(written by Nancy)
Today we crossed back into the EU when we entered our 17th country – Slovenia. So far it has been great – a beautiful green and lush countryside, nice people, big grocery stores full of all kinds of good food (!) and lots of good riding.
We only had a little over 20k to ride in Croatia before we hit the border. The crossing was no issue, stamp out and stamp in, no questions – we have officially started our 90-day clock running again. The landscape has changed significantly from the last couple of weeks, quickly changing as we moved away from the water. The temperature is much cooler – I think we only got to about 27C or so today, perfect cycling weather.
Shortly after crossing into Slovenia we took a side road to get off the main road to get away from some of the traffic. It took us up and over a decent sized hill with many switchbacks and views out to a valley filled with farms. We rode through a little town called Knezak and then back down the other side and joined up with the main road again at Pivka. While we haven’t been through Austria yet, many of the houses we saw along the way looked like those that you often associate with Austria – lots of steep-sloped roofs, scalloped wooden ornamentation along the roof lines and flower boxes filled with red and pink geraniums hanging from balconies. Very picturesque, especially in the sunshine.
After several stops for pictures and cold drinks we finally rolled into Postojna just before 2pm. We saw what looked like a big shopping center at the edge of town and pulled in to see if we could get the sim for the phone sorted out and get some groceries. No luck on the sim there but we did resupply our food bags to overflowing.
We headed into the city center to find a phone shop and happened to ride right by the youth hostel so pulled in to check it out as a possible accommodation option. Well, we could tell right away that it might be problematic – the area was filled with at least a hundred kids (boys), all dressed in sports outfits and bouncing basketballs. Just for grins I went it to see what they had to say – the poor lady at the reception looked really tired. She said they were really full with all the kids there for a basketball tournament but did have one room on the fourth floor. She wasn’t too encouraging about it, shaking her head, pointing at all the boys. We decided we’d rather head for the campground we knew was nearby than spend 32€ on a hostel filled with hundreds of basketball-bouncing 15-year olds.
After a bit of searching we found a phone shop but it took almost 1 ½ hours to get the sim purchased and working – turned out the saleslady forgot to activate the phone number but couldn’t figure out why it wouldn’t work….oh, the joys of entering a new country. Anyway, Dave said she was very pleasant and it worked out in the end.
We finally headed off to the campground just before 5pm. The campground is out near the famous caves in this area – apparently one of the top tourist destinations in Slovenia. The campground is quite a ways off the road, which meanders through the forest. Just as we started to think we had missed a turnoff somewhere we came around a corner and there it was. It is actually a really nice campground, completely different to those we had in Croatia. It is really in the forest, filled with tall pine trees and sites that are nicely spread out. And the facilities are good as well – even a small kitchen!
We met a very nice couple from Germany, Matthais and Julie and their daughter Francesca, who are in a spot near to us, who kindly offered us a glass of wine after dinner, a real chair to sit in and some nice conversation. And, we have a potential place to visit as we pass through Germany. Another couple cycle touring also arrived after we had set up camp – they are from Switzerland and are on a 4 week tour down to Italy.
The nicer cooler temperatures should make it much more pleasant sleeping in the tent tonight, though the bathrooms are bit of a walk for those midnight wake-ups. Tomorrow we may take a side trip to see a bit of the caves and a castle nearby and then the plan is to make it up to Skofja Loka. We are tempted to stay another day here as it seems like a very nice spot but we will see how things feel in the morning.
The mobile reception isn’t great here so Dave says limited pictures today. Off to sleep now – all this socializing makes for a late night for us.