Daily Digest – Day 81 to Day 91 (SLOVENIA)

Day 81 – 23 August 2018

Lovran, Croatia to Vrhnika, Slovenia

Transport: Bicycles with a bit of #hikeabike action 😮 101.5km at 17.7km per hour (1308m elevation gain)

Total recall: Today was the day…the day when we would press the reset button and do what many people would consider madness…to ride a bike fully self supported across Europe. As you would be aware the last 10 days have involved a lot of R&R being chaperoned around the Croatian coast by my sister Tina and her partner Goran. I won’t recap this period again but suffice it to say it was with heavy hearts 😢 both myself and Emm said farewell to these guys as we departed Lovran to recommence our journey on the bikes.

Now the Croatian coast has one main road which you can ride along if you are heading towards Slovenia (North). However riding this road is like playing Russian roulette as Cro drivers can be a bit enthusiastic behind the wheel and there is no shoulder to speak of on most roads. Bearing this in mind we decided to take the suggested route by Cycle.travel website which had us traversing some old mountain roads high up above the coastal road. This seems good in theory until you hit a walking path (at less than 2km into the ride!) which is deemed ‘rideable’ and you end up pushing the bicycles over baby sized boulders and steep loose embankments for over an hour…good start to the journey 🙄.

#hikeabike at 1.93km into ride VIDEO

Now we can be a bit stubborn so instead of turning around and risking the easier (but much busier) coastal road we forged ahead and did a #hikeabike section. We were both sweating bullets emerging out of the forrest canopy and did not have much respite before the road turned near vertical climbing steep old mountain roads in the 20+ degree slope constantly 🚴‍♀️. We stuck with it and before we knew it we had crossed the border into Slovenia acquiring our first border control stamp since landing in Stockholm all those distant days ago.
Now we had plans at the start of the day of easing back into the swing of things but as it started nearing dark and we still had over 40km to cover we knew it was time to put the hammer down.

Emm had arranged a #warmshowers stay last minute with a Slovenian local Bojan in the town Vrhnika. We managed to get there just on 9.40pm. Late, I know and we felt bad…but Bojan was a champ staying up a bit later to have a brief chat with us and also providing gifts from his vegetable garden including the most tasty habanero chilli I have ever eaten (called a Dorset Haga).

Bojan closed out the night by giving a brief rendition on the his ocordian – just wow! We packed it in shortly after as we were both cooked!

#TheCasualtyList…Items worth counting on this epic…
Hazelnut spread jar count: 14
Jam jar count: 10 (2 jars from berries we picked ourselves)
Honey jar count: 2
Speculoose: 2
Tires Worn Away: 2
Brake pads cooked: 4
Gear cables: 1
Chains: 4
# fuel bottles: 3 litres of denatured alcohol, 1x 250g gas bottle
# Sporks broken: 1
# knives broken: 1
# knicks destroyed/used beyond use: 1
# shoes broken: 1 pair sandals
# novelty sunnies from Kurt: 1
# novelty straw hats from Kurt: 2 (lost somewhere in the Mediterranean ☹️)

Days 82 to 91

Vrhnika and Triglav National Park, Slovenia

Day 82 Dancing in the rain ☔️: we woke up this morning and had a apple cinnamon porridge (Bojan had provided apples straight from his garden 😘). Bojan joined us towards the end of breaky and introduced us to his cats and dog.

He showed us around his extensive vege patch which had a strong chilli presence in one corner (Carolina reapers, ghost peppers, Thai chillis and an assortment of other chillis I don’t even know the name of 😍).

He also showed us his #bossAF Bob Ivex bike trailer (add the the Xmas list please 😍.

Beau dreams of a trailer VIDEO

Bojan also gave a rendition on his accordion and despite him saying he was an amateur we were both very impressed with his skills. Em also has a solid turn lol.

Bojan Accordian with a Beau dance VIDEO

Now we had planned to head towards Lake Bled later this morning but it started raining hard 😬. Bojan and his wife Andreja were super hospitable and offered us to stay on with them for the next 4 nights (as rain/thunder aggedon was descending on Vrhnika). It was a pretty quick decision on our part (especially from a safety point of view). Once we had locked this in Bojan put on his tour leader cap and drove us to his cousins Janez (pronounced yaaa-neez) place nearby. Janez is a master craftsman who has worked as a professional accordion builder his while life. His house is adjacent to his old family home which itself is 100’s of years old and has been fully restored to its former hay day glory. It has an old black kitchen which perhaps only photos can give you an appreciation of.

Janez was a real champ and spent a lot of his personal time showing us around and shared a coffee with us afterwards.
We left Janez’s place then drove up to the top of Planina (local hilltop with a new mountain cottage/hut). At the top there is a 25m Wooden tower which we climbed and this provided some pretty special panoramic views of Vrhnika and the surrounding valleys.

It was getting dark by the time we rolled home (about 8.30pm) so we cooked a quick dinner then called it.
Day 83 #rainaggedon descends: this morning we had some fresh eggs (farm eggs courtesy of Bojan and Andreja 😋) and then went out back to help them sort some grapes they had picked so they could make juice from them.

Making Grape Juice VIDEO

Bojan suggested we check out the local Technical Museam of Slovenia due to the rainy conditions and he was kind enough to give us a lift there.

We decided to walk back as the sky had a clear patch but as we neared town the heavens opened up once more and despite having waterproof pants and jackets we still got a little wet as there is no clothing which prevents sideways rain 😂.

Getting Wet VIDEO

The rest of the day was spent indoors trying to warm up again and watching some of the Vuelta with Bojan.

Day 84 rain rain go away…: today was pretty much a repeat of yesterday with respect to weather and we spent most of the day planning a hiking adventure in the Slovenian Triglav National Park. Bojan is pretty much a bonafide mountain guide expert and knows the Slovenian alps like the back of his hands. He was instrumental in helping us plan a route and even decided to he would join us on the one we had planned together 😝. Needless to say the Warm Showers experience was stepping into the stratosphere and we seriously count ourselves so fortunate to have crossed paths with this legend. As the hiking trip forms part of this post I’ll leave the deets till later.
In the late arvo the sky did clear for a bit so we took out our bikes (well Boyan’s and Andrea’s mtbs) and went for a cruise around Vrhnika. It was a pleasant spin and we capped it off with some Slovenian speciality cake from a local cafe – prekmurska gibanica! We cruised back home shortly after and the day was done.

prekmurska gibanica – a Slovenian speciality

Day 85 sunshine lollipops…: the sun had finally decided to make a reappearance so we decided to strip the touring gear and go for our first road spin in a loooong time. Boyan road in the wind for us aboard his beautiful vintage Colnago. We cruised a super steep berg to this pretty cool church.
Nutella Belly and back on the Bike VIDEO

Learning Slovenian whilst climbing VIDEO

Cresting the Berg VIDEO

Emma’s Berg Recap VIDEO
We then loops back to Vrhnika for some pizza and Ghoulash. The Ghoulash is the way to go when in the more Slavic countries and easily outstripped the pizza in taste and cost! (Note to self always order like a local 🙄) and for only 3.5 euro! Bargin

We then went home via the shops and prepared the gear and food for the 3 day hut to hut hike we had planned and would commence tomorrow.

When we got home we were pleasantly surprised with news that big sister/sister in law Tina had got engaged with Goran that day! Goran had taken her to lake Bled (50km from where we were staying in Vrhnika!) and proposed on the world renowned lake (Goran your setting the bar pretty high here didn’t anyone tell you to start low 😂- jokes of course only the best for sis Tins 🙂).We were both super excited to hear this news and so happy for both of them. Tina and Goran congrats, you two balance each other and we hope you have a long lasting and loving marriage (when you do tie the knot that is…)

We called it pretty early 9.30pm as we had a early start planned for the hike in Triglav tomorrow.

Day 86 Triglav ⛰ : we woke up early like 4.30am early 😳. It was straight in the car and we were off to Triglav National Park. It was guns blazing as Emm set a hot tempo heading up the hill towards our nominated breaky stop for the morning at the Jezera mountain hut.

It was here that we found out we had left the block of cheese all the way back in the fridge at home ☹️. However luck was on our side as we were literally walking through cow fields and the hut sold some locally made cow cheese (half a kilo for £8 not bad considering the location).
Cheese for Sale in Triglav Hills VIDEO

We continued on the way up towards Prehodovich hut located at an altitude of 2070m and our destination for the night. We had to ascend through a rocky valley to get there which wasn’t bad going up and we were all chugging along at a good Tempo and even overtaking a group.

Emma’s loser hat VIDEO

However, when we crested and had to go through some rocky rollers to the finish the downs were definitely slow going due to the loose rock.

The first hut is in sight VIDEO

There were no incidents thankfully and we arrived just on lunch at our mountain hut for the nights stay – Prehodavci. Prehodavci is a mountain hut located at 2070m above sea level and is owned by the Planinska Zveza Slovenje (aka alpine association of Slovenia 🇸🇮) or PZS for short. Now a #hottip for anyone considering doing multiply day hikes in most alpine regions should consider getting membership with a mountain association of the country as you get highly discounted board for hut stays amongst other discounts. We did this literally the day before and were paying £11.50 pp per night! This was for a bed in a shared room dormitory which may not be for everyone but if you go camping regularly this is still a much more comfortable sleep in my opinion. A mad bonus is a lot of the associations work in partnership so discounts apply in other mountain regions in other countries 😆 #europeonashoestring. It was definitely a lazy affair that afternoon as we read books drifting in and out of consciousness with the grandeur scenery for backdrop. Life can be grand every now and again 👌.

Dinner was a simple affair and the sunset going over the mountain top really blew us away. So beautiful.

Unbelievable Sunset VIDEO

We capped off the night learning Tarok a Card game popular in Slovenia and similar to Briscola I would say. Def keen to learn this game properly. It was lights out at 10pm this being a hut and people prob wanting early starts.

Day 87 Triglav intermission: we woke up to the sounds of shuffling and buckles clipping as others were packing up and getting ready for their own hikes for the day. We got up and had a quick hot breaky courtesy of our small gas stove (SOTO microregulator) we had hiked up with and were off around 8am. We had about 2 hours descending through the picturesque 7 lakes valley until we reached the 2 lakes hut (Koča pri Triglavskih Jezerih).

Yeeewwww along the way VIDEO

Emma the Mountain Goat VIDEO

The 2 lakes hut is a bigger one and we were fortunate not to have decided to sleep here the night before as it was choca-full and people were forced to sleep outside under the eves. You should note that when hiking in most of the Alps you have to sleep at a mountain hut (often spaced 2-4 hours apart) and you cannot free/wild camp (fines are common). Either way the hut made for a good pit stop for an early lunch. We got going pretty quickly as we still had about another 7km to our final stop.

We made the Komna valley after another couple of hours and came in view of our hut for the night – Koča pod Bogatinom. This hut was of a pretty descent size but surprisingly we were 1 of only 3 groups present. The other 2 groups departed after a quick feed leaving us as the only guests for the hut for the night! Now Bojan informed me this can happen on huts not on the main Triglav ‘tourist trail’ but it is good to know for possibly future expositions as the views are just as good as the 7 lakes valley walk in my opinion and you get a lot more space to yourself (always a goal when in the wild).

Koča pod Bogatinom Hut Arrival VIDEO

We had a early dinner and were soon getting stuck into Tarock the card game we had learned the night before. Now I’m not saying I’m a weapon at cards or anything but somehow I ended up for the night against the seasoned vet Bojan and the mountain goat 🐐 Emm. It definitely had nothing to do with Emm practically falling asleep in her card hand and Bojan taking sympathy on her and looking to rap up the card game 🤔. Either way we were all in bed by 9pm!

Day 88 Triglav the final act: We were up and had the gas stove going just on 7am and we hitting the trail by 8am. We were keen to get under way as the forecast for the afternoon was rain with thunderstorms ⛈. The walk from Koča pod Bogatinom up around 500m vertical to Bregarjeva zavetišče via Črno jezero (the 7th lake of the 7 lake valley) over 12km was technically not difficult but had us all vibing a big lunch when we arrived.

Approaching the finish line almost VIDEO

We hooked into pate tuna, salami and bread – simple but delicious when you are #hooongry.

We decided we had enough time up our sleeves to hike the iconic Pršivec lookout (arguably one of the best lookouts in the Triglav National Park).

Beau and Bojan at the Lookout VIDEO

This was the high point for the walk today so it was all downhill to back to the car (about another 2hrs hiking). We decided to hightail it to the closest pizza joint (Picerija Moby Dick in Brezje just off the highway) which had a great assortment of chilli sauces and excellent Italian style wood fired pizzas 🍕. Needless to say In our severe calorie deficit states we were all hooking in and not a slice was left 😋. 4/5 on #BeausChilliScale.

Afterwards we cruised back home and as the rain picked up we all quietly patted ourselves on the back for making the most of the short period of good weather undertaking a seriously unreal hiking adventure. Both Emm and myself can really recommend the hiking adventures in Triglav and would happily come back to Slovenia as a hiking destination.

Day 89 Ljubljana: we decided to dust the cobwebs off the bike and ride a return ride to the Slovenian capital Ljubljana. We wanted to scope the city and get some gear only available at this bigger town. We rode a pretty uneventful 25km to the capital and got some sleeping bag liners, a walking pole and some packable backpacks from Decathalon (a massive budget chain for all things outdoors). Whilst in town we decided to try and roll a Borek establishment and came across this place run by an Albanian which was running Borek at a measly £1.80 for a massive quarter slice cheese borek 😍. The borek was fresh and seriously good (I mean how can pastry with almost melting cow milk cheese not be good 😆).

Properly fuels we then cruised back to Vrhnika. The ride back was a wet one with the rain starting up again but we were well prepared and had a cycle path the whole back so it was still a good overall ride. The rest of the day was spent reading books and relaxing. What else are rainy days for…

Days 90 and 91: I’m giving a super quick recount ofthese days together as they have both followed the same pattern. The weather for the weekend (sat and sun) was forecasted as rainy with thunderstorms. We had originally planned to depart yesterday on Friday but with the forecast had forestalled more out of safety than anything. Riding in the rain is part of touring but when there are heavy rains with thunder on the cards we look for shelter. Bojan and Andreja were super cool and were happy for us to stay on with the oncoming weather front (seriously this family are so amazingly hospitable we find it really humbling 🙂). On both sat and sun the morning periods seemed to be the best to get outdoors so we got up early each day and hiked up and around the local Vrhnika hill (Planina). During each day we then chilled out, ate tons of food (justifying the consumption with the upcoming road kms 😆) and finally got our bikes and gear prepped for riding again (touring has become a distant memory for us 😬).

Rainy day baking with apples from the trees here!

Cook Ups in Slovenia VIDEO

Last but definitely not least to note is that Emm’s 31st bday was on Sunday 2nd September. It was definitely a quiet and reserved affair enjoying all of Emm’s favourite things in life…food: cheese borek, apple strudel, yogurt and oats 😂.
Bojan and Andreja surprised us both and gave Emm Kremsnita cake (a cream style cake popular from the lake Bled region) and a couple of home made pencil cases to store all the bike paraphernalia as a gift.

We want to give a shout out to Bojan and Andreja who have really gone above and beyond as hosts in Slovenia. We originally planned to blow through Slovenia on our way to Austria but have now been in the same area for over a week 😳. Because of Bojan and Andreja we have been able to enjoy some of the spectacular scenery Slovenia has to offer and have really felt at home in their house. We love the extensive vegetable garden they have given us access to and more than anything we have really enjoyed their company which when travelling long term is the thing we find ourselves seeking the most. We can’t thank you guys enough and really hope you both find sometime in the future to come holiday in Australia with us. We really hope our paths cross again 🤞 so until that time…farewell. Lots of love from 2 Aussies touring with a sense of urgency 🙂.

#TheCasualtyList…Items worth counting on this epic…
Hazelnut spread jar count: 14
Jam jar count: 10 (2 jars from berries we picked ourselves)
Honey jar count: 2
Speculoose: 2
Tires Worn Away: 2
Brake pads cooked: 4
Gear cables: 1
Chains: 4
Handlebar tape: 2 rolls (1 roll equals 1 handlebar)
# fuel bottles: 3 litres of denatured alcohol, 1x 250g gas bottle
# Sporks broken: 1
# knives broken: 1
# knicks destroyed/used beyond use: 1
# shoes broken: 1 pair sandals
# novelty sunnies from Kurt: 1
# novelty straw hats from Kurt: 2 (lost somewhere in the Mediterranean ☹️)

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