On the 10th of August we left the camping. For some reason I don't quite understand we couldn't finish packing until noon. This annoyed me a little. I had to repack my backpack at least five times because noone bothered to tell me who's supposed to carry what. We argued about it a little later that day and came to the conclusion that not only did each one of us have a different idea, but all those ideas were obvious. Finally, much later than I had expected, we left the car in a parking lot on the outskirts of the town and set off towards a hostel called Sudetendeutsche Hütte.
After an hour or so of walking we came across some rather confusing signs. the two arrows pointed in opposite directions and both signs claimed that this was the road to the hostel. After consulting the map, which wasn't very helpful, we picked a path at random. It turned out to be the much longer way and it was already starting to get dark when we reached the hostel, but the landscapes were worth it.
Inside the hostel we were greeted by an overenthusiastic girl who showed us to a table:
'No, not this one, this one is reserved,* this one. What would you like to drink? What would you like to eat?' She talked fast, with a big grin on her face that was probably supposed to look friendly. I don't speak German very well and didn't understand everything, but it sounded like something she'd learnt by heart and practised in front of a mirror along with that grin of hers. This bothered me a little. It's not what a hostel in the mountains is supposed to be like.
After dinner we were led to a room. Materatzenraum II seemed like the kind of bedroom where you only come to sleep. Someone had apparently tried to change it by adding a table (It got in the way a bit) and a humourous poster on the door, but without much success. After leaving our backpacks in there, we went to the bathrooms and discovered the signs over the sinks saying 'KEIN TRINKWASSER', which made me wonder where the hell they found undrinkable water up there. The next day we filled our bottle with water from the lake outside the hostel, just in case.
In the morning, after breakfast, when we were already about to leave, a man walked over to us and asked us to remove our stuff from the bedroom. After a moment of confusion he explained that we were going to get places in a different room for the next night. He did not explain why nobody had bothered to tell us about it the previous day or what they would have done had we not decided to have another cup of coffee before leaving. I thought for a moment about the contrast between the waitress's enthusiastic politeness and getting kicked out of your room without any warning and came to the conclusion that Sudetendeutsche Hütte is a strange place.
We climbed Muntanitz that day. The mountain is higher than Ochsenbug, but with a higher starting point and good, if slightly windy, weather, it was a walk in the park compared to the previous trip.
Well, allright, a park with few plants, a lot of rocks and enough snow to go skiing in the middle of August...
...Or make a snowman.
Oh. And this picture is just awesome:
The next day we left the hostel and moved back into the camping. We decided to take the shorter way this time, so there was time for a coffee break in the middle of nowhere:
On Wednesday we somehow managed to find out the weather forecast and decided to get the hell out of there.
We were trying to avoid the rain. We spent most of the day on the highway, racing the storm, and managed to get to Italy first. We arrived in Cavallino, near Venice and found the camping. Well, finding a camping there is easy, since there are lots of them, but we decided not to stop at this one:
Since it was a hot day, we went to the beach after dinner. When we got out of the water, the clouds caught up with us. People were running away from the beach as if something was chasing them. My parents and I didn't hurry. We went to do the shopping and returned to our tent. And then it started to pour. It didn't last long, but there must have been quite a storm in the north that night. It was actually pretty nice to watch from the distance.
The next morning we got up early and drove to Mestre(It took us a while to find the way). This was followed by fifteen minutes of classic 'foreigners try to buy bus tickets' comedy. We succeeded in the fourth kiosk we tried (The previous three: 1. Closed 2.Nobody speaks anything but Italian 3.They do not, in fact, sell bus tickets, even though the sign on the door clearly says that they do) and got on the bus, which got us across a very long bridge to Venice.
We wandered around the city for a while and then went to the Doge's Palace. We've been to Venice a couple of times before, but somehow we've never been to the palace. Wow! That place is huge!
There was another storm that night and the morning was cloudy. Maybe we should have thought about that a little more and stay in Italy for another day, but there wasn't much to do there and it was originally supposed to be a vacation in the Alps, so we decided to go anyway.
I think I fell asleep in the car for a moment. When I woke up, we were driving through the mountains. Gray clouds were sitting on their tops. It was raining again. Lightning flashed. The rain was getting worse. After a while we stopped seeing the mountains. Then we stopped seeing anything at all, except the lights of the car in front of us. It was a dark and stormy day. In Italy.
Most of the time we could hardly see the signs, but somehow we found the way to the Slovenian border. Soon after that we started looking for a place to sleep. We reached Mojstrana and Dovje, two villages located on two sides of the road and, as far as we could tell, pretty much functioning as one town.
There had to be a lot of rooms here that we could sleep in, right? WRONG! Well, maybe not exactly wrong, but it's difficult to find anything there in this weather. Even finding a place to park the car was a problem. Finally Dad decided to leave it in someone's drive, with me inside so that I could explain if someone had a problem with it. My parents walked away to look for a room.
I think I'd rather go with them. Sitting alone in the car in the middle of the storm, unable to do anything useful was making me feel small, unimportant and lost. Half an hour passed until Dad returned. He said he had not found a room, but there was a place with a roof where we could 'wait for this to end'. Not that I believed that it was going to end soon. It had been pouring all day. Why should it stop now? Dad got into the car, drove for a moment and parked outside what looked (as far as I could tell) like an ordinary house. I'm not sure how exactly they found it. I probably missed the best part.
It was raining so hard that I was wet by the time I got to the door. Some nice man led us to a room with a screen where some people were sitting around tables and an elderly man was playing the accordion. Someone handed me a drink. A moment later everything went quiet. The first man talked for a while in Slovenian, English and Czech (the audience seemed to be quite international). I still wasn't sure what it was all about,** but it was apparently going to involve staying out of the rain for a while and probably supper.
The nice people showed us some photos on the screen, mostly from the mountains around the villages. It was apparently quite a beautiful place when you could actually see it. After the slideshow they gave us some sandwiches and directions to the only house in the village that still had rooms for rent.
That night we slept in a large apartment with very interesting furniture
We also found a TV in there and watched the news for the first time in a while. Apparently a lot of horrible things were happening all over the world. The TV casually mentioned storms, hurricanes and other disasters killing some people and Russia starting one war and threatening to start another one, and then went on to talk at length about sports and Madonna's birthday. Typical.
We spent one day exploring Mojstrana, Dovje and their surroundings.
Oh yeah. And cooking in the garden.
Then the weather got good enough to move to the camping. On the 18th we (finally) decided to go and try to climb a mountain (And I decided that next year I'm going somewhere alone, by train, but that's another story and I shall probably tell it... next year). We drove to the hostel Aljażev Dom in the Vrata*** valley and tried to find the way to Stenar. Looking for it took us too much time (Dad kept telling us he knew exactly where he was leading us. Sure.) and we decided to go to the Luknija pass instead. Still, it was a nice walk.
The only thing that bothered me was that there so many people there. You see, most of the Slovenian Alps are quite empty, except for Triglav (the highest mountain and some kind of national symbol) and the surrounding area. Of course, we just had to go to the valley people start to climb Triglav from. It's still less crowded than the High Tatras, though.
When we came back to the village, we decided to eat dinner at a bar. There we met a man who had apparently been everywhere. Of course, I can't be sure how much of this is true, but he seemed to speak English, German, Arabic and probably a few other languages fluently and know things about many foreign places that he couldn't have read in a book. Anyway, he told us some awesome stories.
On the next day we only managed to go hiking in the afternoon, but it was kinda cool too. Basically, Dad randomly pointed at a mountain and said we'll try to climb it. We did not succeed, of course, due to lack of time, but is that really what it's all about? Getting on top? Hell, no! It's about... well, randomly choosing a path and walking along it until you get bored or whatever.
The day after that we decided to try to climb Stenar again. We got up early and found the way easily, but we still failed. We reached this place:
About halfway there. Then it started to rain. Yes. Again. Maybe the weather hates me?
We found a nice rock to hide under and waited.
It didn't stop raining for a long while. Finally Mum decided to turn back. I regretted this a little for a while, but soon I stopped. As soon as we got back to the hostel, it started to pour.
The day after that we randomly decided to climb Baba, a smaller mountain on the other side of the village, on the Austrian border. It was a pleasant walk, but not particularly exciting. At least until we got out of the forest. The landscape we saw then resambled the Beskidy mountains rather than the Tatras, but this was a nice change.
We stopped at a house where, as we were informed, we could buy some tea. Since it was oddly cold and windy up there, we did. The stuff turned out to be only slightly warm, bright yellow and smell of some herbs that have very little to do with tea. Mum decided she wasn't going any further, because the wind was too cold. Dad and I decided it would be nice to actually get somewhere for once. To be honest, all this turning back because it's cold, rainy, windy or late was starting to get on my nerves a little.
That was our last day in Dovje. Once again, the weather forecasts convinced us to travel South. We stopped at the camping Pivka Jama, near Postojna and went to see the Postojna Cave. It is one of the largest known caves in Europe and the part available for tourists is also pretty big. And here's the funny part. Part of the way the tourists ride in a sort of electric train thingy that reminded me of rides at an amusement park. I was half expecting a plastic skeleton to jump out at us from behind a rock and say 'Boo!'. Sadly, that didn't happen.
I also used this as an opportunity to try out my new hat :)
*I didn't see anybody sitting at that table all evening.
**And everyone knows that if you don't know what it's about, it's about money. At that moment, though, we were in a situation where we could only hope the price of whatever was being sold to us wasn't high.
***I'm pretty sure the name means a door or gate. Not only is it appropriate and similar to the right words in other slavic languages, there's also a rock called Prag in there and I'm almost sure it means 'doorstep' or something like that.