June 4th. I biked my way into Slovenia. And I must say…
Wow, this country is so incredibly green!! Fields, forests, trees, bushes, everywhere! I just entered heaven 🙂 great campingspots everywhere i look.
And the roads are very quite, beautiful, hilly, curved.. The whole country only holds 2 million people, I’m still trying to figure out why that is, because i can totally imagine living here. For sure this is my favourite country so far! Slovenia is the most westerly country of the Slav nations in Europe and many people speak English.
There is one big city, Ljubljana (pronounced Loob-Li-Ana; took me a while :p), in the middle of the country. Ljubljana is a nice warm city with a good vibe, lots of outside live but not too busy or touristy. The rest of the country is covered in green with small villages everywhere. So much peace, quiet, simple life. Almost everyone has a little garden to grow some vegetables, lots of land, great views. Wow, this is one amazing country, im in love again
A deer crossed the road, birds were singing, sheeps were bleating, cows muwhing, a snake mades it’s way towards me (brrrr scary, but such beautiful creatures!). Houses are usually farms with big pieces of land and piles of fresh-cut wood neatly stacked, ready for winter.
After asking someone for water and being reassured that the snakes are not venomous (his exact words: not really :/) and this area holds no bears, i found a fantastic camping spot, well hidden in the forest, overlooking the mountains.
Just to be sure, i put on long pants and a longsleeved shirt and kept my food far away from the tent. (Later i asked many people and they assured me it was safe to go camping. Anyways i tried to find hosts or ask for a campingspot in peoples gardens to be sure..)
I spent the night playing my harmonica 🙂
The next day i biked my way up to Ljubljana to meet with Joyce, jippie! She came to visit me and wanted to get a glimps of my new life, experience whats it like. So i arranged a couchsurfing host for the first night. He had many good references, but once i got there he was nothing like the guy i read about.. I was welcomed in a house full of blue smoke from the marihuana he was smoking all day, he kept on talking about drugs, guns, problems with the police. I was a little bit worried to bring Joyce here haha. But he seemed to be showingoff and joking and actually took really good care of me and Joyce, made us feel at home, cooked us Slovenian dinner and was kind enough to lend us his bike for a couple of days!! We wondered whether all Slovenians would be like him..
So the next morning Joyce and me started our biking trip towards lake Bled. I knew it was about 55 kilometers, but i had no clue about elevation differences and no clue about Joyce’s abilities to make it, but we were on the way! And wow, it was so nice to see someone looking at the world the same way i do. Everytime I looked at her, she had one very big smile from ear to ear, utterly enjoying the scenery, the biking, the outdoor, the time together. We sure are the same people and I would definitively marry her, if she didnt have a boyfriend and would be moving to Bonaire with him next month 😀 she knows how to follow her heart ❤
On the way we bought some delicious cherries along the road (they are everywhere!), we stopped to get a cold beer at the supermarket and we were moved to tears when the waitress offered to put some ice in our waterbottles, oh the joy of little things that become hugh pleasures!
Somehow we actually made it to lake Bled in one day! We entered through village Bled, a serene quiet place slowly getting conquered by tourism horror. It was build in 1947 as a getaway for Josip Broz Tito, the charismatic giant of post-war communism. Politically he gained great respect for standing up to Stalin in 1948, developing his own mix of socialism and capitalism and for pursuing a foreign policy of non-alignment. When he died in 1980 Slovenia was the first of the Yugoslavian countries to challenge the system and after some politics and a short war declared independence in 1992. Slovenians nowadays are proud they shook of the Yugoslavian era and have moved on into the European Union and the Eurozone. I read there’s a stereotype saying that Slovenians are always eager to someone outside to rule, like before it was Vienna (as part of the Austro-Hungarian empire), then it was Belgrade and now it is Brussels 😀
This information wasnt known to us at that time though; Joyce and I both hadn’t read into where we were going, nor did we see any pictures, so when we got our first view of the lake we couldn’t believe that is was real! So beautiful!! We started laughing out loud, hugging each other and felt the pain in the jaws from smiling so hard 😉 Off the bike, and into the water, yihaaaaaaa
There was a whole group of college students sitting along the water who apparently had been wanting to enter the water but needed some inspiration to actually do it. In no time there were about 20 people in the water with us, lovely 🙂
We spent some time in the grass, did some situps and pushups (you really get a lot of energy from sunshine, physical exercise, great company and happiness :p), biked along the lake and made our way to the campingsite. When we got there it looked very sad though, so many tourists, everybody laying on their towels at the beach, big big camping, ugh. We decided we didn’t want to stay there so we moved on, trying to find a better place to stay, a place to secretely pitch our tent.
We cooked some dinner at the stove, enjoyed the sunset, played the harmonica and layed our sleepingbags under a tree. We didn’t even bother to pitch the tent, just lay in our sleepingbags under the stars, accompanied by fireflies, with a great view over the seventeenth-century white castle up on the mountain and the Church of the Assumption on a small island in the middle of the lake. History and religion are considered two of communism greatest enemies, but here it was all around us 🙂 Slovenia sure shook it wings. At night I enjoyed the fireworks at the top of the mountain 🙂 (Joyce somehow slept through it :p)
We had two more days together so we decided to take our time and slowly find our way back to Ljubljana. We took it very easy in the morning, climbing this beautiful tree, jumping in the water a couple of times again 😀
That day we made it to the city of Kranj.
I had send a request on warmshowers to Maja to stay with her, but i had not received a reply yet. We decided to go and try to find her place and if not, we would bike along and do some more wildcamping. We entered the street Maja lives in but we had no clue which numbre. So we started looking at the names, i just ran the doorbell of some Maja and at the first shot it was her!! She had no hesitation and immediately welcomed us in her house, letting us camp out in her garden, isn’t that amazing?! Maja and her husband are both professional skydivers and they biked all over the world, showing us great books and telling beautiful stories. I was very happy Joyce got really inspired (I already was :p), and i hope we can bike again someday. She assured me she loves it a lot, yeay!! At night we walked around the beautiful historical and very quiet town and had a drink at the church cafe (interesting). The Slovenian wine was aweful (I tasted some very good ones at Ali’s though) and we switched to hot chocolate, which was more like a liquid chocolate bar than a drink, very thick, sooooo gooooood :D:D:D
We slept under the stars and Maja even made us polenta for breakfast. When Joyce was still sleeping, Maja showed me a video of a french couple biking in Mongolia, ooooowwwwwiieeeee, one day.. one day… 😀 (listen to Huun Huur Tu- Orphans Lament to get inspired)
The last day of our honeymoon had already arrived 😦 we biked back to Ljubljana,
bought great tasting and smelling strawberries from this beautiful lady in the middle of nowhere
had lunch in Tivoli park with this beautiful sculpture (free the bird!)
spent some time riding around the city and enjoyed some spinach Burek (so tasty!!).
While eating this gift from heaven we got into contact with a guy on the streets (David), who happened to be working at the tourist office, offering us some help. David and I exchanged numbers to meet up later. But first we had to bring the bike back to Ali and I walked Joyce to the busstation, before she really had to go 😦 just before leaving we found a quadrifolio
and I hope it will help us to always keep following our dreams and hearts. Joyce is a person who really understands how to do that. She made a very good point by putting it into words that we are the kind of persons who make changes not because we weren’t happy with our old lives (which somehow everybody seems to assume) but because we are ready for something else which might just be as nice as the life before or maybe even nicer (or worse, thats the risk you’re taking)! You don’t have to feel miserable to make big changes. Thank you Joyce for spending these absolutely perfect days with me, for being such a warm positive energy, I love you so much and I am sure we will make our paths cross again..
So she left.. and I was on my own again. She really refueled me though and I felt again so strong and happy, ready to conquer the world!
The next days I spent half and half with David, who was my private tour guide through Ljubljana and with Matic, my warmshower host, who was my private tour guide for the southern part of the country, where we would go by car everyday to these amazingly beautiful places to either go biking (with no luggage, yeay!) or hiking through the great great forests and canyons. He took really good care of me and we enjoyed so much, because we have the exact same idea about how to live and enjoy live. Into the wild!! As much as time in nature as possible, mountains, no people, talking to the birds, screaming from the top of our lungs (that was fun :p) and jumping in the freezing water without hesitation, aaaahhh that feels so good!! So alive!
David and Matic both really knew where to take me and I felt so so spoiled and lucky 🙂 David told me about the city, the country, the history (thank you!), the dragonssssssss…. He took me around the city, up the skyscraper, to city hall, on a boat tour along the river and we drank beers high up on the castle wall, watching the thunder over the city, that was very special. I realize now i took very few pictures of Ljubljana, but believe me, it is worth visiting! I dont really like the big cities, but this city doesn’t feel big, there is a very relaxed atmosphere, good vibes. A beautiful river right through the city with many bars and restaurants on both sides, everybody outside enjoying the wheather and the life.
This river, called Sava, which i came to follow into Croatia later on, originates in the Julian Alps and grows to become one of the significant rivers of Central Europe, forming the northern border of Croatia and Bosnia and swelling to join the Danube in Belgrade.
Matic is a dreamer and we had great conversations dreaming about building a house in the middle of the forest, growing your own vegetables, keeping bees, spending winters in Costa Rica (his biggest dream), etc, etc. It was a lot of fun. I like to dream. Dream about a more simple and quiet life, lots of sunshine, lots of nature. Could I ever go back to my very serious job, work so hard, in such a cold country, where everybody lives inside most of the year, I’m starting to seriously doubt this.. Slovenia in June is the perfect place to think about these things 🙂 I’m not done travelling yet, so much more to explore, but Slovenia will be in the back of my mind, for sure.
In the mean time i was happy to hear from Nino, my host in Trieste. We were having great talks about dreams as well and my presence and questions got him to think about his again. He told me he always wanted to sing, but he doesn’t like his voice. When in Slovenia, he sent me a message that he booked his very first singing class though! I was so happy to hear this! And also, he was looking for a sailing boat to do some trips around, sail to Sicily (where he comes from) and maybe around the world! Wow. I couldnt believe it. In Ljubljana things got even stranger. Matic told his boss he was quiting his job, after spending time with me for two days. He always wanted to do that and go to Costa Rica but he was pessimistic about his abilities to make his dreams come true. I was the last drop, he told me. I had told him he could at least try to make them come true and if it doesn’t work out, he can easily go back to his old life.. Oops, i didnt realize it would have such a big impact. Oh god, I have to be careful with my dreams and questions..
After three days in Ljubljana it was time for me to leave David, Matic and Ljubljana behind and get on the road again, direction Zagreb. I biked beautifully along the river Sava to my next warmshower hosts: Marjan and Branca and their three children.
They live absolutely amazing in wide open space, no fences, lots of fireflies and stars, lots of nature around. They are both very nice and interesting people I can really relate to and I felt at home from the very first second. That’s very special! They are both active and sporty people who like to travel a lot, but at the same time so peaceful, relaxed and funny, i want to be like that! We had great talks and I could play their guitar. It was so nice that I asked to stay another night, get a little rest after these crazy days in Slovenia with almost no sleep, taking time to write this blog post. He eve got me a little on my way the next day 🙂
Taking my hosts advice, my last day brought me biking all along the river Sava up to Silvo and his fantastic ecological farm. I took an outside shower, we picked vegetables and fruits fresh from the trees and plants, he made me fantastic vegan dinner, i played some harmonica in the hammock and on his friends birthday party, spontaneously dropped into a jazz concert and he really inspired me with the way he arranges his life.
Tomorrow I will leave the country, follow the rest of the river Sava and find my way into Croatia, to visit Zagreb, and then go back to the coast where I will meet with my father the end of the month. Yeay, I am so happy he is coming! I surely am the happiest girl in the world again 😀