Heading to Europe's finest tiniest country to travel to. Slovenia. Green. Mountains. Just what we need. First we took the DB autozug to Inssbruck. Where we left, wideawake after a good night sleep. It is so great to wake up surrounded by the mountains. First days in the Alps. From Innsbruck, to Lake Sell (Sell am Zee) Here we found our third piece of art from the legendary Hundertwasser, an artist and architect from Austria. The other two pieces from his hand we found in Uelzen in 2016, Niedersachsen Germany. This is a complete Bahnhof. And in 2015; New Zealand North Island. In KawaKawa Hundertwasser build a complete toiletblock. Ofcourse we made a stop to pis :)
From Sell am Zee we rode southwards over the Großglockner Hochalpenstraße to the border of Italy. The Alps are just wonderfull and so great to ride! But it is a bit of a circus up there - motorbikes, cyclists, people in cars......Great thing though that only bikers directly can go up to the parking lot, most of the time the cars have to wait in a row for at least 15 minutes.
We slept on a nice farmstay in Austria, where the drunk owner lived with his son on a tricycle... the son was just so aggitaded about our visit and he shouted Wheelie! Wheelie! He was so funny.Next we drove through some very small roads, made a quick stop at an Italian village for some groceries, ofcourse....... We made our way through the smallest mountain passes we could find on the map to cross the border with Slovenia.....
Then we entered Slovenia. And entered one of the most spectactulair rides in this country, the Mangart Mountain Range. The road up is narrow, but good asphalt though. The views are impressive. It is one way. On the end of this warm day we slept in Bohin, a place that is famous for the River Soca. Lots of canoeing, rafting and other stuf. But is was busy and crowded at the campsite so we decided to travel on eastwards, looking for a more laid back area. We travelled to the north part of Slovenia, and had to go over the Vršič pass. It's beautiful with cobble stones in the hairpinbends. Image what it is driving when wet! But good riding though.This pass has 50 hairpins, and only 1611 meters high. This is how you enter Triglav National Park.
The nothern part of Slovenia, to Austria border is also busy. There is a highway and a railway. But we took the opportunity to travel to Lake Bled (sigh) and lake Bohinj. A cable car took us up to Vogel Ski area. On our way back we took some very small farm backroads, along Radovna. Close to Triglav, Slovenia's highest giant on 2864 meter. Next day we took again some mountain passes in the North, crossing Austria border again and went south. It started to rain cats and dogs. Under the roof of a covered, open space sporting ground we could stop so we could safely take a look on the map. It was time to discover de famous Spa's that Slovenia is known for. So we zippered our rainsuits again and headed to Thermen Topolsica. Here we spend some days, all inclusive, in the pools and sauna's. The bikes were safe in the garage.
From Velenje we took the unsealed roads in the Kumen - Smolnik Region, near Pohorje Mountains. It was a very beautiful day. we passed thick woods and wondered if there were any bears here. No encounter though. There were a lot of dead end roads, paths leading to only some small villages. In the end we surrendered and took the paved road to Maribor. We were heading to the famous medieval town Ptuj.
Next they we went looking for some Mitras-archeological sites, Mithras shrine I and III. These are very special Mithras Temples from 200AD. It was a very old religion which became a mysteriecultus in the Roman Empire.
Ofcourse, as in every trip we make, wine-areas and vineyards are not to be missed!! Always interesting cause of the landscape, the climate, the terroir, the hills, local arieites of grapes, together it makes the wine what the wine is. We decided to go to Jerusalem, no to be missed in Slovenia, near the border of Croatia. We ended up in the start-up campsite of Simona and her husband, . They build it up themselfs and is very quite and nice place, Templarjevo posestvo. They even have a bathtub, nice toilets and a bonfire spot.
We rented mountainbikes and cycled up en down the hills near Jerusalem. There are no cyclepathways, so we took a gravel road when we got fed up by the speeding cars and trucks. Awfull! But the gravelroad went up very steep and thus Lilian had to walk and stumble up the hill. Not funny!
The next days the temperatures would riser above 35 degrees (Celcius). Time for a break in the shade near the river! Otocec here we come! Beautiful spot near the river Krki. But first we rode only little roads, churches abnd castles everywhere in the east-border Croatia part, Kozjanski Park. It was a hot day.
From Otocec, near Novo Mesto we had a really nice ridingday. Through the thick forrests of Southern Slovenia, bear country. A lot of gravel road, we had a lot of fun. We passed a abandoned village on top of the Hill, called Kocevje. Here lived German Settlers, for more than 4 centuries. Now it is abandond and protected nature area. You still can find ruines of the houses,church and sawmill. A real ghosttown. We passed the city of Gorenje to do some groceries, so we could picknick in the woods. Kocevje is Slovenia's largest forested area. Part of the forest is even old wild forest.
Slovenia is unique to its healthy and growing bears population. There are between 500 and 700 brown bears in the country. Most brown bears live in the forests of Kocevje. We did not know when we were riding there. Kocevjski Rog is a plateau in the woods that has become famous for the massacres of Slovene Nazi collaborators and their families. Presumably between 10,000 and 12,000 people would be killed here right after the war in 1945. You can not imagine if you see the beautiful and peaceful nature here. Several grave sites were not even known to the public until 1980s due to the democratic changes.
We stayed at a former official campsite. The owners Jurre and his wife, are a ecological farmers. Jurre is the 7th generation living there. Imagine that! He therefore hopes so that his eldest son will be a famer as well. He and his wife are really nice people and sometimes they let in tourists at their backyard although they do not own a campsite anymore. We camped in the orchard, under the apple trees, with a big view over the lake. The lake fils up with water once in a while and dry out again. This year was a dry year and the water didnt reach the village. Jurre explained us about system of dry-dropped lake. First of all you need a karst soil. Karst will disolve in water over the years so in milions years caves and underground rivers are formed everywhere. In times of rain they fill up and at some point the whole system will overflow and the lake appears. And disappears in dry times.
Also the bears are roaming there, Jurre told that you can find poo everywhere around the hamlet that Dane is. I thought I even heard them roar in the morning......but Jurre thought that is was probably not the case...but later I found out that the bears even came to his orchard to pick the fruit.... any way we had a guided tour to the bears in the inadjacent forests. We sat down quite for one hour, our stomachs started to ache but then! There they are! This evening there were 9 bears who roamed around. A record according to the guide. He even had to make noise to scare the mother with 3 cubs away because she wassnt planning to go by herself when it was already dark. In the pitch dark we had to climb of the ladder. I was glad that I saw earlier in the evening that the guide had a pistol attached to him.....
Next day we did an inmense touristic thing, visiting the Postojna Jama (cave) but honestly, worth every f tourist of it. Busy but what an impressive state of nature they are. Massive and impressive! More than 14 kilometers hallway system with the most beautiful cave-galleries you will ever see on earth!
Last stretch from Venice to Innsbruck we took a pass I never rode before; Yes! the Passo di Penes oder Pennesjoch. It is beautiful.
And then last but not least, we had a cherry on top of the cake in VENICE! No words, just pics.