When an invite came to visit Slovenia, to glamp by the stunningly picturesque Lake Bled, visit castles, stay in a spa retreat, discover Slovenia’s natural beauty and its cuisine, I was over the moon, as you can imagine.
But, and it was a big but, how would I cope with the hiking, canyoning and white water rafting that was also on the itinerary. Was I fit enough? The answer to that was a resounding “No”. While I was eager to try the rafting, long hikes up mountains and throwing myself off waterfalls was really not my style. And yet how could I refuse?
So I said yes.
And for the next five weeks I got outside every day I possibly could, which was most days, and found the nearest hill to walk up and down and back up again. After just a couple of weeks I was starting to notice the difference. I feel so much better for it and I’m determined to keep it up. I also lost nearly a stone in weight. Having lost my Dad last year and turned 50 back in February, I had already been thinking about really making the most of life and getting fitter so I could do the things I dreamed of. This trip was just the focus I needed to start putting those thoughts into action.
I still had two big worries though. Firstly, would I annoy everyone by slowing them up and, secondly, how the hell was I going to bring myself to jump off cliffs into pools of water as I had seen people do while canyoning? While I had in part overcome my fear of heights over the last year or two by pushing myself to do things that I really wasn’t remotely comfortable with, like climbing the Asinelli Tower in Bologne, I knew that I still got giddy every time I looked down an escalator on the London Underground or sometimes even just a simple flight of stairs.
Our first morning in Slovenia and an unexpected challenge
We arrived late at night at the Hotel Celjska Koca, just outside the town of Celje in northern Slovenia. It was completely dark so it wasn’t until the next morning that I got my first glimpse of the beautiful coutry we were visiting. And what a glorious view it was too (as you’ll see in the video). It wasn’t long though before we were facing our first challenge. One that wasn’t even on the itinerary – The Celjska Koca Adventure Park. I’m rather glad we didn’t know about it in advance. It’s rather like an assault course up in the trees. We had a safety demonstration and learnt how to use the carabiners and the zip line trolley. While the instructors would be close at hand below us, we’d be on our own up in the trees and responsible ourselves for using the equipment safely.
Having donned the harnesses and helmets we made our way to the start point. I was more than a little nervous, yet eager to get started (or should that be to get it over with). Five bloggers and journalists ascended into the trees. I wasn’t the only one that was scared of heights and even though I’d only met everyone the night before I already felt a camaraderie growing within the group.
above: Pedro, from Travel With Pedro, flying high on the black level of the course.
A week or so later, back at home, when I finally grabbed at moment to look at the video I had taken on my GoPro, I laughed so much. I don’t remember me being quite such a wuss. I found the video so funny that I just had to share it. I hope you laugh as much as I did.
So my first experience of an aerial assault course didn’t go quite to plan. I really can’t believe that I’m even thinking of doing more of this. The thing is, I surprised myself in really loving the zip line, until it started going backwards that is. Getting stuck and simply hanging there, way up in the air, feeling totally out of control, was horrid at the time. And although pulling myself back along the wire was hard work, really hard work. I still managed to do it. Knowing that does give me confidence. When it came to the black course I was already exhausted. That was the real problem. I simply wasn’t fit enough. Losing a few more stones would certainly help too.
There’s something I noticed last weekend when I visited London, however, I didn’t get giddy when I looked down the escalators. At the time of doing the treetop course I was so busy worrying about physically getting around it that the height seemed fairly irrelevant. I had never done anything remotely like this before and I was surprised just how safe I felt with the equipment we were using. Has my fear of heights vanished? Will I be daft enough to do this again? We’ll see.
And how did I get on with the other exciting, adrenaline inducing activities they had in store for us that week? I’m afraid you’ll have to wait to find out.
For more stunning views of Slovenia check out my previous post, The Lakes, Mountains and Forests of Slovenia.
Thanks to Best Press Story for organising this fabulous press trip to Slovenia and to Celjska Koca Hotel and Adventure Park. While my travel, accommodation, meals and activities were all complimentary, as always I will only ever share with you my own thoughts and honest opinions. All photographs* and videos are my own and subject to copyright unless otherwise stated.
*Photograph of myself with the other bloggers and journalists on the trip by Aleš Peklenik.