A Sad Farewell

It’s hard to believe that we have to say goodbye already.  It feels like we just arrived in Ljubljana, except that we now carry many fond memories from our incredible ten-day adventure.  I love Slovenia for many reasons.  First and foremost is its natural beauty.  From the mossy river in Ljubljana to the incredible sunsets on the coast of Piran and concluding on the quiet coast of Lake Bled.  Everything the nation had to offer was overflowing with natural beauty and grace – more than I have seen anywhere else.

Secondly, the kindness of the people in Slovenia was overwhelming.  Their understanding of tourists and willingness to welcome all comers made for a fantastic experience as a visitor.  In addition, their push for making Slovenia as eco-friendly as possible was inspiring, as was their love of their whole country.

Finally, this trip was truly amazing because of my fellow classmates that accompanied me along the way.  Throughout this journey,  I was fortunate enough to get much closer to my friends in the SELF Program, and get to know the BLP students as well, making some great friendships that I hope will continue for years to come.

Thank you for everything John, Amanda, and Petra.  Slovenia, I do feel the love!

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The Julian Alps

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Today was our last full day in Slovenia.  We were very lucky, because our guide Petra knows us well, so she cancelled the first company visit this morning, meaning we could leave at 9:30am, by far the latest departure of the trip.  The company visits to Elan and the IEDC business school in Bled were interesting, but one of the highlights of the trip occurred today with our sightseeing tour of the Bled Lake area.

First, we went up to the castle before lunch, which is perched on a majestic cliff projecting from the side of a mountain surrounding the lake.  From there, we had a bird’s eye view of the crystal blue lake as it sat in ultimate peace, undisturbed by the engines of motorboats.  It was one of my favorite sights from all of Slovenia.

Then, we made the boat ride to the tiny island in the middle of the lake.  There was a handful of buildings on the isle, the main of which was a small church, the bell of which we rang for good luck.  The coast of the island provided some incredible panoramic views of the sleepy town of Bled and the Julian Alps in the background.  These sights were incredibly beautiful, peaceful, and just unreal.  This was one of my favorite days of the trip.

Goodbye Piran and Hello Ljubljana

It was a rather sad morning as we had to depart from the seaside Riviera.  Piran and Portoroz were certainly my favorite locations of this trip, and although we had a blast, it wasn’t fun to leave.  However, Ljubljana is also great, and I’m thankful for three more days in Slovenia.

On our way to Ljubljana, we made our stop at the Pipistrel aviation facility. Pipistrel was started illegally during the time when Slovenia was part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and the government had strict control over the aeronautical industry.  Through the gathering of a skilled team and a high degree of determination, they were able to develop a line of highly efficient airplanes and gliders, most of which are electric.  Their company is very innovative as far as efficiency goes, with their entire facility in Slovenia operating independently of the regional power grid.  We were treated to a fun and engaging presentation that was also very informative, leading us to realize that Pipistrel was, in fact, a very well distinguished company.  It was fascinating to see all the work that went into designing and testing these planes, and we were fortunate enough to witness a couple of test flights in progress.  This was one of the most engaging company visits we have made so far.  Good Serbian food capped off a great day!

Free Day: Croatia and Slovenia

Our free day in Piran turned into more of an adventure than I thought it would be!  We woke up bright and early and loaded up with a hardy breakfast before setting out to rent some bikes in order to ride around 8km to cross over the Croatian border, planning to have lunch and go to the beach once we got there.  This was all fine and good, and the trip around the national park in Slovenia was gorgeous and beautiful.  Unfortunately, upon arriving in Croatia, we soon found that the road we were on was far steeper and longer than we had anticipated.  In the end, we decided it was smarter to turn back and go enjoy the hotel pool here in Portoroz.  By the time we returned, we had biked approximately fourteen miles, and were all completely worn out.  Luckily, though, we stumbled across a restaurant near our hotel, where I had some of the best Caesar salad and lasagna I’ve ever tasted.  While some parts of the intrepid biking adventure were not the most fun, we all made it to Croatia and back, which was the goal.  I will be very sad to leave Piran and Portoroz – I truly love the coastal cities – but I also look forward to a last few days exploring Ljubljana.

Grazie mille Venice; forza ragazzi!

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What can I say about an incredible day in Venice?  It may have rained at the start and end, but it was such a blast the whole time through!  One of the most fun (and tastiest) parts of the day was lunch, where I decided not to mind my wallet in ordering a large platter of mixed seafood.  Luckily, I didn’t regret it one bit – the fresh fish was absolutely amazing, and I learned that I love squid as well!

Although the Ferrari store in Venice had sadly closed prior to our visit, there was still plenty to do.  Our visit to St. Mark’s Basilica was breathtaking; the artwork and detail for an 11th century construction was unreal.  Golden tiles were spread all around, while stories of the Bible were depicted throughout the walls and ceilings.  The stature and history of the structure were immense, and made me feel quite small in its shadow.  One of my goals on our Venice visit was to see the Basilica, and I’m quite glad I got to fulfill that.  In addition, we made a quick but fun stop on the Rialto Bridge on the way back to fully take in all the main sights of an incredible city.  Good friends helped make this day a wonderful adventure!

Welcome to the Riviera

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Our trip to the Slovenian Riviera has started!  We began our journey with a visit to automotive manufacturer Hidria, which specializes in steering column, engine, and electric vehicle components.  Throughout the visit, our guide demonstrated the various methods of molding and machining parts.  The most amazing thing to me was that every dimension on these parts had to be within 0.00001 of a millimeter.  Considering that the each die cast mold costs north of 200,000 euros, any single issue could be incredibly costly, especially because the parts we were examining only sold for 7 euros, so they need to be produced in mass quantities with minimal issues in order to make a profit.  The quality and precision required by Hidria demanded respect, and it was very cool to see how a company in the industry I would like to end up in actually functions and produces parts.

Also, Piran and Portoroz are amazing!!

Food and Fun

Although it was long and tiring in the end, this was still and incredibly fun day!  My favorite part was wandering around Ljubljana with friends in search of a pizzeria… which we eventually did find before bumbling our way through the seating and ordering process.  That aside, it was super fun to experience one of the more normal restaurants in Slovenia, the Pizzeria Foculus.  The number and variety of pizza they had was truly amazing.  The most entertaining part was figuring everything out with the group I was with, and getting to taste a fabulous local cuisine.

I also must note that I was extremely impressed with how patient all of the staff were as we faced a language barrier and didn’t know much about the pizza details.  They answered all of our questions effectively and politely and ensured that we had a great experience.  This is something I have seen throughout Slovenia, which is a big part of what has made this trip so memorable.