Bolzano The Holiday – Some Hikes

Our holiday is three days in now and they have been wonderful! So far: two hikes, a picnic, a museum, a pool session, some ice cream, a lot of espressos, and not to forget some wining and dining.

For our hikes we have stayed in Bolzano up to now. (Tomorrow, we are taking a bus to Val Gardena for a new challenge.) Our first one was super cute. I had planned it meticulously in the previous weeks when the boyfriend was still at home and I was filling up my free time between the classes at summerschool with scouting for our holiday.

In the afternoon of our first day, we walked along the river to the Runkelstein Castle. Sadly it was already closed, but we admired the outside and marched on. We went up quite steeply between the vineyards and had some insane views of the city, but didn’t dilly dally for too long since we were on a tight schedule: we had sunset plans. A little bit before sunset, we arrived at our planned picnic destination: a viewpoint over the city, with bench, on the Oswald Promenade. The sun was slowly sinking behind the hills, battling heavy with the clouds for an impressive sunset. We opened a bottle of Lambrusco and got out the bread cheese salami ham for a picnic Alla Italiano. We watched the sky go dark and Bolzano go light as the lights in the city came on. When the first stars came out, we put on our head torches, packed up, and headed home (where we got to enjoy a well-timed lightning storm above the hills from our hotelroom window).

For the second hike we went to the other side of town, to the Haselburg Castle. Sadly, also closed! Note for self: check castle opening hours before you plan a hike. But nevertheless, the hike was totally worth it. Very different from our picnic one. The path was a lot more challenging, and the views more forresty and less vineyardsy. And which better way to celebrate our new achievement than to head straight for ice cream on the town square: raspberry and straciatella, don’t mind if I do!

For our third one, we’re heading to unexplored territory! The Mountains of Val Gardena! I’m so super excited, I’ve been training so hard for this in the gym… We haven’t really picked a hike yet but we’re hoping the tourist office on site will sort us out. Bring it on 😀

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The Beauty of Home

Have you ever noticed how it’s so much easier to be happy and amazed when your not Home? And with Home I mean the place where you grew up. Once you have travelled and moved to a new Home, you appreciate the beauty of that new place a thousand times more than the beauty of Home number one.

For example: I can imagine that if you go on holiday to for example Italy, you visit a fair bit of churches. Have you ever visited the one in your hometown? Or, when on holiday, you might go for a morning walk or run around the hotel and find some gorgeous spots that might not be in your travel guide because after all, they are just standard beauty. Have you ever noticed that kind of standard beauty and stopped to admire it when running around your Home?

I’m really trying to. It’s a part of my post-travel-life therapy. Once in a while, I stop and try to look at Home with the eyes of a tourist. This weekend, it went extremely well. Why? Because winter has arrived.

We don’t really get decent winters anymore. The ones with a lot of snow and ice skating on the lakes. But Thursday night, it started snowing. Compared to northern countries, it was nothing. But for us Belgians, it was more than we’d seen in a long time. Coming home from work in the evening, I went straight into the back garden to build a snow man! Biggest one I’ve ever made!

It hasn’t been snowing since, but it’s still cold so when out of the city, it’s winter wonderland. Sunday, me and the boyfriend had a gorgeous walk. Just around the block really, should’ve taken us less than an hour, but it was so pretty we stopped after every corner to take in the view and soak in the sunshine, just like I was craving so badly!

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And even this morning, a Monday morning of all things, I was amazed by Home. While waiting for my train, usually I am browsing Facebook or WordPress. But now, my fingers were too cold so I had to put the phone away. And I noticed an absolutely stunning sunrise.

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I feel inspired by the beauty of home, and I have extra strength now to tackle my post-travel-life this week. Thank you winter, thank you home, you have given me hope!

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Life With a Dodgy Foot

I have the most annoying thing going on! Something’s wrong with my foot! What, you ask? I don’t know, neither does the doctor! I’m scheduled in with a specialist next week, but until then I have to keep struggling on. It’s been like this for a week now and it’s driving me crazy.

My daily commute has gone from the struggle it already is to a painful disaster.

I can’t go anywhere because both walking and cycling hurt (and I don’t have a car).

But the worst part, I can’t go hiking, or running, or work out at the gym, or go kickboxing. (It’s not really kickboxing in the fighting sense, it’s more like an hour-long workout focusing both on muscles and cardio by means of kicking and hitting a bag, and it’s my favourite way of working out. But quite likely also the cause of the foot problem, since it started after my last session last week.)

Even though I haven’t been working out as much as I used to, one whole week without anything is just too long! So I think I might take my yoga back up. Only do exercises that leave the foot alone, there’s plenty of yoga to do while sitting or lying on the floor, right? Maybe I’ll mix it with some Pilates as well, get the muscles going. But it’s been a while; I don’t really remember the exercises, let alone a decent 1-hour routine. I guess I’ll be trying some YouTube stuff. Let me know if you know any good Yoga Sessions online! Or any other easy work outs from home that don’t need feet?

I Dream of a Hike

I just read an article / blog post with ten tips for long hikes. It made me dream.

I’ve always wanted to do a long hike. One of those that take a few days and you carry a tent or hike from hut to hut. Why have I not done it yet? My fitness.

I used to be a very lazy child. Never loved sports and PE at school was my most dreaded time of the week. The only thing I ever enjoyed was swimming, but I had to give it up because I didn’t have enough time. I was busy playing theatre, learning music, and being a creative dork.

Whenever my parents took me on a holiday, I suffered. You see, they love walking. And I, I was that annoying child asking “are we there yet” before we even took off properly. I often just sat down and refused to keep walking. My poor parents. I don’t know how they always managed to get me home safely.

But then we went on this awesome holiday to South Africa. The views were so spectacular but I was puffing and panting and everyone was feeling sorry for me, I guess me most of all. But I also started to realise the things I was missing out on by staying home rather than struggling my way through the hike.

I finally changed my ways about four years ago. I was an au pair in Ireland and I had a lot of free time. And in that free time, I really wanted to get out of the house that was both my home and my work, with both my family and my bosses. My favourite place: the cliffs. Just that little bit too far away to walk. So I started running.

Say What?

Yes.

I started running.

I used this Flemish podcast called Start To Run. It’s a lady who tells you when to run and when to walk with music that fits a good running tempo, and it builds you up from running one minute, walking three, running another minute, to running twenty minutes non-stop. I went every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning. By the time I left Ireland, I ran about 45 minutes 3 times a week.

The most fun part: my parents came to visit me half way through my stay and were well surprised. First of all: when they asked me what I wanted to do when they came over, I said I wanted to roadtrip and walk. Secondly, when they actually did come over and we did hike (we did some parts of the ring of Kerry, hiked on Valencia Island, over the Burren, along the Cliffs of Moher,..), they were surprised by how much my fitness had improved. I was well proud of myself and that holiday is still up there with some of the best ones ever. (Also thanks to Ireland of course, the most surprising country I have ever been to for sure.)

But for you fellow hikers out there, you know it is addictive and you want more and longer and further and more impressive. So I’ve been wanting to do a several-day-hike for a while now. Maybe first try a three-day one. Then move up to ten-day ones. One day maybe even a month. A crazy adventure.

Sadly I’ve been slacking with the running and the gym. I work out only once a week with a friend, kickboxing style. (It’s not really kickboxing. It’s more like a group class where you work out by punching a bag. Great way to get rid of any work frustrations.) I want to get back into it. I’ve read so much about hiking and heard so many awesome stories. Like that Australian storie Tracks or the movie about the Pacific Coast Trail, Wild. I feel like I know perfectly well how to prepare and organise and go about it. But will I ever really go through with it?

Tonight I’m going for a run. For real. When I get home from work: straight into the running shoes. I really hope I do.