Monday, 08 August 2022
Climbing above the clouds Climbing above the clouds Gillie Sutherland

My favourite day in Croatia - Above the clouds

Written by  Gillie Sutherland Nov 28, 2021

Above The Clouds!

I’m not quite sure how I ended up clinging to a rock face in the Velebit mountains last week 1300m above sea level, but it was quite possibly my favourite day in Croatia.

I’d love to be able to say I had no fear, but the truth of the matter is that I was probably the least brave person at the top of the peak looking down, and certainly the least relaxed.

As the others sat enjoying the view above the clouds with only a metre of width to manoeuvre either side of a sheer drop, I was using every yogic breathing and positive mindset technique I knew.

When our guide, Dragi Jurjevic, had told us about this final climb that only a few would embark on (a more technical section for those with a bit of experience) I thought that it would be a good target for me for the end of the season in March.

So how I ended up at the top on my first climb, I have no idea.

Another of those crazy ideas I didn’t think through that turned out quite well.

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Croatia in all its magnificent glory - Photo Gillie Sutherland 

It was a day I will remember for the rest of my life, and I wasn’t the only one. Two of the others with me said it was the highlight of their trip to Croatia.

I had taken a group of Digital Nomads on a day trip with Hiking and Adventure Croatia, we had driven for almost two hours to arrive at Budakovo Brdo, stopping for coffee (of course – it’s Croatia!), and even the place we parked up took my breath away.

We couldn’t have asked for a more friendly group. Chatting almost all the way, we mixed with local hikers, and saw Croatia in all its magnificent glory.

For me, from a health and wellbeing perspective, it ticked all the boxes. It was a physical challenge, a moving meditation, social connection, enjoying a connection to nature, and the perfect way to enjoy a digi-detox.

It’s so important after a week at work, perhaps too much time on our devices, indoors, in front of a screen, to “unplug and recharge in nature”.

Being above the clouds, people even spoke of it being a spiritual experience, and for sure, there was something spectacularly ethereal about that experience.

Aside from my “peak” experience, what really struck me was that amongst this positive and supportive group of people, just enjoying nature and some good company, was there that was absolutely no mention of the C word or the V word.

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Equal but all different - Photo Gillie Sutherland 

It was such a breath of fresh air. No questioning, no judgement, no division. No right, no wrong, no “us and them”, just all of us together, equal but different, enjoying being away from it all.

It made me remember why I am in Croatia, and if ever I needed confirmation that I would be staying here, this was it.

Last week I had thought to myself “this is where I am right now”, this week, I was adding it “and I think it’s exactly where I am meant to be”.

If we do go back into any kind of lockdown, there’s no place I would rather be than this amazingly spectacular country, with these people.

I still have no idea how things will pan out in Zadar, for sure my return from the mountain was more difficult than I could have anticipated. I realised that clinging to the rock face at the top of the mountain was actually less scary than much of what was going on “down below”.

Up above the clouds everything made sense.

Coming back down, not so much.

But one thing is for sure, the perfect antidote to these times is out in nature, with people like this, and I will be doing a lot more adventure like this in the months to come.

Read more Gillie here...  

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Gillie Sutherland grew up in the north of England, before settling in Devon, but has now swapped her UK address for one on the Adriatic in the very south of Croatia, in Cavtat. A professional Wellness Consultant she now runs retreats and online courses from her Konavle base. She also writes a weekly column for the Devon newspaper, The Express and Echo.

To find out more about Gillie go to www.behappyfit.co.uk

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