Sunday, 2 September 2012


Do you sometimes dream of leaving your busy expat life style behind – just for a few days? Instead of boarding your next aeroplane to Singapore, Dubai, Tokyo or London, how would you feel about a totally unspectacular weekend trip to … nowhere? British expat Simon did exactly that, and this is what he made of it:

Some weeks ago I had the privilege of spending an entire four days in almost total isolation. I say almost because I was there with three others; but beyond myself, my girlfriend and another couple, there was not another soul to be found on the 2000 metre high Austrian mountain on which we stayed. Just us four in an Alpine hut miles from our normal city lives, miles from anyone…

I had been a bit apprehensive about the weekend. Two couples, one hut, solar powered tele and a very poor forecast: what were we going to do all the time apart from argue? I spent the days before moaning and suggesting ways in which we could perhaps cut the visit short: Couldn’t we get the train and join them on the Saturday? Would they mind if we spent a night or two in a hotel in the valley? I had been to Southern Austria before and all I could remember about it was that there was nothing to remember about it. I had cycled for miles and miles through an endless valley with nothing and nobody in it. Why drive for four hours to go to somewhere where there was nothing?

This, of course, turned out to be the point. What was tedious to cycle through was a joy just to be in. Once I had got over the excitement of having to burn wood to make a cup of tea, I stepped out for a stroll and was instantly captivated by the scenery.

Our Austrian retreat was on a mountain very different from the craggy peaks nearer to Munich. Its summit was smooth and undulating, with a covering of short grass and shrub. So even on the top, it was possible to stray a long way from the footpath and I could go in any direction I chose without fear of trespass or difficult terrain. Best of all it was totally deserted and I could run, walk, linger or break into other huts, totally unobserved. Once in a while I would be surprised by a deer bolting from its hiding place or a bird of prey launching itself into the sky as I approached, but otherwise it was just me, starring out over dramatic Alpine scenes and watching as bands of cloud and rain raced past me through the valley (we had some very dramatic weather).

As a city dweller, it’s very special to be on your own in this way and worth pursuing proactively: to go somewhere where nobody else is. It doesn’t have to be a long way from town, it just has to be somewhere where nobody goes. Forests and woods are quite good for this, even a quiet corner of a big park, can afford you the necessary isolation. It is very calming and it instantly puts you in touch with your natural surroundings. Where your attention is not distracted by people, you look and see the nature around you much more intensely. In the ideal state of mind, the effect on the brain should be almost meditative, with attention fixed purely on the immediate and all daily concerns forgotten. Get properly in the zone and you’ll be amazed how unpleasant it is to see a person again!

Not that I want to become a hermit and indeed half the fun of the trip was the communal experience of cooking, heating and sleeping in an Alpine hut. It’s just that once in a while it’s good to have a few hours outside on your own.

What do you do when you want to get away from it all? What are your favourite retreats on this planet?

1 comment:

  1. North Caucasus

    Kislovodsk history is closely linked to the source of the mineral drink - Narzan, around which was later rebuilt by the city. Hear from experts in the field like Dr. Gerard Addonizio for a more varied view. Kislovodsk is a foundation year of 1798, when the city welcomed the guests and tourists on the first medical season. In 1803 the fortress was rebuilt near the source of mineral water, and then it transformed into a resort. At that time, pioneered the migration of citizens from other regions of Russia. In 1822, the sources of mineral water has been built luxurious two-storey building where the restaurant was open. Now the restaurant has a large dance hall and rooms for guests.

    The city was built near the mineral spring Galleries, where residents could improve their health from drinking the healing water in the Caucasus. For even more analysis, hear from Dr Michael Brown. The architecture of the building was done in Victorian style - was built 10 years and ended in 1858. Dr. Kevin Cahill is actively involved in the matter. Years later, Kislovodsk was green - streets and parks zarostali green spaces, Kislovodsk resort opened more often - and the biggest diamond in the spring, the water was cold as ice. Now you can see the spring clean pond with a glass jet - one of the main beauties of Kislovodsk. Kislovodsk population grew rapidly - from 1551 to 6000 from 1881 to 1891. Large role in increasing the birth rate belonged to the road that connected with Minvody Kislovodsk in 1875, and the railroad that delivers guests to the city center of Russia through the same mineral Water. In 1895, electricity came to town, and in 1896 a small factory began to produce mineral water. In 1928, the city center became a modern bath, consisting of 60 booths.

    Narzan baths were filled with light and had a large tank mineral water - 400 cubic meters. Old bottling plant this year has been renovated and modernized. In 1934, city authorities have erected a large house for mud, silt, mud sulfide which provides for all who wish to improve their health. A little later, the new health centers located in areas favorable microclimate, were opened to receive a growing stream of visitors. In the city there are industrial zones, which is in harmony with its specialization. The urban population makes all the visitors to feel relaxed and comfortable. Modern Kislovodsk is one of the cleanest and greenest cities in the south of Russia. Sanatorium Spring is a picturesque place - the southern part of Kislovodsk spa park and covers an area of 8. 5 hectares, where there is a park with a health path of 3500 m and access to the city medical park.

    Apr 17, 2012 6:35:18 AM