A few years ago, I discovered one of my favorite places in the whole wide world. It's a tiny wooden hut high up in the Austrian mountains, far away from everyday life, everyday people and everyday worries. There's also no electricity, running water or internet.
Ah, what can I say. Up there I just feel so...balanced.
How I came to this little hut is actually a funny story.
It all started in a beautiful place called Locarno, where I once attended a program called the Summer Academy. It ran in conjunction with the Locarno Film Festival and about thirty budding filmmakers (including me) had been invited to immerse themselves in the Locarno filmscene.
I was the first to arrive and I can still recall the sense of confusion I felt when being guided down into a concrete, windowless space. It was claustrophobic, reeked of mildew and exuded the unpleasant foreboding of imminent warfare. I remember wistfully thinking that it was probably some sort of mistake, I must just have noted the wrong address, or perhaps the wrong name?
Sadly, it was all too real.
I was shown a room no larger than a walk-in closet, in which three rows of army style bunk beds had been wedged up against the wall. There were 18 beds in total, each of them an arms-length wide and unmade. As I stared in utter disbelief at our apocalyptic sleeping quarters, I was handed a damp sheet and left alone to choose my favorite spot.
So, what could I do? I settled on a top-bunk in the corner, rolled out my sheet, stuck a photo on the wall and cried.
The thing is, this wasn't for a night or two (which would have been bad enough), it was for almost ten days. Ten days in what turned out to be one of Switzerland's many nuclear fallout shelters. A couple of us complained alright, but we didn't get very far. Besides, it wasn't like a group of aspiring filmmakers had any leftover cash to spend on a Swiss hotel.
On the bright side, if Switzerland was invaded or bombed or even teased a little, at least I'd have my safe spot on the top bunk, right?
A bit later that week I met a Swiss woman who was also an Academy attendee, but staying at a friends' place. Probably somewhere with plenty of daylight, painted walls and carpeted floors... She told me that at the end of the program, she was going spend some time in an alpine hut. She said there was no running water, no electricity and indeed, no toilet or shower. Basically a barn.
It's kind of hard to explain, especially considering my already dire circumstances, but something inside of me wanted to be in that hut. I know this is kind of odd, I mean, sharing one makeshift shower with thirty other people doesn't usually make you crave even less luxury. But the heart wants the crazy things the heart wants.
So as soon as I got back home, I found myself trawling the Internet for a mountain hut just like the one I had been described. And I found it!
'My' hut is owned by a kind Austrian family. It's small, it's cozy and it's my favorite place in the world. It's both a getaway and a hideaway. As soon as I'm up there, time slows down and nature takes over. There are cows and sheep and mountains. And at night, it gets really quiet, really dark and sometimes a little scary.
But now I want to hear from you! Do you have a getaway or even a hideaway? Is there a place somewhere in this world where you can go and just...be? Where is it? How did you find it? Tell me!
Share your thoughts in the comments, I can't wait to hear from you.
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