“Where is that” – you might ask? I’m glad you are wondering. Here are the coordinates: 46,42571°N / 13,51796°E, but if you are not too confident with your map skills, check out the sphere view on google maps, which I’m going to link later on in the text. But, before I tell you more about this special spot, let me start from the beginning.

five billion star hotel (short) (3)My best friend, adventure companion and my girlfriend (yes, she is a pro at multitasking), is one to thank for our first, second and probably a third visit to Slovenia. Beautiful, clean and preserved surroundings filled with well spirited people is not a thing that you can easily get out of your system. Especially when you know that great time is guaranteed. After swimming in a nearby lake, wondering why people enjoyed that cold glacier water, we arrived at a familiar surroundings. Narrow winding mountain roads with no police in sight, because people respect safety, self and others – bring us to a tidy countryside place in the north-east called Bovec. Although fairly small, it is a lively place, filled with thrill seekers. When you look around you can see why. High mountain peaks, fast rivers, swerving roads, abandoned fortresses and tunnels mixed with astonishing wonders of creation speak volumes. History of this place is rich, and well documented in local museums. It is carved with strong sense of freedom. While many tried to conquer it with small and big guns, and failed in that attempt, the area can now be surmounted in good shoes, trekking poles and fair amount of good will.

five-billion-star-hotel-(short)-(6)We encamped on a nearby meadow, which was featured in a known Slovenian movie describing the events at youth scout camp. After setting up huge kitchen, dining and living room tents with the power of team work, skilled craftsman proceeded with setting up warm showers. Well, at least they were warmer than the turquoise river we swam in every day after lunch time. Let me tell you, there’s no greater feeling than washing away the soap from your tired face while watching clouds and birds dancing in freedom above you. Awesome international crew finally gathered from four corners of the earth. The tents were set up, chores were given and new faces introduced while fire was crackling in the background. With the closing words of camp organizers and speaker that night, food for our mind was handed out and we were ready for the week that was to come.

five billion star hotel (short) (2)

The Hotel

Weird thing about it is that it’s completely free, there’s no booking fee either, but you have to bring your own food and bed. We started packing, which is not an easy task having in mind that you have to pack safety equipment, helmet, lamp, food, lots of water, sleeping mat, sleeping bags, and of course – pajamas! “Less is more” serves me well in art, as in mountaineering, which is pretty self-explanatory when it comes to carrying all that stuff on your back. After having an early dinner, and trying out spread made from herbs people collected that afternoon, we headed out. Transportation was left at the Lago del Predil (also known as Rabeljsko lake) in the Italian Province of Udine. We cheerfully started our ascension at 969m, creating future music hits through the forest, while the sun was setting down. Short break to refill our bottles in valley of the white stream, and we continue, but the smell of barbecue was haunting us. Was it hunger playing mind games, or somebody was in the forest at this hour? Probably both, but explanation was later found. Friendly faces having late dinner greeted us, as we refilled our bottles for the last time next to their cottage. Route ahead of us was not long, but very demanding. Moon was hidden that night so we had to use our headlamps to help out with finding safe place for our feet. Small rocks often crumbling underneath were a reminder to stay focused and disciplined. Clear white mountain top was waiting for our group. There was no time for wasting, as the wind started howling and the temperature difference was more obvious. Finally, at 1950m we found a miniature plain protected by two majestically protruding peaks. You had to be fast with changing your wet clothing and preparing for the night we needed to recharge our body. We’ve made groups of 5, putting our mats below and surrounding our “rooms” with rocks, backpacks, hanging clothes on trekking poles to prevent any wind from coming through.  While competing on who will find a bigger stone and farthest toilet we found few burrows. After all it was a pet friendly hotel.

five billion star hotel (short) (4)Finally we were on our backs, looking like a regular pack of sardines with our sleeping bags wrapped all the way up to our heads, leaving just a small portion of our face which allowed us to discover the meaning of that hotel’s name. With no artificial light to disturb us, we could enjoy counting meteors bursting into our atmosphere, and admire marvelous layout of the sky map. Those 5 billion stars were rightfully awarded to this venue.

Sunrise was gracious. Layer upon layer of different orange, red and grey was alternating in front of us. We enjoyed THE view from a rock, and after short breakfast and packing we stopped one more time to contemplate on the words from Psalm 19 which gave us something to think about as we were conquering the “Trbiška Krniška” summit at 2257m.

Thrill of via ferrata (Italian for “iron road” or klettersteig in German) can’t be missed. Hikers can connect otherwise isolated trail systems together to create longer hikes by using ferratas. The core element of via ferrata is a heavy-gauge steel cable which runs along the route and is periodically (every 3 to 10 metres) fixed to the rock. You follow the dramatic path by securing yourself with two carabiners attached to lanyard which is connected to your climbing harness, keeping the safe distance between people and respecting every rock, metal bar and rung. Every curve offers an awarding view which asks for a moment of silence while you absorb the sheer magnificence of the Julian Alps.

Sun was following our dynamic descend all the way to the mountain hut “Corsi”, after we lost it in the nearby forest covered with brown leaves, which was a hint that the season was about to change.  Back in the camp, lunch was waiting for us, and we were eager and happy to see our main cook and her helpers.

To conclude

Alpine camp was packed with all sorts of activities, events, workshops, games, and food which was diligently organised by Pathfinder club Slovenia. Relaxed atmosphere, great people and interesting stories await to be heard. To top the whole programme they traditionally organize concert in the local 15th century fort “Kluže” which is also a 5 billion star event, where the music hits medieval walls and hearts of the people, spreading out towards the blue dusk.five billion star hotel (short) (1)I’m not saying you have to visit Slovenia and “Alpine camp” in order to experience the full potential of this hotel, although I strongly recommend it. Pack a few things, get outside, lay a hammock in a safe, remote area and gaze at the splendor of our universe. You’ll enjoy resetting your biological clock, away from the noise of notifications, electronics and the city. Your body, mind and soul will be thankful for it – I can guarantee it.

In the meantime open the gallery and enjoy the photos:

All photos are for your enjoyment and are property of their respective owners. © (Gregor Česnik; Miroslav Cmarko; Scott Cresswell; Miroslav Boljević; Alpine Camp; Pathfinder club Slovenia)
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