The day was sunny and blue as we hit the road out of Ljubljana this morning. We were expecting a long bit of riding through suburbs and industrial areas to get us out of the city, but within 5 minutes, we were on an unpaved farm road that wound us through cornfields and forests until the next village. Yet another reason why we love Slovenia.
As we’ve mentioned before, everyone here waves as we pass, and I find it a bit amusing how we all stare at each other as we go by. I’m not sure whether we are more fascinated by people here as they go about their lives, or whether they are more curious about our three ring circus on wheels as we roll by with all of our belongings hitched to a bicycle.
I’ve been thinking a lot though, about what leads us to love a place, and I think it has a lot to do with the people that we encounter along the way. As we pass through any given country, we meet only a tiny fraction of its citizens. Those people represent their entire country in our memories, for better or for worse. They represent their nation by the way they drive, by the way they do their jobs, and by their attitude towards strange looking cyclists passing through their neighborhoods. On the flip side, when they meet us, we also represent our own country, other cycle tourists, and perhaps those who share our faith. I suppose in all of this, I can only think that we ought to try a little harder to be memorably nice! The people that we’ve met that have been kind, welcoming, and friendly have made our whole trip worthwhile. Its amazing what a difference even little bits of kindness have made to us when we are so far from home.
Before we had cycled too long, it quickly became apparent that we were back in “alp country” and the terrain got hillier and steeper than anything we’d seen in Slovenia to date. Gratefully, my legs are stronger than they were in France and there are still less steep roads between hill towns, but we got a quick reminder how much longer it takes to go anywhere when we have to fight for each steep kilometre. Before long, we decided that we would take a lunch break and pulled over to eat the salami sandwiches I’d prepared last night. We pretty much inhaled them, and then hit the road for our final kilometres toward Lake Bled.
Somehow, our destination got further away as we pedaled (a bit of trouble with navigation I suppose) and we came in a full 15 kilometres over our estimated ride. Still, arriving on Lake Bled was pretty much spectacular. The castle perched high on the cliffs and the pretty church on the tiny lake island makes an already beautiful place look fairy tale perfect. Our campground is right on the lake, tucked within a lovely canyon full of pine trees, and even as I write, we can hear the call of a nearby owl. It is a little baffling sometimes that I am lucky enough for this to be my life.
Once we got the tent set up, we had some “housekeeping” to do. Our sleeping mats needed a good washing and our laundry was way behind (as in, Ben has no shirt until his all dry tomorrow). Also, we had some tentative plans for a day long car rental that needed to be researched. Somewhere in there, we decided to put our dinner together and take it down to the water to eat.
Ben accidentally grabbed us a meat filled tortellini at the store and as we were trying to figure out how to cook them thoroughly enough for the meat to be done, somehow the wind gusted our pan off the stove and tipped the lighted stove right over, near Ben’s feet. It got so close in fact, that his stubbly leg hair got burned right off, leaving a slight burn on his ankle. Gratefully, that was the worst of the damage and he got the stove turned off pretty fast, but it was an awfully close call.
The pasta ended up all in the grass, half cooked. We briefly debated what to do with it, and finally ended up just collecting it, rinsing it off, and re-boiling it instead of starting all over. I suppose we have been camping too long to worry about a bit of dirt!
After dinner, we holed back up in the tent for some trip planning and even got to chat with Ben’s mom and my dad for a few minutes. We will be here for a day or two at least, and as Ben keeps finding new things he wants to see and do, I am wondering if we will spend an entire week!