Thankfully after the blow-up toys were deflated and the sun went down, the small army of children at our rec-center/campground dispersed and we enjoyed a quiet night. Morning came too early, though, and I had a hard time dragging myself out of bed. Considering how well our last “on the road early day” went, we finally got up, had a quick breakfast of leftover tortellini and granola, and set off into Karst.
The Slovenian border crossing, as would be expected on all EU borders, was uneventful. At least there was a sign this time! Our GPS again routed us on the freeway, but luckily we caught it just as we rolled on to the on ramp. Gratefully, the freeway was dead silent, probably due to the early hour, and we were able to backtrack our way on to safer roads. We are seriously going to have to start manually routing more often, as it seems to be a bit more reliable.
We rode through the rolling hills of scrubby yet insanely green woods, staying on very quiet roads in spite of their highway status. The scenery was quite beautiful. The woods were dispersed by small fields of a wild looking grain or hay, with a few pastures where milk cows were grazing. The churches here have changed in style yet again. It is interesting how such small distances can yield such different style of architecture and culutre. I was also surprised at how loud the forests here are, though. Between the birds, the crickets, and a myriad of other insects, you can hardly hear yourself think! I will gladly take those sounds over the drone of cars that we were plagued with on the coast though.
After a grocery stop in Postojna, we pedaled the final two kilometers to our campsite. When our GPS notified us that we were ‘arriving on the right”, we saw only a sign for the campground, leading uphill into the woods. While it was unfortunate to have to climb some undefined distance into the woods to our campground when we were already feeling a little tired from being back in the hills, the ride was absolutely beautiful. The road was not too steep and very well paved, and the quiet green woods surrounding us were dense and, as seems to be the case everywhere in Slovenia, very green.
We finally made it to our campground 3 km up the green canyon. The campground sits atop a lush gorge carved out of limestone, with stairs leading down the steep walls to the river and mouth of a cave where the river runs. This is the first time that we have actually felt like we were truly camping in the traditional sense. We are in a canyon, at least 5 or 10 km out from the nearest town, and our site is nestled on a gravel pitch surrounded by a mixture of oak and pine. The river which runs down the gorge can be heard in the background, and the facilities are surprisingly nice.
Slovenia has been a very pleasant surprise for us. Having only 3 months ago barely been able to point to it on a map, we are quickly falling in love with it. The people have been surprisingly friendly – we get waves and smiles on the streets – which is a dramatic change from many of the places we have visited thus far.