I make a journey from Venice to Beijing. My name is Vienna Cammarota, I am a 72-year-old woman with three daughters and three grandchildren. I have decided to take this long walk from Venice to Beijing. It will be 22,000 km of walking on foot, alone, crossing 15 different countries. With me I have only my backpack of about 20 kilos and a lot of desire to make it! Why am I doing it? Walking has always been my passion but this journey is meant to be a message of courage and strength for everyone! I want to eradicate those prejudices about women and the fact that a woman alone and of my age cannot or should not accomplish this kind of feat, to be an ambassador of my land and above all to bring a message of peace.
On the map you can see the road I have traveled so far ( km on foot !). Click on to find me !
I took the little Rhodopi train that runs through the Nestos River valley, from Steptemvri to Dobrinishte covering 120 km. In six hours we atraversed places where nature rules and the hand of man has not contaminated much. I stopped in Bransko, in the Guest House Ivan, where I met a group of people who attend meetings that are done in various places around the world and now they were here. They are all people who work with PCs, they are called Digital Nomads, and among these people
I met a few Italians. I also hiked in the mountains to enjoy the fresh, crisp air again, I hiked the trek of: St. Nikolas Archeology, it was challenging because it was all uphill and slippery but it was worth it, I enjoyed wonderful views and looked at the town from above. In Bransko, on the little train, in the midst of nature it was like going back in time, the phones without a line and nature that surrounds you, only the more touristy part where there is skiing, left me with a bit of bitterness in my mouth because being in nature you suddenly return to the overbearing civilization. Tomorrow I will return to Septemvri with the little train and resume my journey to Pazardzhik.
Happy Donkey is the farm where I stopped to rest, in a manner of speaking, for many days. Stopping I was not, I helped in the kitchen, cleaning and tidying up and sometimes I was part of the guests who vevnned on the farm. Being an educational farm, the one where I was hosted, there were almost always people visiting, look it up on the internet it's a nice place! Today I partly resumed my walk, and I say partly, both because I decided to advance slowly because of the high temperatures and because part of the route I took today from the farm to here I did in the car. I will stop more often instead of just overnight even several days. Now I have decided to take a little train from the area that will take me to visit some wilder parts of Bulgaria. There is a small problem to be solved on the site to put photos soon we will fix it!
First long pause. I am incapable of standing still,not walking,not doing anything,discovering and meeting. At the beginning of the walk was like going to work,every morning I woke up and walked. After more than 1,000 km my body, my bones said enough. I started the rest of two or three days, to regain the rhythm, but they were not enough, the joint pain started after three hours of walking. The heat, the discouragement of not finding a friendly face, made me decide to stop for two weeks. I chose a beautiful location in a small village in nature 90 km from Sofia. It is a farm with "happy donkeys" run by Michele from Pesaro and Roxana Ukrainian/Bulgarian. I walk slowly in the plains and mountains I make sure to keep my body exercised so in a while I can start walking again, I help in the kitchen, tidying up and cleaning. For now I enjoy the coolness of the farm and the "joy" of all the animals that live here, as well as the company of Michele and Roxana. My journey is a discovery, not a transit, I am not running to reach a finish line, but a savoring everything around me. To do this I need time; the wonders of the world are many and endless. In a few days I will write about the accommodation they have made available to me.
When I arrived in Bulgaria I went straight to Sofia, in the suburbs I found a very special place where people from various nations stay and in the evening we tried various kinds of culinary specialties, including Ukrainian, Macedonian and Russian cuisine. The owner speaks seven languages and among them Italian so I feel lucky. In the area where I am there is the passage of refugees crossing the borders between the mountains of Serbia and Bulgaria. I have taken walks in this suburb and it is treated as such, somewhat neglected and untidy. The center of Sofia on the other hand is full of history and interesting people, among them I found an Italian artist who has a home in Paestum and with his Bulgarian partner we took a tour outside Sofia to a beautiful monastery, I also visited the Confucius Institute and with the director of the Institute I had a quick and brief walk through the history of Confucius. After lodging in the suburbs I moved more toward the center and stayed in a 12-room hotel and because of the extension of my rest, so as not to put too much strain on my budget I help clean the rooms in exchange for a discount. The temperatures are high, we exceed 35 degrees and in this heat I can't go on, I have already decided to stay a few weeks, I just have to find the right accommodation.
I am at the border and it is exciting on one side but horrible on the other side, there are no pedestrian paths, only with trucks and cars. Bulgaria is twinned with Celle di Bulgheria which is a small town in my Cilento region. As I had already planned to do, maybe as far as Sofia I will be accompanied, asphalt and heat are not for me!
I am in Pirot district here I found guardian angels and I decided to have them accompany me in the hottest hours before the border, tomorrow I will arrive in Bulgaria, the backpack brings me work but the heat more! The relationship with Serbia started with difficulty but it has softened with the days thanks to the people I found on my way, I will never finish saying Thank you! I post a few photos of what remains of the castle(fortress)of Pirot that dates back to the 14th century and is linked to the legend of Vojvoda Momčilo, hero of Serbian epic poems. Pirot was also the scene of a battle that saw the Bulgarian army defeat the Serbian army, during the Serbian-Bulgarian War of 1885.
I am getting closer and closer to the border but it is so hot and I am starting to get too tired. Today I was a guest in this small town where the vice president welcomed me, then they took me to see the Roman remains and bought me lunch, for which I am always grateful.
Niš is a city not a country like the others I have visited in the last few days, here is the Konstantin Veliki Aerodrom which is named after the Roman Emperor ConstantineI who was born right here, I visited the tower of skulls from wikipedia: "it is a tower incorporating human skulls in the construction, erected by the Ottoman Turks at the city. Rising on the site of the Battle of Čegar, the tower was intended as a warning to the Serbs aimed at deterring them from continuing their revolt against the Ottoman Empire" I would say Impressive. I also saw some social life here with nice clubs along the Nišava River.
Let me introduce you to some other Serbian countries before Bulgaria, doing some more tours in the company of Jelena I got to visit many pesini rich in history. The Romans are always present and so much history has been preserved despite the war. At a tourist center where I was a guest, they made me drink schnapps...good, but very strong! I wandered around farmers' markets where they sell so many healthy, unprocessed and super genuine things, it's nice to find here what in our country we try not to lose. I've been to an all-female village where so many women are working hard to carry on the collective, "we are Good Girls!!!"
To catch up I am making a brief summary of several days spent being a "tourist" and I premise that it may happen that some of the dates with the countries I visit do not match, this is because the site is updated by my daughters who do not always get news in real time, sometimes the line is down sometimes the power is down so bear with me...I have not abandoned my goal, I want to say it but, with some people I met here I am visiting places and areas that I would not have gone through. So I will tell you; I was in Mladenovac and I found a good Sherpa who carried my backpack, he is part of the trekking association that I have already told about, he accompanied me to the accommodation three kilometers away from the center from where you can see Mount Avala that I visited. In the hikes we are doing in these areas you can see many Roman remains, I also visited a traditional dance school, very nice dance to see and to participate were many very young girls. We took a tour to Oplenac Hill where we visited the church of St. George plus the mausoleum of the Karadjordjevic royal family. The interior of this monument consists of mosaics that were crafted in Germany from Murano glass, while the chandelier in the shape of an inverted crown was created from armaments collected in battle and marks mourning for the fallen soldiers of Kosovo in 1389. I saw the Smeredevo fortress located on the Danube, which was once the capital of southern Serbia because Belgrade had been taken by the Hungarians. Couldn't miss a tour on the Danube where I saw the Trajan table carved on the rock and a sculpture of a face, also on the mountain rock, made by an Italian mountaineer. And then near the end of my days off I was hosted by Jelena's family and tasted many local delicacies.
I made a small transfer to Popović, from here I will continue to make visits to nearby villages, meanwhile I enjoy a country landscape and the tranquility of this place. I am hosted by a trekker named Jango who has a house in the country with many fruit trees, the cherries are very good. Jelena's trekking association was formed in the same year I was born, and with the association group I will spend a few evenings.
I took a detour on a route that I will continue to take in the coming days always because Jelena (but also me) is keen to have me visit a part of Serbia before I start my journey again that will take me to other countries. Of course in order to make these visits I have only left my beloved backpack and my direction for a few days, this will not only help me to know and understand Serbia with its history but will give me more much needed rest. Then, as I am ruled by feelings I will decide everything in the process. In the meantime I will leave you a few photos of Avala where there is a tower (at the time destroyed by NATO bombing) that allows you to see Belgrade from afar, breathtaking view! then there is a huge monument dedicated to the fallen and a forest surrounding these monuments where you can go trekking.
I arrived in Belgrade, here my long rest began. I stopped many days both for the hospitality I found and to visit the city. On my way before arriving here in Belgraddo I passed through the interior of the two nations (Slovenia and Serbia), I passed very close to Bulgaria as well and I realized that I was in places, in some ways, similar to our inland cilento, they have a very similar landscape but in addition here they come out of experiences that some of us don't even imagine, I realized that the postwar period brings with it a thousand fears and it is not easy to open up again. Out and about in Belgrade I was with Jelena who is the head of the Belgrade Alpine Club, she decided to introduce me to a part of Serbia that I would not touch on my walk, so I will be a tourist for a few more days. In Belgrade I met the Chinese community in the city and as always they gave me a great welcome. I saw the new and old Belgrade and it is all very fascinating, one curious thing I noticed is that they drink water from the tap even in restaurants-other than some of us who only drink bottled! I saw the most important hotel in the city where kings, queens, writers and other people from history have stayed and saw the women doing trades that our women still struggle to enter, the elderly then work until late in life because the young people flee to other nations. I will leave again on June 15 if all goes well.
I arrived in Pećinci and went directly to the only available accommodation, which is also the bread museum. Here I met Jelena Radic and her daddy who is a famous painter in the art world, and with her I took a tour of the museum that they run. In the organized tours they also show how bread is made which they then let people taste during the tasting of typical products, among them I also tasted cevapcici which are made of meat..delicious!!!
The town of Ruma is also called Pyma has 3,000 inhabitants, Mrs. Malinka who hosted me prepared a typical Serbian dessert that unfortunately I can neither write nor pronounce. I visited the main square where I found a special monument to the revolution, it is six trumpets designed by architects Cveta Davico and Misa David.
It is not easy to update this diary because I arrive in a country in the day and leave the next morning, the places with the times I can't always match them. In some places I will stay longer depending on need and hospitality. Today I leave for Ruma where Mrs. Milanka Mircovic is waiting for me, who is part of the Belgrade trekking association and will give me hospitality. Yesterday with the owner and grandson from the Italian restaurant I went to the museum of Roman emperors in Sremska Mitrovica 18 Roman emperors were born.
I have already passed through three countries in Serbia and tonight I am stopping in Sirmium, the old name of the city, now called Sremska Mitrovica. Here where I found accommodation thanks to the owner of the Italian restaurant "la mimosa". These days I have been driving on state roads with no paths and no spaces close to the freeway, it was not a good adventure, I was stressed by trucks and cars whizzing by me. Otherwise through very similar towns or villages at times, I notice that the past and the future as always continue to cohabit but, pointing out their differences...walls still with bullet holes next to manicured houses with flower gardens...
I reached another milestone, the last country of Croatia and then I will be in Serbia. It is very hot so sometimes I get more tired than usual and I don't deny that for a few moments I even thought about quitting. I cannot find accommodation easily and when I am so tired I get despondent. Fortunately, eventually a solution is found...sometimes it is old friends, sometimes my daughters other times people found by chance, the important thing is that my trust in others is repaid and gives me an extra push to continue this long adventure.
Arriving early in this small town I decided to do some sightseeing in the museum, by now I am closer to Serbia and the change I am beginning to see in the buildings as well as the people. Certainly the bigger the town the less people are squeamish but the language problem remains, English is not a widely used language here. In the evening I went to a pub where I had the pleasure of meeting Ivan, he was the only one who spoke English so I took advantage of his willingness to let him tell me about the place.
I move on to get closer to Serbia the air has cooled, it has rained, along the way I see houses and churches, many churches and cultivated fields. The road I travel is a well-maintained bicycle path and as I arrive in Sapci I notice that it is a neat and clean town. I am staying with the family of a friend of Filip's, they make a big and beautiful garden with many good things, a treat!
I have arrived in Slavonski Brod a town that tells a lot about its past, here I am on the border with Bosnia and not far from Serbia. I will stay again for a few days in the hope of finding someone to act as my cicerone. The difficulty I often find myself in is that people do not speak English but only Croatian,occasionally I find someone who speaks German because many, as in Italy, have gone to work there. Meanwhile I go in search of a place to sleep... 31/05/2022 I left Slavonski Brod again after almost a week, I had the pleasure of meeting Filip and his family thanks to couchSurfing. Flip has been my cicerone these days and also gave me the opportunity to tell my story on a local TV station, which hopefully will help me in my search for hospitality, in the meantime Filip has already given me a contact for a next stop. The most enjoyable thing about these walks I do is just meeting people, getting to know and learning.
Today I arrived in Nova Gradiška , I was very hot and in the countryside I found sections of the trail with high grass...part heat, part exhaustion and grass I ended up with ankles full of abrasions. I would need one more day of rest but places to sleep cost too much and I prefer to start again tomorrow. Early in the morning I walk fast and the backpack I don't feel much, but as soon as the only warms up and the miles increase I start to slow down until I feel like a snail. In order not to fatigue too much I should walk a maximum of 25 km a day, but I don't always find where I can rest at night so I continue...
And after a breakfast of champions today I went less miles than usual and arrived in Novska. Apparently there is a small party so there are few beds available. I found a gentleman in a bar who heard my plea for help with an overnight stay and drove me around town in his car looking for a place to sleep, he was very nice, at the end I wanted to offer him an aperitif and he replied that I had to offer it to him in italy.
Starting again from Kutina toward Novska, I passed through almost nonexistent villages and sought out country roads to stay more in the shade. Along the way I found a nice pond and despite my allergy to poplars I stayed cooler. Eventually I found myself almost 20km from Novska and arrived in Kozarice, if it wasn't for Marco whom I passed on the road I would have spent the night in the woods because I was going in the wrong direction. Marco speaks Italian and accompanied me to a hunting lodge telling me the story of the war between Serbia and Croatia. In this little house I found a nice room where I could rest with only the sounds of nature. In the morning before departure I had a super breakfast of meat, eggs and salami...at least if I get lost I am covered from hunger for a while....
After another day of rest I set off again toward Kutina which, unlike these small towns, is a small town. I will take advantage to make some small purchases, I need a local phone card because mine doesn't work, I can only send news in places where there is wifi and then I would like to buy a pair of sunglasses because I lost mine, walking without them in this sun becomes more tiring.
I'll probably stop here to rest, the temperatures have risen a lot and I'm struggling. a giants meal to strengthen and recover.
This morning I resumed my non-stop path along a road that takes me back into the countryside...I find nothing and no one, I hope to find a small cluster of houses at least to ask for information and to look for a place for the night and eventually a lady,
who saw me tired and hot, took me to her house and offered me a drink and some food. I am in a neighborhood where there are children asking for money and there is some neglect. Further on I found a little apartment for the night, it's a very low-key but comfortable place, and in the process I also met a guy from Apulia.
I thought it would be closer to the island than Marco Polo's house but instead it took me an extra day to be stationed there, it was worth it because the place is very beautiful and after so much countryside a little bit of sea was really needed. I visited Marco Polo's house where there is so much of him and then, I also had a meeting with the town's mayor, young and easygoing! A tour of the village and a few interviews on the radio and local TV...like a star ha ha! If I can I will start again tomorrow in the footsteps of Marco Polo. Until the next stop!!!
Arrived in Zagreb!!! Lively city and shortly after my arrival, I witnessed a procession complete with music and waving flags. I will rest here more than three days also because there is talk of a Marco Polo house and museum on a nearby island, I would like to be a tourist and visit the place as well as the city of Zagreb.
Well I was at the mountain festival and the Croatian poet Sinan Gudzevig who was participating in the event I had met him in Paestum (Sa), so he invited me to tell my story on stage. I felt so much emotion for that curious audience to know it was a good experience.
Having arrived in Croatia, at first glance people seemed to be more curious and asked me questions in their language. As I always do, I told my story in a bar and the owner offered me a selfie and a thirst quenching drink! Tonight is the mountain festival, after some rest I will attend this event.
I found some minor difficulties towards the border which are that of language and my pollen allergy! Towards the end of the day I tried to ask for information in English but nothing, I found few helpful people, without discouraging myself I continued in the search for accommodation and finally I was lucky, the owner of the small hotel I chose was following me on Facebook and she was overjoyed with my arrival! Tomorrow I should arrive in Croatia.
I arrived in Sentirnije,in the heat it was,I stopped at a bar to cool off and wait for a Skype connection with radio Paestum. After everything was done, I approached the owner of the bar and told my story...this American lady with a cowboy hat heard, called me and wanted to take lots of pictures, then called her brother in Arizona to introduce him to me but he didn't answer, so we made him a video.
I am in a small village that looks like a fairy tale, after two days in the countryside now I see a few more houses and a few more people.
This was a very pleasant encounter, a nice group of walkers on the path I took to get to Novo Mesto, too bad they were going in the opposite direction to me....
This photo represents the departure from Novo mesto, to get here I saw only a lot of countryside. I walked under a 28° sun, as soon as I saw a bar I rushed to have a beer and ate some almonds. During the walk under the sun and with the weight of the backpack I felt nothing and as soon as I relaxed I didn't have the strength to get up but, after a night's rest, I am ready to go again!
I rode along country lanes, forest paths and for many kilometers saw only countryside, a lunch of dried fruit and set off again. I also found among the fields a small church of St. Peter and Paul. Tonight I am staying in a hotel, overnight hospitality is hard to find around here but I find a different kind of hospitality...at the hotel they heard my story on a Slovenian radio station and thanked me for choosing their hotel by offering me dinner...and it was much needed!!!
Today my destination was Višnja Gora, but a good headache made me stop early at a place I did not recognize and so after a night's rest I set off again for a new destination. Unlike the other walks I have done I now follow the navigator and signs but often find myself using the old methods..read, question and observe! The good fortune is that there is always a nice trail in the middle of the woods and usually near a river or a cycle path.
Arriving in Ljubljana I found a lot of tourists, I wanted to visit the caves in Postojna but with rain coming I preferred to continue, I will rest in Ljubljana. To get here I walked the Jakobova trail which I thought was on the road but instead it is a beautiful forest path, must do!!! In this city I relax for four days before continuing to Croatia, there is a lot of greenery here I find it a relaxing city and all to be discovered.
In Ljubljana I met again these French guys that I met in the house of the creator of the Jakobova pot walk. I am only in Ljubljana but I have already met so many people, I struggle a lot with the backpack so I stop often and on these occasions I meet people who ask me questions and sometimes help me, this is what I want most from this adventure...to know, to understand, to spread, to popularize and as I often say to trust the neighbor on both sides.
Passing through Logatec my friend's daughter took me to their house and offered me a nice ice cream and cake. Igor, my friend, I met him two years ago when I was asking about the route. Tonight I arrived in Vrhnika and tomorrow if all goes well I will arrive in Ljubljana.
I arrived too late in Postojna and settled for a kiosk to eat but in the end the sandwich was too big, I couldn't finish it. Everyone is very nice but so far I haven't found anyone in Slovenia to put me up for the night, I'm looking for cheap accommodations if possible....
I arrived in Slovenia on the day of the May Day holiday and my phone stopped working, once I reached Sesana, everything being closed, I looked out at a bar the "Apericaffè" where I found the owner, very kind, who helped me with the phone and also offered me lunch. We shared our stories and I must say that despite the initial difficulties I had a pleasant day.
Giulia from Trieste who guided me through everything I wanted to see in Trieste. She has been my mentor. A thank you and a hug
Maria friend of Marina who hosted me in Trieste. Thanks to Marina who planned everything even though she was not in Trieste.
Final preparations for the trip... Tatjana and Daniele (her partner) helped me take the last few kilos off my backpack. At 9 a.m. I took the train to Palmanova, from here I will start the actual walk.
The beginning of the walk for the cameras. But also the greeting with my daughters Lara, Tatjana and Raissa and my grandchildren.
I still have to finish packing my backpack....
I am looking for sponsors! Thank you to anyone who will be interested in supporting me on this journey. How to do it. The easiest and most effective way is to send money directly, to cover travel expenses as much as possible:
I warmly thank those who want to host me along the way. Some institutions already support me in various ways: