(Guide says 24.7 km – 15.35 miles, we walked 24.7 km!)
We start walking late at 7 AM, because I am exhausted. After taking a four hour, dead to the world nap yesterday afternoon, I found it very difficult to get to sleep at bedtime. The 20 teenagers running wildly through the halls all night long, probably didn’t help matters much. The hostel was very nice, but full of young people who apparently don’t need sleep.
The first thing I notice is that I feel as if my feet and arse are full of lead. It’s so difficult to walk for some reason, even on completely flat ground. My body has no energy today and after napping such a long time, which I don’t normally do, I’m afraid that I might be getting sick. One thing we’ve noticed is that some food gives us loads of long lasting energy and some does not. After being at Marlis’s house for two days eating such healthy locally sourced organic food, we powered up and down giant hills all day long like it was nothing. It’s amazing what healthy food and company does for you.
Today’s walk is a lovely and “an easy 24.7 km,” the guide assures us. We start off on small paved lanes and then go into the woods for about 10km on gravel logging roads. It just feels hard at every step, and the time passes slowly. My feet can feel every small stone with each step. Gary tells me he feels the same and we decide to stop as often as we can so that we can remove our socks and shoes to air our feet. This is definitely the stuff blisters are made of, and all mine have just finally healed.
The first place we stop isn’t even a caffe bar, but the gentleman gives us fresh juice and cappuccinos anyhow. We didn’t realize, but it’s a lovely farm stay style pension that is about 6km outside of Postojna. It’s so beautiful inside and I peeked at the breakfast spread, very, very nice! And it’s right on the EPW! Oh how I wish we had known and we would’ve stayed here last night instead of the hostel. (I’ll add the information below.)
After climbing one long giant hill for 3km on logging roads, we begin to come down the other side to beautiful views. We can see layers of hills backed by mountains in the distance and we know that’s where we will be tomorrow. Going down hill on the lose gravel is hard and we both slip and catch ourselves at several different points. It was such a good decision to wear hiking boots with full ankle support. We know that we would both be in serious trouble by now had we not. I’ve rolled my ankle on countless tractor ruts, then fell in a giant ditch and we’ve both slipped and skidded on several gravel roads. Very thankful for these boots!
At one point, the guide told us to stop at a “smashing pub” that was a short distance away from the path. When we made the turn to head there, we saw a car literally smashed into a tree and what must have been all the men from the tiny village trying to load it onto a wrecker. This was our first scheduled coffee stop, however, we decided that we should just move on. The irony of the car smashed into a tree outside the “smashing pub” was not lost on us. Apparently it had happened in the wee hours of the morning while someone was trying to make their way home. From the looks of the car, there were likely injuries, so as we continue to make our slow progress, we both say prayers that everyone involved will be alright.
Not any more than a few moments after, we begin to hear church bells ringing through the hills and realize that it’s Sunday. As we enter the next small village, people suddenly begin coming from every house, drive, and alley to make their way to church. The moment feels surreal. We so often make our way through entire villages in the mornings without the slightest bit of notice, but today every person quickly greets us and then seems to smile in disbelief at our attempt to walk across their country.
As we make our way out of the village, we find ourselves on the Camino once again. The familiar yellow arrows accompanied by a shell symbol, has been intertwined at various points along our journey. A solid reminder to me that with or without intention, Camino or not, I’m a pilgrim at heart. I honestly believe that we all are, we just choose various ways to carry out our pilgrimage in our lifetimes. Upon seeing the familiar way markers, I stop and feel my emotions well up. Gary’s used to this by now. I’ve tried countless times, unsuccessfully, to convey to him how powerful my Camino experience was. I don’t try any longer, I just say that at some point, he must go and experience it for himself.
We find ourselves following a trail of fourteen crosses that meanders through the woods for a couple of kilometers. Someone has taken considerable time to create and maintain the little path and each of the crosses, which are surrounded with decorative plants. A lovely place for prayer, contemplation and meditation that the village members can journey to a few miles away from their daily life. A small pilgrimage, but one nonetheless. This practice is so deeply rooted in us all.
Our day is long, and very hot. We finish at 3pm, sunburned and astonished that it took us so long. We should’ve been able to walk 24.7km in no more than five quick hours and yet, we took eight. We’re both a little shocked at how difficult it was, considering the mostly level terrain. At this point, we assumed our days of walking would be much easier. My blisters have healed, my body rash is improving from the cream the pharmacist prescribed, and my body feels strong. There was honestly no reason for today’s walk to be so difficult.
When we arrive at Gostilna Spela, we are greeted by Spelna with cold water and blueberry schnapps in hand. This type of welcome always warms our hearts and immediately endears us to our hosts. We settle in to find that David & Sue, along with the two other people in their group, Ann & Marg, have stayed over a second night. We are happy to see them, but a little less excited about sharing the one tiny toilet, sink and shower between us, their group and the two other ladies who are also here. Upon finding this out, Gary and I are torn. We are excited to spend some time with David and Sue, and one of the other ladies who is also English, called Penny, is also an absolute crack up…but all of us sharing the smallest bathroom we’ve experienced yet, and on one of the hottest days of walking so far. We are all ridiculously sweaty and smelly, and in desperate need of showers. Ugh! Within minutes of arrival, everyone begins vying for their bathroom time, but we all manage to stay in good spirits about it.
Now, we must decide what to do as we were planning to walk the next day all the way through, but this will have us all in the same situation tomorrow night too. Sharing one toilet and sink between 8 people is just isn’t ideal. My aren’t we a spoiled lot!? I remember sharing one small bathroom with about 30 others in a convent on the Camino once. It all worked out pretty well for everyone, with the exception of my poor Sweet Jenny. We all tried to move through our bathing as quickly and efficiently as possible so the long line of patient people waiting behind us could process through as rapidly as possible too. There was only one stand up shower stall with a frosted glass door, so to be courteous to each other for privacy, we had each waited outside the bathroom in a small hallway. The system had worked very well for 28 others, but when Jenny got in near the end of the line, the older German man waiting behind her kept banging on the door and yelling because he wanted to come in and use the toilet and brush his teeth while she was showering with a basically see-through shower door. In the end, she refused to let him in, but he continued to bang on the door and fuss at her throughout her entire shower, and then grumble about it through dinner as well. Later, when the same man went to bed for the night in a bunk bed not far from us, he placed a beautiful embroidered sleeping mask over his eyes that said, “Wet Dreams.” Eeeewwwwwww!
Our Gornja Košana Accommodation:
19 euros per person hostel room and welcome drink
10 euros for dinner
Baggage transport 40 euro
Other Postojna Accommodation:
(Booking.com) 53 euro per night for two with breakfast