To Ljubljana - Skipping About the Continent - CycleBlaze

July 4, 2022 to July 5, 2022

To Ljubljana

Vivien George and I arrived at the Maribor train station early, in plenty of time find our way to the correct platform and sit anxiously anticipating the rush and confusion of loading bike and gear onto the train before it sped down the tracks. The first hurdle – getting up to the right platform – was a piece of cake due to the presence of an elevator. Sitting on the platform, I checked out the other trains waiting at the station, hoping there might be a clue as to which end of the train they put the bike car. It was of little help – the cars on one train were covered in graffiti, and the only symbols on the second train were those prohibiting rollerblading and ice cream. Lucky for me there were no ice cream stands at the station.

Waiting for the train - after successfully getting ourselves up to the platform
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No bike car logo spotted on this train
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Still looking for bike car logo
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No ice cream or skateboards - I can handle that
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About five minutes before the train was due to depart, a train official approached Vivien George in search of her owner. I waited where he indicated the train car would stop, but when the train pulled into the station, the car with the bike logo passed me by. I hurried toward that car, but the official called me back, indicating I was to put Vivien George in a special car, one just for bikes. There were no stairs, just one small step located just under the car floor, about 30 inches higher than the platform. We hoisted up Vivien George with the help of train personnel, then tossed up my panniers and pulled myself up – within a minute the train was heading down the track. The car was empty, save for a few other bikes that were either hung on hooks or leaned against the rear wall. I leaned Vivien George against the side wall where there was a carabiner that I fastened to her rack, hoping it was sufficient to keep her from falling over/rolling down the car. I then took my panniers and found a seat in the nearly full train.

The trip was a little over two hours to Ljubljana and the first hour passed uneventfully – a little bit of reading, a little bit of people watching/eavesdropping. However, the last hour was spent in animated conversation with four fellow passengers, each significantly younger than me. Ana is Slovenian and a student at Harvard where she is studying integrative biology and drama; Ian (getting his MA in music) and Donagh (pharmaceuticals) are mates from Ireland on holiday touring some of the major cities of Europe; Peter is from Vienna – I’m not sure his profession or destination but he was quite interested in bike touring. The time flew as we shared stories and discussed science, music, traveling, cycling and even a little politics. A most interesting and entertaining hour.  

Ana, Donagh, and Ian
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Peter, from Vienna
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Vivien George was still in place when I retrieved her from the bike car. We cycled back to the hotel where the first order of business was packing her up in the travel bag – it all went smoothly and I had time to return to the tourist area along the river in search of the dumpling shop that Ana had recommended. Finding it closed, I decided on a repeat visit to Namaste, the Indian restaurant I’d eaten at a few weeks ago. When my order arrived, an okra and potato dish, I was surprised to learn that it did not come with rice. As I was in the preparing to order some rice, a woman at the next table offered theirs, saying they were not going to eat it. I accepted, and later in the meal offered them a piece of my naan (no comments please about my carb addiction!). We started talking and I learned they were two sisters and a mother from Russia/Ukraine. Vita was married to a Slovenian and she and her mother Tatiana had been in Ljubljana for three years, Helena had only recently arrived from Ukraine, a refugee from the war. This time, we did not shy away from talking politics and the pain of loving your country but finding yourself no longer able live there. They proudly gave me a business card for their newly opened a family bakery, Brot, where Tatiana makes sourdough bread and Vita’s specialty is butter croissants. I was sorry to be leaving town and unable to pay them a visit.

In Ljubljana
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Vita, Helena, Susan and Tatiana
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My trip back to Paris had a few bumps, both figuratively and literally. For some reason, the Air France check-in counter could not accept payment for transporting the bike so I had a long wait in line at customer service, which was busy rebooking people from a cancelled flight to London. The flight itself was a bit more turbulent than I like, and was especially unnerving as we were banking on approach to Charles De Gaulle. I wasn’t the only one a bit nervous, a passenger a few rows up clapped loudly once we had safely landed. 

I caught a taxi back to my apartment and immediately went out for a bite to eat at my local cafe. I sat at a small table outside, watching life in my neighborhood on a nice summer evening in Paris. The cheese matron at “my” Fromagerie across the street gave me a welcoming nod and I reflected on the past three weeks – the wonder, the challenges, and the joy of cycling in Slovenia. I’ll post a more thorough summary later, but for now the circle is complete.

Today's ride: 3 miles (5 km)
Total: 1,772 miles (2,852 km)

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Rachael AndersonGlad you made it back to Paris safely!
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4 weeks ago
Rich FrasierA great trip and a great journal! Thanks!
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4 weeks ago
Susan CarpenterTo Rich FrasierThanks Rich
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4 weeks ago
Susan CarpenterTo Rachael AndersonThanks Rachael
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4 weeks ago