The days and weeks after an Ironman are always interesting. The physical aches and pains subside quite quickly, the euphoria stays longer, but in creeps a sense of loss, of aimlessness. The post-race blues.
Not this time, for me. Oh no. My race calendar had just been altered and in a way I didn’t think possible. My Cloud 9 was going to hang about a bit 🙂
So, what did the week after the ironman consist of? Well, I had a guest for a week, to start with. Nick, who’d had intentions of walking in the Dolomites after Ironamn Austria decided a week in Victor was far more appealing and so jumped in the passenger seat and we headed for Slovenia, not before a final trip to the gorgeous Strandbad.
We took the Loiblpass out of Austria, over the Karawanks mountains and dropped into Slovenia on the Wednesday afternoon, keeping our eyes peeled for suitable camping spots. I’d earmarked a potential site on Google maps and we wound our way through a valley until we reached Tržič, where we partook of some dinner (delicious fresh river trout for me) before heading upstream (or river as it actually was) to the Dovžanova soteska to camp. A protected natural monument for more than 25 years it is geologically one of the most fascinating areas of Slovenia apparently. The valley carved out by the Tržič Bistrica River deep into the heart of the Karawanks mountains has laid bare a near complete sequence of rocks ranging in age from 300 to 260 million years with an extraordinary variety of sedimentary rocks and abundance of fossilized remains. It was the perfect place for a rock fan like me to spend a post-ironman walk wandering amongst the cliffs the next morning (preceded of course by a dip in the icy cold waters of the river in lieu of a shower….back to my old tricks again!!).
As Nick had not been in Slovenia since probably before I was born 😉 it seemed a good idea to head on down the road to Ljubljana so he could see the capital city. I retraced my steps from September 2016 and we found our way to the little lake at Jezero, in gorgeous sunshine. Nick wasn’t so impressed with the ‘pond’ having come to be used to the Wörthersee in Klagenfurt, but needs must, and we jumped in to cool off. Little did he know that the lake is some 50 meters deep and fed by karst springs and it therefore pretty cold. I think he regretted his running dive!
The next day we spent the day like tourists, under a sweltering sun, wandering the streets of Ljubljana, sampling the street food market (and wow…. what morsels were on offer there – including the best GF cake I’ve ever had), climbing to the castle and enjoying a well-deserved Aperol Spritz just before the heavens opened.
And then it was onwards traversing the small but beautiful country towards the Triglav National Park, and Kranska Gora, the gateway into the impressive Julian Alps. Arriving about 5ish the first thing we did was seek out the glacial lakes in the Pišnica valley above the town and jump in for a freshen up.
The rain and altitude had reduced the temperature considerably so we got some odd looks. Nothing a hot cuppa in Victor couldn’t sort afterwards though and we were soon warm and dry and ready for dinner which for me was the best liver I think I’ve ever had in the Gostilna pri Rudiju.
That night’s camp spot was next door to the cemetery. Top tip for any budding campervanners out there… churches and cemetery car parks are great places to stop as they are generally quiet and there is almost always a water tap!
The next morning we were up and at it – away early and driving into the Julian Alps for breakfast. Cemeteries might be good places to sleep, but there are perhaps more picturesque places to eat your porridge.
Then it was on to the Soča Valley, home to the 86 mile long river that shares its name. Despite my protestations, we went for a run, winding our way down the Soča river and back. It was terrific and in the end I’m glad I went, even though my ironman legs didn’t fancy it to start with. It had started to rain though was still warm and after a sticky run a wash in one of the tributaries was called for. But my goodness me was it cold. Definite ice cream headache territory.
Warmed up again courtesy of Victor, we continued through the valley before heading north towards the Italian border and a lakeside camp alongside Lago del Predil. Exercise done for the day we wandered along the ‘beach’ drinking beer and listening to the fast approaching thunder storm.
Now you don’t camp by a lake and not swim in it….and so that is how Sunday began, with a 2km swim across the lago and back. Breakfast consumed and it was on our way again, driving through Tarvisio and back into Austria in search of yet more lake action. The intention had been to find a spot on the side of the Faaker See and while away the sunny afternoon with a picnic and some snoozing. Could we find somewhere to lay our heads? No. The place was rammed. So onwards we went, finally stopping at the smaller, but quieter Keutschacher See strandbad where the aforementioned picnic was devoured and sleeping in the shade ensued. A super Pizzarella Plus gluten free pizza for dinner and we found ourselves back in Klagenfurt camping near a natural burial/memorial forest. You’d have thought it would have been a quiet spot. Alas, it seemed to be on the boy-racer route between Klagenfurt and Ebenthal and so sleep was interrupted several times!
The next day, after some work for me, I was ‘forced’ to do another run, but was rewarded with a fab ice cream. Nick was flying back to the UK from Munich so we headed north in the hot afternoon sun, which soon broke meaning the drive up the beautiful A10 in Austria turned into a very wet affair indeed. Stopping at the Simsee in Germany, at about 9pm, we were pleased to see a cosy looking restaurant open for business and dined out rather than ‘in’.
Last day of having a van-guest and the only objective was to get Nick to his flight on time. That wasn’t until the evening so plenty of time to enjoy a stroll through the Bavarian countryside picking wild raspberries, picnicking by yet another See and driving back to the lake I visited on my way down through Germany a few weeks before in Freising. Despite being short of time, Nick wanted a quick swim which duly occurred before a rushed dash to the airport to get him on his flight.
Guest safely dropped off, I retreated to my little lake and spent the evening enjoying the space and the amazing sunset!! Now, its nice to have visitors but it’s also nice to get back to just being me and Vic 😊