Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Entertaining locals

For the last week we have been the honoured and greatful guests of the people of the Gora plateau.

Last night we had a traditional dinner of polenta and goulash, the night before we were entertained by the village choirs and musicians.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Julian alps

We have been stoked with the mountain huts around these parts-found this bivouac most of the way up a 2000m cliff near the italy-slovenia border.shared it only with a couple of mice and friendly marmots.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sitting at a Slovenian pub

I am sitting at a pub in the small Slovenian town of Otlica blogging and drinking white wine.

Penny is with the other NZ girls at a lace making workshop. The local tourist agency has thoughtfully arranged an entertainment program for us, very generous since we are merely sleeping on the floor of their school.

Last night was cheese, blueberry liquer and football. Tomorrow is perhaps paintball.

We have very much enjoyed Slovenia, a new country but an old culture. The Austro-Hungarian Empire is almost perceptable here but the Slovenes have built a friendly, cultured and hopeful nation on these foundations.

We are orienteering each day on beautiful, challenging forests and getting fitter all the time. I will write and take more photos of this soon.

One frustration is blogging on the phone, it is far less user friendly than the laptop, but I will continue to make do. Apologies if the formatting is no good.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

BLEDdy Hell

In Bled earlier today now in Slovenian wop wops for orienteering. Had a great climb of Triglav over last couple of days.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Predjama Castle

No jousting today, at least not yet


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

Krk

Yesterday we orienteered on the Croatian island of Krk. It was a fast sprint race through the alleys of the old town. We did well, Penny finished 3rd and me 6th. Penny won two bottles of wine and 50 maps of Krk for her troubles.

It was a fun event, finishing on a beach with music pumping. There are another 10 kiwis here  as well and everyone is competing well. Watching Penny sprint in at the finish I was reminded why we orienteer. The sheer fun and absurdity of our game that takes us crazy places.

Earlier in the day we visited some other towns on Krk, picturesque hilltop pa with paths leading down cliffs to little coves and the Emerald water. This whole country is full of sun lovers, people lie and preen on rocks like a colony of seals. The beauty of having an ozone layer.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Croatia

We are now in Croatia. Yesterday was the first day of the Croatian open orienteering. We both did ok, and more importantly didn't suffer much from our injuries. It is a good mental challenge for us to change from racing to win to racing as well as we can.

The terrain here is forested karst, with heaps of dolines, sinkholes, and rock. Beautiful and challenging.

We are staying for the next week in the little town of Delnice, which markets itself as the highest town in Croatia and is surrounded by the lovely forests of Risnjak National Park.

We spent the previous few days travelling through Croatia visiting the famous Adriatic towns of Koper, Zadar and Split. The unlikely highlight for me though was the road less travelled, the deserted backroads between Split and Zagreb.

Leaving Knin, the former capital of the breakaway Croatian Serbian republic the main road was closed and we ended up on overgrown country gravel roads weaving through a wasted landscape of rock walls, prickly scrub and ruined houses. In places pick marked walls still show clear evidence of shelling.

The history is complicated, the serbians settled in this harsh place on the request of the Habsburg Empire to provide a buffer against the Turks. They were governed from afar with considerable local autonomy. Following the demise of Empire succesive nation states tried to impose more control here with a particularly difficult period under the Croatian Nazis, Ustasha, during WW2. When Titos Yugoslavia split the rival nationalism of Croatia and Serbians led to succesive bouts of ethnic cleansing during the 1990's. Sobering stuff.

For us the highlight was finding in the middle of this wasted landscape and culturscape a river flowing under an arched bridge by a monastery where we pulled bombs(the jumping type) into a gorgeous pool.

We are finding internet time sparse and the phone not quite as easy as the laptop for blogging, but will do our best. We hope everyone that follows this is warm and safe wherever you are.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Beginning

We flew out from Christchurch on the 1st, a long week ago now. I only have little parcels of memories. The coral sea studded with atolls, a vast swampy promontory on the south coast of PNG and as we caught up to darkness, forestry or maybe mining camps on the “birds head" of Indonesia's Papua province.

Our first stop was Hong Kong but only briefly. Great views of the lit city flying in, but no memories of the airport experience. Next though was Dubai, the city in the desert. The city of cranes. The skyscrapers stretch linearly along the coast or perhaps the metro. They are vast constructions, ground floors given to malls and parking, towers to living, the contorted spires and shapes to the gods of aesthetics, or perhaps construction.

The largest of them all is the Burj Khalifa. A beautiful tower stretching into the dust cloud. A symbol of Emirati wealth, a spire to their aspirations. And I don't blame them for their quest to turn Dubai into the centre of the globalised world, the West has thrived for so long on the vast profits of oil.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

On the road again

I feel alive again.  I am grateful for the job that has paid the bills for the last two years but damns am I glad to be out. The mist in front of my eyes now rises from the rushing Soca river not from the rigours of a working week where time goes past so damn quick.

We strolled into Bovec yesterday around noon. The narrow valleys of NW  Slovenia converge and open out into a broad cultivated basin surrounded on six sides by craggy limestone mountains.

It took us 2 days from the Italian town of Tarvisio. The first night was spent in an Italian Bivouac high on the slopes of Mt Mangart the second in a thunderstorm in a Slovenian forest where barking deer left us shivering in fear.

Bovec at face value is an outdoors paradise littered with trails and rivers and mountains and canyons. We have had some adventures here already but I should really start at the beginning ...