Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Out of Austria

We left Vienna about 5 days ago late in the afternoon. It felt great to get out of the city, which was in and of itself was an adventure. We came upon more motorways, but I digress... So we had a great tailwind and rode about 60km before finding what we thought would be a great campsite just outside of a larger town where we could shop the next morning.

Our sweet campsite overlooking Vienna, and in the line of fire for local hunters. Apparently, it was also on the "beaten path" of more wild pigs.

Just as we started eating, a truck pulled down our road and Greg and I scrambled to get down the ladder of the hunting shack so our stuff wasn´t flatted. The owner rolled down his window, and again, not speaking much english (joel, could have used you again), described that we were sleeping on his land, that wild pigs were common, and hunters may or may not be showing up at 4am, shooting in our direction. to make matters better, the mosquitoes came out in force. Ever helpful, the man told us to go sleep near his other hunting shack as it was safer regarding stray bullets, and basically, good luck with the pigs. Needless to say, we didn´t sleep too well that night, and woke up early to get back on the road.

Our new friends in Piringsdorf, Austria. Johannes and Greg switched hats for the night.

After a 90km day, Greg and I arrived in Piringsdorf looking for somewhere to crash. we were exhausted and losing light, so we asked a woman riding her bike if she spoke any English. she didn´t speak much, but quickly found someone who did. marian offered her garden for us to sleep in, and upon arrival, we quickly made friends with her boyfriend, Johannes, and their family. we spent the evening enjoying beer and local wine with dinner, all of which our new friends graciously provided. As people left for the evening, Johannes offered a bed in his house for us to sleep to get away from the bugs and rain.

Just before leaving town we all stopped at the mineral spring fountain for some "health" water.

we had a great night, especially considering the conditions of the previous one. We slept well, and in the morning Johnannes´ mother made us breakfast and sent us away with some fresh fruit for the road (thanks again). it was probably the best experience we´ve had so far during the trip, and a much-needed rest during our trip through austria.

We spent the next night in a bigger town called Furstenfeld with a pastor at the local evangelical church. Again asking about a garden, we were offered beds, and accepted, being tired from a long, hot day of riding. the next morning we were faced with a dilema. We´d already spent 7 nights in Austria and wanted to get out. the rain looked ominous, and we made the call to get trains out of the country and into slovenia.

Greg catching up on some sleep between trains.

however, this wasn´t as easy as expected. We were in a remote location for trains, and unable to quickly arrive in Graz, the nearest hub. After some long waits, we were headed south toward slovenia, but our tickets only went as far as the border. from here we`d ride across the border and into the second-largest city in Slovenia, Maribor. We arrived at the train station 3 minutes before a train left for Ljubljana (pronouced: loob-li-yana), and we actually flagged the conductor down as the train began moving. they stopped and waited, and we just made the train.

Into Slovenia...

The street scene in Ljubljana is vibrant.

On the last leg of our ride into the capital city, we met ben, a Ph.D. at the university. he was very helpful, and being Slovenian, spoke the language perfectly. he went as far as walking us to a hostel in town, understanding that in our state (tired, clueless, smelly) we would have a hard time lining anything up on our own. I think he began questioning our sanity when we asked him if there were any parks near the train station where we could sleep...

Ljubljana has been a surprisingly awesome town situated at the foot of the Julian Alps. The cafe scene is more developed than almost anywhere I´ve visited, and tables line the river through town as it winds below the castle nearly 100m above on the hillside. in the distance, snow still rests on the highest peaks. tomorrow, greg and I head northwest toward that snow...

Ljubljana Castle

Partial self-portrait, Ljubljana and the Julian Alps.

route update
more videos
also see Greg´s blog for more videos

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