Goodbye Slovenia

The past week and a half has been the experience of a life time. I am still continuing my travels in Italy for a few more days but I think my expectations might be set a little high after Slovenia. From Slovenia I have walked away with fantastic new friends from BLP which I honestly did not expect to happen. Furthermore, I feel much closer to some of my fellow SELF fellows. I had not realized that I had talked to some of them but had never really “talked” to some of them. I learned a lot about some of them and I have walked away with much better friends then I came in with. Lastly, Slovenia is such an amazing and in ways, inspiring country. Even with its tiny size, Slovenians have deep pride for their country and with their eco friendly policies they work to preserve it. Slovenes are some of the kindest people I have ever met and are always intrigued to learn why in the world American college students would choose Slovenia as there destination over the big names of Europe.
I’m excited to move on with these new experiences added to my belt, but I will miss the people, the food, the culture, and the beautiful sights.

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Pre Trip Thoughts

Hi everyone! I’m David Lohf, I’m an upcoming sophomore in aerospace engineering.

I love to travel, though I’ve only gotten the chance to leave the country once when I went to Spain in 8th grade. One day I hope I can visit all 7 continents and all of Europe. To push that goal A few years back I got a scratch map so I can mark off every country I go to, so far it only includes the US and Spain so Slovenia will be one step closer to filling that map in.

In regards to the trip I’m looking forward to seeing all the architecture. European cities show their history through their buildings and I’m a huge history buff. Just by walking a few city blocks you can see buildings spanning at least 5 centuries. While we’re in Ljubljana I hope I have time to visit the Roman ruins next to the University of Ljubljana. It’s amazing to think that with such basic tools the Romans were able to forge structures that would last over two millennia.

Lastly I’m excited about the food. I’m going to having so much gelato, seafood, and pasta. All in all I’m very excited to touch down in Ljubljana and see what Slovenia has to explore and offer.

Krka

The highlight of Tuesday was the tour of the Krka manufacturing facility and that actually surprised me. I don’t find a lot of interest in medications but the way they went about manufacturing them was amazing. Krka has a near 100% automated manufacturing process that includes the use of automated transportation vehicles that move shipments between different manufacturing stages and to the loading docks. Their factory is the true meaning of efficiency with billions of tablets produced each year. It looked like something out of a sci-fi movie from the early 2000s but it is modern reality. And in the future I see a lot of companies moving towards this method.
One concern that is always brought up when talking about automation is the loss of jobs, but Krka is an example of job creation while upgrading to automation. Modern manufacturing is moving away from manual labor jobs and towards technical positions which is what Krka has done. Krka still employs thousands of employees, most of which are in marketing or development of new drugs. Krka truly is a innovative company that has a truly revolutionary factory.

Pipistrel

After our fantastic weekend on the Riviera it was back to business bright and early on Monday, but it was totally worth it. The first company we went to, Pipistrel, ended up being my favorite for sure. I may be a little bias though, considering it was an airplane company.
Pipistrel was founded while Slovenia was still part of Yugoslavia by its amazing CEO who built planes from scratch. Since those days Pipistrel has stuck to Slovenia’s trend of eco friendly products and has created an entirely electric two seater plane. For this reason they are actually the world leading designers of fully electric planes which occurred because Pipistrel chose a much different approach from other companies to make electric planes a reality. While many other companies focused on battery efficiency Pipistrel primarily focused on the planes airfoil to make their aircraft a reality. They decided to make large and very wide wings which creates a very large aspect ratio, which for none engineers basically means the plane has more surface area for the wine to catch. With these wings the engine doesn’t have to work as hard to lift off and make maneuvers so the battery technology wasn’t a hinderance. Since then the batteries have advanced as well which has allowed for the production of a four seater model. This company showed the true innovative possibilities within my industry and has really inspired me to work and make a difference in the aerospace industry.

The Last Night in Piran

There is one sight on this trip I will never forget. And that is the sunset in Piran on our last day. After an adventurous day exploring the beaches of Croatia and lounging at the pool, the sun begun to sink from the sky. For the night my group had been chosen to have dinner with John and Amanda so we decided to join them at a small local restaurant by the waterfront in Piran beforehand. Only a few feet from the lapping waves of the Adriatic, we lounged around and chatted while we watched our last sunset on the sea. When the sun finally reached the peaks of the Alps it unveiled a vibrant gleam of reds, yellows, violets, and oranges; all of which reflected off the subtle waves. It was truly picture perfect. And we were not the only ones to think so. While the sun began its final fall behind the mountains a bride and groom settled in front of us for a photo shoot with the sunset to there backs. We later learned it was some sort of wedding apparel photo shoot and the “bride” was Ms. Austria from 2000. It was entertaining because many of us were actually annoyed our perfect view was blocked by what we thought were the newly weds, but the photo party was ended with a small sliver left to follow behind the mountains. After the sun finally died we sat somewhat aw struck on the dock until we were called in for dinner. From there the day was ended with the best calamari I had ever tasted. It was truly a perfect ending to our photo worthy night and all of the experiences of the coast.

 

Fine Dining on the Adriatic

IMG_7768.JPGI have always believed one of the best ways to experience another culture is through their food. Today was a perfect example of this, our at least it was a great excuse to eat fantastic food. While in Venice I had the opportunity to try out spaghetti with authentic bolognese sauce, fried calamari and shrimp, along with grilled squid. It was a combination of some of the most delicious Italian food and seafood I have ever had. Being from Kansas it’s very difficult to find fresh seafood, so it was fantastic to find such fresh and exotic seafood. The squid in particular was very unique. It had the texture of a fried egg with the complex taste of clams and octopus, with a subtlety sweet after taste.

For dinner I had the opportunity to eat at a local diner in Portoroz and it was a meal of a life time. Prior to this trip the absolute best lobster I had ever tasted was from Salem, MA but that has quickly changed. While at the local diner I ordered buttered lobster on a bed of Alfredo noodles in a Marsala wine sauce. The dish shown above was served with a full lobster that was utterly delicious. It was cooked in a simple manner and really made the natural flavors and freshness of the shell fish shine. On top of that the Marsala wine sauce with its slightly sweet taste complimented the hearty flavor the lobster. It was truly an experience and a meal I will not soon forget.

Tomorrow I plan on going across the border to Croatia and I hope to try some local delicacies. For the time being that’s all. I’ll catch up tomorrow.

-David

To The Riviera

Today we traveled to the gorgeous coastal cities of Piran and Portoroz. After a long drive through the mountains and valleys of Slovenia we finally reached the coast where we were invited by the view of crystal clear waters of the Adriatic Sea. The resort cities of Piran and Portoroz were the most amazing sights I have seen so far. There’s nothing quite like the Italian inspired architecture of the region, lush olive and grape farms, and the blue waters of the sea gathered together with the sweet personalities of the local Slovenian’s.

Today was a chance to see another side of Slovenia far different from Ljubljana and relax in the salt water pools of Portoroz. It was a day for recuperation and taking in the beautiful sights that Slovenia has to offer. It was for sure my favorite day so far.