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Published: November 14th 2008
I will remember Thursday, October 23rd as the worst day of this 2008 tour. I cycled for over an hour on the national road number 3 with an endless row of trucks (mainly Hungarian) continuously overtaking me just centimeters away from my body. My own safety constantly at stake. After about twenty kms, the road turned into a motorway, a relief for me, so at least I had a meter across in the emergency lane all for myself. But the joy was short-lived: a police patrol stopped me after a few kilometers, same as it had happened in the Czech Republic, only, that one is a democratic country where problems are civilly discussed, this one is a police state where the fine represents the sole purpose of the security forces. I refused to pay the 75€ fine and the bastards then confiscated my passport. I restart cycling chewing insults against these servants of power and I finally arrived to the Maribor police station. Here I was greeted in Nazi style by a couple of agents (one of them being the same who had fined me half an hour earlier) who practically told me to go back to my country (but without
my passport). Pushed into a tight situation, I self-arrested myself by locking myself up into the detention room. Through the bulletproof glass I could see the fat agent who few moments earlier had shouted into my face going into panic, and with his one cell brain next to melting point, frantically, calling someone. Finally, an officer came to try to bring order into that chaos. He was older and -I would dare to say- with an IQ higher than the first two cops (which was not so difficult, anyway) and he explained me that if I decided not to pay, my only other option was to lodge a complaint (in Slovenian language) and then wait for the hearing in court (in another city, despite being Maribor the province capital).
I left the police station livid, resolved not to let this uniformed racketeering gang have it won. I met T., I told her what happened that morning and I asked her to translate in slovenian the memory I had written, so to be submitted to the court. The senior official had even offered to write it himself. What a brilliant idea: let a police officer write a complaint against their
To make my stay in Maribor even more sad, T. turned out to be a logorrhoic woman plagued by extreme nationalism (as much as I came to suspect that she had not translated my complaint faithfully). According to her, Austrian Carinthia should belong to Slovenia, Italian Venezia-Giulia should belong to Slovenia, South-West Hungary should belong to Slovenia, and so on. Got even pissed off when I referred to his country as Balkans
, as if it was an insult.
Most worrying of all was that T. was not aware of being an ultra-nationalist of the worst kind. I would have almost preferred to deal with someone who knowingly carried a swastika on his arm rather than with a person unable to compose a sentence without incorporating the words Slovenia or Slovenian. I assume that sooner or later she'll create the adverb "Slovenianly" and the verb "To Slovene".
When I told her that I was very disappointed by the way this country deals with foreign guests, she again took offence and told me about a trip of her to Poland where her wallet was stolen, and added "This things happen". Hold on, hold on... A thief doesn't
represent a country, a policeman does. Had I have my bike stolen the damage would have been greater but I would have had the right to bring the incident to the authorities, which -in theory- would have done justice. But when injustice is committed by the authorities themselves, what remains to be done?
And if it is true that there is a European law that prohibits bicycles transit on highways, is even more true that there is the law and there is the spirit of the law! These rules may be applied to the letter in countries like the Netherlands or Denmark, but not in Slovenia where that highway is the only reasonable way to get to Maribor, is the natural continuation of a common road and at no point appears any ban on bike travelling. Since I left Germany I've been constantly facing the problem of lack of bicycle lanes or even lack of secondary roads. In Hungary, for example, all long-distance roads are marked as highways and there are continuing bans on bike and animal pulled carts transit, but those same roads are also the only ones existing. Everyone knows it: motorists know it, cyclists know it...
police know it and turn a blind eye on the lot.
The core of the problem is that Slovenia is a German mind in a Slavic body. It took the worse of two races: Slavic infrastructures, German mental rigidity. Wouldn't be wonderful if it was the other way round? Endless cyclcing paths and nobody bothering you! The Slovenian Agency for Tourism (to whom I'll forward this article) may publish million copies of glossy brochures with high phrases about the unicity of this small subalpine country, but if in the evidence of facts visitors face xenophobic hostility from those who should assist them, well then perhaps the Government should spare this empty propaganda and invest instead in the education of its agents.
Next morning, disposed of the initial fury, I did a little investigation and some basic calculations on the possible consequences of me going to court. In the case I was found guilty, the fine would be doubled plus I should also bear the cost of the interpreter. Worse than that, I should have stayed in Maribor for a few more days, pending trial. I made a paper ball of the complaint and threw it into a rubbish
bin and, instead, I went to the post office to pay the 75€ fine. Head down, puffing from the nostrils like a chained bull. Then I returned to the police station to get my passport back. I hoped at least not to find the same asshole who first fined me and then treated me so disrispectfully the day before. Unfortunately he was in the porter's lodge. The day before must have got a good comb by a senior officier, because this time, probably thinking that I was there to create further discussions, was to call the officer on duty even before I asked for it. Instead, I showed him the payment receipt and coldly said: "My passport". His face lightened up and was already beginning to melt in paternalistic phrases like "See that was like..." but I cut him short, icily "My passport, I'm in a hurry". Again he turned serious, sad, this time was me the one talking to him disrespectfully, but as it's well known, those who are strong with the weaks are then weak with the strongs, and apparently the metaphoric slaps on the forehead gotten the day before from someone above him for being so stupid
to fine a cycling tourist who was doing nothing wrong (and that eventually will probably have the incident publicized) had on him the effect to make him look even more pathetically naked in his complex of inferiority.
October 13th: Auschwitz - Pszczyna 25 Kms, 1h22', 18.3 Kms/h
October 14th: Pszczyna - Olomouc (Czech Republic) 152 Kms, 8h12', 18.5 Kms/h
October 15th: Brno 0 Kms
October 16th: Brno - Kobyli 49 Kms, 2h45', 17.8 Kms/h
October 17th: Kobyli - Trnava (Slovakia) 102 Kms, 5h03', 20.1 Kms/h
October 18th: Trnava 0 Kms
October 19th: Trnava - Gyor (Hungary) 99 Kms, 5h12', 19.0 Kms/h
October 20th: Gyor - Szombathely 108 kms, 5h19', 20.3 Kms/h
October 21st: Szombathely - Lendava (Slovenia) 93 Kms, 5h04', 18.3 Kms/h
October 22nd: Lendava - Gornja Radgona 54 Kms, 2h31', 21.5 Kms/h
October 23rd: Gornja Radgona - Maribor 37 Kms, 2h05', 17.7 Kms/h
October 24th: Maribor 0 Kms
October 25th: Maribor - Celje 61 Kms, 3h45', 16.2 Kms/h
October 26th: Celje - Ljubljana 73 Kms, 3h58', 18.4 Kms/h ITALIANO
La versione italiana di questo articolo si trova sul sito Vagabondo.net
Link: Cavalcando Ronzinante X: Lubiana (Km 6744)
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