Notes from Slovenia

By Kyle Hoekstra

Twenty-four hours after first beholding the pearl of the Slovenian coast, we’re leaving. I’m sticky with sweat as I slump in the back of the coach, and if I felt like turning around I’d see Piran’s shores crowded, its sun merciless.

I’d be optimistic if I wasn’t so exhausted. We’ve spent a week exploring Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana, its mountainous interior and now its Mediterranean coastline. A week left until the flight home, it’s tempting to wander into Croatia, Austria or Italy.

But my partner Daisy looks at me through the red glow of the flapping curtains, squinting between rays of breaking sunlight with an uneasy smile.

“Should we-” she starts. “Should we go back to Bohinj?”

A different world exists 200km north of Piran. And we were there yesterday, paddling in its placid waters which are a mirror to the Julian Alps and a stage for impressive waterfalls, Mount Vogel’s slopes and the rustic idyll of the Voje Valley.

On our first evening Lake Bohinj was wrapped in sleep. Mist clung to the surface and drifted above in easy clouds, and we stood with some walkers gazing at a rowboat in the gentle drizzle. The next day the water shone the loveliest blue, and we dipped in our own oars, hopping in at the east and sliding onto white-pebbled beaches somewhere in the middle. Sometimes a kayaker would come upon us and offer a silent smile, before resuming their meditative rhythm.

We leave to Piran clinging to this sense of adventure. But for all the charm of mussel joints concealed in medieval alleys and the splendid views from the town walls, I feel uncomfortable. Even content with the sea shimmering brightly before me, I long for the cool stillness of those quiet Alpine shores.

Not keen on waking up into another salty, sweaty haze, we find ourselves on a coach in merely a torment of irresolution, which is also stuffy, muggy and I’m afraid, very sweaty.

“Should we go back to Bohinj?” Daisy says, squinting, smiling.

I realise then that I found a place that satisfies my soul. I wouldn’t give that up for a few more pins on my map.

The next evening we’re drinking beer in the warmth of a sinking Slovenian sun, a ruddy flush mellowing the western sky, silhouetting rising mountains shrouded in distance and at their base, the lonely – and irresistible – Lake Bohinj.

Kyle Hoekstra

June 2015 issue

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