Šibenik: small town with a gorgeous sunset

I started my stay in Croatia in Šibenik, which took a good 3 trains and a bus to get to from my Slovenian farm stay. The bus was supposed to be a train, and I’m not really sure why that short leg was replaced by a bus. If it had something to do with the refugees and border closings I’m not sure. But as soon as we got on and crossed about 2 minutes later, the police got on and asked for my passport. Now when you just got on a bus and don’t even realize how close you are to the border, that isn’t exactly the most comforting. But within a few minutes they brought our passports back (there were about 4 of us on the bus…) and we were on our way.

I got into Šibenik late at night, and when I got to the hostel the owner, a woman in her 40s or 50s, looked so relieved to see me, ready to close up for the night. She was very nice in broken English, though, and got me a seat in the back of her son’s car to go to Krka National Park the next day, the main reason I’d come. I chatted with some other travelers for a while and then called it a night when it started to rain.

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My stay out on a Slovenian farm

Well, I made it to my farm stay. And while the first steps off the train more than made up for the stress of getting out here and then beyond, I guess I can say I’m a bit disappointed. I knew trekking out here without a car might be a bit more stressful than it was worth, but I sort of hoped the friendly people, convivial atmosphere, and home cooked food would make up for it. Unfortunately, the owners were out all day until 3pm, so I’m glad I got here later like I did. I sat outside in the sun with the sound of goats and sheep in the background and wrote some long overdue postcards and waited for them to get home. Finally I heard some noise inside, so I walked up to the main door where the sign was now gone, past the family dog, and peeked inside. A blonde woman looked surprised and ushered me outside, asking why I hadn’t rung the bell. Because…why would I ring a bell if this looks like the reception desk?  

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Ljubljana: the hidden gem of Europe and hoping it stays that way 

I’ve only been in Ljubljana for a mere 4 hours and I can already tell I won’t want to leave. By happenstance, I got a couch surfing host while I’m here, and he’s already made the experience 100x better, not that Ljubljana needs it.
As soon as the bus pulled in, I raced over to the Hostel Celica (yes, the one that used to be military barracks for the Yugoslav army and now has been fully redone, each room by a different artist). I already should have known that a city that has this kind of place will likely be an interesting city. I picked up a bunch of information while waiting for my guy, including a “made by locals” map- which, by the way, is mostly about food, just the way I like it.

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Bled and and Bohinj: Paragliding and peace in Slovenia

Well, Bled, I showed up sick, looking forward to a relaxing few days by the lake, taking in the beauty and the swans. Getting off the night train from Worgl- which, incidentally was an experience since of course no other routes to Slovenia were open since Germany had closed its border except this 1:38 am train. No guards checked tickets, and each compartment went a different direction during the trip, so I wasn’t sure I was on the right one, especially since they’d also shortened the train. Finally at day break, we stopped somewhere called Lesce-Bled and I jumped off prematurely, choosing to walk 4km rather than take it on to Kranj and then take a bus back to Bled.
The walk itself was actually really scenic- a nice walking and biking pathway by the road with emerald green rivers, nature, and chirping birds at 7am.

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Kufstein for the Almatrieb festival!

In Kufstein on Saturday, we got in just as the festival was kicking off. The little town we’d seen so quiet a few days before now was lined with tents selling homemade schnapps, food, honey, and all sorts of little trinkets. There was one big beer garden area, where everyone sat eating donuts and pastries with beer or Fanta. We watched rowdy, entertaining Austrian performances of men in suits chopping wood and dancing in circles. Another had young guys snapping ropes above everyone’s heads, standing on beer garden tables. Tons of pastries and beer flowed freely and it was quite an experience in a little Austrian town. Finally the cows started coming down and I made sure to get plenty of videos. This is really a thing? I loved it. After grabbing some local pear schnapps to go, we reluctantly headed to the train station, sad to leave this little town that had grown on us.

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Hiking the Adlerveg: Day 5 (Buchacker Inn to Pinegg)

The next day’s hike was definitely the hardest of all, as expected. It was marked a “black” trail in the ranking (which really only varies between red and black), and it does deserve that marking. We started off with about 1,000m almost straight up, usually with the help of iron wiring, steep steps, or just good ol fashioned uphill. It was fun, though, and if you’re decently in shape and not too afraid of heights, this might be one of your favorite days.



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Hiking the Adlerveg: Day 4 (Kufstein – Buchacker Mountain Inn)

Highlights: the Eagle Statue, Weiner Schnitzel, and a quiet inn

After finding out about the Almatrieb festival, which is when all the cows come down from the mountains for the winter and get all dressed up and people celebrate in town with drinks and music and markets, I mostly decided to come back to Kufstein for Saturday and cut the 7-day hiking plan short. I just couldn’t pass this up. So, after breakfast downstairs at the inn, we headed out for another 2 days (Stages 4 and 5) before hoping to take a train back to Kufstein Saturday morning.

Stage 4 was gorgeous. We set out walking across town to the bus station, where we got tickets to Unterlangkampfen, where the trail started. It wasn’t fully clear where to get off the bus or where the trail started, but luckily we got off by a church, and that was just about where the trail started.

We headed straight up for a good while, with views back down on the towns below. We even came across a water source and an old bench on the way up.

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Hiking the Adlerveg: Day 3 (Hintersteinersee – Kufstein)

Highlights: Almdudler, Kaiserschmarrn, and Chairlifts

The next morning, a little groggier after our late night of jagertee and schnapps, we woke up for breakfast at the Pension, another plate of meats, cheeses, breads, and yogurt. We met Anja, our new guide for the day (well, really, Deb’s guide, who was gracious enough to take us along for the ride). A gregarious, body-building type,she may have had a bit too much gusto for our tired faces first thing that morning, but I’m definitely glad we had her. Our first ascent wasn’t too bad (not at all like the first day), and mostly took us through wooded paths and then into open alpine pastures. We did pass little huts selling fresh buttermilk and other fresh goods along the way, which was a nice change of pace from the first day where we didn’t pass anything open until our drink stop).  Continue reading

Hiking the Adlerveg: Day 2 (Gaudeamushütte to Hintersteinersee)

The next morning, I headed down for breakfast early- hot coffee, a plate of meats and cheeses and breads, and of course butter, Nutella, and jam. I talked more to the American woman and to another German guy who’d stayed in his room the night before. Turns out, the American woman, Deb, is a travel writer and she was waiting for her guide for the day. She was also heading the same way I was, as was this new German guy. While I was planning to get through 2 stages that day, I agreed to start with them and just keep moving on half way through the day.

Deb looking up at the Kamml Gorge – 400m up as soon as you leave Gaudeamushutte

Part of the Via Ferrata – wires and steel ropes which let climbers get up close and personal with the mountains

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The Adlerveg: Day 1 (Thunder, lightning, waterfalls, a woodshed, and the most beautiful sunset)

The 6 days I spent in Tyrol definitely proved to be very different than I imagined.

I set out from Innsbruck on Monday morning, after stopping by the Alpine Club to get any additional info I could. The guy at the Alpine Club was helpful and seemed to know the route pretty well. But, in broken English, he kept pointing at the map gesturing his hand in a “so-so” waving way, saying the weather wouldn’t be great and he wouldn’t recommend setting out, but that I could start today if I really wanted. I’m stubborn, so he told me where to go down the street to buy some detailed maps from the bookstore (this may have been my most reckless move of the trip so far, but I at least wanted to take as many smart precautions as I can). I grabbed those, and a bright red Mammut raincover at the sports shop next door, and set off for the train station to make it to my starting point: Sankt Johann. Hoping to beat the impending storms, I looked forward to some alone time on my gutsy solo venture. Lots of time to think, I figured.

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