Hello! It’s been rather a long time since I last wrote a post here. Happily, there’s a good reason for that and it’s because we’ve been away on holidays, living it up in the green and beautiful Slovenia. I must admit to knowing very little about the country before we went, but I left besotted with its gorgeous green landscapes and equally gorgeous green attitude.
A place so lovely deserves more than one post, so I’m going to break it down into two, covering my two favourite things, open water swimming and sustainability/eco-stuff.
Now I love a good swim outdoors, and can be found spending many an evening and weekend plodding around Kenwood Ladies Pond on Hampstead Heath with the ducks and the comically bad-tempered coots. It’s my favourite place in the whole world, even in the middle of winter, when I’ve strapped on a bobble hat and swimming gloves to do a shivery lap around a lump of ice under a dark grey sky.
Slovenia, in the middle of a scorching heatwave (36 degrees Celsius/97 degrees Fahrenheit!), was not quite the same, to say the least. As our bus drove from the capital city, Ljubljana, up to the start of our swimming holiday at Lake Bohinj, between the steep tree-covered hills and alpine pastures, were glimpses of perfectly clear, aquamarine rivers that looked too perfect to be real. But they were!
Our first swim was Lake Bohinj, up in the Julian Alps area in northwest Slovenia. It’s lined by trees and framed by mountains, with a beautiful view of a church to greet you at the end. The water was lovely, around 22-23 degrees Celsius, which was just perfect in the heat. Looking down into the water there were what looked like tiny forest of trees, whilst fish meandered about. We had come here to do a specially-guided tour with Strel Swimming, which started the next day. However we couldn’t resist testing the waters in anticipation.
Our swimming tour took us to Lake Bled, which is a swimmer’s paradise. Just over 2km across, and 6km round, it contains the only island is Slovenia. On this little island is a church, but I can’t tell you what it looked like on the inside, as they don’t allow you in whilst just wearing a swimsuit and goggles! But to be honest, no church could possibly compare with 27 degree, perfect blue water, surrounded by mountains.
The next morning, still a little stiff from swimming across a lake, we popped over the border to Italy to Lago del Predil. A little chillier at around 19 degrees, but no less beautiful for it! The afternoon was spent swimming down the Soca river, which had the only small disappointment that the current was so gentle as to not help us downstream at all! A storm threatened overhead, and the dark grey skies were a strange contrast against the almost alarmingly turquoise-y turquoise of the water.
Our final day was a swim across Lake Bohinj. N managed the whole 4km of it, which is pretty amazing if you ask me, but I cheated and started part-way down, to do just 2km. Had I had more time (and upper body strength, or a better front crawl technique!), the idea of spending hours alone in that lake, watching the changing scenery of the shoreline and the changing landscape under the water, would be just amazing. But schedules are schedules, so I contented myself to an hour in its lovely waters, with its cheeky little cold patches to wake me up as I drifted along.
I cannot imagine more beautiful places to go swimming, and I can see myself returning to Slovenia again and again. Swimming outdoors is the thing I need to make everything ok with the world again, and one of the reasons I feel so inspired to work to treat the planet kindly. So much of nature is not yet spoiled, and the best way I can think to inspire yourself into action to protect it is to get right neck-deep in it.
Perhaps I can come back as a mermaid in my next life. I wonder if they can live in lakes as well as the sea…?