I thought I would give my sister what I expected to be a brief summary of my trip. Once I started writing I went into a stream of consciousness mode and realized that my email was getting too long. I sent that with the intention of covering the rest in a second, shorter email. But that got pretty lengthy, also. So, I am going to copy and paste what I wrote her on here, also and then finish the trip out over the next few days. I am going to try to align the pictures with the days but I didn’t do a really good job of taking notes or always have the camera with me. For example, this picture is from Monday. Sunday, when we were at Lake Bled, I left my camera in my bag, in the van. DUH!
I flew from Houston to Orlando to Frankfurt to Zagreb, Croatia on Tuesday Sep 20th. Got into Zagreb around 3 pm the following day. But my luggage did not make it. This is why I hate checking bags. But I didn’t have much choice because I had trekking poles, which could be used as a weapon and can’t be carried on to the plane. Fortunately, I had carried on enough clothes for two days because that is how long it took for my luggage to show up. Just as I was getting ready to leave for Slovenia.
On Friday afternoon, as soon as my bag was delivered to the hotel, I hopped in a cab and headed to the train station. Next train to Ljubljana, Slovenia wasn’t until 6 pm. Put my bag in a locker at the train station and walked around. Came across a McDonalds that was packed with kids.
Train ride was uneventful. Passport controls were on the train and relatively through given that you were going from a country that isn’t in the European Union to one that is. It’s interesting that once you are within the European Union, there are no passport controls between countries. It’s just like traveling from state to state within the US.
Arrive in Ljubljana at 9 pm. Once I had checked in, went out and got something to eat. My hotel was within the old central town, which is very charming and quaint. I didn’t get a full appreciation for the town until the next morning. It seemed like it had been designed by Hollywood – cobbled, narrow streets, a river through the center, bridges, old buildings and a castle on a hill. A lot of cafes and restaurants along the river. I wasn’t meeting up with my group until Sunday. Until then I walked around, went to the main city park and several museums.
Sunday morning, I checked out and walked over to the hotel that we were supposed to meet at. All together the group had 14 hikers, two guides and one driver. 13 of the people met at the hotel and the 14th was picked up at the airport. All were Americans. Most of the people were from their early 40s to late 60s (perhaps one person in her 70s). One person was probably in her late 30s. Coincidentally, we had about 7 or 8 people in the medical field.
Once the last guy was picked up at the airport, we headed to a lake that had a castle on a nearby hill. The lake was beautiful. The water very clean and clear. In fact, the whole country was very pristine. Didn’t see a dirty body of water. The guides had arranged for wine and cheese at the castle. After a little while, we drove to our first hotel.
We had dinner at the hotel. The next day, which was a Monday, was our first true hike. In hindsight, I wish I had kept a journal, documenting my experience each night while it was still fresh in my mind. We started the hike at 9 am and up until lunch time was fine. We walked through several villages, which were all very beautiful. Every farmhouse had flower beds in all its windows.
Europe has a very extensive set of hiking trails with huts along the way. At the huts, you can rest, get a meal and, at some, even spend the night. We stopped for lunch at one of these huts. Lunch was mostly soup – choices were limited. Barley with meat, barley without meat, cabbage with sausage, mushroom, etc. Not great, but not too bad either. After lunch the hike started uphill and that is where it started getting tough for me. Everyone outpaced me. I thought, this sucks. It was going to get worse. At top of the hill, around 6 pm, we were met by the driver and drove back to the hotel.
Dinner was a local restaurant. It was good. We spent the night at the same hotel and checked out the next day. Today, we started at 8 am and in addition to water, we also had to take along a change of clothes because we were going to spend the night on the trail, at a hut.
To be continued . . .