On April 29th, 2019, it was again time to fly to Slovenia for the annual European Packrafting Meetup and to visit a view of other places in Slovenia. I have already in the previous years at the Packrafting Meetup in Slovenia and decided this year to make a short sightseeing tour as well in the neighborhood but also to Piran, Ljubljana, and the Vintgar Gorge. You can find all the pictures of this trip at the end of this post.
On that day, I arrived already earlier at the airport to take pictures from the visitor terrace which is located on top of the Scandic Hotel. After taking some good shots from landing planes at the airport it was time to get into the plane. I had to rearrange my bags a bit since I had one kilogram too much in my Ortlieb BigZip which can store 140L. My Finnair flight AY1201 left Helsinki at 16.40.
On the Finnair plane, I always order blueberry juice and black tea as a complimentary drink. However, it took some time to get those drinks as the plane was fully booked.
I have made a reservation for a rental car with Avantcar in advance. I paid around 180 EUR for one week inclusive full insurance and a second person being able to drive the car.
When I met Konstantin at the airport, we picked up our rental car and drove 2 hours to our destination, Camp Liza in Bovec, where we checked in and pitched our tent at the area which was already reserved for us. Then we purchased wood for 5 EUR to make a fire, to boil water and grill sausages.
This year we were however not that lucky with the weather during the meetup and after 3 rainy days, we decided to take an apartment in Bovec which was located just next to the local grocery store (Mercator). Luckily, there were also many spots at the campsite where we could dry our gear.
The rooms were very clean and we were able to dry our camping and packrafting gear during the night in the apartment since we tried to avoid not exceed the weight limit.
The price of the apartment which we found on booking.com was also reasonable and we paid around 35 EUR per person.
Rescue 3 Europe – Whitewater Rescue Technician Course
This year, we decided to participate in the Rescue3 Europe Whitewater Rescue Technician Course which took place before and after the European Packrafting Meetup. For this course, I ordered new safety gear – Astral GreenJacket, Astral Dyneema Water Rescue Throw rope with bag and Astral web toe, NRS Co-Pilot knife, and a Fox 40 whistle.
European Packrafting Meetup
This year we had plenty of workshops during the meetup ranging from Whitewater Technics, rope throwing, Eddy turns, or First Aid basics.
The workshops were held by volunteers and I think they are quite useful to improve or refresh your packrafting skills.
We had a couple of presentations during the meetup. Gabriel from Outventurous was talking about his trip to Greenland and Konstantin Gridnevskiy from HikeVentures was talking about the Grand Canyon Packrafting trip.
I found both presentations really nice as Gabriel had plenty of pictures and videos to show (even some shot with a drone), while Konstantin gave more a lecture-style presentation as he is also a lecturer at a University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands.
Besides the presentations, there were also a few other events. There was a raffle where many of us won small prices such as T-Shirts or vouchers. The raffle was part of the BBQ party which took place on the last evening of the meetup.
Moreover, there was a video evening where we watched videos about river conservation.
One of the meetup days was very rainy and the zipper of my drysuit broke so I decided to look for alternative activities that are not water-based.
I took the car and drove to Kobarid to visit a museum about the First World War as I am also interested in History. Moreover, I visited the Trenches which have been built during the First World War war.
What I have learned was that the whole Soca Valley was basically a battlefield. On one side there were the Italians and on the other side, the Austrian-Hungarian Empire allied with the Germans.
The Italians lost the battle at the end since the Germans bombed the whole valley with gas and then moved into the area with their infantry. The battle was won after only 3 days. Below you can see one of the remaining trenches from the First World War.’
After the European Packrafting Meetup, we decided to drive to the Adriatic Sea.
Konstantin who has spent already one month during a summer school in Piran was our guide. When I was younger, I always spent my summer holidays at the Mediterranean Sea (mainly Italy and France) since it was only a one day to drive with the car from my home town at the Bodensee.
After hours of driving, we were always excited to see the Mediterranean Sea opening up in front of us. And it was the same when we got closer to Piran – suddenly there was the Adriatic Sea.
Once we parked the car we walked into the city center, taking pictures and decided to have lunch in one of the many small restaurants. I ordered Spaghetti with Gorgonzola and a mixed salad while Konstantin had a fish soup and Squids.
After lunch, we walked along the coast and took pictures and videos of the raging sea. Far away we were also able to see the Julian Alps covered with snow and Container Ships traveling to Kopper – which is probably the most important harbor in the area.
Piran reminded me a bit about Venice – the tower with the clock and the lion with the book were probably signs that Piran was influenced by Venice. Konstantin told me that the book of the lion indicates if the building with the lion was built during the war (closed book) or during peacetime (open book).
We also visited two churches, one of it has a 46,45 meter-high bell tower with 146 steps and concluded the day with ice cream before we jumped into the car to drive back to Ljubljana. On the way back we were also able to see the salt plants in the sea which was also quite impressive.
Once we reached Ljubljana with our car we dropped off Tom and looked for our own apartment where we left our bags before we explored the city.
The most impressive places to visit was the bridge with the dragon (there is a legend that a dragon lives under the castle) and the castle where we had a great view over the city and towards the Julian Alps.
The castle has been greatly renovated after the Second World War and is now a highlight for tourists and locals with a coffee place, restaurant, museum, and a souvenir shop. If you are too lazy to walk the hill up to the castle you can also take the cable car which costs around 2.20 EUR one way.
At the castle, we found a model that explained different parts and sections of the castle. From the castle, we had a fabulous view over Ljubljana and towards the Julian Alps.
Once we walked down the hill from the castle back to the city we decided to have Falafel in an Arabic Restaurant. The meal was very delicious and not too pricey (around 7.50 EUR).
Ljubljana reminded me a bit of Turku in Finland since it also has a river that flows through the city. There were many old buildings, shops, and restaurants too.
After I dropped Konstantin at the airport in Ljubljana I decided to visit the Vintgar Gorge which was just a 35 min drive by car from the airport.
The entry fee to the Vintgar Gorge was 9 EUR and I also had to pay 5 EUR to park my car. However, I would say that the visit was worth the price.
The Vintgar Gorge was found in 1891 and was opened to the public in 1893 and tourists can walk over a trail that has been constructed. The highlight is the 16m high waterfall Sum which is also one of the highest waterfalls in Slovenia.
The Vintgar Gorge can be entered from two sides.
Flight back to Finland
After my trip to the Vintgar Gorge, I returned my rental car, checked in, and met a few other Finnish guys who have also been at the European Packrafting Meetup.
Then it was time to get on the plane where I connected my Logitech Keys To Go Keyboard to my iPhone and wrote this article during the flight.
It is now 9 pm in the evening and there is still light when I look out of the window of the plane. Konstantin has probably already arrived in the Netherlands and sits on the train to Leeuwarden – his home town.
In 45 min I will arrive in Helsinki. One more adventure completed and more to come …
European Packrafting Meetup 2018
The European Packrafting Meetup 2018 in Slovenia had over 50 participants from all over Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Here are a few impressions from the event including a video.