Fighting the cows and time

As my trip to the Alps was just full of unfortunate events, I have few more to share with you! This time facing the cows and lack of time.

More scary moments

Like I said in the first post of “when things go wrong”, I have plenty of little situations where I have been really really scared or the things have gone the opposite direction from my expectations. We are back in the Alps! This post I will dedicate to my amazing vacation in the Alps and my amazing Tom who always manages to come out of difficulties. Yes, I know, I already told you about the little tears (khmm) I had in the mountains on that trip, but the ones I am going to talk about today are not related to my fear of heights at all. As the stories I have left from the Alps are rather long, you have to settle with only 2 this time.

So, the first scene coming to my mind is me and Tom sitting in a tent and being abused by 40 cows. Let’s make one thing clear- I am not afraid of cows… usually! Okay?! I am a peasant, I am not afraid of domestic animals. Yet, I find it scary when the whole herd of cows confine me.

I remember waking up in the tent in French mountains (Mont Cenis) and seeing a huge amount of cows like 200 meters from us drinking water and sunbathing. As usually we did our little morning routines and didn’t really notice that the cows started coming towards us. They were already about 10-15 meters from the tent when I popped my head out of the tent and pulled it right back as quickly as I could. I whispered to Tom that the cows are right next to the tent and are staring at us. Should we scare them away? Should we close the tent’s door? Should we just keep sitting quietly? We decided to close the door and see what happens. So, for you guys, who haven’t been in the mountains- mountain animals are not like you are used to at your home/neighbours. They are not coming to you when calling by the name, they are rather wild and unstable, I would say (okay probably not). Well, at least they are not coming when you call them! You can notice it anywhere as they have put up big signs- to not disturb or go near the animals. Yeah probably a precaution but makes you careful and slightly scared. And they are big! Especially when you are sitting down, they seem like giants!

So, there we were looking into each other eyes, being surrounded by 40 cows (god knows how easily disturbed/irritated). And then, as I was not expecting at all, they all started coming to smell our tent.  All, one by one. You could only smell the… bad smells, see the tongue coming under the door towards you, and hearing “water” pouring right next to you (only a thin fabric separating from getting hit by it). To be honest, I was terrified. Not that they will shit on our tent or start eating our food, but that one of them decides to take a little break and sit on us. That is not the way I want to die, okay?! So, every time they rubbed their bellies or asses against the tent, Tom made this really funny (like an old farmer) noise “Uoooooouh”. And they really did listen. It didn’t scare them away for long, but at least they didn’t want to sit on us. After like an hour of waiting quietly them to get bored, I just started packing my stuff, thinking that in a chance they all are at least few meters from the tent, I will run for good. Fortunately, as soon as we started moving in the tent, they got scared and went back where they came from. Yeah, I know, should have done it sooner, but you never know, how they react to a noise/your behaviour. One must be careful with them for sure. So, here is an advice- do not close the tent when 40 cows are about to come and lick it!

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Some of the original “bad girls”!

The second story is about hitchhiking and being on time. Everyone who knows me, also knows I am never late. I feel so bad when I am late that I am rather too early than late. I don’t know, I just hate it. But when hitchhiking you cannot do anything about it. The worse thing is when it happens when you literally cannot be late. On our way back from the Alps I experienced first time ever what is it like to not be picked up for a long time. So, we started coming from France rather early and hoped to have some extra time for Belgium/Netherlands. Well, that didn’t happen. We got stuck in Belgium for half a day. We arrived at one of the resting areas around 4-5pm and didn’t get the ride until the next morning. The worse part was that it was on a highway (scroll down to look it up on the map), so we couldn’t even take a public transport. We were literally stuck.  What is more, I had my plane leaving the next day (around noon) from Germany (260km to go).

Probably because of the current migration situation in Europe, as soon as it got dark, people were literally running away from you. I was carrying my backpack the whole time to show that I am a hiker not a terrorist. Unfortunately it didn’t help much. Until the next morning everyone was either full or just escaped before we could even ask anything. In the morning (it was already around 8am) we convinced one truck driver to take us further as I was soooooooooooo freaked out I am going to miss the flight (and therefore work on Monday as well). He took us further, but it was still not enough to get to the airport, because we were already behind from the schedule and he could drive only with 90p/h. He dropped us off in Maastrich (Netherlands) about 100km from the airport. So, we had to take a train in the Netherlands (omg, this damn thing is expensive!) I think we paid like over 30 euros for both tickects. And when you have been hitchhiking the whole trip, then suddenly 30 euros per 90km is A LOT. We kept calling to our friends in Estonia and Czech to check any other kind of possibilities to get to the airport (Düsseldorf Weeze). Not only that there were not enough options in public transport to choose from, but all of them did not match with my plane departure.

So there I was, an h before the gate closing, around 100 km from the airport and with no ticket. Yes, I was supposed to print it out like 2 days before the flight, but remember, I just came from the mountains?! So, we had like 5 minutes until the train’s departure when we had to find a way to get further from our final train stop to the airport, and print out my ticket somewhere. As always, my Prince Charming got everything done on time. He asked one hotel receptionist to print it out and she was willing to do it. For some money, of course (cause let’s be honest, 1 A4 is damn expensive to print out). I remember sitting on the train and bothering everyone with questions like do you have someone living nearby, or do you have a car, or do you know how to get to the airport from Venray. Again, no one did, of course (would have been too easy). We even called for a taxi…. Oh boy… We were ready to pay 50!!!!!! damn euros to drive 25km to the airport. I was about to faint when I heard the price. And can you imagine the damn royal taxi was late.. a lot. So we came off the train in Venray, I was already so late and still 25 km from the airport. Now what?! That’s it? That’s where it all ends? I was so desperate that I started literally begging people to give me a ride. After embarrassing myself in front of like 3 cars, one couple was willing to take me. We arrived in front of the airport exactly when the gate was supposed to be closing. In the car I took out all of the liquid things to waste as little time as possible. I was running like a lunatic, but can you imagine, I made it. I love you Ryanair for being late! I even had to wait a bit at the gate to get on the plane. This was literally the first time in my life I was thankful for someone/something being late.

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The way from the resting area to the airport. For zooming in check it on google maps.

As you can already see, I am afraid of many things. I don’t know why. I just have this one idea how the situation could go wrong/dangerous and it’s just stuck in my head, freaking me out. It is stressful and nerve racking but this kind of situations make you feel alive! So next time I try not to worry (that much), cause things always work out when they are supposed to! 😉

I like adding little melodies to my posts (hopefully you too). In order to not worry, there is only one song for it!

Not an ordinary hiker

It’s time to tell some stories again! Here you go, „Scary situations vol 2 aka mountains’ special”

This time the „critical” situations are not that critical but as I am terribly scared of heights, you can try to put yourself in my shoes (yeah, I know, a hiker with a fear of heights- that’s going to be fun).

So, the very first really high mountain experience I had was back in my Erasmus when we went alpine skiing with the people from our dormitory. Because, you know we don’t have any mountains in Estonia. Compared to those bad boys we don’t even have hills. It was my second alpine skiing time in general, so you can imagine how bad I was at it. If anyone of you has visited Vitosha (to see an additional information about the mountains, click on links) mountain in Bulgaria, then you know what I am talking about. Well, let’s say the tracks are not meant for beginners like me, especially when the beginner is afraid of heights. Yet, after the first slope I was so excited that I agreed to drive to the very top with the guys. Yeah, that was not good idea. So, the guys got bored of the top and decided to WALK up from unmarked hill to get on another track. Like in a movie it got suddenly really foggy, so not only we walked up with the damn skis in a snow reaching to my bellybutton, but we got completely lost. I was so tired after climbing that I couldn’t have even skied down on an easy slope. To make things worse, the side of the mountain we ended up with was full of rocks and as a beginner I didn’t even have a helmet. Just great! I tried to slowly ski down but as I felt the speed just getting up too fast, my legs being too tired to control the speed, and there were too many rocks to go around, I sat down, took my skis off, and slid down on my ass like a kid. After trying to stay alive for an h we got down on a normal track and that was the last one for on that day.

Another similar situation was when hitchhiking in Italy with Latvians. After never really been hiked in big mountains I faced the size of Dolomites and climbing up with a big bag first time in my life. The track started with quite large road and seemed like this is going to be doable even for me. After 10 min of walking I already took off my jacket as I felt like I am running a marathon. I must admit now that the beginnings are always the hardest for me. The first half an hour or sometimes even an hour just comes only with the blood taste in my mouth and lack of air even on not too high altitudes. The moment this climbing got a bit out of hands for me was when the nice large road ended and we faced just a huge amount of rubble. It is possible to climb it, but with a big bag and not proper shoes it is very, very slippery. What is more, the road just got narrower and narrower. At one point I was even wondering how is it legal to open a track like that for people like me. Facing my fear of heights and falling down from the 30cm path, I made it to the highest point of the track. The only thing I was thinking about back then was „well, now it is going to get easier”. I have never been that wrong. The whole way down was only on the rubble. You literally had to keep the balance with all of the muscles you had, every step feeling like this is going to be the last one. And guess what, it would have been just one long slide down, cause there was literally nothing to grab or hold on to. Through the sweat we still made it!! What is more, with no scratches!

(Sorry for the quality, I didn’t have my camera back then.)

The next one is not about really being in a danger or feeling scared of heights, but facing your weaknesses. In spring 2016 we went to Croatia with a car. Spent there amazing week, although I didn’t get exactly that „sunny trip” as I thought I will. Before I even start describing the situation, I must say that in our relationship Tom is the one who sets up all the trips and plans everything. So all the amazing places we have visited together is only thanks to him. As always, when possbile, we try to fit in the schedule at least one hike. This time we chose Paklenica. It was supposed to be an easy track up next to a little river and as easily back down- all together 4h. So, perfect for making nice pictures. After an h walking up the track started to disappear. We were supposed to follow red dots, but often you just didn’t see any so you kept going until you found one. After already climbing 4 hours I was getting tired. Probably this was my weakness point back then. The feeling when you just have to keep going even if you are not enjoying and you are tired and want to quit, is frustrating. As the guy at the gate already lied about the length, we had no idea how long is it really going to take, because the track just got worse and worse. After 5 hours of trying to keep my feet dry I gave up and started walking right in the cold river. The craziest part was when the water got so deep that you couldn’t even walk it anymore. Well, now what? Swimming in April? Somehow by climbing some ropes we got to the top 4h later than expected and spent the night there as it was already getting dark. It seemed like a nice place to put a tent up until the morning when the screaming wild pigs woke us up.

(Left one be like- playing hide and seek with the track’s marking.)

People say that by facing your fears you are going to get rid of them. Well, I am not sure how long or how many times you are supposed to stare them, because for me it ain’t working. The last short story is from my latest trip to the Alps.  As I mentioned before, Tom is the experienced hiker and trip planner, so I completely trust him in this and follow where ever he goes. When we took the trip to the Alps we had been together a year or so, but in a long distance, so there was still a lot of things we didn’t know about each other. Like me being scared of heights. We climbed the whole way from Lichtenstein to Austria. On the way there I broke one of my lenses. Great! You are in the mountains, you are scared of heights, and now you are blind as well. Fortunately I had my glasses with, but as I have never been a fan of glasses, they didn’t really fit me and I felt very uncomfortable. As they were moving with my head I just felt dizzy all the time. On the way to Austria Tom had planned 2 bigger mountains/tops to overcome and enjoy the view. The first one was again with some really bad path almost like in Dolomites. So now I was on the side of a mountain, being scared of heights, feeling dizzy from the glasses and slippery because of the rubble. After trying to overcome the fear and climb about 5 min I just stopped. My legs where shaking so hard that I thought I am going to fall down just because of that. My eyes filled with tears, so instead of seeing little, I saw nothing. I guess this was the time to tell my boyfriend, that I am actually really scared of heights. This time we didn’t go to that top and decided to go around and skip that one. I must say I was relieved. The top we had to take instead wasn’t any better, though. Yes, it wasn’t rubble like the previous one, but the rocks where so big that you really had to climb it. Before taking the top we met one grandmother with my-aged grandson, so we asked how the track is. The guy said it’s really easy, but grandmother corrected him right away: “well, not very easy, but it’s okay”. So when a grandmother can do it, then I can do it… right?! The closer we got to the top, the worse it got. Maybe they were mountain goats or something but this wasn’t easy for sure. With a big bag and a fear it seemed like the craziest thing I have ever done. So i was just facing the rock the whole time as I was too scared to look anywhere else. Again not too wide surfaces to step on so my legs started to shake again. Tom took my bag so now it was just my ass that I needed to get over the damn top. Of course, I did it. Very slowly, but I did it. When usually people feel unbeatable after overcoming their fears, I just felt I need to go down right that moment. I took out my camera, took few pictures of the Lünersee and started climbing down, because everything I could think about was to sit down on a plain surface. I don’t regret anything and I am so proud of myself. I did take one of my favourite pictures of the mountains, but back then I was really the most scared I have ever been.

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So everyone, get up and face your fears, because it is going to take more than just once!

 

To travel or to travel?

My colorful stories from Erasmus times.

So I thought to write more about travelling this time. I have learned that in order to motivate or inspire someone to see the world and look further from the comfortzone, you need to give out some of your either embarrassing or very colorful stories from being on the road. Well, guess what, I have both and a lot.

Erasmus is great, I must say. Besides all the knowledge you get (p.s not for all of the students), you also experience something that you otherwise never would (p.s for all of the students). Well I would have definitely never thought  that I will find myself from a Tunisian wedding’s afterparty, driving with ferry in captain’s cabin or climbing fences in the middle of the night. I will dedicate this post to my lovely Erasmus friends who made those 3 months in Sofia inspiring to me.

The first little crazy story coming to my mind was when we took a trip to Romania. So we started hitchhiking in 4 ( 2+2) from Sofia. For some reason I ended up with 3 the most crazy people I have ever met and I decided to hitchhike first time in my life. So besides me I had there my very best Latvian girl, another globetrotter from Poland and last but not least my now already 1.5years boyfriend from Czech. The crazy part of the trip started when we tried to hitchhike back from Romania to Bulgaria. Me and Tom got stuck in a small village near Constanta. I had just said the words “Yeah, no BMW nor Mercedes is stopping for a hitchhiker” when one Mercedes pulled over. Inside was sitting a young guy (money shining from his eyes), speaking zero English, but understood when we said we are going towards Bulgaria. We sat in, both on the backseat, and as soon as we closed the door he put the music on so loud that I couldn’t even hear Tom talking right next to me. Well, I tried to calm myself down that maybe he is just a music fan. Suddenly, he made a turn to a very small road and drove towards old, half abandoned, broken houses. Let’s be honest a guy with a car like that probably doesn’t live in that part of the town, so I got a little bit worried. I was thinking, okay, so now we are going to get robbed or beaten up or something like that (as it was a small town in Romania). He stopped the car in front of one of the houses and started hitting the horn. After a minute about 10 (okay, rather 5) small gypsy boys were having their faces on the windows. He started screaming at them and hitting the window with his hands in a hope to scare them off. Well, let’s be honest, these fellas are scared of nothing. A little later a gypsy girl (seemed like 20 or so) sat in the car and they were talking (well more like arguing) something in Romanian. You didn’t need to know much Romanian to understand that the guy just ordered her in the car and that was the end of their discussion. My head was full of many thoughts: what is going to happen, and where are we going to be taken to, and what is up with that girl, why is she here, is she his slave or something. After a 15min drive we were finally on the border and the guy stopped. He said simply “Bulgaria” and pointed straight forward. We just thanked him kindly and got out of that car as fast as we could. For me this adventurous car drive was even a bit educational. I learned not to judge people too fast (with a hope that the girl is fine and is actually his girlfriend or something).

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Picture taken by a stranger in Pleven, Bulgaria.

The second one is also from 2015 when we took a trip to Istanbul with my roommates back then (amazing Polish and Latvian girl). We took a bus from Sofia to Istanbul and set up couchsurfing in the city. I must say the city really is amazing and I wish I had my camera back then. So, one of the days we decided to spend on the Prince’s Islands. As we needed to take a ferry for that, we decided to walk to the port and look around the city while walking. Suddenly we noticed a policeman on the road whistling and waving with hands. We were like three chickens not knowing what to do. At first we just kept walking but seeing the police officer getting only more frustrated, we started running. In about 100m we saw a group of people standing next to the road, so we thought, oh, some important guy is coming, take out your cameras. And after few minutes we heard a big bang. There was a bomb in one of the gardens next to the road we were walking on. So, they had found a bomb and deactivated it right there. Yeah, you can say the situation was quite out of our hands. Fortunately, again, everyone was okay and we just witnessed a badass almost-like-in-movie scene.

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Picture taken by my Polish girl in Istanbul. Found an uncle carrying bread on his head, why not.

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Picture taken by a stranger in a mosque in Istanbul.

For the last one in that post I will leave one rather funny one. It was one of the first nights of the second semester in Sofia, so I had just arrived. And we decided to go to a bar. Like always you get tired of one place and you move on. I did not know the city back then at all so I just followed the others. For some reason I found myself in the middle of the night alone in some club, so I decided to go home. After all the shots and I am not even sure what we drank, I had no idea which direction “home” was. So, I put on my coat and just started walking in a hope to see at least something familiar. After walking half an hour back and forth I started panicking. I really didn’t know where I was or where I was supposed to go, everything seemed far from familiar. I felt tears coming to my eyes. I didn’t have anyone’s number from the dorms yet nor cash with. I saw a taxi and I decided to take a taxi to home. I looked through all my pockets and found 2 levas (1 euro). So, I asked the driver through the tears if he can take me to my dorms, but I have only 2 levas. He said: “no problem!” After driving 3min the taxi stopped- we were at the front gate. As you can see, sometimes the situation is not that bad as you think. So, no hard feelings, guys!

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Picture taken by the barman of ´The Shots´ in Sofia.

And that post I will end with a song that has inspired me to overcome myself and live the life o the fullest. That means enjoying even the embarrassing an crazy situations.