sLOVEnia

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While we fell asleep to the sound of rain pattering gently on our rain fly last night, we were awakened in the middle of the night by the beginnings of the thunderstorm of all thunderstorms.  It all started with rain falling more and more heavily, which we have experienced before.  We have even had some very prominent thunder thus far on our trip.  As the cracks and flashes of light came, however, a new record for storms on our trip was set.

The cracking and the flashing was quite simply the most impressive either of us have ever seen.  The wind ripped under our tightly guyed fly and through the mesh walls, chilling us with the damp air from the sheets of rain that tried desperately to break past our fly and into our tent.  I was loving every second, as I always do with thunderstorms.  Bree was a little bit nervous though, as the thunder was loud enough that it rumbled the ground and the lightning strikes could not have been far away.

The storm lasted for hours, taking a short break which allowed Bree to get a little sleep (apparently I can sleep through anything) and picking back up around 6 am.  By the time we woke up the campsite was a soaked and muddy mess, and while our fly did a great job of keeping us nearly dry, some water had made its way onto our tent floor via the extension cord we had run for the laptops.

The entire day was slated for heavy thunderstorms, so whenever the rain would abate enough to get something done, we would work on packing camp into our already stuffed car.  By about 10 AM the car was packed with our panniers and bikes and the rain had become a heavy drizzle, so we checked out and headed toward the castle overlooking Lake Bled.  Normally on a day like today, we would have holed up in the tent, waiting for some drier weather, but today, we had the luxury of sightseeing from behind the glass.

In all honesty, we had no desire to see the castle.  The lake had an eerie look and the mountains were partially hidden with low hanging clouds, so what  we really wanted were some final views of the lake before we left.  After arriving at the castle, I was surprised to see a full parking lot with several tour buses and people walking up to the castle entrance through the heavy rain.  I guess a typical European vacationer doesn’t get the luxury of a rest day every time it rains!

We didn’t bother to pay the 8 Euros to get into the castle, especially given that we were only in it for the view of the lake.  Instead, we found a trail cut into the mountain that led up to a now unused door at the base of the castle.  The view was a little cluttered with foliage, but we could see the snow covered Alps and the steam from the train cutting across the mountainside and that was good enough for us!

We left Bled and headed east to get off of the beaten path for foreign tourists.  After several hours of driving, we finally reached the region of Logarska Dolina.  The views on the panoramic road are said to be incredible, so we set off in search of them.  As we quickly climbed the gravel switchbacks we found ourselves entering Alp heaven.  The moody, low hanging clouds gave the entire drive a vividness and moodiness that was incredible.  Thankfully we were in our car with heat, as the temperature hovered around 10* celsius.

Weaving through the hills, we found ourselves stopping every two minutes on the side of the narrow road to gawk and take photos of the incredible views.  I even found a cool ladder that led to a primitive treehouse overlooking an expanse of peaks, fresh with snow from the storm that had kept us up all night! It is hard to believe it is really the middle of June.

A lot of guessing was required in order to navigate on the road.  We took one wrong turn and even ended up on the Austrian border.  Whoops.  Not wanting to leave our precious Slovenia, we turned around to finish the panoramic road.

After exploring the nearby canyons a bit, and waiting what seemed like forever for the clouds to clear for some final photographs, we headed into Robanov Kot, a canyon where we were in search for a place to stay tonight.

This entire region is filled with families who operate their farms, as well as run bed and breakfasts out of their households.  Tonight we are staying at one such place.  It is awesome to meet a real family and eat real Slovenian food.  We even met a nice couple also staying here who just got married yesterday up on the scenic road we drove today.

Slovenia’s tourism motto is “I feel sLOVEnia”.   That is pretty much how we feel.  As we finish up our final days in this lovely country, we are really quite glad we got the chance to round out our experience and travel in a new way.  It is interesting to notice the things that we miss in the car, and how much less we appreciate the little  things.  At the same time, though, having the car for a few days has allowed us to visit this incredible valley in a way that would have been nearly impossible by bicycle.  At this rate, we don’t even need to see the Swiss Alps!

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