Monday, 15 October 2012

How to escape bad weather?

Many of my faithful readers know I live in Slovenia. When people hear about it for the first time many imagine a cold country somewhere in the the middle of former Soviet Union.

In fact it is a small country in the very middle of Europe. Slovenia is tucked among its larger neighbors: Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia. As with some other things, it also seems like this little diverse county adopted some climate characteristics from every one of those neighboring countries.

No matter how sunny and hot it might get during the summer on that little stretch of Slovenia's Adriatic coast, the hills get freaking cold during the winter months. It is not unusual for temperatures to drop below 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit) for a week or two in January or February.

As much as I love skiing and the book&TV series where they keep repeating that "winter is coming", I am not too fond of cold, cold winter. That said it should be obvious I try to escape damp, cold weather every winter for at least a week or so.
This year I am already planing an escape trip to Portugal - more specifically Lisbon.
As we are expecting temperatures around zero Centigrade and below at the end of November in Slovenia, we are looking forward to 15 degrees and hopefully less rain in Lisbon. I hope everything works out.

This time we are going as a group of 7 friends. I wish it would turn out to be very much like two years ago when we visited Berlin. Well, actually I am hoping for a little less snow and a lot more sunshine.

Airplane tickets and hostel rooms are already booked. So far it seems like this is going to be a very affordable trip. Both - low budget airline tickets and 4 days of hostel expenses added up to under 130 EUR per person. A bargain if you ask me!

A friend living in UK also wanted to join us but something else came up - he will be going on a Maldives Holiday instead. He found a really good deal through an online flight search engine. It searches for flights from UK to all parts of the world and includes both budget and conventional airlines - a very useful tool indeed.

Nowadays it is not all that hard to get a good deal for a flight. Since we won't be flying from UK we could not use the handy search tool mentioned above, but in the end we found very affordable EasyJet tickets from Venice to Lisbon.
I am really looking forward to this trip. This year I can hardly wait for the cold to come... Just to get away from it for a while, of course.


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

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