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Engaged in Toblach!

Written on: Thursday August 20th, 2015

A journal entry from: Europe with love!

It's been an adventure packed and busy 9 months. With Japan in the winter, we had no intentions of another big trip for 2015. However, that changed when Laure's family wanted to do a family trip together. Laure and I decided we would do our own thing for the first half of the trip and then go on to do the second half with her family. 


This situation made for a great opportunity to surprise Laure with the location and maybe more. 

The known plan was to fly in to Croatia and rent a car for 8 days seeing the country along with Slovenia. However, that was not to be entirely the truth...

When we arrived at the airport in North Bay around 10am, I told Laure that we had to do a further transfer in Venice on our way to Zagreb. It was a long day of travel as we had a 5h layover in Toronto and then another 4h layover plus a 4h delay in Montreal! By the time we finally left Montreal it was nearing 2am the following day. 

Arrived in Venice at last, around 4pm local time, I had to finally come clean that we were NOT flying to Croatia. Instead we were going to go to Toblach for a few days first. Toblach is where we went skiing two winters ago in Northern Italy and we both very much fell in love with the region and always talked about it. I thought for sure that by now the cat was out of the bag, but it seemed to still be ok! 

We rented a small Mercedes GLA from the airport and headed north. *I bought an app for my phone before leaving called "GPS nav" and downloaded the specific country maps to work without wifi. This worked very well! Would certainly recommend. 

The drive north went by fairly quickly and within a few hours of rainy, twisty, tunnely and fast roads we had arrived back to what seems like a second home, Toblach!! Before arriving into the main village we stopped by the side of the road at a small lake at the foot of the mountains where in the winter time we had skied across. Although exhausted from the travel and lack of sleep we both had big grins on our faces. Our hotel was centrally located and within walking distance to most stores. After getting cleaned up and a nice dinner it was off to bed. 

I didn't sleep to well that evening with the jet lag and a lot on my mind... We woke up early the next mornings had a quick breakfast and grabbed some groceries and drinks from the grocery store and headed into the heart of the Dolomites by car to hike the Three Peaks. The Three Peaks is the classic shot that one sees when looking at pictures of the region. The whole area is like a postcard and you really can't go wrong hiking anywhere. 

The drive itself was breathtaking and thrilling. The only downside is that the area is a huge tourist draw and therefore there are always people around. We did the hike around which was about 10km long. I was feeling a little ill as we hiked up from the parking. After about an hour into our hike we found a nice quiet spot off from the main trail without anyone else around where we would have some chocolate and champagne. My heart was racing and with some music playing this is where I got down on one knee and proposed to Laure! Luckily she said yes! Phew! The moment was more surreal than anything else and almost a blur. Instantly my "illness" disappeared and the relief of no longer needing to worry about hiding the ring/going through customs and "the surprise" we're finally over. At last I could just enjoy the moment!

To my surprise Laure was shocked as she thought I wasn't ready to propose for a while yet. So it was great that the effort of planning paid off so well. It was a beautiful spot to kick back and enjoy the moment. 

The rest of the hike didn't even seem real. We took in the views and had a nice lunch at a mountain hut and slowly made our way back to town, enjoyed a sauna, walked around to some shops, relaxed and had a nice meal. The thing that is so nice about the area to us is that it is small and quaint. There is no rush, everyone is active and enjoying themselves. 

The following morning we rented some bikes and headed East toward the Austrian boarder. We stopped along the way to do several different activities. After having lunch back in Toblach and enjoying some Kaese Spetzle we biked up to Lago Dobbiaco and rented a paddle boat for a bit. Being out on the lake was quite nice and it was a full day outside exploring the area. That evening we drove around and explored the area some more with the freedom of having a car at our disposal. Repeat; sauna, walk, meal. 

It was sad to depart in the morning, but I am confident we will be back again! 

We were now traveling East through southern Austria into northern Slovenia to our destination Ribcev Lake near Triglav National Park. The drive was fast, almost entirely on the Slovenian "autobahn" which was fun :) I may have stressed Laure out a few times... :)

After a quick power nap in our room we drove to the end of the lake to do a nice hike through the forest in the rain to a beautiful waterfall. We had a pretty laid back evening and the next morning we went and hired some stand up paddle boards. Although it was pouring rain overnight and in the morning. The rain let up for almost the entire hour that we were out. As Laure would say, this was a pinch me moment. This area seems to be a lot less discovered and therefore much less built up, which suited us nicely! One hour of stand up paddling is a decent workout! As soon as we were almost back to shore the rain came down hard again. 

We drove through the back roads to our next destination and had a traditional meal along the way in some small village. Can't get enough of the hardy mountain food! 

Our next stop was Lake Bled, a very well known tourist area. Quite beautiful in its own way, we explored around the lake and went up to Castle Bled which offers an amazing view over the lake and enjoyed the traditional cream cake recommended to us by my cousin Joel who had explored the area a couple of years back. 

The next morning we hit the road very early to make our 9am tour start of the Postonja Caves. Some of the longest and most impressive caves in the world with around 25km of length. This really blew my mind. They offer a great 1.5h tour with a train ride deep into the cave followed by a guided hike. The large growing formations from the top and bottom of the cave form at a rate of 1cm every 1,000 years. So you get a real sense of how old these formations are when they multiple meters in height! http://www.postojnska-jama.eu/en/about-the-cave/

We followed this up by a visit to Predjama Castle which was built into a rock face and backing into another cave system. The castle was built with defence as its primary focus and the audio tour was quite fascinating. The level of detail in the defence planning was really something else. There was even a cave tunnel leading to a neighbouring village. So that once the owner of the castle was able to hold off a siege of 1.5 years. Periodically taunting his enemies by throwing them fresh cherries and roasted ox, leading his enemies to believe he had mystical powers. Unfortunately in the end one of his own turned on him. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Predjama_Castle

We then continued through back roads to the northern coast of Croatia to a mid size old village of Rovinj. Beautiful old coastal town with a great vibe. Lots of couples and young families. Not so much a party place like the south. We explored the town both evenings, taking in the sunsets. Laure even spotted a great whiskey bar with an impressive selection of international whiskies! I was able to try 5 different ones over two evenings. 4 of which I had never had before! During the day we went to the beach and did some more walking. 

Next up is a quick stop on the outskirts of Venice to see a good friend and then off to Avignon to meet up with the Larocques! 

At this point the whole engagement is starting to settle on and I couldn't be happier to have met Laure! Hope everyone is well and thanks for reading

Ciao,

David W. 

 

From Susie on Sep 1st, 2015

Great blog. Congratulations again. What a beautiful place - I'll have to go sometime!