Out of the capital city and to Bled. The hostel is completely different and it feels easy to talk to people again. Lake Bled is beautiful, I can walk and swim and walk and swim again all afternoon, and I start my afternoon with some beautifully creamy pear, cinnamon and walnut porridge. It’s simple but another encouraging reminder that good breakfast food can make you feel great, even when you’re alone. The girl at the bar has just made it too and she’s fun to chat to and I don’t feel like an idiot for just turning up alone.
Fear log: I couldn’t find the perfect swimming spot after passing the obvious one, like a beach and very full of people. Too many people to see if I did something wrong. For some reason swimming to the island at the centre of the lake doesn’t feel automatically “allowed”. I’m clearly still feeling some residual anxiety. The ultimate bravery/retraining my fear impulse action would have just been to swim from there. My bravery was to return to a spot i had seen with a woman and man swimming in the distance, where there was a slightly hard to see (but I had certainly seen it) “no swimming” sign nearby. I got in and swam to the island. Of course nothing happened, but I felt as though I was about to be told off the whole time. It was good to see that I wasn’t.
Testing my bravery will escalate this week.
I make up a really simple good-hostel-kitchen recipe and really enjoy eating it in the garden with Chad, with whom I share a beer and a quiet wish to spend a few days in the mountains. I just made a great bean stew, I can hike for days.
Tomato Bean Stew
- Heat oil and chop a small onion
- Fry the onion on a low heat and meanwhile chop a clove of garlic, 1/2 courgette, and a tomato
- Add courgette and garlic to the pan
- Add the tomato and 1/2 a tin of cannellini beans to the pan
- When the tomatoes have softened and reduced, you could season and serve, or if you have any kind of tomato-y paste around, put some of that in too. Stir, season, and serve with crust bread.
- I wish I had taken a photo.
HIGH! I have bought a good map and headed into the Triglav national park alone. Four hours of steep (sometimes just with metal rungs in the rocks) climbing and I start to see beautiful lakes like this one. It’s hot and it’s hard work and there’s no guarantee I’ll get a space at the mountain lodge I am aiming for.
Retraining my fear impulse: if you feel a need to go into the mountains, you’ll find somewhere to sleep.
When I finally make it to the lodge and they say that I can sleep on the floor if no-one cancels a bed (which eventually they do, YES!), I feel literally dizzy with happiness and relief. I jump into an unbelievably and very nearly unbearably cold lake, and get back to order something hot to eat. I’m relieved to have it and ponder about whether to keep hiking up, or return the next day to Bled like I said I would.
I keep realising how exhausted I am every time it takes me 5 seconds to realise someone is talking to me. The next day I set of at 7.30am on an 11 hour hike up into and around the peaks, and then back down through green pines, colourful flowers and humming bees to a lodge that I can easily get back to Bled from the day after. I fantasise all day about the huge bowl of pasta I’ll eat when I finally get to the next lodge. I have packed bananas, apples, and a cheese sandwich but they do not take the edge off my moods when I’m tired and uncertain about the route. It feels amazing every time I feel like I’m on the right track.
It doesn’t matter in the end that all on offer by the time I’m there is sauerkraut and soup, nothing could take the edge off how elated I feel to have planned a good route, stuck with it in patchy moments (like missing bridges and paths), climbed and then dropped hundreds of metres, and learnt that I can totally rely on myself for two days in the mountains. Not even this horrendous sunburn (I remembered to put factor 50 everywhere, except on my legs…).
In a simpler few days for food (a lot of slop, apparently, with bean stews x 2 (mine was better), soup, cabbage, sauerkraut and porridge, I’ve felt so much more capable, excited and connected with people. The tomato bean stew will be a great one for when I am back in semi-student accommodation in October… (I found out I got into Essex, really added to the joy of reaching lodge x 2 to connect to internet and read the admissions email :D)