When I posted my birthday wish list I wrote that I would find some party to bring in my 27th year with a bang. Alas, that didn’t happen and and my birthday day turned out to be a non-event.
On Friday I trained the 70-odd kilometres from Graz to Maribor in Slovenia. Maribor is a student town and is the European Cultural Capital this year. So I thought it would be vibey. Alas not. I arrived after the annual 16-day Lent Festival, a music and arts event so big that all citizens have to close up shop and leave the town afterwards. So by the time I arrived there was no one there. No one. Alas.
After walking the whole town for the the third time I decided to pack it in. I took a lovely cser out for birthday cake with me in the morning – I had a Bounty cheesecake – and then ran to the train station, jumped on the train as it was pulling out and headed to the capital Ljubljana. It is only about 130km to the capital, but the train trip took two and a half hours. That said, passing the small villages nestled under green, forested mountains was a treat.
Before I left home my mom gave me an envelope to be opened on my birthday. Inside was a card with lovely note and some Euros to be spent on something fun. And for me I bought a pair of sneakers. Not quite new feet, but they will do.
Once in Ljubljana, I only needed one day to see the sights. It is a small city with a typical European centre: a hilltop castle looking down onto the river and maze of old buildings and narrow, cobbled streets, finely sculptured fountains and statues and gaggles of tourists. But after the too-quiet quiet in Maribor I was very happy to be part of a crowd again.There is also a very big park that stretches into the city centre. The manicured pathways and old, shady trees lead to wilder trails that head up the hill.
I originally planned to start my trip in Croatia, but now, six weeks into my trip, am still not yet there and continue to get distracted along the way. However, I am a step closer. After my short visit in the capital I stuck my thumb out in the direction of Koper, on the Slovenian coast. I waited about 20 minutes before a truck driver stopped for me. The 100km journey took more than four hours this time. The driver had to make a stop to offload his cargo – this I only understood after a long and roundabout conversation that was a mess of Slovenian, German, English and some signing. Since I was very happy sitting up high in his cab I said okay and we drove into the mountains to offload the 30 tons of wheat in his truck. Two hours and some paperwork later we again hit the highway towards the coast. There was a perfect moment on that trip: I was singing along to the Love Shack by the B52s with a beer in hand from Marko the driver (he wasn’t drinking), and watching the highway roll past the rocky mountains carpeted in green. Ah yes, this is what traveling is about.
And then I saw the sea! Blue and beautiful stretching far away into the distance.