Tag Archives: slovenia

MUSHROOM PICKING IN THE FOREST OF SORICA, SLOVENIA

We had a wedding celebration dinner at Jesharna with some friends.  While enjoying desert at our house they mentioned they were going mushroom picking the next day.  I happily invited myself to join them, they said OK.
Sorica was only a 1/2 hour drive from Skofja Loka.  The sisters, Mateja and Majda  grew up here, so they knew where to go.

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It’s great to go mushrooming with someone who knows where to go and find them.

It is so peaceful up here, no freeways in the background or traffic on the one road for that matter.  I’ve been buying wild mushrooms at the farmers market, so I’m pretty excited to actually find some myself.
LOTS OF DIFFERENT MUSHROOMS

We scoured  the hillsides and found quite a few mushrooms.  I’m still not very good (or at all) speaking Slovenian.  But I get a lot of sympathy (help)

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MATEJA BROUGHT HER TRANSLATION BOOK, JUST IN CASE.

It went a lot quicker than I first thought it would.

Living in such a small country there is always someone you know who lives somewhere near where your going.  On the way home we stop at Mateja and Majda Mom’s house to visit and have some coffee.
Slovenia may be a small country, but there’s is lot’s to explore and experience.  The mountains, lakes, rivers, bike paths, architecture, arts, history and of course it’s people! they truly makes it a great country.  Did I mention there’s one hot women here that I love?  There’s that too.
There’s a tradition here about putting your 50, 60,70th…..birthday via an announcement tree sculpture.  I blogged about this some before.

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This is the first bicycle one I’ve seen. I told Natasa that’s what I want for my 50th birthday. Speaking of which, I was reading the other day that the confirmed date for getting old is now considered 60.  I’m having my 60th birthday on January 1,  “next” year.
We had some friends visit from California, Russ and Jill.  Russ married my high school sweetheart, Jody.  We’ve remained in touch even thought Jody passed away from cancer 10 years ago.  There sending me some photos from their visit and will do a blog story about there visit.  When they got back from Slovenia, they wrote a story about their visit, it got  published in the San Francisco Chronicle.

I’m trying to clean-up the backlog of Blog stories before heading to London, so hang on, here they come.
NEXT: BIKING AROUND MARIBOR, SLOVENIA

Thanks for reading
Jeff & Natasa

I’m sure most people saw this on Facebook, it’s short.

SKOFJA LOKA GETS A NEW TUNNEL

The tunnel talk has gone on for forty years.  So the EU stepped up by giving Slovenia 35 million euro of the eventual 53 million euro total cost.  The route was confirmed in 1991, the year Slovenia broke away from Yugoslavia.  The financial details were resolved in 2006 and construction started in 2013, the year I got here.

THIS IS ONE OF THE REASONS FOR THE NEW TUNNEL

THIS IS ONE OF THE REASONS FOR THE NEW TUNNEL, ONE WAY TRAFFIC ONLY

Natasa and I made a bike ride we call the “Super 8”, it’s 8 km from Skofja Loka.  For 2 years we rode on the new “highway”, before it opened.   It was really interesting watching the tunnel and new road take shape.  I took photos all during the construction up to and including the opening ceremony.

Slovenia is mountainous, so there are lots of tunnels, it must be quicker in the long run to bore through the mountain, than build a road over the mountain.   I walked  and rode my bike through several times, days before the official opening.
THESE ARE PICTURES A FEW DAYS BEFORE THE OFFICIAL OPENING

in the middle of the tunnel it echoes and is noisy, but they wrapped 10 meters at each end of the tunnel in soundproofing material.  It’s amazing how quiet it is, probably to help the neighbors sleep at night. The day of the opening I was riding to Ljubljana, so I stopped by for a last look.  A worker stopped me, I explained (In English), I wanted to just ride through, then he waved me through. I know it was the English that got me through. , he obviously didn’t speak any.

We were out of town when they had a celebration for reclaming of the old town.  The big trucks and lines of cars waiting to get between the buildings, it was time for a tunnel.  The tunnel seems to be mostly good except for one thing.

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WITH ALL THE CARS PASSING BY HERE, HITCHHIKING USE TO BE EASY

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NOW? NO CARS AND NO HITCHHIKERS

Natasa talked with the people who live on the ‘old” road.  They said big trucks were still using the old road and felt the new road wasn’t on truckers GPS yet, who knows.
I’ve been super busy, hence not much blogging, but rest assured we’ve got lots of adventures to share, that’s why we’ve been busy.  There’s a balance between living the adventures here in Slovenia and writing about them.
I came across this article on BBC about Slovenia:: THE LAKE AT THE END OF THE WORLD

I’m going to England for the Climate Change March on Nov. 29, then Bristol to see Courtney Barnett, then to Paris where the World Climate Change Summit is taking place..  First I plan to volunteer for the protest and in between be a tourist for a couple days.

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 IF WE SAY “IT’S FOR THE CHILDREN” THEY’LL LISTEN!?

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LAST TIME I CHECKED CRAIGSLIST THERE WASN’T ANOTHER PLANET FOR SALE. LET’S TAKE CARE OF THE ONE WE HAVE.

If your in London on Nov. 28 or Paris Dec. 12, email me and we’ll meet up at the Protest.
and whoever you are out there, thanks for reading our blog.
NEXT: MUSHROOM PICKING IN SLOVENIA
TILL NEXT TIME
JEFF

                                    I PLAN TO SEE THE “THEE OH SEES” IN LONDON

WHO NEEDS A CAR WITH A TRAIN AND A BIKE! KOPER, PIRAN & IZOLA

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A couple winters ago the Slovenian winter storms damaged the train route from Ljubljana to Koper, at the coast.  I heard they repaired the problems and you could now ride the train all the way to Koper.  Last time I went to the coast I borrowed Natasa’s car, this time I’m taking the train.
The train was 30 mins. late leaving because it was waiting for a train from Germany to make a connection. I got to sit up front with the guy driving the train, we spoke some English too! I only had 10 minutes to make my train connection. I missed my connection and ended up putting my bike on the bus the rest of the way to Koper (for free).

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10 MINUTES AFTER I ARRIVED IT STARTED POURING RAIN, BREAKFAST AND COFFEE TILL THE STORM PASSED-RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME.

30 minutes of rain stopped, I then headed to Piran, Slovenia.  I rode past Izola, but was planning to go there after Piran.

I’m so lucky to be in good enough shape to enjoy all these biking adventures.  Speaking of luck someone did a study and said luck doesn’t just happen.  Talk to the people around you, be truly interested in them, share your knowledge and insights with others. Talk to people in the bank/post office line.  I do this all the time, it drives Natasa crazy Slovenians are somewhat reserved.  She’s always saying how lucky I am, there’s a reason.  One more thing, put your cell-phone down and talk to the person right next to you, the world will be a better place.
In Piran I  stayed at the Val Hostel   it was super awesome, right in the heart of the old town. For only $22 euro I got a private room with a sink (bathroom/shower down the hall)  and a super breakfast.  I highly recommend anyone to stay there.


I had 2 days in Piran, so ventured into the hills with my bike.  Lots of dead end google map routes, i  finally got to the top,

I wanted to take a different route back to Izola, it was different all right. I climbed so many hills I couldn’t count them all.  The tunnel saves so much time (climbing), I get the tunnel thing now, holy shit.

I love Izola and the HOSTEL ALIETI. This is my 3rd time here,  They are so friendly to me, it’s like home.

I (we) decided I could  stay an extra day so I could attend the Sweets Festival in Koper.  It’s Slovenia and it’s sweets, I could only imagine.

It only rained for a 1/2 hour the first day.  I swam nearly everyday, ate great food, chocolate  and now it’s time to get back to Skofja Loka.  I grabbed the bus back, to bring the bike the driver wanted enough money for a coffee, 1 euro for the bike.
I had a gardening business for 25 years, so I had to get a picture of this kids shirt, on the bus.

PUSH IT PUSH IT

PUSH IT PUSH IT “REAL GOOD”

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I’m putting this picture here because I’m going to Paris, Dec. 7-14.  One to visit Paris and the other to attend the World Climate Change Conference–as a protester because we all know like every other Climate conference, never an agreement or reduction, just an agreement to meet again.  Meat and meat production causes over 50% of greenhouse gases, please avoid meat and especially beef.  Go watch the movie COWSPIRACY , it’s on Netflix now.
SIX EUROPEAN COUNTRIES GOING CAR-FREE
Thanks and have a great day.
Jeff

and here’s a new band DIIV

COME VISIT SKOFJA LOKA AND SLOVENIA THIS WINTER

VISIT SLOVENIA

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Come live in a 1000 year old medieval village.  Come see what life was like before the car.  We have an apartment in the “center” of the old town, that sleeps 5.  Bakeries, coffee shops, restaurants,  post office, banks,
grocery stores, museums, craft and gift shops and more all within a 2 minute walk or less.

PICTURES OF SKOFJA LOKA, SLOVENIA

I had lived in Portland for 35 years, In 2013 I biked from Lisbon, Portugal to Istanbul, Turkey.  I rode through Slovenia and fell in love, with the country too.  I married Natasa and have been here almost 2 years now.  Skofja Loka is what Portland wants to be, a low car use-walking town. We live in the old town and are renting the apartment that Natasa’s brother owns, downstairs from us.
You can visit most of Slovenians highlights in just a one hour drive or a nice bus or train ride.

PHOTOS OF THE APARTMENT

CONTACT US THROUGH THIS WEBSITE OR MAKE A RESERVATION THROUGH AIR B & B

Thanks for reading.

Jeff

WHAT’S GOING ON IN SKOFJA LOKA? SWIMMING, AIR B&B, NEW TUNNEL, CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS, KITTEN, PHOTO GALLERY, NEW MUSIC

                                               SUMMER DAYS BY THE RIVER
I always tell the tourist to go swimming, but I hadn’t gone myself.  So I started going everyday.  I invited Natasa, she declined to swim but said she would go watch. After watching several times  she finally put on her swim suit underneath her clothes and we made the 5 minute walk to the river. She finally went in and we both enjoyed hanging out in the river.

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                                                   NEW AIR B&B APARTMENT
We opened an Air B & B apartment in the center of the old town.  Natasa’s brother owned the apartment below us. He wasn’t having any luck renting it, so we decided to try an Air B&B apartment.  We’ve had a few guest, if you want to come to Skofja Loka here’s the link to the
OLD TOWN  MEDIEVAL MANSION.  FYI you can stay in the European Union for 3 months without a special Visa.  Come rent the apartment for a month or 3, no car needed, it’s a great experience.

We would have gotten 4 stars but the outside of the building is falling apart.   Owning  a building with 5 other people, it seems nearly impossible to get them to agree on anything.  Your best and greatest asset is your home, letting it fall into disrepair is bad money management, I wish they understood that.

                               THE NEW BY-PASS TUNNEL IS ABOUT TO OPEN
I’ve been here in Skofja Loka for almost 2 years and all that time they have been working on a Tunnel to by-pass the Skofja Loka bottle neck.

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ONLY ONE LANE OF TRAFFIC AT A TIME THROUGH HERE

I talked with the bus driver one day and he said they have talked about the by-pass tunnel for 30 years.  The European Union gave Slovenia the money, but they had to finish by a certain date or they had to return the money.  I would sometimes see them out there on a Sunday working, ( I don’t think they had the money to give back).

                                                                        WE GOT A KITTEN

Sara and Natasa had a booth at the old town garage sale.  They sold a few things and got a few things too–a kitten.  I’m home alone some days so I also thought a cat would be fun.

               THERE’S LOTS OF CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS TO CLOSE OUT THE SUMMER

                   IT’S FALL, TIME TO STORE SOME FOOD AND TRIM SOME FRUIT TREES
I left a huge vegetable garden and fruit orchard, back in Portland.  Our patio garden here only produces so much food. so Natasa and I enlarged her parents garden.  With our tomatoes, I canned 30 jars of Italian sauce and Mexican Salsa. One of my reasons for not starting a business here in Skofja Loka was that I could help her parents.  Food is a great thing to share with others, so working on a community garden is very rewarding.

                       SOME FUN PICTURES FROM AROUND SKOJFA LOKA

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In Škofja Loka there is a legend about Prince Abraham, the first feudal lord from Bavaria, who was travelling up the Poljane Valley with his black servant. While walking through the bushes, they ran into a bear. Prince Abraham froze in his tracks, but the black servant calmly drew his bow and shot dead the bear. When they returned to Loka Castle, Prince Abraham ordered that, as an acknowledgment, the face of the man who saved his life should be depicted in the coat of arms. Since then, the Škofja Loka coat of arms has featured the black servant’s face.

FYI, there are virtually no black people in Slovenia, so this is a remarkable commemorative in more than one way.
I keep thinking I’m going to run out of fun stories, but I’m about a month behind now.  We’ve used two of our honeymoon gifts to adventure around Slovenia.  I took a train-bike trip to the coast.  So if your a bike enthusiast (or a wanna be) I’ve got some fun bike stories coming.
I discovered this new musical artist, COURTNEY BARNETT from Melbourne Australia.  I put a live show and a great album below feel free to give it a listen, pretty great music.

NEXT: WHO NEEDS A CAR WITH A TRAIN AND A BIKE!
THANKS FOR READING
Jeff

EUROPEAN VACATIONS AND A SLOVENIAN BIKE TOUR: JEZERSKO-LUCE-KAMNIK

We’ve gone on several vacations this year, but none compare to my solo bike tour around Slovenia.  First we spent a week in Croatia on Murter Island, just laying in the shade at the beach.  It was very hot all day.  Natasa & I got up before sunrise and rode bikes to the bakery then to a coffee shop along the dock, we rode about 25 km each day.  Our next vacation we camped overnight at the same campsite where we first met.  We biked up to the Fuse Lakes in Italy (photos).   Then we biked to Lake Bohinj  and went swimming (photos).  Then Natasa and I visited Zagreb, Croatia for a couple days.  I think Zagreb has more museums than any city of it’s size.  We visited “The Museum of Broken Relationships”, “Torture Museum” and “The Contemporary Art Museum.”  We biked along the river and through JARUN Sports Park that had signs with photos and accomplishments of Croatian Athletes, Drazen Petrovic  played for my Portland Trail Blazers.

Those were nice vacations, but nothing beats a bike tour.  So Natasa’s  4 weeks of vacation was over and she’s back to work.  When I flew back from America this last time I grabbed the airline magazine that had a bike ride reviewed.  The ride is done by some in one day, but I decided, I could make it a 4 day,   I love having time to explore an area, meet people and maybe go swimming too, this trip was all of that.
I had a bike ride from my house in Portland, Oregon, that looped Mt. Hood and ended with a visit to Bagby Hot Springs, where cedar logs are carved out to make the baths (another thing I’ll miss in Oregon).  I really like the idea of riding from home, no car, bus, train or plane, just biking.  This ride does that too, I was able start and end my tour in Skofja Loka.  The ride is about 120 km, so some easy 30-40km. days.

DAY 1 SKOFJA LOKA TO JEZERSKO
It’s paved farmers fields paths to Kranj, then ride through some small villages and then uphill to Jezersko. I always go to the tourist office, they know? and in this case they knew,  The packaged teas on the tourist desk caught my interest.  The Jezersko tourist office  called and set a time for me to meet the local herbalist, Matej Tonejec..  I felt so lucky to meet him, his family had owned the house for 500 years.  He said in the early 90’s they use to rent rooms.  They use to do eye surgery in town because the weather was conducive to the eyes healing.  So patients and visiting families use to stay. The hospital closed when Slovenia broke from Yugoslavia, the rooms were empty.

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MATEJ NOW USES THE ROOMS TO RUN HIS TEA BUSINESS.

I camped at Senk Farm, the oldest farm in the area.  I was greeted by some chickens.  The food in the local restaurants is good and cheap,  I’m not cooking on my next bike tour.
PHOTOS FROM DAY 1

DAY 2 JEZERSKO TO LUCE

My goal is to leave by 9am.  I made my famous oatmeal and coffee bikers breakfast, I was climbing the minute I left the camp. At the top was Austria and the old border crossings check points that are no longer needed. I met a couple guys in the coffee shop, they said there was a skating event that day.  There were 200 skaters and a few roller bladers.  So I parked myself at a turn and waited, 3 buses of skaters came by, then they close the road for 1/2 an hour and let em’ go downhill.  It’s a skate camp weekend, you pay $200 for camping and 6 or 7 runs a day, including the bus rides up. I walked uphill pushing my bike for an hour and a half.  I met a cyclist along the way who is doing the route in the one day, like in the article.  He caught me walking, but he was in full sweat, so I didn’t feel so bad.  He also had no gear-non and I was loaded for camping.  I crossed back into Slovenia and received a few messages from Natasa.
I was trying to get to this certain campground, so I started getting more serious about riding.  Then I came to the Logarska dolina.  It’s a national park and it cost money to drive in but you can bike in for free.  It’s the end of the day, there’s no way I’m riding with gear up-to the water fall.  Then I notice an electric bike sitting there,  I start talking electric bikes with him and before I know it, I’m riding for free to the water fall (go figure).  It’s basically all uphill, I flew by some Lycra riders, and yelled “watch out for the e-bike”  I met a family of 5 with 3 little ones (2 on bikes)  They rode from the campground to the waterfalls and back, my hero’s.
I opt for my 2nd choice campground, it’s getting too late.  My camping neighbor brings me some hard liquor in a glass, I took a sip in front of him, but that was it, holy shit that was strong.

DAY 2 PHOTOS

DAY 3 LUCE TO NATURAVANTURA CAMPGROUND
Naturavantura was the campground I was trying to reach the day before, but no.  It was a short nearly car-free ride to the campground.  I was welcomed with a glass of the traditional Slovenian blueberry wine.   I knew I had found a great campground.  They had a all the amenities for a great camping experience: tents & cabins, communal kitchen, dinner/breakfast available, hammock area, cold river swimming, and WiFi.
I was invited to sit around the nightly campfire, laying in my tent I thought, OK.  It was just me and the 2 camp hosts.  We sat up till mid-night sharing stories and laughing, I was glad I got up and out of my tent.  I picked up a map that had several local bike rides.  I’m planning on coming back and staying 3 or 4 days exploring the area.

PHOTOS FROM DAY 3

DAY 4  NATURAVANTURA TO KAMNIK

I don’t like to backtrack so they suggested I go further down the road and turn right, OK.  They told me there was a climb going that way, I’m a professional bike walker, so I’m ready for anything.  It was a great ride, till the hill.  I never walked, but there was some serious climbing.  I love going off the beaten path.  I passed some hemp farming and several small villages. Slovenian is known for it’s honesty and what I saw only confirmed that.  I went by a propane storage shed that was locked-with the keys in the lock.

DAY 5 KAMNIK TO VELIKA PLANINA by CAR

Natasa drove to Kamnik to join me.The tourist office suggested I visit Velika Planina.  It was a cable car ride up and an optional chairlift, Natasa made me walk the second half.  It was a traditional high  mountain grazing area in the summer, but now it’s more of a tourist thing, which I’m a tourist so let’s have some fun.  There were lots of people there, but the mountain is big and scattered the crowds throughout the area.  After hiking around we headed back to Kamnik to a local trout farm for lunch,  Ribogojnica-Mihovc

I put the bike on the car and we drove back to Skofja Loka.  I watched the road for bike friendliness, no.  Taking the bus or getting a car ride seems the safest way home, good call.

I hope you enjoy this bike tour, I know I did.

Jeff

NEXT: SLOVENIAN COAST BIKE TOUR USING THE TRAIN