We were supposed to be four on a boat but one got sick. We were supposed to be by the sea spending a whole weekend there and getting our motor boat driving licences, because… why not? - we are the cool daddies aren’t we? I mean really, our kids would’ve been happy to know we could safely take them on a trip around the harbor sometime in the future. Could’ve been Greece, Croatia, the north sea. The (European) coast lines would’ve been our oyster(s). But we did not have it in us to drive through the night to get there in time. Then, we were supposed to go for a hike, two whole days, up on the mountains and into the thick Austrian forest.   In the end we went for an one-hour-stroll in the woods around the city. It wasn’t exhausting, it wasn’t long, it wasn’t enthralling. But it was a beginning.

We’ve only been on foot for a couple of minutes. Just went past the crucifix at the side of the road, right under an imposing cell phone tower, and past the field freshly sprayed with enough manure to make a lesser being puke. The increasing noise of revving engines made us curious and the presence of several off-road vehicles, with heavy guys standing around them smoking and laughing and with children playing suggested there should be a sort of show being prepared. Indeed! A few days a year, the road we were on was open for off-roaders. Today was one of those days. Quads and Toyotas and Jeeps and Porsche SUVs, even vehicles I haven’t seen before, all with huge dirty wheels, circled by proud drivers, by manly men with chilled out expressions chiseled on their faces, kids grinning happily and slender women in tight jeans and colorful jackets waiving their long and thin cigarettes with ample gestures. All cars were already covered in mud and were either displayed in the parking lot or going for another round, up the road, down the ravine or over tree stumps lying on the ground. Oh, how I love the smell of diesel in the morning!

It wasn’t all that bad, actually. And I do like the smell of diesel - must be all those years riding on rickety buses back in Romania (diesel, dust and tar are the smells of my childhood travels).

A few minutes later we took a right up the narrow path and we started our ascent towards the hut we chose as our destination. A muddy, slippery and foggy adventure. But also quiet (after a short while). Even serene, in a… violent kind of way: that eerie composure that only a walk into a foggy, almost dark forest can inspire!
So we tried to break it. With stories. Stories about the possible histories of the very old milestones marking the path, about what had happened in the world at the time when they were being placed there (1777, anyone?), about how (not) to quit smoking in three hypnosis sessions with a smoking hypnotist, about taking your kid to football training a couple of times a week, come rain and snow, about politics and movies (the Venice Biennale) until, almost swimming from a pool of haze to the next we suddenly reached the hut. Too soon, somehow, too little tired, the endorphin high drowned in an aftertaste of diesel, that feeling of sublime on the misty summit… missing…

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