of them - just like on the one I published last Wednesday (you can check it out here). I hope you like them all.

If you feel a need for skiing after reading this post, you might still get to enjoy some great skiing conditions this season if you hurry up. Enjoy it where ever you might go!


Wednesday 13 March 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Magnificent Monte Pelmo


Friday 22 February 2013

Cross-country skiing class

Winter has been quite generous with snow so far in Slovenia and it looks like we are getting some more this week. Snow usually brings along some trouble but it also enables us snow sports enthusiasts to have lots of fun.

I have been lucky enough to spend quite a few really nice and fun days on skis so far this season and I do not intend to stop just yet.
Apart from alpine skiing I also like to go cross-country skiing from time to time. Last weekend I had a great opportunity to improve my skills at a training course. It was led by a friend of mine, so I knew pretty well what to expect.

We chose a great location - Vojsko cross-country skiing center. It is located near the town of Idrija in Slovenia (you can check out its location here). I posted about this great activity before - you can check out what I wrote about a great day I spent cross-country skiing on this same location roughly 3 years ago (you should probably click on the link if you like this post).

We were a group of eight and considering there were some first-timers amongst us, we all did great. We started with some warm-up exercises and continued with an introduction to skate skiing. After more than three hours of improving ours skills and doing quite a few kilometers of skating through a section of available tracks, we enjoyed a brief break.

Weather was quite nice. Apart from a foggy morning we had a nice and sunny day. Snow was still on trees, providing an idyllic setting for spending a day in the nature.

The afternoon was reserved for a cross-country trek. We changed from skate to classic style skis and ventured off the track into the forest. Wading through nearly meter and a half of snow wearing only boots would be almost impossible, but with skis on, it was quite easy.
It took us around two hours to do a ten kilometer track. Views and natural beauty were just breathtaking. Almost every one of us preferred this part to our morning skating exercises. There were however a few who had trouble with deep snow - I guess being overweight does not actually help with this activity.

Since we really enjoyed this day, we will try to repeat it as soon as possible. I also intend to go on a bit more serious cross country trek as soon as possible.

If you ever find yourself in Slovenia and would like to try a winter activity like this, do not hesitate. If you need an advice or help in organizing such an event feel free to contact me through email or simply leave a comment on this post. I will gladly help you out.


Monday 17 December 2012

Soča river valley video presentation

Another video promoting (in my opinion) the most beautiful part of Slovenia has recently been released. It focuses on Soča river valley. The Emerald river really is something special and definitely deserves your attention.

Enjoy the video and feel free to ask any questions about the area that might pop up. I will gladly help you out with some local advice.

I have posted about different sports activities in these parts before - it is a perfect place for trying out various adrenaline packed activities. You can check out a post about kayaking and there is also another one about my ziplining adventure in the area.


Monday 29 October 2012

17th Ljubljana marathon in snow

Yesterday was the day of the 17th Ljubljana marathon. The last Sunday in October has been reserved for this event in the Slovenian capital for quite some time.

Yesterday's weather conditions however, were not something one would wish for. After a night of torrential downpour temperatures dropped to zero Celsius and rain turned to snow all over Slovenia. We woke up into the first white morning this season! Luckily I had anticipated this and changed to winter tires just a couple of days ago.

As I expected, all this did not turn M. away from participating - hardly anything is an obstacle for her when it comes to running.

After a usual morning routine we made our way to Ljubljana. On our way we drove through some areas with quite a lot of snow - at one point there was even a fallen tree partly blocking the road.

Once we reached Ljubljana things looked a little better but still far from perfect. After I dropped M. off for a warmup I met up with a couple of friends. Together we went to the start line and cheered to the crowd of eager runners. On our way there were running-late runners whooshing by us all the time. Obviously not everyone was expecting winter road conditions.

With live music and snow falling down on the excited crowd, the air was buzzing with energy. Group performing on the stage set over the start line was a great choice - the percussion extravaganza group The Stroj made even my heart jump!
There were also many other bands playing at multiple points around the track, helping runners' spirits to stay high throughout the whole experience.

We chose to retreat to a nice bar nearby for a quick drink. After our quick warming up session we proceeded to the finish line.

Some participants obviously did not take the event too seriously - many were dressed up in funny costumes. My personal favorite were a group of Paleolithic runners - with beards, wooden clubs and some even in flip-flops!
We watched the Ethiopian runner Shiferaw Berhanu win the 42 kilometer event (and a check for €15.000,00) in the time of 2:09,40. An excellent time in given conditions.

Because of a lack of practice in the last two months, M. was not so very sure what her expectations and target time should be. In the end everything worked out more then fine and she easily finished her second half-marathon with a personal best of 2 hours 4 minutes and 57 seconds. Congratulations!

Despite far from perfect conditions, 16.441 runners competed in various events in the two days of the event. Although this year's record number of registrations (25.686 runners from 41 countries) seemed enough to break last year's record in participation, they came roughly 2.000 participants short.
I think with the weather we have had, this was a formidable achievement as well. Big thumbs up to all the runners who took up this challenge!


Friday 7 September 2012

Kayaking on Soča river

Since I tried kayaking for the first time (I posted about it here) I could not get it out of my head. I decided to take the first chance and try some white water kayaking.

I have tasted just enough of it to know I should approach this challenge with caution. As you can probably imagine kayaking over some serious rapids is a completely different thing compared to doing some simple paddling on still water.

Fortunately some of my friends take this sport pretty seriously and are already quite experienced in it. As luck would have it they had already planned a weekend adventure on Soča river and have invited me to join them. I did not hesitate for a bit and was more then happy to seize the opportunity.

I wrote about the beauty of Soča river valley before - you can check out this post about zip-lining in the area.

This time we stayed in a nice camping site in the village of Čezsoča just next to Bovec (Prijon Camping). It is a small camping site frequented by kayakers. It is possible to buy and rent kayaking equipment on site and they also offer guided tours and even personal lessons.

The Soča river flows by just next to the camping site which makes it a great spot for starting a kayaking adventure. However it is worth checking the water levels before choosing this spot. Keep in mind that at some times the river can be too shallow in some areas.
This part of the river might not prove to be all that interesting for seasoned kayakers but for me it was perfect. A little bit of warming up was just the thing I needed but I guess it would be virtually impossible to be bored with such scenery around. At times it felt like I could just sit in the boat and admire surreal colors of the river and mountain peaks rising high above.

Of course I could only enjoy the scenery for a while. Soon enough I had to try some advanced maneuvers.
As every beginner I at first had problems with keeping the kayak in the exact direction I wanted. After some time I got a pretty good feel of the boat trying to turn away from the intended heading. This meant I could make little corrections and keep good direction.

Of course there were other challenges as well. Using counter-currents generated behind every larger rock proved to be quite a challenge. This maneuver can be quite useful for gaining valuable time to access the situation further downstream and to catch a breath if you need it.

I guess I was entering those counter-currents quite OK, but getting out of them was a totally different thing. I kept doing something wrong and my kayak kept capsizing almost every time I was entering a stronger current.
Since I did not master an Eskimo roll yet (I explained this maneuver in a post about my first kayaking experience), this took quite some time. My kayak obviously got filled with water every time and I had to push it ashore and get all the water out.

It took us quite a few hours to complete our run. Soča river is divided into a few sections and level of difficulty is increasing further downstream you go. Knowing your capabilities and the river is vital for doing this. Since some people are obviously very brave (and stupid) there are a few casualties every year.
We chose our stretch according to our capabilities and fully enjoyed throughout the whole experience. I guess my "chaperones" did not have so much fun as I did, but they definitely seemed happy just to be there and take in the beauty of the whole area.

We decided that doing two runs a day should be just the thing we needed. We were right and had also some energy left for late night partying.
It was a great weekend in gorgeous surroundings and I would be more than happy to do it again some time. Special thanks goes to three great guys - Tine, Tine and Dejan who invited me to join them and even let me use some of their equipment.

I obviously did not take my camera along for the ride and could only snatch a few photos from the shore at the end of one of our runs. Anyway I hope you get the idea of the beauty of this area and get to see it in person someday.


Wednesday 5 September 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Kayak lineup


Monday 27 August 2012

Introduction to Kayaking

A few weeks ago a friend of mine invited me to join him on a Kayaking introduction course. He was one of the organizers of this event taking place at a regional park near the Slovenian town of Idrija.

The place is called Idrijska Bela and it has been a popular local summer getaway destination for ages. A narrow road from the town of Idrija follows the Idrijca river upstream to the point where a stream called Belca joins it.

On your way to this public natural swimming spot where you also pass by the interesting Divje jezero. This "Wild lake" (as it translates into English) is remarkably deep. Actually the depths of this lake still remain undiscovered.
The lake is also the source of the shortest river in Slovenia (only 55 meters or 180 ft long).

The Kayaking event was a part of series of sports events taking place in this beautiful setting almost every summer weekend. As such it was also free of charge.
When we heard about this M. and I were both very excited about it as it was going to be our first kayaking experience.

We expected to see a serious crowd trying to seize this opportunity but it was not so bad. Actually there were quite a few spaces left for random passers-by. This kayaking preschool as organizers called it, was divided into a few rounds - each taking one hour.

The part of Idrijca river where the event took place is dammed, so the water was pretty calm. This meant instructors could come up with different games to make things interesting. At the same time each of those games included various exercises aimed to help us develop a better feel for our kayaks.

We both did quite well but at the same time we also began to understand how much effort we would have to invest before being able to tackle some serious rapids. Some things were quite hard to do even on still water. We could only imagine how it would feel on some white water rapids.

At the end of our course we also got to try an Eskimo roll. This is the act of righting a capsized kayak by use of body motion and/or a paddle.
It does not just look hard - it actually is. I guess I do not have to point out no one of us succeeded without at least a little bit of help from our trusty instructor.

Fortunately the Eskimo roll is not the only way of freeing yourself from a capsized kayak. You can also simply swim out of it and drag your kayak to the shore. By doing this it gets filled with water. Emptying it usually requires quite a bit of effort.

Some of us had the privilege of trying it a couple of times.

All in all it was another great day spent in the beautiful nature. We were really glad we took part in the event and got a taste of kayaking. We actually liked it so much, we are thinking of trying it in a little bit more serious environment.
Luckily in Slovenia one can find some of the best rivers for this sport. The only problem is, I would never dare to attempt it without some professional guidance...


Wednesday 22 August 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Butterfly goes Ziplining


Friday 17 August 2012

Zipline Slovenia - A shot of adrenaline

Soča river valley in Slovenia is one of top European destinations for adrenaline addicts, water-sports enthusiasts and nature lovers.

The place literally looks like out of a fairytale and obviously I am not the only one who noticed it. A part of the movie The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian was filmed in the town of Bovec. They filmed the climax of the battle at Beruna's Bridge there.

This place has been a popular destination for water sports like rafting and kayaking for decades. There are also other activities worth looking at when visiting the area. Canyoning and paragliding are definitely two of them and recently also zip-line has joined this already very interesting array of choices.

I have already tried some of those things before and really liked them. This time I decided to try this new thing simply called - Zipline Slovenia.

Zip-lining (also known as a flying fox, aerial ropeslide or Tyrolean slide) consists of a pulley suspended on a cable spanning between two high points. Simply put - gravity helps you travel from the top to the bottom of the inclined cable by attaching to (and hanging from) the freely moving pulley.

This particular zip-line adventure starts with a scenic drive up the mountainside in an ex-military 4x4 car (TAM-110). Even views from the back of the car are spectacular and as such just the right introduction for the things to come.
First you get all the necessary equipment and after a quick training course the real thing begins...

The 2.4 kilometers long zip-line is divided in four sections - approximately 500 meters each. After every slide there is a short - few minute walk to the start of the next line. The path is quite steep in some parts so do not forget to bring comfortable trekking shoes.
The estimated top speed of the fastest line is over 60km/h and the cables are set 130-200 meters above the ground, each providing stunning views of the Soča river valley.

Personally I liked the one going through tree canopies best. Tree branches flying past gave an impression of even greater speed.
Throughout the whole experience the two instructors kept a close eye on individual participants giving us tips and precise instructions regarding safety and appropriate aerodynamic positions on each of the rides.

Everything from arranging this 3 hour adventure to the actual rides on the lines was done very professionally and I can only recommend it. Despite the natural environment this "adventure park" is set in, the whole thing felt surprisingly safe and controlled all the way through.

If you are having second thoughts about doing this because of a mild fear of heights - trust me, you do not need to worry about a thing. I actually think you will enjoy this zip-line the most if you are not completely comfortable with heights and exercises involving yourself hanging from a wire while flying super fast from one hill to another.
A scream echoing from the mountains now and then will only add to the whole experience.

Since this is the longest and the most spectacular zip-line in this part of Europe, it can get pretty crowded. Booking ahead of time is highly recommended. Visit Zipline Slovenia on their webpage for additional information.
If you find yourself strolling through the center of Bovec, you can also visit Aktivni Planet tourist agency. They will provide all the information you may need. They speak perfect English.


Tuesday 3 April 2012

Connecting Slovenian Salt-pans

Jogging has been gaining on popularity in the recent years. As a consequence there are more and more running events held every year all over the globe. Slovenia is no exception. I have been writing about one such event before - it is called Night's 10 and it is held annually in Bled, Slovenia.

Since Winter is not a very friendly season for sports like jogging in Slovenia everybody is in anticipation of Spring. This year temperatures have been quite high for a while now and quite a few running events were already held. These events can be a great motivation to get moving again and forget all about the cold winter.

We participated in one such event a few weeks ago. Connecting the salt-pans event (Povežimo soline) was held on the Slovenian coast on a beautiful, warm and sunny Sunday in March. It was amongst the first such events in 2012 in Slovenia and also a great beginning of running season for many participants.
As the name suggests the idea of the event is to connect two salt-pans on the Slovenian Adriatic coast by running from Sečovlje salt pans to Strunjan salt pans. The finish line was 9.5 kilometers away from the starting point. The route was mostly set on level terrain and even went through a tunnel.

This time I was not participating. I only offered my driving services to the other part of the team. Even though I had to wait for our running enthusiasts for almost 2 hours I was not bored for a moment. Beautiful surroundings offered great photo opportunities I was more then glad to seize. Even the church tower of the charming city of Piran was visible in the distance. Amongst other interesting sights there was also a group representing salt pan workers. They prepared a bag of freshly harvested local salt for every participant.

The atmosphere was very relaxed and everyone seemed to be having a great time.

If you are looking for an excuse to visit Slovenia, you can easily participate in one of many running events held throughout the country. Here is a list of this year's upcoming running events in Slovenia. The site is in Slovenian, but since it is basically a list of names, places and dates I think you will be able to get all the info you need.

The only thing you should keep in mind is the usual requirement to register in a particular event months before it actually takes place.


Wednesday 29 February 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Monte Pelmo in White


Tuesday 21 February 2012

Skiing vacation in Italy

I am back from Italy again! A week in the Italian Dolomites shot by way too fast again (like every time before). This year we had a little bit of sunshine, a bit of snowfall and lots of cold - freezing cold actually.

All week long we were listening to almost apocalyptic news on Italian TV programs. It was all about the Costa Concordia disaster and weather problems throughout the country. Titles like "Italia blocata" were all too common. Actually we got quite lucky with the weather. Dolomites were a part of Italy with surprisingly the nicest weather for all week long.

Also those reports were usually quite exaggerated. By my standards anyway... Italians seem to do this a lot. For instance there was about 2 centimeters (1 inch) of snow in Rome and reports of total chaos were aired on the evening news.
I agree any snowfall is quite unusual in those parts and it can lead to substantial traffic problems, but a couple centimeters of snow during the night is no end of the world in my book. Me being from a place where snow is quite an usual sight every winter also didn't help me understand the "catastrophic proportions" of events.

All of that did not influence our skiing enthusiasm. Despite of a couple of days of snowing and being pretty cold all the time, everything was fine. Mostly it was around -10°C (that is 14°F) or colder.
A few days were really beautiful and sunny but cold nonetheless. Mostly we were skiing in the Civetta ski area. Only for one day we decided to try out some new slopes and drove to Kronplatz, which is supposedly the most modern of the Dolomiti ski areas. That is probably true - almost all of the lifts are new cabins - some even with heated seats. All that is unfortunately a strong magnet for the crowds. Kronplatz gets pretty crowded throughout the whole season.

I did about 50 kilometers (31 miles) of skiing per day - for six days in a row. I must admit there were quite a few warming-up stops every day in many of those charming mountain huts placed just next to the slopes. Mostly they are made of wood - roof tiles and gutters included, and fit into the surroundings perfectly. In some cases you could actually ski directly up to a bar and order something to help you warm up.

All that together with the breathtaking views of the Dolomites can make you quickly forget the cold and simply enjoy every moment of the experience.


Thursday 26 January 2012

Mobile report from a ski day trip

This post is mostly about trying new things, so if you are curious what's new with me, you should keep reading.

Those of you who regularly follow this blog have probably noticed a lack of live reporting. Hopefully this has come to an end. Well, at least I can't blame the lack of technical equipment for not publishing live anymore.
Until just recently this excuse was OK due to an outdated mobile phone I had been using. Since it has started to show signs of mutiny I have been thinking about giving in and retiring it.
The same day I got a replacement, the old phone's charger went to phone heaven - talk about perfect timing... Lucky me, I guess.

So this is a test post using my new Android gadget from snow covered slopes of Slovenia. I know it is a bit late for ski season opening, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

I chose one of nearby Slovenian ski resorts for this event and since it was an ordinary work day, slopes were relatively empty.
The weather was nice and in the end it was a great day altogether. Check out the photo if you won't take my word for it.

With the ski season officially opened, it is now time to get ready for our annual ski holiday in Italian Dolomites. I can hardly wait!

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