Goodbye Slovenia: A Sad Farewell

As the group made our way home, we ran into some serious travel troubles. It was all going smoothly up until we arrived to D.C. At this point, we ran into series of challenges ranging from delayed flights, to bad weather to cancelled flights, to airplane maintenance issues, to even spending the night on the floor of an airport.

While these experiences were not at all positive, it did give me an ample amount of time to reflect on the trip and realize what a life-changing experience I had just encountered.

While I had taken vacations before, this was the first trip that I had gone on that was centered around a learning experience. Instead of staying in some kind of resort, I was interacting with locals and gaining cultural and global diversity. It was definitely a shock at first, but I came to appreciate all of the different perspectives that the people around me had.

The other highlight from the trip was the connection that was developed within the group. I came into the trip with a few very close friends and was expecting to spend most of my time with them. However, the new environment naturally forced everyone to interact with each other and the impossible happened. BLP students and SELF engineers actually became incredible friends. If this isn’t proof of the magic powers of Slovenia, then I don’t know what is.

Overall, leaving this country was a very sad goodbye. It was rough having the highlight of my summer at the very beginning because I know it will all be downhill from here. However, I will think back during the summer and the rest of my life to all of the memories and friendships made in my new favorite foreign country.

Elan Sports

On the last full day in Slovenia, our group took a trip to Elan Sports. Personally, I had been anticipating this visit for the entire trip and was looking forward to seeing how this famously successful Slovenian business operated. I have always been a mountain sport enthusiast so Elan had an added appeal for me.

Upon arrival, I was initially impressed with the variety and quality of the skis they had in their display room. Elan continued to exceed my expectations when they discussed how many different business sectors they are involved in. They are not only making skis, but they are also involved with a variety of products ranging from yachts to wind energy. This shocked me and gave me a greater appreciation for the impact that this Slovenian company was having on the worldwide marketplace.

Another big takeaway that I had from the Elan tour was the company’s tradition in exports. I learned that they were founded in 1945 and that just seven years after their founding Elan was shipping ski’s to New York City. This set a massive trend for the company as it continued to expand. Elan is currently a company that relies on it’s exports for revenue and it was interesting that this had been a focus from the beginning.

Throughout the Elan tour, it became more and more apparent that the company was very reflective of the entire country of Slovenia. It had been associated with the region before Slovenia was even a country and had experienced the various political regimes and economic status endured by the region. Like Slovenia, which exports far more products than they import, Elan primarily focusses on international buyers. The Elan visit was incredibly interesting and lived up to all of my expectations.

A Quirk in European Dining

 

river.png

On our trip, one of the most consistent things has been the food. It has been unbelievably delicious for very fair prices. We have eaten at wonderful restaurants and have enjoyed nearly all of our meals. Often times the interiors of the restaurants are beautifully decorated with artwork and detailed woodwork, while some establishments go for a more modern touch. You may be asking, “Whats wrong with this picture?” No one sits inside!

At almost every restaurant that we have visited, the patio is packed. But if you peak your head inside, you will find an empty restaurant. I think this can be explained for several reasons. The weather on this trip has been amazing and the locals are genuinely excited to enjoy the sunlight. In addition, there are just more things to look at while dining outside in Europe. Whether one is sitting along the Ljubljana river or enjoying a glimpse of the Slovenian Alps, everyone likes a dinner with a view.

Taking Advantage of International Free Time

IMG_1617IMG_0289When the announcement was made that we would have an entire day of free time on Sunday in Piran, I knew that this had to be handled with a day of epic fun and adventure. A group of me and five others began planning to successfully take advantage of our free day while studying abroad.

The day began with an early morning taxi ride across the border and into Croatia. This took about twenty minutes and was absolutely beautiful as we drove along the Adriatic. We soon arrived to a golf course that looked absolutely gorgeous. It took some time to figure out the different fees and golf costs that we would have to pay, but despite the language barrier, we were headed for hole one with clubs in our hand in no time. The course was stunning; it was easily the most beautiful 12 holes of golf that I have ever played. Our tee off on the first whole was a shot over a vineyard with a glimpse of the Adriatic to our left. Views like this continued throughout the rest of the time on the course.

After golf, we got in a cab and traveled back to Slovenia. We quickly changed into swimsuits, had a fast lunch at a Kebab stand, and were off to the coast. The day had just begun and the six of us were off to rent a speedboat. For the next 4 hours, we cruised around the Adriatic with beautiful views of Piran, the Italian alps, and the Croatian countryside. At one point or another, all six of us swam in the sea, and this involved some very close calls with a jellyfish and some extremely chilly water. After returning the boat, it was time for a Piran sunset.

Our group sat with John, Amanda, and a few other students and experienced an iconic Piran sunset. It was unbelievable. The sunset was followed by a trip to eat some of the freshest and most delicious squid I have ever tasted. It was the perfect end to the a perfect day.

This day was proof that any day can be the best day with a little bit of planning and an adventurous attitude. We took advantage of our free time internationally and made life-long memories in the process.

The Most Romantic City in the World: Perfect for Friends

The trip to Venice was definitely one of my favorite experiences from the trip. After the boat ride across the Adriatic, we were all eager to explore the new city and see what it is so famous for. Unfortunately, as the boat docked, a rainstorm began and by the time we were standing on land, it looked like the streets were slowing turning into canals. However, the team made the decision to have a positive mindset and to make the best of the day.

I split off from the big group with three of my friends, Noah, Wyatt, and Marty. We had a wonderful day exploring Venice and seeing what the city had to offer. Initially, we went to a wonderful pasta restaurant that had authentic Italian cuisine. After the delicious meal, we went to the Rialto Bridge and decided that it was necessary to invest in  a Gondola ride to truly experience Venice’s famous canals. This set the group back about 80 Euros, but it was well worth it in the end. Finally, we spent the rest of the day roaming around the city, voyaging up the bell tower, and popping into high end shopping stores.

On this one day excursion, it occurred to me that traveling his always enhanced when you are doing it with people that you enjoy. It is fun to have a variety of perspectives and to be able to have fun discussions about the various things that you see. Overall, Venice will be beautiful for anyone who visits; however, friends are a necessary packing essential.

Slovenia and My Expectations

cropped-slovenia.jpgSlovenia inherently holds thousands of opportunities for his visitors. For me, it holds the chance for me to visit Europe for the very first time. Because my traveling has been limited to just North and South America, it is difficult to imagine what the cultural and societal differences of this far away land. In the time our class has spent preparing and learning about the trip, several things caught my interest.

The portion of the trip that I’m most looking forward to is our visit to Lake Bled. Just a short trip north from Ljubljana, the lake has a picturesque view of the Alps as well as some forest area. On this portion of the trip, the group will be taking a tour of the Bled castle which sits upon the mountain top as well as embarking on a boat ride to the Bled island which lies in the middle of the lake.

I have also done a fair amount of research on Venice. The group will only be spending a portion of the day in Venice, but I think it will be a highlight of the trip nonetheless. We are taking a boat ride across the Adriatic from Slovenia to get over to Italy. Once we have arrived, we will spend the day going to St. Mark’s Cathedral and exploring the famous canals.

Coming in with very vague expectations, I know that Europe will absolutely exceed my prior anticipations. Our group is under good leadership and well prepared for a great learning experience. I will be posting throughout the trip to provide updates and other information about the trip.

–Jack Hane

Traveling and The First Day

13244147_900270279568_8813749603638261956_oTraveling from Kansas City to Ljubljana was a painstaking process. After being awake for over 35 hours, fellow students were reminding each other that remaining awake was all a mindset. However, this was easier said than done as our group did our first day of touring throughout the city.

Upon arrival, the group managed to stay awake and kept the “no-sleep” streak alive. We began our walking tour of Ljubljana just a few hours after we landed. This included visits to various bridges, statues, churches, and examples of various architecture styles that all had their own history lesson hidden beneath the surface. My favorite visit, however, was the trip up to the castle in Ljubljana.

After a short glass gondola ride and a hike up countless flights of stairs, our group reached the top of the famous caste. In the pavilion, there were hired actors and actresses dressed in old-fashioned attire reenacting scenes from decades past. From the very top, we had an incredible view of the picturesque city and of the surrounding nature. Overall, the first day set an exciting tone for the rest of the trip and has left the group eager for more.

–Jack Hane