Ciao Bella Italia – Dober Dan Slovenia

Dober dan: this is hello in Slovenian, the only two words I managed to learn and pronounce during the last 6 days, which is actually not a real problem since everybody speaks either German or English. We are enjoying this country very much. And there are a lot of reasons for it:

#1 – THE PEOPLE: They are extremely friendly and welcoming, wherever you go or whatever you do, they never become impatient.

 

In the bakery they explain you in detail what they are selling, others tell you the way and where to go if you want to know it or not, just a quick look at a sign or a map makes them stop in the middle of a crossing, block all other traffic just to make sure we take the right route. Seriously, this happened to us. A very old guy explained us in perfect German about 3 times how to cycle, while cars had to manoeuver around us. I have to admit that this happened in a small village with not so much traffic, but still. He then finally continued his way just to stop about 500m later to make sure we are heading into the right direction. Hilarious! That very same day – we’ve been cycling most of the day uphill – we were looking for a place to camp. Knowing there are no campsites around we asked a lady working in her garden if she knew a spot where we could stay. Without much hesitation she let us stay in her garden, we could shower in her house and she even offered to cook for us! Unfortunately we had to cook ourselves since we bought fish earlier that day.

 

Tent with a view (Karst Mountains) – our first ‘wild’ camping experience

Or the gay couple walking their dog we asked for directions to a b&b who then called for us several hotels to ask the price and in the end made a reservation. What a hospitality!

Morning view from our farm B&B

#2 – THE LANDSCAPE: I think when this country was created by someone who thought given its small size, there is no space for dull landscapes or ugliness. There are only about 2 million inhabitants and sites on our map that look like small cities are small villages and you are lucky if there is a supermarket at all. But back to the landscape: it is a hilly, a very hilly or better mountainous country. We crossed the ‘Karst Mountains’ just because we didn’t know better or most likely because we were too stupid to read the map. These two days were more exhausting than crossing the Alps, first because there were extremely steep roads in between, second because it went up and down and up and down and up……..and third the length of the climbs.

 

Two days in a row we had to climb about 8km followed by the previous ups and downs. Nonetheless, we got rewarded by beautiful views over huge valleys, old villages…..

 

…and interesting insights into the Slovenian way of living and farming (grapes are still being hand-picked, we even saw a family harvesting corn without using a machine).

 

 

They also have a funny taste when it comes to house colours: Miss Piggy pink, neon green and orange, baby blue.

 

 

Finally they are enjoying flowers and gardening very much, I have never seen so many flower-decorated houses or vegetable gardens. This makes me think that the people must have a very joyous mind.

#3 – THE CITIES: Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, is the biggest city with around 300k inhabitants. It feels much bigger, since there is a lot of industry and it takes about 10km from the city sign to the heart of the city. The old town has been beautifully restored and is very charming with nice small shops, bars, restaurants and loads of relaxed Slovenians. The emblem of the city is a dragon, who once got killed by the Greek hero Jason, for having stolen the Golden Fleece (if I remember correctly).

Who is the dragon and who the hero?

We are now in the oldest town of Slovenia, Ptuj, which joins Maribor in being Europe’s capital of culture 2012. It is very small, very old and within two hours we visited the old town and the castle with all its exhibitions. A perfect place for a rest day.

The only unpleasantries have been my encounters with dogs. While we are by now to barking dogs from Italy (it seems every Italian has at least one dog, thankfully they are usually very small, behind a fence or on a chain, hence not much to worry about also because they belong to the species of a German saying: Barking dogs don’t bite). We now have to get used to bigger dogs and dogs that just belong somewhere, but can go anywhere. The first attack hit me after a 5km climb in the evening, when we just arrived in a village. Johan was already ahead of me asking for directions and surrounded by 150 firemen, when a huge black dog approached me and barked like an idiot. I immediately stopped cycling, started screaming at the dog and for help. The dog was maybe a meter away from me and I called for Johan, who couldn’t hear me for a felt half hour. That was really scary, since the dog came closer and closer and nobody helped. When Johan finally arrived a few other men came as well and they managed to scare the dog away. The next day, Johan was again a few hundred meters ahead, another small dog suddenly attacked me, coming out of nowhere, so I couldn’t really react but only scream until Johan turned again. This time I even felt the fur of this little devil on my leg. Thankfully no bites so far, I honestly prefer the mosquito bites.
Tomorrow we’ll continue our journey via Croatia to Hungary. We slightly changed our route since we need to hurry a bit and have to take a more direct route to Turkey since we booked our flights from Istanbul to New-Delhi on the 3rd of November. By now we cycled more than 1,400km and I have to admit that we are getting slightly exhausted from the heavy cycling and would actually need a few more rest days, but I guess we have to wait until we are in Asia. It is also clearly getting fall with less stable weather, regular rain showers, cold evenings and early nights – it is dark at 7.30pm and we should actually stop cycling by 6pm at the latest. But still no reasons to worry about us, we are doing great, are still enjoying what we are doing and have no regrets or doubts. Life is still beautiful🙂.

5 thoughts on “Ciao Bella Italia – Dober Dan Slovenia

  1. This makes me wanna go one day to Slovenia on holiday… not for the dogs ;-)… but for the beautiful landscaped and people living very basic… I love it and haven’t been there yet!

  2. Hoi fietsers.
    Het is zo leuk om te lezen waar jullie zijn en wat je meemaakt.
    Vooral weer het laatste in slovenie.
    Sorry dat ik in nederlands schrijf.
    Baerbel, ik ken je niet maar ik hang aan je lippen. Wat kan jij mooi schrijven.
    Veel succes met de verdere reis.

  3. Euer Bericht über Slowenien klingt super… Bis auf die Hunde…😉.Das ist tolle Reiselektüre für uns hier in der Ferne! Liebe Grüsse!

  4. I am so happy you wrote so much about your journey in Slovenia. I have visited a couple of times both for holiday and more recently for work. I love the country and the people I have met. Your account is so real I feel like I am again driving those remote roads between villages and farms… I had the advantage of being in a car so no trouble from the dogs. I have Slovenia on my list of places

    • oops one Enter too many! … on my list of places I would love to hike and you made me want to get on and sort it! Your dog tale however reminded me of the very real Bear signs we saw in the hills of Croatia. Camping wild? BEwARe! Enjoy the wonderful scenery and PLEASE keep posting the photos :))))

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