To Ptuj - Skipping About the Continent - CycleBlaze

June 28, 2022

To Ptuj

The unusually high temperatures plaguing  central and eastern Europe continue, and today was predicted to be another scorcher - bright sun, cloudless sky, and temperatures in the mid-90s. Not ideal for cycling. Nor are sleepless nights in hot, airless rooms. On the plus side, my route to Ptuj was neither long nor difficult, even accounting for a morning detour to visit the Olimje Monastery.

The history of the monastery includes time as a fort, country mansion, castle, monastery, castle, and once again a monastery. It its first iteration as a monastery, Pauline monks who arrived in 1663 began the cultivation and distribution of medicinal herbs and plants, with the monastery serving as both a pharmacy and infirmary. Today, the monastery is home to friars of the Order of the Friars Minor Conventual  and the grounds of the monastery maintain a medicinal garden.  After breakfast, I took a short ride up the hill, exploring the monastery grounds and visiting the Baroque church. It was a peaceful and reflective morning visit, but I didn’t linger as the day was warming and I needed to be moving on.

The Olimje Monastery
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The interior of the Baroque Church
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Inside the Baroque Church
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Inside the Baroque Church
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The Monastery Couryard
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It was just past eleven when I finally left Guesthouse Haler, and it was already uncomfortably hot. However, the first ten miles were easy cycling on a dedicated bike path along Sotia River, a tributary of the Sava, which forms a natural border with Croatia. The scenery was fairly uninteresting, save for the fact that I was cycling along a border – I kept looking for the river but never caught sight of the small stream trickling through a lush underbrush. There was some type of building that I interpreted as a border information center, so I stopped to ask about my long-term visa status were I to try to re-enter Slovenia after cycling in Croatia, a non-Schengen country. The young woman staffing the coffee bar assured me there would be no problem, but I remained a bit skeptical as the place seemed less like a border office and more like a way point for for cyclists and other trail users.

I'm sure the nearby water park was a bigger draw than the monastery for the kids on the school field trip
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Easy riding along the Slovenia-Croatian border on a dedication cycle path
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I almost didn't spot this thatched house, tucked away on a small hillside
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I'm gonna catch you, brother!
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The hillsides of Croatia, along the border
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This could be a border control office - do you think?
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Or perhaps a cafe catering to cyclists and other trail users?
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Agricultural fields on the Slovenian side of the border
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A a bit rougher terrain on the Croatian side of the Sotia River
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All of the small, unstaffed border crossings are now closed
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At Rajnkovec, the route looped inland for about three miles, passing through Tržišče before returning briefly to the Sotia River. Near Rogatec, I left the river and headed inland, northeast toward Ptuj and the only significant climb of the day - it seems in Slovenia there is always at least one challenging climb of the day! I successfully made it up and over, then stopped at roadside bar near Žetale, enjoying a coke with my breakfast sandwich under the watchful and curious eyes of the local habitués. I refilled my water bottles took off for an easy five miles through the flat farmland surrounding Ptuj.

Now this is a cattle crossing - and don't even think about coming my way
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Why did the cattle cross the road? Because the lady with big stick made them.
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Heading up
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Making my way up and around that very big hill - but thankfully not over the top
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Some nice open fields along the way
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Roofers needed
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A double thatcher - house and outbuilding. Actually, this is Vuk's Homestead, an example of a wooden "cimprana" house that dates back to the 1880s. During the first half of the 20th century, wooden houses outnumbered the clay houses that dominate today, and most of the wooden houses were thatched. This house was occupied until the late 20th century, when it was turned over to the municipality of Žetale. It now serves as a local tourist attraction, Vuk's Homestead, with many 20th century artifacts.
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My water, lunch and rest stop for the day
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I don't think I've seen you in these parts before
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Agricultural fields along the Drava, near Ptuj
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Ptuj is the oldest city in Slovenia, with earliest inhabitants dating back to the Stone Age. The city later developed as a strategically important Roman military fort, rising above the Drava River along an ancient trade route. I crossed the Drava River into the old town, searching for my lodging amidst a series of blocked passageways undergoing street renovation projects. After circling around, I spotted the parking lot for the Muzikafe B&B, where a group of young adults piled out of their recently parked car. Amazingly, they were Iowans, here in Slovenian as part of a church mission – they’d spotted my Iowa Public Radio jersey and in the spirit of Iowa nice we had a pleasant conversation before I headed off with directions and a dinner recommendation.

 I ended up finding an alternative restaurant, one specializing in seafood that was a short walk from my lodging. Outdoor seating was full, but they seated me at a table indoors and, though I was the only indoor diner, I enjoyed a wonderful meal and engaging conversations with the waiter. Tired but sated, I headed back to the Muzikafe, hoping for a good night’s sleep. My exploration of Ptuj would have to wait until morning.

Ptuj lies along the banks of the Drava River
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A closer look at the walled fortification built by Romans
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Big smiles from fellow Iowans Audrey, Luke and Alan,
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Lucy MartinI do like the IPR jersey. A handy conversation starter.
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1 month ago
I finally found the Muzikafe B&B located among the renovation rubble
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Today's ride: 38 miles (61 km)
Total: 1,638 miles (2,636 km)

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Scott FenwickHello Susan - we also stayed at the Muzikafe in October 2021 (9 months ago) and had the same experience finding the hotel due to the extensive nearby construction. This must be difficult for a small business to endure. However, we did have a great stay there and a wonderful breakfast was provided. We also really enjoyed visiting Ptuj and loved trying to pronounce its name. Thanks for the memories.
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1 month ago