Shades of Tuscany

This is the alleyway our bedroom window looked out into.  A funky part of Trieste. Our bikes were stored in the linen room, located up a different alley. It is easy to get lost with the plethora of similar looking alleys.

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Here is my bike, all packed up and ready to roll. This old fountain has been disabled from use.

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The first 5 km getting out of Trieste was a nightmare. Crazy Italian car drivers, pedestrians, motor scooters and an occasional cyclist heading every which way.

Disorganised and chaotic, yet everyone survives. They may be crazy but they are also quite tolerant.

A few km later and we have found a bike trail. Every now and then you just have to lift your bike and luggage over stuff!

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Today would be a three country day. What’s more, within 22 km of riding, we would have been in 3.

Here I am, on a bike path, leaving Italy and entering Slovenia.

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A few views of Slovenia, or is Italy?

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This is Slovenia and you can see that the vegetation is really starting to change from the first two weeks. It is taking on a decided Tuscan twist, with olives and grapes being the only crops we saw all day.

Within 20 km we had crossed the border into Croatia, requiring two more passport checks. Within a few days we have collected 6 passport stamps from Slovenia and Croatia!

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We passed numerous hilltop towns, also reminding me of Tuscany.

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In the photo below, you can see a whisp of smoke on the right hand side. As we were climbing, we rode through a thick patch, courtesy of a farmer doing a burn off.

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This old cottage is cute! Renovator required.

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This photo is by special request from my friend Ali, in England. This is continuing my New Zealand theme.

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Another renovators delight.

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Another beautiful hilltop town.

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Now this abode is for sale! I can confirm it comes with a great view!

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More great vistas.

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Towns ahead are well signposted with what is available. Crosses all languages, and a great idea!

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Views after views.

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With only 25 km to go out of todays 100 km, we stopped at a small cafe. Whilst we had no Croatian currency yet, they kindly agreed to take Euro.

We had two wonderful chicken, cheese and bacon burger, a large bottle of frizzante…all for 11 Euro.

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The next 20 km were fantastic. We descended through a gorge. At the top you could just see the water reminding me of some waterways north of Sydney.

There were a series of pop up shops selling their local wares.

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Nice colourful sign, no idea what it is about.

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The last few km into Rovinj were hairy. Impatient drivers!

We needed to get the ferry as tonight we are staying on St Katarina Island, off the Rovinj Coast, with lovely Adriatic waters surrounding us.

After some mucking around on the bikes trying to find where we were meant to be, we made a few phone calls.

At last we were on the boat heading away from the crowds. Rounding the rocky promontory reveals the best facades of the old town.

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We have been for a walk around ‘our’ island. Here are some of the views of the island and looking from the island.

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These gulls are particularly large (perhaps twice the size of our common seagulls at home) and nesting. They are as silly as plovers with some of their nest locations, but far more placid.

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The waters off the island are so crystal clear.

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Todays route and elevation profile.

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Well I must get some beauty sleep so I can continue the journey tomorrow.

A few last shots to show you of tonight’s Adriatic sunset.

Ooroo 😊💪🚴

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An Adriatic Sunset

A brilliant day on the bike!

It was very cold when we prepared to leave Ljubljana this morning. We had our winter gear on. Here is Tony getting his bike ready in the laneway outside our hotel.

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One final look at the Lubjiljana River as we cross over to the far side.

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Some shots as we departed through the city, cutting through various squares to avoid traffic where possible.

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A few km out of the city was this ‘bicycle tree’.

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In the distance we could see the hills had some snow. I suspect some was dumped last night given how cold it was.

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Beautiful Slovenia scenery.

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We stopped to grab a coffee at Logatec, and as we left a cyclist joined us on the footpath. We started chatting and his name was Nexa, and he is from Serbia.

He is riding solo from his hometown in Serbia to Lisbon (Portugal). Then he might ride up to The Netherlands. Nexa has 2 1/2 months leave.

Nexa was also riding to Trieste, so two became three.

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Continuing through the beautiful Slovenian countryside we later realised we took a wrong turn. However, that turned out to be a blessing in disguise (despite the climbing).

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This is looking towards eastern Italy and I suspect part of the Eastern Dolomites. Look at that snow! We will be in the Dolomites in 9 days time.

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Climbing! There was a bit today with numerous pinches of 15 percent, and a nasty 19 percenter! Very short, but very nasty.

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As we were climbing we noted three guys in sleeping bags on the ground behind this car. It was about 11am!

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More picturesque scenes.

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More climbing.

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Another pretty scene.

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Descending with a small dusting of snow on the hill ahead. We ended up at about 860m above sea level, and the lowest snow would have been maybe 950-1000 metres above sea level.

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As we started descending there was a collective “wow” as we saw the valley in front of us open up, snow capped alps in the background. The descent was nice!

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We refuelled in the town of Adjovscina at the base of the descent. I can highly recommend the route we took between Logatec and Adjovscina for a challenging, wow factor ride.

We hit the road again taking a fairly direct line route to Trieste involving more climbing through lush forest and farmland.

There were numerous vineyards in the area and plenty of pretty towns.

The major afternoon climb was on gravel with only the switchback sealed. It was reasonably compacted and ok for us ( I have 32 mm width tyres, whereas Nexa was on the standard road width if 23mm, so trickier for him).

 

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We crossed the Italian border about 10 km before our destination of Trieste. It is an open border between the two countries.

Finally our first view of Trieste looking towards where we will be riding tomorrow, the Istrian Peninsula. Nexa will be heading towards the Venetian Plains.

It was shortly after this photo that we bid farewell to head to our respective accomodations. Nexa was another highlight for us today. He is living his dream and passion, something we are both doing, so we acknowledge and applaud him for doing the same.

Many do not understand why we do, what we do….it would be the same for Nexa. But, we get it!

As per a quote on Nexa’s Facebook page, “Don’t wait for inspiration, be the inspiration”.

Ride on Nexa! Be safe, and may the winds be at your back!

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We had over 350 metres to descend.  This is officially my slowest descent ever.

Pictures never show what a slope really looks like. This is 24 percent and crappy cobbles! I know it only looks maybe 6-8 but the Garmin measured it at 24 percent for the great majority.  There were two sections, this is the second one.

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Downtown Trieste where we used our bikes like scooters predominantly on footpaths as we navigated towards our hotel.

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Todays route and climbing profile. A total ride of 101 km.

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We wandered around the old town after showering and clothes washing.

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We had an average Italian meal at a restaurant with a somewhat incongruous name of C’est le vie…that was belting out Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York! Whatever!

An above average sunset greeted us as we returned to our hotel.

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We do not usually do selfies however literally everyone else was so we thought…why not!

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The sunset cast a lovely colour on this foreshore building.

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What a fantastic day today. One error in navigation took us down a path not heavily trodden. We really enjoyed it, plus getting to know Nexa.

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So as the sun sets on day 14 of our adventure. Ooroo.

😊💪🚴

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Ljubljana

A very cool start to the day weather wise. It was brass monkey weather. Another nice breakfast and it was off to the Maribor railway station.

A boring and stark station by most measures. We noted the train was delayed 30 minutes.

I was fiddling with my bike when this dodgy character said something to me. I did not quite catch what he said, and he repeated it. He wanted me to,give him money, for who knows what?

I suggested he go to a bank and he said he wanted me to give him euros. Why notthat would be far easier! I pointed at my bike and said, this is it! I have no euros, I need some too!

He really unnerved me as he stood there and just kept staring….Tony was some 10 metres away seemingly oblivious. He then turned his attention towards Tony. I took his photo as I pretended to fiddle with my iPad.

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Tony then noted him, as the guy started to check his bike out, so he promptly relocated to where I was. We both stared at him and he turned away.

We followed some other cyclists to the train. Despite it being 30 minutes late in departure it was there at the right time at least.

We fiddled about in the bike compartment, having removed our luggage to store where we were seated, two carriages down.

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A very quiet and not particularly fast train, obviously not the express as it std at many stations.

A couple of shots out the train windows.

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Rugged up in my winter cycling gear.i call this outfit my spider woman one.

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A few more views.

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Two hours later we are in a very, very cold Ljubljana. I had booked a hotel on my iPad, so we headed straight there.

These were called hologram stones, a modern art installation.

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First views of the old town looking towards Ljubljana Castle.

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The Triple Bridges.

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Nearly at our hotel!

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Here we are, a view out our bedroom window of the Ljubljanica River.

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With our bikes in our room,we changed to go for a walk.

The Ljubljanica River has a fascinating history, with historical artefacts  from the Stone Age to Renaissance period being discovered by divers.

A few years ago, a stonehead was found, later dated to 35,000-45,000 years ago.

It is estimated that 10,000 – 13,000 objects have been located and sold into private collections.  The Slovenian Government now require diving permits with various conditions attached.

Local tradition holds that the river was a sacred place, with treasure being offered to the river during rites of passage, mourning or thanksgiving for battles won.

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I took a fancy to this bear outside a shop.

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Beautiful chocolate Easter Eggs, looking more like works of art.

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A door to the Cathedral.  We could not enter for a squizz as mass was in progress.

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There is a hungry pigeon going through the food stored on the back of this bike outside the door to the Cathedral.

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We walked up the hill to Ljubljana Castle, which has a recorded history of settlement from around 1200 BC.

Some of the views looking back over the city.

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Statue in memory of the Peasants Revolt.

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A section of the castle up close. Popular for weddings and corporate events.

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Walking back down the hill.

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Across the bridge with locks, including the crocodiles mouth.

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Curious aspect of this bridge is the transparent flooring. Weird feeling.

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Pub on the other side trying to entice patrons.

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Looking across the river to the castle.

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The Franciscan Church

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Back to our room where our bikes were waiting patiently, overcoats flung on the chair. We do not have  lot of heat with us, but it is extraordinary how far we can spread it in one room.

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The plan tomorrow is riding from here to Trieste, Italy on the Adriatic coast. We are in mixed minds re route, so need to sort that out pronto. Hoping the weather improves!!

Thanks for reading,

Ooroo 😊💪🚴

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Do you have a kangaroo in your bag?

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.

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We were amazed by the art work on the egg.

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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.

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I think the countryside is often lovelier with rain. Most of our photos today have a rainy haze.

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Upon closer inspection, that is a graveyard directly below the church, on a reasonable slope.

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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. 😂😂😂.

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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.

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We were on some really quiet roads now.

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Lots of forest everywhere.

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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.

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We crossed the Drava River. It is quite shallow here, and you can still see the castle and crane, and Tony’s bike.

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The view looking on the other side of the bridge.

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As with many European countries, every village has at least one shrine.

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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.

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Another village shrine.

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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.

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Cutting through farmland I realised I had not seen any canola today!

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We then crossed a dam over the Drava, that retained most water in a large lake, and streamed into a feeder canal.

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The lower side of the dam wall
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The higher or lake side of the dam wall
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The lake
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The canal

We rode around the lake…

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Crossed over this bridge.

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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.

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On the outskirts of Pjut was this highly decorated church. The white is not paint, but a plaster like product.

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The next 20 km was like this. Pure magic.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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A brief walk around town after our meal….brief because it was really cold and I am wearing  dress…bare legs…brrrrr.

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Our route today.

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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.

Ooroo 😊💪🚴

 

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Three countries, four seasons

We awoke to a glorious sunrise from our cottage in Tihany. Certainly the position of the cottage provided a wonderful panoramic vista. 2DFCA488-5DCC-49C7-8665-01BAB66BDF14

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We were awake early as the ‘bed’ was not optimal. It was a fold out couch. When I booked this place we were upstairs, but the owner put us downstairs because ‘we had bikes’. I guess I assumed there would be a bed.

There was no breakfast provided here, no local shops opened offering food until 9 am, amd we had a 180 km ride ahead of us,

I had one sachet of powdered chocolate drink in my pack, so we shared that.

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Tony getting ready for the day

We hit the road about 6.15 am. There are many benefits at that hour, the biggest is that no one else is up! Cars were infrequent.

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Once off the peninsula where Tihany is located on Lake Balaton we turned left, and could just still see the lake.

An interesting note re the lake. One of my cycling friends from near Prague, Milos, wrote on my strava feed that Lake Balaton was one of the few places that Czechs were allowed to travel to during the Czech communist era.

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At the 25 km point we found a little village supermarket open. Another advantage of being up early is that all their fresh breads and pastries had just arrived.

Here we have more hi tech Hungarian military items.

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This one took my fancy
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Then I thought maybe one of these in the front yard could send a clear message to pesky uninvited door knockers?

Still the roads were quiet and we really enjoyed the first 64 km of our ride into Kesethely, on the southern shores of the lake.

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It is easy for guys to have a pee when cycling, but for girls it is harder. I needed to pee and thought I found an ideal spot. Think again Sharron! I have never, ever seen such a sign!

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Moving right along……I stopped about one km up up the road, no signs around!

Flags flying on this castle. I imagine there would be a wonderful view of Lake Balaton.

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We were becoming increasingly concerned about the clouds on our left.

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I was never going to get a clear shot of this sign as there was a school group there, selfies galore happening. They had luggage to one side, and I did wonder if there might be a ferry service operating from the nearby pier.

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Our last Lake Balaton views.

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We spent over an hour checking out Keszthely including visiting some local bike shops.

Time to hit the road, as we still had 116 km to ride.

Heading out of town the headwind greeted us. Progress became quite slow. The clouds were not giving us optimism either.

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We stopped at a supermarket for food, and this new bike appeared, all set for touring. Cardboard box and rope does it!

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An old guy came out and filled that box with chicken sections he had purchased. He looked at our bikes and pointed to the clouds, telling us what we were hoping would disappear! “Rain”.

Yes….we started spinning those wheels and stopped here to don the rain jacket.  The wind was whipping into our faces fiercely and it had become considerably colder.

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At the next town after this photo, it was pouring and we pulled over into a bus shelter to throw our weather proof overboots on.

We sat….and we sat. We saw the worst of the rain off under shelter. We still had 84 km to ride so we needed to get back to spinning the wheels.

The wind had ceased! We were riding through beautiful forests. We had another deer run across the road.

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Another village, with an unusual building. I think this was the local civic centre equivalent.

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More canola, because you just cannot grow enough it seems.

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Deer warning sign…

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These are our last Hungarian photos about 8 km before we crossed the border.

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No farewell from Hungary signs only this one Slovenia! That pulled me up as when I had originally mapped the ride to Verazdin CROATIA, Slovenia was not on the route.

Tony had remapped it and his version went through Slovenia. Ok….so we needed to ride through a wedge of Slovenia.

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There were some guards at the border crossing checking out a very dodgy looking caravan. We got waved through to a toll booth for the autobahn.  Straight through again.

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Here is our first Slovenian town.

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25 -30 km in Slovenia was enough for today and we arrived at a very serious border crossing needed to see our passports…..two control points. One for leaving Slovenia, the second for arriving in Croatia. Two scary looking dudes too.

Crossing the Drava river for a second time we have our first views of Croatia.

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We are now in Verazdin, Croatia. A long day but satisfying 180 km with lots of undulations, and plenty of weather challenges.

Car driver speed  has increased significantly since Hungary. Many are fast overtaking inappropriately.

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I decreased our route size here so you can see we are bearing down on the Adriatic region.

After showering and washing our clothes, we walked around town and were immediately impressed by the car free spaciousness.

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We enjoyed a lovely and very reasonably priced Italian meal next door to our hotel. Our hotel has a wonderful king size bed! A proper bed!

We will be rejiggimg our next few days plans due to bad weather forecasts in the region. 20 mm rain forecast and I think Sunday will not be rideable ( in a safe and enjoyable way).

Ooroo, time for me to grab some breakfast and hit the road!

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