Crossing Slovenia 2008
Expedition in Slovenia
Somewhere in March I have decided to join the group of enthusiast that draw a line diagonally across Slovenia in order to find the longest route from the Northeast down to the Southwest part of our country and then to try and follow this imaginary line as close as possible using existing smaller back roads and to avoid all major roads and motorways.
Finally, the big day arrived and the gathering started on a warm and sunny Friday, 2nd of May at the border crossing at HODOŠ (Hungarian-Slovenian border: N46 49.321 E16 20.599). There we met with other foreign teams who would also join us on this epic journey - Misi and Tomas from Hungary in a DEF 90, Phil and Kate from England in a Series III and Helmut from Austria in a DEF 110 SW. The convoy of 11 Land Rovers soon set off and headed South through the charming villages and fields of the “Goričko” area. Due to the remoteness of this region we were not able to clearly pinpoint the track and thus got lost several times in some vineyards and forested areas. This all contributed to the true adventure and spirit of the expedition. Shortly after, Phil observed that the wheel bearing on his old Series III had failed and the following day a repair would be scheduled at the designated camp site. After passing Slovenia's second largest city Maribor, we headed into the hills of “Pohorje” where we first stopped off for lunch by the World Ski cup slope.
Continuing on through the “Pohorje” region, we travelled through its immense forests and managed to get lost again.
Later on that afternoon, we managed to cruise ourselves to first camp site by the “Šmartinsko jezero / Šmartinsko Lake” (N46 16.603 E15 15.394), where everything was set up for a barbecue party. After putting up our ground tents and roof-tents and preparing the vehicles for the overnight night stay, we gathered for a great dinner where it finally gave us the chance to relax and get to know one another better.
The following day the weather had worsened, however luckily for us it was not raining and it was not any colder. Three more teams joined us in the morning and we headed back into the rugged hills and forests (both of which are a common feature of the Slovene landscape) and we continued our journey at a decent pace. To give the participants a sense as to how severe Slovenian forests can really be, we took a really battered and rough old path which had almost been forgotten about. Surprisingly, none encountered any problems on this ragged path and even the new Freelander II passed through without even a scratch!
At the top of the hill, lunch was waiting for us and we enjoyed some traditional Slovenian food. As a bonus, we were treated to a rare performance of a musician playing tunes on cow bells. In the restaurant a birthday party was held and the musician played two further songs on more than 15 bells of different sizes. We follow the track for a couple of kilometers to take group photo in official geografical center of Slovenia, near village Vače.
After this cultural delight, we descended into the valley and followed the river Sava, which is longest river in Slovenia. We were soon back in a thick forest and heading toward the outskirts of Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia.
We by passed the city on its southern edge as we didn't want such a large convoy of Land Rovers getting any unnecessary and unwanted attention. The final part of the day’s journey led us to the camp site in the picturesque valley of “Iški Vintgar” (N45 54.619 E14 29.847) where the field repair was already waiting for Phil. While we were enjoying a fish dinner (fresh trout from a nearby stream), some of the lads managed to completely replace the destroyed bearing and Phil prepared himself for a test drive in the nearby parking place.
That night it finally started to rain (according to the weather forecast rain was forecast already for Friday) which was actually quite refreshing as we had tasted already plenty of dust on the first two days. In the morning, even more Land Rovers joined us and by the time we left, 19 teams had joined us for the final day of the expedition. We continued on through the dense forests of the “Notranjska” region, the beautiful “Cerkniško” lake and headed towards the Italian border by which time morning had already come and gone. Occasional rain gave us that additional spice to do some mild off roading but also ensured that our cars were relatively clean most of the time. Coming over the hills and in view of the Adriatic sea and coastline, we descended into to the delta of the border river “Dragonja” where we reached our final destination, the border crossing with Croatia at “Sečovlje” by 18.00 that evening. (N45 27.934 E13 37.290).
A few hundred meters further, we all parked at the small “Portorož” airport and officially finished our expedition.We opened several bottles of champagne and organised the cars and participants for a final group photo, after which we dispersed and headed home.