Today was about the riding and the scenery and lunch. And about getting fixed on a destination rather than the ride.
We left Ljubljana and went north on 104 to Menges, then 225 to Stahovica and our first coffee break of the day. Another very cute bartender got to practice her English with us as she described the great roads and beautiful flowers on our route. She nailed it.
At Stahovica, 225 turns east and treats us to some switchbacks on the way to Radmirje. As pretty a road through the foothills as you could hope for. Then along the Savinje River to Mozirje, a big ski area. There is a cable car system there and we hoped to take a ride, but it was buttoned up for the summer.
We assuaged our disappointment by riding 695, 426 and 425 to Velenje and Highway 4 through Mislinja to Dravograd, and it was time for lunch. It took us three tries to find a place that served food but it was worth the effort. The happiest bartender in Slovenia served us goulash with a big bowl of cold polenta on the side, enough bread for 6 and two large beers. The goulash was just excellent. Our server was humming along to the music the whole time we were there. At one point she dropped and broke a glass and the humming barely stopped. She walked out, grabbed a broom and headed back in, humming all the way.
After lunch we followed the Drava River to Maribor, where we stopped to send some postcards and get something to drink. Temperatures were rising fast after a brief sprinkle during lunch. We parked on a big sidewalk next to a cafe and the guy at the next table started talking to us. He is from Lebanon and a dedicated traveler. We traded emails and facebook info, and he told us how to get to Lebanon “the easy way” from Turkey. He has traveled all over the Middle East, including Iran, Afghanistan, and the entire Saudi peninsula. Impressive. He kept saying, ” Lebanon is very safe. No worries.” Fun guy. He rides a Goldwing and has been to the US for GWRRA events.
I had it in my head to ride toward Murska Sobota and find a place to stay along the way. I didn’t realize the time when we were in Maribor and I left town, got gas and kept going. We arrived here in the heat of the day and tired. When that happens, at least for us, we tend to stay at the first place we come to. In this case, the hotel is fine but this town has little to offer the tourist. I should have found an interesting place around Maribor and called it a day. “It is the journey, not the destination.” I know it as well as I know my name, but I forget it this afternoon.
One highlight here; our hotel has a fantastic dessert cafe. We followed up a forgettable dinner with a very nice dessert. We should have skipped dinner and had two desserts.
We are out of the mountains and into a big agriculture area. We passed lots of hop fields today. Are Slovenian hops a popular ingredient for home brewers?
One other positive – gas is less expensive here than anywhere we have been. And so far, only trucks pay tolls on the toll roads. Bikes and cars are free. Gotta love that!