Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Paragliding in Slovenia

On my final day in Ljubljana, Slovenia, I went paragliding for the first time in my life! I definitely hope I'll get to do it again sometime! My experience seems to have come as a surprise to many....I guess for a couple of reasons. Many people don't know that I used to be rather athletic, train horses, bike 20 miles every other day, and compete on a top swim team, etc. Indeed. I haven't done anything except walking/hiking for several years! There are many things that don't necessarily come up in music conversations! :-) Almost every trip I've been on, I've done some sort of hiking. Sometimes, it's low and slow and other times, it's rather rigorous. I remember when came back from Brazil and remarked that I needed a new camera and mentioned that I had dropped it while hiking in a portion of the jungle down to the Foz do Iguacu and then it got super wet from the rainy falls. That turned some heads. LOL. People see what they want to see I suppose. Sometimes overweight people actually ARE active movers and shakers (and eat like the average person, but whatever).
My view from taxi on the way to the Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport (Letališče Jožeta Pučnika Ljubljana),
also known by its previous name Brnik Airport
I've always wanted to go hang gliding, but on my past two trips to Europe - while on trains between cities - I have seen a TON of paragliders over the hills and valleys. This sparked my interest and this summer, I decided to give it a try. Being a novice, I tried tandem paragliding - when you have a pilot and they really do the flying while you hold on and enjoy! I did not travel for one weekend so as to be able to afford it. When I got to Slovenia, I was also on the lookout for hot air balloon rides, but they were not available and paragliding was! A new friend of mine that I met in Slovenia, knows someone who is a paragliding pilot so I used her wonderful help and connection to meet Primož Lajevec who works for the Loop Acrocup Propilot company and team. He actually does all the extreme sports and knows Felix Baumgartner (Red Bull "space" jump). In fact, Primož helped break the balloon drop record, info here.
Paragliding in Slovenia, 2013 - I took this pic of the pilot that went just before us!
Primož picked me up at the Ljubljana airport and we drove througha small town over to the base of the Krvavec mountain. Then, we drove up to the walking point and walked a tiny bit up to the gliding site. It was steep and I quickly got out of breath. There were also a LOT of black ants all over the place on the walk up there, odd. Anyway, once up at the site of a slope on the mountain, there were several pilots waiting for the wind to be just right and to take off. We got fitted with all the gear.

Next, Primož said that when he counts down and says go, to  > R U N <
The first try, I fell after four steps and we had to start over. The second try, I slipped on some rocks and fell, bringing us both down and I scraped the HECK out of my leg. lastly, he added guys on my left and right sides to help pull up and sure enough, they did when I fell a third time. I had tried leaning more forward and that really helped, but I still fell. My legs were somewhat weak and I can only guess that it might be because I was about two months out of surgery and still occasionally feeling low on energy. Nonetheless, we got airborne and it was GLORIOUS!

I took some video for a couple of minutes and then discovered that it didn't take. GRRRR so I tried it again and was able to get about 33 seconds before I realized it was making me dizzy. We were up there for about 25 or so minutes I think and when he began to circle like a bird, I did indeed start feeling motion sick and wished I had remembered to take my medicine. Then, I remembered I'd gone through a cab ride, car ride, and now was airborne so I really should have taken it. I will never forget again. Here I am enjoying it though! So awesome! It really was like being a bird.

I saw a castle and we went toward the castle. Ljubljana looked INSANELY SMALL from up there! I was surprised at how high we were! It wasn't any cooler (it was 99 that day), but it was windy up there. I got a bit dehydrated, but it was all worth it and I really want to go again. I also want to try parasailing!

Here is the video I took. I wave my feet, haha! I also am giving a thumb's up at the very end :-)

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