Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Italy and Adriatic Slovenia (Piran)

Adriatic Slovenia looks a lot like Italy.

If someone told me the foundations of this house were from Roman times, I would not bat an eye.

After leaving the Soca Valley, I entered Slovenia's wine country, home of their famous Teran red wine). As most of you know, I am not a wine lover so I didn't really appreciate the area I was in. The scenery was beautiful to look at, I just didn't want to drink it. Each town, seemed medieval. There didn't seem to be a city plan beyond the main road. You could easily get lost in all the wonderful side streets. Just off the main road in one town, I found a street fair. I am not sure what the occasion was, but they had all types of local wine, honey, honey liquor, food, and lots of other local stuff for sale. It was treat, almost as good as the morning market.

This little alley led me to a fabulous street fair.

While I was there, I made the impulsive decision to buy two bottles of wine as gifts. My thought was that I could give one to the people storing my bike and maybe take the other one home. The trick was I have to carry in on my bike and you can't take wine on the plane. When I started biking, I weighed a lot more and was top heavy. As I said, I didn't think it through.

When I was leaving, I got a little bit lost. There wasn't a sign to the next town I was in. She told me to go 5km back the way I came. I showed her my map that said there was a road ahead. She said yes, there was, but it was very narrow. I was on a bike so I didn't care if it was narrow. It turns out that narrow, means gravel. It was an adventure.

Now enterting gelato country.

A flower market down the street from the weekly church festival.

After finding my way back to a paved road, I headed for Italy. I believed I could shorten up my ride AND get some gelato from those who made it first. Unfortunately, gelato was hard to come by. The first two towns that I passed through did not have any, though one had a super busy church bazaar going on that was a lot of fun. Everyone was up there hanging out with this amazing view of the valley and eating. To some of my friends in the states, church means community and this is definitely what this was.

The Italians are kings of making any place a spot to lay out along the Adriatic Sea, but the Slovenians were a close second.

All the roads I was on were turning me towards Treiste, an industrial center, that was out of my way. I tried to use my map to get me back to where I was supposed to be, but I don't think I ever made it. I did end up making the choice to stay in Italy a little bit longer to ensure I found gelato instead of commerical made hard ice cream. I finally arrived at the cute seaside town of Muggia. It had the bright colors, narrow streets, a tiny harbor, and gelato. It was not hanging out the window like normal, but stashed away inside a harbor side restaurant. It was delicious. I made three different orders and had 6-7 different flavors. I was in heaven listening to the music pouring out of the loud speakers by the harbor eating frozen goodness.

Muggia, Italy's inner harbor and castle and my gelato stop.

After Italy, it was time to get to Piran, Slovenia. It is supposed to be a lot like Venice, but without the canals. On the way there, I had my first bike wreck. I was on a car roundabout that has special bike lanes that I hate. I'd prefer to just ride on the road, but I am trying to respect that they have taken the time to build the lane and that drivers respect the lanes. This bike lane had a one inch lip that I didn't see and it took me down. My video camera went flying out of my easy access pocket as my bike, two brand new bottles of wine, and me hit the pavement. Luckily, we were all fine. The only casualty was my back rack. I was able to zip tie it back together though. I'll probably just leave it as it until I get home.

A tunnel just for bikes and pedestrians!

When I dusted myself off, I found a proper bike trail and followed the ocean almost all the way to Piran. When I was a town away, I had to switch to the highway, but soon saw signs for another bike trail that I had been seeing on and off all day but had not taken. I figured I would give it a shot. It took me to this amazing half kilometer tunnel for bikes. I have never been in a tunnel that large just for bikes. Unfortunately, that tunnel took me through the mountain and past the peninsula that Piran is on.

Piran, Slovenia at sunrise.

Piran waterfront and castle.

Piran's harbor.

Venice or Piran? Italy or Slovenia? I knew it was in Slovenia, but kept saying Italy.

The Piran city walls at sunrise.

To get to Piran now, I was going to have to go back north but stick to the water. Before I set out though, I stripped down to my biking underwear and took a swim. I was hesitant at first, but then I remember than every bathing suit in Europe clung tighter and was made up of less fabric than I had on. To dry off, I laid in the grass and then just went biking in my underwear. It seemed weird, but was perfectly acceptable.

The colorful streets of Piran, Slovenia.

I cannot imagine riding a scooter is fun here.

I love the sun at the entrance to the house.

The laundry hanging streets of Piran, Slovenia.

I finally got to Piran and it was great. I was bordering on too tired to enjoy it, but some pizza and a quick nap took care of that. While I was eating, there were more great people and more great hospitality. Afterward, more gelato. Even though I can tell you that Piran is in Slovenia, it felt like Italy. I am not sure if that was because I had been in Italy just five hours earlier or if it just looked like Italy. When I was captioning my pictures for this blog, I was still writing Piran, Italy instead of Piran, Slovenia. It just had that feel and it is a great one. That night I caught part of their Ms. Adriatic Alps beauty contest. The little bit I saw was the same as the US, though I have never seen one in person in the states. In the morning, I caught sunrise on the old city walls and then wandered the streets some more. After a long chat with a fashion designer from Portugal, it was time to hit the road. I had two days left to catch a flight and get my camera back.

This is the first bicycle roundabout I have ever seen, located in Koper, Slovenia.

1 comment:

  1. holy smokes it's pretty!

    i think when i go to europe, i'm going to skip all the big cities and go straight for all the lesser known places you traveled through. :-) save the big cities for...work travels.

    thanks for the insight.