Sunday, September 1, 2013

AWF Balkans - Day 1

Day 1

So excited that this trip is happening!!!  It feels like we were just in the planning stages back in Iceland and here we are in Slovenia a year later.  Crazy how the time flies. 

Everyone arrived in Ljubljana Friday and by 3:00 pm we were all on our way downtown for a little exploration.  Right away I noticed that Ljubljana was much smaller than expected.  In fact, it’s the smallest capital in continental Europe at 260,000 inhabitants.  This made things feel extremely manageable while walking around.  Like most traditional European cities, Ljubljana is built around a castle.  Naturally, we made a beeline for it. 

Ljubljana Castle sits atop a high hill overlooking the city and within a series of man made canals that were probably moats at one time.  From the top of the castle walls we could see clear across to the Austrian Alps on one side and the Gorski Kotar mountains on the other.  From up there the countryside revealed itself as densely wooded…60% of the land in Slovenia is still forest.  And with only 2 million people inhabiting a land mass of 50,000 square kilometers you can imagine how remote some of these forests can appear.

As we were exploring the castle walls we came across 200 foot stretch of stone slab that looked suitable for exercise.  All 30 of us lined up facing the cliff below and completed 5 burpees, 10 pushups, and 15 air squats every 2 minutes on the minute for 22 minutes.  We alternated minutes so that half of us were working while the other half were resting, giving us a little more room to maneuver.  At first it seemed like this wasn’t challenging enough for the group, but by the end of the sequence there were only a handful of people finishing the sequence in their minute. 

Afterwards we headed down to the center square and walked around the immediate area.  The canals create a network of waterfront areas dotted with typical cafes and restaurants.  The streets are narrow and cobbled and the architecture has somewhat of an Austrian feel with high pitched roofs and flat, patterned molding across the face.  For a major capital, Ljubljana feels as small and manageable a city as I can recall.  Everything is walkable and the circular layout around the castle keeps you from getting lost.  All in all, I love this place. 

We ate at on of the many restaurants along the main canal, the owner cutting our group a nice deal on filet, ribeye, and chicken dishes.  The food was excellent!  Tender meat, buttered potatoes, grilled vegetables, and good wine.  What more can you ask for?  With Sven leading the charge, the group went on the hunt for ice cream following dinner.  Didn’t take long seeing that there were Gelato stands every few hundred feet.  Sven stacked 5 scoops in a single cup, ranging from mango to cookies and cream.  About par for the course.   


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