Discovering Gozo April 21, 2011Posted by sunflower71 in activities for children, Holidays, My trekking holiday.
Tags: Easter, trekking, Wied il-Mielah, Wied l-Ghasri
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Today was our first full day of Easter holidays. We are spending the next few days here with my family. Despite the fact that we’re on holidays both the girls and I were up at the usual time. My man had seen a feature on a particular site in Gozo that he had never visited and we decided to go there today. This is a natural rock formation that goes by the name of ‘It-Tieqa ta’ Wied il-Mielah’ or “The window at Salty Valley”.
All of us walked for about half a kilometer to the place we thought was it only to be met a steep stairs to a tiny secluded shingle beach.
We had arrived at another valley! Wied l-Ghasri! (Ghasri Valley)
Walking up the steep stairs and all along the way back to the car, I couldn’t help wondering in how many years would I dare take the girls to the Dolomites for some real trekking! I couldn’t helping reliving that amazing experience while nearly salivating for the next one planned for some time this coming July.
There is so much to look forward to…in this my life with the 3 princesses. Thank you God for giving them to me. Please, make me worthy of them.
medals March 10, 2011Posted by sunflower71 in about me, My trekking holiday, The Cherub, The Princess.
Tags: medals, sports
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There are many things I have never done in my life.
One of them is to win a medal. Not even one of those that are given to everybody for participating in something. No not even one of those. Am I missing something? Will I be forever marked by this?
To tell you the truth I don’t think so. But I do feel that I lack a certain je ne sais quoi for anything remotely related to sport.
I recently go another wake up call to this fact, not because I needed it but it happened to confirm this fact. I was probably not aware of the extent of my limit in this respect.
A few days ago I happened to be chatting to a very sportive type of guy – sportive in the sense that he has won many medals representing this rock internationally, as well as in attitude. So the conversation is going some thing like this:
Him: I might quit competing (in his particular sport) and will try to go for refereeing (in the same one)
Me: ah, there is refereeing in this sport too?
Him (he is too kind to look incredulous, but he nearly was looking incredulous) : every sport has a referee
Me: ah yes of course.
So there we go. I have another definition for me: highly unsportive.
Any one would be right to think that my lack of interest in anything that involves physical movement of any sort other than that strictly needed to survive decently must be stemming from a very lazy person. Well, I’d like to think it all started, or better, didn’t start,when I growing up in the seventies and eighties on our little Mediterranean rock. The only sport back then (and now, as my best friend stuck there with two teenage children insists) was football for boys. Full stop. For girls. Zilch. When I was old enough already to have been put off anything involving a ball, a basketball team was created in another village. And anyway I didn’t really like the crowd that hung around this sport. Than a bit later a volleyball one too was born….My sister, 8 years my junior was in time for that. Lucky her.
Back to the beginning or rather to where I got my distinct antipathy for sports. I think it must have been when I was 10 or 11. My Physical Education teachers were females who insisted on making us wear horrible blue shorts that fitted badly even the most athletically looking of us and an equally horrible plain white t-shirt come cold or heat to our twice weekly 45-minute sessions. I remember both these teachers wearing a navy blue circle or thereabouts skirt to the lesson! Can you imagine what an attractive picture we were given! Then we come to the lessons – I distinctly remember standing in our school grounds listening to all sorts of rules about basketball, volleyball and netball ad nauseam. I also very, but very distinctly remember being hit badly in the face by a basketball during our boring practicing of passes and that spelt the end to my interest in this game. Volleyball is to me only the way the 6 players on each side rotate and probably also how high the net has to be and that someone in a particular position starts the game. Netball, I remember hating because I was never chosen to play and have spent many of the biweekly sessions forced to sit to watch my class mates trying to play. The only game I remember enjoying playing was rounders. I think it was sort of baseball but I think we called it rounders. I must have been pretty good at it as I was always chosen quickly to be part of the team. Probably I was a fast runner and could hit the ball well. But sadly that was that. This is the extent of my sportive background.
But hey, I have high hopes for the princesses. With them I try to be the sportive type, showing interest in all things sportive. So I take TP and TC to swimming lessons every week. And while watching them I dream awake of accompanying TC to competitions overseas! (I know…. I dream exaggerated!) But, really, who knows? I guess even Micheal Phelps’ mother took him to lessons aged 4. The girls are also enrolled in another sports session on Saturdays where they get 3 hours of different types of skills related to sports. We chose a reputed organisation run by professionals that encourage the children along. I try to be as open-minded as possible while to instil in them a love for striving to be better.
Just so that I’d have said everything there is to say, there are in reality 2 types of sports…if we can call them that that I love: The first is abseiling. I had my very first experience with a 50 long rope in this fantastic place. Terrible as a start but it left me longing for more. The second is trekking. I started this in the most beautiful mountians of the world – the Dolomites, and I feel hooked. If I had to choose activities that I love doing… these would feature in the first 4 or 5. So while I will never win medals for any of these, I might get a few thrills and the adrenalin pumping sensation anyway. My next trekking trip is planned…. And that reminds me, why don’t I give the guy I trust with my life most in the world (after my man, obviously) to go for a couple of descents?
Dolomiti (4) August 6, 2010Posted by sunflower71 in My trekking holiday.
Tags: about me, Dolomiti, trekking
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This post concludes the series
Nearly a month has passed and I hadn’t had the time to focus on the last day of my trekking holiday. But here we are now…my memories as fresh as ever!
0815 Sunday’s symbolic lie in
Last night we decided to skip the planned walk as it is 5 hours long and do only a part of it. So I left Villa Chele for the last time … but before leaving I had to take photos from my bedroom windows and a lovely breakfast of tea, fresh bread and my host’s home made jams, in the garden. Thank you Signora Louisa for your hospitality!
My friend and I drove to Rifugio Passo Giau at the base of the Nuvolau. We will do only about a fifth of the circular walk one could take around this mountain. From this Rifugio we tried to identify some of the peaks that outline the blue sky. I’m feeling on a first name basis with the mountains now. They no longer look identical to me. And the sense of awe of these massive rocky peaks is now turning into interest. I’m also very aware that this is my last day here and in my head I’m planning on when I could plan to be back. This summer if possible!
1030 Rifugio Passo Giau
The cappuccino before we start off is now our routine. And off we go in the direction of Rifugio Averau. This is my rockiest path to date. I hardy used the walking sticks today. I was holding on to the rocks on both of my sides to go around the Nuvolau. In my head the names of the peaks I’ve been lucky to observe are playing a merry-go-round – Cristallo, Il Pelmo, Nuvolau, Croda da Lago, Civetta… with such names even without seeing them one starts to wonder and tries to wander. The views from this path are again amazing and different from the others we saw the other days.
(As I’m going through the photos I see that I have only videos and I also can’t find a way of uploading them…sorry:-( But I took a still and here it is.)
A few people are free climbing up the steep rocks to the top. I know I’d like to do something similar one day… who knows, next time I might try might hand on a Via Ferrata – with a qualified instructor, of course! Suddenly, I know, I’d like to go higher… and maybe get to the top of one of the mountains one day.
1230 The beginning of the end
Lunch of toasted panini at the Rifugio and one last look around. Today the place is full. It’s Sunday so it’s kind of normal but it also seamed that all the bikers of the area decided to meet up in the car park. They ruined the atmosphere with their black jackets but I guess they too need their hobby (I was feeling benevolent…usually I’m know to declare that if I ever make it to become prime minister – not that I’m planning to – but just in case I happen to become one, I will ban the noise making two-wheelers!) We were nearly done when the heavens opened multiple taps. The rain alternated with hail and suddenly it got pretty chilly. We complimented our selves on our decision to not take the whole talk. At this time we would have been still quite a way from our end point.
During our drive back to civilization I fell silent. This is me all over. I’m usually very silent at the end of something. It is also still raining very hard. I sort of try to absorb all that I had missed before. This time it was the Christmas tree looking trees that took my attention. We were driving on fairly steep and winding rounds descending from a height of ….. The hills here are very steep. They are also full of the Christmas tree looking trees that grow vertically independently of the angle the terrain they grow from makes with the horizontal.
Hitting the auto strada (highway) on the way to the airport, the sun is shining again and the heat is now unbearable, sort of preparing me to get back home and our summer heat.
1900 Some afterthoughts
I thank you Iaia for initiating me to the Dolomiti and this beautiful hobby. Can I really take up your offer and come again soon? The only thing that was missing was my man’s presence to enjoy it all with me. I hope one day, I’ll take him where I was and that we will explore new paths together.
Dolomiti (3) July 26, 2010Posted by sunflower71 in My trekking holiday, Uncategorized.
Tags: about me
Saturday 10 July: Rifugio Croda da Lago
Today we left home earlier. We had a longer trip by car to get to our starting point. The weather is very fine. The air refreshing. A quick coffee at Rifugio Staulanza and off we go.
1030 first break
Today’s walk is longer but easier. The terrain changes but is less rough than that of yesterday. I’m also gaining confidence and can now walk and look around me, not just the path!
During these walks I drank a lot of water but ate relatively very little. The best snack was my friend’s idea: dark chocolate and plain biscuits. Eating chocolate here feels so very very right!
Being a Saturday we also met more fellow walkers – tired or not, sweathy travellers, suntanned, capped and backpacked. Hm…. Today I felt, I was one of mountain lovers who take to the mountains every time they can. So here we met all sorts, the only common thing between us was the love of the mountains and the shoes. For the rest, no one really knows. We cross paths, smile, salute – hello, good day, buon giorno, salve, buondi – and proceed.
We also came across a considerable number of bikers. Here one can see where the mountain bike got its gears and name. I was quite fascinated by them. It was a challenge for me on my feet but they took to the slopes on wheels. I guess this will be one I’ll give a miss.
1300 Croda da Lago
This bit of paradise is our destination. People can come here by jeep from Cortina. But I prefer the way we came.
1400 The weather changes
We sort of cut short our coffee at the Rifugio Croda da Lago to start our way back. Clouds are gathering on the horizon and the air has turned chilly. We want to get back before it starts to rain. We walk non stop till we get to where we had parked the car.
1700 We beat the rain
We made it!
This field was at my left. So significant. Hundreds of forget-me-nots!
I have never felt as tired as I’m feeling today. I’m hungry, my legs feel like jelly, my hands are aching, my back is feeling the strain. I feel one whole mass to tiredness. I’m exhausted. But who cares? I’m not maybe a tentative intermediate mountain walker!
Dolomiti (2) July 25, 2010Posted by sunflower71 in My trekking holiday.
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Friday 9 July
0645: On the road
My friend and I leave early for our second walk. My friend is of the philosophy of leaving early and covering most ground before it’s gets too hot. I’m not so sure this ungodly hour is so necessary but I’m not arguing. She is the expert. I’m trusting her implicitly.
From here, at 1514m we leave for Rifugio Venezia.
We start an uphill walk in the forest. We walk for what seem over 100 floors of uneven steps, treading over tree roots of all dimensions. I dare look no where except where I’m walking. I can’t risk tripping. The shoes are indeed good. Their grip is simply so very there. I feel safe in them. Another equally practical and feel-safe element are these symbols that one comes across on trees or rocks. It is the red and white signs made by C. A. I. In the very winding paths, one can see from one mark to the next one so it is impossible to get lost. All mountain paths are marked in this way.
We walk non stop for what seems a life time. I’m out of breath often – a drink, a photo, or just to gaze up at The Pelmo that we’re trekking around – but always standing, just so I can keep going.
Then, when I know I can’t take another step, I look up and find this sign. I’ve made it!
With cows grazing in the background (read here: cows’ dung dotting the mountain side) and the now familiar sound of the cow-bells, my friend and I take a well deserved break. First stretching. This is what will prevent my overworked and shocked muscles from getting twisted into cramps!
I am so overwhelmed that I’m not even hungry. Strange but true. We change our soaking wet t-shirts. Take off our shoes and socks and lie down to rest.
1300: Rifugio Venezia
Here we get our water refilled. I cannot resist a piece of freshly baked piece of the most heavenly pear and dark chocolate cake. After all I deserve it! It was heavenly! I know I’m going to try to find a recipe for it.
The walk back takes less time. I’m constantly correcting my posture to tackle the steep paths.
During this walk I came face to face with my limits of my energy and went beyond that point too. I had never felt so tired in my whole life.
Not even after giving birth.
Dolomiti (1) July 17, 2010Posted by sunflower71 in My trekking holiday.
Tags: dogs, Dolomiti, Kayland, Nordic walking sticks, Pralongo
1030hrs – Reality hits in
After a late b’fast we’re getting ready to leave for Pralongo, Val di Zoldo, or better, my friend who is hosting me in Italy and who invited me to join her for this walking long week-end, is putting together the last few things. My bags are ready so I was told to stay out of the way lest she forgets something. Unusual role for me! So I make myself another tea and enjoy my summer edition of Intelligent Life while playing with Coco’s ears. She’s a lovely dog who I’ll be getting to know in the next few days. She and Daisy, the other dog my friend keeps will be joining us. Coco has her forelegs on my thigh. Usually it’s The Star’s hands I have in the same place every time she catches me sitting down. Outside I can hear sounds of children. A mummy is trying to get her two kids into the car. One is crying. The other is screaming she wants her red shoes. Less than 20 hours after leaving my children I start missing my princesses!
1100hrs – My first surprise
On loading the car, I can see my friend is putting two sets of Nordic walking sticks into the car. Till this moment, I hadn’t thought we’d be doing that kind of walking!
12oohrs – Kayland
I have now just bought my first pair of mountain shoes. They are the biggest pair of shoes I have ever possessed. After lengthy explanations by the shop assistant on how to know if they fit me well or not and after trying on a few different brands and trying to walk with them uphill and down hill on different types of terrain in an area specifically set up in the shop, we settle for a pair of Kaylands.
On the box it says they are both water proof and also let the sweat out. I now know our walks in the mountains will nothing like the walks, long or short we usually take in Gozo or Malta.
1330hrs – Pit stop
I’m holding Coco and Daisy on their respective leashes. I still can’t believe it myself but I’m so comfortable around these two dogs no one would believe that till now the closest I had ever been to dogs till now was several meters. We have stopped at this sideway hotel for a quick lunch. I’m dying for my first taste of real cappuccino. What they offered didn’t disappoint.
1530hrs – iphone
Settling down in my room at Villa Chele while handwriting some notes (what I’m actually using to write these few lines now). I’m now missing having an iphone to blog about this experience as it’s unfolding. I have to admit, I had never felt the need before. Maybe my next phone will be just that.
1630hrs – testing, testing, 123
We’re off on our first walk. A short drive from the Villa and we’re immersed in nature. Trees, trees and more trees. Mosquitoes and flies. Uneven paths. Rocks and stones. Sand and soil. And an uphill walk till we come to a series of narrow rivers of icy cold water. I’m struggling to find the breath to continue. I find different excuses to stop to catch my breath. To take photos, to adjust my shoe laces, to adjust my rucksack, to have a drink, to adjust the Nordic sticks!
But I know I can’t stop now. The atmosphere is too exhilarating! I still can’t believe it I’m here! Then around a bend we come to this beauty.
It has definitely been worth it!
The walk down hill was faster though not obviously. Parts of the walk were steep enough and rocky enough down which one can’t simply, safely hurry.
2300hrs – lights out
I’m now settled in and ready to call it a day.