It was drizzling when we awoke. We knew it would be as we had been spending a bit of time checking various meteorological forecasts last night. The next few days were not looking great, and in particular tomorrow was looking dismal.
We had capitulated between heading to Zagreb (capital of Croatia) or Maribor (Slovenia, near the Austrian border).
We decided on Maribor for a few reasons. Firstly, the route looked safer for bikes and secondly it lined up with Ljubljana and Trieste, with safe card options available.
We had a brilliant breakfast with lots of foods we had not seen or tried before.
It was very cool (8 degrees C) and lightly drizzling as we left Verazdin.
This village was about 10 km into our ride.
We were amazed by the art work on the egg.
This lovely lady ventured along with a lantern to place at the base of the statue. She told us a lengthy story in Slovakian about the lamp and statue, however not speaking Slovakian, we failed to understand one word.
We smiled. That seemed to suffice.
I think the countryside is often lovelier with rain. Most of our photos today have a rainy haze.
Upon closer inspection, that is a graveyard directly below the church, on a reasonable slope.
We bid Croatia farewell for a few days. In the photo below I am waiting my turn to handover my passport to Croatian border control.
You may recall that when we left Slovenia and entered Croatia yesterday that both border patrol men were devoid of a personality.
Today was different. I handed my passport through the window, the guy flicked it open and smiled and said “Australian!” I smiled and nodded. He then said laughing, “Do you have a kangaroo in your bag?”. I laughed and crossed my head. He wanted to know where we’d been, where we were headed.
As I rolled forward on my bike, it was ground hog day, as he asked Tony the same thing. 😂😂😂.
Some 100 metres ahead, we then went through the Slovakian checkpoint. No chatter but I got a smile.
Here we are then, back in Slovakia. It is such a pretty country.
We were on some really quiet roads now.
Lots of forest everywhere.
We came to a red light as the road was reduced to one lane. Looking back you can see a massive crane and an old castle like building. Not sure what was going on there.
We crossed the Drava River. It is quite shallow here, and you can still see the castle and crane, and Tony’s bike.
The view looking on the other side of the bridge.
As with many European countries, every village has at least one shrine.
We have been quite amazed at the stork nests. As we watched these two, I was convinced they we’re statues as they did not move.
However, the town air raid siren started its awful sound and scared the living daylights out of us, and the birds moved ever so slightly.
Another village shrine.
We had ridden through so many quiet villages. Neat as a pin, and all had a penchant for growing grapes. This is a typical size and structure.
Cutting through farmland I realised I had not seen any canola today!
We then crossed a dam over the Drava, that retained most water in a large lake, and streamed into a feeder canal.
We rode around the lake…
Crossed over this bridge.
We arrived at the very scenic town of Ptuj. We decided to have lunch here at a riverside restaurant.
A fantastic meal of mushroom soup and entree sized beef stew. Just the thing to warm you up on a cold day, as the temperature had not yet reached 10 degrees.
On the outskirts of Pjut was this highly decorated church. The white is not paint, but a plaster like product.
The next 20 km was like this. Pure magic.
We had a couple of short steep pinches. 19 degrees pulled me up though…bit tough with the gear on the bike. 14-15 percent with gear is my maximum, for a short pinch.
So here we are now looking over the river at the old town section of Maribor.
We choofed off to the railway station as we made the decision during lunch (again studying the meteorological reports and weather warnings) to not ride tomorrow and play it safe.
We will train the 120 km section to Ljubljana. However, we could not buy a ticket! Only one train per day allows bikes! Tickets are purchased ready for the 11.45 express service tomorrow.
We are staying in a very trendy apartment in the Old Town. Our bikes are with us (cleaned them up first) on the balcony. Very nifty electrically louvres to open or shut. They are shut to keep our bikes dry.
We had a brilliant dinner. Dogs are allowed in this restaurant. The table opposite has a little pooch taking up a seat. It was an incredibly pampered dog! You can just see the little dog in the photo and on the floor is its pink water bowl.
A brief walk around town after our meal….brief because it was really cold and I am wearing dress…bare legs…brrrrr.
Our route today.
Today was what I love best about cycle touring. The scenery was magnificent, the roads quiet (except the very slow crawl with start and finish towns), lots of laughs and soaking in the countryside ambience.
A shorter ride of 80 km was welcomed after 320 km in the previous two days.
Until tomorrow, thankyou for reading.