Thursday, September 26, 2013

Slovenia: A Hidden Treasure for Outdoor Enthusiasts

(English Version is below the photos)

A Eslovènia, hi ha una llegenda de com es va crear el país. Diuen quetots els altres països veïns s'havien creat ja i no sabien que fer amb el petit tros de terreny que quedava entremig. Llavors, van decidir de barrejar tot que tenia els seus veïns i posar-ho dins d'un sol país. Per la tant, a Eslovènia, trobes de tot: muntanyes altes, valls amb rius, llacs, boscs, platja, i esplanades molt grans. Per ser tan petit, és una país molt divers geogràficament. 

Tothom hi havia recomanat anar pel nord al parc de Triglav i passar pel vall del riu Soca. Però fa 4 anys, vaig estar-hi i volia veure una regió diferent. Llavors vaig agafar la ruta mes del sud, un alternatiu més pla i no em va disil.lusionar en cap moment. Cada 5 o 6 kilòmetres passes per un poble petit que ni surt al mapa, amb poca cosse mes que un par de cases amb la seva església i castell situat a dalt d'una petita muntanya. Des de lluny, sempre és veu les torres de les esglésies de tots els pobles a la vora. El país és tan petit arribes a tot arreu rapidament! 

Just a creuar la frontera es nota una diferència amb el seu veïn, italià. De cop i volta el soroll del trànsit se substitueix pel soroll d’aigua corrent, rius plens d’aigua, d'un color blau claret i transparent. Mirant el mapa, no tens tantes carreteres per a agafar, però inclòs amb poques, no hi ha gens de trànsit. I la veritat és que no existeix una ruta lleiga perquè tot el paisatge és tan bonic, més igual per on passes. 

Totes les nits a Eslovènia, vaig quedar amb gent de warm showers i amb cada experiència podria escriure un llibre de la gent interessant que vaig conèixer. La primera nit vaig anar una mica mes lluny del qual havia de fer expressament per a quedar amb una família que tenia una nena petita que tenia ganes de jugar amb mi i cantar, “The Wheels on the Bus”. Pobre, no es va donar compte que no parlaria el seu idioma! sabia que era una família "guai" quan el pare va obrir la porta amb uns pantalons Trang World posats, mostrant-me que la gent d’aquest país s'activa i li agraden la naturalesa. Ells tenien una nena de 3 anys i un petit recent nascut de 3 mesos, una família realment encantadors si ofereixen casa seva a estrangers amb nens d’aquesta edat. La veritat és que ells em van inspirar. Havien viatjat per tot arreu en bici, inclòs havien fet un viatge amb la primera filla quan tenia 1,5 anys. Mes a mes, era paracaigudistes professionals i mai en la meva vida he conegut atletes professionals d'aquest esport! Podríem haver parlat tota la nit compartint les nostres experiències. 

Al capital, vaig tenir la gran sort de trobar, pot ser, l’únic Eslovè que ha treballat al parc nacional Mt. Rushmore als Estats Units, Matej. Amb la meva mateixa energia que mai s’esgota, estava molt il·lusionat d'ensenyar-me tot a Ljubljana. Vam fer senderisme i també anar a un partit de Eurobasket. No fa falta dir que vaig descansar poc els meus dies de descans amb ell! 

A nit, la sort seguia perquè un granger ecològic de warm showers em va recollir. Tenia un amic ciclista de Bosnia també a casa i va convidar a dos altres amics professors per a sopar amb nosaltres. Ell tenía una vida totalment auto sostenible,….agafant electricitat d'un molin d’aigua, del blat de trigo feía farina, creixia tot tipo de fruita i verdura, i havia construit casa seva ell mateix. Vivia del que és crexía a l’hort i a l’hivern, esquiava I viatjava. Vaig al·lucinar molt amb la seva vida. Mes a mes era un gran cuiner i feia tot a ma ell. 

A Eslovènia, em van cuidar molt i no em puc queixar. Inclòs no em volien deixar marxar perquè avui, en creuar la frontera, no era tan fàcil. He fet uns 20 kilòmetres extres de voltes, no mes intentant de trobar un lloc on deixaven una ciclista amb un passaport Amèrica. He hagut d'anar a 3 diferents encreuaments, fins que es van posar d’acord i em van deixar creuar. Es veu que alguns encreuaments són per a gent amb passaport d'Europa, així era els primers 2 llocs. Evitava el encreuament de l'autopista gran perquè sabia que no em podria ficar. Però, després dels primers dos intents, no n’hi havia més remei i m’enviaven per allà. He entrat a l’autopista riuen, pensant, ….. “Ostres, ón m’he ficat, quan em veuen per aquí!” I si, la policia ha flipat dient-me que no podria estar-hi, però quan vaig explicar des d'on havia vingut i dels 2 altres intents, van veure, que en realitat, era l’únic lloc que tenia per a entrar a Croàcia. No volien deixar-me entrar pel tema de seguretat i per la tant, després de un par de trucades, m’han tornat al segon lloc de creuament per a passar com si fos una ciutadana Europea. Es clar, pocs Americans ciclistes han passat per la frontera interior entre Eslovenia i Croacia, si no, hagues sigut molt mes facil!

Soca River

Typical Slovenian town

It's good to get off the bike and stretch those legs every now-and-again!

Every town has its church and castle!

Slovenia: A Hidden Treasure for Outdoor Enthusiasts

In Slovenia, there is a legend about how the country was formed. They say that all the other neighboring countries has already been created, and they were at a loss for creating this small territory. Hence, they decided to mix a bit of everything from its neighbors. Therefore, in Slovenia, you can find tall mountains, river valleys, lakes, forests, beach, and lots of flat countryside. For its size, it is a geographically diverse country!

Right after crossing the Italian border, the difference between the two countries is significant. The noise of traffic is replaced by the sound of rivers flowing, bursting with translucent blue water. Looking at the map, you don’t have too many choices of roads, but with the few roads they have, there is hardly any traffic. And the truth is, it is hard to take an ugly road because the scenery is gorgeous all around!

Everyone I talked to recommended that I take the road to the north, passing through Triglav National Park following the Soca river. However, I had already been in this area several years back and decided to take the road through to the south, a flatter alternative. In Slovenia, you pass a small village every 5 or 6 kilometers that doesn’t even appear on the map. Yet every village seems to have a few houses, a small church and steeple, and a castle on top of a hill. Off in the distance you can always see church steeples scattered on the hilltops. The country is so small, you can go anywhere you want in no time at all!

I stayed with a warm showers host every night while in Slovenia and I could right a book about each of the unique hosts I had! The first night I rode an extra long way to stay with a family because they told me their young daughter was excited to play with me and sing “The Wheels on the Bus” (poor thing, she didn’t realize I didn’t speak her language)! I knew I was going to get along great with this family because the father opened the door wearing the typical Trang World hiking pants, reminding me of the outdoors culture in this country. They had a 3 year old daughter and a 3 month old newborn, as if they needed to add a cyclist to the mix. Yet they were an inspiration to me and we could have talked all night long, sharing our experiences. They had traveled all over the world on bike and had even done their last tour with their daughter when she was one and a half. Even more unusual was their profession. I had never met professional sky divers before. Although their vacation time rivals that of teachers, I don’t think I’d ever sign up for sky diving! 

In the capital, I was extremely fortunate to have found the only Slovenian, I’m sure, who has worked at Mt. Rushmore, Matej. With my same never-ending energy, he was excited to show me all of Ljubljana. We walked the entire city, hiking in the foothills, and even saw a Eurobasket game. Needless to say, I rested very little on my actual “rest days” with Matej. 

Last night, my luck continued as I stayed with an organic farmer. He had a Bosnian cyclist friend also at his house and invited a teaching couple over to also have dinner with us. He was completely self-sufficient on his farm, producing electricity from the watermill, milling his own grain, growing all sorts of fruits and vegetables and even built his house himself. For a living, he sold all the fruit from his orchard and all the products he made with them and spent his winters skiing and traveling. I was truly impressed with his lifestyle. Not to mention, he was an amazing cook making everything from scratch.

In Slovenia, they spoiled me; I have no complaints! In fact, they didn’t really want me to leave because crossing the Croatian border was a true challenge! I did an extra 20 kilometers just trying to find a border crossing that would take a cyclist with a United States passport. I had to go to 4 border crossings before they all agreed I could go. It seems that at some border crossing only Slovenian Nationals or European citizens can cross, this was the problem with the first two crossings I tried. The other border crossing was a huge toll road, which cyclists can’t use. But it seemed that no one had realized my predicament. I had avoided the toll road border crossing, but it seemed to be my only option. Laughing all the way, I entered the toll road and rolled up to the border control thinking, “Man, if only someone could catch this on video!” Border patrol was quite surprised to say the least, but when I explained to them my story, it dawned on them that there was no place for an American passport holder to ride across the border. They wouldn’t let me through the border on the toll road for safety reasons but after a few phone calls, they sent me to the second border crossing I’d been, where they finally allowed me to go into Croatia. I hope they figure out how to manage a smoother border crossing for American cyclists in the future!







1 comment:

  1. És xulu Eslovenia, eeeh!

    Gaudeix del viatge i continua donant-nos enveja! ;)

    Salut!

    Jordi A

    ReplyDelete