Monthly Archives: October 2014

CROATIA BY CAR (with bikes)

Slovenia’s central European location allows you to visit 4 different countries with just a couple hour drive.  I biked through Rovinj, Croatia last summer and only spent 1 afternoon there.  I thought it was a must re-visit kinda place back then.  Natasa got 2 days off work combined with the weekend, 4 days of vacation.  We put a 3 hour maximum of “willing” to drive to our vacation spot, Rovinj was perfect, 2.5 hrs.

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ROVINJ’S MAIN BUSINESS IS TOURISM AND FISHING

We got an Air B&B apartment for 3 nights $150.   While driving down the street looking for our place, we noticed nearly every house had an apartment for rent.  We probably didn’t need to book ahead.  We unpack the car and bike into the old town (photos).

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YOU COULD NEVER HANG YOUR LAUNDRY OUTSIDE LIKE THIS IN AMERICA. SOME COMMUNITIES IN AMERICA HAVE BANNED CLOTHES LINES ALTOGETHER

We decide to bike north along the coast, to see what we see.

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THAT’S ROVINJ AND A CLIPPER SHIP THAT DOES TOURS AROUND THE ADRIATIC, THE SHIP WAS AMAZING.

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THIS IS A PICTURE FROM THE SOUTH SIDE OF ROVINJ, YES WE HAD AMAZING WEATHER THE WHOLE TIME.

Natasa wants to visit Brijuni National Park (photos), I don’t know anything about the Park.  It’s only a 30 minute drive, 15 minute boat ride and tourist train ride around the island, I can do that.

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THIS IS ME WITH TITO, YUGOSLAVIA’S COMMUNIST LEADER FOR OVER 30 YEARS.

Tito spent 6 months a year on the Brijuni island, there’s a museum dedicated to him. While walking through the museum and looking and reading everything, I became infatuated with Josip Broz Tito(if you’ve got the time read the link, he’s amazing).  He had many visitors to the island including Castro and Stalin.

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ELIZABETH TAYLOR AND RICHARD BURTON VISIT TITO IN 1971. RICHARD BURTON PLAYED TITO IN THE FILM SUTJESKA (MOVIE).

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HO CHI MINH OF VIETNAM, GOES BOATING WITH TITO IN 1957

After our miniature train tour of the Island, we decide to rent bikes.  The train took us by some places that, with a bike, we can spend more time visiting.

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SINGLE SPEED RENTAL BIKES WITH ROMAN WALL IN FRONT

The islands first inhabitants can be traced to 3000 BC,

THERE ARE ROMAN RUINS ON THE ISLAND, THERE IS EVIDENCE THE ISLAND WAS INHABITED AS FAR BACK AS 3000 BC

Tito had a collection of animals given by heads of states from other countries.

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THE ZEBRA CAME AS A GIFT FROM SEHUN TURE OF GUINEA IN 1960 AND 1961

The train acknowledged, but didn’t stop at the Dinosaur Exhibit, so by bike, we stop

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HERE’S SOME DINOSAUR FOOTPRINTS FILLED WITH WATER.  THERE ARE MORE THAN 200 DINOSAUR FOOTPRINTS IN THE AREA. THEY’RE 65-145 MILLION YEARS OLD.

Right next to the footprints is this

SHORELINE MILITARY OUTLOOK

SHORELINE MILITARY LOOKOUT

The ferry leaves in 15 minutes and were way north on the island.  We race back, return the bikes, hop on board, the sun sets as we reach the mainland.  Were beat, it was a long day.

Yesterday back in Rovinj they were setting up an elementary grade school “art” exhibit, of  “what they wanted in the city” and today it’s up.

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TRANSLATION: “LOTS OF FREE BIKES SO KIDS CAN RIDE AROUND TOWN”

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SHOPPING IS SOMETHING YOU DO IN A TOURIST TOWN

When I biked through Croatia last year, it was with two vegetarians, Carolyn and Tyler of Two Wheel Travel Blog.  We kept passing roadside BBQ’s, I kept requesting we stop for the BBQ Pig, it wasn’t going happen.  So I told Natasa, I really want to have the BBQ pig, when we go out.

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I FINALLY GOT TO TRY IT. IT ACTUALLY WASN’T AS GOOD AS I HAD IMAGINED, I CAN CHECK IT OFF THE BUCKET LIST NOW THOUGH.

The Rovinj Farmers market was run like a Mafia market.  There were maybe 15 vendors who all had nearly the same products at the same prices.  I wanted to buy the Lavender Soap, but not at the fixed Mafia price.  I made an offer to one vendor then another, both refused my deal.  I finally found a willing seller and paid a price I felt was closer to what I felt the soap was worth.

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EVEN THE BEAUTIFUL HOT CHILI STRINGS WERE PRICED THE SAME.

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I HAD TO TAKE ONE LAST PHOTO ON OUR LAST BIKE TRIP THROUGH TOWN.

We had a good time in Croatia, it’s so great being so close to so many different countries all with there own cultures and foods.

NEXT: As promised “WHERE THE HELL IS SKOFJA LOKA?” It’s gonna be BIG!

CROATIA PHOTOS HERE

Thanks for reading.

Jeff

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BIKE TOURING MT. TRIGLAV

Natasa is off to Sarajevo and I’m offered the car for the weekend.  The car idea is somewhat tempting, but as a biker, we usually like to pedal our ride not drive it. So, I plan a weekend trip, first by train to Most na Soca (photos).  Then bike to Camp Villi (photos) to use as a base camp and do some exploring of the region, by bike.  I call Will and warn him that I’m coming and I would like the BBQ fish dinner.

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I MISSED THE ASPHALT ROAD TURN-OFF AND END UP TAKING THIS GRAVEL ROAD.  STILL PRETTY NICE!

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I THINK ONLY ONE OR TWO CARS CAME BY ME ON THIS ROAD

I finally work my way back up to the asphalt road and check my google map to see how far Camp Villi is, I see it’s directly below me. It’s hot and I’m wearing jeans, I didn’t bring any cycling shorts.  Camp Villi is alive with activity, like cutting the grass and other country living chores.

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I DIDN’T SEE THE SHEEP LAST TIME, NOW I’M CAMPING NEXT TO THEM.

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1 KILOMETER OR 100 KILOMETERS, NOTHING FEELS BETTER THAN A COLD RIVER ON YOUR FEET, AND I MEAN COLD!

I had called ahead and told them I was coming, good plan.  They thought I was going to be the only one camping and eating with them, wrong, 14 more people showed up.

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PETER HAD THE UNFORTUNATE TASK OF TRYING TO MAKE 14 PEOPLE HAPPY WITH THE REMAINING 3 FISH. INSTEAD OF FISH THEY GOT BOSNIAN SAUSAGES and CHICKEN, GOOD, BUT NOT AS GOOD AS THE FISH.

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CHICKEN, BOSNIAN SAUSAGES, POLENTA, ZUCCHINI AND TOMATOES. NOTHING LIKE ROUGHING IT WHEN YOUR CAMPING.

parasailing

From my campsite there are about 12 people parasailing above me.  I talk with Will and he tells me you can fly for 5 or 6 hours if you want.  The thermal lifts here, are world renowned.  I thought I would take a photo the next day, but forgot to. So I posted this video of someone doing a 40 km “sailing.”

VIEW PARASAILING VIDEO HERE

The weather is uncharacteristically warm and very sunny.  I start thinking that maybe I should do the Mt. Triglav loop, that I’ve wanted to do all summer.  I check the distance and the weather online.  I call Natasa and tell her my plans, “have a good time”, I’m going to ride the valley and climb the mountain.  It’s the challenge that I enjoy, so here goes.

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THE BIKE ALLOWS YOU TO REALLY SEE AND FEEL THE LOVE A COUNTRY.

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THE WEATHER IS SPECTACULAR COMBINED WITH THE SCENERY, BIKING WAS A GREAT CHOICE. EVERYWHERE YOU TURN, IT SEEMS THERE’S A CHURCH.

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STONE BUILDING

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I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THIS LITTLE STONE BUILDING IS FOR?

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THE BLUE COLOR OF THE SOCA RIVER IS SOMETHING I’VE NEVER SEEN BEFORE.

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I LOVE BIKING

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THE PHOTOS OPPORTUNITIES ARE NUMEROUS

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I DIDN’T BRING ANY “CYCLING” SHORTS, BUT THE RIDE IS SO GREAT I HARDLY NOTICE HOW UNCOMFORTABLE THESE ARE TO RIDE IN.

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I WAS THE ONLY CAMPER AT THIS CAMPGROUND, ONE OF THE ADVANTAGES OF CAMPING “OUT OF SEASON”

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I’VE NEVER SEEN SO MANY CABLE BRIDGES ACROSS A RIVER

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I’M PATIENTLY WAITING MY TURN.

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OFF SEASON TOURING IS QUIET

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i stop at a store for some supplies for tomorrows climb, there’s a couple of touring German cyclist here too  They just climbed the mountain and said it took them an hour and half.  I gave myself 2-3 hours and to be sure I would make it.   I camped at the last campground just before the climb, to give myself enough time.

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I HAD SOME TIME BEFORE THE SUN WENT DOWN AND DID A LITTLE HIKE NEAR MY CAMPSITE. I WAS THE ONLY ONE CAMPING HERE TOO.

I make a big bowl of oatmeal, fruit and nuts and 2 cups of coffee.  It’s time to meet my destiny, the top!

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HOLY SHIT, 14% GRADE FOR 9 KM.(5.6 MILES) (I’m toast)
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NEARLY EVERY TURN HAD A NUMBERED SIGN WITH THE ELEVATION

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SOME TURNS HAD SIGNS OF A LAZY DAY, THAT I WASN’T CURRENTLY EXPERIENCING

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IT TOOK ME 2.5 HOURS TO REACH THE SUMMIT OF PRELAZ VRSIC (there’s no way those other cyclist made it in 1.5 hours) The pass road is closed in the winter.

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MY BIKE RIMS WERE OVERHEATING ON THE RIDE DOWN, BUT OF COURSE THERE’S ALWAYS A GOOD PHOTO TO TAKE WHILE YOU WAIT FOR THEM TO COOL OFF.

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EVERY TURN HAD COBBLESTONES WITH ASPHALT USED IN BETWEEN THE TURNS

i finally reach Kranjska Gora, this bike path starts at the Italian border and goes all the way to Camp Kamne.  Camp Kamne is where Natasa and I first met.

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THIS BIKE PATH IS ONE OF THE MANY REASONS THAT BIKING IS BETTER THAN DRIVING.

I was the only one a Camp Kamne, for awhile, then 3 more campers showed up.

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I GOT TO SET UP AND COOK IN THE SHELTER. THEY WORK HARD AT CAMP KAMNE, EVERYTHING IS IN EXCELLENT CONDITION AND THE PLACE IS “SUPER ” CLEAN.

I was going to take the 3pm train from Jesenice back to Skofja Loka.  I looked at the map and it was only 56km, easy, no mountains and I would get in SKofja Loka about the same time, as the train.   I message Natasa and tell her my plans, “see you tonight, have fun”, awesome.  I’ve wanted to figure out how to ride from here to Skofja Loka, google maps shows me the Highway, so instead I use the walking route map.

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THE WALKING ROUTE IS GREAT, NO CARS

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I LOVE THE CHARACTER AND CHARACTERS OF THE LITTLE VILLAGES I PASS THROUGH

I was doing really good for awhile, the walking route was more than rewarding.

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THE “WALKING” ROUTE TOOK ME DOWN A DIRT ROAD THAT TURNED TO MUD AND EVENTUALLY ENDED. I HAD TO BACKTRACK 3 OR 4 KM

i missed another turn and ended up riding into someones farm, then a dog chased me away.  I checked my map and found out where I went wrong (again).

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I KNOW WHY A MISSED THIS TURN, I THOUGHT “NO WAY” YEP THAT WAS THE WAY.

I finally made it to Kranj, I’ve ridden to Kranj from Skofja Loka 6 or 7 times.  It’s about a 40 minute ride and I got back an hour after the train, not too bad?  I was so glad to be back.  I think todays ride was harder than crossing the PRELAZ VRSIC (mountain pass).  I was so dead,

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I WALK IN THE DOOR AND SI-SI, OUR CAT, THOUGHT I NEEDED A NICE WELCOME HOME PRESENT, SHIT! MAYBE THE CAT MISSED ME?

If your considering a challenging bike route here it is.

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GOOGLE MAP OF ROUTE

Next time I’ll ride from Skofja Loka to Most na Soca, instead of the train, it’s a quiet road.              IS BIKING BETTER THAN DRIVING? Of course I say yes, but you decide for yourself.  Taking 4 days biking versus 3 hours driving allows for a greater connection with an area, just look at the photos, they tell the real story.

MY BIKE PHOTOS ARE HERE

NEXT? BIKING IN CROATIA (again).                                                                                                          For all the people waiting for my Skofja Loka stories and photos, I swear they’re next-next.  I have 450 photos to sort and figure out where to put to make a nice story;-)

Thanks for reading and commenting

Jeff

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BIKE ROUTE SCOUTING OF MT. TRIGLAV

I know I promised to write about life in Skofja Loka, but shit happens.  We’ve had a terrible summer, except for the last couple of days, sunny sunny sunny.  It’s hard to work inside when it’s so nice outside.  We went to the European Union Mobility Festival events in Ljubljana.  I did the bike tour, then we all 3 did the walking tour and then a free train ride to the Ljubljana Castle (photos) in the city center.

ljubljana castle

I was told by the head of Slovenian Tourism that the route around Mt. Triglav is the most beautiful part of Slovenia.  I’ve been trying all summer to get someone, anyone to join me for a bike tour of the region, but no takers. (Stanley)IMG_1145I finally convince Natasa that driving around the mountain and car-camping would be OK too.  So we are going to drive around Mt. Triglav (photos), the highest mountain in Slovenia and it’s only National Park while doing bike tour scouting.

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THE ROADS ARE QUIET AND SEEM LIKE A POTENTIAL FOR GREAT BIKE TOURING.

I LOVE RURAL LIFE

I LOVE RURAL LIFE PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES

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MOST OF THE ROADS WERE IN GREAT SHAPE

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I REALLY ADMIRE THE PEOPLE WHO OPT FOR RURAL VILLAGE LIFE.

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LOVE THE UNIQUE HOUSES THAT LINE THE ROADS

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AN AMAZING TUNNEL CUT THROUGH SOLID ROCK. LOTS OF CARS CAN BE SEEN CARRYING BIKES TO THEIR DESTINATION.

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SLOVENIA IS A BEE CAPITAL, WHICH MORE OF THE WHOLE WORLD NEEDS TO PROMOTE TOO

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A POSITIVE SIGN THAT CYCLING IS PART OF THE CULTURE HERE AND COMPATIBLE WITH FARMING! (car photos can be fuzzy)

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STONE RAILWAY OVERPASS

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YOU RARELY SEE A CAR ALONG THIS ROUTE

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We didn’t leave till 5pm, so within a couple hours the sun was disappearing.  I type “camping” into Google maps and it shows a few campsites, on the other side of the Soca River.  We finally find a bridge, cross the river and follow some camping signs down a gravel road.  We stumble into CAMP VILI (camp willy), and meet the very funny owner, Will.  We didn’t plan any dinner options for tonight.  So Will’s many choices are more than welcome.

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WILL SHOWS US SOME DINNER OPTIONS, CHICKEN OR PORK WITH VEGETABLES.

We opt for the fresh BBQ fish.

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 “MY BEST MEAL IN SLOVENIA”  BBQ: FRESH FISH, POLENTA, ZUCCHINI, BOSNIAN SAUSAGES, TOMATOES AND EGGPLANT.

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THIS SIDE OF THE RIVER IS A TOP NOTCH BICYCLE ROUTE.

The road ends in KOBARID (photos), a place for adventure experiences: rafting, canyoning, hiking, kayaking and parasailing

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THE ROAD’S POTENTIAL FOR BIKE TOURING IS SHOWN AT EVERY TWIST AND TURN IN THE ROAD.

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I’M INTERESTED TO SEE WHAT IT’S LIKE IN WINTER, I’M BETTING SNOW AND COLD

We stopped at many different campgrounds to see what amenities they offered.  Some sold sheep cheese and had an in-house restaurant.

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THIS WATER FEATURE WAS AT ONE OF THE CAMPGROUNDS WE VISITED.

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LET ME JUST SAY, “THAT WATER IS COLD

We’ve driven through the entire Trenta Valley (photos) and are about to head up and over the mountain.  I’m taking photos as Natasa drives, we pass a photo opportunity, but continue to drive.  I finally said “wait” there’s an awesome photo I want.  Natasa agrees and turns the car around. We only go back about a kilometer or 2.

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THIS HARDY COUPLE IS DIGGING THIS YEARS POTATOES FOR WINTER STORAGE. THEY ARE THE FIRST HOUSE AT THE  BASE OF THE MOUNTAIN. WE STAYED AND TALKED FOR AWHILE. THIS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE PICTURES OF ALL TIMES.

We basically drove through the Trenta Valley following the Soca River.  Natasa suggest we hike to the Soca’s source, mmm OK.  The first part of the hike was easy, but before long we’re hanging onto a cable, to reach the source.

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HANGING ONTO A CABLE TO SEE THE SOCA WATER SOURCE ISN’T MY IDEA OF FUN. IT WAS A LONG WAY DOWN.

I tell her, “I’m not dieing to see the Soca River source.”  We turn around and I buy the post card of what it looks like.  Natasa treats me to some cherry strudel, for doing the hike?  It’s time to drive up and over PRELAZ VRSIC (photos) .

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HEADING DOWN, EVERY TURN WAS COBBLESTONED

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YOU NEVER KNOW WHO OR WHAT YOU’LL SEE ON THE SLOVENIAN BACKROADS

It was quite a great “road” trip, very doable by bike, except maybe climbing the 10 km mountain.

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We’re great travel companions, as always looking forward to our next adventure.  Natasa has to go to Sarajevo for work, in a couple weeks.  So I plan to take the train to Most Na Soca and bike to Camp Ville, while she’s gone.  I was going to just ride up and down the bike route, then take the train back to Skofja Loka.  The weather is forecast, sunny for 4 days–straight!

NEXT?  I bike the route we just drove, including up Prelaz Vrsic pass.  Is biking really better travel than by car? stay tuned

MY ARE PHOTOS HERE

Thanks for reading

Jeff

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