Nasvidenje Slovenia

Here we are, a few days later, and I am now home and rested.  Traveling home from Slovenia was not an easy task–a canceled flight in Washington D.C. led to an additional string of travels including an Uber ride to another airport, two more rescheduled flights through Chicago, and about 14 additional hours of travel.  After nearly 40 hours of travel, a shower, and a nice 15 hour nap, I am feeling like a human again.

Reflecting on this study abroad experience and the opportunities we had throughout the trip, I can be nothing but thankful.  This trip is one I will carry with me for the rest of my life, and I have no doubt that I will be traveling back to Slovenia again.  I can’t stay away!  I hope that I can now tell others about this often forgotten country as a sort of ambassador.  I can now attest to the beautiful and unique historical aspects of the country, and I walk away with an increased understanding of global business.

I am so thankful for the opportunity we all had to travel to Europe, for John and Amanda and all of the work they did in planning this trip and coming back for a second time, and for Petra, our outstanding guide throughout the duration of our trip.  I am also thankful for the University of Kansas and the study abroad office for coordinating this trip.

When can I go back? Nasvidenje, Slovenia (for now)!

Kylie Personette

I’m not leaving.

What better a way to close out this amazing trip but with a trip to the beautiful lakeside city of Bled, home to only 4,000 people.  Bled is so much different from Ljubljana and Piran which is crazy, considering that Slovenia is only about the size of New Jersey in terms of area.  The country has so much geographic and topographical diversity despite its small size.

Bled is nestled in the Julian Alps and surrounds a lake that contains Slovenia’s only island.  Overlooking the lake is a beautiful old castle on the side of a steep rock cliff, and the whole area is essentially what you’d find on a postcard.  It’s seriously, unbelievably beautiful.  The castle was quite the spectacle, and the views from the top were unmatched.

The other spectacle of the day was the boat ride to the island and time spent in the church.  As Petra told us, only twenty families have the rights to run commercial coats back and forth between the coast and the island.  In addition, no motorized watercraft are allowed on the lake.  All of these actions are in an effort to maintain the lake’s serene appeal.

All in all, Bled was beautiful, and I couldn’t be happier to depart after such a perfect day.  I am sure that this will not be my only trip to Slovenia!

Kylie Personette

KRKAmazing

While I have absolutely no interest in pharmaceuticals, today we visited Krka and it was the coolest tour we’ve been on since our trip began.  We toured Notol 2, a 200 million Euro addition to Krka’s Novo Mesto production facility along the Krka River.  As I mentioned, pharmaceutical research and production is not really a topic of interest to me, however, this building was planned and built for tour groups.  From the beginning, we entered a sort of gallery with a large visual timeline of Krka’s history and some of the drugs it has produced.  After observing the gallery, we watched a video about the company’s focuses and so-called “vertical flow” production technique.  We then got to take a glass elevator through the production facility that was aided by video presentations as well.

The whole presentation showed that the facility was clearly constructed with tour groups in mind. It was impressive that this design plan was taken into consideration during construction.  The company was smart in planning this tour route because it provides an excellent opportunity for marketing, and the high-tech gadgets featured make the tour both impressive and memorable.

Overall, it was a pretty calm day, since we were free in the afternoon (which left me some napping time to catch up on sleep!) I’m looking forward to our last full day, but I’m also sad that we’ll be leaving soon.  I’m so in love with Slovenia.

Kylie Personette

OMG Airplanes

I am by far the most excited about our visits today because they included an AEROSPACE COMPANY! This morning, we visited Pipistrel, which is an aerospace company only 28 years old. It was started by a man named Ivo Boscarol who initially had no intention of building a business; he just had a knack for building model gliders.  However, once he constructed his own full size hang glider, others began to make requests that he build aircraft for them, and once he acquired the proper license, Pipistrel began. (On a side note, the gliders looked like bat wings, so locals would call him “the bat.”  “Bat” in Latin is “pipistrellus.”)

The aircraft produced by Pipistrel today are part of the microlight category, meaning that they can’t exceed around 475 kilograms with a full passenger load and full fuel tanks (if they have fuel tanks). On multiple occasions , I saw single people pushing the aircraft to the appropriate locations without help from anyone else, so they really must be light!  I have decided that I need a Taurus, which is Pipistrel’s powered glider.  The Taurus has a retractable electric propeller motor that allows it to take off without being towed into the air which is quite remarkable!  Other models produced by Pipistrel have one international competitions, and Pipistrel has claimed the title three times in a NASA competition.

Overall, today was very interesting, but Pipistrel was definitely the coolest thing I’ve seen here.  I cannot get enough of Slovenia!

Kylie Personette

Croatia… Kind Of

Today was so exciting because it was a free day!  We had the opportunity to do whatever we wanted, and I decided that along with a group of eight others, we were going to bike to Croatia.  And this doesn’t sound like that big of a deal since Croatia and Slovenia share a border just a few kilometers away from Piran, but boy was it a long ride.

We started out heading toward a harbor just east of Portorož, and it took us through a camp ground.  We stuck along the coastline where there was a pretty well defined bike path, and we gradually made it over to Sečovlje Salt-pans, one of Slovenia’s national parks where salt is seasonally harvested.  The ride was absolutely beautiful, and we didn’t realize how long it was until we had to ride the whole way back!

Not too far from the salt fields, we rode by Portorož’s airport which consists of a single take-off and landing strip.  We got to see some small planes and skydivers which was pretty cool!  We eventually made our way to the Slovenian-Croatian border and approached Passport Control… on our bicycles.  I can’t say that’s something I’ve ever done before so that was a first!  We got stamps from both Slovenia and Croatia (proof that we actually made it across the border) and then had to make a decision about where to head next.

While we wanted to see the Croatian coast, we thought the highway would be the best route to get anywhere significant.  BOY was that a mistake!  The highway was entirely uphill, and we ended up walking our bikes for about two kilometers.  At that point, there was no sign of downhill road anywhere and we decided to turn back.  It was a long ride back because we were all sore and exhausted, but some might consider it a bonding experience!  All in all, we approximated about 23 kilometers round-trip, and I’d consider that a pretty good day.

And that’s how we made it to Croatia… on bikes… kind of.

Kylie Personette

Ciao, Venezia

IMG_9838.JPGToday was our first weekend day on the trip, and we made it to Venice! Unfortunately, the two hour boat ride wasn’t enough to get us away from the rain on the Adriatic Coast. Venice was a bit cold and rainy, but still pretty beautiful. I managed to get a good picture of the main canal despite the less than ideal weather!

St. Mark’s Basilica was absolutely breathtaking, and it’s unbelievable that something of such a large scale and something so beautiful could ever be made without the use of modern tools. The whole square was quite beautiful–the architectural details were spared for no buildings, and they were all very intricate. We also made it to the Rialto Bridge, which seems so much larger in person! After visiting Venice, I understand why so many see it as a city of love.

While Venice was nice, it just absolutely does not compare to what we’ve seen of Slovenia. This country is far more beautiful, and the lower levels of tourism and emphasis on green living make it a very clean country. I couldn’t wait to get back. Nothing compares to this beautiful country!

Kylie Personette

International Panoramic Views

As if Ljubljana wasn’t evidence enough of how beautiful this country is, today we made it to the coastal cities of Piran and Portorož.  The two are within walking distance of each other, and there are beautiful views the entire way.  Both cities scream “history” at you, and both are filled with authentic paved streets and tightly packed apartment buildings heavily influenced by the Venetian style.  Tartini Square, named after Giuseppe Tartini and formerly a part of Piran’s harbor, is paved with marble, and it functions as the “living room” of the city (as Petra put it), because it serves as a gathering point for both relaxation and recreation.  The area is absolutely stunning.

The highlight of today was not only walking through these beautiful cities, but seeing them from the top of the hill in Piran, on which there is a large, old church.  The hill is supported on one side by a huge stone wall, and if you peek over the side of the wall, the sea crashes into the base of the wall where there is also a walking path–I think if you stuck me on that path, I might never leave here.  The wall had some delicate pink flowers growing out of it, but none of my words can do this sight justice.  I am just unbelievably in awe of this country.  If you look out a little further, you can see the coast of the northeastern part of Italy.

Looking out from the other side of the hill, you can see some lighthouses and buildings of a similar style to the Piran area, but you are actually looking at Croatia.  There is just nothing like this in the United States; I could stand on a single point at the top of a hill that isn’t too tall, and from this point, I could see three separate countries.

This trip has been such an eye-opening experience thus far, and it gets me excited to come back to Europe at a later date and continue to soak up the cultural experiences this continent has to offer.  The cultures across country lines here seem to melt together, however each country maintains its distinct history that differentiates it from the others.  Venice will undoubtedly be a different experience tomorrow from what I’ve been exposed to in Slovenia, and I can’t wait to add another country to my list!

The one word I have learned that really expresses my feelings for this country: ljubezen (love).

Kylie Personette