Indian Summer

Summer is back and I am using sun screen again, the first time in days – I hope not just for a little while but until the end of October. It is just wonderful to cycle all day long in the sun, have an extended lunch break outside without getting cold or wet and go for dinner with not even wearing a sweater. Also a big relief for my stiff neck, no pain anymore.

I still need to finish up our journey through Slovenia to convince all of you to visit this great country. There are at least two more reasons to go there (for those who haven’t read the previous article, this is a continuation of the previous numbering):

#4: THE FOOD: How can I forget about food???? I can hardly believe it myself, but there you go, I am thinking about other things as well. The food is great. The first time we ate in Slovenia we were at this farm B&B with the gorgeous morning view. We arrived relatively late, just before 8pm but still got homemade food: a meat soup from that area with potatoes, beans, some kind of mini dumplings and of course meat. And for desert we had pancakes with self-made jam. Yummie! The second time we ate in a traditional restaurant in Ptuj, again a meat dish, which was delicious as well. Slovenian dishes are quite meaty and even though I am not a meat person, it is really nice. On top, the food is very cheap. My travel guide tells me that the cost of living is approximately the same as in Germany, which can’t be right. We were able to buy food for 1 full day (breakfast, lunch and dinner) for less than 10 EUR, and we are eating a lot these days and went shopping at the high-end supermarket ‘Spar’.

#5: THE CLEANLINESS: This country is comparable with the South of Germany, where cleaning is one of the most important tasks on Saturdays. Even the smallest and remote places are proper. We once had a lunch break next to a gas station in a very small village (I know, not very romantic, but there were nice benches and a table). The station really didn’t look very nice and run down. I was doubting to use the toilet, but in the end I did. And then this: super clean, toilet paper, soap to wash hands, paper to dry hands, AND….. a cleaning schedule!!!!!

These are my 5 cents on Slovenia, a country we fell in love with and I am sure we will be back again one day. Thank you Slovenia for making our trip so enjoyable!

In the meantime we arrived in Hungary. We took a shortcut through Croatia – yeah we got our first stamp in our passport – and arrived the same day (Friday) in Hungary. There is not much to say about Croatia, we just haven’t seen much and certainly not the nicer parts of this country. All we saw were corn fields. On top I wasn’t too well (stiff neck), the weather felt depressive and we wanted to reach Hungary to avoid changing money for just one day. We made it until just after the border (about 110km) to Letanye, a very small town  with people you don’t want to meet at night, a closed camping and a depressing hotel. At least we could shower and have a hot meal in the evening (which wasn’t really good either). Never mind.

During the day we had an interesting experience in Croatia with another Europe cyclist. I am not writing fun experience, because I wasn’t in a mood to enjoy this guy, luckily Johan took over the talking part (if he was able to get in between). And this is how this went: We’re just cycling on a quite busy road with sometimes bike-paths and sometimes not. At a bus station an older man on an even older bike with a huge backpack on his back rack, a shopping basket on his handlebar and a waist purse is standing doing something and blocking the path. Johan just managed to pass this guy, I didn’t, even though I used my bell various times. So I had to get off my bike to get around him (and am already annoyed of him). Not even two minutes later this guy takes over and talks to me in a language I don’t understand, I only tell him ‘Sorry, I don’t understand you’ and he continues to catch up with Johan. After a few kilometers cycling I see them standing next to each other talking. When I reach them, the conversation goes as follows:

The guy (in broken German): Where you go?

Johan (in fluent German): Istanbul.

The guy: Oh, Istanbul. I London, Calais, Lyon, Brussels, Mainz, Heidelberg, Frankfurt, Stockholm, Gothenburg, Cologne, Paris, Bonn, Klagenfurt, Liechtenstein, Rimini, Bari – boat Athens – St. Anton, Arlberg, 2,000km………(he continues for another two minutes and we patiently and politely don’t interrupt)

Johan: Great, I think we need to continue now.

Baerbel (thinking): YES, it is getting cold and we still have to pedal for a few kilometers.

The guy: Accident, 3 broken rips, Hospital, Hungary – goats. Budapest, oh Romania, Bucharest, Croatia…..(he continues naming more or less all European cities).

Johan (still smiling): OK, we go now! Safe journey.

And off we all go, while the guy stops immediately again, since his chain fell off. We just continue thinking, great, now we got rid of him. It doesn’t take long and the guy overtakes again, with completely black hands and trying to talk again (surprise, surprise, he doesn’t talk to me anymore :-)) but then just continues since we don’t stop. Every few hundred meters he looks back if we are still following, for which he needs the full road. And yes, we are still there. Finally reaching a city he stops again to wait for us to show us how to continue – in the meantime Johan found out he is Croatian – while we know how to go, but he knows of course better. So we follow his advice, and guess what: we get lost and cannot find back the great bike-path we wanted to take! But at last this guy goes his own way and we can pedal in silence again.

This is ‘the guy’

Today we continued our journey more or less along the Drava river which happens to be the natural Hungarian/Croatian border. Nothing spectacular so far other than nice landscape, interesting villages and another even more complicated language with looooooooong words. More to come next time!

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