14 May Bicycle Touring Slovenia, part 1
After 36 hours, our ferry finally arrived in Trieste…6 hours late, but just in time for sunrise, which was lucky for us, since we were not sure where to go to at 01.30 am in Trieste anyway.
We quickly gathered our belongings and our bikes and rode into town to grab a coffee, pastry, and to get on the internet to figure out where to go.
Before getting on the ferry, we contacted a Warm Showers host close to Trieste to see whether we could set up camp in his yard when arriving in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, the host was in the middle of renovating his house and had to work, but was able to give us valuable information, on where we could have stayed if need be. He also gave us a couple of ideas on what to see while bicycle touring through Slovenia, which we were very grateful for.
Since finding a place for the night was a non-issue anymore, we decided to head about 30 miles into Slovenia and look for a campground once we get tired.
Shortly after getting on our bikes, we had to climb out of town. The steep, narrow road was bone breaking! I know it is usually “easier” to try and push through and ride up the very steep hills, but the burn was too much. Pushing the fully loaded bike was no fun either. More leaning, than standing I pushed my bike and inched my way up the steep street, taking several breaks to catch my breath and to keep my arms and calves from cramping up. Ron, on the other hand, loves climbing and lives to make his body hurt and kept spinning up the road. Once on top, we met up again and continued our ride through the beautiful and extremely green countryside of Slovenia.
Apparently, we have not left the mountains behind us. Just like Greece, Slovenia is full them. Here they seem much greener and steeper but just as stunningly beautiful.
For a while, we managed to ride along the river before hitting a few more steep climbs. To our surprise, we found several little patches of snow, that seemed very out of place; especially, since it was sunny and warm and there were all kinds of flowers in bloom everywhere.
Later we found out that this area of Slovenia just had a snow storm a couple of days prior to our arrival, and what we saw where left overs from the freaky weather event.
Eventually, we were tired of all the climbing; not getting much sleep during the last two nights didn’t help the matter either, so we started looking for a campground. We checked our map and saw that one was close to our route. It didn’t take us long to find the road signs leading to the campground.
We were a little “sticker-shocked” by the campground price, but since the “driveway” to the campground consisted of several miles of long, twisty, uphill biking, we decided to spend the night anyway. Usually, we would have just shook our heads, pulled right back out of the driveway, and looked for a spot somewhere in the wild; but at that point we were just too darn tired.
Shortly after setting up camp, it started to rain…at least the campground had an indoor kitchen for us to cook and eat in, which helped us to stay dry.
There was nothing more to do that evening than to hang out in our tent and eventually fall asleep to the sound of raindrops hitting the tent.
Unfortunately, we also woke up to the sound of rain hitting the tent. We waited for a little while longer, but then decided to pack up and go…that’s what we brought rain-gear for.
We packed all of our bags inside the tent, slipped our rain-gear on, rolled up the soaking wet tent, and off we went.
Luckily, it stopped raining eventually, so we could enjoy the amazing scenery.
The night before, we had contacted another Warm Showers host. Renato is a long-distance cycle tourer himself and was happy to host us. Our route to his house led us through a beautiful valley. We rode past more amazing green mountains and followed a beautiful turquoise colored river.
Once at Renato’s house, we set up our drenched tent to let it dry. Renato and his family, however, invited us to stay in the house, so once the tent finally dried out, we stowed it away again. We had a great time listening to Renato’s stories of past bicycle tours and adventures. Actually, his experiences and adventures made us feel like we are just on a small bike vacation. Him and his wife also told us a lot about the area and the history of Slovenia and the two gave us several tips on which way to go and what to see. We already had planned on cycling through the Soca valley, but the two confirmed that the route would be a great choice. They were not sure though, whether the pass leading out of the valley would be open already.
They quickly called a friend (Dejan) who lived near the Vrsic Pass to confirm that the pass was open and asked whether we could stay at their friend’s house as well. Apparently, he was happy to have us over.
The following day, Renato decided to ride with us for a little while. He led us to Dante’s Gorge and cave, where Dante apparently received his inspiration to write the ‘Divine Comedy’. We even explored the cave, that gave Dante the idea of the hell he portraits in his writing. Although, we needed our headlamps to be able to see anything in the pitch black cave, we did not feel like we were in hell at all. We just had a blast checking out the cave.
After the short detour through the gorge, we headed back into town. We took a short break over a cup of coffee and said our goodbyes.
We were going to meet Dejan at 18:00 at a gas station in Bovec. Since we were mostly riding along the river in the valley and had only about 40 miles to go, we figured we had plenty of time to check out a few sights along the way.
We crossed the river a couple of times and were so amazed by its unusual color, that we took frequent breaks to check it out. We also took a few short detours to explore the countryside a little bit more.
The mountains in the area also still bear a lot of historical sites from WWI. We rode by a few historical markers and museums.
Suddenly, we realized, that we’d better start hurrying up or we’d miss Dejan at the gas station. Initially, we wanted to visit one of the museums, but opted to skip it, knowing we would not make it in time. We figured the route would be mostly flat riding, since we are following the river. But we soon found out that we had a long gradual climb to our destination. With our loaded bikes and an increasing headwind, we felt that we were just inching along and feared, we’d miss Dejan for sure.
Finally, and just in time, we arrived in Bovec to meet Dejan. Dejan greeted us and gave us a choice on where to stay. He said, we could stay at his place in Bovec, near the town or in a family house inside the National Park along the Soca river. He told us, there is nobody living in the house at the river and it has no running water, but the area is more wild and beautiful…that is all it took to make our decision. We love the ‘wild and beautiful’ and we do not mind getting water out of the river. So off we went to ride another 9 miles to the house in the Soca valley.