Today’s distance / 今日の走行距離: 140.03km
Average speed / 平均速度: 18.0km/h
Time on bike / 走行時間: 7h 46m
Total distance to date / 今日までの積算距離: 1067.08km (plus 9700km)
Ascent / 上り: +200m
Descent / 下り: -200m
Mmmmm. Flat roads.
I felt the excitement growing in me as I neared Venice.
Venice. Am I really going to be in Venice?
That’s where the streets are made of water, right?
I’ve never been so excited about a city in my whole life.
I arrived late, at around 6pm. I had made the mistake of only emailing one potential CouchSurfing.org host. His email told me that his house was full. I decided to leave the Venice sightseeing till tomorrow, and search for a place to sleep. It was great weather, and promised to be a fair night.
I got an email from a Couchsurfing member today, and ended up in Cervignano in a house full of avid soccer fans.
My host for the night was Filippo, and what’s more, I was his first ever guest. Big thanks to Filippo and the Cervignano Amateur Football Club for taking me in and feeding me and giving me a place to sleep.
Filippo doesn’t always look this crazy. This is the funny photo version of our photo together.
I leave you with some photos and a vid from Palmanova, the craziest city ever. It is perfectly symetrical, in a round shape.
Spent the good part of a whole day in the internet cafe updating.
The excitement came when I was looking for somewhere to sleep. It was raining, and I found a cemetery with high walls and big bushy fur pine trees to shelter under.
The rain kept on raining, so I took a stroll in the cemetary while waiting for the rain to stop.
When I returned to my bike, I noticed that the cemetary gates had been locked shut. There was no going back now, I was locked in till morning. The gates were high, as were the walls. No way to get my bike over them.
I slept like a baby.
Or a dead person.
A somewhat suitable end to Peter and I’s trek across the karst region of Slovenia, was a day of visiting cemeteries. We found many along our route, two of which were the resting places of more than 10,000 soldiers who died on the Socho (Isonzo) Front in Slovenia during the First World War from 1915 to 1917.
In the Brje pri Komnu cemetery, 2,400 soldiers who died in the Brje military hospital are buried. In the Gorjansko cemetary 10,000 soldiers of various nationalities are buried.
In Nova Gorica, we visited an old Jewish cemetery. Unlike the other two cemeteries, this one is not sign posted, and there is no obvious path to the entrance. It seems almost forgotten.
On a lighter note, we had our hardest climb of these four days today. 150m pretty much straight up. The church at the top made for a good reward for the hard work.
And how’s this for a big bridge? The biggest stone arch in the world in Nova Gorica. This arch has been destroyed twice, but has also been rebuilt twice. Jolly good.
Like all good things, our trek over the karst by recumbent bike had to come to an end. Peter escorted me to the border with Italy and we said our farewells.
I feel very privileged to have cycled with Peter for these four days. He is very well learned on the history and geography of the region, and a pleasure to be with. I had become accustomed to being able to forget about the cycling, and just enjoying the surroundings – something that is hard to do when you have no one to talk to on the road.
For Peter’s version of events, take a look here. In Slovenian, but he takes great photos.
So thank you Peter for taking the time to cycle with me in Slovenia. Thank you for arranging accommodation and connecting me with interesting people along the way. I hope we can cycle together again one day. Perhaps in New Zealand even?
Fern frond on the West Coast of New Zealand
The karst region of Slovenia on a misty morning has a mysterious mood to it.
It speaks of trolls and midgets with axes. Cold and calm and quiet. Little hamlets nestled in gorges, waiting for the heat of spring to come.
The unwary could stumble and fall to his death in the many sinkholes, only then for his body to be washed down into some unknown cave deep beneath the surface of the earth.
Perhaps that’s why they built bridges in the Škocjanske caves.
The Škocjanske caves, while they lack the sheer number of stalactites and stalagmites of the Postojna caves, are just magnificent. Massive deep gorges run the length of the caves, with high ceilings and deep floors.
Tourists are a plenty here too, but the caves have a down to earth quality that makes them a class act.
From Matavun, we headed towards Pliskovica, where we had arranged to sleep the night in a new youth hostel. Peter again had searched out a fantastic route on quiet country roads, with plenty of excitement.
Sign translation: Crossing railway forbidden
We had hoped to see some horses running free at the Lipica horse stables, but they were all hidden behind fences bearing signs stating the required funds to be paid to enter.
We settled for a friendly and curious pony on a nearby farm.
Just before we arrived at the youth hostel, we visited Staniel, a well preserved village atop a hill. Being Sunday, the village was alive with activity, the main event being a stone carving demonstration.
Staniel oozed age. Stone spouting, beautiful gardens…