STA, 13 November 2019 - The coastal towns of Piran, Izola and Koper were flooded during the night due to heavy rain and a combination of a cyclone, southerly wind and full moon, which caused an exceptionally high tide. According to unofficial information, the sea level reached the second highest point in the last 50 years.
Alarms went off in the coastal towns, whose old city centres were under water. In some parts, the water level was 60 centimetres high. The worst hit was Izola.
Major flooding in Piran, Slovenia this evening associated with intense southerly winds from the cyclone over the Mediterranean and high tide! Notice the person walking in deep water. Video by Bojana Francuz pic.twitter.com/Eu3UkjZ13y— severe-weather.EU (@severeweatherEU) November 12, 2019
According to Koper's tide gauge, the sea level reached 373 centimetres last evening, which the Environment Agency said was a rare phenomenon.
Firefighters were busy all night and their efforts continue as the sea level is expected to rise again this morning, so anti-flooding barriers are being set up.
The Environment Agency expects some 20-40 centimetres of water in the low-lying parts of the cost this morning.
Heavy rain and strong winds caused problems in other parts of the country as well during the night, especially in the north-east and in the west. Rivers may burst their banks today, especially in Slovenian Istria and parts of Primorska.
When we first heard about Ross Murray-Jones’ plan to swim, cycle and run from Piran to Triglav we had to know more, so we sent some questions that he was kind enough to answer.
Tell us a little bit more about Sea-to-Summit Slovenia. What is it exactly?
Sea-To-Summit Slovenia is a long-distance multisport triathlon from the Adriatic Sea to the highest mountain in the Julian Alps. After months of training and planning, this September, Chris Ryan and I will complete this never-before-attempted endurance challenge in under 24 hours. [ed. Sometime in the first or second week is the current aim, but it all depends on the weather]
Starting from Piran, we’ll paddleboard two-thirds of the Slovenian coastline to Koper before crossing the country by road bike, through the capital Ljubljana and passed world-famous Lake Bled, finishing with a climb to the summit of Triglav at 2,864m.
That sounds tiring. How did you come up with the idea?
In February this year I competed in Red Bull’s Samo Gas ski cross race on Kanin. From Slovenia’s highest ski resort you can see container ships docking at Trieste’s Italian port in the Adriatic, and the journey from sea-to-summit seemed do-able in a day. So I approached the only guy I knew crazy enough to come along with me, Chris, an old friend from London. Over a few beers the original idea escalated quickly to include a sea leg, the peak changed to Triglav and the decision was made to keep within Slovene borders only, adding an extra 100km onto the bike ride. And thus Slovenia’s toughest ever triathlon was born.
Where are you from and have you ever done anything like this before?
Chris and I are both from London originally. We came to Slovenia as part of the launch of a ski tech business and fell in love with this small, charming European country. Slovenia is really a hidden gem and the quality of life is simply incomparable to anywhere else we’ve lived.
We’re both quite sporty and have ticked off a number of Slovenia’s best sports events already, from UTVV100 and the Ljubljana Marathon to IRONMAN 70.3 Slovenian Istria and Red Bull’s infamous Goni Pony. However this new challenge takes us both to the next level: a 24-hour non-stop event.
Twenty-four hours is a long time indeed - how did you train for this challenge and did you pick up any injuries along the way?
The first problem was that although I’d kayaked 1,300km around an island in the Philippines a few years ago, I’d never really paddle boarded before and neither had Chris. Luckily, we teamed up with Slovenia’s SUP race team this summer, Tiki Team, who quickly taught us the basics over weekly training sessions. This was combined with time on the saddle: 100km+ bike rides from Slovenia into Croatia, Italy and Austria and even up to Mangart, Slovenia’s highest road as well as long trail days to the summits of Grintovec, Stol and Triglav.
Fortunately, my weekly appointments with Fizio Tri in Kamnik and regular conditioning sessions with JD Coaching in Ljubljana have kept me injury free thus far. My only serious incident happened recently on a morning bike ride around Vis Island, Croatia when unfortunately I came into contact with a dog and went straight over my handlebars; this has kept me off the bike the last few weeks.
Can you talk me through the various stages of the challenge, and will you take any breaks?
The Sea-To-Summit Slovenia is a multisport triathlon so there are three distinct stages to complete in under 24 hours covering 219km and 4,400m of elevation.
Stage 1: 15km paddleboard from Piran to Koper.
Stage 2: 190km road bike from Koper to Krma. 2,400m of elevation.
Stage 3: 14km trail run/climb from Krma to Triglav. 2,000m of elevation.
The 24-hour deadline is really tight, leaving little margin for error, but we have factored in a 20-minute rest break every three hours to check equipment, stretch, change clothes and take on board solid nutrition as required.
What parts do you expect to be most challenging?
Whatever we have to do in the dark will be tough. After careful consideration, we decided the bike would be our best choice given our relative inexperience on the paddleboard and the inherent dangers of climbing the country’s tallest mountain at night and tired. By starting at midday, we plan to reach Triglav Glacier in low light the next morning before making our summit bid on a rising sun.
Weather, especially wind, will also play a big factor in whether we’re able to finish the challenge in time. To mitigate this concern, we’ve given ourselves a five-day window in early September to minimise the chance of any big waves, crosswinds on the road or unsafe conditions high up on the mountain.
Will you use any special equipment?
A friend of mine is on Bestway’s SUP team and so we’ve both got a Bestway Hydro-Force Fastblast Tech SUP for Stage 1. For Stage 3, our friends over at Hoka One One have also kitted us out with a Speedgoat 3 trail running shoe for Chris and Sky Arkali hiking shoe for me so we have the right footwear for the job. Other than that we have invested in safety equipment such as bike lights, helmets and Personal Flotation Devices alongside various other bits and bobs such as MSR Dynalock Ascent poles and a Quad Lock for my iPhone X to make navigation easier.
Any idea what you’ll eat the day before, and on the day?
We'll likely burn through 20,000 calories so nutrition is definitely ‘Stage 4’, an absolutely key part of the challenge to prevent bonking (the curse of any endurance athlete).
We’ve devised a custom nutrition plan which starts 48 hours prior with spaghetti bolognese. The night before is an opportunity to carb up an extra 2,000+ calories with a large pepperoni pizza, and on the morning of the event, two eggs on brown bread with butter and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a banana and coffee should get us going. Delicious!
On the day, we'll drink just under a litre per hour on average mixed with electrolytes to maintain salt and mineral levels and then consume on-the-go snacks every 45 minutes, such as potica. It’s important to eat proper food too, so we’ll stop for Štruklji or prosciutto, pickles and cheese sandwiches at predetermined locations. And just in case, we’ll load up the support van with extras we might crave such as Red Bull, Calipo’s and salty olives!
So you’ll have people following you?
Yes, we'll have a support crew consisting of our very understanding partners to help us along the way. Without them, the challenge would simply be impossible from a logistical perspective given the need to switch equipment multiple times and take on nutrition in the dead of night.
At this point I should probably ask why are you doing this?
Chris and I really wanted to showcase the beauty and diversity of this country we’ve grown very fond of. Over the course of 24 hours, we’ll go from sparkling sand and blue waters through to medieval towns and glacial lakes before finishing up in the snowy peaks of the southern alps. Slovenia is really one of Europe’s leading outdoor adventure destinations and we wanted to highlight this in our own unique way.
More personally, I find pushing my limits gives me a deep sense of purpose and satisfaction. Success in life requires passion, grit and determination, and Sea-To-Summit embodies all of these aspects in one. And if we can inspire even just one person that it’s possible for ordinary people to do extraordinary things than that would be great too.
Finally, what’s the worst thing about living in Slovenia, and what’s the best?
The best is definitely the quality of life. The country itself packs a real punch in terms of its beauty, safety and kindness of locals. Moreover, within two hours you can be sailing in Croatia, skiing in Austria or eating a pizza in Italy. It’s incredibly diverse. And the worst has to be that Slovene is a very difficult language to learn and there unfortunately isn't a huge amount of material available to help. No Duolingo for now! Luckily, most Slovenes are very proficient in English. In fact, I’d even say some Slovenians knowledge of English would put us lot back in Britain to shame.
STA, 22 August 2019 - The annual Tartini Festival, dedicated to the Piran-born Italian Baroque composer and violinist Giuseppe Tartini, will get under way with a performance by international ensemble Il Terzo Suono at the Piran St. George's Parish Church on Thursday evening.
This year, the international music festival will be held in Piran and Koper until 8 September, with its final performance being hosted in Padua on 12 September.
The opening performance will include musical compositions by maestros such as Antonio Vivaldi, Giuseppe Tartini and Baldassare Galuppi.
Il Terzo Suono will give another performance next week, being joined on stage by Mario Brunello, an Italian cellist who is the first and only Italian so far to have won the prestigious International Tchaikovsky Competition.
He has worked with numerous acclaimed orchestral conductors and ensembles.
One of the festival's highlights will also be a performance by French pianist Pierre-Laurent Boucharlat, bringing the music of Camille de Saint-Saens and Claude Debussy to Tartini House, the birthplace of the renowned violinist and composer, in Tartini Square.
The popular Italian chamber orchestra, I Solisti Veneti, the festival's regular guest, will perform at the Piran Minorite Monastery.
The orchestra has given more than 6,000 concerts in over 90 countries and has participated in the most acclaimed international festivals.
The monastery will also see a duo performance by Slovenian violinist Lana Trotovšek and Japanese harpsichordist Masumi Yamamoto as well as a performance by the Salzburger Mozart Consort.
The festival, honouring Tartini as well as composers inspired by his art, will also present young talent at Tartini Junior concerts.
More details on the festival can be found here
STA, 21 August 2019 - Two of the four coastal municipalities have had problems with sewage pollution of the sea, an issue which has caught much media attention as a popular beach near Koper had to close for ten days in the midst of the tourist season. Public utilities say it is usually a result of buildings not being properly connected to the sewage system.
An uncontrolled discharge of sewage into the sea spoiled bathing in Žusterna in the Koper municipality at the end of July.
The closure of the Žusterna beach has prompted a group of concerned locals to report the municipal public utility Marjetica Koper to police.
They suspect it of crimes related to environmental pollution, negligence, and failure to prevent risks to public health, according to the paper Primorske Novice.
While Marjetica Koper has found no flaws on the sewage system, it has managed to contain the damage by pumping runoff water to prevent a further spillage in Žusterna.
The results of the checks of the drainage system for storm waters are meanwhile expected within a week, the company has told the STA.
Piran has also had problems with sewage pollution, whereas no problems have been reported from Izola and Ankaran.
According to the director of public utility Okolje Piran, Gašpar Gašpar Mišič, Lucija Hotel was connected to the drainage system, which has already been dealt with.
Another problematic area was around the Faculty for Tourism Studies - Turistica where some homes were connected to the sewage system incorrectly, so faeces spilled into the runoff water system and then further into the sea.
Gašpar Mišič said this area had the same problems in the summer of 2017 as Žusterna this year, but they have been addressed by runoff water pumping.
His company has already called on home owners to check how they are connected to the public sewage system.
The company receives requests for checks from owners or neighbours on a daily basis, and plans to check all connections free of charge.
Several dozen flawed connections have already been discovered and repaired, while there are also some cases where property owners are dragging their feet for years.
"If as part of preventive checks we find buildings which discharge sewage illegally, we'll seal them immediately," he announced.
"Let them take us to court then," he said, admitting he was not sure this would be lawful, but he deems it important bathing is safe and tourism prospers.
An issue are also the homes whose basements have been turned into rooms for tourists, but the owners connected them onto the runoff water system instead of the sewage system.
Gašpar Mišič was rather critical of legislation under which an owner can obtain a permit to use a facility without it being first inspected to meet the standards.
STA, 22 July 2019 - A total of 4,066 ships were recorded in the Slovenian coastal towns of Koper, Izola and Piran last year, which is 7.2% less than in 2017. However, passenger traffic was up by 23.2%, mostly on account of cruise ships, the Statistics Office said on Monday.
The number of cargo ships was down by 8% compared to 2017 and the number of passenger ships by 4%.
A total of 132,814 ship passengers were recorded on the Slovenian coast last year, 108,682 of whom arrived on cruise ships, which is 55% more than in 2017.
Some 11.873 came with passenger and other ships, while 12,259 departed from the three coastal towns. Both numbers are 36% lower than in 2017.
The cargo ships docking at or departing from the Koper port were mostly container ships, followed by general cargo ships, ships transporting liquids and bulk cargo, and specialised ships.
The port operator Luka Koper transshipped 23 million tonnes of cargo last year, up almost 4% from 2017. Workers mostly unloaded dry bulk goods and large containers, while they loaded mainly large containers.
We'll get to the video that the image at the top of this story comes out of the way first, as it shows both a car and a motorscooter underwater.
What follows are more traditional scenes of the undersea life you can find off the Slovenian coast, ending with a video of a conger eel attacking a shark
May 11, 2019
The City Council of Piran finally adopted a budget for the year 2019 this Friday, following a series of unsuccessful sessions that at certain point included the Mayor's making passing of the plan conditional on him staying in office.
Mayor Đenio Zadković had a difficult week after the commercial TV station POP TV found out about his website and some letters he had sent two years ago to various world leaders, including Pope Francis, former General Secretary of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon and then US presidential candidate Donald Trump. As Zadković, whose interests are philosophy and spirituality according to his autobiography, later explained, the letters were part of his art photography project.
In his 2016 letter to Donald Trump he proposes that his pictures be exhibited at Ground Zero in New York for the following reasons:
“When George W. Bush became president of the US I saw tragedy in his eyes. That was 9/11 and in that period the Idea of exposing my photopoems at GROUND ZERO started to rise. It may sound too ambitious, but that is the only place where I want to see them exposed. I'd like to find out if the initials of my name and surname have some kind of connection with those of the place where once the twins were; I want to know if Jung's synchronicity exists (now, not now or never?); and finally if the language of the unconscious still works in the name of love.”
To Ban Ki-moon, he proposed the solution for the “B zone”, the post WWII name for the coastal area that eventually became part of Slovenia and which during the related negotiations belonged to the so-called Territory of Trieste under direct responsibility of the UN Security Council:
“My plan is to establish a bank of United Nations in the Free Territory of Trieste/zone B in Koper and I would like you Mr. BAN KI-MOON after retiring from the presidency of the UN to undertake the presidency of the bank, the priority of which will be the introduction of a Universal Basic Income for everybody, starting with Africa and thus solving the problem of the current and likely future massive exodus. I trust you understand my plan and that there is no need to extrapolate into the future with further examples. Thank you for reading my letter and being sensitive to the problem of refugees (and I would like to add, the welfare of women).”
These letters, however, only came out after several of mayor’s unconventional Facebook posts that were directed at the more extreme of his GZOP party members caught the public’s attention. The Mayor laughed at the Pop TV report, thanking them for the free publicity and repeating his previous suggestion that Piran would make the best place for big international meetings. In translation:
“Ahahaha, POP TV, thank you for the advertisement. (…) Perhaps Putin and Trump will come to Piran after all. It is not too late yet.”
“Following this POP TV news I have a green light now to invite to the next philosophical duel our Slavoj Žižek, who is also from Portorož, and Jordan Peterson.”
And then several posts on the importance of understanding before criticizing, including:
“My world is pure, immaculate. My life is my pride. (…) I haven’t got a single enemy among those who know me. People who hate me are some of “my people” from the GZOP party because they didn’t get enough, hmmm. At the very beginning, when we started with the Portorož Movement forum, I wrote: "If we take our gold (victory) as our prey, then the collapse of the system will follow". And what you see is the collapse of the system, because of the hawks. What else should I tell you? The infamous letters you mentioned were written 3, 4, 5 years ago. I’ve been creating my photos for 10 years. Only a few can understand me through these photos, unfortunately. (…) I am here to make this municipality the most beautiful municipality in the world. How? Nicely, with your help, "the media", rather than with destroying of a mayor who you do not understand because you can’t, unfortunately.”
Although initially praised for its spontaneous democratic value, the Facebook group turned formal with the establishment of the Movement for the Municipality of Piran (GZOP) party, and has been struggling to remain united after gaining power. Five out of eight GZOP councillors voted against the budget proposed by Mayor this week, and when the proposal finally passed some of the members accused the mayor of “playing solo”.
The Mayor’s lack of political background, although considered a good thing by some as it appears to stand against corruption, seems to be causing serious operational problems due to lack of general political skills, including an understanding of administrative procedure and the use of proper channels and modes of communication.
The mayor concluded his string of Facebook posts with an explanation of the text accompanying a photo that POP TV used, in his view, inappropriately:
“Here I am delivering text, which will interpret my photograph named UP TO YOU, from which certain sentences that POP TV published were taken. The whole thing is written to improve understanding of the photo, which is full of symbolism, archetypes, archaic symbols and carries a strong message, which is so complex that without any explanation and knowing the symbols (the vocabulary of the unconscious) hardly anyone can understand it, while the photo I leave to your personal perception and, of course, imagination. I’ve always been saying, “If one person will understand what I think, I have won.” I am overjoyed that there are so many of you who understand. Thank you, dear Nejc [person who was commenting on Facebook], and thank you, who in these times and for many this unreasonable position, support me.”
Gibanje Portorož is a Facebook group that played a crucial role in last local elections in the Municipality of Piran. It has a little over 5,000 members, some of whom express quite extremist views on the political process, and the Mayor has struggled to distance himself from these since running the office. The group was closed several days ago.
For those who live and work in Piran, now that the budget has finally been passed perhaps the Mayor’s real work can begin.
This documentary, from 2011, tells the story of the first black African leader in (as the producers put it) “Eastern Europe” – the then recently elected Mayor of Piran, Peter Bossman. An inspirational story for anyone who’s moved to Slovenia, and especially for anyone struggling to learn the Language – in Slovene with English subtitles.
Yes, it’s a commerical for sports equipment, but it’s also a good presentation of the diversity that makes Slovenia such an attractive destination for short-term visitors and long-term residents who want some variety in the scenes and activities on offer, and all within a a couple of hours from each other.
Unless you choose to travel by bike, foot, kayak and foot, in which case it make take a little longer…
This week's photo comes from a recent search we did through Flickr for a story on spending from four to 48 hours in Piran. It was taken by Anna & Michal, but to really appreciate the view you'll need to click here to see the full 8MB image, which you can move around and explore. You can also download a copy of it here.