Yesterday’s outing to the Kubach Cave was sort of a test for me. I’ve always been a pretty healthy person, albeit fatter than I ought to be. That is, of course, because I’m not as “herbal” as I ought to be… (with many apologies to Livingston Taylor). I like good food and I drink a lot of beer and wine, as well as the odd cocktail. I probably should stop doing that, since I’m in my 50s, but I’ve got no reason to hang around here… So I might as well enjoy myself while I can.
Still, it’s not that easy for me to climb up and down stairs anymore. I’m actually pretty lucky, though. I’ve so far been blessed with very robust physical health. I have some friends who have needed knee replacements or other complicated orthopedic interventions. I don’t have any problems with my knees (yet). I do have lower back aches that can sometimes make walking a literal pain, but it’s not so bad that I don’t eventually loosen up.
I was a little worried about yesterday’s caving experience, but it turned out fine. Other than a little minor soreness in my thighs today, I feel mostly okay. I did do a lot of “huffing and puffing”, as my old riding teacher used to say, but I recovered fairly quickly. So now I know that two upcoming physical challenges that I will almost definitely face are well within my reach.
The first challenge I know I will face will be the Cesky Krumlov Castle Tower in Cesky Krumlov, Czechia. I climbed this tower on my birthday in June 2008. One week from this coming Tuesday, we will be back in Cesky Krumlov for a couple of nights. If the weather is good, maybe I’ll work up the gumption to climb the tower again and get some fall views of the beautiful town. During our first visit in June 2008, we happened to arrive in time for the Five Petalled Rose Festival. Everybody was dressed in medieval garb! I thought I had stumbled into a theme park. This time, that festival won’t be going on, but I already know it’s a picturesque town. I was sad we had to leave last time we were there. This time, we’ll get a couple of nights to enjoy the ambiance. And maybe my old body can still handle all those steps at the tower…
Since we’ll have a little more time in 2023, maybe we’ll have the chance to visit the castle itself, although if the weather is nice, I can see myself wanting to just walk around the town. It really is very charming, and I have a feeling it’s a place a lot of American tourists miss. We only found out about it because we stayed in Passau, Germany for my birthday in 2008 and the innkeeper at our hotel told us about it. We had a wonderful day there, and in nearby Cesky Budejovice. Now I’m kind of wishing I could have booked one more night!
We will also be going to Brno and Prague on our next trip, and I suspect there could be climbing challenges in both of those cities. I’ve never been to Brno, but I have read and heard that one of the best activities in that area is caving. There’s a good chance we’ll visit one or two of the 1100 caverns and gorges in the Brno area– especially since only five cave systems are open to the public.
And Prague no doubt has towers to climb… church towers at the very least. I may be in the mood for a visit to a beer spa by then. Prague now has several beer spas. So do other towns in the Czech Republic! Bill and I are really big fans. On the other hand, after our experience at the beer pool in Austria, plain old “beer spas” kind of pale in comparison. Looks like they’ve gotten really pricey now, too.
Prague does have the famous Astronomical Clock Tower, of course… but I see you can take an elevator! Maybe by the time we get to Prague, I’ll be screaming for an elevator! We only have two nights in Prague, anyway. I’m hoping to find us some new art for the house.
The next physical challenge I know I’ll be facing will come when we visit Yerevan, Armenia in November. I know I’ll face the Cascade Steps… and that I used to be able to do them without too much trouble. In fact, there was a time when I climbed up and down them on a daily basis. But then I discovered the escalators and figured out the public transportation system and quit punishing myself with the steps. It’s a shame, really. I have never been a very athletic person, but I have always been pretty strong physically. I just don’t enjoy how I feel when I’m exerting myself. I do, however, like the rush of endorphins. Must be the adrenaline junkie gene that the men on my dad’s side of the family seem to have.
The Cascade Steps in Yerevan go up 387 feet, but you can take your time ascending. Or, you can go to the left of the steps and find the seven escalators that will take you up, so you can see the views without getting winded or sore. I suspect the air quality in Yerevan is better than it was in 1995, so I am hoping for some great views of Mount Ararat– if we have decent weather, that is. But we’ll be there a little over a week, so perhaps we’ll have some good luck. I’m sure I’ll climb the steps at least once during our visit.
Over the years, Bill and I have done some pretty great physically active trips. Usually, when we were doing them, I thought I might die. But, as you can see, I never did.
There was the visit to El Yunque in Puerto Rico, where I fell and landed on my ass on a rock. It took months for the tailbone pain to go away. But we had a really great day!
There was the walk from hell from Lake Bled, Slovenia to Vintgar Gorge, during which we neglected to bring water or wear sunscreen. Then, once we got there, we hiked the gorge. It was another great, but exhausting, day. And yes, I made Bill get us a taxi for the ride home.
There was also the time we walked from the port on the Isle of Capri in Italy to the town. It was a long walk uphill. I had a cold, and many Italians were good naturedly laughing at us as we sighed, huffed, puffed, and groaned… We did make it, and we ate lunch served by a guy who looked a lot like Matt Lucas on Little Britain.
I remember climbing up the mountain to visit Highline 179 in Austria and the castle ruins on either side. Later that day, we visited the aforementioned beer pool in Tarrenz, Austria, which perfectly soothed my muscles.
We visited the All Saints Waterfalls (Allerheiligen Wasserfälle) in Baden-Württemberg a few years ago, and that involved some pretty stout climbing… as did our visit to Slap Savica in Bohinj, Slovenia. And I could pontificate all day about our two thrilling, but physically exhausting, trips to the Plitvice Lakes in Croatia!
We’ve also climbed a whole bunch of church towers in multiple European cities… way too many to list here. And not once has the embarrassing situation in above video ever happened to me. On the other hand, the last time we were in Bruges, I made a point of avoiding that particular tower.
Anyway… I’m just glad we managed to successfully visit the Kubach Cave yesterday and I’m not too worse off for wear today. It gives me hope that my body isn’t too far gone for some of these adventures. I realize that there may come a time when I can’t do this kind of stuff anymore, so I’m going to keep using my body before I lose it. And I will continue to thank God for having really strong and healthy genes. Some of my friends and former classmates haven’t been so lucky.
Bill is off to Bavaria again today, so I guess I’ll spend the next few days planning our upcoming trip. I can hardly wait, because I definitely need a change of scenery… and this blog could use some fresh content. I continue to be shocked that this is my life… and that I’ve managed to have all of the wonderful experiences I’ve already had with Bill. No wonder he makes me smile so pretty. 🙂