In the middle of the January, I had a meeting in Vienna for another project. This was a second time I had a meeting in Viena, surprisingly both times it was around Christmas. I was surprised that the city center was still decorated and there was a bit of the Christmas spirit in the air, although the markets were missing and still it was a far cry from the last time, when I went in mid December.
This time I went with my boss. The meeting was about the project, we just started, so not much work, at least for us. I just needed to present our team and then for the rest of the time it was more about getting to know other partners in project.
As usually of late, I did a few walks around the city, went and saw some of the facades of famous buildings, haha, still haven’t made it inside, although to be fair, in Vienna I’ve also been already several times and in on of those times I did go see some of the palaces and the natural history museum.
As it seems of late, that I always post something about the food, I should not make an exception this time. We had Viena snichel, of course, and strudel and cakes and everything that goes with it. A bit more surprising could be that first night boss and I went to some Hindu restaurant near hotel, I don’t think I ever ate Indian before, it wasn’t bad at all and we also had some gigantic flat bread to go with it.
It was a nice trip, but nothing to special, I’m just putting it here, since I want to make a map of countries I’ve visited in the future.
Can’t believe, that I’ve visited most of the Europe before being to Hungary once. Finally, the black spot on my atlas was fixed last Christmas and I can finally say I’ve been to all the Slovenian neighbouring countries! So when deciding where to go for Christmas holidays, there wasn’t much deliberation, Budapest it is.
Budapest is about 450 km away from Ljubljana, so after checking the (bad) options for going with public transport, we decided to just drive. I think this was my longest drive in one go since Finland way, way back in 2013. Not only, was this the first time that I visited Hungary, it was also the first time that instead of going staying in a hotel (through booking.com), we reserved a small apartment near the city center through AirBnB. To be honest, the experience wasn’t much different then the one a year before at Malta. We got the key to the apartment through a “lock box” and again didn’t even saw the owner. The apartment was nice and cozy and not that expensive considering proximity to the center and Christmas time.
The whole trip was very nice, we avoided any museums or other landmarks where you have to go inside. I’m not entirely sure why I do this, I think I have a feeling that I’m going to find them super boring, I guess I should try to actually go inside from time to time, maybe I’m in those years that I’ll find it interesting again. But walked around the city and visited all the bridges, castles, statues and the rest, we even went running couple of laps around the island in the middle of Donava.
The city center was nicely decorated although not as much as Paris.
So what else did we do, beside walking, running and sightseeing? Well eating of course! Haha, I haven’t eaten so much food in a long, long time, probably since Pierogis in Warsaw, haha. Anyway, we tried to lean toward traditional Hungarian food. To be honest, I had no idea what it was, before googling, I had a feeling that goulash has to be somewhere, but I kind of get the vibe that goulash is traditional everywhere in Eastern Europe. So yea, each day we tried to find an interesting restaurant and go eat something there, in the evenings (yea right, just evenings haha), we grabbed some delicious chimneys from the stalls and all over the day we tried some small pastries that could be found in metro stations, for some reason.
So yea, the trip was short, an extended weekend, but very fun, not even sure if there is much more that one can do, if you do not wish to go visit the therms, catacombs or some of the museums. It was a bit chilly, but I think around the Chrismas must be the best time of the year for visit, as there is so much going on all around. The prices are also not that bad, it’s even a bit cheaper than Ljubljana and for some reason wine is very very cheap in the stores. You can find several bottles of (ok) wine for under 3€.
Paris, the city of mimes, croissants and baguettes, I don’t know how my French lessons in high school made me dislike everything French for so long. To my big surprise my short work trip in the beginning of December was amazing.
This was not my first time in Paris, I’ve been here once a long time ago, when we went as a school excursion. Interestingly enough back then I didn’t really appreciate it, or maybe it was conducted in the manner that I didnt. The things I remember from that time were, walking whole days long, Eiffell Tower, eating in some weird French version of McDonalds and getting bored to death in famous Louvre. I never got the feeling, that every person in the movies (even Batman!) thinks of when speaking of Paris, of nice romantic city, of cute cafés on each corner and famous French pastries. To my surprise, soon after arriving I got this exact feeling.
My hotel was located near Notre Damme, which burned down earlier that year. I had some work meetings and presentations in the mornings but had time to walk around the city in the evenings. I took full advantage of my good location and walked around to all the must-see vistas in Paris, such as Tour Eiffel, Louvre, Arch de Triumph, Champs-Élysées and many others. Since the city was already decorated for Christmas, I must say I almost enjoyed some random streets full of people, markets and cafés more than the usual “tourist traps”. Since I’ve been in/on most of the attractions in high school, and still had some bad memories about it, the worst for some reason is Louvre, I didn’t pay to go into any attractions, Paris is super expensive after all, but rather spent that money in different pastries hops and similar.
Une buggete, s’il vous plait! Despite studiying French for 4 years, I never could understand or even less say anything useful, or that’s what I thought until now. Somehow, I did manage with what I remembered from my studies almost 15 years ago and the few phrases I did look up that I needed. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t write a novel or had a speech in French, but it was enough that I could go into a random store, bought what I wanted, ask for directions and so on. So why did I even need all this? Well I decided that this time I’ll actually try and experience a bit of the “romantic” Parisian culture from the movies. I went and had a croissant in a cafe, each morning I went into a boulangerie (basically a bakery in Paris) to buy the traditional baguette and usually some other delicious pastries and in the evenings I had some snacks from the stalls. One day I even ventured to the one very famous bakery, that specializes in macarons (a friend and I had a bit of a macaron phase during last couple of months, trying to recreate them semi successfully).
All in all the trip was a short but to my surprise much better than I anticipated. The only downside was that the day I was supposed to return home there were some super strikes which closed the city. I had an evening flight, but instead of exploring the city whole day, I had to leave my hotel at 4.30 in the morning, with a cab I had to reserve 2 days before in order to even make it to the airport. Supposedly they closed most of the roads sometime in the morning and no public transport (underground) was working since midnight, so there were expected to be some major congestion problems. Anyway in the end I made it to the airport and spent whole day reading the book there, not that bad I guess.
When I was young, I competed a lot in orienteering. It’s basically a cross-country running, where you have to find your own path through forests, shrubs and other nasty stuff and do it as quickly as possible. Toward the end of the high school I slowly stopped competing, but did manage to get quite good at it. Last year, at one point I found out that Jakob did couple of orienteering competitions each year and somehow persuaded me to join him at Lipica Open cup, which is one of the biggest cups in Slovenia or rather Europe. For reasons beyond anyone I registered in the toughest division and not surprisingly finished last, although at least I finished, there were few people who got disqualified or DNF, out of about 120 people competing in my division. I actually felt quite proud to at least finish, the course was really hard, and I was competing against professional orienteers and Belgium special forces (for some reason). Anyway it was fun getting lost in the forest again after so long.
For a couple of years I wanted to finish a Marathon. My first goal was to finish Mali kraški maraton (halfmaraton in Sežana/Lipica), which is organized toward the end of March. It actually went quite well, I finished it under 2h, which was my goal and didn’t feel completely dead after it.
So the next step was full marathon in end of October. I needed to step up my training quite a bit, although now that I think about it, didn’t approach it really well. What I did was trying to make as many runs per week as I could, usually at the pace I felt comfortable. Now I know that was not the best approach, or at least not as efficient as it could be. Nevertheless, I did manage to finish my first full marathon at Ljuljana’s marathon in October.
So how does it feel to run a marathon? Well, despite sleeping really poorly that night the first 20 km went by pretty well. At kilometre 25 I started to feel my legs a bit, but it was still manageable. I was running with the pace runner for finishing just under 4 hours, the problems was that the girl was running a bit faster, I actually couldn’t follow her until the end, but since I finished 3 minutes sooner, I can only imagine that she was a minute or so faster as well, which is not totally ok. Anyway, the really suffering came at around kilometre 30, everything started to hurt, I gained small blisters on my feet at kilometre 35, and every step afterwards was a battle within myself. The only reason I did not stop was because I would then have to run it again one more time. However, toward the end there were a lot of spectators cheering us up, so basically they carried me toward the end. After finishing for a couple of minutes all I could do was lie down and try not to puke, everything hurt, I was thirsty and tired, thank god my dad was there, so he could bring me stuff and help me recover. Strangely after about half an hour I was more or less recovered. I, on purpose came to the competition area with a bike, so I could stretch my legs a bit on the way home to prevent cramps and to recover a little faster.
So in summary, I managed to go from barely running 3 km to running 42 km in about a year. I’m not sure how many km I did toward the end per week, cos fitbit sucks, but I think I did about 40-50km / week in last four months Not that much. Before the race I had a week of carbon loading, with pasta without any sauces and during the race I ate 5 gels, 1 every 5 km starting at km 15.
After arriving home, instead of putting my legs up in the air and resting, some of my friends came over, and we had something that could only be described as a baking party. Out of 8 people, 3 of us ran that day. What is funny about it is that we were the last man or rather women standing that day, struggling with the baking late into the night. All in all it was a very interesting and fulfilling day, the party at the end was also super fun although I don’t think I will repeat it anytime soon.
So what were the results? Well ….
I was so frustrated with the cake tho, that we redid it next weekend and I must say, not running a marathon before really makes a difference.
So we decided to spend a bit more time in nature last summer, do some hiking on the mountains and for final boss, climb the tallest mountain in Slovenia – Triglav (2864 m). Through the summer we did some smaller preparation hikes, e.g. exactly 2 hikes to Stol and Ojstrica, well at least from my side, I think the others did couple more, and then already prepared for Triglav.
The best time to visit Triglav are last week of August and first weeks of September. Last year the weather wasn’t cooperating nicely and it was raining on both the last weekend of August and first weekend of September, so when the weather finally cleared for the second weekend, half of Slovenia wanted to go there. We unsuccessfully tried to get a reservation at all three of the cottages below the Triglav, moreover they warned us not to come, as there were so many people expected to come, there will be no room to sleep anywhere. As we later found out, the cottages were actually so full, quite a few people actually had to sleep outside. I can’t imagine that being very fun, at around 2.3k, with temperatures going close to 0. Anyway we decided to postpone the journey for one day, i.e. departing on Sunday and returning on Monday, which turned out to be a great idea.
So on the early Sunday morning we departed from Ljubljana and arrived to our destination at Fall Savica. We (I) chose the path over the 7 Triglav’s lake, which is among the longer paths to the top, you can take, but as the name suggests, it goes through the picturesque valley of lakes. The hike starts with quite a steep hike over Komerča pass and then straightens out a bit after an hour and half. The weather was cloudy or rather foggy in the morning but after about two hours clear skies and sunshine waited for us.
After a longer break at the first cottage – Cottage at 7 lakes, we continued through the valley. It was a nice day, warm and sunny, the landscape is truly amazing and picturesque. After additional two hours we reached the end of the valley and started to rise above grass line over the Hribarice pass, which is at about 2.3k sea level. On the way we saw some mountain goats (chamois) and some marmots, which are quite common in the valley of the lakes.
At the top of the pass, we could finally see the cottage Planika, where we had reservation for the night in the distance. We were already feeling the legs at that point, and the cottage was still far, far away. I guess we were a bit slower than I anticipated and had a bit longer breaks as it was already getting pretty late, we still had more than 2h of walking ahead of us and it was 6pm already. But there was not much to do, except to suck it up and continue walking. We rearranged our backpack a bit, so me and Jakob, who still had some stamina left carried some other things and backpack, and we continued. When we finally reached the cottage, sun was already down, and we were walking in the dusk.
I was so relieved when we finally reached Planika, I was starting to get worried, that we are going to have to walk in the dark, which is not idea at that height. We checked in our rooms, and I was so glad, we chose to postpone the trip for a day. We got our private room for 6 people, and even though we were only 5, we kept it for ourselves. We spent the evening in the kitchen area, talking with other hikers, eating jota and relaxing a bit. We went to bed quite early as the next day the main hike or rather climb awaited us.
We got up something past 6 next day, in order to watch the sunrise and to eat and prepare for final climb. I must say that the sunrise was truly amazing, haven’t seen such colours since Sweden a year before.
We departed from the cottage at around 8, the climb is quite steep and lasts about 2 hours. We were lucky there werent many people, especially the ones going in the opposite direction as it is a bit dangerous to give way or wait at some of the stages. Speaking of dangers and heights, I remember the previous times I hiked to Triglav to be quite uncomfortable with the heights and climbing parts, luckily this time I felt super comfortable, not sure what changed, maybe because I live in 14th floor now.
And so we finally made it. There were quite a few people on top already, so we had to wait in line to take a photo in front of the iconic Alajž’s tower, and of course as I was the only one who was here before, I took it upon myself to baptize the others, well at least Jakob, he then proceeded to do the rest while I took the photos, haha.
This was my 5th time on Top, I still can’t believe how I managed to climbe on top when I was 6, and I’m not sure how I feel about bringing so young kids on top, but I guess those were different times. The first time we went we did a 3 day hike, from Trenta to cottage Dolič, then next day to the top and down to Krederica (the toughest climb) and down to dolina vrat, and then the last day back over the Luknja pass to Trenta. I don’t remember much from the trip anymore except that my dad had to carry enormous amount of supplies for me, just in case I would fancy a glass of milk or another jacket. I don’t know how he managed it, on this trip I carried about 8l of water with me and uff, it was tough, especially at the beginning, when all the bottles were full.
Anyway after taking quite a few photos on the top and resting for some time we descended toward Dolič. There are 3 main paths considered for the masses, each going from one of the three cottages. The Planika is considered the easiest, Dolič is in the middle, while the Krederica is quite hard, requiring quite a log climbing. After three hours we were at the cottage, where we had another break and ate a freaking melon, which Jakob carried with himself.
It was already after noon, and we had a long walk ahead of us, so we didn’t linger long. At one point we were thinking of making a small detour to Prehodalci cottage, which would prolong our descend for an hour but luckily decided against it. We reached the cottage at 7 lakes at around 5pm, made another rest there and decided to instead of going over Komarča, which is quite dangerous, to take a bit longer path over the Komna, which had an added bonus of another cottage, where we could make a stop. We were quite tired already from all the hiking over the two days so it took us almost 3 hours to reach the cottage, we arrived there just as the sun went down. We ate some warm food at the cottage and then continued down in the dark. Luckily we had the couple of small flashlights with us and the path was soon wide almost rode like so it was possible to do it in the dark. All in all it took us about 90 minutes to reach the dark and on the way Jakob was telling his stories about his travels to China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Russia. It was really fun and unbelievable what he had done, e.g. sleeping on the Great Wall of China, smuggling himself in a truck through China-Mongolian border and so on… frankly, I’m surprised he’s not in some Chinese prison at the moment. But as it is, it had woken this wish of trying to go for a longer backpack trip. As it later turned out, we did it in Portugal.
In summary, we did about 50 km, if Fitbit is to be believed, although I have a feeling it should be a bit less. We walked for over 17 hours of pure walking, although I must say that total time was more than 20 hours and damn, even if I could run the same distance, my legs actually hurt at the end. In total I think I carried about 7l of water with me, some of which I refilled at Cottage at 7 lakes, which has a spring of drinkable water just in front of it. I carried all my food with me, just some nuts, chocolates, cookies and energy bars, it’s quite efficient as its high in calories and low in weight, I tended to avoid food from cottages as it is quite expensive, although I do admit that a hot meal at the end is very nice.