June 27, 2023
We can’t believe this is the final update we are writing about this fantastic trip with this phenomenal group!! We could not have asked for a more memorable, and fun 2 weeks together.
After descending from our trekking section, the excitement and cool views did not end. We stayed right along Lake Bohinj, and everyone was ready to jump in the lake as soon as we got there. The lake was beautiful and encapsulated in the mountains we were just trekking through! We were even able to look up and spot some of the mountain huts we stayed in which were super cool.
We enjoyed being able to sleep in the next morning and were well rested for our day hike to a waterfall. This felt easy for our group compared to the mountains we had just hiked through. It was a relaxing hike along the river and Crawford found such joy in the waterfall at the end! Post hike, we enjoyed another classic alpine meal at a hut nestled in the valley. In the afternoon, we went rock climbing! Every single person made it to the top and tried out a variety of routes. Tally and Evie were especially quick and skilled climbers. It was fun getting to cheer everyone on and race when two people climbed next to each other. The final big stop of the day was getting to go to the Slovenian Supermarket for some chocolate and snacks. You would have thought these kids had never been into a store in their life! We hit the jackpot on Slovenian goodies, and everyone taste tested each person’s purchases. That night, we got to Kranjska Gora which would be our final mountain hut we stayed in before going to Ljubljana. This place might win for the most breathtaking view! Sarah and Sophia can attest to the most unreal sunset of all time. The entire sky and mountains were varying shades of pink as the sun slipped away. So amazing!!
On our full day in Kranjska Gora, we took one of our favorite hikes of the whole trip. We were so high up, it felt like we were on top of the world! By now, we really are mountaineers. It was second nature as we traversed across the steep, uphill rocky terrain to reach an incredible summit. From our viewpoint, we could see Slovenia, Italy, AND Austria. We enjoyed relaxing in the grassy meadow and playing some fun games. It was the perfect hike to end the trip on! For lunch we headed down to a sweet spot on the lake for some delicious food. After, Nolan kept the energy high and started a conga line to our lake swimming spot. We cooled off by jumping in the lake and tanning on the dock. Sarah bravely jumped in at least three times even though the water was freezing! Marc enjoyed some ice cream as he took in the mountain views surrounding us. For dessert (which we are now used to having at both lunch and dinner!) our guides took us to a cool food truck at the bottom of the ski slopes with dessert waffles and pancakes. Cookies and snickers were the groups two favorites! Lizzie was a great judge since she tried each one. For the rest of the afternoon, we hung out and Katherine played some guitar with James. To wrap up the day, we went to a hidden spot with a 360 view of the mountains to watch the sunset and have Moonup. This place is hard to describe! It was just us, towering mountains, and a whole pack of sheep. William and Vishaan enjoyed chasing the sheep around and attempting to pet them. James serenaded us all with a guitar performance as we soaked up our final moments together!
On our last day, we made the most of our drive from Kranjska Gora to Ljubljana by stopping at the famous Lake Bled. We went swimming in this bright blue lake where we had a perfect view of the iconic island with a church. We had one of the greatest meals of the whole trip at a pizza place in town. Katherine said it was the best pizza she had had in her life! We were all blown away. We also surprised our guide Miha with an early birthday celebration by singing to him and giving him his favorite type of chocolate. Even though his birthday is not for a few more days, the group wanted to do something special for him before they left. Of course, we had to grab some homemade gelato after as we continued to search for the best gelato place in Slovenia. Once arriving in Ljubljana, it was time to hit all the local shops. Both the guys and girls found some snazzy outfits and showed them off at our banquet dinner. It was fun to walk around this charming European city! For our banquet dinner, we sat alongside the river at a burger restaurant. Some of the best fries, burgers, salads, and chicken sandwiches EVER! It was the perfect last meal. Still saving room for dessert, we enjoyed finding our last gelato spot to try! It did not disappoint. We could not have asked for a more awesome day to end our trip on. It was so great!
As we reflect on these past two weeks, we just wanted to say a HUGE thank you for sending your fantastic kids on this trip. Thank you for believing in the power of a Moondance experience and allowing us to share this unforgettable adventure with them! It is so fun to watch a group go from strangers to best friends. I hope each and every one of them had the trip of a lifetime! We will never forget this special group and the impact they had on us as leaders. Slovenia is a magical place and truly a hidden gem! We hope that everyone will keep in touch, cherish these new friendships, and look back on these memories forever!! Thank you, SLO 1B.
We love you guys!
James and Walker
June 25, 2023
We have finished our trekking section of the trip and what a section it was! We departed our camp in the Soča Valley, and departed for the trailhead on Tuesday morning, but of course we had to stop by some cliff jumping spots along the way. The water of the Soča river once again blew us away with how clear it was and the beautiful terrain surrounding it. In fact, it was so clear that we could see the trout swimming on the bottom, and Will was quick to devise a strategy of how to sink to the bottom and float upriver to catch them with his hands. The result included 11 laughing kids and 2 laughing leaders when he came up screaming about how cold it was when he tried to swim to the bottom of the river. Despite the failed fishing attempt and warnings of low water temperature, Crawford, Vishaan, and Marc still indulged in cliff jumping until they were tempted out of the water by some fresh Slovenian strawberries. I cannot begin to describe the sensations that were happening in my mouth when I bit into the first one. The team made short work of the 5 boxes, and I believe a huge contributor to that was the fluid 2 handed motion that Sarah and Katherine adopted while eating strawberry after strawberry. It was truly a spectacle!
After finishing up at our swimming hole, it was time to head to the trailhead where we refueled with some delicious crepes. After distributing the trekking poles and tightening up those hiking boots, it was time to embark on our trekking journey. It was a solid uphill hike up to our first mountain hut where we ran into some unexpected guest: the other Slovenia Moondance group! It was great seeing the other group, swapping stories with them, and explaining to them that there was no way they were having as much fun as we were. After hanging out at the mountain hut for a little bit, we figured we’d do some exploring to lake Krn. It was beautiful! Everyone was blown away, but I believe that Evie was especially so because she was speechless for a good fifteen minutes before looking over at us from her rock perch and simply saying, “Wow.” After we basked in the beauty of the lake and mountains around us, we figured we’d send a video to our favorite Slovenian artist: Ali en. Sarah, Caroline, and Lizzie led this choreographed dance to his song, “Who’s the real Kekec?”, and got the entire group dancing to the song in front of the lake. After a delicious meal of alpine cuisine prepared by the chefs in the mountain hut, it was time for Moonup and some well needed rest. Moonup was held at another lake, closer to the hut, and we were just across the lake from the other Moondance group. While the nug jug was open, Nolan exclaimed across the lake, “NUGS TO SLOVENIA A”, to which we received, “NUGS TO SLOVENIA B,” in response. It is truly awesome to see how well the groups got along, even if it was just in passing for the night.
The next morning, we said our goodbyes to the other Slovenia group and went our separate ways. Our first stop on our journey was at a cheese farm. It was a very small cottage along the trail where a farmer, Tonya, lives and makes cheese. She was generous enough to allow us into her home and show us how she made the cheese. She also allowed us to sample some of the cheese she was making, and Tally and Sophia fell in love with it. Tonya then guided us into the back room, where all the wheels of cheese were stored. The whole group was in awe, as none of us had seen something like this before, but Tally was examining the cheese very close and noticed that some of the cheese was “hairy.” The group shared a laugh about that before it was explained that it was okay because the mold was on the outside. After the cheese farm, it was back on the trail in the summer heat of Slovenia. We finished up our 7-mile hike at our second lodge overlooking Lake Bohinj. What a beautiful lake! Since it was a hot day filled with sweat, the group was offered a chance to take a shower, but a few of the guys decided they were going to embrace the grittiness of the mountains and skip the shower. Crawford did not feel like he was that into the grittiness, but didn’t feel like a proper shower was appropriate, so he explained to the group what a baby wipe shower is and cleansed himself that way.
We arose for our final full day in the mountains ready to hike in another day of heat. However, we were quite lucky with a little cloud cover that allowed for the temperatures to not be too high while made our journey to the 7 lakes valley. When we arrived at our new hut in the valley, Will and Vishaan were staring at the beautiful lake that sat before the hut, before Will exclaimed, “Oh my, look at the Mountain!,” to which Vishaan then looked up from the lake eyes widening. Neither of them had seen the mountain that was nestled just beyond the lake because they were so encapsulated with the lake! Once settled into the hut, we were treated to another amazing meal (I think I can get used to this alpine food) and decided that we wanted to go see another one of these 7 lakes in the valley. The lake that we visited was remarkable. It was something out of a fairy tale: emerald-blue water, dramatic rocky cliffs behind, splitting limestone in front of that, viewing all of it from a meadow with some of the most beautiful wildflowers we’ve ever seen, and with Marmots wrestling to our left. Sarah, Evie, Sophia, Tally, and Lizzie were all doing handstands while Caroline was trying to capture the photo before someone fell over. Katherine and Walker were tying together some of the flowers to make a flower crown (it was beautiful). James was teaching the boys about tactical and positional advantages of a snowball fight (did I mention there was also snow to our right!). It was truly a magical moment that really expressed how well the group has bonded during our time together.
We awoke on our last day in the mountains with a bittersweet feeling. Eager to get back to civilization and get a shower, but sad to say goodbye to the wonderful mountain air. We did not simply just walk out of there though; on our way we were able to summit a mountain that provided another beautiful overlook of Lake Bohinj. At the top of the summit was a logbook, and Tally was the first to pull it out and sign it. Shortly thereafter she had gone around to everyone and the whole group had signed the logbook, thus leaving our mark up there for good. The group then raced down the mountain to beat the rain, which we barely did, and made it to our hostel in the town of Bohinj. After being cooped up inside for about 3 hours watching the rain beat against the windows, we figured we’d had enough of that and decided to take a post-dinner dip in lake Bohinj as a final hooray to our time in the mountains.
Every day, I think to myself that this trip cannot get any better than this, but each day the views and energy of the kids set the standard even higher. Walker and I both wish we had more time with this group, and as such will make sure to close out these last three days with a bang!
From Slovenia with love,
James and Walker
June 20, 2023
Wow! What an unbelievable time we have had the past few days in the Soča Valley. There are no words to describe the beauty of this place!!!
We started off the journey from Croatia, where we made our final stop in Pula to see a smaller version of the coliseum that had also been built by the Romans. Calling it “small” would be a huge mistake. It looked just like the real one, was along the coast, and is a sweet concert venue. While we did not get to stay for some music, this was still a fun stop on our travel day. Next, we drove to the crisp, green rolling hills of the Slovenian vineyards. This part of Slovenia is commonly compared to the scenery of Tuscany, and it completely stunned us all. We showed up at a family run vineyard in Škocjan for our cooking class! Everyone was eager to get in the kitchen and help prepare a fantastic meal for us to all enjoy together. Sarah and Evie made homemade pasta from scratch. Lizzie, Crawford, and Caroline helped chop fresh veggies for vegetable soup. Marc was in charge of cutting and cooking the turkey which was the main dish. Tally, Sophia, and Katherine peeled at least 30 potatoes between the three of them (which was no easy task!) for the mashed potatoes and soup. Finally, Nolan, William, and Vishaan prepared fresh local cherries and homemade pie crust for a cherry pie dessert. Not only were we having the best time cooking together in the kitchen, but it also all turned out to be delicious! We sat at a long table overlooking the vineyard below with grapes hanging in the vines above our head and a lemon tree right next to us. The setup looked straight out of a movie! Once again, the food blew us all away, and Sarah was our designated food photographer to capture each of the courses. We left with full stomachs and a new sense of confidence in our cooking skills. Nolan seemed especially proud of his masterpiece dessert creation and is looking forward to baking more in the future! We then hopped back into the van and made another cool stop at a small, fortified city in Slovenia. This small, cobblestone village was charming and had 360 views of the vineyards as well as of the Adriatic Sea in the distance. After driving through Italy for part of the day, we all noticed a sharp difference in the cleanliness, beauty, and unique landscape of Slovenia. This made us all extra excited that we would be here for the rest of the trip!!
After a short drive out of the wine country, we were met with our first glimpse of the incredible mountains of the Soča Valley! Once again, every person’s jaw dropped. We even saw a sneak peak of the part of the Julian Alps that we would be hiking in a few days! Marc kept the energy high in the van as he requested several Taylor Swift hit songs that he knew would get everyone to sing along. We finally had a glimpse of the famous emerald greenish-blue water, were greeted with a fresh mountain breeze, and were struck by the beautiful mountains surrounding us. Our guides then drove us to a cool spot on the Soča River where locals like to hang out and jump off a rock that has a wooden diving board and two platforms to jump off a bridge. Our group of jumping enthusiasts were PUMPED. Everyone took a plunge into the chilly water off the diving board. For some of us, that was just a warm-up. William bravely took the first jump off the bridge with zero fear or hesitation. Sarah, Evie, Katherine, Vishaan, Nolan, Marc, and James all followed his lead. It was so fun to watch! While most of the group scrambled up to the bridge, Crawford was hesitant to join. After some encouragement from the rest of the group, he faced his fear head-on and jumped off the bridge as well. Everyone erupted with excitement and cheering when he popped out of the water! This was a special group bonding moment to witness.
After our refreshing swim, we drove to our campsite that we would call home for the next three days. This unique spot is tucked away in the mountains and is a glamping experience unlike any other. Not only are the beds the comfiest thing we have ever slept on, but the scenery around us is unreal. In every direction you turn, there is a view of the mountains. There are also several fun activities such as a ping pong table, volleyball, basketball, and a slack line. After settling into our tents, we enjoyed our first meal from the fantastic chef at the campsite, George! The food was gone in seconds, and we could not wait for him to cook for us again. We finished up the day with an exciting game of Bananagrams led by Walker and Caroline, followed by Moonup and star gazing with Nolan who has now become obsessed with seeing shooting stars each night.
The next morning, we woke up for our rafting section on the Soča River. The river itself is spectacular! Its unique colors and crystal-clear water are hard to describe and the pictures do not even do it justice. Decked out in wetsuits and booties, we were ready to conquer the cold water. Even though the rapids were not super intense, our raft guides Marco and Joel kept us entertained and laughing the whole time. We stopped at one point where the guides flipped a raft over on top of a rock to create a water slide. The whole group loved this and even started doing tricks off of it! Caroline showed off her cheerleading skills with a front flip off the raft slide into the river. It was awesome! Later, the whole group climbed up a giant rock and jumped off of it into the water. We have been impressed by the lack of hesitation and excitement from the group for each and every chance to jump off something or swim in the water! It just makes every day SO fun. In the afternoon, we walked a few minutes across the street from our campsite to a spot on the river where the Chronicles of Narnia was filmed. How amazing is that?! We had the river all to ourselves and enjoyed cooling off from the sunny day. Katherine broke the record for sitting in the cold water for the longest amount of time! Sophia and Evie relaxed on the side of the river and took in the sweeping mountain views. Of course, we had to finish off our day with some ice cream in town. Back at camp, Vishaan and Nolan both dominated on the basketball court. William has become skilled on the slack line, and everyone enjoyed a group game of capture the flag. After dinner, our guides Miha and Luka taught us how to make Nutella crepes. These were a crowd pleaser and we quickly learned that they were harder to make than you would think! The rest of the night was spent playing more games filled with lots of laughter and music. We headed to bed after Moonup to make sure we were rested and ready for canyoneering in the morning!
To start off our final day in the Soča Valley, Lizzie made sure all of the girls’ hair was French braided and ready to go for our next activity. The entire group was fired up for canyoneering! The entire experience felt like we were in American Ninja Warrior. We had the same awesome guides from rafting and were in full wetsuits, helmets, harnesses, and booties. We explored the canyon, streams, and small waterfalls that had the same crystal-clear Soča river water. Most of us had never done anything like this and said it was our favorite activity so far! The best part was sliding down a super tall waterfall where the guides were lowering you halfway and then letting you fall the rest of the way into the giant pool of water below. Evie’s face was priceless. Tally was also a fan of going down some of the slides backwards! Overall, this was a super unique activity and the perfect way to wrap up our time in the Soča Valley. Our last night ended on a great note with a traditional Balkan BBQ cooked by our guides.
If you can’t tell by this trip update, we are having a LOT of fun! We are not ready to leave this place but are also looking forward to our trekking section in the Julian Alps. This crew’s go-with-the-flow attitude have created a contagious positive energy and enthusiasm throughout the entire group. This is huge because it elevates the trip to a whole new level and makes the experience that much more unforgettable! Each person on this trip is inclusive, mature, respectful, flexible, and fun to be around. We can also tell they are forming genuine relationships with one another and are enjoying how nice it is to slow down and be unplugged for 2 weeks. We really could not have asked for a better group to experience this fantastic trip with for the first time! I am sure they are each dearly missed back home, so here is a quick shout-out from them!
William – Hello folks, it has been insanely fun. We must come over here because it is the prettiest place I have been. Can’t wait to see y’all and happy Father’s Day dad.
Caroline – Hey mom and Dad! I really miss y’all! I am having so much fun! Slovenia is amazing and so so pretty. I’ve done some pretty cool things in the past few days! I can’t wait to come home and tell y’all all about it! Happy late Father’s Day dad! You’re the best and I miss you so much! Please tell Sailor hey for me! Miss y’all and I can’t wait to see you guys!
Vishaan – hey guys. This is a very fun trip and it’s one of the best experiences I have had in a while. The views are very pretty and all the stuff we have done has been incredible. Happy late Father’s Day, I hope y’all had fun. Love y’all. See you guys soon
Sophia – Heyyy fam, it’s insanely cool here and I’m having the best time with the most amazing people!! I miss you guys SO MUCH and can’t wait to see everyone soon Happy late Father’s Day king you da best. Love you guys
Sarah – hiiiiii It’s amazing here I’m having so much fun it’s beautiful and everyone’s so kind! Hope clts fun MISS YALL SO MUCHhappy late Father’s Day Kenny ily can’t wait to see ya peach brother
Nolan – What up fam. It’s pretty legendary here and I’m having so much fun. The mountains are about to kick my butt, but the views are unearthly. Hope Vegas and Truist Bank are great and hope you had an awesome Father’s Day dad!!! Love y’all
Evie – Kva dogaja familia!! I miss y’all, but I’m having a blast. It’s actually so beautiful here, and the people are amazing. I can’t wait to tell y’all all about it!!! I hope you had a great Father’s Day Dad. Love y’all
Tally – HEY! I’m having an amazing time in Slovenia, it’s gorgeous, definitely the prettiest place I’ve ever been! I can’t wait to tell y’all all about it! I miss y’all but I’ve been doing so much awesome stuff! love you and can’t wait to see y’all! And Happy late Father’s Day dad sorry I missed it.
Marc – Hey, having a great time here in Slovenia It is about the halfway point in my trip and to be honest, I miss home a little bit, but I’m having a blast! Hopefully George has been doing well and not been destroying too many fences. See you in a week.
Crawford – hey guys! I am having fun and can’t wait to see y’all. The people here are great and I hope Blake is doing well at swim team. I can’t wait to have some fried chicken sandwiches and some bacon cheese fries with ranch!
Katherine – Hey y’all I’m doing pretty good! Jumped off a lot of cliffs and bridges (sorry mom) and have been eating good food! Miss you guys. Love you guys so much! Happy Father’s Day bro. Jajajajajaja QUAY QUAY QUAY <—- for Abby
Lizzie – HEYY!! We’re having such a good time in Slovenia! It’s so pretty here, especially by the ocean. We jumped off a lot of cliffs! I miss y’all, tell Alyssa I miss the outer space aliens! Don’t let turner drive my boat too much till I get back, see ya in a week!!
We are so excited for what’s to come with this group, and can not wait to update y’all next!
-Walker and James!
June 17, 2023
What a start to the trip! This region on the Adriatic Sea is beautiful! We thought we were excited for the trip, but we think Marc was a little bit more so, as he showed up a day early. After hanging out with Marc for the afternoon, we then went and picked up the rest of the gang at the Venice airport where we were finally united and met our guides Miha and Luka. We then departed the Venice airport and headed for Premantura, Croatia. It appeared that Nolan did his homework because he was sure to tell us all the fun facts about Slovenia. For example, did y’all know that 1 in 20 people keep bees in Slovenia? Us neither. We stopped in Kozina at the Tonca restaurant for some amazing Slovenian gourmet for our first meal together, and it was delicious! After about another hour of driving filled with singing and dancing, we reached the Kranjski Kamp where we would settle for the next two nights. The campsite was beautiful, equipped with beach access and a sport court where the boys played some soccer. The two teams were led by William and Vishaan, who scored a hat trick (James is not a very good goalie). After burning away all our energy, it was time for our second meal, and it did not disappoint. Crawford ordered the calamari with no hesitation and boy did it look good! After another amazing meal, we wrapped up our day together with our first Moonup! After Moonup, it was time for bed, but not before a couple games of BS. Lizzie, Crawford, and Katherine were the front runners, but Lizzie was able to put a sneaky one down and win the game! After some journaling, some of the crew went to the beach and watched some shooting stars while Evie pointed out all the constellations.
We awoke at Kranjski Kamp with a hot breakfast waiting on us. We then headed for our sea kayaking adventure, but we had no idea what was waiting on us. When we arrived, the group quickly split into teams of two for the kayaks. Everyone is getting along so well; it was so easy to split up! Marc was quick to pick James as his partner because he thought they would be the fastest boat; little did he know James was going to let him do all the paddling. After about 2 miles of paddling and several splash wars between Katherine and Tally’s boat and Caroline and Sophia’s boat we arrived at our cave destination, and oh my gosh. It was beautiful. Our kayaking guides handed out goggles and it was then that we realized how clear the water was. Vishaan put his head under first and came up and exclaimed, “Y’all have to come look at this!” Which we did and saw so many fish swimming and everything was crystal clear. To enter the cave, we had to swim under a rock, but as Sarah came up inside the cave, I swear her jaw dropped off its hinges. It took a total of about five minutes for everyone to get over their speechlessness. After that, Katherine and William were fired up to be the first to jump off the big rock. Little did they know this would be the first of many cliff and rock jumping adventures ahead. The way back was a full-on race because the aqua park waited on us when we got back where a very intense game of tag commenced. This fun, giant inflatable water park set up was a huge hit! Lizzie loved the giant slide into the water and Marc dominated the rock-climbing wall.
After all that rowing and running around, it was time to refuel, and what better place to refuel than a farm to table restaurant! Every single item of food was grown or raised on the farm! It was fantastic cuisine. Katherine might have won the order award for lunch win the Skampi na buzara (google it). I think I speak for the entire group when I say we were definitely jealous of her dish. After the amazing lunch, we were headed to go cliff jumping. While debating whether or not we were going jump from the 40-foot cliff, Nolan looked at us and said “Moondance is for getting over your fears,” and proceeded to be the first to jump. Shortly thereafter we all jumped, and Sarah, Tally, and Caroline were basically running in circles: jumping, swimming, climbing, and finding another partner to jump with.
On the way back to camp for another delicious Krankjski Kamp meal, Sarah came up with a new adjective: slobby. It sounds like maybe it means messy or something bad, but she was sure to explain to us that it is a good thing. We finished off the day with some delicious gelato in town. We truly could not have asked for a better day in Croatia to start off this amazing trip! We feel so lucky to be the leaders for this fun, easy going, and adventurous group. We are just getting started and cannot WAIT for what is up next. We are now headed to Slovenia for the rest of the trip and are looking forward to spending the next few days in the Soça Valley!
Bye for now!
Walker and James
June 15, 2023
Hello Slovenia Families!
We heard from our leaders and the group has landed safely in Slovenia with all of their luggage! The trip is off to a great start, and we cannot wait to hear more stories from their adventure.
Please remember our leaders and students will be unplugged during their trips but we will be posting up to three trip updates throughout the next couple of weeks! This will allow you to follow along with the trip and the students will also give a special shout out mid-way through! You can also follow us on Instagram, @moondanceadventures, to see more of what we are up to this summer!