I’m breaking this up into manageable pieces. Apparently during my 3 weeks of travel I was too busy biking, hiking, eating and drinking (not necessarily in that order) to write anything on this blog. I’ve been home for over a week now, but I can explain that too. I came home to a very lame puppy and have had multiple vet appointments trying to figure it out. Friday we were in Colorado Springs to have Puck’s orthopedic surgeon assess her left front leg. Zoey’s leg bones are growing unevenly, probably due to an anomaly or injury to one of the growth plates causing it to shut down early. The result is that her leg bones are rotating, her poor little foot is twisted outward, and she is quite lame. So we have more dog surgery in our future. We have to wait until she finishes growing to do the surgery (several months or more) and I am supposed to keep her CALM until surgery and then of course after surgery. I have not figured out how I am going to do this yet.
Vermont was wonderful. I arrived Wednesday afternoon in Boston, drove North and picked up my demo Ibis Ripley (same bike I ride, perfect!) on the way up. I stayed in an adorable little renovated barn in Quechee (pronounced KWEECHEE), which is near Woodstock and only about 15 minutes from my friends in Norwich/Hanover. My annual trip to Vermont is always scheduled around the Vermont 50 mountain bike ride, but it has become more of an excuse to visit my friends and their two kids who are like my own niece & nephew. It was a wonderful visit. Holly and I had (thankfully) decided this year we would do the relay in the Vermont 50: I would ride the first 31 miles, which is not technical but has a lot of climbing. Holly would ride the final 19 miles, which is quite technical and still has plenty of climbing! I felt ok, given my lack of any fitness this year, but by the time I got to the hand off point and saw Holly and Casey waiting for me, I was really ready to be off my bike. SO glad I did not have to ride the final miles! Holly took off and Casey and I headed back to the start and then moseyed over to the next point we would be able to see Holly. She came through looking happy – she was quite close to the finish line – Casey and I hustled back and barely made it to see Holly finish! After that, it was off to the brewery for beer and burgers. It was a fun day and a nice way to finish my visit!
The next day, Monday, I had a leisurely day to get to Boston to overnight there before leaving for Slovenia Tuesday evening. I had found out 2 days before that the Slovenian airline – Adria Airlines – was rapidly approaching bankruptcy. They had started to cancel flights and I decided that I needed to be proactive, so I rerouted Mark and I into Trieste, Italy where we would take a car the 90 minutes to Ljubljana. Anne & Robbee would fly to Vienna and drive from there to Ljubljana. I was glad I had been proactive because Adria Airlines shut down that Monday. My revised plans went off without a hitch except that A&R hit traffic and weather and the drive took them closer to 6 hours vs. the 4 we expected. But we all made it.
Ljubljana is a lovely city. We only had an evening and morning there, but we managed to start our discovery of Slovenian wine and cheese right away. We braved a torrential downpour with no umbrellas to reach a wine bar that had good reviews. We were drenched by the time we reached it, but it was worth it.
Important Fact: Slovenia & Croatia both have amazing wines. Who knew? It makes sense given their location, but they do not export much (at all?), so I had no idea. Since we can’t get that wine back here in the States, we made it our mission to drink plenty while we were there. I can safely say we accomplished that mission.
The next morning, we walked around Ljubljana before heading on to our main destination: Lake Bled. Lake Bled is a lovely little town in the Julian Alps. I think we all immediately fell in love with Slovenia. From the parts we saw, it is beautiful, clean and the people are friendly and fun. Our Slovenia itinerary included three day hikes in the area around Lake Bled. Nothing too strenuous, thankfully, but we were able to see some beautiful countryside and walk through many little towns in the foothills.
Our first hike took us out of Kranjska Gora up to a mountain hut which was still open for the end of the season. We met Tor, the welcome Malamute, and enjoyed coffee, beer and wine while chatting with a fellow hiker who managed to drink 2 or 3 beers and a glass or two of wine (possibly more, he had been there before us) and still appear completely sober. They clearly make them heartier over there.
We left the hut right as a large group was approaching, perfect timing, and made our way back down via a lovely but sometimes quite muddy track. None of us biffed it, but we came close. By the time we got back to our hotel it was nearly time to start drinking and eating. We discovered a lovely restaurant called Sova, which did not disappoint. If you are ever in Lake Bled put that on the must do list. We ended up going back another evening because we loved it so much.
The next day’s hike took us on a one-way journey across lovely countryside and through the Vintgar Gorge – a cool gorge, probably a mile long, with a very narrow walkway along the river. We were glad we were there in low season because even a couple tour buses with selfie stick toting tourists made it hectic at times on the narrow path. We wondered how many selfie takers manage to go over the edge each year. It’s not a long fall, but it would be cold.
The other highlight that day was when we stopped in a little town for a coffee and found a woman marching back and forth wearing a sign that simply said “PROTEST”. We thought perhaps she could be a little more explicit, but our waiter explained that she had been doing this for a year after what sounded like an ugly divorce and possible bankruptcy. Anyone who needed to know understood what her “PROTEST” was. She was dedicated, but apparently not effective!
That afternoon, I decided to try out the Slovenian saunas while the others took one of the rowboats out on the lake. The saunas were nice, but they don’t really do clothing. Which is fine with me, but we Americans are definitely the prudes of the world, so it takes some getting used to. I was just glad that the only person who joined me in my sauna was a nice British lady who was quite flustered because she and her husband had managed to capsize in the lake and lose her new iPhone 11. I heard the whole story.
Our final hike was another one-way hike – mostly downhill, perfect – from the hills above Lake Bohinj down to the lake. Lake Bohinj was lovely; in summer it would be a great place to swim! Today’s hike was my favorite in terms of scenery. It is a truly beautiful country. We all decided we would like to go back to Slovenia and do some more serious hiking.
We lucked out on the weather for our time in Slovenia. It was chilly in the mornings, but it did not rain on us except for a short storm one evening.
Our other cool find in Slovenia was a guy making sunglasses out of wood. They are works of art, really beautiful, and we ended up having him make us all a pair as our one souvenir from our trip. They are the coolest sunglasses I have ever owned! https://www.facebook.com/pg/tishlereyewear
That’s all for now. I just took Zoey and Puck out for a walk, Zoey on leash as she is supposed to be… it is going to be a very long few months.