Bled, Slovenia - June 1, 2012
Dober dan from Bled, Slovenia...
I think I've already mentioned to everyone that I'm too stupid to travel and now I believe that I should probably not be allowed out of the house alone anymore. I haven't been feeling well for about a week now and so went to the drugstore today to buy a thermometer. Got back to the hotel, hung out for a bit, then walked across the street to the supermarket to buy some juice. No wallet. Oh well, must have left it back in the hotel. Paid with change. Got back to the hotel, but forgot to look fo my wallet. Then later, while making a booking (for a campsite... almost didn't, and needing my credit card number which I have memorized anyway) I thought "Oh yeah... my wallet... I should find that". Tore this place apart, not here. Last used at the pharmacy. Walked back... this has now been 3 hours... and the two very nice ladies there had it. Said that it was just standing open on the counter. No fever just now but maybe I am sick. Too sick to care for myself it seems. You don't get too many by's like that when you travel. Didn't care about the money or the credit card as there are alternatives, but it had my driver's licence. That's a showstopper... for a good while at least. Glad I don't have to work my way out of that one just yet.
Anyway...haven't written since Cinque Terre??? Ouch. Had to leave there because I was getting cabin fever. I think I left there on Wednesday? I was only going to go as far as Verona. Quite cloudy and rainy-looking when I left the coast, but there the Appenines cut west and become the coast range. Just after starting the climb, it all cleared and I just have to say that that is probably one of the prettiest parts of Italy outside the Dolomites. Very "tidy" looking mountains, scattered houses, cows, open forests, grand views... all very Swiss looking in a way. It has that model train-layout kind of look I like. But dropped down the other side by 11o'clock or so and yuck... what a disappointment after the morning. Hot, smoggy, flat. Decided to keep going so zipped past Verona... which I hear is nice in itself, but feeling yucky, I didn't want to fight the heat and traffic in a big city again... and so headed towards Belluno and the mountains. I was still about 6 slogging hours away, but you hit the mountains fast when you get there. No fooling around. I didn't even have to go all the way to Belluno. Stopped at a small roadside cafe/restaurant thingy with rooms upstairs. A little dark, but clean and good internet.
Climb Over the Appenines
It did have one of those "What were they thinking?" kind of bathrooms where there is just a shower head in the ceiling. This one was particularly bad as the floor was made of super-slick vitreous tile so by that time that got wet and a little soapy... well literally, I was hanging onto the shower pipe to keep myself from going down and breaking something. I noticed that there was an emergency call button cord that extended down to about 4-feet from the floor on the other side of the bathroom. OK, I fall down, break a hip, slide my naked, soapy, slippery body over to the other side (water is still going of course) only to grab for what to pull myself up to pull the cord... and then what? This old lady at the desk with a beer gut that would amaze, comes running in, hits the slippery floor and I break her fall? What were they thinking?
Hotel "Bad Wine"
Anyway, I did have my first real meal there in a while, but ate way too much which set me back a bit in how I was feeling. I ordered an antipasto of bruchetta with mixed mushrooms, and a pasta with ricotta and spinach. Sounds good to recover on. And some wine. Good god... for the bruchetta I was expecting about 6 small 2-bite-sized pieces of bread with a little mushroom concoction smeared on them. What came was something about the size of a small to medium pizza heaped with mushrooms. I was already treading water by the time the pasta came. That just put me under and held me there. Couldn't even keep washing it down with the wine, because I don't know how the Italians did it, but it was the worst wine I think I've ever had. Felt like it had straight pins in it. Really, I was feeling better before dinner.
Climbing up Into the Dolomites
Through the Dolomites
It rained over night (of course) but I left in the morning yesterday headed for Bled, Slovenia. Nice ride initially climbing up past Belluno and all the this-di Cadore and that-di Cadore. Stunningly rugged terrain in there. Those Dolomites don't just melt down like ice cream when they weather. Man... they go kicking and screaming. The sharpest minaret covered ridges just about anywhere. Very sharp contrast between the light gray rock thrusting up from the dark-green forested slopes. Now that is the best-looking part of Italy. Anyway, turned east for Slovenia and for what is pretty nearly a triple-junction between Austria, Italy and Slovenia. I could see the rain ahead on the road. Black clouds all over but there was just this gray curtain across the road. I don't think I've ever gotten so wet so fast. I've been wetter... but it's taken some time. One minute I was having a nice time in the sun... and the next minute I wasn't. In and out past the unused border station again, then down towards Bled and some scattered sunlight.
Bled's a cool place. Nice little touristy town set on a lake but without all the souvenir shops. Lots of places to stay and eat and lots of "adventure" things to do if you like. It abuts the National Park just to the west were it gets way more rugged and alpine. I rode along a loop road back through there earlier this morning before today's rains started. I'd write names of places, but I don't have those letters on my keyboard... and I can't pronounce them anyway.
A lot of the places in Bled are residential stays. They want you to stay for more than one night. Not all that many "hotels". So after arriving, getting a "no" a few times, and watching the sky getting ready to open up again, I expanded my horizons and found an apartment on the groundfloor of what can only be described as a small three-storey mansion. The owner's daughter told me that her great-grandfather (his painting over the mantle makes him look dandy in his fez) was from Serbia and this was his summer residence. Yikers. This was his cottage? She confirmed that this was a single residence. Well in my little corner of the ground floor, I have a huge bedroom, full kitchen, dinette, separate sitting room/second bedroom and a large bathroom with high-tech clothes washer and full-body spray shower. Not bad for $65/night (a bit outside my budget actually). And all this comes to a guy who walks off and leaves his wallet on the counter of the pharmacy? Where's the justice in this world? I should be down writhing on the floor at the police station begging them to do something!!!
"Cottage" Hotel in Bled
So having had enough of this luxury in a beautiful place, and having a dry place out of the rain and finding a good place to sleep and recover, I am off to camp in Ljubljana for two nights starting tomorrow. Weather is supposed to start improving (actually it's raining right now again) and prices for hotels in that city seem to be out the roof. Besides, I can't hit the Croatian border late on Saturday or Sunday as I will be needing to get some bike insurance and I don't trust an insurance office, if there is one, to be open. I'll head for Croatia on Monday. Gives me a day to wander around the capital. Ljubljana is a nice city I think... probably nicer in the sun so I can only hope.
OK... Bike's running well although I only have heat in the left handgrip now. Also, I think I have tracked down the rear brake problem to a bad seal that is leaking oil slowly into the brake drum. Diane can bring a new seal that I have at home and maybe I can take a bit of time in Estonia and repair the rear drive. Requires some heat to get it apart. Also... I found a Mexican restaurant here last night. Just had to see what Slovene-Mex tastes like. Ordered an enchilada but was disappointed to get only a baked burrito. Oh well... it was worth a try.