Category Archives: travel thoughts

Simply Happy

24 Aug 17
Heidi Kumm
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2 comments

Yesterday I made the hilly, sweaty bike ride from the Camping Kate campground in Mlini to the main bus station in Dubrovnik. In an attempt to avoid the relentless, baking heat I left camp before 7am + arrived at the bus station approximately 3.5 hours before my bus.

While I did manage to accomplish my goal of avoiding a ride in the hellish sunshine there was no skipping out on the humidity. I very gloriously arrived at the bus station dripping sweat. Literally, there was sweat dripping from the tip of my nose, from the ends of my eyelashes + all along the edge of my chin. It was disgusting. So I strapped my bike to a nearby fence + made my way to a smokey but air conditioned cafe. Oh, the things I have been willing to sacrifice for a blast of cold air. Sorry lungs…

**side note: this was written over two weeks ago as I sat at a cafe in Zagreb, then I got restless + wandered off…forgetting to finish it off, so just float back in time with me!**

Around Croatia [+ all of the Balkans?], I’ve come to expect cafes or “caffe bars” to have nothing more than beverages. You can get coffee, orange juice + a beer from the same counter, but no food. In a way, this is weird to me + my stomach hasn’t quite adjusted. My blood stream tho…it’s gotten used to the pumping caffeine sans calories.

Eventually, my body stopped producing new sweat + I hopped off to the bathroom to swap out my sweaty cycling clothes for my not-yet-too-sweaty traveling clothes. The only real difference was the current level of moisture content. My “traveling clothes” stayed quite dry until it was time to wrangle Jackalope into his bike bag for the 7-hour bus ride north to Zagreb. Practice makes perfect — I can now get him shoved away in roughly 7 minutes.

As I waited for the bus to arrive I attempted to cool myself with ice cream + iced tea. My phone attempted to speed charge on an overloaded power strip + Jackalope’s black bike bag soaked up all the sunshine outside. Ah, nomadic bike life?

At first, I felt a bit like I was tempting fate when I walked away from Jackalope, even though I was “keep an eye” on him from afar. Then I tried to move him. Ha. No one would try to steal that heap of awkward metal. Besides, if they succeeded to get away with a bike in a bag they probably deserved the bike.

Just before noon, my bus-venture started…with the realization that this bus did *not* have a bathroom on board. I had been holding out for the bus bathroom because the bus station was charging about $0.50USD to get into the restrooms. What can I say, I’m stubbornly cheap. The look on my face when the bus driver said “no toilet” must have given away the angst of my bladder as he waved me off toward the cash machine that would grant me access to a tiny restroom. Oh, Europe + your random pay-to-pee facilities.

My trip to Zagreb was relatively uneventful. So uneventful, actually, that I managed to fall asleep while listening to my audiobook…three times. Maybe Audible should add an “are you still listening” check like Netflix has. Or, maybe I should stop curling up into an awkward ball of “comfort” on buses. We’ll see which happens first.

Oh, Zagreb.

This capital city of Croatia was not even on my radar when I planned my cycling route through the country. I am forever telling myself I’m not a “city person”. Then I wander around cities like Zagreb, Zurich or Vienna only to fall in love with the hustle, bustle + beauty.

Last night I fell asleep to the rumble of thunder, flashes of lightning + constant smash of rain against the pavement. Glorious sounds, rolling through the open windows of my AirBnB room. Ah. Rain. Finally, a break in the relentless heat + humidity of the Balkans. I’ve always loved storms + this one came at the perfect time — breaking the heat wave + waiting until I had squeezed my bike into a tiny elevator before ripping the sky apart.

This morning I woke up wrapped in a blanket for the first time in weeks. Ah…the feeling of something other than sweltering heat! The smell of someone else’s breakfast lured me out of bed + into the old down streets of the cobblestone city. When I left the apartment I actually contemplated going back for a long sleeve as a chilly breeze swirled through the nearly empty city streets. A chill, what is this even?! Instead, I continued on, excited to see what this city had to offer to the world before everyone woke up.

…the only photo I took while in Croatia. hm.

As I roamed the cobblestone + brick laid streets I only saw a few people  headed off to work. Locals, residents…people who “back home me” could relate to. I came upon a big “local market” where people were setting up tables with colorful displays of flowers, fruits + vegetables. Many elderly couples were pulling trollies around to fill with produce, then prop up against a cafe table while they sipped coffees + chattered.

Eventually, I let my caffeine craving veins lead me to the Argentina Cafe. I found an empty seat, ordered up a cappuccino + pulled out a book. As the sun slowly crept over the stone buildings I sipped up foamed milk + just smiled.

I felt…happy. Simply happy.

It felt like everything was falling into place. I was in a city that made me grin. I had a bus ticket that would shuttle me back to the mountains of Switzerland, then a plane ticket back to the States. Along the way I had plans to hike mountains, climb rocks + cycling trails. Once I arrived in the States I would jump into a week full of family shenanigans before settling back into mountain living in Colorado. If I’m lucky I might even end up with gainful employment before the mountain tops are covered with snow.

Until then, I’m perfectly happy, simply happy, to roam around the mountains in my backyard with Max, float around mountain lakes in our new kayaks + drag Robb off for weekend adventures in a tent.

Life. It’s a beautiful mess.

Pfeishutte: An Austrian Alp Adventure

04 Aug 17
Heidi Kumm
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2 comments

When I booked my flight to Switzerland “alpine huts” were high on my to-do list. I wanted to go back + soak up a few more sunsets [+ rises] from the stone stoop of Swiss Alpine Club huts. In 2015 I had visited about 10 SAC huts + I wanted more. More, more, more. I even purchased a membership at the Swiss Alpine Club to get dibs on some great overnight discounts.

Guess how many SAC huts I stayed at?!

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Currently.

01 Aug 17
Heidi Kumm
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5 comments

I am currently sitting in an open air home at the kitchen table of strangers wearing nothing by my sandals. Surprisingly [or not?], it doesn’t feel weird at all. That’s probably because I’m at a “naturalist” camp in the hills of Montenegro + no one is wearing more than their sandals. I’ve never been the world’s biggest fan of clothes + the 80-90+ heat has convinced me these naturalists are onto something!

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Cycling the Coast of Croatia

10 Jul 17
Heidi Kumm
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one comments

In a few hours, I’ll be hopping on a bus to Croatia. I’ll be leaving behind my life of comfort + ease in the Swiss Alps for a month of sitting in a bike saddle as I tour the coast of Croatia on a newly acquired bicycle. Everything is in order [I think] + somehow all of the details have fallen into place [hopefully]. The trip to Croatia was planned out of necessity [visa requirements + such], the idea to cycle the coast was born by insanity + the details were hammered out courtesy of many creative, enabling + determined minds.

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A Cloudy Col des Chamois Attempt

27 Jun 17
Heidi Kumm
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After weeks [years?] of talking about a trek up the Grand Muveran it finally started to look like it would happen. Gemma + I set aside a day, stared at a map + chatted up a friend…then we checked the weather. After a solid 10 days of blazing sunshine, we were headed into a long weekend of thunderstorms. The dicey weather combined with late-season snow vetoed our plan to snag a Grand Muveran summit.

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Travel Guilt

08 Jun 17
Heidi Kumm
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3 comments

It’ll hit you when you least expect it. For me, it was as I was driving down a narrow mountain road completely mesmerized by the fresh snow on the mountain peaks towering above, happy. Incredibly happy. The kind of happy that makes your insides feel like a perfectly toasted marshmallow. Everything seems right in the world + I was invincible to the doubts of reality.

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Les Gorges: Into the Valley

06 Jun 17
Heidi Kumm
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When you tell someone you’re headed to the Swiss Alps for the summer the general assumption is that you’re going for the mountain peaks. That’s not untrue, but the Alps offer up more than summits! I first found the gorges [aptly named “Les Gorges”] on a rainy day last time I was here…they’re kind of a perfect rainy day hike. However, they’ve become one of my favorite hikes near the chalet, even on the sunny days! Let me tell you why…

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Taking on Switzerland

10 May 17
Heidi Kumm
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Taking on Switzerland

I’m back! Back in Switzerland + on my way back to the tiny mountain town I fell in love with a few years ago. I booked my flight to Switzerland as soon as I accepted that winter job in the Colorado Rockies last October. As ridiculous as it seems, I was legitimately concerned I’d get a “real job” [seasonal as it was] + forget how to leave the country. My crazy doesn’t always make sense, but this time it got me back to Switzerland so I won’t apologize for it!

After van-tripping around Iceland I hopped on a plane to Switzerland to start a summer in the Alps. I’ve been in Zurich for a week. An uneventful week, for the most part. I’ve been nursing a cold [the only souvenir I brought back from Iceland, ironically] + dodging even more raindrops. Yes, more rain. Mother Nature’s tears have been following me around the world + each country I end up in. I need to start plotting a way to cheer her up…soon!

My time in Zurich has been spent wandering city streets, sleeping in, eating $32 burgers, reading books, drinking $8 lattes, writing memories, pondering life + slowly going stir crazy. Of all the big cities I’ve been in, Zurich is easily one of my favorite [I think Vienna still wins]. Even so, this girl can only take so many days surrounded by concrete + asphalt.

This past weekend was a nice break from the big city. I tagged along with friends + friends of friends down to southern Switzerland for a few days. We crashed a family’s BBQ, indulged in an Italian meal whipped up by Swiss-Italians, drove insanely steep + windy mountain roads, watched street hockey tournaments, ate homemade cheese in the barn it was produced in + wandered wanderwegs. It wasn’t what I expected, but it was kind of awesome! More importantly, it was a weekend I would have never been able to pull off on my own! I was just the girl along for the ride. I rarely had any idea what the game plan was, even when I was the one driving! Language barriers are real. Very real.

Surprisingly, my fluency in German did not magically increase while I was gone. Last weekend, I also learned that even my shoddy Spanish is more useful than English when surrounded by Italian speaking Swiss. It’s also been hypothesized that being fluent in Italian makes you a good chef. I may need to spend some more time testing this hypothesis, which I’m okay with!

At the moment, I’m surrounded by bits + pieces of my gear + clothes. Everything is nearly packed up. Mostly. I’m almost ready. I am about to break this constant cycle of packing, unpacking + repacking. In about an hour I’ll be on a train headed west…to Gryon. Tonight I’ll crash my head into a pillow under the roof of Chalet Martin. I can. not. wait. My heart is ready to chase happy in the mountains + my brain is begging for a little more structure + responsibility in my every day life.

There is a lot to love about Switzerland, no doubt. However, the time I spent volunteering at this hostel that I came back for + that I’m craving. I’m here for the relaxed mountain life, surrounded by people with rich histories + ambitious futures in the mountains. The Alps. I really don’t think my mom had any idea how appropriate of a name “Heidi” would end up being for me… [thanks, Mom!]

Iceland; By the Dollars

09 May 17
Heidi Kumm
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one comments

We did minimal planning prior to hopping on a plane to Iceland. From time to time we’d talk about sitting down to plan. Every once in a while I’d scroll through a list of “5 must visit” or “8 best” list looking at photos + cocking an eyebrow at the Icelandic words. About a month before we showed up at the airport we decided we at least needed to find a place to sleep. A few Google searches + a colorful pros/cons list later we had our camper van booked. We also made reservations at a hotel in Reykjavik for our final nights in Iceland.

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Iceland; One Stop at a Time

08 May 17
Heidi Kumm
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5 comments

I spent a week in Iceland this spring, almost on accident. When I was searching for flights to Switzerland last fall I realized it was cheaper to fly through Iceland on Iceland Air than directly to mainland Europe. The airline’s website didn’t have to do much prompting to get me to book a “stayover” for the full 7 days. Once my flight was booked I spent a few months talking Robb into coming along to explore the island. Eventually, he gave in.

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