Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The hills are alive...

Continuing east from Venice through the flat country we stopped in Palmanova – mainly because of its star-shaped appearance on – it was a quaint little town and had great gelati! It started to drizzle so we actually stopped at a half-finished and abandoned house to camp the night in shelter with a great view of the electrical storm.

Despite covering a lot of kms on flat country, the beauty of the mountains was calling again so we headed into Slovenia and north through the Julian Alps and enjoyed some of the sweetest apples we’d ever had (all fallen from the trees of course!). Slovene (Slovenish) seems a complicated language with lots of hard to pronounce words, a fascination for ‘K’ & ‘J’ while missing vowels but we navigated through to a town called Bohinjska Bistrica. Bohinj was more of a village as it had maintained its old fashioned buildings and ‘small town’ nature – no large hotels with hordes of tourists. We enjoyed a typical Slovenian dinner of saurerkraut soup with beans and sausage, dry red corn with fried bits and sour milk, and boiled potatoes with a kind of cottage cheese. Yum!

We also enjoyed a ride out to Lake Bohinj before continuing north to Lake Bled… loaded with tourists however we still enjoyed a swim before heading off through the forest.

Interesting interaction with a park ranger and an earlier than usual start was incredible as the mist was forming over the ice cold glacial creeks. 

We enjoyed a walk up and behind Pericnik waterfall.

Coffee in Moystrana – construction workers were actually working! And it was Sunday!! Became clear that Slovenians are hard workers (both farmers and around personal gardens etc.) They all speak English as well which made travelling so easy. Slovenia was the greenest country we had ever seen, crystal clear water and I’m not sure they appreciate me “complaining” that we couldn’t find rubbish along the side of the road to clean our chains with! 

Pretty steep hills: 10%, 12%, 15%... when was it going to stop!?! Rode up an 18% gradient in the rain to get to the Austrian border. Decided to rest only to check our breaks as the Austrian guard was quite confident in telling us that the gradient down the other side was 23%... while we felt sorry for the cyclists pushing their bicycles up as we passed, it certainly got the adrenaline pumping and the hands (on the brakes) cramping.

Austria was also green…the land of green green grass! Every slope that was flat enough was being used to grow grass. Watching them cut, turn, dry, rake, collect, stuff into barns was exhausting – so much labour involved but we rarely saw the cows as they were inside barns or under the house! The biggest farm was perhaps 100 cows = Tim’s number crunching couldn’t figure out how they make an income = how much govt. assistance?

When not playing in the grass they cast their ‘green fingers’ upon the flowers that decorate every balcony. We admired the displays and the pride that EVERY house had in its garden…we couldn’t find the housing commission areas.


We raced up a hill just in time to take a train 8km through-under the mountains (all road traffic takes it) and came out at the village of Bad Gastein = beautiful waterfalls rush down the centre of the town and extravagant hotels and churches with a stunning view down the valley to complete the scene.

Bike paths in Austria were great = well marked and great surface! We made our way to Salzburg with a few detours to see some of the sights.

One adrenaline pumping moment was the morning when we removed the tent fly and had it and the tent drying in the sun. A brief excursion to the bathroom and we came back puzzled as to where the tent was...? Pondering lasted microseconds as Tim realised that the wind had blown our tent over the fence = into a fast flowing river! He went charging off over the fence, removing clothes to rival 'the Hoff' and then jumped in to rescue the tent which was barely floating in the cold river. Amazingly no damage, all parts still present and the only damage was a grazed bum - no photos :(

Salzburg = Home of the Sound of Music! 

House on the lake + Abbey behind
Doe Ray Me
I am 31 going on 32!
Salzburg lakes district was beautiful. Every lake was a surprise and the route the bike paths took amazing. We got to see a waterski show; the red bull world championships of parachuting; a cultural festival. Perfect weather helps make any place special but we loved cycling Austria!

They played music between the beers!

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