Hiking from Umoljani to Lukomir, Bosnia & Herzegovina

I’ve heard about a woman from Sweden, a friend of a friend, who returns to Sarajevo every summer to go hiking in the surrounding mountains with her local friends. Apparently, those mountains, in particular the vast terrain on Bjelašnica (2067 m), fill her heart with peace and warmth and heal her stressed out, weary soul. “This is where I seem to achieve my balance at last,” she reportedly said a couple of years ago on her first hiking “pilgrimage” to Lukomir, the remotest village of Bosnia and Herzegovina that is yet only a few dozen kilometres away from the capital.

And so she comes back to the Bosnian Dinaric Alps every summer, heads to the mountains for a dose of fresh air and exercise, not knowing how to describe what it is that actually helps her stabilize herself. Just before she flies back to Scandinavia, she pays visits to local beautician, hairdresser, nail salon – and off she goes back home happy, rested and beautified inside out. Continue reading “Hiking from Umoljani to Lukomir, Bosnia & Herzegovina”

Cycling in Nockberge, Austria or What a Difference a Week Makes

It’s been a bit more than a week since our trip to Istria but we’ve managed to change the scenery completely the last weekend. We ended up in the warm embrace of the Austrian Alps.

It was unseasonably hot throughout the last week (thanks God, we needed it) and even in the Alps it was fantasticly warm.

We went on a cycling trip, this year’s first, and it was wonderful. Although, were I asked the next day, I’d have some other words rolling off of my tongue as I could feel very well the difficulties and aches of sitting down.

A view over the mountains and pasture in Nockberge region in Austria

The Nockberge region is obviously meant to be known for sweeping curvy roads and painfully steep ascents. It is also a home to delicious meat, especially beef, and the Zirbe trees. The essential oils of their wood exude characteristic smell that is famed for its (scientifically proven, no less) health benefits, above all improving one’s sleep. Last but not least, there’s also the intoxicating brandy made with Zirbe cones to be tried.

The houses that we passed are proverbially well taken care of. The Austrians, like their neighbours the Germans and the Swiss, take caring for their property very seriously indeed. The lawns are all manicured (I can happily report the modernisation has found its way to the remotest of valleys: we saw two lawns being mowed by a robot!) and blossoming plants of all colours and shapes are boxed onto balconies, decorating the terraces and the garden borders.

There was no one in sight, although the day was very fine. It seemed as if everybody had lunch indoors at the same time but once we reached Ebene Reichenau it was as clear as day: there was a Dorffest going on.

A village fest in Nockberge, Austria

The countryside is typically Alpine, of course. Lots of greenery and dense woodland. Lots of water too: many streams heading downhill in a bouncing rhythm over the rocks provided a noisy companion during our laborious progress upwards.

Refreshing sight of a sream rushing down Nockberge, Austria

We saw the busy bees on the way. Check the neatly piled stacks of wood behind the beehives: the winters are cold and long around here.

Everything is neat and tidy in Austria

We met some cows lazying in the grass …

Cow resting in the meadow in Nockberge, Austria

… and a horse now and then.

We reached our peak in good time.

A romantic view of a church atop Nockberge, Austria

Within 15 minutes, after we returned to the valley and rested over coffee before considering a late lunch, the clouds locked out the blue sky and it started to rain. Really good timing, I said.

Pizza treat in Bad Kleinkirchheim, Austria

Some Italians run a pizzeria by the main road in Bad Kleinkirchheim. I can’t remember when I ate the whole pizza all by myself. No leftovers this time.