From Maribor to Ljubljana: tea with Tina, pedalling with Polona


Friday 31st July

Miles: 66

After a bit of a dull week off we finally packed up our gear and were on our way.

We set off in overcast weather. We had anticipated a short day, but wiggly roads and sneaky inclines that were masquerading as flats all added up to full day’s cycling.

The scenery was pretty: green hills and distant mountains.



The sun came out in the afternoon. After a long, steady incline we whizzed down a narrow road which was squeezed in between the mountains. A lot of fun!
imageWe arrived at our campsite and snacked on some apples that were growing on one of the trees.

In the evening I was checking my emails when I received a message from one of my old friends, Tina. We worked together many years ago in 2008. It turned out that Tina lived just 20 minutes away from my campsite! She came to meet me, and we had a drink at the bar before taking a night tour of Tina’s home, the small and pretty town of Zalec.

We ended up at another bar. It was a chilly night so we had tea and the bar staff gave us blankets (so civil!). It was great to see Tina again, and such a surprising and different way to end the day.

I crept back the tent at midnight, through some very long, damp grass. Eric was snoring away. I was knackered. Time for bed.

Saturday 1st August

Miles: 58, plus a few more around Ljubljana…

A surprisingly cold night made it hard to sleep, and I woke up feeling tired and ravenous, having used a lot of energy keeping warm.

Today we would be meeting my dad’s friend from work, a lady named Polona, who would be putting us up for the night. I emailed her in the morning to let her know we should arrive at her place by about 1 o’clock.

The scenery was beautiful… and also very uphill for the first 3 hours.

As time wore on we became more and more stressed about making it to see Polona on time. Hunger pangs forced us to the side of the road to scoff some gigantic marmalade-filled doughnuts, while texting Polona to let her know we would be arriving by 2.30, not 1.

I took this picture moments before spilling warm marmalade down myself. It went everywhere.

We continued on into Ljubljana, stopping at a McDonalds (free wifi) to email Polona as we weren’t sure if our text had arrived. We were still feeling stressed and worried that we were delaying her weekend plans.

On the way into the city we were stopped by a no-cycling sign on one of the roads. Frustrated, we re-plotted our route. A few miles later we came across another no-cycling sign. We looked at the map and realised that unless we cycled back twenty miles there was no legal way for us to enter the city. Angry and stressed, we crossed our fingers and rode on, hoping that we wouldn’t be fined… again!

Our luck held, we reached Ljubljana without the intervention of any unwelcome police cars! We wouldn’t be making it by 2.30 as promised. We called to let Polona know, but the signal was bad and we didn’t think we had gotten through. Visions of Polona waiting around on her Saturday made me feel very guilty indeed. Confusing cycle lanes, more no-cycling roads and unexpected flights of stairs left us angry and frustrated. We hadn’t had such a stressful day in a long time.

We finally arrived at Polona’s place at 3. She spotted us as we pulled up and welcomed us into her house, waving away our apologies without a second thought.

The stress melted away as she introduced us to the whole family: her husband Andre, her parents and her son, Nate. We had a seat outside and they served us a delicious barbecue lunch with lots of traditional foods from the region, including a type of Bosnian sausage called “chibabchichi” (no idea what the correct spelling is).

After a wonderful relaxed lunch and a shower we set off for a rather late tour of Ljubljana, starting at 5.30. We were driven around in Polona and Andre’s car being shown a few sights, including a lake where the locals go…

The four of us then got onto bikes and had a whistle stop tour around the city centre, with Polona and Andre giving a running commentary of the sights.

For the first time in a long time I was riding my very own bike. It was fun to have some independence, but it did mean I took hardly any photos…

image image image
OK maybe a few…

image image Ljubljana is a capital city with an intimate and friendly atmosphere. There’s beautiful buildings, cobblestoned streets, art and interesting things to see everywhere. It’s a shame that we only had a few hours!

image image image
At 9.30PM we sat down and had a garlic sausage with mustard and horseradish from the best sausage place in Ljubljana (according to our expert hosts). We were back at our room for the night by 10.30, feeling pretty exhausted, but it was worth the effort.



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