I have to admit that at its inception, this blog had approximately four readers: my brother Colton and his girlfriend Miara, Megan in Texas, and Ben’s mom. Since then, we’ve watched our traffic grow and grow as friends, neighbors, coworkers, and even strangers find out about our trip and check in to see what on earth we are doing. I’ve long kept a journal for myself, but truth be told, I find it a little daunting to sit down every night and record my thoughts in order to preserve my memories, but also for a growing crowd of unknown people to read. I worry about sounding pessimistic or ungrateful, about sounding too earthy and crazy, and also about making bicycle touring sound like it is nothing but flowers and sunshine when in fact it can be downright miserable at times. More than anything though, as I see the ever growing blog traffic in our analytics data, I find myself wondering who is out there reading and what brought them here to read about our little journey on bikes. However you found us, and especially those who we know and haven’t seen for a while, we’d love to hear from you!
We are never quite sure what to expect when we deviate from our routine, and we had been a little unsure about how we would sleep in such lovely accommodations on the farm in Rovatov Kot. We needen’t have worried. As I dozed off, I could hear the cows outside in the barn and I slept so well surrounded by such fluffy bedding! At one point, I woke up in the night, panicked about why Ben wasn’t next to me, only to roll over and see him curled up far away on the other side of the bed. That bed must have been a lot wider than our tent with all our gear in it!
We woke up and marveled about how fast we could get out the door when all we had to pack up was a few articles of clothing and our computer equipment. Then, we headed down for breakfast served by our host family. We ate bread with butter and honey that must have come from the bees they keep. I don’t normally care much for the taste of honey, but this stuff was tasty! Ben is now threatening to get a beehive for our backyard and after eating a fair amount of that stuff, I just might let him!
They also fed us fried eggs. As I’m writing, Ben is telling me that the yokes in his eggs had not typical yellow yolks, but pink and purple as well. I didn’t notice any such phenomenon, but I’ve recorded it here for posterity! We also ate sliced sausage, cheese, and what we think might have been cheese curds with honey and jam that Ben loved. We don’t normally eat so well in the morning!
It is impossible not to admire these people who run a full farm (a full time job for any family) and also spend their time cooking for, cleaning up after, and attending to their guests. They sincerely must never get a rest from their labors. They were so hospitable and kind and and we had the most memorable night in our new favorite country. The farm was absolutely gorgeous and every bit of food we ate was delectable. I can’t say enough good things.
By 8:15 we were on the road headed for the very southernmost part of Austria where we planned to drop off our camping gear before driving our bikes back to the city of Maribor. There, we would drop off our car and reassemble our bikes, allowing us to complete our ride today unloaded. The drive back out of through the hills of Slovenia was lovely and new under the clear blue skies and we were glad to be seeing the same terrain in the absence of the moody rain we’d had yesterday. Soon, we were zipping down the highway and passed over the border to Austria where we planned to camp. It seemed funny to be arriving at camp at 10 in the morning! I was checked in by a cute old Austrian woman who had all kinds of problems figuring out how to use my strange American credit card and she was really surprised when I was able to show her how it works (read: This was not the first time we’ve had this problem.) She was glad for the help and told me I was ”super!”
Hurriedly, we set up our still damp tent from the storm two days ago, and threw all of our gear inside. We packed a quick day bag full of snacks, the camera, gadgets, and some extra clothes and filled our bottles. Then, we hit the road to return the car which was due at noon. We were cutting it pretty close, so we were feeling a little bit rushed a half hour later as we arrived in town looking for a gas station. We didn’t know how getting gas works here and it took us an embarrassingly long time to figure out that pre-payment isn’t required here like it is at home and get the tank filled.
With about 10 minutes to spare, we headed the last 2 kilometers toward the rental location we’d been directed to and arrived to the address just in time. Only one problem- Europcar was nowhere to be seen. Ben parked pretty much in the bus stop, European style (pull over wherever you like, even if you are blocking traffic, and put your emergency flashers on) while I ran into the local businesses to ask if anyone could point me in the right direction, but no one could tell me anything even remotely helpful. We got back in and continued to drive around, but our efforts were fruitless. Now getting a bit flustered, we pulled over again and I decided to go ask one more time. I entered a business named Triglav (like the national park) and asked if anyone knew where the car rental branch might be located. They didn’t, but they offered to look it up online and see what we could find out for me. They attempted to give me directions but I had no idea whether they were sending me back to the same place or not and their instructions might have been more meaningful if I had been in the town a day or two. Finally, one of the guys offered to call the number listed on the web on my behalf. We were only a mere matter of blocks away from where we needed to be but apparently the location isn’t well marked. After a long drawn out conversation in Slovenian, the Europcar rep on the other end of the line volunteered to walk the two blocks over to us instead. I don’t know what Triglav even does, but they sure were sweet to go to such great lengths to help us!
Five minutes later, the Europcar rep arrived to our car, again parked European style (read:illegally), and went through a serious check to make sure the car had no damage and was full of gas. Somehow our rental agreement had disappeared from our glove compartment and I have no idea where it went, so hopefully all the paperwork gets done correctly…
He laughed as we unloaded two bicycles from our tiny car. I think he he probably would have died if he’d seen our camping gear we had packed in there too! and asked us where we were going on our bikes. We explained a little about our trip and he kept saying, “Very interesting!”
Finally, the bikes were built and the rep had all the info he needed, so we set off on our short, unloaded ride to camp. The sun was out and we had already checked out our route by car, so we knew we were in for a nice, almost flat ride through some lovely hills and countryside.
For as much fun as we had on our whirlwind road trip, every part of me was thrilled to be back on the bike. The temperature was perfectly comfortable and I was elated at having the wind in my face as I moved under my own power. Although we’d already been on every road we passed only a few hours ago, I felt as though we saw it with new eyes, moving at the much more leisurely pace of a bicycle. We stared at the quiet, deep green, rolling hills, full of corn, squash, and vineyards and marveled at how good Slovenia has been to us. Were it not for a spot of bad weather in Switzerland several weeks ago, we never would have come here and it would have been such a shame to miss!
Soon, we rolled across the Austrian border (we will pass back through Slovenia again tomorrow!) and passed through more quiet roads of farmland to our campsite. Ben loved the signs in German with the really really long words.
We hadn’t estimated the afternoon shade very well since the morning had been a bit overcast, and we ended up taking everything out and moving the tent to a new location. Then, we headed out for groceries, took our showers, made a very creative rendition of goulash for dinner, and began working on our backlogged photos that we neglected while we were busy driving all over creation in our rental car. I’m already looking forward to our ride tomorrow!