Adventures In Kep

Author: Mariza

As I’m writing this I am lying in a hammock under a palm leave construction on the bank of the Kampot river. Peaceful and amazing. We just had the most incredible Cambodian meal, after arriving from Kep a few hours ago. Life is sooooooooo good!!!

Back to Kep.

We arrive in Kep from Phnom Penh by bus on a hot afternoon. The hotel – less than impressive – has no power. To its defence, the entire speck of a town is affected. A great reason to go to the beach.

Kep has one man made beach. The rest of the ocean ends against concrete walls or mudflats. Not quite the pristine beaches we so love in Australia. Gosh are we going to enjoy those when we get home!!

The ocean looks like a dam, no waves, and the water is warm. Very lovely for floating around in for a long time. The locals either swim with all their clothes on, or totally starkers (little kids). We did not see a single local in a swimsuit. They must think us strange. DSC04905

We enjoy a cheap meal at a local eatery. As we stroll back towards our hotel we stumble upon a stunning beach bar. Jarik and I enjoy icy cold, dry rosé (the first decent wine in two months!!), while the kids play on the sand with newly found French friends. Bliss!! Early the next morning we are up and ready for our day on Rabbit Island. We enjoy a scrumptious breakfast at a cute beach cafe, before we board our longboat to the island. The island is charming with its timber and palm frond bungalows and colourful beach chairs and hammocks. Massages of every kind is on offer for next to nothing all over the beach.

The walk around the island is only five kilometres, but takes almost a whole day. The swimming, building a raft out of driftwood and playing on beaches along the way is only a very small part of the reason for this. For the most part, the path goes along the shore. For one significant stretch it goes through who knows where. We couldn’t find it. After a long time of frustrating hit and miss (or all misses, I should say!), dead ends, bleeding legs and many scratches all over, we make our way through mud, bush and scrub and back onto the path. We are all VERY happy and relieved to get back to the beach where we started and in total agreement that Rabbit Island is not going on our list of favourite walks or destinations. We make it just in time for a cold drink and a quick swim before we have to board our boat back to Kep.

After a shower (or dripping session, one drop at a time) we go to the crab market where we have a delicious meal of Amok fish curry. Super yummo!! We have a lovely conversation with the owner of our eatery and hear all about the ups and downs of starting a business in this part of the world.

We walk the few kilometres to our new favourite hangout and enjoy rosé in beautiful wine glasses, dim lights and stunning surroundings. They do serve amazing mocktails for kids too. The two littlies play UNO, while the two older ones engage in long conversations with the parents. Precious. The kids convince us to linger a little longer and indulge in enjoying one another in such a special place. We stroll home hours later, hearts full to capacity.

We’re up early the next morning for our run. We finish at the scooter rentals where we pick up two scooters for the six of us. We ride three-three to our breakfast spot. Very cool.

Our move to a much better hotel, right by the beach and the action, consists of two trips back and forth. Only two people with backpacks can fit onto a scooter. Jarik and I giggle as we wizz up and down the ocean road with a kid each, four backpacks and hair blowing in the breeze. This would NEVER happen back home!


We spend the rest of the day scooting all over the place. We visit a temple, explore caves, get lost between tiny villages among the green rice paddies, find the secret lake after much searching, have the most incredible meal on the side of a dirt road (a traditional curry made from scratch with ingredients picked right before preparation) and tour a pepper farm. We are exhausted and covered in dust from head to toe when we finally get back to our hotel, but very happy about our adventurous day. A nice refreshing swim at dusk, followed by a cheap, simple meal conclude a day we will never forget.


Jarik and I are the only ones up for a morning run. After a leisurely breakfast, with a view across the beach and bay, we spend the rest of our morning between the beach and the pool. Exhausting! So to recover, I squeeze in a traditional Khmer massage between checking out and getting on the bus. Somebody has to do it.

Kep is a great little place tucked in between the ocean and the green hills of a national park. The huge French estates, now a little neglected, will surely be restored to its former glory. There is development happening all over, but especially around the long promenade. It is a popular weekend and holiday destination for locals.

We leave the place with lots of new experiences and fabulous memories. Thank you Kep, it’s been a pleasure.

– Mariza –

Islands In The Storm – Cat Ba & Ha Long Bay

Author: Mariza

As I run down the little hill and around the bend in the soft drizzle, I feel completely overwhelmed. In front of me, a little ways into the stormy ocean, are what look like pieces of mountain floating in the sea. Rough and high and breathtakingly beautiful. The little piece of beach is just about covered under the rough high tide. Loungers under palm umbrellas are the only indication that this must be a resort hotel. Fancy one. That, however, hides behind the hedge. To either side of it there is nothing but nature. Stunning, stunning, stunning!!!

I run towards the hotel staff at the gate to ask where the reception is. Because they speak no English and I am dripping with sweat, they direct me instead to a path that I would never have found otherwise. A wooden walkway hugging the side of the hill, all ocean on the other side, lures me further and further away from the place I feel we have to move into that very day. No buildings along the way and no people either. Only much later does the path dead end on another beach. By now it is raining rather hard, so I turn around to search for the reception I never found.

We arrived on the island of Cat Ba the day before and spent our first night in the Full Moon Party Hotel. It totally lives up to its name and it is more of a backpackers hostel than a hotel. By the morning we are very ready to move on. While the rest surf the net to look for other accommodation, I stumble upon heaven down the hill.

Finally at reception, I discover two things. The place is way above our budget and it currently has a special for the exact time we would want to stay there. Not that the special is good enough to bring it down to our budget, but my heart is singing. I know this gorgeous piece of earth was created just for me.

For the next few days a storm rages so badly that none of the boats can go out to sea. We ride it out in comfort and luxury overlooking the ocean. My heaven down the hill has a fabulous gym for me (since there would be no outside running in this weather) and a lovely big pool for the kids. Life is good!


We end our Cat Ba adventure with a cruise through Ha Long Bay in perfect weather. What a spectacular experience! Exactly what we hoped for. We lounge on the deck, kayak between the floating islands, enjoy delicious Vietnamese cuisine and swim in the emerald green ocean. Our kids are, of course, the first ones to jump from the top sundeck of our boat. The rest of us soon join in. Heaps of fun. Swimming to a deserted beach is another highlight. It is easy to see why Ha Long Bay is a world heritage site. Unspoilt nature at its glorious best.



Two bus rides and a speed boat in between deliver us back to Hanoi where we hop on an overnight train to Hue. As we lie on our hard bunks reminiscing, I feel very loved and very blessed.

– Mariza –

Precious People of Patiala

Author: Mariza

September 2017

We arrived at Rajpura train station at night. An hour later we were in Patiala, the place where we would leave our hearts behind. A warm welcome awaited us at the home of a friend’s parents. We have never met these people, yet they showered us with blessings, embracing us as though we have always been a part of their family.

Over the next few days Grandma, Uncle Bobby, Aunty Satwinder, Pavita and the rest of the family down the road made their way deep into our hearts. We spent precious time talking, drinking delicious tea and devouring mountains of delectable food. Too much food!! Way too much!! But we could not resist.


A day on the family farm was a huge highlight. Green rice paddies, as far as the eye can see, surround the homestead. We enjoyed a drink under the trees, then settled on the porch for tea, cake and lots of talking. The kids visited the chickens and cows and made up games in the shade of a big Jacaranda.

A visit to a temple one night, all dressed up in my bright orange sari, was another highlight. Aunty Satwinder explained everything to us as we followed her around, washing in holy water and eating prasad. How privileged we are to have shared in something so special and significant to all those many local families. Praying as we go along that we shall all know the truth, feeling our hearts expand with love for all these beautiful people.

During a visit to the markets, I acquired a lovely Punjabi suit. Aunty Satwinder bought me stunning Indian leather sandals, which jingle when I walk. I LOVE it! She also bought us bangles and bracelets at her favourite accessory shop. What a fun experience!

We learnt a lot while living in the home of our now adopted Patiala family. Culture, traditions, struggles and life stories. Grandma got married at the tender age of 15 and lived through the separation of India and Pakistan. Her Pakistani in-laws, with whom she lived, lost everything and had to start all over again in India. Very hard times. Pavita’s eldest son, a successful lawyer, will have an arranged marriage in a few years from now. Today both love and arranged marriages are happening in India. Such a fascinating place.


Saying goodbye was a sad affair. Strangers have turned into family once more. How very grateful we are.

The Waraich family sent us on our way with their own fancy car and a driver. Mr Singh will make sure we get to all our lodgings and see all the sights in and around Shimla, Dharamsala and Amritsar.

Until we meet again, dear family. May it be soon!

– Mariza –

Reflections On A Faraway Land

Esto and Rodger

Author: Esto

We were riding in a jeep. I sat right at the back. We were on our way to ride on camels. I was a bit scared, but I thought it would be fun. When we arrived, the camels already had their saddles on their backs. They were all standing on their knees, but they were still very tall. I thought that I would have to share a camel, but then the guide said to me: “This camel is yours!”. I was very happy. The guide helped me to get into the saddle, and then he told the camel to get up.


Right after that Eulain shouted: “No, no! I do not want to go on a camel by myself any more!”. Then Mom said: “Get on the camel, it will be fine”. She got on the camel,  but when the camel got up, she was a little afraid. It was not for long.

The boy that lead Ruzow’s, Eulain’s and my camels hooked the ropes to one another. I thought I would be right at the back, but it tuned out that I was right in front! After we started moving, I asked the boy what the camel’s name was. “The camel’s name is Rodger,” he said. I liked Rodger because he was very gentle.

When we arrived at the place where we would stay for the night, there was already a fire burning and men were making chai tea. We had the delicious hot chai after we put our bags at our camp beds. We were going to sleep in the open under the stars. While the others were waiting for the sunset, Eulain and I played with a ball between the sand dunes. After a while the guide joined us. This was so much fun.


Later, the guide announced that everyone needed to sit down because they were going to serve the dinner that the men made on the fire. I enjoyed it because it was not too spicy. There were no lights, so we had to eat in the dark. I could only see the outline of the plate.

After dinner, we laid down on our back and looked at the stars. This was very, very beautiful. We went to bed, all six of us sleeping next to each other. Some of us saw shooting stars.

The next morning, the chai was ready when we woke up and the men were making breakfast. While we had breakfast, they saddled the camels. I looked for Rodger. He had a green rope around his neck. When it was time to go back, I got onto Rodger and we all rode back to where we would meet the jeep. I had to say goodbye to Rodger. I was sad and I asked my dad if I could have a camel. The guide then said I can take Rodger home. He just joked, but I actually wished that I could take him home with me.


Climb the Camel!


Author: Kali

The open jeep came to a sudden halt in a small clearing where camels were laying on the sand with colourful saddle blankets on their pale brown, humpy backs. It was so exciting to see the animals for the first time from up close. Eulain and I resembled the camels, being covered in dust and sand from riding in the back of the Jeep.

Camels are strange animals. They have long necks that stretch out from their massive, lumpy bodies. Their legs are long and thin, with large knots for knees and funny flat feet that are round with two sharp toes. They have short tails that look like fish back bones with hair and they love to swing them from side to side. Ears that are peculiarly small for such a large animal, sit perched on their heads. Huge teeth and a large mouth that is always chewing, completes the picture. A rod is put through their nostrils. This, as I had once read in The Swiss Family Robinson, is used to control them. Reigns are attached to these rods.

Ruzow climbed his camel like a hay stack. I couldn’t blame him though, it is really hard to get yourself into the saddle without feeling like you are pushing the camel over.  A sharp ‘J’ sound from the 10 year old boy who would lead some of our camels, was the command for them to get up. Slowly, one of the brutes lifted his backside into the air with a loud groaning noise. It was now standing on it’s knees, looking absolutely absurd! With another groan, the animal stood up straight, towering above the rest of the beasts that were now all with their backsides in the air.


Riding was the strangest sensation. It was what I imagined riding a dinosaur would feel like and it was really scary looking down, being much higher than I expected. The camel’s motion is unlike a horse’s. Rocking forward then backward, the strange motion slides the inexperienced rider from the front to the back of his saddle. Even though I had to pay for it with chafe marks on my legs, I was thrilled about riding a camel.



At one stage, Mum’s camel was close enough to mine so that I could pat its hard, dented head. To my surprise, it made a sound somewhere between a growl and a loud burp. Our camels’ guide, Arsheesh, told us that Mum’s camel’s name was Lalu, and mine was Kalu. It was such a coincidence that mine had that name, because Mum and Dad would have called me Kalu if I was a boy. I would’ve had a camel twin! For some reason I’m glad I’m a girl 😜. However, I wouldn’t mind a pair of those long eyelashes.

Until next time,


Snippets Of Precious Memories


Author: Mariza

Camels – what incredible creatures! And so perfectly designed for the desert. Strange too! Especially the way they get up or go down with a person on board. The “walk like an Egyptian” sway, backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards, making you giggle. To watch the wonder on the faces of our four beautiful gifts and to know the sight or reference to these animals will forever take them back to this very moment we all shared – priceless!

Nothing beats the atmosphere created by food being cooked over an open fire. And to then sit down on top of a sand dune to be served with a small group of lovely people – an unforgettable experience. Still better it gets when, after filling up on Indian cuisine, you simply topple over to look at the stars, while continuing the conversation. Special, special memories never to be forgotten.


Six desert beds in a row, all covered with the same colourful fabric. My heart overflows as we lie side by side as a family, looking up at the stars, talking. Our four precious children, thanking us again and again for this most wonderful experience.


Paradise is sleeping under the stars in the desert with nothing but sand dunes in sight. And billions of stars. And then you wake up to see the yellow moon rising from behind the dune you face while lying on your back. And still the sky is adorned with bright, beautiful stars. All through the night you force your eyes open in the perfect stillness just to peer at that magical sky for one more minute. And off again to dreamland, or is this it? And then, on one occasion, you catch the first sign of daylight. The light creeps up from behind that same dune and touches all in its reach with colour. Further and further it stretches and paints ever brighter, ever changing the colour on a growing canvas. And then after a long time and many colour changes, the sun rises in all its splendour, the artwork completed. My heart is saturated with the colour of every treasured moment.


Caution Captine

Author: Eulain

The jeep stopped. I was so excited. We were going to get onto our camels here. A man pointed to a very large camel called Captine. When he sat,  he was bigger than me. I had to climb on it’s back.  When I was on, the man pulled on the rope that linked Esto’s and my camel. Captine stood on his knees. I thought it was not that high because, it was about the size of a horse. Then he stood up on all fours with a jerk. I was so far from the ground. At this height, I am sure you too would be quite afraid. It felt like I was a mile up in the air.



The next morning after breakfast, we set off for Jaisalmer. The twelve year old boy who was walking in front of our camels started running. The camels all followed his example. I never imagined that camels could run. It was heaps of fun, but the bumping around was quite extreme. I clasped my hand over my open drink bottle. It was a bad choice to drink while riding on the camel. I was terrified when I saw that the rope that I was supposed to hold to guide dad’s camel with, had fallen. I made a grab for it, but nearly fell off. In the bump and grab process, I accidentally showered myself and poor Captine in sticky Sprite.


The Thar Desert

Author: Ruzow

On our camels in the sun,

Oh it’s amazing so much fun.

Over the dunes we will tramp,

Until we arrive in our desert camp.

Watching sunset from a dune,

The moment is gone all too soon.

A thali is cooked over an open fire,

What more could my heart desire.

The camels lying in the sand,

There’s so much beauty in this faraway land.

In my bed back at the camp,

With only the stars for a lamp.

Underneath this starry sky,

I watch the comets shooting by.

I’m in the desert oh so dry.

I am gazing at this in awe,

What a sight I long for more.

As I sleep the moon keeps a watchful eye,

From her perch way up high.

Up again at first light,

Watching the sunrise what a sight.

But now it’s time for a wonderful meal,

Excited I’m now beginning to feel.

Back on our camels we’re now on our way,

How I wish we had a longer stay.

So even though we’ve left it behind,

The Thar Desert will be forever in my mind.




Finding Community In Goa, India

Author: Mariza

8 September 2017

Seeing that this is my first word on India, afford me the opportunity to express my excitement, shock and amazement at this crazy, colourful place. It is a place like no other. Its people are many and its infrastructure is insufficient. Most roads are small and cars, trucks, scooters, tuk-tuks, all kinds of animals, pedestrians and buses weave their way from point A to point B with no set order or rules as to how this needs to happen. Honking is non-stop from every moving thing and absolutely essential for survival. Somehow everyone and everything get to where they want to be. The mind boggles. Chaos is a huge understatement.

India contains a vast array of people. Beautiful, interesting people.

The highlight of Goa was the incredible community we found and established while there. Deep, meaningful connections with people who were strangers just a week before. This was exactly what we were hoping for. The very reason we embarked on this adventure with our family.

The apartment we booked was in a total non-touristic area. A street full of families who have lived there for generations and who grew up right there where their grandchildren were now playing. What a privilege to be absorbed into this community. Our kids had a blast playing soccer and all sorts of games in the street. We took all the local kids with us to the beach and talked and talked and talked. Discovering, learning, drinking it in. And back in our street we got to know all the locals who live there. What a joy and a privilege.

Celebrating Aunty Peggy’s 66th birthday was very special. We were treated to cake and home made curries. These people CAN cook!! Yummo!! Every event is celebrated in this bright red family home at the end of Calvaddo Street.

We were very sad to say goodbye to our new friends. They have made their way deep into our hearts. We have, however, exchanged details and promised to keep in touch. How rich are we to have met them?!!

We went for walks and our daily morning runs on the long, sandy beaches. Shells, bright blue starfish and crabs of all colours and sizes are abundant. We swam, even though the beaches are “closed” for Monsoon season. All the beach shacks are closed too. Next month will be a very different story. Tourist season starts in October. I am so glad we’re missing that. We haven’t encountered a single tourist. Local is “lekker” (means nice in Afrikaans).

Fishing nets and boats make a pretty picture on the beaches. Every morning and late afternoon, these boats are manoeuvred into the surf by a sizeable team of men who take in and draw out the big nets. A fascinating process to watch. Hard manual labour, but they always seem happy enough with their catch.

The food has been great. Seeing that Grandpa Gordon’s favourite dish is Goan fish curry, we had it on a few occasions for him. My brand new favourite is a dry vegetable curry with butter roti. Delicious!!! I wake up in the morning craving this.

To say everything has been easy or clean or as expected would be dishonest. We’ve had to make some hard, deliberate choices. And we’ve had to carefully choose our attitudes at times. But it is so, so worth it. Uncomfortable, stretching, exhilarating and totally life changing.

I have a henna hand and a lovely ankle bracelet that jingles when I walk. I LOVE it! And a stunning orange sari. I feel beautifully Indian.


– Mariza –

Back In Boarding School 

Author: Mariza

18 Augustus 2017

We left beautiful Budapest by train this morning. Hungarians call Lake Balaton their sea. It’s the local weekend and holiday destination and we happened to be there for Hungarian independence day weekend.

Ruzow booked our accommodation and was very proud that we came in right on budget. Especially being right on the lake. Well, well, well…

We got off the train and started our two kilometre journey in midday heat with backpacks and all. An hour later we learnt we were in the wrong village and that our accommodation is miles from the lake.

We caught a local bus to our village where our friendly hostess awaited us. Things only went downhill from there, I’m afraid.

Our accommodation is a boarding house for school children who go on sport camp in summer. Rooms with eight bunk beds each. And one bathroom for boys and one for girls, on the opposite side of the building from our room. We may use the kettle in the industrial kitchen area, but that’s all. The beds are homemade with cheap, thin foam mattresses. No air con and no fan. No towels either.

At the moment there are no school children. The last group left a few days ago. So they rent out the rooms to people who want cheap accommodation. Mmm… That means a lot of interesting characters!

We walked more than 5km to the lake and then had to pay entrance fees. By now it’s already late afternoon and we find it hard to pay for an entire day at a place we don’t really want to be at. (We prefer the quiet side, which is a long way from here.) But we are hot and in desperate need of a swim. So we pay and make our way to the lake with hundreds, if not thousands, of local holidaymakers. The water is not as clean and clear as we expected and there is black silty sand at the bottom. At least it’s nice and soft underfoot, even though it gets into everything.

Our friends told us to try langos at the lake, which is a traditional savoury donut (“vetkoek” for our South African friends and family) with garlic, sour cream and cheese. Not recommended for everyday nutritional dinner, but fabulous comfort food!

We walked about three kilometres to the next village and caught the local bus back to our boarding house. Nicely tired and with nothing to do in Köröshegy, we opted for an early night. Not a good idea!! Loud music, booze and a great deal of marijuana right outside our open windows made for a long sleepless night. We shall end our visit to Lake Balaton later this morning. Sometimes you cut your losses and move on swiftly. This shall be us in an hour or two. Back to beautiful Budapest.

– Mariza –

Škofja Loka

Author: Mariza
August 2017

Škofja Loka is a gorgeous old village in Slovenia. The old walled city is a charming place that contains old buildings, churches, squares and a castle. Not too touristy, which is nice.

Mary, our 86 year old hostess who doesn’t speak English, lives all by herself. As she serves us strong coffee, homemade biscuits and nuts from her own walnut tree on the deck, we somehow exchange details about our lives. As we watch the sun sinking lower and lower until it disappears behind the mountains, we are once again overwhelmed by how blessed we are. And our hearts have a new Mary shaped corner. So precious.


From Mary’s deck we can see three little churches on three separate hilltops. And beautiful green meadows sloping down towards the river that runs through the village. Slovenia is truly an unbelievably beautiful country.

We enjoy a lovely dinner on a terrace on the riverbank. It feels a bit unreal as we peer over the old city wall. This is such a different world! And here we are, the six of us, enjoying it together.

Since Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia, is only a short distance away, we take one day to go and explore it and do a walking tour of the city. Very nice. And very interesting. But we’re happy to be back under Mary’s roof by bedtime.

Our morning runs take us on windy little trails up the mountains, to castles and churches and gorgeous green meadows. Nicely tiring and super stunning. We even squeeze one in on our departure day.

Mary works at the museum at the castle every Saturday and Sunday from ten to two. Before we leave our beloved Škofja Loka we go and visit her there. Big hugs and happy chattering. She gives us a tour of an ancient house, perfectly restored to what it used to be hundreds of years ago. Fascinating!! We end up visiting there with her for a long time. She teaches the kids a traditional game, which they’ll be playing a lot on the rest of our travels.


The highlight of Škofja Loka was meeting and falling in love with Mary. What a fantastic way to end our Slovenian adventure.

– Mariza –

Motovun – Ancient Village On A Hill

Author: Mariza

[Not only is Kali growing up and starting to look like Mariza, she has now also started to write like Mariza!  – Jarik] 

From Slovenian Istria to Croatian Istria was a rather eventful affair with the border crossing. We did, however, eventually get through and went truffle tasting in the heart of Croatia’s most renowned truffle region. We visited several little hilltop villages and a castle. The boys had a pretend sword fight after we fought our way through thorny bushes to sneak a peak over a half broken down wall surrounding the castle. Fun fairytale stuff.

At exactly 6pm we made our way up a steep hill and into the village of Motovun. Our lovely hostess, Zvjezdana, welcomed us with cold beer and chocolate milk. What a find!! Our apartment is part of an old building inside the walls of the ancient village. The view from every window, as well as from our large terrace, is outstanding.


The entire village is perched on top of a steep hill with sweeping views over the surrounding valleys. Vineyards and fields of corn and sunflowers and the largest natural truffle forest in the world stretch out over the horizon. The valleys are surrounded by hills, each with either a church or a little village on top of it.


The best part of staying in Motovun is that every morning run starts going down the hill. I know this would be terrible for some (having the uphill at the end) but by the time you have to run back up the hill again, you’ve found your second wind, the surroundings have you on a high and you’ve had sufficient semi-flat running for a while. And, you have no choice. Starting up that hill would make for an easy excuse to go back to bed. The first five to ten minutes are in any case always the worst.

We had some productive school time here, despite the many attractions in the area. We extended our stay to fit in a number of great day trips. So many beautiful places to explore. The highlight, on Zvjezdana’s recommendation, was a day picnicking and swimming in the rough ocean off a headland in a national park. No facilities, but incredible beauty. You have to walk and climb a fair deal to get to it. Great way to keep the masses away!

In Motovun we spent lots of time wandering through the uneven cobble stone streets and on the old stone walls. And we had the best burgers ever, watching the sunset over the valley. Priceless.

We were sad to say goodbye to Zvjezdana and marvellous Motovun. We will never forget this wonderful experience, or the ginormous slab of chocolate she gave the kids upon our departure.

– Mariza –




Author: Mariza

2 August 2017

Truške is our home village in Istria, Slovenia for the moment. Our hosts moved here twenty years ago when their eldest daughter was one. They were the first people to live here again after the village was abandoned many years ago. They bought an old stone house and cowshed and transformed it into a beautiful home and two apartments.


The wife is a civil engineer who drives to either Koper (a harbour city nearby) or Ljubljana (the capital an hour away) for work. The husband is a mountaineer who leads expeditions and works for the British military. The eldest daughter goes to university in Ljubljana and the sixteen year old au pairs in England for the summer holidays. For school and other activities they simply have to drive. Not even as far as we drive in big cities, but for Slovenians it is to the other side of the earth. Slovenia is a tiny country with a population of only two million people.

There have been big changes over the past few years in this country. Wars in which its people were greatly affected and then breaking away from Yugoslavian rule. People suddenly had a much harder existence and most really struggled to understand what was happening to them. Suddenly there were consequences to many things that didn’t matter before. No more same perks for everyone, no matter what you did or did not do. People’s lifelong hard work resulted in a pension on which they cannot survive.

We had insightful conversations with Denis, our hostess, about all of this. So refreshing to hear the perspective of an intelligent, thinking woman on matters that shaped and and are still greatly affecting a nation. Communism had a very different outworking in different places.


Truške now has a few families and a small school. And of course a church on a hill, just outside the village. No shops or restaurants.

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Villages in this part of the world are only a few kilometres apart. What a joy it is to go for morning runs, exploring several villages and rural roads in just one go. And to see the locals out and about tending their vegetable gardens or small  fields of corn or olive groves or little vineyards.


My absolute highlight was stumbling upon a completely deserted village with the remains of beautiful stone houses one morning. It is literally at the absolute end of the road / earth. There is nothing beyond the village except a river down in the valley. One little dirt road takes you in and to the end of the village. Tiny. And gorgeous. I imagine what it was like when people lived there. I wonder how it got to this. I feel sad and happy and in awe. I love places like this.

Despite a heatwave and a sick child, our time here has been really special. We will be sad to say goodbye, but I am confident that we will see these people again. The instant connection between us is something to treasure. Truške and surrounds – forever in our hearts.

– Mariza –




Unbelievable Beauty

Author: Mariza

31 July 2017

Oh my!! Paradise here we are!!

We spent the past five days in Ribno, a little village just outside Bled (a bigger village on a stunning lake). We arrived by train from Serbia, picked up our rental car in Ljubljana, the Slovenian capital and started driving. We didn’t book anything, even though it is peak tourist season over here. That was a great decision. So far we have stumbled upon two out of this world awesome little dwellings.


Ribno is a very special place and we loved every moment there. We ran and hiked in the mountains and did stunning all day cycling and swam in the emerald rivers and lakes. We had picnics in meadows, on the banks of rivers and in deep dramatic gorges. We strolled through the narrow streets and fed fresh apples to one of the resident horses.

I honestly did not think places like this existed. I absolutely love it!!


After a lovely run and breakfast on the patio, we packed up our meagre belongings and hit the road. It took us several hours to drive around the one and only national park. A stunning drive, but not motion sickness friendly at all!! Up and down steep mountain passes and many switchbacks. Gloriously green and lush. Picture perfect little hamlets and villages along the way.

At exactly 4pm we drove over a bridge and there, right in front of us, was the most beautiful lake we’ve ever seen. Bright emerald water, like something out of a sci fi movie. Honestly unbelievable. All six of us knew instantly that this was home for the night. Only a few houses are scattered on our side of the lake. A little village on the far side. I started knocking on doors and before we knew it, we had a lovely little spot right on the lake.

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Most na Soci means bridge over the Soci (river). That and a handful of cottages is all there is to it. Quiet, peaceful and overwhelmingly beautiful. The kids immediately hopped into their swimmers and then the lake, while Jarik and I enjoyed ice cold beer at our hosts’ little restaurant on the edge of the lake.

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In the evening we had a picnic, while marvelling at the splendour around us. A refreshing swim provided the perfect ending to a day flooded with spectacular memories. Wow!!! My heart can hardly contain it. I am so very grateful.

– Mariza –

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