Sure, I could’ve traveled through Europe many different ways and done many different things along the way. Everyone is entitled to their own idea of adventure and their own idea of travel, but when I was planning our travels for the summer I kept finding adventure after adventure for us to try for the first time; each adventure giving a different meaning to the word.
Now even though we went to a few countries, most of these adventures took place in Slovenia and Croatia; both having more than enough adventurous activities to choose from (and not enough time to try them all, unfortunately). We were lucky, in that we got to try quite a few things for the first time, all thanks to a few incredible companies along the way.
Have you ever been kayaking? Or is the idea of kayaking a little daunting to you, and deemed as an adventure that is a little bit out of reach; whether it be because you are out of shape, feel your arms aren’t strong enough or just not coordinated enough. I felt all three of those things before booking a kayaking tour with Aktivist Sport in Pula, Croatia. I always see these amazing photos on Instagram of people doing these tours of places on a kayak and I am jealous. Sure there are many ways to see things–walking, driving, train, bike riding, motorbike, and so on–but the idea of kayaking in Croatia peaked my interest.
And boy am I glad it did. Kayaking with Aktivist Sport was an amazing way to see the Adriatic. We started off the day getting to the meeting point, Polje Bay, early. We wanted to relax by the water and make sure we were there on time. We are glad we did because Kamenjak National Park is beautiful. And it got packed by the time we were leaving, so it was nice to enjoy a calm morning on the water first.
For our day on the water with Aktivist Sport we chose the Kamenjak All Round full day adventure. There were about 13 of us, two to each kayak and one girl went on her own, and then our guide, Paul. We did a kayak along the coast, which was absolutely stunning, and not as strenuous as I would have thought. Everyone on the tour was around our age but definitely at different strength levels, but everyone managed. We made it to a beautiful area of the coast where everyone was able to do some cliff jumping; not me personally as my luck with rocks and water is not good (remember me breaking my leg at a waterfall?). So we enjoyed some swimming in the Adriatic, while others dared to jump (it wasn’t that scary, just not my thing). And we snorkelled a bit. But I will admit, it wasn’t that impressive to snorkel, after living on an island in the Pacific and exploring Hawaii. The water was clear and it was nice but I am spoiled.
My favourite part was personally the cave Paul took us into. It was just so cool and so blue. It was fun to swim around and explore it a bit; I had ditched my snorkel but the water was so clear you could see fish swim right by you inside. After the cave, we had a delicious lunch, that was included, at Safari Bar. There were a few options of burgers but I decided to try the calamari burger, and it was delicious. With a lemonade, as it is my favourite drink after all. After lunch we kayaked back, stopping at a lovely little beach for a quick drink and/or swim; I chose a quick ice cream, as thats more my speed.
Honestly, I am so glad I chose to do this tour, even if it was a little daunting at first. It wasn’t as hard as it looks and it was nice to experience a new way of seeing things while traveling. We had an absolutely wonderful day with Aktivist Sport and would have loved to have done more adventures with them, but our time was limited in Pula.
As soon as we arrived to Bled, Slovenia, we dropped off our stuff to our Airbnb and barely got settled in before we drove down to the lake to meet up with Spela from Bananaway so she could take me on a stand-up paddle board tour of Lake Bled. I had read all kinds of blog posts about taking the typical boats over to the island with the church in the middle to see Lake Bled, but I am not one to choose the most typical way of seeing or doing things. Originally other guys were supposed to come on the tour but it ended up being just Spela and I, and it couldn’t have turned out any better; who doesn’t like private tours of beautiful places?
Spela was so much fun, it was like hanging out with any of my girl friends, just on stand-up paddle boards. She not only took me around the lake, she had me do some awesome challenges (some I could do, some I could not). And she told interesting stories about the place; which to me is far more interesting than the history, to be honest. We even paddled to the church and we checked it out. You are not allowed inside in a bathing suit, which is what I had on, so we wandered the perimeter. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my first few hours in Bled than getting back on a stand-up paddle board, after leaving mine at home the last year. I highly recommend trying this, even if you have never been on one before. Great way to see the lake.
The day after my stand-up paddle board session with Spela, Nick and I joined 3glav Adventures for their Emerald River Adventure. It was a day packed with all kinds of activities with our guides Klavdij, who drove our van with us and 2 other couples, and the other van with Mateja as their guide.
Our first stop was Kranjska Gora to explore Jasna Lake. And then we made our way through Triglav National Park stopping every 30 minutes or so to do a lovely little stroll/hike to different points of interest in the area. It was wonderful talking to our guide Klavdij who was fascinating and knew so much about the places we stopped. Nick and I spent a lot of time talking to him, especially since we sat in the front with him while driving. We also stopped for lunch, which we were given the choice to go where we choose to eat what we want, in Kobarid. We all decided to have lunch together at a restaurant in town.
By far our favourite part of the day was trying white water rafting for the first time ever. Even better we got to try it out on the Soca River. It was the bluest, most beautiful river I have ever seen in my life. I couldn’t have imagined a better spot to try out white water rafting. They told us it was class 3 river, for rafting, which means nothing to me, but if you know white water rafting, there ya go. It was a nice moderate amount of rapids to ease our way into it. At one point we got out of the rafts on a rock and used the raft as a slide and/or jumping off point to go in the water. The water was freeeeeeeeezing. But I do not regret it. After the rafting, it started to get dark from the rain coming but we made it to Kozjak Waterfall, which was a stunning waterfall in a dark cave like area. It was hard to take photos of in the dark with the lack of sun coming through but it was still lovely.
Another highlight of the trip was taking the old train in which you drive the van onto it and you get to take the train while enjoying the view. We appreciated the view of the couple in the convertible ahead of us who spent the trip taking selfies, or photos of each other… and didn’t put the roof up on their car when it started to rain. It was quite entertaining. The last stop was Bohinj Lake which was lovely but we were so tired and it was rainy and we were ready to get back to our place. All in all, it was a lovely day packed full of active and fun adventures with 3glav.
Speaking of 3glav, we also used them to book a few other fun experiences to try out for the first time. The first being skydiving. Now I have always wanted to skydive, for the longest time. But when living at home in Toronto, the option to do it was somewhere lame (Barrie, Ontario) that didn’t interest me at all. If I am going to skydive, I am going to skydive somewhere epic. So when I saw that they offered skydiving in between mountains in Slovenia, it was a no brainer. And Nick was all for it too. Now I was trying to decide between this and hot air balloon ride over Lake Bled, and in the end, we decided to do both. Because why not?
So skydiving actually took place in Bovec, Slovenia. We drove there from where we were staying in Kranjska Gora. It wasn’t too bad a drive (very scenic) and definitely worth it. We had our jump in the afternoon, alongside two other women. The plane was used in a 007 film, which is also pretty bad-ass. As the plane went up, through the clouds, I was getting nervous. What was I thinking? I don’t have a fear of heights per se but they don’t make me all that comfortable. And lucky for me, I was sitting right at the door, so I was first to go. Honestly, I am glad I was first to jump out. It gave me very little time to second guess my decision. And what a great decision it was. It felt amazing to free-fall at first and just see all the mountains around us. The only part that didn’t sit well was once the parachute went up and the guy who was with me started doing loops, madam queazy. But alas, I survived. Would I skydive again? Nah. It was a great opportunity and I am glad I did it, but it’s not something I feel the need to do more.
Now hot air balloon ride on the other hand, I want to do that everywhere. Talk about amazing perspective for photos. We got up at the butt crack of dawn to go out on the balloon just after sunrise. We got to watch the process of getting the balloon up and running, and then we were off. Lake Bled is absolutely beautiful, even more so very early in the morning, flying over it in a hot air balloon. The experience was indescribable and I highly recommend going up there when you are staying in the area. It was the coolest thing ever. Not to mention they take you for coffee and some cake after!
All in all, our trip through Eastern Europe proved to be quite adventurous. Some active adventures and some not, but adventures nonetheless. I couldn’t have been happier, and more exhausted, than I was after spending time in Slovenia and Croatia. I highly recommend spending a little time doing some active adventures during your travels through Eastern Europe, you won’t regret it.
I was offered a complimentary tours with Aktivist Sport (Kamenjak All Around Kayaking Tour), Bananaway (SUP tour of Lake Bled) and 3glav (Emerald River Adventure), however all opinions are my own, as always you can expect complete honesty from me.