Tastes of Slovenia (Part I)

Thursday, September 9th & Friday, September 10th – The Departure

On the day of the big departure my only plan was to make myself extremely tired by going to the gym and biking around Central Park like a lunatic, so I would be able to snooze on the 9-hour flight to Paris without even having to worry about finding a perfect sleeping position. I would just drop on my seat, in a dead-like style, skipping all the delicacies of the plane food and woke up in France, ready to bite into a fresh croissant for breakfast. Instead, I was playing ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire’, trying to figure out who spread a wonderful fragrance around the plane by taking off their shoes and watching documentaries about babies and the Doors. Sleep deprivation and chronic tiredness always produce great ideas, so I convinced myself I need to steal a pillow and a blanket from the plane and use it for my next sleep attempt–6 hours wait on the plane to Ljubljana. I quickly figured out that lying on the terminal floor of Charles De Gaulle airport, trying to keep your eyes closed and ignore all the noises of the lively surroundings, makes you even more tired than just simply being awake. So I abandoned my pillow in hope it will be used by someone more fortunate with finding rest and went to bite into that croissant. On the way home from Brink (I will never use its real name, even under death threats!), I was looking at the familiar scenery framed in the back car window, dreaming about horizontal position and wondering if I’ll be able to fall asleep under the pressure of knowing that I have to wake up at 4 am the next morning. But by 10 pm I was already dancing with the Sand Man.

Saturday, September 11th – Venice or Who wants to swim on Piazza Saint Marco?

Before jumping on the boat to Venice, we took some time to grab a feel of the charming Piran, its narrow streets and compact houses and to feel the gravity of Saint Bernardin’s church. The first thing arriving to Venice was to stay as far away from the tourist groups as possible. Because I was the only one, out of three of us, who have ever been to Venice before, I confidently took the initiative of guiding us to the Piazza Saint Marco. Never mind I was there 14 years ago and that after almost an hour of walking into the direction of what I though should be Saint Marco, I was quietly loosing hope and it took a gondola ride, a map and a couple of finger-points from the locals, to finally agree that, in fact, I had no idea of where we were going. But isn’t that how all the great adventures start? Although we now knew where we needed to go, it didn’t get us there any faster–there is no way you can speed up through those narrow labyrinth streets, packed with people. We were still more than fashionable late for our lunch with Nejc, who jumped on a train in Nova Gorica and had to swim across Piazza Saint Marco to meet us. Life got a little bit better with two giant pizzas, a nice bottle of wine and a tower of gelato. Just as ladies in Venice do, we jumped on a water taxi and from there on the boat that took us back to Piran.

Sunday, September 12th – Church Day

A family gathering for my cousin’s Confirmation. Long prayers and lots of food. Quite a bit of kissing also.

Monday, September 13th – An intense Triglav preparation with cevapcici, running up the hill and Nordic walking

Tuesday, September 14th – Steklarna Hrastnik excursion and Relaxation day at Bled and Bohinj

Before the real Triglav expedition it was time to relax the muscles and distract the mind with beauties of Bled. Probably not a very enthusiastic hiker/climber I had no idea what I signed myself in for when agreeing to bite my knees to see the view from the highest mountain in Slovenia, so I wanted to make sure, I will survive and be able to lift up my feet for a zillion times and more, not to embarrass my dad, a dedicated alpinist for many years now. My hopes were sent to the bell in the church and lifted up to the sky. The power of my success was now in someone else’s hands, so I went to enjoy a big kremsnita.

Wednesday, September 15th – The Expedition begins

Started at Slap Savica and up the Komarca to the first glacial lake of Triglavski narodni park, meeting fish with extraordinary taste and continuing through forest with much easier path and some abandoned mountain pastures, until the next lake and the Lodge at Triglav Lakes. Fueling up with water and calories, I was shocked to realize that after all that sweating and walking, we hardly came anywhere. So, off we went again. Whenever I wasn’t joking with my sister about not understanding the whole concept of pushing yourself to the top of some mountain, I was battling similar thoughts in my head, trying to understand what lies behind all of this. I’m not sure I found it while I was stumbling across those rocks, with heavy backpack on my back, but I have a little bit deeper understanding of this hiking thing now. But then again, it is easy to throw your mouth around, sitting on your ass, looking through pictures. Seeing a lodge on Dolic after 11 hours of walking sure brings a splash of different emotions. And that’s also the only splash you get, since there is no running water in those little wooden shelters.

Thursday, September 16th – Into the fog and rain

Slept like a baby on a mattress wrapped in foil on the floor and made another remarkable achievement right after breakfast. I’ve never been prouder. Anyway, the early morning was far from welcoming but we decided to be brave and climbed up to Planika in thick fog, rain and wind, hoping it will look better higher up. The capricorn we met on the way filled us with hope but, 400 meters below Triglav, we had to turn around and hike back, wet, cold and disappointed. Thoughts from the previous day appeared again–Why??! I decided to use my frustration to increase the speed almost to the maximum. The faster I walk, the faster it will be done. That was my motto, my mojo, my everything. 7 hours down the mountain, first through rocks and send then through wet soil and giant tree roots, all the time accompanied by rain. Let me just explain that nothing was really hurting, except for the bottom of my feet that I proclaimed dead and useless on the last part of our dismount. My mojo was failing me. Actually it was the feet that were failing my mojo and me. I started hallucinating of buying one of those electric scooters used by fat people in America and never make another step again. At that moment I believed that was the brightest idea I’ve ever had. At least it got me to the end of that day’s walk–in order to get one of those scooters I had to at least make it back to civilization, right?

(End of Part I)

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