Anastasia Belova, Russia

I am ESC volunteer of youth center ULCA since December 2019 so I have been living in Ljubljana for more than 9 months. I am really passionate about traveling and participating in European Solidarity Corp program has given me the greatest opportunity to explore Slovenia and some other places abroad. Traveling in Slovenia is easy and difficult at the same time. Easy, because it’s a very small country, all the places to visit are not very far away, there is no need to take an extra holidays, the trip can be carried out on the weekend. And it’s difficult because the public transport network isn’t very well developed, if you don’t drive a car you have to find someone who does 🙂

During the time of my project, despite the lock down, I managed to visit quite a lot of places of Slovenia. Among them are locations like a Kranjska gora, Kamnisko sedlo, Piran, Koper, Velika planina, Logarska dolina, Soča valley, Maribor, Ptuj, Bled, Bohinjsko jezero, Skocjanske jama, Jezersko, Jeruzalem, Velenje, Krizna jama, Predjamski grad and many others. 

The nature of Slovenia is truly admirable! I can’t say that earlier in my life I saw as many waterfalls as I saw here. Most of all, I was impressed by Boka – the highest waterfall in Slovenia, and if you climb higher, you will get an incredible view of the valley and the waterfall itself. In addition, I was certainly struck by the river Soča with its amazing blue color. Looking at the photos on Instagram, I thought that all these are special filters, but how I was amazed when I saw the river with my own eyes. It’s real! Probably the most memorable view of Soča for me was in Tolminska korita and Most na Soči.

Anyway, the mountains are even more impressive (especially considering that from my hometown to the nearest mountains – 1000 kilometers). Before I came to the project, I almost never did Hiking, but here I really loved it. My first experience of Hiking in Slovenia was a trip to Planšarsko jezero in February. We didn’t do anything particularly difficult, but me and some other less experienced people got tired, nevertheless the landscape was very beautiful, especially in the light of the sunset. The most amazing hike for now was my trip to Kamnisko sedlo. The way was quite exhausting, 3 hours up (the last 30-40 minutes were the most difficult), but above there is just an incredible view of the Kamnik Alps and Logarska dolina, and you can still see the Rinka waterfall. We were very tired, but incredibly happy! And the most adventurous experience of hiking was my mid-term training, when during 4 days we went from Divača to Ankaran. On one of the days we visited a volunteering center in Kastelec. There we were treated to pasta with truffle and told about the activities of the center. At some point we were moving right along the Italian border and from small village of Socerb, which was on the top of the hill, we could see Trieste, Muggia, Koper and İzola. But the best part of this trip is the people who walk with you, experiencing good and difficult moments, supporting and entertaining each other!

Besides Slovenia, I was also lucky enough to visit some other countries. Unfortunately, due to the virus, I was unable to implement some of my plans, but nevertheless I managed to visit Croatia, Czechia, Germany and Italy. In truth, a wonderful place, as well as my dream come true, I can confidently call Sicily. This island is really different from the rest of Italy. It is full of its own flavor, multiculturalism, diversity of nature, as well as local cuisine. I didn’t manage to visit very many places in 5 days, but all the cities I visited surprised me with their authenticity and dissimilarity from each other. I also visited a volcano for the first time!

Whether solo or in the company of friends, traveling is something that fills me from the inside, energizes, inspires, makes me face challenges and experience happy moments. And I am grateful for this experience here and now, in wonderful Slovenia, in a happy 2020!