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|Frank Bernheisel: The View From Here|
Just Outside Washington
FRANK BERNHEISEL & KATHY CAVANAUGH
VISITING WHAT WAS ONCE YUGOSLAVIA: PART 3
This morning's excursion was to Kranjska Gora, about a 45-minute drive away from our Lake Bled hotel. We traveled by coach on new four-lane highways and on small roads. There was a lot of new construction and, in Jenesice, an aluminum factory dating from the Yugoslav era.
Sasha arranged for us to drive past Kranjska Gora so we could stop at the Slovenia-Italy border. Slovenia is part of the EU and a member of the euro zone so there is no barrier. We left the bus and walked a short distance through the old border station into Italy -- just so we could say we were there. It was interesting to see the white stone markers going up the mountain indicating the border. Sasha said that if we went to the very top, we could have one foot in Slovenia, one in Italy, then bend over and touch Austria with our hand.
We then went to the Planica Nordic Center, a very interesting place. It has one ski-flying hill, seven ski-jumping hills, and indoor cross-country skiing track in Planica, Slovenia. It is the largest Nordic Centre in the world.
Ski flying started in 1936 in Planica, when 18-year-old Austrian Josef Sepp Bradl became the first man in history to land a ski jump of over 100 meters.
It is a summer and winter training center for ski jumping and cross-country skiing. In the winter there is a ski jump area that is used when the Winter Cup events are in Slovenia. In the summer there are multiple ski jumping practice hills for children, youth, and the Bloudek Giant for the real athletes.
It was fascinating to watch the skiers come down the ramps, fly though the air and land on rubberized mats that are watered down to keep it slippery. The professional jump is obviously the one to the far right.
We then made a short stop at the source of the Sava (River) Dolinka, which merges with Sava Bohinjka near Bled and then goes on to the Danube and then the Black Sea. The Sava is one of Europe´s ecologically and culturally most interesting lifelines. Along its length of 565 miles, it connects four countries and more than 8 million people.
Large sections of the Sava are free flowing and extensive floodplains and alluvial forests have been preserved. Also, the Sava has been dammed to produce hydroelectric power; hydro power constitutes over 27 percent of Slovinia’s consumption.
We then had time to wander around Kranjska Gora, a small village, which looked very Alpine.
Like most of the places in Slovenia, tourism is its main source of income and in this case, skiing. Part of the main street in the village is pedestrian-only, which is why Frank can stand in the middle of the street. There were not a lot of people as this was the off-season.
That evening there was a Vantage dinner for our tour group as well as the Vantage group ending their trip, which was the same as ours but in the reverse direction. We had an opportunity to hear about what to expect from them. We also met Zoran, who replaced Sasha as our guide for the rest of the trip.
TO BE CONTINUED...
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