Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Monday, May 24, 2010

Ljubljana via Vršič Pass

Here is a quote from a travel writer: “ Vršič Pass: the drive of your life “.
“50 numbered hairpin curves, most with cobble stone corners; 25 KM long. Experience Intense and beautiful vistas, staggering rocky formations and excellent views!” (I only looked at the road; I did not see the views). We got a workout early in the morning after we left Bled. The pass summit is only 1411 meters but what a ride! We were totally awake riding this section. I knew ahead of time about this stretch so I mounted my camera to the bike to take a video but… the camera shook loose. I had to stop on the pass to just take it off and push it into my pocket. A helmet camera would do a better job anyway but I gave it a try using the video setting on my old and trusted Canon. No way to take other pictures while riding. We stopped at the summit to prove to ourselves for later years to come that we made it to the top of this pass. This is amazing road work.
I read that many people died building this road; 300 Russian prisoners of war alone died in an avalanche near turn 21. There is a chapel built to honor the dead at turn 8 but I never saw it. Thousands more died during the construction of the road. All the people are buried in a nearby cemetery. Even after we were off the pass, the road continued in very curvy, ideal motorcycle style for many miles. We passed the towns of Bovec, Tolmin, Škofja Loka to end up in the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana. The whole of our travels that day were on excellent and challenging roads, made for motorcycles. Go as fast as you want to go, just slow down in the dispersed towns to 50KM per hour. The road is yours. We rode moderately but we were passed by local riders who rode past us as if they had stolen something.
We intended to stay for 2 days in Ljubljana, the dragon city. Jason the Argonaut supposedly slew a dragon here. Ljubljana is a former swamp area. Lovingly the inhabitants often refer to themselves as ‘frogs’ stemming from this former swampy neighborhood. We felt the cold, wet weather and the last few days of riding in our bones. I don’t believe it was the wetness that made us feel that way. We were worn out. Today, Ljubljana is a very large, very cosmopolitan city with all the modernity the new age has to offer. The way into town was easy. In the center of town is the old city and one has to just follow the signs for city center to land near the river, in the heart of Ljubljana. Finding a hotel was a different story. When we arrived it started to rain. We were so close to finding a hotel; we did not put on our rain suits. Well, I did not, Carol’s suit is a ‘Stich and supposedly waterproof. I asked young people in a café if they knew of an inexpensive hotel, motel or hostel for a few nights. Their English was excellent yet their directions were for the birds. We found the “City Hotel’ but all my crying did not help, Euro 98 for one night incl. breakfast. I passed. Back on the bike, back into the rain. I asked a taxi driver, I find those guys know a lot. Sure enough, in perfect English he explained to me that there was a hostel/hotel “Park Hotel” and after some searching we found it. The price was 40 Euro but no breakfast. Parking was in front of the hostel. Now this is a curious place. It is a hotel. But the 7th floor of this hotel is made into a hostel for young people. No shower in the room, just a sink and a toilet, basic accommodations with 2 single beds in a room. It was a basic place to stay, cheap enough to be affordable for students, for example. Well, Carol and I are students of life, so we set off, after we moved in (we could only get a one night stay) and visited the downtown, old city area. We found graffiti all over the walls of the historic area. There were pierced everything people walking about. I saw hairdos from the future; colored hair in any shade of purple, pink and what not. We had entered the twilight zone. I am glad the Park Hotel only had room for us for one night. We walked around, had dinner in a small place that served typical Balkan faire and left the next morning. No shower, just a sponge bath and off we went to find the tiny coastline of Slovenia.

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