Be honest. When was the last time you located and reached an unknown destination without the help of Google Maps, a GPS device or a printed out map slyly stolen from the work printer? We women may feel a sense of achievement in making our way independently from A to B, and rightly so, but I often wonder if our newfound reliance on maps and a focus on developing our woman-compass could threaten our freedom to just stumble upon wonderful things or to even just get a little bit helplessly lost.

The last time I got helplessly and hopelessly lost was on a cloudlessly sunny day on the rocky cliff edge of an inland seawater lake in northern Croatia, carrying a half eaten picnic and dragging behind me a mountain bike and a boyfriend who was doing all he could to stop himself berating me, as it had been my suggestion to “just explore up there”; he had loyally followed me despite recommending we stick to the way we had come, which is typical of him as he is always ready for an adventure or an opportunity to tell me I’d made a mistake. Exploring led to wondering off track, wondering off track led to losing our way back and losing our way back led to being very, very lost.

A couple of hours earlier our exploring had had a different outcome. We had left the sleepy fishing village of Novigrad, where we were staying and embarked on a bike ride up and over a hillside in a richly green forest. We continued to descend down the other side towards the lake’s shore, visible through an opening in the trees. We followed a small path near the water’s edge, finally stumbling upon a deserted beach where the only signs of life were what had been lovingly left behind; names spelt out in shells and stones on pieces of concrete near a man made shack complete with chairs and a table fashioned out of boulders and wood. There we sipped our beers and ate homemade cheese sandwiches like naughty children who’d just found something we shouldn’t have. It was so liberating a discovery we may possibly have discarded all our clothes and taken a skinny dip in the saltwater. Possibly.

Yet fast forward to being lost on that cliff’s edge and I quickly began to curse my woman compass and outwardly cringe at our predicament. The terrain had turned so rocky and unpredictable that we were unable to ride our bikes, and so the pedals, as well as the sharp edged boulders and wild brambles on the ground, scratched away at our ankles and calves as we plodded along relying solely on staying parallel to the shore to get us home. How quickly “deserted” went from being romantic and precious to frightening and desperate. With our GPS-supplying smart phones obliviously relaxing back in the hotel room it took us four long, sweaty and stressful hours to join them, relying on both a woman- and a man-compass.

With the comfort of hindsight and a happy ending (I let the boyfriend have a full five minutes of  “I told-you-so-ing”) getting lost that day was everything it should have been. I felt the shock of fear, the adrenaline of physical exertion and the perverse exhilaration of pain; in short, I felt alive. We also got to experience the brighter side of being lost as along the way we stumbled upon more beautiful deserted beaches, long-neglected and dilapidated farm buildings in fields where wild goats roamed and breath-taking views across the clear blue water. Thanks to these brief moments of “wow” through the fear, pain and exhaustion, I still believe it is worth getting lost, at least once in a while, as you never know what you may find or experience.

Though maybe keep your smart phone in your pocket, just in case.


Bird is a Londoner turned Wanderer who has swapped hyperlocal blogging for travel blogging after she left the great grey of London behind for a life more colourful on the road armed with her camera, her Aussie boyfriend and a rubber duck. She is currently to be found in a campervan somewhere in New Zealand and is hoping for one last fling with Southeast Asia before heading back to Europe in March as she has a date with her snowboard and the Alps.

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