Published: May 1st 2012September 8th 2011
The drive out of Croatia was long. Croatia, while not that big, is longer than you think – almost 800ks as the crow flies along the coast.
We got away from the excellent campsite by ten, farewelling our German friends and the super friendly old couple that owned the place. Heading north we avoided the motorway and associated tolls, and this took us through some fantastic country. Similar to parts of Spain, the low sandstone hills had a very Mediterranean look to them, dry, spotted with small villages. Different to Spain, however, was the occasional bombed out house. Not as much damage here as in Bosnia and Hercegovina, but you could still see where fighting had happened.
The road followed the coast for much of the way, then we cut inland, slowly increasing in altitude. We headed into the mountains, the road getting winding in and out of cuttings, with deep gorges below. After hugging the edge of the mountains for around 100ks we emerged suddenly through a high pass. Immediately the countryside changed, bigger trees, thicker forest, the villages less ragged. We were almost at Slovenia, and another money change, although this time at least it
was back to Euro. We scrounged through the car for whatever Croatian change we had, and stopped at a servo just before the border to spend it on a bottle of drink.
The border was again smooth, although we had continued our usual trick of choosing a less busy crossing. This is a definite advantage of getting off the motorways. It also meant that there was no where to change money, so we had a bit of a time trying to find the nearest bank.
Slovenia appeared, green and neat, as we came down out of the mountains on a series of hairpins and switchbacks – great road surface, not too much traffic, another great motorcycle road. Indeed, there were quite a few signs about it. I couldn't read the Slovenian, but the images of Stickman spearing into the ground off his disproportionately small motorbike didn’t really need translation.
Ljubljana was just ahead, and we soon enough came to the motorway. Slovenia had recently changed to a vignette system for cars on the motorway and, luckily, we had bought our 7 day 15 euro sticker at the border, so we breezed though the
toll booths with no worries.
And so, Ljubljana.
We had elected to stay at a place called the Ljubljana Resort. As the name suggests it was a huge affair and included an actual resort style hotel and a fitness centre. Still, the sites were pretty good and the price reasonable. And, only a short bus ride into town, which was handy - we needed to get Klaire a new pair of sunnies – I may not have much of an arse but it does some damage when sunglasses are between it and the seat. So we grabbed the bus into town. Caught the bus in from the campsite. They had a card system, but we were forewarned at the campsite and bought a card at reception.
Ljubljana proved to be excellent, one of the best cities we’d ever visited. Smallish, as capitals go, at around 300,000 people. The city centre was excellent, really a beautiful place – it had a casual feel whilst retaing that European class. Apparently 1 in 5 people here are students, leading to what you might expect – a vibrant bar scene, eclectic shops, arts and hordes
of young folk on bikes. And old folk, and middle-aged folk – it was a very bike friendly place. Bikes going everywhere, and many of them were the city bike scheme treadlys – which you could pay for with your bus card. Brilliant. And people were using them because they were so easy, and no compulsory helmets (take note Australia!).
We didn't do a hell of a lot else, really. In the end we didn't rent a bike - not being entirely sure of the rules around drink-riding - but it looked like a good deal. We did roam from bar to cafe to bar, taking in the atmosphere and so on, with a more than occasional detour into passing shops. Lunch along the river, drinks on a bohemian back street dominated by a huge black Great Dane which clearly owned the place. Friendly enough, he simply stood in front of passing roller bladers and cyclists, refusing to let them pass until he received a quick scratch behind the ears. He seemed to be a well-known local.
Then, early to bed. We had a long drive the next day, clear to the other side
of the country...
There are more photos below