Friday, July 06, 2012

pilgrimage to bled

lots of cowbell up here in the Slovenian alpine  
No doubt about it, the Lake Bled region of Slovenia rivals any contender for "most beautiful place in the world." If you've ever had a cinematic dream with surreal colors and exaggerated wildflower meadows, they were based on this place, which is all very Hansel and Gretel-meets-Disney, even in the crazy downpour we're experiencing currently. 

This little 30 Euro-a-night cottage we're renting, all geraniums and dish tv, sits in the middle of a valley surrounded by the Julian Alps, and villages we can't figure out how to pronounce (the language lacks vowels and includes those interesting Eastern European letters with all the hieroglyphics above them). Accommodations abound here in Bohinjska Bistrica, and they're all neat as a pin and loaded with charm.

Sort of Wizard-of-Oz, yes?
When we arrived yesterday (after a somewhat harrowing hail storm on the mountain pass that flooded out the road and had us stopped on the Autobahn in pile-up fashion), we pulled up to one of the dozens of adorable houses that seemed to correspond to the info we had on our print out. On the porch was a legless lady in a wheelchair that looked to be about 105 years old. She smiled and nodded as I waved my paperwork in front of her face like a lunatic. "Ne Ne" she kept saying, and Kirk pulled out one of the volume of Rick Steve's books for the translation.

misty watercolor memories
Soon enough the son came over and somehow, with hand gestures and smiles, we made our way over to the modest unit where we were instructed to bunk. It's a lovely little place, with the usual feather bedroll and miniature refrigerator, bidet, and 1,000 channel flat screen dish television. No coffee maker, however, which, for a complete addict, was a bit troublesome (Kirk actually managed to make me coffee this morning though, using a dishtowel and a plastic funnel. The man is a genius!)

We popped into town for groceries and dinner last night, ordering "the special" -- which, near as I can tell, were scoops of paste, cat food and pickled organ meat. Now, I'm pretty experimental with my culinary adventures, but last night's dinner just lipped over the edge for me. I hit that wall of gross-out and there was no going back. You know what I'm talking about, right? Like you somehow imagine that you've just eaten shit and your brain goes into this fight or flight thing?

We climbed here in order to ring the bell. For luck.
I got over it, though. Had a little chocolate, some brandy. The usual cure-all.

So this morning we scurried off to the Vogel cable car, taking that up and up and up to an alpine vista where we climbed an additional mile or so to get the money view of the alps. We were on our way back to the lift when the thunder began, and thus began the downpour. Very dramatic, I must say.

I made us an arugula and some sort of cured meat salad. More brandy. More chocolate. The rain continues. We're watching some horse jumping competitions on the 1,000-channel television. I'm thinking of getting the dishtowel out again, and making another batch of coffee.

This is the life, I tell you.

What's the last thing you've had to improvise or jerry-rig on vacation?


  1. Ah, Kirk. The man is a hero. I too had to MacGyver a coffee maker on my last writing retreat, using a paper towel. We've got our priorities.

    Drew and I can't stop thinking that Portland is a vacation, that we're counting down the days and will shortly have to return home. I sat outside writing last night, with the birds chirping and the neighbors chatting over the fence, and thought, I can't believe we live here.

    Off to the farmer's market now. All I need is a basket and pinafore to complete the fantasy.

  2. Homesick! Really. Hearing your farmer's market outfit plan makes me all gushy and warm.

    Tonight we're somewhere in Tuscany. As idyllic as that sounds, I've reached that "stranger in a strange land" time in the trip. I want my English muffin/feta/tomato breakfast. Just so much muesli and head cheese you can ingest, yeah?

    Enjoy the market. In fact, go to the Hillsdale Farmer's Market tomorrow and have the veggie tamale from the Salvador Mollie's kiosk. You won't be sorry. Swear.

  3. Chocolate and brandy cure everything. So right you are! I'm glad to hear that your innards are functioning and that you survived the weather on the road. We are tough bitches. (I'm throwing myself in that pot with you, thanks.) I remember a trip (there have been many, but I highlight this one) when I didn't have "movement" for days, no matter how much coffee I drank, and then we were pontooning down the Missouri River in Montana and my period started. With no supplies. 80 miles from nothing. Fun times!!! I almost fell over a cliff, while taking a photo, but that was nothing compared to having a period in the middle of nowhere with no supplies.

    I'm have a great time reading about your adventures and research, Suzy. I'm painfully jealous, in a good way, and would love to be right there, too. Thanks for giving such fab reports.

    And congrats on the new grand baby. Beautiful. My gosh.

    1. Ah, the "visitor" or "the friend" or whatever euphemism for abject inconvenience and derail we women face every single month.

      My periods are in that unpredictable stage-so your Missouri River nightmare is all too "lurking around every corner" for me. The WC sitch here is similar to camping, and with all the "gosh, let's just start walking and see where we end up" stuff we're doing, Aunt Flo would not be a welcome, spontaneous guest.

      I think all us bracelet girls should consider one of those swanky Italian writing junkets. What do you think?

    2. Agreed--and I'd like to add that we alter our gang name from bracelet girls to the tough bitches club...or maybe, bitches with bracelets?

      you had me until the "no coffee maker" comment. your and my husband were cut from the same cloth. i love a man who can make anything work.

      while we have a coffee maker this week in our little slice of beach heaven, i failed to bring my coffee frother. my husband stood at the sink and whisked my sweet cream-creamer (that sounds naughty) into a frothy mess for me with a tiny plastic fork.

      (these pictures are gorgeous--both of the landscapes and of you!)

    3. Josie, I wish you lots and lots of naughty, frothing there at the beach. Hey! how about bracelet bitches on the beach?

      Thanks for the comment on the pix, and Terri, yes, the baby!! We can't wait to see her. That's the only downside of this vacation, is waiting to see, touch, coo over and otherwise turn to mush over our very first granddaughter.

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