On 11th of October I got an e-mail that the International Officeof the Faculty of Civil and Geodetic Engineering in cooperation with Sports teacher pred. dr. Aleš Golja is going to organise one-day hiking trip for international students.

It said: “The trip is free of charge, you just need to bring along your happy face.” So, I didn’t think much and decided to participate. This tour took place on 21th of October. When I woke up in the morning I have found out that “happy face” requirement is going to be much harder to fulfil than I thought. We were to leave at 7:30 so I had to get up before 6 am which was far too early for me. Outside it was still dark, wet and foggy. Nevertheless, I had promised my participation so after fast breakfast and short walk I was near the faculty. We all got into the bus and soon after the whole company was napping.

About 9 am we arrived in the Kayak Centre in Solkan. Still without much energy, we were invited to the small café by the river. There, to our surprise, each of us got hot, delicious coffee and croissant with smooth, sweet chocolate inside. I believe it was the moment when all the moods improved, all the minds started to work and finallythe energy entered the group.

After this pleasant surprise, at about 10 am, we met our first guide. She was a young, energetic girl with smile on her face, a student of the last year of the Faculty of Sports. She was going to take us to the top of the Mount Sabotin (609 m ASL). Ahead of us was 1,5 h of walk and about 500 m in height. Equipped with bottles of water and mandarins we were ready to verify our conditions. Some with more easiness, the others with more pain, but we all managed to reach the top. And there it was the second time when organizers showed that they know what they are doing. Before next activities we got a lunch to supplement lack of energy. It was gnocchi with venison goulash or gorgonzola, so we also had an opportunity to try local cuisine.

Full and rested we were ready to the main attraction of the tour. We were introduced to our second guide. He was a man around 40 with strong Slavic accent, dressed in military jacket. His whole appearance matched perfectly to the place, as Mount Sabotin was an important defensive point for the Austro-Hungarian army against Italian attacks in 1915 and 1916.

The mountain is crisscrossed with a huge system of tunnels and caves which were built by both, the Austro-Hungarian and the Italian armies, when they fortifiedtheir positions. All the tunnels were dug with use of the simplest tools which was very impressive, especially if we take to account that on few levels there are thousands of meters of them. We had opportunity to visit only some of them. We were shown rooms of the soldiers. Living conditions were very hard, and it seems unbelievable to live there for so many months. Even the officers’room did not look much better. Admittedly the walls were covered in wood, they were still very small, and beds did not seem to be much more comfortable. To supply the fresh air into the caves they used manual pumps which, after all this years, still work. After the livings quarters we were taken trough the tunnels. On the way we could observe tanks where they collected drinking water. Then he showed us the trenches and entanglements. The guide explained what were the strongest and the weakest points of the defence and why the entanglements, which in reality do not seem so dangerous, helped to take so many lives.

At the end we were invited to the museum to see weapons, ammunition and many small remains from that time. There are also flags of all countries which the fighting soldiers came from and some of them were a big surprise. Almost all of us could findflag of their countr.

The trip was a great opportunity to get to know better our colleagues from the faculty, but also to get some fresh air and learn about the history of this region. I am very grateful I could participate.