If you don’t travel spontaneously all the time, at least do it every now and then.
Yes, it might be a bit scary not to have an actual plan. Yes, things might become a bit sketchy. Yes, you might not have all the comfort you would want. But you will remember the trip for a long, long while.
You’ll grow! You will adapt. You will see what you’re made out of.
This was only a part of what my last spontaneous trip that I had with my friend, Ivan, from Croatia brought to me.
It started exactly how an adventure should start: with a crazy idea.
“Hey Bogdan! Let’s travel together. I will have some free days in mid-September. What’s your plans?” This was the start of the adventure. As you can imagine I said a big yes to this invitation and 2 weeks after the question was asked to me, my friend and I met in the center of Ljubljana after more than one year.
After we finished giving each other big hugs we started making some ground rules. It went something like this:
1. First rule of spontaneous traveling: you don’t talk about the spontaneous traveling!
2. Second rule of spontaneous traveling….
Come on! Hahaha!
Actually we just made it clear for both of us that we want to enjoy our trip and that we are open to do whatever the heck comes our way. In fact this was my idea because I am direct and I want to avoid any confusion. We both agreed on these ideas and started on our way towards the North-West part of Slovenia. We wanted to go to Bled, Bohinj and through the mountains in that area.
Don’t forget to be cheerful and friendly all the time!
We walked a bit in circles until we found the hitchhiking spot, in Ljubljana, but we didn’t mind that at all because the weather was great! It was sunny and very hot. This was extremely surprising because in the previous weekend there was heavy raining and even floods in Slovenia.
As we crossed the street to get to the hitchhiking spot we ran into a guy that I saw last June in an exchange. Actually this guy was in an exchange in Croatia and I was in one in Slovenia but one day both our groups met on a “no-man’s land”-island between Croatia and Slovenia. It was very funny this coincidence for me and also the fact that we recognized each other was stunning (we didn’t keep in contact). He was hitchhiking as well, in the same direction as us, but to a different destination.
With this new positive energy I made a cardboard sign and we started hitchhiking. In that half of hour that it took us to leave the place 3 other people were lifted. Two more girls joined the spot and it was fun for all of us. We started talking and invited them to join us. We were in a good spot to hitchhike and people were friendly.
So that’s how we got to Bled where firstly we went for a walk around the lake. My friend, Ivan, is a very talented photographer and he wanted to capture the beauty of the place.
After a few hours of walking and enjoying the nature and perfect weather we started looking for a place to sleep. My brain had a good idea to go and ask the girl at the info-center about the possibility of camping with a tent in the nature. We saw some spots during our walk, but we wanted to make sure how the law is and stuff.
The girl was very polite and official and told us that “in Slovenia is illegal to put the tent in public places…” bla, bla, bla. I asked her nicely to forget that she’s working for 5 minutes and recommend us some places where we could put our tent for one night (I told you we were prepared for a spontaneous trip). After she showed us some places on the map we thanked her very much and went in our field research, literally!
We got to a big field next to Bled, where people walk their dogs, which was perfect. We were not bothering anyone there and also we weren’t even visible because we were under a big wild chestnut tree.
By the time we set up our tent, the clouds started coming in and the temperature dropped quite a lot. Luckily we had enough clothes, food and everything with us so everything was under control.
We even went on a short recognizing trip to see what’s around us and in a small forest next to this place there was a small wooden cabin which was abandoned. That was our back-up plan in case of really bad weather.
When we got back to our tent the rain started to fall and we got in our tent where we were talked about a ton of things. The chatting was very helpful for both of us and acted as a therapy.
Next day we packed our stuff and went for a coffee in the most “locally” bar possible. It was very fun for us to drink our coffee in a regular bar with locals, not surrounded by fancy people who want to drink expensive coffee.
Although the bar was “local” that didn’t mean trashy or ugly. In fact they even had a good WiFi connection where I searched for some hostels around, because the previous night was quite cold and both of us felt we were going to be ill.
Be open and surprises will come!
On the net we found a really cool hostel, Jazz Hostel Bled, which is situated on the oldest part of Bled. We decided to go and check it around and see what are the prices and if they have any rooms available. To be honest, I really liked the name and had a good feeling about it that’s why we checked this one out.
We arrived there quite early, around 9am, right when people were checking out. We were greeted by a very happy and warm guy, Janj – the owner, with whom we started talking about available rooms and stuff. While talking with him I noticed that they received the award for the “Best hostel in Slovenia – 2014″! We also told him about our spontaneous trip, about me traveling by hitchhiking and volunteering and writing about it and about Ivan’s passion for photography and so on. Hearing about this, Janj told us to wait for a bit and after he checked his room planner, he told us that he has an available double room for us, for free! How awesome is that?
Because we arrived there early we couldn’t yet go in our room, so we left our bags in the storage room and Janj started giving us tips. He’s local and knows all the great places around. He told us how to get to the castle and see the island and the church from a perfect spot, without paying 9 euro to get in the castle. He also told us about good and cheap places where to eat in Bled(with discounts as well) aaaaand about a gorge which is only 3km away from Bled.
All his tips were great and we followed them entirely.
After a short climb to the castle we had in front of us the whole lake with the church standing nicely in the middle of the island. That scenery was stunning! There we had our breakfast and relaxed for a while. We recharged our batteries for our trip to the gorge that we were going to have.
From the castle we went straight to the gorge and there we had a great time. The walk through the gorge took us a few hours, because we were photographing everything and we were going slowly and chilling. At the end of the route there is a magnificent waterfall as well. Right next to it you can take a rest and enjoy the place while having a coffee. Of course we did that!
We went back through the gorge and back to Bled where we bought something to eat from a supermarket. After we had our dinner we went on the lake’s side to drink a beer.
Don’t underestimate the power of a good friend who’s listening to you
As we sat down the lake and enjoyed the view we started talking about life and stuff, again.
This time something magical happened. I’m not kidding. The talking with him helped me find answers to some things that were recently going thought my mind. Suddenly while talking with him they just came to me, out of nowhere.
The power of talking with a good friend who’s listening and understanding you without judging is amazing!
Some stuff I just recalled. I found out that some things just slipped out of my memory and had to be reactivated by a good talk.
But who knows? Maybe it was the lake!
As we got back to the hostel, Janj greeted us again and took us on a tour through the hostel. I was very pleasantly surprised. The place looks very nice and has a lot of good taste. The kitchen was outstanding and fully equipped and the communal place had even a playstation! (we were too tired to try it)
When we got to our rooms we started giggling like kids and we couldn’t hide our huge smiles from our faces. He even hugged each other out of happiness. That cool this place is!
In the hostel we met some really cool people and even 2 crazy travelers like me. It’s such a small world, hehe.
The next day we got a call from Ivan’s uncle telling us that he wants to go on an adventure and we agreed to meet somewhere next to Bled and go together. He picked us up with his car and drove us through the Julian Alps. We even got to some ski jumping platforms. Those things are scary!!!
Of course we climbed the stairs next to the biggest one and on the half we decided that we saw enough. Oh, and by the way, they are building now the biggest ski jump platform in the world, next to the biggest one. Suddenly I have a lot more respect for ski jumpers!
After we left those scary places behind us we went on another road which is called “Vrata”, which means door. This is the “door” between mountains because it’s a very narrow valley between the mountains.
We drove though there till we got to a sign that said we are not allowed with the car anymore. From there we walked for half an hour or so till we got to the bottom of Triglav, on the North Side. That mountain is really impressive!
Although the whole day was cloudy, after we arrived at the mountains base, the clouds went away for 20 minutes so we can take our pictures.
How awesome is that?!
When Ivan’s photo session was done we went to a mountain cabin where we had our dinner and a well deserved beer. In this place you can even sleep, but we had different plans.
With our bellies full of food we went to Škofia Loka where we stayed over at my friends who are also doing their EVS. They greeted us so nicely and they even forced us to eat the food they made for us, even though we were full.
We than, talked and laughed like idiots till midnight.
The next day one of my friend, Kobe, from Škofia Loka took us on a tour through the city. Oh, oh! I forgot to mention that the old center of this city is from 1500-1600’s!!! It is amazing! I fell in love with every bit of it.
So my friend showed us a ton of places there. We crossed some “Devil cursed wood bridge”. We saw artificial river beds. We hiked behind the castle through some hidden gardens and discovered places that we would never find on our own!
I cannot even describe how awesome the place is. You just have to get there and discover it by yourself. It’s totally worth it!
It’s about you
When we finished our amazing city tour we went hitchhiking towards Ljubljana because our trip was soon going to end.
We waited around 5 minutes until we got a ride from a nice lady, Tatjana, who had a lovely smile on her face and a good vide. After we started talking we found out that she’s going through some very hard times in her life but she still managed to keep a smile on her face. We started talking about Camino and how revealing it is and stuff like that. When Ivan mentioned to her about me and my trip, her face lit up and she was extremely happy to hear that. She said she wants to interview me for her final degree. She’s studying anthropology and she is writing about “Caminos” making a parallel between the actual Camino and other traveling methods.
For me seeing her face lit up like that and making her so happy made my day and revealed something about my life.
The trip is about you! It will always be about you, but don’t forget to include the others.
Including my friend Ivan in my spontaneous trip made it memorable. Including Janj in my trip showed me that there are still kind people in this world. Including Kobe in my trip revealed that if you go and explore the world around you, you will find amazing places. And including Tanja in my trip made me realize that seeing people happy and managing to help others it’s what I want to do!