IPA UK member Chris Heathcote enjoys travelling around Europe with a little help from the IPA

15 Dec 2019


Back in September 2019, I submitted two travel forms to Section UK HQ, one for Slovenia and one for Germany.Chris Heathcote in Germany 3

On 17 October 2019, my partner Sarah and I landed in Slovenia. IPA member Marjan Prah-Podborški, Vice-President of the section and a retired detective, very kindly met us at Ljubljana airport and took us on a driving tour around the capital and then ensured that we were settled into our hotel.

The next morning we met him and also his IPA Slovenia colleague, Mihael Burilov, at their office and we were taken on a tour of one of the city’s police stations, and introduced to two more colleagues who were supervising officers from the response and patrol team, who showed us the police vehicles and prisoner cells.

After that, we were treated to a delicious and hearty traditional Slovenian lunch of sausages and buckwheat, with local beer, and we were given plenty of advice and information about other activities that we could do in our time in Slovenia. We took up on the suggestion of walking the Vintgar gorge, which was stunningly beautiful.

Finally, Marjan really helped us out, and went above and beyond what we could have expected, driving us from Ljubljana to Bled, in the north west of the country, showing us the lake, helping us claim our hire car and settling us into our hotel there. It was a brilliant start to five fantastic days in Slovenia, where we later hiked in the Triglavski National Park and visited the Skocjan caves and Soca Valley.

Chris Heathcote in Germany 2We are so grateful to IPA Slovenia and Marjan in particular. If I had known beforehand, I would have taken up Marjan’s offer of staying in the IPA Slovenia guesthouse in Ljubljana.

On 22 October 2019, we travelled on to Germany. In Baden-Württemberg, an IPA member from the Rastatt & Baden-Baden branch, and almost retired traffic officer, Tom Eck, had already been helping us to find campsites in the Black Forest. We met him on our first morning in Germany, and knowing our love of hiking, he took us walking above the city of Baden-Baden to the Hohenbaden castle ruins and the Battert rocks, which, once the fog had cleared, afforded some brilliant views.

We then drove to the state police’s nearby shooting range and met the instructor Roland Herr and IPA colleague Uwe Greinacher. Amazingly, they let us fire a few live rounds on the range using their standard Heckler & Koch service pistol. Sarah put me to shame by totally out-gunning me on the target practice, despite never having fired a weapon before!

After that Tom put his local knowledge to good use and took us on a walking tour of the city centre of Baden-Baden. He gave us many ideas of where we should visit both there and in the Black Forest, where we were taking our camper van next. At his suggestion we drove along the Black Forest Highway for stunning autumn scenery

and climbed Mount Feldberg, the highest in the region.  

I really would recommend that more IPA members and Police colleagues should make contact with our colleagues overseas and enjoy the tremendous opportunities that exist to meet and socialise with them.

Marjan and Tom - thank you so much for your wonderful and warm welcomes to your countries. I have offered to reciprocate for them to come and visit me in London.

Chris Heathcote, member IPA UK